With summer officially in full swing, many minds conjure up ideas for outdoor parties which then turns to the thought of food. The fare at these warm weather parties often include grilled items, cold salads and various other spreads. But while most folks are envisioning burgers, brats and deciding what to include on the crudité platter, I’m ruminating over what accompanies said items.
To me, the stars of the show are the condiments — able to mask any overcooked hunk of meat or bland sandwich — and Heinz just doesn’t cut it for me anymore, so I choose to make my own condiments. The ingredients are inexpensive, plus they’re easy to make and customizable to suit any taste. Check out the following recipes to impress your cookout guests (and never get caught buying boring condiments again).
‘Better than 57’ Ketchup
Before making my own ketchup, I assumed Heinz 57 was the end all, be all because that’s what the commercials tell us, right? Try this simple recipe on for size and you’ll won’t have to battle with that infamous glass bottle again.
Makes a little over 1 cup
14 ounces of crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce (1 small can or 1/2 large can)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
A dash of freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, whisk together and put on medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a heavy simmer, then lower heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Partially cover the pot as the mixture will splatter as it cooks. The mixture will thicken as it simmers. Let cool to room temperature, then either serve it or put it in a covered container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Whole Grain Beer Mustard
While yellow and Dijon cut it for some, I’m a fan of the robust flavor of a German-style mustard. The following recipe is perfect on hot dogs and hamburgers, and of course, pretzels, bratwurst and kielbasa.
As for the mustard seeds, they can be found in the spice or bulk aisles at your local grocery store.
Makes about 1 cup
Adapted from Chow.com
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup beer of your choice (but I recommend a porter style)
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon turmeric (for color, optional)
1 tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent burning. Immediately remove from pan to a medium bowl. Place the remaining ingredients in the bowl, cover and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
The nest day, transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until you’ve reached the desired consistency. For a coarse mustard, pulse just a few times or skip this step altogether. Put mustard in a container with a tight-fitting lid and it can keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
I’ll be honest, mayonnaise-laden salad dressings and dips aren’t on the top of my favorites list, but then I found this buttermilk ranch dressing/dip by “The Pioneer Woman“, Ree Drummond, and my world was forever changed. Use this as a salad dressing, dip or spread and apply liberally.
While fantastic right after it’s whipped up, give it at least a few hours to marinate in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to marry.
Makes about 2 cups
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise (the real stuff — no Miracle Whip)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
A few dashes of hot sauce (optional; I prefer Cholula)
Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl to combine. Adjust seasonings and add milk to thin it out, if necessary. Chill before serving; keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.