Saturday, August 31, 2013

Heads Up: We're Giving Away Sauce & Rub on Sunday!

Free BBQ sauce on FacebookOn Sunday, September 1st, the Carolina Sauce Company will be giving away barbecue sauces & dry rub on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page!

We do this on the first day of each month and call the Facebook giveaway or contest our "Crock Pot Game."

This time, our BBQ giveaway includes a full-size bottle (or package, in the case of the dry rub), of the following products:
  • Shoogs' Barbeque Sauce, an authentic North Carolina BBQ sauce made with plenty of vinegar and spice to add genuine tangy flavor to pulled or chopped pork -- and you can also use it as a marinade or grilling sauce for chicken, chops, shrimp & vegetables

  • Root'n Teriyaki Mar'nade, a sweet & zesty all-purpose marinade and grilling sauce for poultry, meats, seafood & veggies -- it's also great mixed into ground meat for burgers or meatloaf, or in stir-fry recipes, and even for basting & baking chicken, pork or beef

  • Char Crust Sun-Dried Tomato & Garlic Dry Rub Seasoning, for sealing in the juices and delivering gourmet flavor to anything you grill, broil or bake -- if it swims, runs or flies, you can Char-Crust it!
All of these are favorites from my personal stash of sauces and seasonings -- you won't find them for sale on the Carolina Sauces online store, so this is your only chance to try them... for FREE!

If you'd like a chance to win the September prize pack, here's all you have to do:
  1. On Sunday, Sept. 1, look for our Crock Pot Game post on Facebook with this photo (be sure to Like us on Facebook if you're not already following us):

  2. Follow the instructions on that post to enter the contest by "Liking" the photo or leaving a comment, or do both for TWO chances to win.

  3. The game ends at 9am EDT on Monday morning, Sept. 2nd, and the winner chosen shortly thereafter by random drawing out of the eligible entries.  Be sure to check our Facebook page then and check your "other messages" on Facebook to see if you've won.
Finally, here are the important details:
  • You must have a US shipping address to be eligible to win

  • You can comment as many times as you want, but commenting counts only as 1 entry. The maximum number of entries for any individual is two (1 for "liking" the Crock Pot Game post, and 1 for commenting under that post on FB, regardless of how many comments you leave).

  • If you have questions, please leave a comment below, or message us on FB, or email me.
Have fun, and get ready to play the Carolina Sauce Crock Pot Game on Sunday for your chance to get free barbecue sauces & dry rub!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, August 30, 2013

Eggplant Masala

eggplant masala
I have no idea if eggplant is prepared this way in India, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a similar authentically Indian recipe for eggplant. Regardless, this Indian-inspired spicy eggplant is a flavorful and flavorful (not overly exotic) vegetarian dish that can be served as a stew with some pita or naan, or spooned over rice, pasta, couscous or quinoa. Roasting the eggplant produces a very mellow, almost sweet flavor that will convert even the staunchest self-proclaimed eggplant hater.

Although I usually don't go through the trouble of salting eggplant -- and it never tastes bitter to me despite not salting -- I did it this time primarily to reduce the amount of oil the eggplant would absorb. In case you didn't know, eggplant is like a sponge and will soak up ridiculous amounts of oil during cooking, which can produce soggy, greasy results unless you're really careful. Salting the eggplant is supposed to extract bitterness, and it certainly draws out moisture while rendering the eggplant less absorbent.

One final note: If you cannot find ghee (it's a clarified butter sold in Indian markets, ethnic shops and specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods) or if you're a vegan, substitute your favorite cooking oil for the ghee. I don't recommend olive oil because of its distinctive flavor, unless you're using a "light" olive oil.

1 medium eggplant
Salt (I use kosher salt but regular table or sea salt will work)
1 Tbs + 1 Tbs ghee or oil (preferably not olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large Anaheim pepper OR a small bell pepper, seeded & chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbs (or to taste) Garam Masala*

*It's easy to make this Indian spice blend at home if you follow my recipe for Garam Masala, which you'll find towards the end of that old newsletter post.

Note:  I learned the following salting and roasting method from the cookbook titled Greene on Greens, by Bert Greene.

Trim the stem end from the eggplant, then slice in half lengthwise. Carefully cut slits lengthwise into the pulp without cutting through the skin. Place the eggplant halves in a large colander in your sink, sprinkle generously with salt, and let sit for half an hour (you will see beads of water forming on the eggplant pulp as the salt draws out moisture). After 30 minutes, use paper towels or even a scrunched-up piece of brown paper bag to gently brush the salt off the eggplant and blot the released liquid to pat the eggplant dry. To remove more liquid, you can very gently squeeze the eggplant halves.

Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly brush the top of the eggplant halves with a Tablespoon of melted ghee or some oil. Place the eggplant skin-side down in a baking pan or roasting pan, pour about 1/2" water around (not over) the eggplant, and bake until the eggplant is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully place the eggplant slices upside down (skin side up) on cooling racks either in your sink or on your counter with paper towels underneath to let the eggplant drain as it cools.

spicy Indian eggplant
Simmering everything together
While the roasted eggplant is cooling, heat 1 Tablespoon of ghee or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then saute the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the pepper and saute until softened. Add tomatoes and garam masala, stir well, reduce heat and cook at a low simmer until the tomatoes have broken down.

When the roasted eggplant is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scoop the pulp from the skin, scraping the skin to remove all of the pulp. Discard the skins and coarsely chop the eggplant pulp. Stir the chopped eggplant into the tomato mixture and keep at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is fully cooked and buttery-soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste for balance and season with a little salt or more garam masala if desired. Serve hot. Refrigerated leftovers can be reheated or enjoyed cold, and the flavors will continue to develop and improve overnight. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Barbecue Sauce for your "Inner Redneck"

Ass Whoopin' Redneck Golden BBQ SauceLet's face it: There's a little bit of redneck in pretty much all of us. And more than a little in some of us.

Maybe you're proud of the redneck in you; maybe you prefer to hide that rebel streak. Regardless, given the right set of circumstances, that "inner redneck" will come out at some point, for better or for worse.

When it comes to barbecue, it usually pays to listen to -- and feed -- your inner redneck. And we've got the perfect barbecue sauce for that.

Ass Whoopin' Redneck BBQ Sauces are proudly made in the USA and they'll wallop your taste buds with brazen, brash, in-your-face flavor. Their politically incorrect labels are emblazoned with the Confederate flag and loudly proclaim, "This is some good sh*t, y'all!" One taste and we think you'll agree, even if you're a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool Yankee.

These Southern style barbecue sauces come in two traditional flavors.  Ass Whoopin' Redneck Golden BBQ Sauce is a spicy, tangy mustard barbecue sauce like those found in South Carolina, Florida, and in some "down east" coastal regions of North Carolina. There's plenty of bold, savory flavor courtesy of some onion, garlic and Worcestershire sauce, but the real treat is the splash or two of microbrewed beer to temper the slight sweetness from tomatoes and sugar (they don't use corn syrup).  There's just enough peppery spice to give this barbeque sauce a jaunty kick, and there's a hint of smoke which will be especially appreciated by anyone stuck cooking on a gas grill or indoors. If you prefer a robust mustard BBQ sauce for slathering on ribs, chicken, pork chops, venison and other hearty fare -- or even for saucing pulled or chopped Carolina pork barbecue -- this is the sauce for you.

Ass Whoopin' Redneck Red BBQ Sauce
If your inner redneck is more of a mountain man or woman with a hankerin' for a rich and smoky tomato barbecue sauce like those found in Kentucky, Tennessee, western NC and parts of Georgia, you'll want to get Ass Whoopin' Redneck Red BBQ Sauce. Like its mustard sibling, this hearty homestyle barbecue sauce delivers a peppery punch to keep things spicy, but not TOO hot. There's just a touch of mellow sweetness from brown sugar, and this time the surprising ingredient is guava pulp. Yes, the tropical fruit. But don't worry, this ain't no sissy sauce. You won't taste guava, or any fruity flavors. All the guava does is add texture and body to the sauce, and its complex and subtle sweetness balances the smoke notes and tangy vinegar base. The overall flavor of this tomato BBQ sauce is unmistakably Southern and savory, making it excellent on anything you toss on the grill or cook on the smoker, as well as roast or broil in the oven if you just can't cook outdoors.

Buy Ass Whoopin' Redneck Sauces online and on sale from Carolina Sauces, and feed your inner redneck without getting you in trouble with the PC crowd.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Make Bacon Croutons (and Other Homemade Croutons)

Making croutons (Flickr photo by Tracy Benjamin)
Making croutons at home is extremely easy and far more economical than buying a box or bag of croutons at the grocery store. Another advantage to making croutons at home is that you don't get any of the preservatives or artificial ingredients that store-bought croutons may have. All you need is bread, a baking pan and an oven -- or the simple seasonings and enhancements to make the variations below.

1. Plain Croutons: Cut slices of  bread into 1/2" cubes, spread in a shallow baking pan and bake at 300°F until dry and crisp, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool before using. Store, after completely cooled, in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.

2. Seasoned Croutons:  Lightly brush slices of bread with olive oil or melted butter, then cut into 1/2" cubes and spread in shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with desired herbs and seasonings:  Italian herbs, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, sea salt & cracked black pepper, BBQ seasoning rub, etc. Bake as above.

3. Cheese Croutons:  Follow instructions for Seasoned Croutons; after you remove from oven, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese or other cheese while still hot, then allow to cool.

4. Bacon Croutons:  Fry a few slices of bacon until completely crispy.  Drain bacon on paper towels and reserve the fat. Lightly brush slices of bread with rendered bacon fat, then cut into 1/2" cubes. Spread cubes in shallow baking pan and bake per above. While croutons are baking, finely crumble the bacon after it has cooled (easiest if you place cooled slices in a plastic baggie and crush with a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat mallet). After croutons are out of the oven but while they're still hot, sprinkle with the finely crumbled bacon (you can also add grated cheese at this time if desired).  Allow to cool thoroughly before use. Store leftover bacon croutons in an airtight container or plastic baggie in the refrigerator.

What's your favorite recipe for homemade croutons? Please share in a comment below.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Fiery, Smoky Hot Sauce for Tomatillo Fans

Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle hot sauce
As the old saying goes, where there's smoke, there's fire. In the case of this Mexican-inspired but American-made gourmet hot sauce, there's smoke, there's fire AND there's flavor.

Sgt. Pepper's El Chipotle Roasted Tomatillo Hot Sauce takes tangy tomatillos and fire-roasts them for mouthwatering mellowness with hints of caramelized smoke. The roasted tomatillos are then blended with fiery-hot and deeply smoky chipotles in adobo, along with chipotle powder, savory onions, pungent garlic and a dash of cumin plus a pinch of oregano -- all of which are used in traditional Mexican cuisine. Instead of using harsh (and comparatively cheap) white vinegar, the folks at Sgt. Peppers use cider vinegar and lime juice for superior, restaurant-quality flavor that's head and shoulders above your typical mass-produced supermarket hot sauce. The end result is an exquisitely satisfying hot sauce with a solid medium burn -- hot enough to be noticed without being offensive -- and fantastic savory flavor.

The next time you're making Mexican, Tex-Mex or Southwestern foods at home (or you get those as take-out), reach for a bottle of this Tomatillo Hot Sauce for use in recipes calling for hot sauce -- and make sure to have a bottle at the table for anyone who wants to splash some more on at the table. Other excellent choices for El Chipotle Roasted Tomatillo Hot Sauce include chili, nachos, pizza, beef stew, red beans & rice as well as other rice dishes, homemade BBQ sauces, roasted or grilled chicken, hamburgers, and similar hearty fare.

Buy Sgt. Pepper's El Chipotle Roasted Tomatillo Hot Sauce online and on sale from the Carolina Sauces online store. And if you'd like a coupon code to save 5% off the sale price (and off your entire order exclusive of shipping/taxes), simply stop by the Carolina Sauce Facebook page, "Like" us and jot down the coupon code on our cover pic, then enter that coupon code at checkout when you shop our online store. The coupon is good through 8/31/13.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Curryleaf Raita (Savory Indian Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce)

Curry leaf
Curry Leaves (Flickr photo by Sue Mah)
Raita is a creamy yogurt & cucumber sauce typically seasoned with fresh mint and sometimes a little cumin or other similar spice. It's commonly served in Indian restaurants and helps cool the mouth when eating spicy Indian food.

My original plan was to make a traditional Indian raita to serve as a condiment with several Indian dishes Greg and I were planning for dinner. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any fresh mint at any of my local grocery stores. To my surprise, however, Whole Foods did have fresh curry leaves, which previously I had only used in dried form.

Having already assembled all the other ingredients for raita, I decided to use the fresh curry leaves in place of the traditional chopped fresh mint. Because curry leaves have a complex, more savory flavor than mint, which has a brighter and sweeter flavor, I did not use as much curry leaf as I would have used mint in a traditional recipe. Instead I used just the 5 or 6 sprigs in the small package and also reduced the amount of salt normally used in raita. If you try this recipe for curry leaf raita, you should taste it before chilling so that you can adjust the seasonings: Add more salt, spices or chopped curryleaf for a more intense flavor, or stir in a little more plain yogurt if the seasonings are too strong.

2 cups plain yogurt (I use nonfat Greek yogurt)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded & shredded
approx. 1/2 to 1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground red chili pepper or cayenne pepper
Optional garnish: A few whole curry leaves or 1 sprig of curry leaves

Toast the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan over medium-high heat until fragrant and they start to turn gray. Remove immediately from heat and transfer to a spice grinder or mortar & pestle, then grind to desired texture.

Whisk the yogurt and seasonings in a bowl until creamy, then fold in the cucumber and curry leaves. Taste for balance, adjust as desired, then cover and refrigerate for about an hour to let flavors meld. Stir before serving and garnish with curry leaves if desired. Makes approx. 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Smoky, Spicy Pumpkin... in a Hot Sauce!

Sgt. Pepper's El Chipotle Picante Pumpkin Hot Sauce
Last Fall, Greg went on a pumpkin-smoking spree -- as in, cooking pumpkin in our smoker, rather than boiling or roasting it, to puree for pumpkin pie, bread, soup and other such pumpkin recipes. The smoker imparted a subtle, not overwhelming, smoky flavor while producing a very tender, not dried out or watery, pulp. The earthy, smoky flavor enhanced the "autumnal essence" of the pumpkin, and made for a mouthwatering maple-smoked pumpkin pie unlike any we'd ever eaten. Smoked pumpkin is definitely on our agenda -- and menu -- for this autumn and winter!

Having fallen in love with smoked pumpkin, I was delighted to find a one-of-a-kind gourmet hot sauce on the market that combines the distinctive flavor of pumpkin with the smoky-spicy flavor of chipotles. It also captures the essence of Fall with warm spices like cinnamon and cumin. A little bit sweet and a little bit savory, Sgt. Pepper's El Chipotle Picante Pumpkin Hot Sauce is exotic enough to intrigue even the most jaded palate, yet sufficiently reminiscent of homemade holiday cooking to enchant skeptical or picky eaters.

Made from the finest all-natural ingredients, this pumpkin hot sauce is sweetened with brown sugar (not HFCS) and relies on cider vinegar for its mellow tang -- there's no harsh white vinegar edge, and the texture is full-bodied not thin or watery. Enjoy Picante Pumpkin Hot Sauce with any and all robustly-flavored meats and poultry, especially if smoked, and it's a natural with Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham (or goose!) in all its glory. Try it on sweet potatoes, in soups, stew, chili, and rice & bean dishes. It's also surprisingly tasty over cheesecake or with a slice of pumpkin pie -- really!

Get ready for Thanksgiving and start stocking up for cooler weather cooking now, because the holidays will be here sooner than you think. Buy Sgt. Pepper's El Chipotle Picante Pumpkin Hot Sauce on sale from the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Creamy Garlic-Tahini Dressing (You Won't Believe it's Low Fat!)

Creamy garlic tahini dressing
The following recipe is based on the yogurt-tahini dressing published in New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, by The Moosewood Collective. My version uses a lot more garlic and much less tahini, because that's the way we like it. It's a very pourable, thin but zesty dressing that's equally good drizzled over a green salad, for dipping veggies or pita wedges, or as a sauce for falafel and similar Middle Eastern fare.

This salad dressing is most easily prepared by putting all the ingredients in a mason jar and vigorously shaking to combine, but you can also whisk everything together in a bowl or large measuring cup and then transfer to a lidded jar for storage in your refrigerator. I use nonfat plain Greek yogurt which helps keep the fat content very low without compromising on flavor or mouthfeel.

4 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs tahini
Juice of half a lemon (approx. 2 Tbs or less)
1 tsp dried parsley*
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cumin
Optional: A pinch (or to taste) freshly ground pepper

*If you have fresh parsley, use 1 Tbs finely chopped

Finely mince the garlic, then use the flat side of your knife blade to press the minced garlic into a coarse puree. Scrape this puree and garlic juices into a mason jar, then add remaining ingredients. Tightly close the lid and shake vigorously to mix thoroughly. Store in refrigerator and use within a week.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Do You Get When You Combine Blackberries, Chipotle & Balsamic Vinegar?

Sgt. Pepper's El Chipotle Balsamic Blackberry Hot Sauce
Have you ever wondered what you get when you combine blackberries, chipotle, and balsamic vinegar?

Nope, me neither.

When I learned that there's a hot sauce that relies on those three radically different ingredients as the basis for its recipe, my first thought was, "That's either audaciously brilliant or utterly disgusting."

Thank goodness that Sgt. Pepper's El Chipotle Balsamic Blackberry Hot Sauce is the former and not the latter.

Seductively sweet, bodaciously plump and lusciously juicy blackberries picked at the peak of ripeness provide a bright counterpoint to the mysteriously smoky, darkly earthy chipotles in adobo for an inspired symphony of flavors in this remarkable hot sauce. Aged balsamic vinegar not only adds a mellow tang but also supplies well-rounded, harmonious wood notes to balance the sweetness from the berries and brown sugar. Apple sauce provides hints of autumn while enriching the body and texture of this unique hot sauce. And amazingly, these very different and seemingly unrelated ingredients all come together brilliantly into a delightfully smoky-sweet, medium-spicy hot sauce that will make any food-lover or gourmand wax rhapsodic.

Buy Sgt. Pepper's El Chipotle Balsamic Blackberry Hot Sauce online from the Carolina Sauces online store (it's on sale now) and enjoy it on grilled chicken or pork, roast turkey breast, venison tenderloin, or even over plain cheesecake or mixed into cream cheese and served with Nilla Wafers or gingersnap cookies. Let your imagination run wild and your taste buds will rejoice in the experience!

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cuban-Style Savory Pureed Pumpkin

Cuban pumpkin puree Pure de calabaza
Here is another old-fashioned recipe from pre-revolutionary Cuba, which likely dates back to the island's colonial period. In Cuba, it is made with calabaza, a Caribbean squash that is larger and less sweet than American pumpkin. You might be able to find calabaza at ethnic markets if you live somewhere with a significant Cuban, West Indian, or other Caribbean population.

Otherwise, Hubbard squash is an excellent substitute, but you can also use regular American pumpkin (preferably one of the older, less sweet varieties rather than "pie" pumpkins). Do NOT use canned pumpkin pie filling because it is sweetened and flavored with incompatible spices. Pure, natural canned pumpkin can be used, however. I used some leftover smoked pumpkin that we had stored in our deep freezer since last winter, and the smokiness -- although not authentically Cuban -- added depth and subtle earthiness which paired nicely with the grilled pork chops we served with this side dish.

1 lb natural unsweetened pumpkin puree*
2 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste

*If using freshly-cooked or previously frozen pumpkin puree, squeeze out or drain off as much liquid as possible.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then saute onion and garlic until translucent and tender. Add the pumpkin puree, season with salt & pepper and stir well to thoroughly combine. Simmer until heated through and thick (adjust heat if necessary to keep at a low simmer and avoid scorching), about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot as a side dish for beef, pork or chicken. Serves 4.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  For more authentic Cuban and Cuban-inspired recipes, follow us on Pinterest and be sure to browse through our Cuban Recipes board.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How Much Pain do YOU Like: 85%, 95% or 100%?

Pain 85% Hot Sauce
Pain is something most of us instinctively avoid... but there are some kinds of pain that bring their own special pleasure, if you have the endurance and the desire.

The following three hot sauces deliver that special balance of fiery pain and flavorful pleasure. Choose your level of pain wisely, and you will be rewarded.

If you're relatively new to the blissful agony of powerful hot sauces, you should begin your dangerous adventure with PAIN 85% Hot Sauce. This combustible concoction of habanero peppers, pungent garlic, zesty mustard, savory spices and other all-natural ingredients presents Caribbean-inspired heat in a tangy lime & vinegar base. A splash of olive oil assists in conveying the various layers of flavor to your taste buds while prolonging the peppery burn, and also allows you to use this medium-hot habanero sauce as a marinade or Buffalo wing sauce. Pain 85% is an excellent all-purpose hot sauce for use in recipes and at the table whenever you want to perk up your food. From eggs, sausage and breakfast potatoes to lunch sandwiches, prepared salads, burgers and soups, plus pizza, stews, chili, pasta, grilled or roasted meats and poultry, rice & beans or other dinnertime fare, you can't go wrong as long as you're prepared to experience far more heat than any supermarket-variety hot sauce could deliver.

Pain 95% Hot Sauce
Not painful enough for you? Then move up to PAIN 95% Hot Sauce. But only if you've been playing with fire on a regular basis. Jamaica's influence on this HOT hot sauce is undeniable: Hints of exotic jerk spices dance a devilish jig on your tongue while sassy pineapple, lemon and lime provide bright citrus highlights to the rich tomato base. Habanero peppers take center stage, however, and their searing heat grows in intensity with every bite. A natural with Jamaican, West Indian, Caribbean and other similar tropical cuisines, Pain 95% is also quite good as a fiery alternative for -- or supplement to -- ketchup or barbecue sauces. Mix in a little bit of oil to make an fiendishly hot yet fabulously flavorful marinade or finishing sauce for anything you grill.

PAIN 100% Hot SauceDid I hear anyone yell for MORE pain? Is there a capsaicin-addicted masochist in the house? For those of you who aren't happy until you're in tears, gasping for air and grabbing the nearest cold beverage, I give you PAIN 100% Hot Sauce. The name says it all:  This is 100% pure habanero pepper and natural habanero pepper extract, with only a touch of garlic and lime juice blended in. That's it, nothing more, not even vinegar and certainly not any wussy ingredients like mangoes or sugar. I dare you to try it. And if you consider yourself a seasoned veteran of pepper-eating contests or hot sauce competitions, I double-dog dare you to eat it, no chaser allowed. But if you can handle the peppery punishment this ultra-hot sauce can inflict, you won't be disappointed with its unadulterated pure-pepper flavor, achieved precisely because this sauce has no artificial anything and no distracting spices or other flavor-altering ingredients. In short, Pain 100% is for chili pepper purists and no-nonsense pain lovers who never give in and never sell out.

Buy all three PAIN % hot sauces (and other, less intimidating Pain sauces) at the Carolina Sauces online store, where they're currently on sale. If you'd like a coupon to save even more money, you'll find a special coupon code on the cover photo at the top of the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Spicy Vegetable & Cashew Rice (Pulao Masala)

Pulao is a type of rice dish found throughout India, especially the northern part of the country. It's usually made with Basmati rice cooked in broth, then supplemented with vegetables and occasionally meat or chicken. It's not unusual to add cashews or other nuts, too. You can use plain water to cook the rice if you don't have vegetable broth, or use chicken broth for a richer flavor if you are not a vegetarian.

The following vegetarian recipe can be made vegan by using oil instead of ghee (Indian clarified butter). You can adjust the peppery heat by adjusting the amount of garam masala to suite your taste, and substituting a mild or sweet pepper for the hot chili pepper if you prepare a milder dish.

I like to use brown Basmati rice, which requires a 2:1 liquid-to-rice ratio for cooking. If you prefer to use white Basmati or other white rice, reduce the ratio to 1.5:1 liquid-to-rice. The rice is cooked separately and then combined with the vegetables and seasonings. I find it easiest to use a medium Dutch oven or other such pot for this, but you can use a very large deep skillet as long as it will hold everything.

1 1/2 cups brown Basmati rice
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 large carrot (or 2 smaller ones), peeled & diced
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
1 or 2 small hot green chilies (serrano or jalapeno peppers will work)
4 Tbs ghee or oil (not olive oil)
1/2 tsp garlic paste OR finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp ginger paste OR finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup raw unsalted cashew pieces
2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt (to taste)
Optional garnishes: Fresh chopped coriander leaves or cilantro; freshly-squeezed lemon juice)

Bring broth or water to a boil, add rice, stir, reduce heat to very low, cover and cook for at least 1 hour or until rice is fully cooked & fluffy (don't uncover during cooking; after 1 hr I turn the burner off and leave the pot covered to steam for at least another 5 minutes).

While the rice is cooking, cook the carrot, peas & chilies in a steamer or microwave oven until just tender (alternatively, you can boil being careful not to overcook). Drain and set aside.

Melt the ghee or heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven. Add garlic & ginger and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Add onions & cashews, and saute until golden. Stir in the cooked vegetables, garam masala, coriander & salt, and saute for 1 minute until the vegetables are coated with the spice mixture. Reduce heat to low, stir in the cooked rice and cook, stirring regularly, until thoroughly combined and heated through. Taste for balance and add more salt and/or garam masala if desired. Serve hot, garnished with some chopped coriander leaves or cilantro, and/or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.  Makes 6 to 8 servings, and the leftovers taste even better the next day because the flavors will continue to develop if refrigerated overnight.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Monday, August 19, 2013

Looking for Genuine South African Peri Peri Sauce? Try Zulu Zulu

Zulu Zulu Lemon Herb Peri Peri Sauce
The peri peri pepper, also called piri-piri and African birds-eye chili, is native to southern Africa and delivers a powerful burn rating around 150,000 SHUs (Scoville Heat Units). That's a lot hotter than jalapenos, and comparable to milder habanero and scotch bonnet peppers. When used in cooking, its bright and fruity flavor pairs well with lemon, garlic and aromatic herbs, making this hot pepper a favorite of African cooks in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mali, Mozambique and other parts of the continent.

Although not nearly as well known here in the US as the jalapeno, habanero or cayenne pepper -- and rarely found in grocery stores here its fresh form -- the peri peri pepper is gaining in popularity here, particularly in hot sauces made with peri-peri pepper. Although the Carolina Sauce Company has offered American-made peri-peri hot sauces like the African Rhino hot sauce line, I'm happy to announce that we now carry authentic South African-made peri-peri saucesZulu Zulu Peri Peri Hot Sauces.

Made with all-natural ingredients and showcasing the unique flavor and fire of Africa's most famous chili, each flavor of Zulu Zulu sauce is versatile in the kitchen and at the table. Whether you're looking for a new hot sauce to use in your homemade hot-wings recipe, a zesty-hot and flavor-packed marinade for grilled chicken or meats, a zingy condiment to spice up sandwiches and mayo-based salads, or a fantastic table sauce to wake up any savory dish, Zulu Zulu will not disappoint.

Zulu Zulu Garlic Peri Peri Hot Sauce is the workhorse of the trio, with a feisty yet friendly medium burn and a zesty, savory flavor that complements omelets or hash browns at breakfast, burgers or pizza at lunch, vegetable side dishes and all sorts of meat, beans or poultry at dinner, and even fish or seafood. It's amazing on grilled pork chops and adds great flavor to meat loaf, chili, rice & beans, spaghetti sauce and casseroles.

If you're interested in a spicy and subtly exotic marinade for chicken, fish or shrimp, try Zulu Zulu Lemon & Herb Peri Peri Sauce. Because it includes a bit of soy oil among its ingredients, this medium-hot sauce can also be used for basting and grilling without the fear of flare-ups or of drying out what you marinate in it. Add it to vegetables when sauteing or frying, spice up rice or noodle dishes with it, season roasted potatoes with a few splashes, or even enjoy it over French fries. It's magnificent on seared tuna or salmon steaks.

Zulu Zulu Extra Hot Peri Peri Hot Sauce
And if you are a serious fiery-foods fanatic or hard-core chilehead craving intense heat without compromising on great flavor, you need Zulu Zulu Extra Hot Peri Peri Sauce. It's insanely good for Buffalo wings, fiery red beans & rice, robust grilled or smoked foods (especially red meats like ribs), super-hot bloody Marys, and anything else that can stand up to big-time hot pepper heat.

One final note about these distinctive African hot sauces: They come in eye-catching stopper-lidded bottles that really stand out among boring generic 5oz glass bottles typically used for commercial hot sauces, and each bottle holds 8.4 oz of hot sauce, making them a great value as well.

Buy Zulu Zulu Peri Peri Hot Sauces online at the Carolina Sauces website, where all three flavors are currently on sale.  Better yet, Like us on Facebook to get a 5% off coupon posted on our cover pic there, and save an additional 5% off the already-reduced sale price! (Coupon is good thru August 31st, and is good on all products in your order.)

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Spicy Crock Pot Green Beans with Country Ham

Green beans with country ham
Crock pot cooking doesn't get any simpler than this recipe for Southern green beans seasoned with a smoked country ham hock and a dash of hot sauce. It's an excellent side dish for a cookout or barbecue, or with fried or blackened fish (shown here), or grilled pork chops, fried chicken, roast beef, and other hearty comfort foods -- even homemade mac & cheese!

1 smoked country ham hock, approx. 10-12 oz
2 lbs frozen cut green beans (Whole Foods sells them in 2-lb bags), do not thaw!
1 tsp (or to taste) all-purpose hot sauce or cayenne pepper sauce*
1 cup water

*Good hot sauce choices include Texas Pete (a mild vinegar pepper sauce made in North Carolina), Emeril's Kick It Up! Red Pepper Sauce (a zesty Cajun blend of cayennes and garlic), Tabasco Sauce (medium-hot heat), and Scorned Woman Hot Sauce (solidly hot but won't overpower your taste buds if used in moderation).

Crock pot recipe for spicy green beens with ham hockPlace all ingredients into your crock pot in the order listed. Cover, set crock pot on High to cook 4 or 5 hours, or on Low to cook 6 to 8 hours (your cooking time may vary depending on your crock pot, and how well-cooked you like your beans). Do not uncover to stir until at least 3 hours into the cooking time for High, or 5 hours if on Low. Cook until the beans are tender and the meat pulls easily from the ham hock.

Before serving, remove ham hock, pull off the meat and stir it back into the beans (discard the bone and any gristle). Taste for balance and season with salt and/or pepper or a little more hot sauce, if you wish. Serve hot.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you want to win some FREE sauces, seasonings or other zesty condiments from the Carolina Sauce Company, be sure to bookmark this recipe because it will be featured as part of our September 1st Crock Pot Game on our Facebook page!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Like Us on Facebook & Get 5% Off Your Next Order!

The Carolina Sauce Company is running a special promotion just for our Facebook fans!

When you "Like" us on Facebook, you'll find a coupon for 5% off your next order at the Carolina Sauces online store.  This coupon is good on all products you order, including already discounted sale items and rare, limited-availability Collectors' Hot Sauces, and all the other zesty stuff we offer.

If that's not enough reason to Like the Carolina Sauce Company on Facebook, consider this:

Your special Facebook coupon code is good through the end of the month (expires at midnight on August 31st), and can be used multiple times throughout August!

If you've been waiting for a sale to start stocking up on barbecue sauces, dry rubs, condiments and spicy snacks for your Labor Day cookout or BBQ or the upcoming tailgating season, now is your chance to save. So head on over to our Facebook page, make sure you've clicked the "Like" button, and look for the coupon code on our cover picture -- then click here to shop our online store and start saving!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fish in Spicy Mint Sauce (Machhi Ka Salan)

Indian Fish in Spicy Mint Sauce Machhi Ka Salan
This exotic recipe hails from northern India and is a unique way to use fresh mint from a bountiful garden.

Spicy, fragrant, savory with a natural and subtle sweetness from the mint, you can serve Machhi Ka Salan in a bowl like stew, or ladle it over cooked rice (as shown) or couscous.

For best results, use a mild white fish like sole, tilapia or flounder. You can also use catfish or cod for a "meatier" dish. For a drier, less "saucy" dish, simply simmer a little longer to allow more of the liquid to evaporate (you can remove the fish fillets to avoid over-cooking).

1/2 lb to 1 lb fish fillets
2 Tbs ghee (Indian clarified butter) or mild oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 or 2 small green chilies (I used 1 large jalapeno), seeded & sliced
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh mint
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
3 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp Indian chili powder or other pure ground chili pepper powder (not a chili powder blend or Mexican chili powder)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup hot water

Mash together the mint, garlic, ginger, coriander, chili powder and turmeric in a large mortar & pestle or other grinding/mashing instrument (e.g., a small electric chopper/processor). Coat the fish fillets on both sides with this paste (use the back of a spoon or your fingers to press the paste onto the fish so that it sticks), place on a platter or plate in a single layer and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Marinating Fish in Mint & Indian Spices

While the fish marinates, heat the ghee or oil in a large, deep frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions until translucent & tender, then add chilies. Continue to saute until the chilies are soft and the onions have turned light golden-brown. Push the onion & chilies to the sides of the pan, then place the fish fillets in a single layer in the pan -- if there is any paste left behind on the plate, spoon that onto the fish in the pan. Add salt and 1/4 cup water to the pan around the fish, gently push the onion & chilies back into the pan, reduce heat, cover and cook at a low simmer until the fish is mostly done but not yet flaking.

Cooking Indian Minted Fish Machhi Ka Salan

Uncover and carefully turn the fillets over to cook the other side (the cooked side should be nicely crusted with the mint paste) and pour in the remaining water around the fish, gently stirring around the fillets. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes until fish is fully cooked and the sauce is thickened (you can raise the heat). Serve hot in a bowl or over cooked rice or couscous.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hurry, Our VIP Coupon Sale Ends at Midnight Tonight!

The Carolina Sauce Company August VIP Newsletter was emailed last week to all members of our VIP Club, and it contained a special coupon code for 7% off at the Carolina Sauces online store.

That VIP coupon expires at midnight EDT tonight, which means you have only a few hours left to cash in on the biggest savings we'll offer for the month of August.

As with all VIP coupons, you can use the August coupon on anything and everything in our online store, including already-discounted sale items, and it will get you 7% off the product total for your order. If you already used the coupon on an order, only to realize that you forgot to order your favorite hot sauce or BBQ sauce, or now need a sauce gift for someone, don't worry: You can use your VIP coupon again, as often as you wish, before it expires at midnight. Heck, you can even share the coupon code with a friend so that they can cash in on the savings!

If you didn't receive a VIP coupon and would like one, just email me right away so that I can send it to you and add you to our VIP list. And to make sure you don't miss out on the next or future monthly newsletters (each with a new coupon or other special offer available only to our VIPs), click here to sign up for our VIP Club.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Don't forget to add our email address to your "safe senders" list so that our monthly VIP newsletter doesn't end up in your spam or junk folder.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vintage Cuban Recipe: Spinach Casserole

Cuban spinach casserole
The following recipe dates back to pre-revolutionary Cuba and even further back in time. Very mild in flavor like most comfort food tends to be, it is nevertheless quite satisfying and filling, as well as high in protein and vitamins. In short, it satisfies the body and the soul.

Called "Pudín de Espinacas" (or "spinach pudding") in Spanish, its texture is well-set and firm rather than creamy or custard-like, which is why I call it a casserole rather than a savory pudding. It's shown here served with herb-seasoned grilled pork chops and savory pumpkin puree, another classic Cuban recipe. Because of its gentle spinach flavor, Cuban Spinach Casserole pairs very well with robust entrees like grilled or roasted meats and poultry, or even steak. If you want, feel free to splash it with a good steak sauce or good ol'-fashioned Worcestershire sauce.

3 cups cooked spinach*, well-drained
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs diced onion
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup milk (I use skim; you can use whole or low-fat)
1 Tbs dry white wine
3 large eggs

*I began with approx. 1 1/2 lbs frozen spinach, which cooked down to 3 cups. You can substitute other greens for up to half of the spinach, if you'd like.

Pudin de espinacas, Cuban baked spinach
Pudín de espinacas, fresh out of the oven
Squeeze out as much water as you can from the spinach. Place the spinach, along with the flour, salt, pepper and milk, in a blender or food processor and puree to desired consistency, either well-chopped (that's how I like it) or smooth (more elegant but takes longer). Melt the butter in a large, deep pan over medium heat, then saute the onion until tender and translucent. Add the spinach puree and cook, stirring regularly, until thickened. Reduce heat and stir in the wine. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

As the spinach mixture cools, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Slowly add the spinach mixture to the eggs -- I use a large serving spoon and stir well after each spoonful. Continue to stir until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated into the spinach mixture. Pour a couple of cups of water into an oven-safe pan and place in oven (this will keep the casserole from drying out as it bakes), then preheat oven to 375°F and grease a medium to large casserole dish. Pour the spinach-egg mixture into the greased dish and bake until set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45 to 60 minutes depending on the size of your casserole dish. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before cutting into wedges or slices for serving. Makes about 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,
PS: If you're looking for more vegetarian recipes or Cuban recipes, be sure to follow the Carolina Sauce Company on Pinterest where you'll find boards devoted to those and other kinds of recipes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Can't Afford a Tropical Vacation? Take a Virtual One with Polynesian Hot Sauces

Tahiti Joe's Hot Sauces
A trip to Tahiti or other similar exotic location is out of reach for most of us these days, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a little taste of paradise without leaving our house. The following gourmet tropical hot sauces from Florida masterfully capture the essence of the islands with inventive, award-winning flavor combinations and masterfully balanced heat levels ranging from a respectable medium to eruptive extreme.

Tahiti Joe's Polynesian Hot Sauce is the original, boasting a solid but not overpowering peppery burn from aged red peppers, habaneros and jalapenos. But what makes this sauce stand out is its unique combination of secret spices with clam juice, honey and cheeses for a hauntingly exotic, sweet & savory tropical flavor unlike that of any other family of pepper sauces. Try it as a chicken wing sauce, marinade or grilling sauce, or use it in your usual Bloody Mary for a seductively tasty "Polynesian Mary."

If you're a fan of fruit-based hot sauces, then Mangonesian Hot Sauce is for you. Starting with his original Polynesian recipe, Tahiti Joe adds a bountiful quantity or lusciously juicy mangoes with a splash of apple juice. But unlike other mango hot sauce makers, he didn't stop there:  He introduced smoky chipotle to add depth of flavor and a mysteriously dark richness that will have you dreaming of sun-drenched beaches and beautifully bronzed skin. It's fantastic with pork, tuna steaks and anything hot off the grill.

Mangonesian Hot Sauce
Ahi means fire, and Tahiti Joe's Volcano Ahi Hot Sauce lives up to its name. He's taken the heat up a notch to a healthy medium-hot from his original Polynesian hot sauce, but without compromising its enticing flavor. If that's not enough for you, however, even hotter is Ahi Of Kahuna XX Hot Sauce, with key lime juice for a citrusy tang and Romano cheese added to the Parmesan for extra richness to balance out the heat. Don't worry, you'll still be able to enjoy that distinctive savory-sweet flavor behind the fiery-hot heat.

Now we're entering the realm of the serious fiery-foods addict, where more delicate palates don't dare to venture but where intrepid fire-hunters discover peppery treasures like Tahiti Joe's Kumawanakilya XXX Hot Pepper Sauce. The primary ingredient in this super-hot but extract-free tropical hot sauce is the Habanero pepper, in all its flaming glory. As with the other hot sauces in this family, there's clam juice, honey, fresh vegetables like onion & garlic, and savory spices & seasonings -- but this time, there's no cheese to temper the heat. Taste it only if you dare.

The hottest of this bunch of island-inspired Polynesian hot sauces is Tahiti Joe's Uhan'E Akai XXXX Hot Sauce, which starts off where the prior one ended but adds crushed dried bhut jolokia (aka ghost pepper) flakes for a naturally unforgiving heat that will have you simultaneously begging for mercy and yet begging for more. This recipe is enhanced with zippy ginger and the bright flavors of cilantro for unforgettable gourmet flavor.

Tahiti Joe's Uhan'E Akai XXXX Hot Sauce
These are only a few of the delightfully unusual and uncommonly good tropical style hot sauces by this Florida-based creative chilihead who can't get enough of Tahiti and other island paradises. To see his entire line of hot sauces and condiments, simply visit our Tahiti Joe's Hot Sauces page.

Zestfully yours,

PS: The next time you need a gift for a hot sauce lover who has a taste for adventure, give them Tahiti Joe's Super 6 Pack Hot Sauce Gift Set, with full-size bottles of six of his most popular creations (the original Polynesian, the teriyaki-inspired Tahiti Aki Sauce, the Italian fusion sauce Tropi-Garlic Hot Sauce, plus Volcano Ahi, Ahi Of Kahuna XX, and Kumawanakilya XXX).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Greg's German Cabbage Rolls, with a Spicy Twist

German cabbage rolls with gravy
A while back, I posted Greg's low-carb recipe for cabbage rolls cooked in my homemade roasted tomato & basil sauce.

This time, I'm sharing Greg's recipe for German cabbage rolls (kohlrouladen), but with his signature spicy twist. It's based on a recipe for traditional German cabbage rolls that doesn't use hot peppers.

1 head cabbage (green or savoy - Greg used green)
Bacon fat or oil for frying
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 lb ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbs bread crumbs
1 tsp finely minced jalapeno pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground mustard seed (i.e., dry or powdered mustard)
1/2 tsp dried oregano 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup chicken broth*
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbs cornstarch

*For richer flavor, you can use beef broth instead.

stuffing cabbage rolls
Stuffing the cabbage leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, leaving enough room for the cabbage head. Trim the cabbage by removing any wilted or discolored outer leaves and cutting out the core. Place the cabbage in the boiling water and boil until tender but not falling apart. Drain into a colander and rinse with very cold water until the cabbage is cool enough to handle - this also stops the cooking process so that the leaves don't get mushy. Peel off the leaves and rinse individually to remove any grit. Shake off excess water and set leaves aside in colander to let any remaining water drain off.

While the cabbage is cooking & cooling, saute the onions in a little bit of bacon fat or oil until translucent. In a large bowl combine the ground beef with the eggs, bread crumbs, sauteed onions, jalapeno and seasonings until thoroughly mixed.

To assemble the cabbage rolls, place about 2 Tbs of the ground beef mixture center of each cabbage leaf, then roll the leaf like a burrito as shown above on the left.

cooking cabbage rolls in broth
Carefully slide the rolls into the hot bacon fat or oil in the skillet (add a little more fat or oil if needed) with the seam side down in the fat so that they seal as they cook, and lightly brown over medium heat. You'll work in batches so as to not overcrowd the skillet. Carefully turn the rolls over to lightly brown the other sides.

Pour 1/2 cup broth into the pan, cover and simmer for approx. 45 minutes or until filling is thoroughly cooked, adding a little more broth as needed if the pan begins to dry out.

When the cabbage rolls are cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a platter or holding dish while you make the gravy: Add any remaining broth to the pan, raise heat to a strong simmer and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up any caramelized bits. Combine the cornstarch and cold water (shake together in a small lidded jar, or whisk until cornstarch is completely dissolved) then pour into the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and nicely browned.

Spicy German cabbage rolls with gravy
To serve, carefully spoon the rolls out onto individual plates, about 3 to 5 rolls per person, and spoon some of the gravy from the pan over the served rolls.

Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat to enjoy.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Sunday, August 11, 2013

If You Love Raspberries, You'll Flip over Susie's Latest Creation!

Susie's Raspberry Rhapsody Hot Sauce
Lusciously ripe, sublimely sweet raspberries are a summertime favorite "as is" or in dessert sauces -- but have you ever considered pairing raspberries with hot peppers?

Susie of Antigua's world-famous Susie's Hot Sauces did -- and the results are astoundingly delectable!

Susie's Raspberry Rhapsody Hot Sauce is appropriately named, as she has truly orchestrated a symphonic masterpiece of harmonious flavors. Raspberries take center stage while natural cane sugar enhances their sweet melody by highlighting their high notes. And then the brash hot peppers deftly provide an intriguing counterpoint of peppery heat that dances devilishly but never drowns out the main theme.

Susie's Raspberry Rhapsody is made using fresh, all-natural ingredients of the highest quality, ensuring superior flavor and texture. The only sweetener is cane sugar (there is NO corn syrup), and there are no artificial preservatives or colors. The heat level gets no higher than a gentle medium, making it suitable for everything from robust roast chicken and grilled meats to more subtle shrimp and seafood dishes. Try it with cream cheese or brie and crackers for a delightful appetizer or snack, or add zest to a slice of plain cheesecake!

You can now buy Susie's Raspberry Rhapsody Hot Sauce online while it's on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How to Make Smoked Cheese

Smoked roast beef & Smoked cheese
Smoked roast beef (left) and smoked cheese (right)
Greg's Smoked Cheese is always a hit at cookouts & barbecues, and is super-easy to make if you have a smoker. The flavor of freshly-smoked cheese is deeper and more complex than what you get in pre-smoked cheeses from the grocery store or deli, and you just can't beat the indulgently satisfying experience of dipping into warm, ooey-gooey cheese that's just come off the smoker.

All you need to smoke cheese at home is a BBQ smoker, wood chunks for your smoker (something that's not too strong -- Greg uses oak chunks), small aluminum trays (1 per block of cheese), and one or more blocks of easy-melting cheese such as cheddar, Monterey jack, pepperjack, Swiss, provolone, colby, mozzarella, etc.  You can also add flavor ingredients to the cheese before smoking, such as chopped jalapeno or habanero, crumbled bacon, or the like.

1. Place each whole block of cheese in a small aluminum tray -- Greg lines the trays with foil to keep the trays clean & reusable. If you do that, you'll have to spoon out the hot cheese from the foil immediately after smoking or else it will stick as the cheese cools.

Smoking cheddar cheese with jalapeno
Smoking cheddar with jalapeno
2. When the smoker reaches 225°F, place the cheese tray(s) on the smoker rack. If you're using chopped hot peppers or any other toppings, sprinkle them over the cheese blocks -- they'll sink into the cheese as it melts (see photo on right).

3. Cover the smoker and make sure the temperature stays at 225°F. Smoke until the cheese is melted and lightly browned on top, about 1 hour. Remove from trays from smoker (spoon the cheese out from the foil if using) and enjoy the cheese, while still warm, with crackers or raw vegetables, on burgers & sandwiches, etc.

If you have any smoked cheese left over, wait until it cools completely then wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate. The cheese will re-harden and you can use it like regular cheese.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, August 9, 2013

Midnight Chocolate-Pecan Brownies

I don't consider the following to be "my recipe" because all I did was add two ingredients to the directions on the box of Ghirardelli brownie mix. I also used chocolate-infused olive oil, which I had received from a California food & wine club. You might be able to find this specialty oil at a gourmet shop or specialty foods store, especially if you live in a big city.

It really is worth the effort to locate this odd-sounding but remarkably luscious flavored oil, especially if you regularly bake brownies, chocolate cakes or other chocolate desserts calling for oil. It enhances the chocolate flavor while adding richness and trust me, you won't taste the "olive" in the baked results. You can also use it as a finishing oil over berries, ice cream or other desserts, much like you would use a fine nut oil.

I call them "midnight brownies" because the coffee adds ultra-dark earthiness and complexity to the already deep dark chocolate flavor of the mix, and also helps you stay up past midnight if you're working or studying late at night.

1 box Ghirardelli brand Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix
1 egg
1/2 cup chocolate-infused extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 heaping tsp instant espresso or instant coffee powder
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325°F and grease an 8" x 8" or 9" x 9" baking pan. In a large bowl mix together the egg, oil, water and espresso powder until thoroughly combined. Add the brownie mix and pecans, then stir until completely combined. Pour into the greased pan and bake according to package directions: 40 to 45 minutes for a metal pan or 45 to 50 minutes for a glass pan. As the package explains, the brownies should look slightly underbaked when you remove the pan from the oven because they'll finish cooking from residual heat as they cool. I used a glass pan and mine were already done within 45 minutes. Don't overbake or they'll dry out.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Thursday, August 8, 2013

If You're NOT a Carolina Sauce VIP, Here's What You're Missing

Carolina Sauce VIP Club
Did you receive your VIP Newsletter earlier today from the Carolina Sauce Company?

If not, here's what you're missing:
  • Greg's wildly popular Smoked Cheese recipe - No matter how much he makes for a barbecue or get-together, it's gobbled up within seconds of coming off the smoker

  • Our biggest, deepest discount coupon for the Carolina Sauces online store, sent ONLY to our VIP customers - you won't find a better deal this month than this one 

  • Info on how to get a FREE package of Jim's Own Mild BBQ Rub

  • New product briefs including "diabetic-friendly" barbecue sauce, a Caribbean-Italian "fusion" hot sauce, a Buffalo wing sauce with a funny name, an old-fashioned Southern "soakin' sauce" and more
If you'd like your complimentary copy of our August newsletter with your very own VIP coupon and the zesty info above, simply send me an email with the subject line "Sign Me Up!"

I'll forward a copy of the August VIP newsletter to you and add you to our VIP list so that you don't miss any future monthly issues. It's always 100% FREE, you can unsubscribe any time, and we never spam or share your email address with anyone, ever.

To sign up and start saving, email me now --  or click here to join the Carolina Sauce VIP Club.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to Make Tamarind Chutney

Tamarind chutney pappadum murukku
Tamarind chutney served with pappadum & murukku (Indian snacks)
Tamarinds, like cranberries, are naturally quite sour and tart, requiring sugar or other sweeteners to make them palatable for most people. Both are frequently sold dried or processed into condiments like preserves, jellies and chutneys. While cranberries are used almost exclusively in North American cuisines, tamarinds are common throughout the tropics and used in Asian, African, Indian, West Indian, Caribbean and even Arabian cuisines.

Tamarind chutney is ubiquitous in India and in Indian restaurants in the United States. Although you can buy it by the jar at specialty or gourmet shops, it's relatively easy to make at home if you can find dried tamarind pods at an ethnic market. I found a 14 oz block of dried tamarind pods at a local Indian shop, and it produced enough tamarind pulp to make the following recipe several times. If after soaking your pods you end up with more than the 1 cup of pulp called for in the recipe, simply measure out one cup and place the remainder of the pulp in an airtight container to store in the freezer until ready to use either for more chutney or in other recipes calling for tamarind pulp. The chutney itself will keep in a glass jar in your refrigerator for a good month, but I bet you'll eat it all in less than 30 days because it is surprisingly versatile and pairs well with much more than just Indian food.

The only time-consuming or laborious part of the recipe is the soaking and straining of the tamarind pods. After that, it takes very little time or effort and no prior experience with canning or making preserves. You'll be amazed at how those previously unpalatable sour pods are transformed into a complex, darkly mysterious and earthy-sweet condiment with a mellow fruit tang, exotically seductive spice notes, and a voluptuously enticing body. This chutney complements Indian and southeast Asian foods plus all sorts of meats, poultry, fried or grilled seafod, rice dishes, beans and dal or lentil entrees, and even burgers, sausages and steak (after all, tamarind is an important ingredient in many steak sauces and in Worcestershire sauce).

Dry tamarind pods (about 1/2 lb loose, or a 10-14oz pressed block of pods)
Boiling water (you'll use about a cup for loose pods, or 2 to 3 cups for a block)
1 heaping tsp cumin seed
1 heaping tsp coriander seed
3/4 cup sugar (or more/less to taste)
1 tsp Indian chili powder OR other pure chili powder*
1/4 tsp Kosher or other coarse salt
Optional: Up to 1/8 tsp habanero powder or jolokia/ghost pepper powder**

*Don't use Mexican or other chili powder blend that includes other spices or herbs. You want pure dried powdered chilies without added seasonings.

**For serious chiliheads and other fiery-foods fanatics who want a very hot chutney.

soaking dried tamarind pods
Starting to soak the block of tamarind pods
Place the tamarind pods or block in a large bowl and pour no more than 1 cup of boiling water over them. Let soak until soft and cool enough to handle -- if starting with a pressed block of pods, you will ultimately need to be able to break up the block and get the pods soft and pliable, and thus you will likely need to add additional boiling water, a little at a time, breaking up more of the block with a couple of forks (or your hands once cooled) over time. You want the pods to absorb most of the water so that there is very little liquid in the bowl and you end up with a thick pulp after straining.

While the tamarind is soaking, place the cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat and dry-roast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and just starting to change color. Immediately remove from heat and transfer into a mortar & pestle (my preferred method) or spice grinder, and coarsely grind (don't pulverize), then set aside.

Once tamarind is soft and cool enough to handle, place a large fine strainer over another bowl and use a fork, slotted spoon or your hands to transfer the softened tamarind pods into the strainer (you may need to work in batches) and press out the pulp and juices into the second bowl, leaving the tough pods and any stems or seeds behind in the strainer. Rub or press against the strainer to extract as much pulp as possible. The goal is to end up with a very thick, jam-like pulp. Discard the pods etc. remaining in the strainer.

Measure out 1 cup of tamarind pulp (you can store any remaining pulp in your freezer for later use) and transfer into a pint Mason or other similar glass jar. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Taste for balance and if you prefer a sweeter chutney, add a little more sugar. For a more savory chutney, add a little more salt. And for a spicier, hotter chutney, add more chili powder, or a little habanero or ghost pepper powder. You can serve the chutney right away, or cover tightly with lid and refrigerate overnight (the flavors will meld and develop quite nicely overnight).

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you enjoy Indian food and are looking for recipes with which to enjoy your homemade tamarind chutney, simply enter "Indian recipe" into the search box at the top of this blog, or visit our Indian Recipes board on the Carolina Sauce Company Pinterest site.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Free BBQ Dry Rub from Jim's Own Sauces & Rubs!

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

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

The featured flavor for August is Jim's Own Mild BBQ Seasoning Rub.

Jim's Own Mild Bar-B-Que Rub is a traditional-style, all-American barbecue seasoning blend that's savorywith a touch of sweetness and spice. Paprika and peppers provide depth and richness, while specially-selected herbs enhance and complement the natural flavors in meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables. Originally developed for pork and ideal for smoking pork butt to make pulled pork barbecue, this rub is also a natural on ribs, chops, roasts and loins. Additionally, Jim's Mild Rub is excellent as a seasoning for beef brisket or ribs, burgers, chicken, grilled seafood and even veggie burgers and kabobs. Use it indoors to season roasts, spare ribs or baby back ribs, baked or roasted chicken, in meatloaf or sloppy Joes, and for crock-pot barbecue recipes.

All of Jim's BBQ dry rubs are food-friendly and easy to use. Simply pat the seasoning on gently (don't actually rub because that damages the meat fibers), then "marinate" in your refrigerator: Only 1 to 2 hours for poultry, seafood or vegetables, and longer or overnight for pork, beef and venison.

If you want a FREE full-size package of Jim's Own Mild BBQ Rub, simply place an online order for over $25 in Jim's Own products (exclusive of shipping & taxes). Click here to order online. Our friends at Jim's Own will include the free dry rub together with the items in your order.

Zestfully yours,