Category Archives: Condiments

Olive Relish

Talk about versatile.  I made this as a tapenade to spread on crackers with a cocktail but then ended up using it in a variety of ways.  It couldn’t be easier and especially so if you have a food processor– just throw in the ingredients, pulse and you’re done.

As I mentioned, it is lovely on a cracker or toasted baguette.  But it is also delicious alongside a piece of pork tenderloin, rubbed under the skin of a chicken before it is roasted, served with that same chicken after comes out of the oven, or even with lamb.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes, by David Tanis.  He has a simpler tapenade but suggests this version if you like a little more tap in your tapenade.  He serves it with Roast Leg of Lamb with Flageolet Beans and I just served it anywhere I could.

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Cipollini Onions

I love onions but I had never had the cipollini variety until this Thanksgiving. I have walked past them many times in the grocery store and decided to finally give them a try.

Cipolline in hand, I now had to figure out what to do with them. Thomas Keller has a few very labor intensive recipes but they were just too much for this occasion. After some deliberation, I settled on a recipe in Joyce Goldstein’s Italian Slow and Savory cookbook.

Red wine and sugar combine with butter and olive oil to make a sweet and savory, jammy sauce that is accented with toasted pine nuts and a cranberry raisin mix.

Aside from being delicious, this particular dish is a great way to add a little cranberry to your plate, without actually making (or opening) cranberry sauce. Here is the recipe…

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Salsa – Two Kinds!

We are fortunate to work very close to the Greenmarket in Union Square.  Our favorite Friday ritual, especially in the summer and especially during the month of July’s abundance, is to go to the market on the way in to work and load up with whatever is fresh and available.  We are then set for a weekend of cooking and experimentation.

Tomatoes are finally here and, more importantly, locally grown, ripe, and delicious.  This past week, one of our favorite vendors also had tomatillos, and plenty of them.  So, I decided to make salsa and if there’s anything better than one kind of salsa, it’s two kinds.  As the weeks of summer drag on, the tomatoes become more plentiful and the prices begin to drop.  That means I can buy more tomatoes and make more salsa.  The tomato abundance almost makes up for the fact that July has been the hottest month on record in NYC in what seems like forever.

Although I make tomatillo sauce on a somewhat regular basis, I decided to reference Diana Kennedy for the Salsa Verde and have included her recipe.  The Salsa Mexicana I have been making forever and have included a recipe that originated somewhere, I suppose, that I have tweaked over the years.

Both are delicious with corn tortilla chips (my favorite way to enjoy them) and make a nice condiment for roasted or grilled meat, chicken or fish.  I hope you like these as much as we do! Here is the recipe…

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Preserved Lemons

Many of our Moroccan and Mediterranean recipes require preserved lemons. We have purchased jars of them at specialty grocery stores but finally got around to making our own and have now done so on multiple occasions.  Used at first specifically for the aforementioned recipes, such as Chicken Tagine with Olives or Moroccan Lamb Stew, we have now started making up uses for them.

Preserved Lemons

The tart salty tang of the lemons lifts the flavors of just about any meat, chicken or fish dish.  Try putting them on top of and inside a roast chicken.  Put a few slices on top of trout, flounder or any other poached or baked fish.  Dice them finely and add them to a vinaigrette or toss them in with roasted vegetables.  Great in marinades.  Perfect for the grill.

They are a wonderful addition to your kitchen toolkit and, just like those magic rocks, fun to watch until ready to use.

Here is the recipe…

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Ode to Magic Dust

Many years ago I spent quite a bit of  time in Memphis on business.  One morning, while I was scouting locations for a large event, I found myself on Beale Street.  I had a 10 am site survey appointment at a famous Memphis barbecue joint.  I needed to see the private rooms, strategize a seating plan, get a sense of the menu, etc.  This was the first of many stops that day.

I was promptly met by the hospitable General Manager and wife team who greeted me with a red plaid paper carton full of dry beef ribs.  Or were they pork?  How nice, I thought, to bring some show and tell to the meeting.  After all, this is what my guests would be eating.

“Arent you going to try the ribs?” they asked right away.  I have an issue with bones, prefer using a knife and fork, crave coffee over meat at 10 am  and am not a huge beef or pork eater but I also have a sense of decorum so I had a seat with the couple and got down to business.    I picked up a rib (with my hands) and obliged.

I couldn’t help but notice that, as well as standard salt and pepper shakers, every table had a shaker of some reddish-brown powder on it.  “What’s this?” I asked.  “Why, that’s Magic Dust”, they replied.  “That’s what we rub our ribs with before we cook them nice and slow for hours.”  And so began my love affair with Magic Dust.

Magic Dust is a combination of spices – paprika, salt, sugar, mustard powder, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic.  The hotness or sweetness can be adjusted with the addition or subtraction of sugar or cayenne.

Coincidentally, upon my return, I decided to make baked beans as a side dish.  Several of the recipes I sourced all had Magic Dust as an ingredient.  So, I set out to make my first and far from last batch of the dust.  I ended up making a larger quantity than I needed for the beans and started looking for other uses for this magical powder.

We now have a shaker full of it at the ready.  In our house, there are three main, almost weekly, uses and countless other “well, I guess we could put some Magic Dust on it” moments.  The three primary uses are:

1) as a dry rub on pork tenderloin

2) as a “hmm, what is in here?” ingredient for a Bloody Mary and for a decorative and tasty addition to the cocktail glass rim

3) on popcorn.

Magic Dust

I have also found that people love receiving it as a gift.  Different, unexpected and fantastic.  Here is the recipe for when you too want to experience the magic of Magic Dust.

Magic Dust Recipe


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