Archive | Condiments

Nasturtium Chimichurri

Story, recipes, and photos by Kristen Rasmussen de Vasquez

Use as a sauce over roasted vegetables, grilled meat, soups, or bruschetta. To make a pesto-like sauce, omit vinegar and incorporate pine nuts or other nuts and/or cheese.

1 cup chopped nasturtium leaves and stems (Increase the stem-to-leaf ratio if you prefer a more pungent sauce.)
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator for up to one week.

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California Capers

Story, recipes, and photos by Kristen Rasmussen de Vasquez

If you find the “capers” too pungent, submerge them in a brine of 1 part salt to 8 parts water for a few days to mellow out the flavor.

CA-CapersMakes 2 half pints

11/3 cups young nasturtium seedpods
2 bay leaves
About 11/3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
2 half-pint canning jars with lids, sterilized

Separate any seedpods that are still stuck together. (They are often joined in groups of three.) Soak seedpods in water to remove any dirt or debris, then drain and place in the sterilized half-pint jars along with 1 bay leaf per jar.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar and salt to a simmer and stir until salt is dissolved. Pour hot vinegar mixture over seedpods, covering them completely.

Let the jars cool to room temperature before capping and refrigerating. The capers are best if you let them sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours before eating, and they will keep there for up to a year. (Note: To can and make stable outside of refrigeration, please follow reputable instructions for that process.)

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From the story The Happy Forever Community Garden Bears Fruit by Simona Carini

Author’s version inspired by the recipe from the Pesto Championship, adapted to include some local ingredients and units of measure, as well as the use of a food processor.

Note: the translation of weight to volume for the two cheeses is approximate, since it depends on the grating method. I use the food processor, fitted with the disk with the smallest holes (2 mm), which shreds the cheese finely.

2 bunches of fresh sweet basil leaves (2.5 ounces of leaves)
1 big or 2 small fresh garlic cloves
A scant ¼ cup of pine nuts or ⅓ cup walnuts, toasted for a few minutes in a dry skillet
1 teaspoon coarse salt
¾ cup aged Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated using the food processor (about 2 ounces; see introductory note)
A scant ½ cup Fiore Sardo cheese (pecorino from
Sardinia), freshly grated using the food processor
(about 1 ounce; see introductory note)
¼ cup plus ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Wash the basil leaves in cold water and dry them on a towel without rubbing them, otherwise the vesicles containing essential oils, located on the leaves, will break and cause oxidation of color and flavor, with a resulting dark and grass-tasting pesto.… Read More

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Anisa’s Tajeen Spices


From the story: Exploring Culture and Conversion Through Food by Anisa Abeytia

3 tablespoons crushed, dried rosebuds
5 tablespoons crushed, dried lavender flowers
3 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons ground coriander
3 tablespoons ground cardamom
1 tablespoon mace
4 tablespoons dried ginger powder
4 tablespoons cayenne
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons pepper
3 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground fennel

This mix of tajeen spices is very “Fez-y.” Meaning that it caries all the complex flavors associated with the imperial city of Fez, Morocco. The lavender and rosebuds balance the hot flavors of the cayenne, mace, and pepper and give it a unique taste that is hard to place. I add cumin and coriander because I just love these two spices. Toast the cumin seeds before grinding to give it a distinctive Mexican flavor. I like to grind as many of these spices fresh for a wonderfully rich aroma. Mix all the spices together and place in a tin or glass jar. Use this mix like garam masala. It can be used as a rub, a base for soup, curries, tajeens, and moles.

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Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

By Chef Anthony Paone

5 pounds paste-type tomatoes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (which seems like a lot, but it’s ok)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon salt
Pinch chile flakes
1 tablespoon each chopped marjoram and basil

Blanch tomatoes quickly in boiling water, then shock them in ice water. When they’re cool, peel and seed, then put through a food mill. Heat olive oil and sauté garlic until soft but not colored. Add the tomato puree and seasonings. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.

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Elderberry Jam

jamFrom: The Regal Elder Part II by Kristen Rasmussen Vasquez

A great way to quickly preserve the flavor of elderberries for later use on toast or in desserts.

Makes 4 half-pint jars

4 cups fresh elderberries
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 half-pint Mason jars, sterilized

Bring ingredients to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until mixture reaches 220° or when jam falls in a “sheet” when spoon is removed. Pour evenly into jars and seal.

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Italian Prune Plum and Fennel Pollen Mostarda

From the book review by Cheryl Angelina Koehler, On Gabrielle Myers’ Hive-Mind

plum-branchIn the dense heat of late summer, these sun-kissed sugar drops hang low from the plum tree’s limbs. At farmers’ markets, the Italian prune plums, milky with yeast, wait in baskets to be baked, dried, or eaten within minutes of purchase. If you cannot find the prune plums already sundried by the farmer, simply wash, cut in half, remove the pits (which are easily pulled from the flesh), and place the plums on a screen to dry in the summer sun.

Traditional mostarda takes several days to prepare and contains a significant amount of sugar. This version is quick and uses the natural sweetness of plums and balsamic vinegar as a base. Place a dollop of mostarda over roasted pork or ham, slather it over drunken goat cheese or Pecorino, or spread it over a slice of grilled sourdough. —GM

Yields: 1 cup

1 cup dried Italian prune plums, diced into 1-inch pieces
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup chenin blanc wine
½ teaspoon crushed garlic (about 1 clove)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1½ teaspoons yellow mustard seed
1 tablespoon fennel pollen, to finish
Salt to taste (about ¼ teaspoon kosher salt)

Place all of the ingredients except the fennel pollen in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.… Read More

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Andy’s Pickled Verdolagas (Purslane)

From Jessica Prentice’s Seven Stars of Summer 2016

Andy Renard, Three Stone Hearth’s self-dubbed French Pickler, recently began culturing purslane to sell at our shop.

AndyExtAndy’s father’s family is from Guadalupe in the French West Indies where purslane is called poupier. As a child growing up in Missouri, Andy liked finding this mucilaginous vegetable (think nopales and okra) while weeding the garden with his mother. They would prepare it for the evening’s supper by lightly blanching it, then cooling and tossing in vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. When Andy moved to California, he discovered this childhood favorite at the farmers’ markets, although here it was called purslane. His pickled purslane was a love-at-first-bite experience for me. The meaty leaves hold up to brine with their pleasant saltiness and acidity.

Andy and the others in Three Stone Hearth’s “fermentation and preservation circle” have come up with cultured versions of purslane to reflect many parts of the world where this plant is enjoyed. This pickeled verdolagas (purslane’s Spanish name) features Southwestern spices.


two 2-quart Mason jars
6 tablespoons Celtic sea salt
2 quarts non-chlorinated water
½ pound purslane
1 bunch scallions, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons coriander seed, toasted
2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted
5 or 6 sprigs fresh oregano
¼–½ teaspoon red chile flakes (to taste), or, when in season, slices of fresh red peppers such as New Mexico chile

Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse, and air dry.… Read More

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Tarragon Aioli

From A Friendsgiving Picnic by Melissa Fairchild Clark


Chef Shane Meistrich ( Photo by Natalie and Cody Gantz

I want to thank my favorite fellow chef, Shane Meistrich (in the photo at right), for giving me the tip of using a whole egg (rather than just the yolks) after I’d broken my sauce … twice.

Makes ½ pint
2 large eggs
½ lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
1–1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil (Avoid a super-grassy oil if you don’t want the aioli to look green.)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon

Blend the eggs, lemon juice, and salt on a medium setting in a food processor or blender. Add the clove of garlic and blend for about 10 seconds. (Press the garlic through a garlic press first if you think your blender is not up to thoroughly blending it in.)

With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil in, keeping an eye on the consistency of the emulsification. You want to stop adding oil when it looks like a good schmear, and it may only take 1 cup of the oil. If you add too much, the texture might break and you’ll have to start over.… Read More

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