Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fresh Seafood Delivered to Your Door, at Great Prices

Stores That Sell Seafood OnlineGreat news for fans of fresh fish and seafood:

You no longer have to go to a seafood restaurant or a coastal market to enjoy fresh seafood and fish.

In fact, you no longer even have to leave your home to buy fresh seafood.

Instead, you can buy fresh seafood online, and have it delivered quickly and expertly at your home!

Our affiliate partner The Crab Place has everything you need to enjoy a succulent feast of the freshest fish and seafood, without ever stepping foot outside of your home. From live Maryland crabs to seafood soups and complementary spices, they quickly deliver the highest quality products to your door. Here are just a few of their offerings:
  • The Crab Place offers two sizes of Alaskan King Crab Legs that are ideal for appetizers, soups and impressive main courses. Be sure to check out their current King Crab Leg Specials for the best prices and to place your order.

  • The Crab Place has Live Maine Lobsters for sale in 1 lb to 5 lb sizes. They also offer Live Maine Lobster Specials that are worth checking out when you want to indulge in the luxury of a lobster dinner without breaking the bank.

  • Love crabs?  You can buy Maryland blue crabs steamed or live. The steamed crabs arrive with your choice of light, medium, heavy or no seasoning, and you can eat them cold or reheated. When you order Live Crabs, they're shipped directly from the water and they include a package of The Crab Place's very own special blend of mild seafood seasoning.

  • The Crab Place offers some of the freshest Fish the East Coast has to offer, and it's hard to beat the value you get when you shop their Fresh Fish Specials.
Buy Blue Crabs Year RoundIf you're concerned of where your fish and seafood come from, you'll be interested in knowing that CrabPlace.com is committed to the environment and the Chesapeake Bay. They only sell domestic crab products, ensuring the highest quality, eco-friendly seafood. Likewise, all of their fresh fish is wild caught from U.S. waters.

You're also getting an excellent value, especially when you shop the Current Seafood Deals at The Crab Place. And whether you're relatively new at cooking fish and seafood or an experienced home chef, you'll appreciate the preparation tips, facts and recipes that they provide for your fresh seafood choices.

Fresh seafood makes a great gift, and The Crab Place has a top-quality assortment from which to choose. Not sure what to get or when it should be delivered? Simply send a Gift Certificate from The Crab Place and the recipient can select exactly what they want.

So the next time you're in the mood for fish or seafood, or want an impressive gift for a fish or seafood lover, save some time and gas by shopping online at The Crab Place. And tell them Carolina Sauce Company sent you.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, July 29, 2013

Greg's Mom's Red River Bread

Red River Bread
Red River Bread, made with whole wheat flour
Red River Cereal is a stick-to-your-bones, high-fiber and nutritious whole-grain hot cereal from Manitoba, Canada, that's made with wheat, rye and flax. First sold in 1924, it's widely available in Canada but hard to find in the United States. I was introduced to it by Greg's family, who used to spend much time in Canada, and fell in love with it from my first bowl on a chilly winter morning.

Unfortunately, Red River Cereal isn't sold anywhere in my area, but Greg brought back several boxes for me the last time he was in Minnesota. Because it's one of my standard breakfasts especially after running when the weather is cold, I searched for an online vendor with whom I could partner not only for my own purpose, but also for the Carolina Sauce Company to be able to offer the cereal to our customers. I'm happy to announce that I was successful and you can now buy Red River Cereal online, along with other genuine Canadian products, via our new affiliate partner Canadian Favourites!

Red River Cereal
Buy Red River Cereal
If you enjoy grainy hot cereals for breakfast or are simply trying to increase your intake of whole grains or flax, I highly recommend Red River Cereal. My favorite ways of eating it are with a drizzle of real maple syrup or honey, a sprinkling of walnuts or other nuts, and a handful of raisins or dried cranberries. It's also excellent with fresh berries, a spoonful of brown sugar and a dusting of cinnamon. But best of all, it makes the following hearty bread that can be used for anything from sandwiches to French toast and whole-grain croutons (for the latter, cut into cubes and toast in oven until crisp-dried). And it's simply heavenly fresh out of the oven with a smear of butter or North Carolina marmalade or jam.

The recipe below makes two or three loaves, and the bread freezes well if you let it cool completely and then double-wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight freezer bag (squeeze out all the air before zipping the bag). I got the recipe from Greg's Mom, who got it from a friend in Canada.

1 1/2 cups cooked Red River Cereal*, cooled to room temperature (cook according to package instructions)
1 1/4 Tbs yeast
Cooked Red River Cereal
Cooked Red River Cereal
1/2 cup warm water (heat to 115°-120°F)
1 1/4 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup lard**
1/4 cup molasses*** (I use blackstrap)
1/4 Tbs salt
1 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)
5-6 cups flour (all-purpose or whole wheat both work fine)

*Don't use the "Ready to Eat" or microwave version -- you need to use the original stove-top Red River Cereal

**I've also used half lard and half butter. If you're vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable shortening

***I've also used half molasses and half real maple syrup (not "pancake syrup" - use the real deal!)

Dough rising for Red River Bread
After the first rise
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water (115°-120°F) in a large bowl. Stir in sugar and let stand for 10 minutes -- the yeast will activate and the mixture will become frothy, with a "yeasty" aroma. In a small bowl combine the lard, molasses, salt and hot water. When the lard has melted and the temperature of the liquid is no more than 125°F, pour into the large bowl with the yeast. Add the cold cooked cereal and stir to break up. Begin adding in the flour a cup at a time, stirring to incorporate each cup before adding more (you can also work the dough with your hands once it starts coming together). You want to end up with a pliable dough that's a little moist but not too sticky -- depending on ambient temperature and humidity, you may need to add an extra cup of flour. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 45 minutes to an hour) -- I like using a slightly damp towel to cover the bowl and place it in my oven with the light on, which provides just the right amount of warmth.

Making Red River Bread
Before the 2nd rise
Grease two or three bread pans. When the dough has doubled after the first rise, form two or three loaves and place in pans, then let rise again for another 20 to 30 minutes -- the dough should mostly fill the pan. Note: If you prefer, you can make "free form" loaves and bake them on a greased baking sheet instead of in bread pans. I haven't tried making round loaves, but that might work, too. If you try this recipe and make free-form or round loaves, please do post a comment below (and include photos if possible) to let me know how they turn out.

Ready to bake loaves of Red River Bread
After 2nd rise, before baking
As the loaves complete their second rise, preheat oven to 400°F. When the loaves have risen, bake at 400°F until golden-brown and they sound hollow when tapped, about 20 to 30 minutes (in my oven on most days they take the full 30 minutes, sometimes a little longer).

Remove from oven and cool loaves on racks -- if baked in pans, allow loaves to rest in the pans a few minutes before attempting to remove from pans to place on cooling racks.

Homemade Red River Bread
Cooling the loaves
Once the loaves are cool enough to handle, you can slice and eat the bread. Alternatively, if you plan on storing any of the loaves for later use, wait until they cool completely and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap (I double-wrap) and then store in an airtight freezer bag in your freezer. Defrost at room temperature before cutting.

Zestfully yours,

PS: You can probably use other whole-grain wheat, rye & flax cereals instead of Red River brand -- if you do, please tell us what you used and how the bread turned out (just leave a comment below).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gluten-Free Gifts for BBQ Lovers

Gluten-Free BBQ Gifts
If you are looking for a tasty and flavorful gift for someone who loves barbecue but has a gluten allergy, the Carolina Sauce Company has gluten-free BBQ gifts that are guaranteed to please!

Our most popular gluten-free gift is the original Bone Suckin' BBQ Gift Set (mild). This sampler of some of North Carolina's most popular barbecue sauce comes with a full-size 16oz jar of the original Bone Suckin' Sauce, a sweet & sassy western NC style barbecue sauce made with tomatoes, vinegar, a touch of sweetness and spice, and no artificial ingredients or gluten (yes, it's certified gluten-free). There's also a 16oz jar of the Thicker Bone Suckin' Sauce, which is awesome on ribs or as a table condiment, a full-size jar of all-purpose Bone Suckin' Seasoning & Rub (fantastic on brisket, chicken, ribs and anything you toss on a smoker or grill), and a package of meaty, high-protein Bone Suckin' Beef Jerky. All of these products are gluten-free and flavor-full.

For the gluten-intolerant barbecue fanatic who prefers hot and spicy sauces, we offer the Bone Suckin' Hot BBQ Gift Set. This 4-pack selection of gluten-free products includes a full-size jar of Bone Suckin' Hot BBQ Sauce, a 5oz bottle of Bone Suckin' Hiccuppin' Hot Habanero Sauce (a feisty, rich hot sauce with that unmistakeable bone suckin' flavor and a hefty dose of fiery habanero peppers), a bottle of Bone Suckin' Hot Seasoning Rub for all your spicy BBQ seasoning needs, plus a package of zesty Bone Suckin' Beef Jerky for high-protein, low-carb, meaty snacking.

Gluten-Free Deano's Jalapeno Chips
For crunchy gluten-free snacking with a peppery punch, try one or more flavors of Deano's Jalapeno Chips:  Thinly-sliced, crisp-fried and expertly seasoned green jalapenos. No potatoes, flour or gluten in these unique jalapeno snack chips! Deano's jalapeno chips come in three tempting flavors: buttery-rich Cheddar, creamy-tangy Ranch and sophisticated Sea Salt. You can order the bags individually, or get a two-pack of Deano's Cheddar and Ranch Jalapeno Chips.

Interested in more gluten-free sauces and seasonings? Be sure to visit our selection of Gluten-Free Products on the Carolina Sauces online store, all of which are currently on sale.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Meat-Lover's Moussaka

low-carb meat-lover's moussaka
I call this my meat-lover's moussaka because it's made with more beef and less eggplant and custardy white sauce, and there are no potatoes, no sugar, and no breading on the eggplant. In other words, if you're looking for a high protein, low-carb moussaka, this recipe should work for you.

My moussaka recipe is based on traditional Greek moussaka, except that I use beef or even ground venison instead of lamb (feel free to use lamb instead of beef for some or all of the ground beef if you prefer). I also simplify assembly by making only one thick meat layer sandwiched between two layers of eggplant. But you can use 2 eggplants instead of 1 if you want more, thinner meat layers with more eggplant between them.

One last note: As with pretty much any Greek moussaka, this recipe does take some time to prepare and cook (a good 2 hours total time, maybe longer) so plan accordingly. On the plus side, you can refrigerate leftovers to serve at future meals.

1 large eggplant, peeled & cut lengthwise (not in circles) about 1/4" thick
Olive oil spray (or olive oil for brushing on baking pans & the eggplant)
Salt & ground pepper to taste
Greek moussaka
Interior view after cutting a slice
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, sliced very thin
1 1/2 lb ground beef*
1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
2 large bay leaves
1 large cinnamon stick
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
1 1/2 cups warm** milk (I use low-fat)
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground pepper (I use a 3-peppercorn blend of white, black and pink peppercorns)
1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

*I used naturally-raised 100% grass-fed beef, which is very lean. If you use conventional ground beef, you may need to drain off excess fat after browning.

**I warmed the milk in my microwave oven. Regardless of how you warm it, make sure the milk does not boil!

Spray or brush olive oil on 2 large shallow baking sheets and a 9"x12x2" baking dish (or similar dimensions). Preheat oven to 375°F, spray or brush eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and place in single layer on the baking sheets. Season to taste with salt & pepper, then bake until golden and lightly browned, turning once to brown both sides. Remove from oven and place eggplant slices on paper towels to absorb excess oil and moisture.

Heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet and saute the onion & garlic until soft and translucent. Add ground beef and brown the beef, stirring regularly to break up clumps of meat. Once the beef is browned, drain off any excess fat, add the tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves & cinnamon, season with salt & pepper to taste, stir to combine, then reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beef is fully cooked.

making Greek moussaka
Ready for a second layer of eggplant (first is beneath the meat layer)
At this point I like to assemble the moussaka before making the creamy, custard-like bechamel sauce topping so as to avoid scorching or curdling the sauce. To assemble the moussaka, place a single layer of eggplant slices at the bottom of the greased baking dish, leaving as little exposed of the bottom as possible. Spoon the beef mixture evenly over this eggplant layer and top with the remaining eggplant slices, ideally covering the beef completely.

Note: If using 2 eggplants because you want more than 1 layer of beef, then spoon only a portion of the beef over first layer of eggplant, cover it with a second layer of eggplant slices, then repeat with more beef & eggplant, finishing with a top layer of eggplant.

Greek moussaka ready to bake
Ready to bake
To make the sauce:  Melt the butter over  medium-high heat in a saucepan. Slowly stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light golden roux and the mixture begins to produce a lightly nutty aroma signaling that the flour is fully cooked. Slowly pour in the warm milk, stirring constantly (a whisk is great for this) to prevent any lumps. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and coats your spoon or whisk well. Remove from heat, continue to stir or whisk as you add the nutmeg, pepper, and salt to taste, then stir or whisk in the egg yolks until completely incorporated and the sauce is well-mixed and thick.

homemade Greek moussaka
Resting before cutting
Pour the sauce evenly over the top of the assembled moussaka, using a spatula if necessary to get as much out of the saucepan and spread as evenly as possible. Sprinkle evenly with crumbled feta cheese, then bake at 375°F until the sauce has set, the cheese has melted and this top layer is light golden-brown (about 35 to 40 minutes).

Remove from oven, let sit 10 minutes, then cut and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, July 26, 2013

Looking for Injectable Marinades? We Have Stubb's on Sale!

Stubb's Texas Butter Injectable Marinade
Injectable marinades are a convenient and efficient way to infuse meats and poultry with juicy, rich flavors especially when you're short on marinating time or cooking tough or gamey meats.

If you're new to injectable marinades or simply looking for the best, you need to get Stubb's Injectable Marinades, available in savory-sweet Texas Butter and smoky-spicy Chipotle Butter. Both come in generous 12-oz bottles, each with a reusable injector fastened to the neck of the bottle so you don't have to worry about buying a special injector or syringe.

For people who enjoy the hearty, robust flavors of traditional Texas barbecue but prefer a milder rather than hot/spicy flavor, you can't go wrong with Stubb's Texas Butter Injectable Marinade. This one is all about enhancing and complementing the natural flavors in steaks, roasts, brisket and other beef cuts (as well as poultry, wild game, pork chops and loins). Mustard, paprika, onion and garlic deliver just the right balance of savory spice without any added heat, while a touch of honey and sugar help temper any sharpness from the mustard and tame any "wildness" in the meat. The end result is meltingly tender, juicy and tastebud-tempting food whether grilled, smoked, roasted or broiled. Try it in boneless, skinless chicken breasts to keep them from drying out during grilling, and you'll be amazed at the mouthwatering flavor and moistness. It's a natural with turkey, too, especially if you're deep-frying a bird for Thanksgiving. The whole family will rave and beg for seconds, and no one has to worry about burning their mouth because there are no hot peppers in this injectable marinade.

Stubb's Chipotle Butter Injectable Marinade
On the other hand, if you appreciate the earthy smokiness and edgy spiciness of chipotle, you'll be pleased with Stubb's Chipotle Butter Injectable Marinade. Smoked jalapeno peppers, aka chipotles, and red chiles are pureed with tomato and savory spices, then blended with molasses and apple cider vinegar to expand the deep, dark flavor. The heat level is a mild medium, so it's peppery enough to get your attention but not fiery enough to overpower the other flavors or overwhelm your food. This injectable marinade is ideal for anyone who enjoys Tex-Mex cooking, Southwestern style dishes and similar smoky-spicy foods. Fantastic with red meats and poultry, simply inject according to directions prior to grilling, smoking, baking or roasting. Pork loin and venison roasts reveal their true glory when you inject them with Chipotle Butter. Try it in hamburgers or turkey burgers for char-grilled flavor even if cooking on a gas grill or indoors.

Like all Stubb's sauces and seasonings, Stubb's injectable marinades are all-natural, with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Buy them on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Carrot-Top, Potato & Onion Soup

Carrot top soup
Did you know carrot tops are edible? Yes, I'm talking about the green fern-like leaves atop the orange roots.

My first foray into cooking and eating carrot leaves (or tops, if you prefer) involved sauteing them in olive oil with some garlic and then adding them to beaten eggs for a carrot-top frittata. The greens were surprisingly mild in flavor -- I expected a bitter edge and intense carrot flavor, neither of which turned out to be the case -- and the frittata was packed with nutrients from the carrot tops as well as protein from the eggs.

Here is my second recipe using carrot tops: A healthy and comforting soup that is dairy-free and can be made vegetarian/vegan if you substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and omit the cheese garnish. It's also incredibly easy to make.

6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large bunch carrot tops (leaves and stems), well-rinsed and chopped
1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves OR 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Bring broth to a boil in a soup pot. Add all other ingredients, reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potato is fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and use a stick blender (aka hand-held or wand blender) to puree the soup to desired consistency. If you don't have a stick blender, you can ladle the soup into a regular blender to puree (you may need to work in batches). Serve hot, and garnish with grated or shredded parmesan, Swiss or other cheese.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

PS: For more vegetarian and vegan recipes, follow my Vegetarian Recipes on Pinterest.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

One POUND of 1 Million SHU Pepper Extract: Who Wants It?

1-lb 1 Million SHU pepper extract
Calling all hard-core spicy foods fanatics, hot sauce collectors, fiery chefs and serious chileheads:

One-pound containers of concentrated 1-Million SHU (Scoville Heat Units) pure pepper extract are now available and on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store!

This extremely HOT food additive* is made in the USA (Massachusetts, to be exact) and is independently certified and guaranteed to have a heat level of 1,000,000 Scovilles +/-5% by HPLC, A.O.A.C. Capsaicin Analysis Method. (*It cannot be called a hot sauce because it is NOT for direct use on served food, and must only be used as an ingredient.)

If you're wondering just how hot one million SHUs of heat is, then this product is not for you. 

But we'll answer your question anyway:

A raw jalapeno pepper generally measures around 2,500 to 5,000 SHUs. Texas Pete Hot Sauce, one of the mildest hot sauces available, barely registers 1,000 SHU while the original Tabasco Hot Sauce is about twice as hot as that.

A raw habanero pepper generally measures over 100,000 SHUs with some of the hottest varieties reaching over 300,000 SHUs. The infamous Dave's Insanity Sauce falls within the lower end of the habanero heat range, but feels far more intensely hot with a longer-lasting burn than any raw pepper because of the addition of a little bit of pepper extract (i.e., capsaicin extract or oleoresin) to the sauce.

One drop of 1 Million Scoville units of concentrated pepper extract is the equivalent of eating 10 habanero peppers simultaneously, except that the burn will linger in your mouth (and stomach, and on your skin should you touch the extract) far longer without abatement. It can literally take your breath away and cause your heart to skip a beat -- not to mention the effect on your bowels. Now imagine what one pound of 1,000,000 SHU capsaicin extract can do...

Yes, we DO require you to read and sign a liability waiver, and also acknowledge that you're over 18 before we let you purchase this item from our website.

So why would anyone ever want to buy 1 pound of 1,000,000 SU pepper extract?

For any or all of the following reasons:

1. If you make your own hot sauces, wing sauces, fiery BBQ sauces, etc., just one container of this extract should last you several years at least. If you're a caterer or otherwise cook for large gatherings of fiery-food lovers, e.g., at a fire station or military base, on a Navy ship, etc., one container may last you a lifetime. And if you're neither of those, a single container could probably be passed down through generations of your descendants before someone needs to buy more.

2. It's a must-have for hot sauce collectors or anyone looking for a tabletop conversation piece. Yes, it's the perfect gift for that special (or "special," as in, "bless their heart") person you're thinking of as you read this.

3. It doubles as a driveway cleaner, deer repellent, and personal defense weapon.

I'm sure there are more reasons, including some we do NOT advocate and won't even mention, but I'll leave those to your imagination.

Buy 1 lb. pepper extract 1 Million SHU while it's on sale and save over $11 -- and much more if you calculate your savings from never having to buy another capsaicin extract ever again!

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If a smaller size of pepper extract is more your style, check out our selection of capsaicin or pepper extracts, in a variety of concentrations, sizes, and concoctions.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Better-Tasting Low-Fat Blue Cheese Dressing

Salad with low fat blue cheese dressing
A while back I tried out a low-fat blue cheese dressing recipe I had found online, and blogged about how it turned out (you can read about it here, where you'll also find the link to the original recipe I used). Although that recipe was adequate, it left me slightly dissatisfied and longing for a blue cheese dressing with a richer, more luxurious body and yet with fewer calories and less fat -- and therefore healthier -- than regular full-fat blue cheese dressing.

After some tinkering in the kitchen with different ingredients and tweaking the amounts, I produced a low-fat blue cheese dressing that's healthier than the regular version, with less fat and more protein, and yet tastes and feels every bit as voluptuous and indulgent as the best restaurant blue cheese dressings.

My version is very thick and more like a dip in terms of consistency because I use Greek yogurt instead of ordinary yogurt. You'll want a spoon to dollop it over your salad, or serve it in a bowl as a dip for crudites, chips or Buffalo wings. If you prefer a more pourable, creamier consistency, simply use ordinary (not Greek) yogurt instead. Likewise, feel free to adjust the amount of any ingredient to suit your personal taste preferences for tang and zest. My recipe makes almost 2 cups of dressing, and you can store it covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt*
homemade low fat blue cheese dressing
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbs mayonnaise, regular or low-fat
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 to 2 tsp (to taste) fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced & mashed**
Salt & Pepper to taste: I use 1/4 tsp each

*For a thinner, more pourable dressing, use ordinary (not Greek) plain nonfat yogurt

**After mincing the garlic, use the side of your knife to press down on the garlic in a "scraping" motion to mash it into a thick paste, then use the edge to scrape up this paste from your cutting board when ready to add to recipe

Place the blue cheese and yogurt in a bowl, then use a fork to break up the blue cheese and combine it with the yogurt, mashing to desired texture (some people like lots of little cheese crumbles, others prefer larger & fewer chunks). Stir in the remaining ingredients, taste, and adjust for balance. Use right away or cover and refrigerate -- will last several days, probably up to a week (we eat it all before then).

Zestfully yours,

PS: This recipe doubles as a refreshing, heat-quenching blue cheese dip for chicken wings doused with even the hottest of hot wing sauces.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Introducing High River Sauces: Award-Winning Hot Sauces with Innovative Flavor

Hellacious Hot Sauce

I'm pleased to announce the addition of all three flavors of High River Sauces hot sauces to the Carolina Sauces online store.

These award-winning, innovative hot sauces are the brainchildren of Steve Seabury, a self-described music industry veteran, food junkie and author of the Mosh Potatoes Heavy Metal Cookbook. As one would expect given his background, Steve likes to "color outside the lines" when it comes to blending together peppers, spices and other organic and natural ingredients, resulting in refreshingly unique, fiery and flavorful hot sauces that will please hard-core chileheads and discerning foodies. There's no junk in these artisan hot sauces: No artificial flavors or preservatives, no chemical extracts or other manufactured heat enhancers, and no fillers or "thinners" to dilute the natural flavors of the specially selected ingredients. If you're looking for brash, bold and satisfying hot sauces that are "cranked up to 11" in flavor and fire, then you need to try High River Hot Sauces.

Hellacious Hot Sauce delivers a powerful and unabashedly bold and savory flavor. The combination of habanero peppers and chipotles produces an initially bright heat that's undeniably habanero but then develops layers of dark, smoky depth from the chipotles. The addition of agave to the traditional vinegar-lime-garlic base magically brings everything together for a mellow smoothness that balances out the tight and tangy burn. Enjoy High River Sauces Hellacious Hot Sauce anything that's robust enough to stand up to it, including hamburgers, steak, grilled chicken, BBQ pork and pizza. Splash it on your favorite Tex-Mex dishes, add it to chili or baked beans, and spice up that meatloaf or sloppy joes recipe with this award-winning hot sauce and you won't be disappointed.

Tears of the Sun Hot Sauce
Tears Of The Sun burst onto the hot sauce scene a couple of years ago and promptly garnered accolades and top awards with its creative combination of habanero peppers and tropical fruit. An initial welcoming fruit sweetness gently wakes up your taste buds, and then the heat rises like the blazing sun on a hot summer day. This is not a one-dimensional fruit hot sauce made with only mango or papaya: High River Sauces Tears of the Sun includes both of those popular fruit choices for hot sauces but also mixes in ripe peaches and juicy pineapple for jaunty bright flavor notes that will make you want to get up and dance. This baby is a natural with chicken, pork, fish or shrimp, vegetables, and even on hot dogs, tortilla chips, and Buffalo wings.

Rogue Hot Sauce
High River Sauces Rogue Hot Sauce lives up to its name: Assertive and brash, fiery HOT and yet surprisingly charming with its unexpected hint of citrus and subtly sweet autumn fruit. Rogue Hot Sauce is for serious fiery-foods fans because it features the two hottest peppers in the world (Moruga scorpion peppers and jolokia peppers). If that weren't enough, ripe red serranos add a third dimension to the intense burn. But the lingering mellow fruit flavors that balance out the heat are superbly well-balanced for a sophisticated, roguish elegance that retains its dangerous edge: Blood orange, apples and pears seduce your taste buds with exotic flair while the flaming-hot peppers, zesty garlic and zippy ginger remind you that you're playing with fire. This award-winning HOT hot sauce is fantastic on anything grilled or roasted, especially burgers, ribs, chicken, shrimp and even veggie burgers.

All three flavors of High River Sauces are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Vegan Broccoli Salad with Dijon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Vegan broccoli salad with dijon balsamic vinaigrette
This zesty, healthy broccoli salad doesn't have mayonnaise or dairy products and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

For carnivores or anyone else out there who may be wary of recipes labeled "vegan," "vegetarian" or "healthy," I have good news: There's plenty of satisfying flavor in this salad, courtesy of the savory Dijon mustard, zesty garlic and earthy balsamic vinegar in the dressing. The olive oil and mustard also provide more richness of body to the mouthfeel, making up for the lack of mayonnaise or dairy typically used in broccoli salads. And because it's lighter than a mayo-based salad, my broccoli salad is a healthy accompaniment to bratwurst (as shown in photo below) and other grilled sausages or hearty meats.

An additional benefit of my Vegan Broccoli Salad with Dijon-Balsamic Vinaigrette is that it's extra-safe for picnics, cookouts and other outdoor dining in hot weather. Unlike highly perishable mayo or dairy-based salads, this one is more heat tolerant -- however, we still do recommend keeping it in a cooler or on ice when enjoying outdoors as a good safety precaution.

Finally, because my broccoli salad is made with frozen broccoli that has been thawed, rather than with crunchy raw broccoli, you can enjoy it as a sandwich condiment much like giardiniera or other chunky-tender vegetable relishes, as a filling in wraps and pitas, and even as a burger topper.

1 lb bag of frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 carrot, peeled & finely chopped or shredded
1 small cucumber, seeded & finely chopped (peeling is optional)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Optional: Very thinly sliced sweet onion (just a little), finely chopped sweet or hot peppers

Mustard-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 Tbs Dijon mustard (to taste)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (to taste)
1 1/2 tsp dried basil OR 1 Tbs finely chopped fresh basil
Salt & pepper to taste: I use 1 tsp Kosher salt & 1/2 tsp freshly ground mixed peppercorns

Broccoli salad with grilled bratwurst & corn
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a lidded jar -- I use a mason jar, either 1/2 pint or 1 pint size (the recipe makes approx. 1 cup of vinaigrette), close lid tightly and shake vigorously to thoroughly combine and emulsify. Taste for balance and adjust seasonings as desired -- if you started with just 2 Tbs of the mustard and want a more tangy flavor, add up to 1 Tbs more of the Dijon; likewise you can add more oil, vinegar or seasonings to suit your taste.

Place all vegetables in a large bowl. Pour vinaigrette over vegetables and gently stir to combine, making sure all vegetables are coated with dressing. You can serve right away, but the flavor improves if you cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (stir before serving).

Thrifty note: Because I prefer not to waste anything edible, I save any leftover "juices" from the bowl after the salad is served. Simply pour into another small jar for later use as a marinade or salad dressing, adding a little more EVOO as desired. Make sure to refrigerate and use within a day or two.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you wish to add a little protein and crunch to this salad, simply add some toasted sunflower seeds. And if you are not vegetarian or vegan, you can always crumble in a little cooked bacon, add some chopped ham, top with chopped hard-boiled eggs, or sprinkle with crumbled feta or shredded parmesan cheese.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Want Free BBQ Rub from Jim's Own Bar-B-Que? Read This.

Our friends at Jim's Own Sauce, makers of award-winning North Carolina BBQ sauces and dry rubs, are giving away free BBQ rub seasonings!

Each month through the end of November, they will give away a different flavor of one of their flavor-packed barbecue dry rubs with every online order of Jim's Own products over $25 (excluding shipping/taxes).

 This month the featured flavor is Jim's Own Smokey BBQ Seasoning Rub.

Jim's Own Smokey Rub is made from smoked peppers, paprika and herbs for a rich, smoky flavor that's savory and slightly spicy-sweet, with hints of caramelized sugar and a zippy finish. Fantastic on any type of pork including chops, loin, ribs and of course Boston butt (pork shoulder), Jim's Smokey Rub is also wonderful for seasoning beef brisket or ribs, hamburgers, chicken, turkey and even shrimp or veggie kabobs. Use this all-purpose seasoning when you want real smoky flavor even when you don't have a smoker:  When cooking indoors or on a gas grill. And of course it's also an excellent choice if you do have a smoker or a charcoal grill.

Jim's all-purpose rubs are super-easy to use: All you have to do is pat it on (don't actually rub because that damages the meat fibers) and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before cooking poultry, seafood or vegetables, or refrigerate up to overnight for pork, beef and venison.

If you'd like to receive a FREE full-size package of Jim's Own Smokey BBQ Rub, simply place an online order for over $25 in Jim's Own products (click here to order online) exclusive of shipping & taxes. When your order is shipped, it will include the free dry rub along with your products.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sweet & Spicy Roasted Turnips & Apples

Sweet & spicy roasted turnips & apples
Adorable baby turnips barely larger than radishes have been included in my CSA farm box a few times this spring and summer, leading me to find new ways to enjoy these little red and white root vegetables with a bright, peppery bite. 

Apple and warm spices provide a subtle sweetness in this recipe without having to add sugar, and they also mellow any bitter "edge" in the turnips, while the cayenne pepper wakes up the flavors by tickling your taste buds.

The following simple recipe calls for roasting the turnips and apples in the oven, but I suspect it would also work if you placed the ingredients in a foil pouch and "roasted" them on your grill. If you try that or my original oven method, please leave a comment below to let me know how it turned out.

One more note: Feel free to adjust the ingredient quantities to suit your tastes and fit your needs. The amount below is enough for 2 servings as a side dish.

1/2 lbs young, small turnips
young turnips
Red & white baby turnips
1 apple, any variety
1 Tbs plus 1 Tbs Asian stir-fry oil* or other oil suitable for high temperatures
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cayenne or red pepper**

*I use Spectrum brand Organic Asian Stir-Fry Oil, which is a blend of soy, peanut and toasted sesame oil with a hint of ginger flavor. You can find it at Whole Foods and other similar stores.

**For more peppery heat, either increase the amount of cayenne pepper or substitute a pinch or two of ground habanero pepper powder.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash the turnips well and scrub off any dirt, then trim, peel and chop into approx. 1" cubes. Likewise, wash and core the apple, then chop into 1" cubes. Pour 1 Tbs oil in the bottom of an 8" x 8" shallow baking pan or a small roasting pan. Add turnips and apple, sprinkle with salt and spices, then drizzle with 1 Tbs of oil. Gently stir to coat as evenly as possible. Place pan in oven and roast at 400°F until fork-tender and slightly golden (about 1 hour), stirring once or twice for even cooking.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hot Sauces for Zombie Fans

Zombie Hot Sauce Gift Set
Click to buy the Zombie Hot Sauces Gift Set
Zombies are all the rage these days in everything from TV shows like the critically-acclaimed series "The Walking Dead" to Hollywood movies like "World War Z" and "Warm Bodies," semi-serious articles discussing how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, and ever-popular zombie costumes and flash mobs.

It should therefore come to no surprise that hot sauce manufacturers have jumped on the zombie bandwagon and created zombie-themed hot sauces. You can now buy zombie hot sauces at the Carolina Sauces online store. Here are just some of the zombie hot sauces you'll find on our website:

White Zombie Hot Sauce features a dapper white skeleton zombie strutting his stuff, and delivers an incendiary wallop of heat from Red Savina habanero mash. The flavor is an intoxicating blend of tropical fruits including papaya, pineapple and banana, with a splash of dark rum for mysterious depth plus savory spices and pungent onion to balance the sweetness. Sure, its fiery blast might turn you into a zombie, but you'd be happily undead after tasting this seductive hot sauce.

West African Voodoo Juice comes with a colorful little "voodoo doll" attached to the top, in case you want to cast your own dark spell over an enemy (not that we recommend that of course, but just saying). Comparable in flavor to the White Zombie, this super-hot sauce burns more intensely, which to me suggests that there's even more Red Savina habanero pepper mash in its secret formula. A word of caution to those with more sensitive palates: Don't dabble in this black magic unless you can take the heat!

Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Hot Sauce was inspired by the Mexican festival honoring the departed, el Dia de los Muertos, which translates to the Day of the Dead. Skeletons and skulls play a prominent role in that celebration. Accordingly, Captain Thom has chosen to adorn each bottle of this smoky-hot sauce with a creepy, fully-movable skeleton on a key chain attached to the top (not merely a skull key chain like the Blair's Death sauces). Just a notch lower on the heat scale than White Zombie, this Mexican-style hot sauce boasts a rich, earthy smokiness and multilayered heat from a unique blend of smoked habaneros, fresh habanero and piquin peppers in a smoky-pepper vinegar base. Unlike the other two zombie hot sauces from Captain Thom, Dia de los Muertos Hot Sauce is savory and tangy rather than sweet and fruity -- and instead of adding rum it's enhanced with a splash of tequila for complexity and added "bite."

All three of those frightful and fiery hot sauces can be purchased together at a discount when you order our Captain Thom's Zombie Gift Set. This colorful, attention-grabbing hot sauce gift comes with three full-size bottles -- one of each flavor listed above -- and makes a fun and unique gift for any hot sauce collector or zombie fanatic. Better still, this zombie hot sauce gift set is currently on sale for $5 off the regular list price, no coupon required! I know it's July but it's never too early to get a jump-start on your Christmas or holiday gift shopping, so if I were you I'd buy Captain Thom's Zombie Gift Set today and check off the future recipient from your list.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Low Carb Recipe: Parmesan-Crusted Fish

low carb parmesan-crusted fish
Here is a healthier, low-carb alternative to breaded and fried fish. My recipe uses parmesan cheese instead of bread crumbs or other such breading.

The trick is to get your skillet REALLY hot, which is why I like using cast iron. The high heat will cause the cheese to form a nice browned crust instead of a gooey mess. You only need a very small smear of butter, oil or other fat, and it's best to apply it with a wadded paper towel once the skillet is hot by carefully and quickly wiping onto the skillet (it will sizzle and possibly smoke). Make sure you fish is ready to go in the skillet immediately afterwards so that you don't burn the oil or fat.

I used tilapia when I made the parmesan-crusted fish shown in the photo, but catfish, flounder, sole, whiting and other similar fish will all work. If you can bread and fry it, you can use parmigiano cheese instead of bread crumbs.

If you are cooking more than two fish filets, simply increase the amount of parmesan and seasoning, keeping the ratio essentially the same (one egg will be sufficient for several filets).

2 fish filets (approx. 3-4 oz each), rinsed and patted dry
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated or finely shredded parmesan cheese
1 Tbs seafood seasoning or herb seasoning of your choice, e.g., Italian herb blend
Butter, oil, bacon fat, lard or other fat

Heat a large cast-iron or other similar skillet until very hot (be careful if using a nonstick skillet because some types should NOT be heated while empty or ungreased). While the skillet is heating, stir together the cheese and seasoning in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Dip each fish filet in beaten egg, allow excess egg to drip off, then place the filet in the cheese mixture and coat well on both sides with the mixture -- you may want to use your fingers to pat it on well, covering both sides of each filet. Place the coated filets on a plate until all are ready to fry.

cooking parmesan-crusted fish
Cooking parmesan-crusted fish
When the skillet is very hot, use a wadded paper towel to smear a very small amount of fat to coat the cooking surface, working quickly and being careful not to burn your fingers. Immediately place the cheese-coated filets in the skillet, being sure to leave enough room between them for flipping (if you are cooking several filets, you may need to work in batches). If you have additional cheese mixture left over, you can pat more of it on to the exposed side of the filets as they cook. Cook the fish until the cheese on the bottom side is nicely browned and forms a crust, about 3 to 4 minutes, then carefully flip the fish to cook the other side -- you'll know the fish is ready to flip when it slides easily on the skillet if you push it with your spatula. Cook on the other side until nicely browned and crusted, about 3 minutes (it's been my experience that the second side cooks faster). Serve hot.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you like to use cocktail sauce on fried fish, try Historic Lynchburg Jalapeno Seafood Cocktail Sauce for a zippy, zesty flavor.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Carolina Sauce Newsletter Sale Ends TODAY!

Carolina Sauce VIP Club
Click here to sign up for our VIP Club
***Heads Up!*** Our July VIP coupon sale ends at midnight tonight!

If you haven't yet used your 7% off coupon to shop online for barbecue sauce or hot sauce at the Carolina Sauces online store, time is running out. Stop waiting and place your order now, while it's fresh on your mind.

If you already used your July VIP coupon code but then realized that you forgot to order something, or you've since run out of a favorite product, or you need a sauce gift for an upcoming birthday or special occasion, don't despair: You can use the VIP coupon as many times as you want, so long as you place your order before the coupon expires at midnight.

If you did not receive our July VIP newsletter with the 7% off coupon code -- or if you inadvertently deleted it or cannot find it -- simply email me ASAP and I'll forward it to you.

But don't delay, or you'll be out of luck after the coupon expires tonight at midnight EDT (that's 9pm for those in California and other west coast locations).

Zestfully yours,

PS: Want to receive future monthly coupon codes for the best Carolina Sauce Company discounts, reserved only for our VIP customers? Then click here to sign up for our FREE Carolina Sauce VIP Club. The next VIP Newsletter and August VIP coupon will be emailed to VIP members sometime after August 1st. Click below to sign up.

Carolina Sauce Newsletter

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pink Slaw: A Creamy Version of Lexington Red Slaw

Creamy Lexington Slaw
Most Piedmont or Lexington style slaw is tinged with red because of the tangy-sweet tomato & vinegar-based Lexington/Piedmont (aka western NC) barbecue sauce that dresses the grated or finely chopped cabbage. While you might encounter an occasional barbecue joint that serves a Lexington red slaw made with a little mayonnaise, that's generally the exception in the middle (Piedmont) and western parts of North Carolina.

The following slaw recipe is based on one for "Lexington Red Slaw" in the book Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Much to my surprise upon first encountering that recipe, it called for a full cup of mayonnaise! My version cuts that excessive (IMHO) amount down to a half-cup plus 1 Tablespoon of mayo. I also made a few other tweaks including doubling the amount of ketchup and omitting the sugar. The result, while tasty, is not what I would call authentic Lexington slaw like the tangy-tart red slaw I ate when I lived in Winston-Salem for 5 years, but it's certainly closer than the original recipe in the book. For starters, both recipes produce a slaw that is far too creamy and more pale pink in color than the jaunty red slaw commonly served in the Piedmont. On the plus side, the creamier mouthfeel and mellower flavor probably makes my Pink Creamy Lexington Slaw far more palatable to Northerners used to creamy deli coleslaw and to anyone else who objects to the sharp vinegar-tomato flavor of true Lexington Slaw.

I served this Pink Slaw (trust me, it was more pink than the "peach" shade of the photo) as an accompaniment for parmesan-crusted fish, my low-carb alternative to breaded fried fish. The natural pairing for any Southern slaw is with barbecue, be it pulled or chopped pork, smoked ribs, or any other hearty smoked or grilled meats. You can also enjoy this slaw with grilled, smoked, roasted or Southern fried chicken, on burgers or hot dogs, and with other standard picnic and cookout fare.

I'll keep working on my own recipe for REAL red slaw, the kind they serve in Lexington, NC, and other parts of the Piedmont. In the meantime, I hope you'll give this tasty hybrid slaw a try.

Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce
Buy Jim's Own BBQ Sauce
1 head cabbage, about 1 1/4 lbs
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs mayonnaise
3 Tbs Lexington-style western NC BBQ sauce (Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce is an excellent choice)*
2 Tbs ketchup*
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Optional: Sugar to taste (I omit)

*For a spicier slaw with a peppery kick, use Jim's Own Hot BBQ Sauce instead of the mild Homestyle, and/or a spicy ketchup.

Remove any bruised or wilted leaves from the cabbage, cut into quarters and cut out core from each wedge. Use a box grater or food processor to grate or finely chop the cabbage. Combine the remaining ingredients in a lidded jar, close the jar tightly and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined into a creamy pink sauce. Place the grated or chopped cabbage in a large bowl, pour the sauce over the cabbage and stir with a large spoon or spatula to combine thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight -- the flavors will develop and improve the longer the slaw sits in the refrigerator. Consume within a few days. Makes a good 8 or more servings.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Make Buffalo Ghost Wings with this Fiery-Sweet Wing Sauce

Red Ghost Honey BBQ Ghost Wing Sauce
Fiery-hot Buffalo wings often are one-dimensional when it comes to their taste, with the powerful peppery heat overpowering any hint of other flavors in the sauce -- or worse yet, the wing sauce consists only of hot peppers and vinegar, occasionally with some sort of oil base (virtually no one uses butter anymore).

For anyone who loves hot wings but longs for a more fulfilling flavor experience than mere heat and tang, the Carolina Sauce Company now has Red Ghost Honey BBQ Ghost Wing Sauce,  the answer to your prayers!

Seriously hot but not to the point of triggering tears or destroying your taste buds, this extra-hot wing sauce gets its burn from a carefully balanced combination of habanero peppers and ghost peppers (also called bhut or naga jolokia chilies), which provide their own distinctive peppery flavor along with a multilayered heat experience. The sauce starts off sweet, thanks to a blend of honey, molasses and corn syrup, while pineapple, tomato and vinegar provide a tangy counterbalance to keep the sauce from being cloyingly sweet. A hint of exotic spice from cloves, cinnamon and allspice adds intriguing depth, while natural smoke and zesty garlic provide savory barbecue flavor notes. The overall effect is a masterful symphony of fantastic flavors and fiery flames harmoniously playing in your mouth.

Buy Red Ghost Honey BBQ Wing Sauce online while it's on sale now at the Carolina Sauces online store, and put an end to boring, one-trick-pony Buffalo wings!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, July 12, 2013

Greg's Chunky Meatballs

meatballs in tomato basil marinara sauce
Meatballs in Roasted Tomato & Basil Marinara
If you enjoy the pungent flavor of onions and garlic, and also appreciate different textures in your food like I do, these unconventionally lumpy-bumpy and downright chunky meatballs will satisfy your senses and feed you well.

Unlike typical meatball recipes that call for cooking the meatballs in a sauce, Greg fries these meatballs in a little olive oil, turning to brown all sizes. That's what produces their "ugly-duckling" not-quite-spherical shape. The benefit of this cooking method, however, is that the browned meat develops a deeply savory flavor (foodies call that "umami") that beautifully complements the mellow sweetness of tomato sauces.

We served Greg's Chunky Meatballs in my Roasted Tomato & Basil Sauce, and didn't even miss the spaghetti or other pasta normally served with tomato sauce and meatballs.

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 spring or green onion, including top, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Olive oil

fried meatballs
Browning the chunky meatballs
Dump all ingredients except the oil into a large bowl and mix together well with your hands until thoroughly combined. Shape into meatballs about 2" in diameter (or smaller if you prefer - this larger size makes 9 or 10 meatballs).

Pour a little olive oil into a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, place meatballs in skillet, leaving space between them for easy turning. Fry the meatballs until browned and cooked through, turning carefully to brown on all sides. When the meatballs are done, remove from oil and drain on paper towels before serving with sauce. Makes 2 or 3 servings.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you want to spice up your meatballs with some peppery heat, simply add a little bit (up to 1/4 tsp) of your favorite ground dried chili pepper powder to the raw meat mixture. Another substitution you can make is to use an Italian seasoning blend instead of oregano.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

For Serious Chileheads Only: Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peppers
Trinidad Scorpion Peppers
The Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper recently dethroned the jolokia or ghost pepper as the NEW world's hottest chili pepper. Consistently measured at over 1.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and often surpassing 2 million SHU, this frighteningly fiery hot pepper from the Moruga district of Trinidad & Tobago is sweeping through the hot sauce world like an uncontrollable wildfire.

Described as beginning with a innocently sweet, fruitlike flavor that quickly evolves into a blazing burn that continues to mount in intensity until it engulfs your mouth with flames, the scorpion pepper is easily five or six times hotter than the hottest variety of habanero pepper. In other words, it's not to be trifled with.

But if you are an experienced, hard-core chilehead and fiery-foods fanatic who's always in search for the next hottest hot pepper or sizzling ultra-hot sauce, you'll be glad to know that the Carolina Sauces online store now carries Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce.

Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Hot SauceThis newest member of the Dave's Gourmet sauce family is the hottest non-extract hot sauce to hit the market from this beloved (and infamous) hot sauce brand. Unlike other scorpion pepper hot sauces, this one delivers unadulterated, straightforward scorpion pepper flavor and fire. There are no other peppers in Dave's Scorpion Pepper Sauce, nor are there any flavor-imparting seasonings or ingredients like onion, garlic or even carrot. No, ladies and gentlemen, this one is nothing but crazy-hot, deceptively fruit-like Trinidad scorpion pepper, blended with the bare minimum base ingredients to turn the chilies into a sauce (in this case, it's acetic acid and water, with salt and xanthan gum playing minor but necessary roles).

One good thing about Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Sauce -- in addition to the fact that it's made using only natural ingredients -- is that it doesn't rely on capsaicin extract or oleoresin to unnecessarily prolong or magnify the already-extreme heat of the scorpion chili. Thus, it's not as painfully hot as other extract-enhanced ultra-hot sauces. This makes it an excellent choice for those of us who appreciate intensely hot hot sauces and the unique flavor of each type of hot pepper, but don't want to experience any unpleasant aftertastes or bitter notes from extracts. Unlike other extreme hot sauces, this one can be enjoyed as an all-purpose table sauce or cooking ingredient when you're really craving a big wallop of peppery heat.

Buy Dave's Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Sauce online and on sale now from the Carolina Sauce Company -- and if you'd like a discount coupon, simply email me.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you want to try your hand at growing scorpion peppers at home, we can get you started with the Challenge Scorpion Pepper Magic Plant (just add water to the container and watch your plant grow!)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce

roasted tomato basil marinara sauce
Slow-simmered homemade tomato sauce for spaghetti, pasta and other recipes is one of my favorite things to cook on a weekend or whenever I have enough time. Normally I start with a pot of raw tomatoes cooking on my stove along with some sauteed garlic and onion, a splash of red wine, a few herbs and seasonings, and sometimes a supplementary can of good Italian tomatoes or a little tomato paste.

This time, however, having read Debbie Matthews' recipe for Market Marinara published in the Durham Herald-Sun, I was inspired to begin by roasting the tomatoes, onion and garlic in my oven. Debbie's recipe became the basis for the following roasted tomato & basil sauce. I tinkered slightly with the ingredients based on my taste preferences, and also had to increase the oven temperature because at the original 300°F it took over 2 hours for my vegetables to soften enough. My oven is not exactly reliable when it comes to lower temperatures (it's old and cranky, sometimes downright cantankerous), so you might want to try the original temperature first and then raise it if necessary if the vegetables are taking too long to roast.

In the end, the recipe below yielded over 1 1/2 quarts of velvety, voluptuous tomato sauce that perfumed the air with a sumptuous, seductive aroma as it cooked. We enjoyed the sauce over the course of several days on everything from pasta and meatballs to cabbage rolls, in an Italian-style summer squash & beef casserole, and even as a dip for chunks of my basil beer bread. The sauce will keep for at least a few days in your refrigerator, or you can can it in jars for longer storage if you're a canner.

4 pounds ripe tomatoes (I used mostly slicer-type tomatoes and some Romas)
30 cloves garlic, peeled
tomatoes1 medium yellow onion
1 cup fresh basil leaves, as loosely or tightly packed as you like
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper*
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (I like 1/4 tsp for a bit of a feisty finish)

*Instead of using a pepper mill, I ground the peppercorns by hand using a mortar and pestle for a coarser consistency.

Quarter the tomatoes, and peel the onion and quarter then cut each quarter in half. Toss all of this into a very large, heavy oven-safe pot (I use my professional quality Calphalon® stock pot). Preheat oven to 350°F. Add the garlic to the pot, drizzle with olive oil, pour in the wine, season with salt & pepper, then stir with a large spoon or heavyweight spatula until the vegetables are well-coated. Place the uncovered pot in the oven (you may need to remove a rack and reposition the remaining one on the lowest set of rungs) and roast until everything is softened (at least 1 hour), stirring every 20 to 30 minutes.

Kershaw Knives Select 100 Mortar and PestleWhile the tomatoes et al. are roasting, chop or chiffonade the basil. Once the tomatoes are falling apart and the onions & garlic are soft, carefully remove the pot from the oven and place on a burner on your stove. Use a stick blender (hand-held immersion blender) to puree everything until smooth -- or, ladle into your blender to puree (you'll probably need to work in batches) then transfer back into the pot.

Add the basil and oregano to the pot, stir and bring to a light simmer on your stove over medium-low heat. Taste for balance and add more salt or pepper or herbs if desired. You can keep simmering if you prefer a thicker texture: The longer the sauce simmers, the thicker the sauce will get. Just be careful to keep it at barely a simmer because you don't want to ruin the flavor by scorching the sauce.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

PS: Stay tuned to this blog because I will soon be posting the recipes for Greg's chunky meatballs served with roasted tomato & basil sauce, as well as the squash & beef casserole.