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Getting Saucier and Saucier

I had planned on writing a sweet post today (artificial versus natural sweeteners, that is), but I just read a study claiming that my beloved agave nectar is actually higher in fructose than high fructose corn syrup, which leads to all kinds of metabolism issues — and a fair amount of irritation for me. So I need to do some more research on that topic! Also, I’m having trouble typing due to the giant Elmo band-aid on my newly sliced thumb (bread knife), so I think I will keep this post brief and address some of the comments I got on last week’s condiment post. Obviously, I am not the only one who gets pretty feisty about sauces!

First, thanks for all the condiment suggestions! I have tried Valentina Salsa Picante, and it’s really good on things like tacos and eggs. It’s more zesty or tangy than particularly hot, although I just noticed it comes in an “extra hot” version, which I imagine is, well, hotter. Another fave that I can’t believe I left out of the lineup is Cholula (it only happened because we had run out of it!), which is probably the ultimate all-around Mexican hot sauce. I can’t think of many things that don’t taste better doused with Cholula.

Mexico in a bottle — Corona not withstanding.

Another friend mentioned Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette and Lighten Up Italian salad dressings, which I agree are pretty good (the Italian makes a decent marinade for chicken breasts), although I still maintain it’s worth the few seconds it takes to make your own. The ingredients will definitely be better  than what Seven Seas — or even Paul Newman — uses, it will taste fresher and much more delicious, and it will cost significantly less than the $4 per bottle you’d pay for that stuff.

I’ve never had the best luck emulsifying vinaigrette by hand (with a whisk, think Julia Child), so I make it in the blender. It gets thoroughly mixed, almost creamy — just like store bought.

Okay, is she awesome or what?

Balsamic Vinaigrette (also fabulous with red wine vinegar instead of balsamic):

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 or 4 tbs. vinegar (The best is aged Balsamic from Italy or homemade red wine vinegar, which is super simple and worth it to make, by the way.)
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and some minced shallots or garlic (both are optional but add dimension)
  • salt & pepper

Combine ingredients in a blender and turn it on for a few seconds.

Now, alas, it’s time for me to make my first retraction. It was brought to my attention that the barbecue sauce I so heartily recommended last week (Grumpy’s Private Reserve Goodnight Loving) contains high fructose corn syrup. Argh, so much for that. I was determined to continue my search for HFCS-free BBQ sauce until my domestic godess sister pointed out that she never buys store-bought BBQ sauce. Hmmm, I thought, if I’m cajoling people into making their own salad dressing, perhaps I should be making my own barbecue sauce… So I did. It’s very easy, and you probably have all the ingredients already. I like how you can tweak it depending on the level of sweetness (or spiciness) you want. We eat a fair amount of it this time of year (I especially love it on grilled wild salmon), so I doubled this. Triple it if you’re having people over for barbecue; your guests will be so impressed! It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 cups ketchup (once you’ve finished the bottle you have, buy the organic or all-natural kind)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or regular wine or cider vinegar)
  • 1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tbs. chili powder (more or less for spiciness)
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (more or less for sweetness)

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on medium-low heat. If it’s too thick, add a couple tbs. oil or water (or red wine). You can also add grated ginger, lemon juice, soy sauce, dry mustard powder, or minced onion depending on the style of sauce you prefer.

Lick your fingers. Repeat.

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This post has 6 comments

  • GJo says:

    Maybe your dad was on to something….I tried switching him to Agave Nectar recently for his coffee and tea. He hated it! I have to say that I’m not fond of the flavor either; but, now I may not have to worry.

    I’m loving your blogs, Bev! They’re entertaining as well as educational. By the way, my basil looks nothing like yours – it has not been happy with the mornings we’ve had in the low thirty’s recently.

    • Thanks Jo! Yes, maybe Dad knows something evil and sinister when he tastes it. I’ve been smugly drinking it in my coffee for a year — thinking how swell it is and how NATURAL and GOOD FOR YOU! Annoying. Anyway, I would gladly take one of those 30-degree mornings; it’s been in the high 90s here all week and we are melting!

  • Carrie says:

    Yeah… isn’t it a bummer about agave? I’m back to using stevia or local honey. Have you tried walnut oil for salad dressing? It’s loaded with omega 3 and tastes really great with dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Cheers!

  • Carrie says:

    Also… can’t wait to try your BBQ recipe…

  • Jen says:

    Long time no talk….Iove your website!I’m going to download your cookbook right now. I have some hormone free ground beef thawed in the fridge for tonight and want something creative to do with it. Let’s go on a hike or snowshoe sometime soon, it’s been too long.

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