When you are searching for the right ingredient, or simply the best ingredients to cook with, sometimes you have to make them yourself.
Thereâ€™s a collection of oil, vinegar and sauce in my pantry so I can always find just the right one when I need it. I usually reach for the homemades first.
Of the vinegars, I have: rice (original), rice (sweet), apple cider, red wine, white, balsamic and a homemade herb vinegar.
Of the oils, I have: 4 or 5 different olive, sesame, peanut, corn and two homemade; a garlic & pepper olive, and a Galician olive (sweet & hot paprica, garlic and onion.)
With various combinations of the oil & vinegars above I can make some great salad dressings, but mostly I just toss a salad dribbled with them.
I only have one sauce â€“ after Chef Elizabeth Karmelâ€™s (Hill Country Barbecue, Manhattan) Boozy Hot Sauce. In Saveur Magazineâ€™s 100 Best Chefâ€™s Cooking Ideas, Ms Karmel raved about a tequila, red hot bird peppers, peppercorns and cracked pods of smoked black cardamom sauce she created for fish but used on everything grilled.Â It looked great in the photo, and made me think that if I made it and didnâ€™t like it as a sauce, I could drink it! The recipe, as happens so often in the magazine, is different than the chef stated. The â€œofficialâ€ recipe is Â¼ tsp allspice, Â¼ tsp black peppercorns, Â¼ tsp cumin seeds â€“ all Â Â toasted in a pan, cooled and added to a pint of tequila with 3-5 red Thai chilis.
I used quajillo peppers instead of the Thai because they are not hot (per se) but wonderfully complex, and the basis of good Mexican cooking. Mexican Tequila and Mexican pepper â€“ sounds to me like ingredients that belong together. They created a wonderfully red tinted liquid, similar in color to my Galician oil, and as amazingly complex in flavor (but OH so much more potent!) So far Iâ€™ve only tasted it (itâ€™s a savory sipping tequila) not sauced any food with it. Itâ€™s so good as a drink that I may have to make more if Iâ€™m going to cook with it!
(recipes on request)