Thursday, February 28, 2013

Upcoming Carolina Sauce Giveaway, Newsletter & VIP Sale

HEADS UP -- We have two important announcements:

1.  Tomorrow is March 1st, and that means it's time for a chance to win a FREE prize on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook Page!  Simply visit our page tomorrow Friday, March 1st, and look for our "pinned" post with the photo of our Crock Pot (as shown here on the left).  In our post we'll explain the rules for this month's "game" and what you need to do for a chance to win. Don't forget to "Like" us on Facebook so that you're eligible to win.

2.  Our March VIP Newsletter will be emailed early next week to everyone who's signed up to receive this FREE monthly newsletter. This issue will include a major announcement regarding the long-awaited return of some favorite barbecue sauces and rubs, as well as the addition of a much-anticipated and well-known line of BBQ and grilling sauces, seasonings and marinades. And as always, the newsletter will include a VIP-only coupon code for a special discount that's better than any other offers available to non-VIPs, plus an exclusive zesty recipe.

Click here to become a VIP & get your discount
If you're currently receiving our monthly newsletters, that means you're already a VIP and will be getting the March issue next week.

If you're not already a Carolina Sauce VIP and would like to receive VIP discounts, simply sign up for our free monthly newsletter.  Look for your confirmation email and click on the link in that email to complete the sign-up process, and you'll officially be a VIP. Be sure to add our email address to your "safe senders" list so that the confirmation email and newsletter don't end up in your "spam" folder. (Don't worry, we only email you once a month and we NEVER disclose, share or sale your email with anyone else.)

Any questions? Need help signing up for the newsletter? Want us to sign you up for you? Just email me and I'll help you out.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jolokia Pepper Potato Chips from Blair's Death

Buy Blair's Jolokia Potato Chips
Brace yourself for the ultimate fiery snacking experience: Blair's Death Rain Jolokia Pepper Potato Chips have arrived at the Carolina Sauce Company!

Cauldron-cooked in safflower and/or corn oil and seasoned with a generous amount of jolokia (aka ghost pepper) powder plus paprika, garlic and other savory spices, these fiendishly hot, all-natural potato chips from the makers of the infamous Blair's Death hot sauces will blow you away from the first bite.

Considered one of the hottest peppers on the planet, India's legendary naga jolokia (also called bhut jolokia) was nicknamed the "Ghost" Pepper when it burst onto the American fiery-foods scene a few years ago, so it would make sense that a company with a line of "Death" hot sauces, "Death Rain" seasonings and spicy-hot snacks would eventually come out with "Death Rain" potato chips, including these jolokia potato chips.

You've tried chipotle and habanero-spiced potato chips; now it's time to try the hottest of them all, Blair's Death Rain Jolokia Pepper Cauldron-Cooked Potato Chips, on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store. Just be sure you have a large, ice-cold beverage on hand to quench the flames, and don't touch your eyes without first wiping your fingers on a napkin!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  These Jolokia Potato Chips are just one of many new products added to our online store. To see the latest arrivals, visit the New Products page on our website.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easy Tip for Shaping Meatballs Quickly & Evenly

20070401 meatballs 03
Flickr photo by jspatchwork
Make beautifully round, evenly-shaped meatballs that are all the same size using these 3 simple steps (loosely based on the method for making sliced sushi rolls):

1. After mixing together all the ingredients for your meatballs, shape the meat mixture into one or more cigar-shaped rolls or cylinders that are the same diameter as the diameter of meatball that you want to make. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 1/2" diameter meatballs, each cylinder should be 1 1/2" in diameter/width. The length doesn't matter, so go with whatever is practical.

2. Cut off slices that are the same width as the diameter of meatball you want to make, e.g., for 1 1/2" diameter meatballs, cut each cylinder into slices every 1 1/2" down its length.

3. Roll each slice into a round ball.

That's it - now cook those pretty meatballs!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Monday, February 25, 2013

We have Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Sauces & Seasoning Again!

At long last, we're once again able to bring you the legendary Big Bob Gibson White Bar-B-Q Sauce, the original white barbecue sauce from Alabama!

Little-known outside of Alabama until recent years, creamy-tangy white BBQ sauce has been taking the country by storm... and we're thrilled to offer it for sale online on our Southern Foods page at the Carolina Sauce Company website.

Made with the same ingredients as mayonnaise but not as thick, and with a pleasantly savory, tangy flavor that finishes with a peppery kick, Big Bob Gibson's White BBQ Sauce is excellent for basting chicken, turkey, Cornish hens, goose, duck, quail and other game birds, whether on the grill or in the oven. It's also a natural for grilled, broiled or baked fish and seafood, and it's surprisingly tasty with pork and venison, too. If you want to ratchet up the flavor in mayo-based salads like tuna, chicken, potato and the like, replace some of the mayonnaise in your recipe with a splash or two of white barbeque sauce. You can even use this unique, award-winning BBQ sauce as a salad dressing on greens, or a sauce for steamed, broiled or grilled vegetables.

Also available again on our website is Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Seasoning & Dry Rub, a classic sweet-savory blend of brown sugar, salt and spices that delivers mouthwatering flavor to ribs (beef or pork), chops, roasts, butts, chicken and more. This is the barbecue rub that helped Big Bob Gibson win four consecutive World Championships at the Memphis In May cook-off in the Pork Shoulder division. In addition to seasoning meats and poultry prior to smoking, grilling, baking or roasting, this dry rub is also delightfully delicious when sprinkled on fries (potato or sweet potato), over popcorn, or at the breakfast table with hash browns or skillet potatoes.

In addition to bringing back these old favorites, we now carry three other crowd-pleasing, award-winning barbecue sauces from Big Bob Gibson which are new to the Carolina Sauce Company:

1.  Big Bob Gibson Championship Red Bar-B-Q Sauce:  This is THE legendary BBQ sauce that first brought Big Bob Gibson to the attention of the barbecue-loving world. Made from a recipe perfected over seventy years, this sweet and tangy tomato-based barbecue sauce is ideal for slathering on ribs to produce succulent, delectably delicious meat with the kind of toothsome caramelized crust that will hook you from the first bite and keep you coming back for more. But don't limit this sauce to ribs and other hunks of red meat: Mop your chicken with it, baste your kabobs or grilled fish, drizzle it over hamburgers as they grill, mix it into ground beef for meatloaf or burgers, and stir it into baked beans. In fact, some people use it every time in place of ketchup for a more grown-up, robust flavor.

2. Big Bob Gibson Habanero Red BBQ Sauce:  This is the hot & spicy version of the Championship Red sauce, with a generous amount of habanero peppers tossed in to heat things up. Unlike other fiery barbecue sauces, however, this one is as much about the award-winning flavor as it is about the firepower. In other words, the big, bold flavor of the original recipe sauce will still shine through, as will the natural flavor of the food, with the hot peppers simply adding their own distinctive flavor layer and a solid, complementary heat to please the palates of fiery-foods fans.  If you enjoy hot and spicy foods, you'll want to have this spicy barbecue sauce handy at the grill and in the kitchen for all your hearty meats and poultry.

3. Big Bob Gibson Backyard Mustard BBQ Sauce: Inspired by the tangy mustard barbecue sauces popular in the Carolinas, this sweet & sassy mustard-based barbecue sauce from Big Bob Gibson is perfect for pairing with pork of all sorts: Slow-smoked shoulder that's pulled and sauced for Carolina style barbecue, chops and loins that you baste or mop as they grill, and of course with pork ribs where the sauce will form a luscious, lip-smackin'-good glaze. The flavor of this food-friendly mustard barbeque sauce also complements grilled, roasted and baked chicken, and it will perk up your meatloaf and burgers, too. Heck, some folks get their kicks out of using it to make BBQ Buffalo wings, so get creative and have some fun!

You'll find all of these famous Big Bob Gibson products on our Southern Foods page -- and be sure to bookmark it because we're adding more products (including other old favorites) over the next few weeks.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Simple, Foolproof Way to Peel Tomatoes

Photo by burgundavia, on Flickr
I used to dread having to peel a tomato:  The oozy mess. The slowness of the process and infuriating tendency to remove too much pulp or not enough peel. The frustration of searching for a super-sharp knife to speed up the process. The inevitable cut finger(s).

That is, until I learned this super-easy, knifeless and foolproof method for peeling tomatoes. It's quick, too, especially if you have a LOT of tomatoes to peel.

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.

2. Fill a large bowl with water and some ice to create an ice bath deep enough to completely submerge the largest of your tomatoes.

3. Working one tomato at a time, spear it with a fork (a long-stemmed BBQ fork works really well) and plunge it into the boiling water, holding it there for 20 to 30 seconds.

4. Lift the tomato out and immediately plunge into the ice bath for several seconds, until cool to the touch.

5. Lift the tomato out. The peel or skin win slip right off with your fingers.

That's it!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Friday, February 22, 2013

Have you tried Sticky Fingers BBQ Sauce & Rub?

Tennessee barbecue sauce is a far cry from thin and vinegary North Carolina barbecue sauces.

Don't get me wrong: I love both styles. But each has its place and its purpose.

Carolina vinegar-based BBQ sauces are best enjoyed with pulled pork barbecue and possibly as a marinade for grilled chicken if you're using a Piedmont or western NC, aka Lexington style sauce for the latter. Because they have very little or no tomato or other thickeners, North Carolina BBQ sauce is usually too thin as well as too tart for slathering ribs or for other more common applications.

In contrast, Tennessee sauces tend to be thick and sweet with just a touch of savory tang, making them ideal for slathering on ribs, basting chicken and mopping other foods during the final few minutes of grilling or smoking. They're also excellent at the table for dipping or pouring -- just make sure you have plenty of napkins handy (or don't mind licking your fingers).

Sticky Fingers Tennessee Whiskey Barbecue Sauce is a shining example of the traditional style of BBQ sauce found in Tennessee. Seductively sweet brown sugar and earthy molasses provide old-fashioned sweetness and that trademark "ooey-gooey" thickness that helps this rich sauce stick to your ribs (including the ones on the grill). In fact, Sticky Fingers is made for that very purpose, and also for basting and finishing chicken, shrimp, vegetables and anything else you're cooking up on the barbeque. Just the right amount of tomato, vinegar and other savory ingredients help to balance out the sweetness, and the splash of Tennessee Whiskey provides a depth of flavor that brings everything together. If you're looking for an all-American barbeque sauce the whole family can enjoy, and that will please your cookout guests and tailgating buddies, Sticky Fingers BBQ Sauce is the one for you.

If you like seasoning meats or poultry with a flavorful but not overpowering BBQ dry rub prior to smoking, grilling or cooking indoors, our friends in Tennessee make a mouthwatering Sticky Fingers Dry Barbecue Rub that fits the bill and produces succulent results.  Developed especially for seasoning ribs (beef and pork) before they go on the smoker, this robust BBQ seasoning delivers just the right amount of savory spice to enhance the natural flavors of the meat without overwhelming them. Sticky Fingers Rub is also a wonderful choice if you want to season a brisket, pork butt or chops, and even chicken, hamburgers and steaks. You can enjoy it on cooked vegetables and mashed potatoes, too. Go ahead and "think outside the grill" by sprinkling Sticky Fingers Dry Rub on French fries and popcorn for flavorful snack twist!

Both Sticky Fingers Tennessee Whiskey BBQ Sauce and Dry Rub are now available on the recently-updated Southern Foods section of our Carolina Sauce Company website. Make sure to bookmark the page if you love southern sauces, condiments and other foods from the South, because we're in the process of adding more products including the return of some old favorites.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Zesty Low-Carb Tuna Casserole

Creamy, hearty tuna casserole is a popular comfort food that's easy to make and that even the pickiest kids will tend to like.

Virtually all tuna casserole recipes include noodles, pasta, rice or some other carbohydrate, however, and that may present a problem for people on low-carb or sugar-restricted diets. Many of those traditional recipes also call for canned soup such as cream of mushroom, which tends to be loaded with carbohydrates plus a large amount of sodium.

My low-carb tuna casserole does not require the usual pasta, noodles or rice, nor does it use canned soup. And the very small amount of fine dry bread crumbs called for could be eliminated or replaced with wheat germ if you prefer. Using a robustly flavored cheese like Parmigiano or Asiago means you won't have to add much salt - in fact, I don't add any.  You control how zesty or spicy to make this recipe by deciding whether to use one or two hot peppers, which variety of pepper to use, or even by replacing the hot peppers with sweet mild mini-peppers or half of a bell pepper. Don't like one of the herbs listed? Substitute a different dried herb. In sum, my recipe is healthier than most, adjustable to your tastes, and easy to make.

3 eggs
1 cup milk (I use skim)
1 Tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried ground savory
1/2 tsp dried basil plus a little more for topping
1 cup shredded hard cheese (I use a mix of Parmesan & Asiago)
1 small yellow squash or zucchini, trimmed & thinly sliced (I like to slice lengthwise)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 hot chili peppers, seeded & minced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup peas
2 cans (5 to 7 oz each) tuna, drained & flaked (I like Albacore)
2 or 3 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
Optional: 1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cracker meal
Optional: Salt & ground black pepper to taste (I omit)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a rectangular casserole or large baking dish. Line the bottom with one layer of sliced squash, overlapping if necessary to cover the bottom (if you end up with leftover sliced squash, simply store in the refrigerator for another use).

Whisk together the eggs, milk & herbs (and salt & pepper if using) in a bowl, then stir in most of the cheese, reserving about 1/4 cup.

In a large bowl combine the celery, garlic, peppers, onion, peas and tuna. Fold in the egg mixture and gently stir to combine thoroughly -- a large wooden spoon or silicone spatula works well for this.

Spoon the mixture evenly over the layered squash, sprinkle with the bread crumbs (if using) and the reserved shredded cheese, then arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on top. Dust with a little bit of dried basil. 

Bake at 350°F for 60 to 75 minutes or until the cheese is lightly golden. Remove from oven, let sit a couple of minutes to fully "set" and then cut and serve -- a slotted spoon or spatula works best because the squash may release some liquid as it bakes. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings, and you can refrigerate leftovers and reheat the next day.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Collegiate Tailgating & Grilling Gift Boxes are Here!

Kentucky Wildcats Grilling Gift Set 3-12 oz (Cajun, Lime and Peach)A condition known as March Madness will soon infect millions throughout the United States as NCAA basketball fever sweeps across the country.

If you're a frenzied fan of college hoops and your favorite school happens to be located in the South, I have good news:  The Carolina Sauce Company now offers officially-licensed Collegiate Tailgating and Grilling Gift Boxes with zesty sauces, salsas and other condiments, featuring the colors and logos of many colleges and universities in the south!

The Collegiate Grilling Sauces Gift Set is a sturdy cardboard gift box containing three full-size bottles of zesty grilling sauces for marinating, BBQ-ing, grilling, basting, mopping, slathering and dipping ribs and other red meats, chicken, shrimp, fish and grilled vegetables. You get a bottle each of spicy Cajun grilling sauce, tangy Lime grilling sauce, and sweet & sassy Peach grilling sauce. This Gift Box is available for the following NCAA college and university teams:  Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers, Clemson Tigers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Ole Miss Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, TCU Horned Frogs, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns,Texas Tech Red Riders, and the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Alabama  Crimson Tide Snack Pack Hot Sauce SalsaIf you like to snack on hot and spicy food while watching the game, and if you happen to root for the Alabama Crimson Tide, we have a special pair of sauces just for you (and your fellow Alabama fans who enjoy fiery foods). The Alabama Crimson Tide Hot & Spicy Gift Box comes with a bottle of classic cayenne pepper hot sauce to spice up your favorite game day foods, from burgers to grilled or fried chicken, chili, chip dips and more. It's also perfect for whipping up your own Buffalo wing sauce for tossing with chicken wings or buffalo shrimp. The second item in this gift box is a jar of fiery, flavorful picante sauce for dipping chips, topping nachos, spicing up tacos or burritos, and even on hamburgers or anywhere else you'd want to use a spicy salsa or alternative to ketchup. The gift box, hot sauce and picante sauce are labeled with the officially licensed logo and colors of the University of Alabama to show your school spirit and support for the Crimson Tide.

Texas Longhorns Boxed Set of 3 (Cajun Seasoning,Steak/Rib Rub and BBQ Rub)Because virtually all grilled or smoked foods taste better when seasoned with a good dry rub or BBQ seasoning, we offer a Collegiate Grill Seasonings Grill Box that you'll want to bring along when you tailgate before the game and have on hand when you fire up the barbecue grill or smoker at home. Whether the menu features beef or pork ribs, steaks, chops, brisket, chicken, seafood, kabobs, or burgers, the three grill seasonings in this box will bring out the best in all. They come in spicy Cajun, zesty Sweet BBQ, and robust Steak seasoning. The Gift Box and rubs are labeled with the colors and logos of your choice of Alabama Crimson Tide, or Texas Longhorns.

South Carolina Gamecocks TailGate Set (Hot Sauce, BBQ and Salsa)They say variety is the spice of life, and our Collegiate Tailgating Gift Box offers both variety AND spice. Each box features three different sauces and condiments to complement whatever you cook up and serve before, during and after the game -- a 16 oz jar of tangy, all-American barbecue sauce for slathering on whatever you grill, a 16 oz jar of zesty picante salsa for dipping chips or veggies and enjoying on burgers and sandwiches, and a 5 oz bottle of spicy cayenne pepper hot sauce for splashing some heat on anything that needs it. This Gift Box is available for the following NCAA college and university teams: Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers, Clemson Tigers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Ole Miss Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, TCU Horned Frogs, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns,Texas Tech Red Riders, and the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Texas Longhorns Triple Play (BBQ, Salsa and Cheese)Last but not least, our Texas Longhorns Zesty Sauces Gift Set is guaranteed to please palates that prefer big, bold sauces with Texas-size flavor.  The gift box includes a 16 oz jar of spicy picante salsa for nachos, tacos, chili, etc., a 16 oz jar of zesty nacho cheese sauce (ditto -- and it also makes a great dip for chips, chicken nuggets, fries, etc.), and a 16 oz jar of robust, tangy-sweet BBQ sauce that's excellent for grilled chicken, ribs, and other barbecue favorites.

You can view all of our collegiate sauce gift sets on our Southern Foods page. These gift boxes are perfect for any gift-giving occasion!

Do you root for a team that's not in the south? Don't see your favorite NCAA college or university listed?  Email us or leave a comment below to let us know what school or team you're looking for, and if we can find a zesty gift box for it, we'll add it!

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3 Quick Tips for Storing Chili Peppers

Fresh, dried or roasted, chili peppers are a staple in my kitchen -- and if you enjoy cooking and eating zesty foods, and especially if you grow your own peppers, they're probably a staple in your kitchen, too.

There's an optimal way to store chile peppers in each of their "states" (i.e., fresh, dried and roasted) to ensure that they retain the fullest, richest flavor (and maintain their heat intensity, for hot varieties). Here's what I recommend:

Best way to store fresh chili peppers, whole: Select the freshest peppers possible, with shiny, unblemished skins and no signs of being past their prime, e.g., no mushy or off-color spots that are the tell-tale signs of spoilage. Assuming you're storing whole and not cut peppers, store them in your refrigerator in paper bags rather than plastic because plastic can trap moisture or condensation that would hasten spoilage, while paper bags will "breathe." If the peppers came in a plastic clamshell with holes or slots that let air in, you can refrigerate them that way. But if the chilies are in plastic bags, wrapped in plastic or on a tray covered with plastic wrap, transfer the peppers to paper bags to ensure freshness for up to a week.

Buy Dried Jolokia Chiles
In contrast, the best way to store sliced or chopped fresh chiles is in your refrigerator in airtight resealable containers such as small plastic tubs or baggies. Cut chilies should be used within a couple of days. Freezing fresh peppers may be practical if you have a bounty of fresh peppers from your garden or farmer's market and plan to use them cooked -- chop or slice and freeze pre-measured portions in sealed freezer bags with all the air squeezed out or in vacuum-sealed bags. Just be aware that upon thawing the chopped peppers will have lost their crunchy texture and the color may not be as bright -- which is why freezing is not recommended if you intend to use the chilies in stir-fry recipes or other recipes where crispness is desired. They'll last for several months in your freezer, but don't forget to label them with dates (and with portion size if not readily apparent).

Best way to store dried chilies: Especially if stored in airtight containers or bags, dried chili peppers can last up to a year in a cool, dry and preferably dark place such as a pantry or cabinet that's not next to or above your stove or oven. After several months, the flavor and heat intensity may begin to fade gradually but the dried chiles will remain safe to eat. It's crucial that the dried peppers not be exposed to any moisture, which is why you don't want to store them near your stove or oven because the heat and changes in air temperature could result in condensation in the storage containers.

Italian Roasted Red Peppers
Buy Italian Roasted Peppers
Best way to store roasted peppers: If you roast your own peppers or buy roasted peppers in "deli" or clamshell containers (as opposed to in jars or cans), freeze the roasted chilies in plastic bags with all the air squeezed out or in vacuum-sealed bags. Be sure to allow freshly-roasted peppers to cool before placing them in the bag. There's no need to peel the roasted peppers before freezing because the skins will peel off quite easily after you thaw the frozen peppers.

Do you have a different way to store peppers? If so, please tell us in a comment below.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Monday, February 18, 2013

Five Fish-Friendly Sauces & Seasonings to Try

The Carolina Sauce Company is well-known for its extensive selection of barbecue sauces and seasonings, but did you know we also offer a variety of sauces and seasonings for fish and seafood?

Whether you're observing Fish Fridays for Lent or for your health, or simply enjoy eating fish or seafood on a regular basis, now is the time to broaden your flavor horizons with one or more of the following fish- (and seafood-) friendly sauces from the Carolina Sauces online store:

1.  Tobago Keys Coral Ridge Seafood Dipping Sauce: This rich and creamy, mildly spicy mayo-based sauce is a delightful alternative to everyday tartar sauce for dipping shrimp or fish sticks and pouring over all kinds of seafood, whether fried, baked, broiled or grilled. A dab of mustard and savory ingredients like garlic, herbs and spices provide depth of flavor, while just a tough of cayenne and habanero peppers give a pleasant peppery "pop" that brings it all together. Try it on fish sandwiches, in tuna salad (and even in chicken, potato, pasta and other types of creamy prepared salads) and in place of ordinary mayonnaise on hamburgers and subs.

2.  Crazy Jerry's Backfire X-Hot Oyster Sauce: Similar to an all-purpose hot sauce but without the harsh vinegar "bite," this hot and spicy pepper sauce gets its tang from lemon juice instead of vinegar. That, along with seafood-friendly herbs and spices, make this playfully piquant sauce the ideal splash-on for oysters (steamed, fried or ray), clams, scallops and fish prepared any way, and even hush puppies, French fries and onion rings. Pour it into a microwave-safe bowl, heat it gently and mix in some melted butter for a sensational dipping sauce for crab legs and boiled shrimp!

3.  Chile Pepper Republic Catch of the Day Seafood Seasoning:  This inspired blend of gourmet herbs and spices will let you achieve fine restaurant dining results at home. There's just enough pepper to tickle your tastebuds, and the subtle tropical flavor notes beautifully complement everything from rich salmon, tuna and mackerel to the most delicate scallops and mild-mannered flounder. If you're looking for an all-purpose, versatile seafood seasoning blend that the whole family can enjoy, Catch of the Day is for you. There's no wrong way to use it:  Try it for grilling, broiling, sauteing, frying, baking, steaming and even at the table.

4.  Rage'n Cajun Blackening Seasoning: Bring out your well-seasoned cast iron skillet, get it piping-hot, open up the windows and toss on some fish fillets coated with this Cajun rub... and when the smoke clears, get ready to indulge in that Louisiana specialty, blackened fish!  This zesty blend of garlic, red peppers, salt, sugar and other spices is exactly what you need to cook up some genuine Cajun style seafood, whether you use it as a blackening or mix a generous amount into your breading for fried fish, shrimp or oysters. You can also blend it into butter for broiled or sauteed seafood, or sprinkle it on during grilling. Some folks even like to season their fries, popcorn and baked potatoes for savory, peppery flavor that can't be beat.

5.  Peppers Original Blue Crab Salsa: Made with real Maryland blue crabmeat mixed with chunky tomatoes, hot and bell peppers, onions and other traditional ingredients, this spicy salsa is a unique treat that will thrill anyone who loves crab and craves a big, bold fresh-tasting salsa. In addition to being wonderful for nachos and for dipping chips, raw veggies and pita wedges, it's also wonderful for spooning over fish tacos, seafood enchiladas, grilled or baked fish, and even tossed with cooked shrimp to serve over linguini.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  You can also buy fish and seafood online, including Maryland crab, plump US-caught Gulf shrimp, Louisiana crawfish, fresh Chesapeake Bay flounder and more!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to Make Bread Crumbs (Soft, Fine Dry, or Seasoned)

Have you read the ingredient list on a package of store-bought bread crumbs?

Especially if you're already buying wholesome, all-natural bread or baking your own at home, it makes sense to stop buying bread crumbs and start making them at home. Whether you want soft bread crumbs or fine dry bread crumbs, plain or seasoned, it's super-easy to turn fresh or stale bread into home-made, wholesome bread crumbs. Here's how:

For Soft Bread Crumbs:  You'll get roughly 3/4 cup soft crumbs for every slice of sandwich bread. Simply tear by hand into small pieces; OR tear each slice into quarters, place a few torn slices in a food processor or blender, cover and pulse until coarsely chopped.

For Fine, Dry Bread Crumbs (Unseasoned):  Place slices of stale bread on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F until crisp and dry. Allow to cool, then place slices in a large resealable plastic bag, seal and crush with a rolling pin. Alternatively, break a few slices of crisped bread into the bowl of your food processor or blender, cover and pulse until finely ground. Each slice will make about 1/4 cup fine crumbs.

For Seasoned Fine, Dry Bread Crumbs:  Before baking, lightly brush each slice of stale bread with olive oil or melted butter, sprinkle with desired seasoning (e.g., Italian herbs, garlic powder, sea salt & crushed black pepper, BBQ seasoning, grated Parmesan cheese, etc.), and then bake and process as described above.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Top 10 Best-Selling BBQ Sauces for 2012

It's not too early to start preparing for spring and the official start of the barbecue & grilling season -- and for those hardcore outdoor cooks, firing up the smoker or grill is a year-round practice requiring a constant supply of sauces and seasonings. Either way, now is the time to stock up on your favorite BBQ sauces and also pick out a few new ones to try. There's no better place to get started than our list of the top ten best-selling barbecue sauces for 2012 at the Carolina Sauce Company:

1. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce: Our top-selling product from North Carolina and our all-time best-selling sauce, Wells is also our best-selling barbecue sauce for 2012. This eastern NC vinegar-based barbecue sauce is thin and tangy with a touch of spice, making it the right choice for enjoying Carolina style barbecue the way folks do in the eastern half of the state. In addition to being excellent on smoked pulled pork, it also doubles as a tangy marinade and basting sauce for grilled chicken.

2. Bone Suckin' Barbecue Sauce: This all-natural, gluten-free and great-tasting Western NC BBQ sauce is a tangy-sweet blend of tomatoes, cider vinegar, honey & molasses plus savory seasonings & spices for a full, fun-loving flavor the whole family will enjoy. Whether you slather it on ribs, chicken, fish, shrimp or veggies, you're guaranteed to get kudos when you grill with the award-winning, world-famous Bone Suckin' Sauce!

3. JohnBoy & Billy's Hot & Spicy Grillin' Sauce: A relative newcomer to the Carolina Sauces online store, this medium-hot barbecue sauce hails from North Carolina and delivers tangy-spicy mustard flavor that will complement all your favorite grilled foods. If you enjoy a big, bold BBQ & grilling sauce that packs a peppery punch, this one won't disappoint.

4. JohnBoy & Billy's Original Grillin' Sauce: Close on the heels of our third-place finisher is the Original JohnBoy & Billy's Grillin' Sauce, the sassy creation of nationally-syndicated radio personalities JohnBoy & Billy. Similar to a coastal or South Carolina sauce, this North Carolina favorite will dress up any grilled or smoked foods, from pork butt to chops, ribs to burgers, and even chicken or shrimp. It's a great dipping sauce at the table, too.

5. Wells All-Purpose Ribs & Chicken Sauce: Not nearly as famous as its wildly popular vinegar-based sibling but with its own loyal following, this rich tomato-based barbecue sauce is for everything other than pulled or chopped pork BBQ. Nowhere near as sweet as Memphis or Kansas City style sauces, its saucy tomato flavor makes it a great choice for ground beef recipes (meatloaf, burgers, chili, casseroles, etc.) as well as for finishing or dipping ribs, chicken, veggies and shrimp or seafood.

6. NC BBQ Sauce Gift Set, Mild: Despite being added to our online store fairly late in 2012, our North Carolina barbecue sauce gift set (mild version) proved just as popular as it has been in years past, finishing sixth among all our barbecue sauces. The current version of this "taste of NC BBQ" gift features a full-size bottle of three different sauces representing the three dominant styles of NC barbecue (Wells Hog Heaven for the vinegar east, Bone Suckin' Sauce for the tomato-vinegar west, and JohnBoy & Billy's Original Grillin' Sauce for the mustard southern coast) plus a bottle of Bone Suckin' Rib Rub, a sweet & savory BBQ dry rub that's great with Boston butt, ribs (pork or beef), brisket, chicken, chops, and even for seasoning veggies, seafood, popcorn, french fries, hash browns and more.

7. Jim's Own Homestyle Barbecue Sauce:  Made in the classic Piedmont (aka western NC or Lexington) style, this tangy-sweet, mildly spiced BBQ sauce is one of my personal favorites, both on pulled pork BBQ and as a marinade & grilling sauce for chicken and shrimp. Perhaps what I enjoy most is its versatility in the kitchen as well as on the grill: You can bake, broil, braise and even stir-fry with it, and it enhances baked beans, sloppy joes, meatloaf and even burgers (mix into the raw ground beef before forming patties, then grill for mouthwatering, juicy results). The mild Homestyle is the most popular flavor, but Jim's Own Sauce is also available in Hot, Smokey, and Mustard.

8. Ole Ray's Kentucky Gold Bourbon BBQ Sauce: Similar to a South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce but with a thicker texture and mellower sweeter flavor, this rich barbecue sauce has a spicy kick from chili peppers and earthy, smoky depth from a splash of real Kentucky bourbon. Excellent for ribs, chicken, mutton, venison and other hearty fare, it also pairs nicely at the table with sausages and even works as a pretzel dip!

9. Ole Ray's Pork-O-Licious BBQ Sauce: This old-fashioned southern-style barbecue sauce is reminiscent of the vinegar sauces from eastern NC, but with a mellower flavor. Ideal as a mopping sauce, marinade or splashed on pulled or chopped smoked pork, it's a natural with other pork cuts and also quite good with chicken, beef and game meats.

10. Roadhouse Original BBQ Sauce: Last but not least on our list of top-selling barbecue sauces for last year, this thick, sweet and smoky BBQ sauce is based on an old family recipe that's endured the taste of time. The sweetness comes primarily from tomatoes plus just the right amount of pineapple and raisins, all tempered and balanced by vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and other savory ingredients plus a gentle touch of hot sauce to add a feisty finish. Use it on anything and everything you toss on the grill or take out of the smoker, and make sure you have enough for everyone to get seconds!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  This is our final in a series of posts listing the top-selling products in each major category at the Carolina Sauce Company.  You can see all the lists, including the list of the overall best-selling products across all categories on out Best-Selling Products page.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Greg's Kerala Fish Stew

Before I headed out the door on Wednesday evening to go sing at a service, I asked Greg if he could take care of dinner by either whipping something up in the kitchen or picking up some takeout. My only specific request for the meal was that it be based on fish or seafood, or be meatless.

When I walked inside the house a few hours later, tired and hungry, I was greeted by an intriguingly exotic, almost voluptuous aroma of coconut, ginger, curry spices and piquant chilies. Delighted and intrigued, I asked Greg what was for dinner. His reply:

"I had an incredible vegetarian Kerala stew served over appam* when I was in Bangalore. This is fairly close, but they had added a few other vegetables, broccolini and okra I think. They served the appam pancake on a banana leaf, and then spooned some of the stew onto it. The pancake absorbs the liquid, and you tear off bits of the pancake to eat the stew. I decided to make a fish stew instead. Appam is a multi-day exercise so that's for another time."

*Note:  Appam is a South Indian flat bread or pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk.

Greg's Kerala Fish Stew was absolutely fantastic, albeit somewhat decadent if you are a traditionalist when it comes to Lenten dining. The stew had a luxuriously velvety mouthfeel with a subtle curry flavor, hints of sweetness from the coconut and a mellow nuttiness from the ghee (Indian clarified butter). Both the fish chunks and the vegetables were tender but not mushy, and the creamy liquid tempered the fiery bite of the serrano chiles to produce an overall gentle heat with an occasional medium-hot spoonful. Although we happily devoured our stew in bowls with a soup spoons instead of the traditional appam on a banana-leaf "plate," it could easily as well have been enjoyed over rice, Asian noodles, or, if you have the time or live near an Indian bakery, served over appam or with other Indian flatbread.

The following is Greg's recipe for Kerala Fish Stew.  Ginger paste and ghee are available at Whole Foods and similar supermarkets, at some gourmet or specialty-foods shops, and in Indian grocery stores and other ethnic markets. If unavailable, you can substitute finely grated or minced fresh ginger for the paste, and clarified butter, vegetable oil or canola oil for the ghee (regular butter won't work because of its low smoke due to butter solids). And if you have access to fresh Indian chilies, by all means use those instead of the serrano peppers -- just be sure you're familiar with their heat!

1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled & sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 Tbs ginger paste
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbs ghee plus a little bit extra for sauteing vegs
1/3 cup flour
1/2 lb mild white fish filets such as tilapia, flounder or sole, cut into large chunks
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
3 serrano peppers, halved lengthwise & seeds removed
1 small bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup peas (drained if canned, thawed if using frozen)

Heat a small amount of ghee in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, ginger & spices and saute until the onion is translucent and the carrot is just tender, stirring frequently.  Place fish chunks on top of vegetables and let cook for a few minutes, turning the fish pieces over when partially cooked.

While the vegetables and fish are cooking, combine the 1 1/2 Tbs ghee and the flour in a small pan over medium-high heat to make a thick paste or roux. Cook until slightly brown, then slowly stir in just enough coconut milk to make a thick paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 or 3 minutes. Add this paste to the stew (a silicone spatula or wooden spoon is ideal for this task), stir in the rest of the can of coconut milk, then gently fold in the chilies & bell pepper. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. A few minutes before serving stir in 1/2 cup peas and continue cooking until heated through. Makes 2 or 3 servings.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you enjoy Indian food and are interested in trying other Indian recipes, be sure to follow our "Indian Recipes" board on the Carolina Sauce Pinterest site!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love-Themed Hot Sauces for Valentine's Day

In honor of Valentine's Day, here are some of my favorite hot sauces with names that conjure up thoughts of love, romance, and maybe a little naughtiness...

Passionate love:  Bayou Love Potion No. 9 is a genuine Louisiana hot sauce made with habanero & cayenne peppers blended with minced garlic and Cajun spices for fiery heat and zesty flavor that will sweep you away. For a gentler burn but the same seductive flavor, try Bayou Passion Hot Sauce, which uses the same basic recipe but omits the habaneros.

Kisses galore:  Jump Up & Kiss Me Hot Sauces are all-natural gourmet blends of hot peppers with fine ingredients like fresh garlic & ginger, papaya & passion fruit, honey, cocoa & more. The label displays a lipstick smooch & the sauces come in 3 luscious flavors: smoky Chipotle with Roasted Red Peppers, sexy Spicy Passion Fruit, & feisty Original made with habaneros & papaya.  Continuing with the kissing theme is Kiss of Fire Ultimate XXX Hot Sauce (the x's refer to the heat level), which is for seriously committed chileheads who find pleasure in hot-pepper-induced pain. Yes, this baby is HOT HOT HOT!

You or your sweetheart's name?  Are you or your beloved named Susie? Then Susie's Burning Desire Hot Sauce is perfect for Valentine's Day if Susie enjoys hot and spicy food. Made in Antigua, it's a traditional Caribbean style scotch bonnet pepper hot sauce with a tangy mustard base for authentic island flavor & fire (we also offer all the other flavors of hard-to-find Susie's Hot Sauces). And if you or your sweetheart is a chilehead named Dawn, you'll be glad to know that we feature many different flavors and heat levels of Heartbreaking Dawn's hot sauces, from her sweet & spicy Jalapeno Pineapple Hot Sauce and Mango Habanero Hot Sauce to her signature flaming-hot Chocolate Habanero, Trinidad Scorpion and Ghost Pepper hot sauces.

Lust & seduction:  The label for Wanza's Wicked Temptation Hot Sauce displays a dark and mysterious smoky siren who personifies the sauce's description: "A fiery temptress with a major attitude." Be careful because she delivers a wicked-hot burn rated at 2 million Scoville Heat Units! First she seduces you with sweet tropical fruits like guava, pineapple & passion fruit in a sassy vinegar-mustard-tomato base, but just as you're lusting for more pleasure she ruthlessly strikes you with her deadly pepper-extract heat! Succumbing to temptation does have a price.... For a more playful, less dangerous flavor fling with "no strings attached," try Hot 'N Horny Scorching Hot Sauce, a jaunty jalapeno hot sauce made from simple, all-natural ingredients for honest jalapeno flavor & fire. And don't worry, the label isn't "dirty" or "adult-themed" despite the name.

Zestfully yours,

PS:   If you ARE looking for "dirty" or "x-rated" hot sauces, you'll find them on our "Mature Label" page, added by popular demand (you must be 18 or older, and if you're easily offended, please don't visit that page).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jim's Own Sticky Shrimp

Photo by Jim's Own Sauce, used with permission
You might already be using Jim's Own Bar-B-Que Sauce, an award-winning Piedmont/Lexington style barbecue sauce from North Carolina, during the summer barbecue season with pulled pork, grilled chicken, beef or pork ribs and other grilled or smoked fare... but if you haven't tried it in the kitchen yet, you don't know what you're missing! 

This simple, sassy and scrumptious Sticky Shrimp recipe and photo come to us courtesy of Jim's Own Sauce (original recipe is copied with permission below, and you can find it here). In this stove-top recipe the sauce will reduce down into a finger-lickin'-good glaze that coats the shrimp with lusciously sweet and tangy flavor that will tickle your tongue and bring a smile to your face.

If you're a fan of hot and spicy foods, you'll want to make this with Jim's Own Hot Bar-B-Que Sauce, which spices up the original sauce with enough fiery habaneros to please most chileheads but without burning you out (in other words, you'll still be able to enjoy the other flavors in your food). Otherwise, if you prefer a more "family-friendly" or crowd-pleasing milder dish without peppery heat, stick with the original, Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce.

The folks at Jim's Own serve this as an appetizer, and thus their recipe below calls for 6 shrimp per person. Call me crazy, but I think this Sticky Shrimp could be enjoyed as a main course if you multiply the recipe to allow for 12 shrimp per person and then serve over cooked rice or Asian noodles, and maybe garnished with some chopped green onions or even a little chopped fresh cilantro or parsley. If you give that a try, please leave me a comment to let me know.

Buy Jim's Own BBQ Sauce online
24 large shrimp (about 6 per person)
½ cup Jim’s Own BBQ Sauce, Hot or Mild (Homestyle)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic
A little olive oil for the pan

Clean, devein and peel the shrimp. Heat the pan to medium hot and add a little olive oil. Saute the shrimp in the pan until just pink, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat up and allow the liquid to reduce enough to make a sticky sauce for the shrimp, stirring occasionally. Serve as appetizers.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 10 Best-Selling North Carolina Products for 2012

If you're looking to buy authentic North Carolina products online, look no further than the Carolina Sauce Company, where we have everything from vinegar barbecue sauces to NC country ham, and even those hard-to-find NC hot sauces, too. Here is our list of the best-selling North Carolina products for 2012:

1. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce: This vinegar-based barbecue sauce from Burgaw, NC, is also our top-selling product of all time at the Carolina Sauces online store. There are no tomatoes or thickeners in this genuine eastern NC barbeque sauce, just vinegar, spices & seasonings. Ideal for splashing on smoked pulled pork, Wells is also tasty as a marinade for grilled or smoked chicken. Some folks also like adding it to collard greens or green beans for extra tang.

2. NC State Wolfpack Hot Sauce: This Louisiana-style cayenne pepper sauce is made from all-natural ingredients and is a favorite among fans, students & alumni of NC State University. The label sports the colors and officially-licensed logo of the NC State Wolfpack, making this zesty, all-purpose hot sauce an excellent choice for tailgating, game-watching parties and get-togethers where you want to show your school spirit.

3. Bone Suckin' Rib Rub: From the makers of the world-famous Bone Suckin' BBQ Sauce, this sweet & savory, mildly spicy blend of brown sugar, chili pepper, salt, paprika and other spices will complement everything from ribs to chops, chicken to shrimp, grilled veggies to ground meat recipes, and even popcorn or baked potatoes. Bone Suckin' Seasoning Rub is also all-natural, gluten-free, no MSG, and certified Kosher.

4. Bone Suckin' Sauce (original): This is probably the best-known barbecue sauce from North Carolina, and is popular throughout the US and even around the world. Made in the western or Piedmont style with tomatoes, vinegar, spices and a touch of sugar, its tangy-sweet flavor will have the whole family coming back for seconds regardless of what you grill, baste, marinate or otherwise cook with it. Like the dry rub, Bone Suckin' Sauce is gluten-free, all-natural, MSG-free and certified Kosher.

5. JohnBoy & Billy's Hot & Spicy Grillin' Sauce: The brainchild of those crazy guys from the nationally-syndicated JohnBoy & Billy radio show, this feisty North Carolina sauce blends just the right amount of hot peppers into a tangy mustard-tomato-vinegar base for fabulous food-friendly flavor with just enough heat to wake up your mouth without destroying your taste buds. Whether you use it on beef or pork ribs, chicken, kabobs, burgers, or even in baked beans or meatloaf, it's sure to please fans of hot & spicy foods.

6. Bone Suckin' Hiccuppin' Hot Habanero Sauce:  North Carolina isn't known for its hot sauces, but this award-winning habanero hot sauce is starting to change that! With a rich flavor inspired by Bone Suckin' BBQ Sauce and just enough fiery habaneros & other peppers to deliver a solid medium-hot burn, this devilishly delicious hot sauce is loved by foodies and fiery-foods fanatics alike.

7. JohnBoy & Billy's Original Grillin' Sauce: This is THE barbecue sauce that made JohnBoy & Billy famous among BBQ enthusiasts and outdoor chefs. The flavor is reminiscent of coastal Carolina BBQ joint mustard sauces, with that lip-lickin' good tang and spunky spice. It's great on pulled, chopped or sliced pork BBQ as well as slathered on ribs (beef or pork), grilled chicken or burgers, and also at the table as a dipping sauce for pretty much anything, even fries.

8. Wells All-Purpose Ribs & Chicken Sauce: This thick, tomato based sauce from the makers of Wells Hog Heaven is perfect for basting or mopping on ribs and chicken during the final 10 minutes of grilling or broiling. It's also great for adding to ground beef recipes in place of ketchup, and enjoying on hamburgers or with onion rings as a condiment. Savory with a touch of sweetness and spice, it's a good choice for folks who find vinegar based BBQ sauces too tangy.

9. Jim's Own Bar-B-Que Sauce: This was the very first product we offered on the Carolina Sauce website, and it's still one of our all-time favorite BBQ sauces. Its Lexington (aka Piedmont) style base of vinegar and tomatoes beautifully balances sweetness with tang and just a touch of spice for that perky, palate-pleasing flavor that complements pulled pork, grilled chicken, shrimp kabobs and even portobello burgers. This sauce can also play a starring role in the kitchen for marinating, baking, roasting and even stir-frying. And you'll want it at the table for saucing served food, too.

10. Scott's Barbecue Sauce:  Similar to Wells Hog Heaven but considerably spicier in heat and tang, this eastern NC BBQ sauce has a history dating back over 100 years and its traditional flavor is a favorite among serious fans of eastern North Carolina pulled pork barbecue. There are no tomatoes, thickeners or sweeteners, making this vinegar BBQ sauce best-suited for Carolina style barbecue, but it's also very good as a spicy-hot marinade for chicken, or at the table as an alternative to pepper vinegar for seasoning Southern-style greens or fried fish.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, February 11, 2013

No Self-Rising Flour or Cornmeal? Use This!

Have you ever started a bread recipe or cornbread recipe only to discover that it calls for self-rising flour or self-rising cornmeal, and you don't have any?

This happens to me regularly because I never buy self-rising flour or cornmeal. I always have all-purpose flour and regular cornmeal in my pantry, however, along with other basic baking staples like baking powder.

Instead of spending money on self-rising flour or self-rising cornmeal, here's how you can make it at home using ordinary flour or cornmeal:

1 cup of self-rising flour = 1 cup of all-purpose flour  + 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of self-rising cornmeal = 1 cup of regular cornmeal + 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Note: If your recipe also lists baking powder and/or salt as ingredients in addition to the self-rising flour or self-rising cornmeal, most cooks* say that you should omit them up to the quantities in the substitution. In other words, if your recipe calls for 1/2 tsp baking powder, omit all of it because you're already adding more than that amount of baking powder in the substitution (do NOT reduce the amount in the substitution, or the recipe won't rise enough). If your recipe calls for 2 tsp baking powder, reduce that to 1/2 tsp because you're already including the rest in the substitution.   

*I said "most cooks" above because it's been my experience specifically when making cornbread that I get better results if I do NOT reduce the additional baking powder or salt by the amounts in the substitution.  That's just my personal experience - if you agree or disagree, please leave a comment because I'm curious to learn what other cooks have experienced.

This is my go-to substitution strategy when making a recipe that lists self-rising cornmeal or flour as an ingredient. It saves room in my pantry because I don't need space for an extra container or two, and it saves money at the grocery store because it's something less to buy.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Best-Selling Marinades, Dressings & Grilling Sauces for 2012

All but one of our best-selling marinades, dressings & grilling sauces for 2012 were new products added last year to the Carolina Sauces online store. It's a diverse list of sauces offering a wide range of flavors from bright and citrusy to dark and earthy, mildly spiced to hot and fiery, elegantly complex to down-home delicious. Here's the top five: 

1. Lime Time Grilling Sauce: Bursting with bright citrus flavor and feisty jalapeno heat, this tangy-sweet marinade is a blue-ribbon winner that works wonders with seafood, chicken or meat. Simply marinade in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then grill, broil, bake, roast or cook on the stove for delightful, sunny flavor with just the right amount of zip. You can also enjoy this marinade as a salad dressing, basting sauce or dip (it's great with shrimp).

2. Busha Browne's Spicy Hot Pepper Sherry: Our second-best selling sauce is one of the original products at the Carolina Sauce Company. This old-fashioned condiment adds depth of flavor and spiciness to soups, stews, casseroles, stir-fry dishes and any savory recipe calling for sherry. It's a necessary ingredient in making Bull Shots, and also works well in Bloody Marys and similar drinks.

3. Maker's Mark Gourmet Marinade: Hailing from Kentucky and enhanced with a splash of smooth Maker's Mark Bourbon, this food-friendly marinade and barbecue sauce beautifully balances tomato, vinegar and sugar with savory spices and just a touch of pepper for big flavor and mild heat. Excellent with ribs, chicken, brisket, burgers and other grilled fare.

4. Jim Beam Kentucky Marinade:  This versatile, savory marinade is reminiscent of a fine steak sauce with caramel notes from the bourbon and subtly Asian richness from sesame and soy. It's not spicy but instead is all about the complex layers of deep, dark, mellow flavors. It will tenderize while infusing your beef, pork, venison, lamb or chicken with remarkable flavor.

5. Spice Exchange Bourbon Rosemary Chipotle Marinade: For the gourmand, foodie, and anyone else who enjoys eating well, this earthy, spicy and robust marinade will satisfy your need for flavorful food. On the hot side of medium with tangy, subtly sweet flavor, it's a natural for hearty red meats on the grill but also wonderful for roasting, baking or grilling chicken.  It's also excellent as a hot & spicy table sauce.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Indian-Style Sweet & Sour Eggplant

This is my version of an Indian sweet and sour eggplant recipe called Khatha-Meetha Baigan, which has a more mellow, deeper and subtly earthier flavor than than the cloyingly-sweet, one-dimensional red sweet & sour sauce found at many Americanized Chinese restaurants.

The traditional Indian dish usually is made with very small, long-stemmed eggplants that are cooked whole in mustard oil and spiced with fiery red chilies native to India. My version uses the ordinary purple eggplant commonly found in U.S. supermarkets, mustard seed toasted in ghee (Indian clarified butter, found at Whole Foods, Indian markets and metropolitan supermarkets - you can substitute vegetable oil if you're vegan or can't find ghee), and ground red pepper plus red pepper flakes, for a rich, tangy-sweet flavor with medium-hot heat. You can add more pepper, or use Indian chiles if you find them, for a hotter, more fiery flavor.

One thing to keep in mind in making this recipe is that the cubed eggplant will absorb the ghee or oil quite readily, making the dish very rich but also lusciously buttery if using ghee (which is lower in fat than ordinary butter, with a lovely nutty flavor). Unless you are vegan, I recommend using ghee rather than oil because of the superior flavor. Don't add more ghee or oil after the eggplant quickly absorbs virtually all in the pan; Trust me, the eggplant won't burn or stick. Only add the additional ghee or oil as indicated in the recipe, after removing the sauteed eggplant.

1 smallish purple eggplant (approx 3/4 lb), trimmed but not peeled
2 Tbs plus 1 Tbs ghee (Indian clarified butter) or oil
1 Tbs mustard seed
3/4 cup chopped onion
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs ginger paste or freshly grated ginger
1 Tbs tamarind paste
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
scant 1/4 cup hot water
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground red pepper or cayenne powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp Kosher salt

Cooked eggplant
Cut the eggplant into small cubes, no more than 1/2" in size.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of ghee or oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add mustard seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until seeds start to sizzle and become aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add eggplant and stir-fry for about 2 minutes until evenly coated; reduce heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and turning lightly golden, about 12-15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove eggplant from wok or pan and set aside.

Add 1 Tablespoon of ghee or oil to the wok or skillet, bring heat back up to medium-high and saute onions, garlic & ginger until onion is translucent & softened. 

Stir in tamarind paste, brown sugar, ground & crushed pepper, salt and water. Cook at a bubbly simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture has thickened somewhat, about 15 minutes or so.

Stir in eggplant, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Serve hot with rice or Indian bread such as Nan or Indian "pancakes" such as Dosa or Utappam (savory pancake with spicy vegetables). Serves 2 to 4.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you're looking for Indian recipes, be sure to visit the Carolina Sauce Company on Pinterest, where I've devoted a board to Indian recipes.

PPS: For fans of curry, we now offer a magnificent all-natural Papaya Curry Sauce & Marinade that's tangy-sweet and also doubles as a flavorful tenderizing marinade (the natural enzymes in papaya will tenderize meat and help the flavors penetrate). It adds exotic tropical curry flavor and medium heat to any type of meat, poultry, fish, shrimp and even vegetables. Buy it on sale on our Jerks & Curry page at the Carolina Sauces online store.