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Avoid Your Mother (Sauces)

Posted by on June 1 2011 in Celebs, Cheese, Lists

Don’t worry about not mastering the French or Chinese Mother Sauces, you can easily create a creamy and tangy dressing from a few items in your fridge. In an I-need-to-make-dinner-in-30 minutes attempt last night, I buzzed around mustard, tahini, horseradish, hot sauce, manchego, oil, the slightly-cooled pasta cooking water, salt and pepper for a quick sauce on top of Israeli couscous with asparagus, almonds, avocado and green garlic.

The sauce turned out really well and I sourced it all from some hidden gems just in my fridge. Here are some more ideas on how to get the most from all those jars taking up shelf space.

5 Fridge Finds for Better Sauces

1. Mustard

Mustard makes everything better. It adds a creamy texture and a zingy flavor. And just like the New Kids On the Block, there’s a member of the mustard family out there for everyone. We usually keep a  dirty (aka spicy or brown) mustard, a grainy (with mustard seeds) dijon mustard and have recently purchased the British nose-stinger Coleman’s. Each has a unique flavor that can match lots of cuisines. And I’m currently in the market for a super hot Chinese mustard (suggestions welcome), maybe as a coating for eggplant?

2. Tahini

My dad is the only person I know that makes (veggie-filled) hummus on a weekly basis. Most people let their sesame paste sit until the next infrequent hummus affair. Tahini brings depth and thickness, and almost has a raw nut butter flavor. It plays well with plenty of other items, easily blending into a sauce with lemon and cumin, miso and cilantro, or feta and scallions.

3. Horseradish

It’s not just for Passover, ya’ll. But don’t corner it with heavy whipping cream as a steak topping. Horseradish brings that intense heat, but also contains enough liquid to help a sauce along. Blend it into cream cheese for extra thickness, and of course, mix it with mustard over asparagus and cannellini beans or a summer salad of zucchini, kale and sun gold tomatoes. Bonus: use it instead of mayo in deviled eggs.

4. Hot Sauce

Everyone owns a few hot sauces, some insanely hot, given as a gag gift, another with the ubiquitous chipotle smokiness and I’m sure a few others. You may be in the Frank’s RedHot camp, or Texas Pete. Right now I’m trying out D.L. Jardine’s Texas Champagne, a cayenne pepper sauce, but whoever you love, take it out for more than salsa and bloody mary making. Add a few drops for heat, for extra moisture, for a little color.

5. Manchego Cheese

Or any hard cheese, really. Don’t always rely on parm for your grating needs: think of Asiago, Pecorino, or anything else a local cheese shop could suggest. Zest manchego into sauces for added flavor, saltiness and to help bind everything together (see #8). And then of course, grate some more on top of everything.


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