07 August 2010

Adding Saucy to your Entertaining Style

Versatility is a secret weapon we use to combat dreary, dull entertaining in so many ways.

While traditions can be wonderful, it's the "same old, same old" ho-hum that needs to be avoided at all costs.  We're going to explore versatility in dining decor, in Good Food Gatherings, in cocktail basics, and in holiday hostessing more in the coming weeks.

Today, we're suggesting a delicious way to accommodate diverse tastebuds and add a little zing at the table.  When our menu for a simple Good Food Gathering includes a traditional favorite such as Roast Chicken, grilled meats, turkey meatloaf, chili, or hamburgers, we add a few extras to the table - enter CONDIMENTS.

What is a condiment?  A condiment is not only a flavoring, but also refers to a special sensation or taste.  A simple and easy way to spice up a dish in any number of different flavor directions.  Left up to each individual's taste preferences, and with no extra work piled on the host, a selection of interesting condiments can easily add the zest & zing that guarantee clean plates.

Here are a few favorites of The Savvy Host stocked in our gourmet pantry to make sure a little versatility is available for our guests and our tastebuds as needed.

PickapeppaPickapeppa Sauce was created in Shooter’s Hill, Jamaica in 1921 and is still made there today. Prepared with cane vinegar and aged in oak barrels, Pickapeppa Sauce has a sweet but mellow flavor that gives it an unmatched versatility. It has, in fact, been called “Jamaican Ketchup” in tribute to its range of uses. Pickapeppa is undoubtedly a unique and delicious Jamaican sauce.  From cream cheese to crab dip to barbeque to baked bananas, Pickapeppa Sauce is the perfect choice to add smooth, sweet flavor to any dish.  Also available in Mango flavors.

Horseradish - from The History of HorseradishWhat 3,000-year-old plant has been used as an aphrodisiac, a treatment for rheumatism, a bitter herb for Passover seders and a flavorful accompaniment for beef, chicken and seafood? If you guessed horseradish, you’re right. The history of horseradish is intricate and mysterious, but one certainty stands: Horseradish has been prized for its medicinal and gastronomic qualities for centuries. Today, approximately 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish are produced annually in the U.S. -- enough to generously season sandwiches to reach 12 times around the world.  We like to offer either prepared (Simply Recipe's offers an easy DIY How to Prepare Horseradish) or more of a creamy sauce (we're singing chorus for the simple version with creme fraiche posted by Smitten Kitchen).

Garlic Goodness - created by the ever-saucy @MicheleNorthrup, and offered by the Intensity Academy Gourmet Sauces, Garlic Goodness is an all natural garlic and multi-pepper blend hot sauce created to bring pure saucy garlicky goodness to your meals. It takes an AMAZING 100 lbs of garlic in a single batch to create this goodness in a bottle. Use it in soups, stews, chili's, stir fry, scampi, veggies, rice, chicken, pastas, marinara sauce, dips & much more!  We are recent converts to the religion of Intensity Academy, but pledge our loyalty to this amazing tableside sensation!

Dijon Mustard - why dijon mustard? We like the exceptional taste and strength of this special process type of mustard. An interesting brand with some fascinating history is the Maille line of dijon mustards.
Antoine Maille opened the original mustard & pickle boutique in Marseille in 1720. Antoine Maille and his mustards were very popular among the royals of Europe, and the mustards are just as popular today in France as well as abroad. The mustard is freshly prepared, contains absolutely no preservatives and is also sold on tap. Try it with an accompaniment of wine, grape juice, honey and pretzels. With over thirty varieties to choose from, including flavors like Apricot, Blue Cheese, Rose and Walnut-making up your mind sure is a difficult task. (source: Boutique Maille) .

Hot Sauce - so this could be - and is - a topic of entire BLOGS!  We offer a quick suggestion here based on our recent experiences with Intensity Academy. While you're ordering some of that Garlic Goodness, you might toss in a few of their Hot Sauces if your tastebuds can take the heatIntensity Academy's Hot squared (Hot2) is an all natural carrot-based hot sauce with an intense flavor (rated 4 peppers on a 5 pepper scale) and a unique use of vegetables. It was a 2008 Fire-y Food Challenge winner! The Hot cubed (Hot3) is also all natural and carrot-based, but rated 5 peppers on the pepper scale. It's the hottest in the Intensity Academy line.

Ketchup - ok...no need to roll your eyes.  Ketchup has actually been VERY maligned in global culinary culture.  It does have a key role to play as a flavor enhancement.  We consulted @TheNibble's A Fresh Look at Ketchup to help provide some context for the role this condiment can still play at your table. There are two special upscale ketchup brands that we believe go a LONG way to dispel the negativity.

Montebello Kitchens Ketchup (Tomato Agave, Chipolte, and Curry versions)  delicious and GOOD for you...The inclusion of agave nectar as a sweetener exemplifies Montebello Kitchens’ commitment to offering consumers the healthiest products possible. In fact, Agave Nectar’s Glycemic Index value is at least three times lower than table sugar, meaning that it does not produce the extreme energy highs and lows commonly attributed to sugar rushes.

Sir Kensington's Scooping Ketchup (Classic and Spiced versions).  Some things were thought to be unachievable. Gourmet ketchup may now be crossed off such lists.  Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup represents excellence in natural quality. Produced from a secret recipe requiring years of exhaustive research, my ketchup offers a healthier, more delicious, and more versatile option where mediocrity once reigned.
Take a look at The Difference to understand where this delicious & heathy alternative is coming from...

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A few condiments open up a lot of possibilities.  Why not explore the inner saucy sensation in your personal entertaining style?

(Knowing how savvy many of you are, you probably have a few specialty condiments already within reach.  If you're game to share, we're all ears...)

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