Homemade Condiments: Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients by Jessica Harlan published by Ulysses Press looked like such a lovely and fascinating book, I had to review it. Each recipe fits on one page of this beautiful hardcover book, making them super accessible. It also had me asking, could recipes this simple be delicious?
I must admit, I started with the steak sauce recipe and was not impressed. It felt like a major ingredients was left out because it ended up being more of a paste than a sauce.
Undeterred, I then decided to make the Teriyaki sauce, something I loathe to buy in the store because they are usually so fake-tasting and waaaaay too sweet.
In a small sauce pan I combined 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tbsp mirin, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 2 tsp tomato paste, 1 tsp freshly grated ginger, 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp onion powder. I brought it to a boil, turned it down and let it simmer for 5 minutes. I put together a slurry with 2 tsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp cold water. Stirred together and then added it to the pan and brought everything to a boil. It thickened within a minute and I let it cool and stored it in a mason jar.
I used it on an orange pepper, mushroom and chicken dinner over rice.
Absolutely delicious! This is what I wanted. It tasted like a good teriyaki sauce without all the other additives that come in bottles. I loved it and give this recipe five out of five wooden spoons.
A book that has an entire chapter dedicated to ketchups (note plural, ketchups) is one that I can not let go of. The photographs are beautiful, the writing is clear and easy to follow and whoever did the watercolour illustrations is very talented. That kind of artistic personal touch impresses the hell out of me.
Wait! There is more!
The author notes that condiments are not just for savoury foods (you said it sister!) and has a section of sweet sauces and spreads. Yum! She has a classic recipe for caramel sauce involving sugar, corn syrup, water, heavy cream, butter… You get the idea. So this is a great resource for recipes. She even shows you how easy it is to make peanut and almond butters.
I could not agree more, the secret IS the sauce. I have always felt that way which is why my family always called me Saucy Suzie. OK, maybe not the only reason but in our household if there was not a sauce, I was not a happy camper.
Salad dressings, relishes, DIY mustards… this book covers everything! I did have one recipe failure and one recipe success so I can not vouch for the overall quality of the food but I can say that this is a gorgeous book with tons of ideas that I am happy to own. I love making my own sauces and hate wasting money picking disappointing products at the store.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer like me, Homemade Condiments: Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients might just be the book you are looking for. Had I not had one lacking recipe I would give it a perfect score but as it stands, I give the cookbook four and a half out of five wooden spoons.