Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fabulous Fruity Barbecue Sauces

Ole Ray's Blackberry Wine BBQ & Cooking Sauce
If you're bored by one-dimensional barbecue sauces that taste like someone simply mixed together some ketchup, corn syrup, vinegar and liquid smoke, the following three fruit-infused barbecue sauces from Ole Ray's are guaranteed to wake up your taste buds and bring a smile to your face.

Ole Ray's Blackberry Wine BBQ & Cooking Sauce is a gourmet style sauce with enticingly complex layers of flavor normally experienced only at fine restaurants or from an accomplished home chef.  Glorious on beef or venison tenderloin, pork or beef ribs, lamb or pork chops, chicken or game hens and even with steak, Ole Ray's Blackberry Wine Barbecue Sauce works well on the grill, at the table, on the stove and in the oven.  Used as a marinade, basting or finishing sauce, the burgundy wine and worcestershire add robust flavor while helping to tenderize meats, and the blackberry jelly plus dark brown sugar provide just the right amount of fruity sweetness as a harmonious counterpoint.  The finish has just a bit of a spice kick without being hot.  In sum, this award-winning, all-natural BBQ & cooking sauce will please the discriminating palate and satisfy the easygoing omnivore, too.

Ole Ray's Peach-A-Licious Barbecue Sauce
Ole Ray's Peach-A-Licious Barbeque Sauce is sweet and sassy like a breezy, sunny summer day in the South.  Juicy peaches add bright fruit notes to the all-natural tomato-cider vinegar-lemon juice base for a flavor that balances mellow tang with sweetness and just a hint of spice.  A no-brainer for pork and chicken, Ole Ray's Peach-A-Licious BBQ Sauce is also spectacular on shrimp, veggie kabobs, ribs, and other grilled fare.  Use as a glaze, basting sauce, marinade or finishing sauce whenever you're craving peachy, Southern-style flavor.

Ole Ray's Red Delicious Apple Bourbon BBQ & Cooking SauceOle Ray's Red Delicious Apple Bourbon BBQ & Cooking Sauce is made with America's favorite apple, the Red Delicious, and a splash of Kentucky bourbon, masterfully blended into a traditional tomato-mustard-vinegar barbecue sauce for a sweet, rich flavor that brings to mind an early Autumn afternoon.  A touch of hot pepper and spice adds just the right amount of zip without making this a hot BBQ sauce.  Thick and rich, Ole Ray's Red Delicious Apple Bourbon Barbeque Sauce is great for slathering or mopping on ribs, pork chops, grilled chicken, venison and other robust fare.  It's also tasty with shrimp, grilled veggies, portobello burgers, and even as a dipping sauce for french fries or other fried finger food.  And like the other wonderful sauces from Ole Ray's, this one is all-natural, too.

You can find these and other delicious new products on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company online store.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Ole Ray's also makes a scrumptious Apple Cinnamon Barbecue Sauce that's magnificent on ribs, pork chops, chicken and other grilled foods.  You can read more about it here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chile-Cheese Beer Bread Redux: Oat Flour

Spicy chile-cheese beer bread
A while back I posted my recipe for Spicy Chile-Cheese Beer Bread, an easy "quick bread" that doesn't require yeast or rising and can be made from start to finish in well under 2 hours.  Since that original posting, I've made it twice with variations in a few of the ingredients, namely the types of dried chiles, beer, and cheese used.  That's one of the charms--and fun--of this recipe: You can change it up a little to vary the flavors and the spiciness.   In fact, you can even make the recipe using fresh hot peppers instead of dried, as you'll see in the one of the comments to the original post referencing a Jalapeno-Cheese Beer Bread recipe.

My first variation to the original recipe is described in the second postscript to my original post.  My most recent variation, however, was more significant and thus deserves this separate post.

Being out of whole-wheat flour but wanting to add some fiber and whole-grain goodness to my chile-cheese beer bread, I decided to replace some of the white flour with oat flour.  To make the oat flour, I processed just over 1 1/2 cups of old-fashioned (not instant or quick-cook) rolled oats in my food processor until finely ground.  This made 1 1/2 cups of oat flour, and I replaced the same amount of white flour in my recipe with the oat flour.  The use of oat flour resulted in two important differences as discussed a little later.

Dried New Mexico Chiles
Dried New Mexico chile
Dried Ancho Chiles
Dried Ancho chile
The other changes I made were less impactful:  For the dried chiles I used one Ancho chile and one New Mexico chile, and I included some of the seeds along with the chopped chiles.  This resulted in a somewhat spicier bread, at least when eating a piece containing seeds, and the different flavors of the two peppers could also be tasted, for a pleasant contrast with almost every bite.  As to the beer, I used a bottle of Guinness, which imparted a mellow, malty flavor to the bread.  And for the cheese I used an inexpensive but flavorful sharp cheddar from Whole Foods.  Finally, I decided not to brush the top of the unbaked bread with egg wash, and the result was a "rougher," lighter, more rustic-looking crust as seen in the photo on the top left, as opposed to the smoother, softer, more golden and shinier crust you get if you brush the top with a beaten egg.

Now for the important differences I noticed as a result of the oat flour:  First, the dough seemed "wetter" and thus required a little extra flour to be worked in before it was ready to bake.  I simply kept adding a handful of white flour at a time and working it into the dough until it felt right (stiff but still pliable and no longer sticky but not dry - you'll know the feel if you bake bread fairly regularly).

The other significant difference was the baking time:  After 65 minutes in the oven, the bread was still a little underdone in the middle.  My advice is to bake for at least 70 minutes, and maybe even a little longer depending on your oven, if you decide to replace some of the regular flour with oat flour.

If you make my Spicy Chile Cheese Beer Bread or try a variation of your own, please feel free to post a comment and share your recipe!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, February 27, 2012

Top 10 Best-Selling Hot Sauce Gifts for 2011

Dave's Insanity Private Reserve Hot Sauce
If you're looking for a unique, memorable and flavorful gift for a hot sauce collector or anyone who likes a little (or a lot) of spicy heat in their food, you won't go wrong with any of the hot sauce gifts on our list of the top ten best-selling gifts for 2011 at the Carolina Sauce Company:

1. Dave's Insanity 2011 Private Reserve Sauce: Made with jolokia chiles (reputedly the hottest peppers on the planet) plus habaneros and tabasco peppers as well as a hefty dose of capsaicin extract for good measure, Dave's Private Reserve is by far his HOTTEST concoction. Each limited-edition bottle is hand-signed, individually numbered and comes in a yellow "caution" tape-wrapped wooden coffin box.

2. Fruits on Fire Gift Set: Lusciously fruity and spicy, the hot sauces in this exclusive gift set include Dave's Gourmet Ginger Peach (mildly spicy & great with chicken, seafood or stir-fry dishes), Marie Sharp's Grapefruit Pulp Habanero Hot Sauce (fiery-hot with savory citrus flavor), Maui Pepper Co. Apples Ass Hot Sauce (rich apple flavor with medium habanero heat), Melinda's Mango Habanero Hot Sauce (a classic Caribbean habanero hot sauce with a tropical mango twist), Toad Sweat Cranberry Dessert Hot Sauce (a unique blend of sweet-tart cranberries & habaneros that's great with turkey, chicken & pork), and Scorned Woman Sweet Majic Hot Sauce (summery peaches & apricots plus peppery heat).

Lawyer's Hot Sauces
3. Lawyer's Gift Set: A great gift for your favorite attorney, judge, paralegal, law student or other legal professional, the four artisan hot sauces in this gift set feature palate-pleasing flavors and tongue-tingling heat, with comical labels and names like So Sue Me, Contempt of Court, Under the Influence, and Lawyer's Breath.

4. Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauce mini-4-pack: Featuring all four flavors of the award-winning Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauces (which are wonderful on cheesecake, ice cream, pancakes, hot cereal, and even with some entrees like chicken, turkey, fish & seafood, or pork), including mild Lemon-Vanilla, medium Chocolate-Orange, medium-hot Cranberry, and hot Key Lime.

5. Dave's Insanity Sauce Gift Set: If you want all four of Dave's Gourmet Insanity Sauces at a discount price, simply order this gift set, which comes with full-size bottles of the original Insanity Sauce, Dave's Temporary Insanity, Dave's Total Insanity, and Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce.

Blair's 3 am Reserve Extract
6. Blair's 3am Reserve Extract, red-black-yellow wax & signed: This super-hot pepper extract comes in an eye-catching heavy glass bottle that's hand-signed and topped with red, black and yellow molten wax. Blair's 3 a.m. Reserve rates between 1.5 and 2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), so use with extreme caution if you dare!

7. Blair's 2am Reserve Extract, red-black wax & signed: This is the first of Blair's notorious "a.m." pepper extracts made in limited quantities and attractively gift-packaged. The sauce rates between 650,000-900,000 SHUs and comes in a hand-signed heavy glass bottle that's sealed with black, red and white molten wax, making it a coveted collector's item among hot sauce aficionados.

8. Ultra-Hot Hot Sauce Gift Set: This specially-priced hot sauce gift set is exclusive to the Carolina Sauce Company and comes with full-size bottles of 9 of our hottest hot sauces, including Blair's Sudden Death Sauce, Da Bomb Ground Zero, Dave's Ultimate Insanity, Liquid Stoopid, Mad Dog .357, Marie Sharp's BEWARE, Predator Great White Shark, Vicious Viper, and You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce.

Pure Capsaicin Crystals
9. 16 Million Pure Capsaicin Crystals Kit: For the hot sauce fanatic who is brave (or crazy) enough to make their own ultra-hot sauces, this kit comes with a sealed vial of 16 Million SHU pure capsaiacin crystals, an aluminum waterproof carrying case for the vial, chemical-resistant lab gloves and plastic tweezer forceps for safe handling of the crystals, and a surgical-grade face mask to keep you safe when handling the crystals.

10. Scary Sauces Gift Set: Another hot sauce gift that's unique to the Carolina Sauce Company, this gift set is especially popular around Halloween and comes with full-size bottles of Satan's Blood, Widow No Survivors (with a realistic plastic black spider attached to the bottle), You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce, and Blair's After Death Sauce.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  To see other category-specific lists of our best-selling sauces and seasonings, simply visit our new Best-Selling Products page.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gloria's Mom's Cuban Lentils

Cuban lentils recipe
When I was growing up, my Mom would often make this simple but hearty and nutritious lentil dish, especially in the winter and when she was short on time.  Traditional Cuban recipes for lentils usually call for some pork in the form of bacon or ham trimmings, as well as lard or bacon grease for sauteing the vegetables. And like the good Cuban cook she is, for years my Mom made this dish with lard and/or a bit of ham. But occasionally she would use Spanish olive oil instead, and the lentils were every bit as delicious but with a slightly lighter flavor (and definitely a lower fat and calorie count).

Like my Mom, I use ordinary brown lentils.  I suspect that Cuban lentil recipes trace their origins back to Spain's rustic "Lentejas con Chorizo" (lentils with chorizo sausage), although my Mom never added chorizo to her lentils.

My version below of my Mom's Cuban lentils is made with olive oil, making it ideal for vegetarians. For a richer and more authentic dish, you can substitute lard or bacon fat for the olive oil, and you can also add a little diced cooked ham, sliced chorizo or crumbled bacon to the lentils when you stir in the cooked vegetables.  Either way, the end results will be irresistibly tasty, and any leftovers will be even more flavorful the next day.

Serve the lentils over hot cooked rice (white is traditional in Cuba) or quinoa if you prefer, and drizzle a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil as a garnish if desired (also a an authentic Cuban touch). If you start the rice cooking right before you start the lentil recipe, both will be done at the same time--and in under 30 minutes. My recipe serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side dish.  You can certainly double the recipe to feed more, or tweak the seasoning amounts to suit your taste buds.

Cuban-style lentils1 cup dry lentils
2 cups water
1 small bay leaf
1 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion
1/2 green bell pepper
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Hot cooked white rice for serving

Pick through the lentils to remove any debris, then rinse well under running water (I use a fine-mesh colander).  Combine lentils, water and bay leaf in a medium saucepan or small pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer, stir and cover.  Cook over low heat until lentils are tender but still holding their shape, about 20 minutes--there will still be some liquid in the pot.

While the lentils are simmering, finely chop the onion and bell pepper (I pulse a few times in my food processor together with the garlic cloves).  Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the chopped vegetables and saute until very tender and translucent. It's ok for the onion to start turning a little bit golden, and the vegetables will be ready around the same time as the lentils.

When the lentils are tender, drain off a little of the liquid if they look too soupy, then stir in the cooked veggies, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook an additional 5 minutes or longer if you prefer a more tender dish (I like my lentils a little on the al dente side, but some folks prefer them a little mushier).  To serve, discard the bay leaf and ladle the lentils over hot cooked rice, finishing with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if desired.

Zestfully yours,

Autumn Blend Lentils 12 ozPS: Lentils come in a variety of colors and sizes, with a range of flavor and texture differences among the them.  Lentils are an inexpensive and versatile legume that are rich in protein, fiber, iron and other important nutrients. Unlike other beans, lentils don't require soaking before cooking, making them an ideal choice for busy cooks. Their earthy flavor pairs nicely with all sorts of seasonings, from tomatoes and Italian herbs to Indian or other curry spices, as well as Caribbean ingredients or more subtle French flavors.

PPS: If you'd like to try more of my Mom's (and my own) Cuban recipes, simply search this blog for "Cuban recipes," or visit my Cuban Recipes board on Pinterest.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Top Ten Best-Selling BBQ Sauces for 2011

Wells Hog Heaven Barbecue Sauce From North Carolina vinegar barbecue sauce to robust and smoky tomato-mustard BBQ and even an exotic Jamaican barbecue sauce, you'll find something for virtually any taste preference on our list of 2011's top ten best-selling barbecue sauces:

1. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce: Our hands-down top-selling barbecue sauce, Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce is made in eastern NC according to a traditional vinegar recipe (no tomatoes), for a thin & tangy sauce that's best enjoyed with pulled pork BBQ and also as a marinade for chicken.

2. J.T. Pappy's Flamin' Gator Medium BBQ Sauce: This classic, savory tomato-mustard barbecue sauce is thick enough for slathering but won't burn on the grill like sugary BBQ sauces. The medium heat level makes it a great choice for folks who love hot & spicy food with a good peppery kick.

J.T. Pappy's Gator Sauce
3. J.T. Pappy's Gator Grenade Hot BBQ Sauce: Noticeably hotter than JT Pappy's medium-heat Flamin' Gator, JT Pappy's Gator Grenade starts off hot and just keeps going from there--but don't worry, you can still taste the robust flavors in this savory sauce, and it pairs nicely with heartier grilled foods like ribs, chops and other types of pork, beef and game.

4. Bone Suckin' Barbecue Sauce: Probably North Carolina's most popular BBQ sauce, Bone Suckin' Sauce is made in the Western NC (also called Piedmont or Lexington) style, with sweet tomato added to the vinegar base for a sauce that's still thin enough for pulled pork but versatile enough for grilled meat, poultry and even veggies and seafood.

5. J.T. Pappy's Mild Gator Sauce: If you like savory barbecue sauce that's not on the sweet or spicy side and has a nice (but not overpowering) tang with a touch of smoke, JT Pappy's Gator Sauce is for you. Made with mustard, tomato, apple cider vinegar and a special spice blend, Gator Sauce is a great all-purpose BBQ sauce the whole family (and even vegetarians) can enjoy.

Scott's Barbecue Sauce
6. Scott's Barbecue Sauce: This eastern NC BBQ sauce is made from a hundred-year-old family recipe consisting primarily of vinegar and plenty of hot pepper, making it the choice of Carolina barbecue purists who like their pulled pork SPICY. Scott's BBQ Sauce is also a great condiment to splash on collards and other greens, boiled new potatoes, fried catfish and other classic Southern food that could use some tangy zip.

7. J.T. Pappy's Hickory Heaven BBQ Sauce: This barbecue sauce is a tasty, all-natural choice if you crave smoky flavor but don't have a smoker (or don't have the time to use one).  Mild on the heat scale, JT Pappy's Hickory Heaven is similar to their mild Gator Sauce but with more of that mouthwatering hickory-smoked flavor.

8. Bone Suckin' Thicker BBQ Sauce: If you like the tang of Bone Suckin' Sauce but wish it had a thicker, richer consistency, this is the barbecue sauce for you.  The flavors are the same slightly-sweet tomato-vinegar blend you've come to love in the original thin version, but the richer texture helps Bone Suckin' Thicker BBQ Sauce stay on your food better during grilling or cooking, for more finger-lickin' (and bone-suckin') flavor.

Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Barbecue Sauce
9. George's Original Barbecue Sauce: A little mellower than other eastern NC vinegar BBQ sauces and with just a touch of sweetness, George's BBQ Sauce is fabulous with grilled chicken or shrimp as well as pork barbecue, and also makes a nice marinade and basting sauce for veggies, kabobs and meats.

10. Walkerswood Jerk Barbecue Sauce: This unusual Caribbean barbecue sauce is thick, rich, and sports the exotic spices of Jamaican jerk seasoning with sweet tropical banana for a festive and memorable taste sensation.  Enjoy on anything you grill whenever you're craving island flavor and spice.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tell Us What YOU Want!

Carolina Sauce Company
What would YOU like to see at the Carolina Sauce Company online store? We want to know what types of products you are most interest in, so that we can add them to our offerings and continue to be your gateway to culinary adventures

To that end, we've posted a Question (a.k.a. a poll) on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page asking for your vote to let us know what types of new products we should be focusing on bringing aboard.  The four main categories under consideration are:
Bacon of the Month Club

1.  Bacon & Bacon-themed products:  Everything from full-slab and naturally cured bacon to sliced and flavored bacons, other bacon-infused foods like pancake mixes and coffees, bacon cookbooks and kitchen items, and even bacon t-shirts, novelties and other accessories to help you express your love of bacon and live the baconista lifestyle.

Fresh Maryland Seafood2.  Fish, Seafood & related products:  Fresh and frozen fish, shellfish and other seafood of the highest quality expertly packaged and shipped to your home, plus seasonings and condiments developed especially for fish & seafood, seafood cookbooks, cooking & kitchen items for handling and preparing fish & seafood, and imported fish & seafood specialty products.

3.  BBQ, Grilling & Kitchen Products:  Handy tools and implements for the barbeque and grilling enthusiast for competition-quality results when grilling at home; - Restaurant, Foodservice, and Residential Kitchen Supplies! restaurant-quality cookware, bakeware, small appliances, chefs' knives & tableware at affordable prices for anyone who enjoys cooking or entertaining at home; portable grills and other products for tailgating and camping; smokers, smoking pellets and other items for folks who enjoy smoked meats, cheeses and other smoked foods; etc.

Buy Hot Sauce online
4.  More Hot Sauces, Barbecue Sauces, Seasonings & Condiments:  Adding product lines like Cholula or Roadhouse or Tahiti Joe's, and expanding current product lines like Dave's Gourmet or Blair's or Mad Dog; as well as adding new items like jams & jellies, Bloody Mary mixes, pepper mashes/purees & powdered dried chiles, etc.

To cast your vote for what YOU want to see on our website, please go to the Carolina Sauce Facebook page and click on the "Questions" tab (or just scroll down our wall to find the Question, which we posted yesterday Feb 23rd).

If you're not a Facebook user and want to cast your vote, you can leave a comment here with your vote and any other feedback you'd like to give us.

Thanks for telling us what you're most interested in, and stay tuned as we continue to bring you more of what you want!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Baked Maryland Crab Cakes

1/2 Dozen 4 oz. Maryland lump crab cakes This scrumptious crab cake recipe comes courtesy of our partner The Crab Place, purveyors of the some of the freshest Maryland and east coast seafood available online. These crab cakes are healthier than others for several reasons: The ingredients keep fat to a minimum, they're baked instead of fried, and they're made mostly of crabmeat rather than bread or other fillers.  And they're so tasty that you won't miss the fat.

Rather than serving with fat-laden mayonnaise-based tartar sauce, garnish these baked Maryland crab cakes with a good cocktail sauce, or perhaps some Blue Crab Salsa or even a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce or a spicy sauce for oysters.  This recipe makes 6 crab cakes.

Fresh, 1 lb. Jumbo Lump Maryland CrabmeatIngredients
1 lb. Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
½ tsp. fresh minced garlic
1/8 tsp. crushed dried tarragon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
6 saltine crackers, crushed fine
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese** (see note)
¾ tsp. paprika

Two Dozen 8 oz. Maryland lump crab cakesToss the crab meat with the lemon juice and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients, and preheat oven to 400°F.

Saute onion with butter and olive oil over medium heat until barely limp, about one minute. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. Mix together the Old Bay seasoning, garlic, tarragon, cayenne pepper, mayonnaise, crackers, and beaten egg. Add the onions and mix well. Fold gently into the crab meat. Divide into 6 portions. Roll the crab mixture into 6 large balls and place in a buttered baking dish 2" apart. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and flatten each ball a little (use the back of a wooden spoon so that you don't burn yourself). Sprinkle each one first with the cheese and then with paprika. Broil to toast the cheese a bit. Serve hot.  **Note: For an even lower-fat version, omit the cheese (and there's no need to flatten the crab cakes), and simply finish cooking the crab cakes under the broiler

Zestfully yours,

PS: Visit The Crab Place for all your crab meat needs - they have great specials to save you money, and their stellar service can't be beat!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Top 10 Best-Selling Hot Sauces for 2011

Matouk's Salsa Picante West Indian Hot Sauce
We often get questions from people wanting to know what is the best-selling hot sauce at Carolina Sauce Company.  You'll find the answer below, along with our list of the top ten best-selling hot sauces for all of 2011.

1. Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce:  Thick and hearty, bursting with scotch bonnet fire and sunny tropical flavor, this Caribbean hot sauce enhances chicken and seafood dishes as well as pork, veggies, rice & beans, and anything else that could use a splash of bright island flavor.

2. Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce: This popular, all-purpose pepper sauce is spicy-hot and serves as an excellent upgrade from vinegary supermarket hot sauces, adding great-tasting heat without masking or overpowering a food's other flavors.  Enjoy Pukka Sauce on any savory dish from breakfast eggs to lunchtime sandwiches to dinner entrees and favorite recipes.

3. Matouk's Calypso Hot Sauce:  Similar to Matouk's West Indian but a little less sweet (no papaya in this recipe) and just a tad hotter, Matouk's Calypso Hot Sauce pairs nicely with grilled foods ranging from lighter meats to poultry, seafood and veggies, as well as in stews and casseroles and at the table.  The distinctive heat and flavor comes from pickled scotch bonnet peppers in a traditional West Indian mustard base.

Georgia Peach & Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce
4. Georgia Peach & Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce: Beloved even by folks who normally don't care for hot sauce, this jewel of a hot sauce combines two Southern summertime favorites, juicy ripe peaches and sweet Vidalia onions, for a sweet & savory hot sauce that's all about flavor with just the right amount of peppery heat. 

5. Matouk's Flambeau Sauce: By far the hottest of the Matouk's line from Trinidad & Tobago, the primary ingredient in Flambeau Sauce is flaming-hot aged, pickled scotch bonnet peppers.  This hot sauce is powerful stuff and meant for folks who like authentic Caribbean heat (which, like the tropical sun, will burn the unprepared and inexperienced). Enjoy Matouk's Flambeau on heartier fare like roasted and grilled meats, and sparingly with hearty stews or other robust foods that can stand up to HOT sauce.

6. Scorned Woman Hot Sauce: Like Pukka Sauce, this is a classic all-purpose vinegar pepper sauce that pairs with virtually anything except dessert, and which rises above one-dimensional lesser hot sauces because of its special blend of hot chiles plus black pepper with spices and a splash of lemon.

Jamaica Hell Fire 2 in 1 Hot Sauce
7. Jamaica Hell Fire 2 in 1 Hot Sauce: This tomato-vinegar pepper sauce is made from tropical chiles and Jamaican allspice for rich Caribbean flavor that's fabulous on red beans and rice, chicken dishes, grilled or roasted meats, fried fish, and even egg or vegetable dishes. Its spicy-hot flavor will wake up your tastebuds without burning them out.

8. Matouk's Hot Pepper Salsa Picante Sauce: Not quite as intensely fiery as Matouk's Flambeau but hotter than the West Indian and Calypso sauces, Matouk's Salsa Picante is tangy and savory (no sugar or fruit) with plenty of aged pickled scotch bonnet pepper flavor and heat.  This thick Caribbean hot sauce is perfect for robust dishes.

9. Susie's Original Hot Sauce: This hard-to-find hot sauce from Antigua has a devoted following, especially among island-hoppers and Caribbean cruisers who have been lucky enough to discover Susie's Hot Sauce in their travels.  Made in the classic Caribbean mustard-pepper tradition, Susie's Original Hot Sauce gets its food-friendly flavor from a secret blend of spices.

Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce
10. Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce:  This is the hot sauce that began the capsaicin arms race years ago and gave rise to the ultra-hot hot sauce craze.  Best (and most safely) enjoyed a micro-drop at a time, Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce is technically a food additive rather than a hot sauce because of its relentlessly intense heat from a hefty dose of pepper extract.  

Zestfully yours,

PS: You can find this list, as well as other category-specific lists of last year's top-selling products, when you visit our new Best-Selling Products page.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sweet Potato Rosti with Cinnamon-Bourbon Maple Syrup

Sweet potato rosti
Sweet Potato Rosti
A rosti is a Swiss potato dish that's sort of like a cross between an oversize latke and a pancake.  Traditionally, a rosti is made from grated potatoes and served as a savory accompaniment with eggs, bacon, ham or smoked salmon.  In fact, it was a local TV news feature with a potato rosti recipe by Dan Eaton that inspired me to create my Southern version of rosti using North Carolina sweet potatoes instead of regular sweet potatoes.

I cooked my sweet potato rosti entirely on the stove because I didn't use an oven-proof skillet, but you could certainly follow his method of finishing the rosti in the oven if you use an oven-proof skillet or frying pan.

Sunday brunch
Sunday brunch
I served my sweet potato rosti topped with Cinnamon-Bourbon Maple Syrup (recipe follows the rosti recipe below), and with some bacon and a fried egg as our Sunday brunch.  If you prefer to keep things savory or are watching your sugar intake, you can season the sweet potato rosti with salt and pepper, or even with gravy, instead of the sweet syrup.  And you can enjoy the sweet potato rosti with any other breakfast fare, or on its own, or even as a dinner side dish with pork chops, roast chicken, grilled steak, or pretty much any other main course as an alternative to potatoes or other starchy side.

Here are the keys to successful rosti making: (1) Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the grated potato or sweet potato before adding to the frying pan; (2) Don't try to flip the rosti before the bottom has fully cooked to a crispy golden brown, or else it could break into pieces during flipping; (3) Use a plate that's at least as big as the rosti, and be very careful in case there's any excess grease that could drip on you when you flip the rosti; (4) I used a non-stick skillet to make the flipping even easier.

Ingredients for Rosti
3 or 4 sweet potatoes (about 1 3/4 lbs)
2 Tbs plus 2 Tbs butter

recipe for sweet potato rosti
Cooking the rosti
Peel the sweet potatoes, then use a box grater to grate them into a large bowl.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan or skillet (10" to 12" in diameter) over medium heat.  While the butter is melting, sprinkle a little salt over the grated sweet potatoes and use your hands or a large spoon to mix it in.  Once the butter has melted, grab a handful of the grated sweet potato, squeeze out as much water as possible, and press into the skillet.  Repeat with the remainder of the sweet potato, pressing each handful into the skillet to make one large, pancake-looking rosti (about 1/2" thick or so). Raise the heat just a touch and fry until crispy and golden-brown on the bottom, about 25 minutes or so. Be very gentle using a spatula to lift the rosti a little to check for doneness, and make sure the rosti is crispy and "holding together" before you try to flip it over.

To flip, invert a large plate (at least as big as the rosti) over the rosti and hold it down with one hand, grab the skillet handle with your other hand, then carefully and confidently turn the skillet upside down so that the rosti drops down onto the plate. Slowly lift the skillet, making sure the entire rosti is now on the plate--the browned side will be visible now.  Place the skillet back on the stove and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  When the butter has melted, gently slide the rosti into the skillet, uncooked side down, and fry for another 25 minutes or so until crispy and golden brown on that side.  You can remove the fully-cooked rosti from the skillet using the same plate-flip method.  Use a knife to cut into wedges, and drizzle with Cinnamon-Bourbon Maple Syrup.

cinnamon-bourbon maple syrup
Cinnamon-Bourbon Maple Syrup
Ingredients for Cinnamon-Bourbon Maple Syrup
3/4 cup real maple syrup (I like Grade B, which is darker & more robust)
1 tsp Bourbon (I used Woodford Reserve)
1" piece of stick cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I did this while the second side of the sweet potato rosti was cooking.  This syrup is tasty over pancakes, waffles, stirred into oatmeal, or any other way you use regular maple syrup.  You don't really taste the bourbon, but rather it helps tone down the sweetness of the maple syrup while adding earthy flavor notes.  Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you don't have maple syrup or the time to make your own bourbon infused pancake syrup, I recommend Jim Beam Bourbon Syrup, which is available at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Spicy Snacks: Lizard Eyes and Ghost Pepper Nuts

Da Bomb Ghost Pepper NutsIn our continuing quest to find fiery and flavorful products to add to our offerings, we're pleased to bring you the following feisty new snacks for folks who like things HOT:

First, there's Da Bomb Ghost Pepper Nuts, created by the same people responsible for Da Bomb Hot Sauces, which are some of the hottest on the planet.  Consistent with their penchant for painful peppers, Da Bomb has harnessed the heat of the world's hottest chile pepper, the Naga (or Bhut) Jolokia, aka the "ghost pepper," and added it to crunchy peanuts for what may qualify as the hottest nuts on the market.  In addition to the dried ghost pepper powder, Da Bomb Ghost Pepper Nuts are also dusted with dried habanero pepper powder for an extra layer of heat, plus a little garlic, paprika and natural smoke for savory flavor.  Yes, these super-spicy peanuts are also surprisingly tasty, making them an excellent and addictive snacking choice for anyone with a super-high heat tolerance. For the rest of us mere mortals, enjoy Ghost Pepper Nuts with caution, and with a soothing beverage handy just in case things get too hot.

Habanero Stuffed OlivesA long time ago, we used to sell habanero olives pickled in vodka on the Carolina Sauces online store. Although those same olives are no longer available, we're thrilled to now offer habanero-stuffed olives as well as the slightly tamer jalapeno stuffed olives.  Crazy Jerry's calls these spicy snacks "Lizard Eyes," which makes them that much more fun to eat.  Both varieties feature large green olives with the hot peppers stuffed inside to create the "pupils" for these Lizard Eyes.  If you are a serious chilehead and enjoy the piercing heat and citrusy flavor of habanero peppers, you'll no doubt enjoy Crazy Jerry's Lizard Eyes Habanero Stuffed Olives.  And if you prefer the relatively gentler heat and vegetal flavor of jalapeno peppers, Crazy Jerry's Lizard Eyes Jalapeno Stuffed Olives will please your palate.

Jalapeno Stuffed OlivesEnjoy either of these spicy pepper-stuffed olives just as you would any other green olives: Sliced or chopped to add to salads, dips, recipes, pizza, nachos or other dishes; or whole as a snack, or zesty addition to a relish or pickle tray.  Add them to your martini or other cocktail for an eye-popping and tongue-tickling garnish!

Stay tuned to this blog and keep an eye on our New Products page, because we'll be adding more new items on a regular basis.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Don't forget to use our February Newsletter coupon to save when you order Ghost Pepper Nuts or Lizard Eyes from the Carolina Sauce Company!

PPS: Halloween might still be months away, but don't you agree that Ghost Pepper Nuts and Lizard Eyes sound like the perfect Halloween snacks?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spicy Beet Greens with Bacon

spicy beet greens with bacon
When buying fresh beets with the greens still on, make sure to select a bunch that's as fresh as possible: The beets should be firm and heavy without any soft spots or blemishes, and the greens should be dark green and perky, not wilted. When you trim off the greens at home, don't throw them out--they're nutritious and tasty, and easily cooked just like you'd prepare kale, chard or other similar greens.  They're also pretty: The stems and veins are bright magenta, for a colorful contrast to the deep green of the leaves. You can preserve much of this color by blanching the greens prior to fully cooking them.

To get beet greens ready for cooking, rinse them well under running water or by swishing several times in a large bowl of water (you may need to drain and repeat more than once if there's a lot of sediment or grit on the greens).  Shake off excess water and use a sharp knife to trim any thick or tough stems.  At this point I usually blanch them, but you can skip that step and cook them as you wish.

One pound of beets (weighed after the tops are removed) usually translates into a little less than a half-pound of greens, which is just enough for two side servings.  You can combine beet greens with other similar greens for a medley of harmonious flavors and textures.

For a lower-fat, vegetarian version of this recipe, simply omit the bacon and saute in a little bit of olive oil.

Approx. 1 lb beet greens, thoroughly washed & tough stems trimmed
2 strips bacon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper flakes
Half a lemon
Kosher salt to taste

Blanch the beet greens:  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a full boil, and fill a large bowl with ice water.  Have a colander handy, too.  Add the cleaned and trimmed greens to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then immediately drain and transfer the greens into the bowl of icy water for a few minutes. This will stop the cooking process and intensify the color of the greens.

While the beet greens are blanching in the cold water, fry the bacon in a large skillet until crispy.  Drain the cooked bacon on paper towels and reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease in the skillet (I pour the rest of the grease into a little glass jar that I store in the refrigerator for future use).  Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet and saute over medium-high heat for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic (that makes it bitter).  Thoroughly drain the blanched beet greens and shake off as much water from them as possible--you can also pat dry with paper towels.  The drier the greens are, the less likely they will be to splatter when added to the skillet.

Use a sharp knife to coarsely chop the beet greens, then add all at once to the skillet.  Stir until the greens are evenly coated with the fat and seasonings, and saute until tender and heated through (I like my greens "al dente").  Remove from heat, crumble in the bacon and add several squeezes of fresh lemon juice, stir and taste for seasoning, adding a little Kosher salt if desired.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  Here in the South, many folks like their greens tangy and spicy. If that's also how you like them, simply add more fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce:  Either Texas Pete (which is actually made in NC) or Tabasco Sauce are excellent choices and often the hot sauce of choice down here.  You can't go wrong with Bacon Hot Sauce, either.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

NEW Best-Sellers Page at Carolina Sauce

Wells Hog Heaven Barbecue Sauce
2011's Best-Selling Product
By popular demand, we've created a new Best-Selling Products page on the Carolina Sauce Company website, listing the top selling sauces, seasonings and other products for 2011.  In addition to the list of overall best-sellers across all product categories, you will also find category-specific lists including Best-Selling Barbecue Sauces, Best-Selling Hot Sauces, Best-Selling Gifts, and the like.  The lists are based on number of items sold during 2011, and we will update this list annually each January with the prior year's results.  Each product on the list will be a "hot link" so that you can simply click on its name and go to that specific product page, where you'll be able to see a photo and read a description of the product, see the current price, and order it online.

As we've done for the past few years, we will continue to update the monthly list of top 10 best-selling products on the Carolina Sauce Company home page.  Likewise, at the beginning of each month I'll post on this blog the prior month's list of best-selling products along with brief descriptions and "hot links" to their individual pages.

We hope this new, annually-updated Best-Selling Products page is helpful, and please feel free to leave your feedback here or on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page.  And if you have any suggestions for other helpful features, or if you have any questions, please leave a comment here or on Facebook, or email us.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Even Kids will Love these Neon Veggies

roasted root vegetables
If you have kids (or a spouse) who claims to hate root vegetables like beets, turnips and rutabagas, this recipe will make them reconsider.  Roasting brings out a natural sweetness in root vegetables, even notoriously "unfriendly" ones like turnips.  Smaller, younger vegetables will also be more tender in texture and have a mellower, more kid-friendly flavor--plus, you won't need to peel them (other than the onions) and can preserve more nutrients by keeping the skins on.  If you can find sweet onions like Vidalia or Texas Sweet brands, use them here.  And there's no reason not to include parsnips, too--my produce market didn't have any, which is the only reason I didn't add them.

The Bag Holder
The Bag Holder
Especially if you choose not to peel them, make sure you thoroughly wash and scrub the root vegetables.  Be careful handling the cut beets:  The same purple juices that provide the bright "neon" colors to this recipe will also stain your kitchen counters, clothing and fingernails.

The weights and ingredient quantities are merely suggestions based on what I used, and can be modified as desired.  The herbs I used are ones that we like, but you can certainly use different herbs (or fresh herbs if available).  One final suggestion: If you do have kids who would normally refuse to eat root vegetables, just call these "Neon Veggies" when you serve them, instead of using their common names.

When I made this recipe, I mixed everything up in a gallon resealable plastic bag using The Bag Holder, a nifty new product I find myself using every day in my kitchen.  If you don't have The Bag Holder, you can make this the "old-fashioned" way in a large bowl or baggie.

marinating root vegetablesIngredients
2 medium onions, peeled & into large chunks
1 lb rutabaga, trimmed & chopped into large chunks
2 medium carrots, trimmed & chopped into large chunks
1/2 lb turnips, trimmed & chopped into large chunks
1 lb beets, trimmed* & chopped into large chunks
3 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried savory
1/4 tsp ground pepper (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or in a resealable plastic bag. If using a bowl, carefully stir with a large spoon or spatula until all the veggies are evenly coated with oil and seasonings.  If using the bag, seal the bag while pressing out excess air, then shake until all the veggies are evenly coated with oil and seasonings. If you have kids, they might enjoy taking turns shaking the bag and watching as the veggies start to change colors from the beet juice.
recipe for roasted root vegetables
Before roasting

Spread the veggies onto a large broiler pan or baking sheet in a single layer and place on middle rack in oven.  Roast at 400°F degrees until very tender and starting to brown at the edges--about 30 to 45 minutes--stirring occasionally (I first stirred after 25 minutes, then twice more before they were done after a total roasting time of 45 minutes).  Makes 4 to 6 side servings. 

*Note: Beet greens are tasty and nutritious, so don't throw them away! Simply rinse thoroughly & shake off excess water, trim off any tough stems, and cook like you would kale or other such dark, leafy greens. Better yet, stay tuned for a spicy beet greens recipe that I'll be posting in the next few days!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Carolina Sauce Newsletter: Get Ready for Mardi Gras

Tabasco SauceThe latest new products at the Carolina Sauce Company include an old favorite, the original Tabasco Sauce, back by popular demand and just in time for Mardi Gras.  Here are the other new arrivals since our last Newsletter:

Bacon Hot Sauce, Bacon BBQ Sauce & Bacon Ketchup:  If you agree that Bacon makes everything better, these condiments are for you!  Bacon Hot Sauce features a peppery blend of cayenne & New Mexico chiles with natural bacon flavor for a mildly hot sauce that's great on anything that could use some bacony zip.  Jim Beam Bacon BBQ Sauce is a classic sweet-tangy tomato-bourbon BBQ Sauce from KY with real bacon flavor that complements burgers, ribs, grilled meats, chicken, and even baked beans.  Slappin' Fat Bacon Ketchup adds genuine bacon flavor to hamburgers, scrambled eggs, fries, etc. for an authentic bacon experience even if you're out of bacon.  Enjoy mouthwatering bacon flavor without the grease or extra calories when you use any of these bacon condiments!

Habanero stuffed olives Crazy Jerry's Lizard Eyes:  Pepper-stuffed olives are back, and Crazy Jerry's calls them "lizard eyes." His Jalapeno-Stuffed Olives are a spicy snack you can enjoy straight from the jar, as an appetizer or as part of a pickle tray, or chop them up to add to salads, dips and recipes calling for regular green olives.  If you enjoy the fiery burn of habanero peppers, then Crazy Jerry's Habanero-Stuffed Olives will light your fire.

Il Primo Giardiniera & Sport Peppers:  Giardiniera is also back, and this time it comes from Chicago's legendary Il Primo.  Their Hot Giardiniera has been gracing Italian style sandwiches all over the Windy City for almost a century.  This feisty mix of hot peppers and pickled veggies is also tasty on pizza, pasta, hot dogs, burgers, with eggs and on salads.  Il Primo Sport Peppers are a signature condiment on Chicago hot dogs.  These mildly spicy pickled peppers can also be chopped and added to dips, omelets, pizza, tuna salad & other prepared salads, etc.

Da Bomb Ghost Pepper NutsDa Bomb Ghost Pepper Nuts:  If you're crazy about insanely hot food, these incendiary peanuts are your ideal snack:  Da Bomb Ghost Pepper Nuts are dusted with powdered ghost pepper (naga jolokia) AND habanero, so you'll need a frosty beverage handy to help quench the flames.

Ole Ray's Gourmet Sloppy Sauce:  Simply brown & drain ground beef, chicken, turkey or vegetarian ground "meatless," add some of this rich, savory-sweet sloppy-joe sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, then serve on hamburger buns or over rice for a simple and delicious dinner the whole family will enjoy.  Ole Ray's Sloppy Sauce is also great in meatloaf, baked beans, as an alternative to ketchup or BBQ sauce, and even with scrambled eggs & breakfast potatoes.

Chile Pepper Magazine* NEW selection of Cookbooks!  We've completely updated our selection of cookbooks, and among our offerings you'll find some real gems from North Carolina's very own Mama Dip and Bob Garner, Maryland seafood cookbooks, gluten-free reference books, bacon cookbooks, food & cooking magazines including Chile Pepper Magazine, and even a wonderful new resource to help you professionally (and affordably) print and publish your recipes into a cookbook!

You'll want to bookmark our
New Products page because more new products are coming later this month, and throughout the year.

Get Your Coupon & Win Free Prizes

*Use coupon code CarolinaNews to save 5% off your product total at the Carolina Sauces online store, good on ALL products including our newest products and already-reduced sale items.  The CarolinaNews coupon is good through the end of February and will expire at midnight on February 29th, 2012. ***Please note, the CarolinaNews coupon doesn't apply to products purchased from our partners, including Grill Charms and Cookbooks.***

crock pot slow cooker *Play our brand-new monthly
Crock Pot Game on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page and win FREE PRIZES!  We'll post a new game on the 1st of each month. Simply follow the rules and post your answer, and we'll pick a winner each month to receive a free product, gift certificate or other zesty prize. The next Crock Pot Game will be posted on March 1st, so make sure to "Like" us on Facebook in order to play.  You'll also find additional coupons, special offers and private sales when you click on the "Coupons" tab on our Facebook page.

Mardi Gras Jambalaya Recipe

This hearty recipe is perfect for Mardi Gras or any other day. Use real Cajun seasonings and hot sauce for authentic flavor. In addition to traditional Tabasco, other good hot sauce choices are Dave's Cool Cayenne and Pain Is Good #218 Louisiana Hot Sauce.

1 cup rice

1 (2 to 3 lb) fryer chicken, cut into pieces
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, your choice of flavor
Flour for dredging
Chicken jambalaya recipe3 Tbs butter or bacon fat
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped (you can include the leaves)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 can or bottle of beer (or 1 cup broth)
3/4 cup chopped Tasso (spicy Cajun ham) or Andouille sausage
1/4 to 1/2 tsp (or to taste) Tabasco Sauce

Cook rice according to package.  While rice is cooking, liberally season the chicken parts with Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, then dredge in flour. Melt the butter or bacon fat in a large heavy skillet (cast-iron is ideal), and fry the chicken until brown. Remove from skillet and place on a plate covered with paper towels to absorb excess fat. Using the fat in the skillet, saute the veggies in the skillet until tender. Put the chicken back in the skillet, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, tasso or sausage, 1 teaspoon of Slap Ya Mama Seasoning, and the hot sauce to taste. Stir, cover, and cook slowly until the chicken is tender (at least half an hour). Check regularly and add some of the beer/broth as needed (you don't want this to stick to the bottom of the skillet or burn). Once the chicken is fully cooked & tender, stir in the cooked rice and add more beer/broth if needed. Let simmer for 15 minutes to blend all the flavors. Serves 6, and leftovers freeze well.

"Like" Us on Facebook!

If you're not already our Fan on Facebook, you're missing out on exclusive coupons, FREE shipping offers and other special discounts available only to our Facebook fans!  To become a Fan, simply click on this link: Carolina Sauce Facebook Page, and then click the "Like" button.  You can then click on the "coupons" tab to see the current deals.  We also play the monthly Crock Pot Game, post recipes, link to interesting articles & pages about food & cooking, provide product info, share mouthwatering photos, and ask fun Questions where you can cast your vote.  We want to hear from you, too, so please leave us a comment on our Facebook page, and feel free to share your food photos, recipes, BBQ/food blog, and other zesty stuff.

Follow SaucyGlo on Twitter for additional sales & discounts, the latest food news, zesty tips, and to chat with us!

Zestfully yours,