When you are searching for the right ingredient, or simply the best ingredients to cook with, sometimes you have to make them yourself.
There’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 always 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.)
I only have one sauce – after Chef Elizabeth Karmel’s (Hill Country Barbecue, Manhattan) Boozy Hot Sauce. In Saveur Magazine’s 100 Best Chef’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. It looked great in the photo, and made me think that if I made it and didn’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 “official” recipe is ¼ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp black peppercorns, ¼ tsp cumin seeds – all 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. Tequila and Mexican pepper – 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. So far I’ve only tasted it (it’s a potent sipping tequila) not sauced any food with it. It’s so good as a drink that I may have to make more if I’m going to cook with it!
(recipes on request)