Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Six Things to Do with the Exotic Condiments in Your Cupboards
Six Things to Do with the Exotic Condiments in Your Cupboards

If you’re like me (and you probably are if you’re reading this blog), your cupboards are loaded with bottles, jars, and cans of unusual and interesting foods that you bought with good intentions but haven’t used yet because you don’t really know what to do with them.

Like the chestnut jam I purchased in Paris and the Amarula jelly I brought back from South Africa because, well, I can’t buy that stuff around here. Then there was the flat round tin of guava paste I picked up in an ethnic grocery store because I recalled it was an ingredient in a recipe I wanted to try, but now I don’t remember what recipe it was. Also monopolizing some shelf space was a giant jar of caponata that was just too good a price to resist. And that gold-capped jar of Ginger Wasabi Sauce was the result of the free taste sample they offered at a gourmet shop, which was so delicious I had to buy it (or maybe I was just really hungry).

My cupboards and refrigerator became so crammed with sauces, chutneys, tapenades, salsas, jams, relishes, and hot sauces, most of them unopened, that I suddenly no longer had room for my regular grocery items. It was time to find some creative uses for these condiments.

Taking inspiration from many sources, and a bit of experimentation, I came up with some simple but delicious ways to use up the contents of those jars and bottles. I hope they help you clean up your cupboards too. Housecleaning never tasted so good.

1. Pour it over a block of cream cheese, add a basket of crackers and call it an appetizer.

This idea works well for both sweet condiments, like jams, and savory ones, such as sauces. It is even better with condiments that are both sweet and savory in the same bite. The Raspberry Chipotle sauce was so good in this application that I quickly polished off the entire jar and then figured out how to make my own (recipe below).

You can utilize two condiments at once if you mix a sweet jam or jelly with a spicy sauce. Try Thai sweet chili sauce mixed with a citrusy marmalade, or maybe a peachy or mango jam with a spicy hot sauce.

Salsas of all types are perfect here as well; especially the hotter ones whose spiciness is tempered by the cool cream cheese. You can take this a step further by sprinkling it with shredded cheese and warming it in the microwave for a minute to serve as a warm dip with tortilla chips.

2. Embellish a cheese plate

Many of these types of condiments go amazingly well on a cheese platter. Slices of guava paste, dollops of chutney, or small dishes of any type of mustard are very complementary to most cheeses.

Branston Pickle, a sweet and spicy vegetable relish I encountered in London, is cheddar’s soul mate. I turned a simple cheese plate into an exciting adventure by adding some chopped Mostarda di Cremona from Italy, a chutney-like condiment made from candied fruits in spicy hot, tangy mustard syrup.

3. Make Breakfast Special

On the sweet side – Beyond the obvious use as a spread for toast, most jams, jellies and marmalades are wonderful smeared on pancakes, stirred into yogurt, or swirled into hot oatmeal. Or warm it and thin it with a bit of juice to make syrup for waffles or French toast.

On the savory side - The spicier sauces and salsas add zip to basic scrambled or fried eggs while the chunkier condiments, such as tapenade or caponata, are great omelet fillings.

4. Liven up your lunch sandwich

Add pesto to tuna salad, chutney to chicken salad, or tapenade to egg salad.

Whether your sandwiches start with bread, tortilla wraps, flat bread or pita, first spread them with mayonnaise, cream cheese, or butter into which you’ve blended a bit of hot sauce, exotic mustard or other complementary condiment. The Ginger Wasabi sauce was fantastic on a ham sandwich.

5. On the Barbie

Make a marinade of oil and a spicy hot sauce or salsa to flavor steaks, chicken, pork, seafood or vegetables before grilling.

Use a sweeter sauce or a jam thinned with wine or water to brush on grilled foods for the last few minutes of cooking, to create a shiny, sweet glaze.

Mix tapenade, caponata or other chunky savory mixture with some softened butter and chill. Place a chunk of this seasoned butter on top of hot grilled steaks, chicken breasts or fish fillets right after they come off the grill.

6. Custom Pasta Sauces

Chunky caponata simmered with some plain canned tomato sauce makes a wonderful pasta topper. And when I scraped the remaining contents of a jar Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic into some hot rotini, poured in some heavy cream and heated it up, it was fabulous.

Any other ideas out there? Please share in the comments below.

Here is the Raspberry Chipotle Sauce I created to reproduce the one I used up in the delicious cheese spread I mentioned above. My version turned out even better than the commercial product!

Lydia’s Smokin' Raspberry Zinger Cheese Spread

The combination of sweet, hot and smoky is wonderful with the cooling creaminess of the cream cheese.

1 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 whole chipotle peppers from canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature

In a blender or mini-food processor blend raspberry jam and chipotle peppers until smooth. Stir in lime juice. Pour mixture over cream cheese. Serve with buttery crackers.

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Blogger E said...
Great suggestions. I often resort to "Pour it over a round of Brie" + add crackers = Appetizer.
Also, the raspberry chipotle spread sounds so delicious.

Blogger Deborah Dowd said...
Great ideas! I have the same problem with gourmet condiments!