Can you let a morning go by without a fix of Marmite or Vegemite? No? When travelling, do you need to pack a jar of chilli or hoisin sauce? Or is that a tube of addictive habanero mustard tucked in your handbag? Well you must be a condiment fanatic. Congratulations, you’ve joined my club.
A condiment is a spice, sauce or a combo of ingredients that is added to food to impart a specific flavour, enhance flavours or complement a dish. The most common is salt, followed closely by freshly ground black pepper. Other popular condiments are tomato sauce, mayo, pesto, salsa and fresh herbs.
Salt is a versatile additive — in moderation. Its main function in bakes (eg cakes, breads, muffins) is to enhance the flavours of the other ingredients. As the components blend, salt adds pizzazz and complexity. It also provides a balance to the sweetness of bakes but a salty flavour should not be discernible. Well, not too much! The popularity of salted caramel sauce may belie this?
According to American research the most popular condiment is the USA is mayo. Sales reach over $2 billion annually. It’s often used as a spread for bread replacing butter or margarine. Who knew that an egg, acid and oil combo could reach such heights?
PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES & SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
I used Pics new chocolate and peanut butter mix. The cupcakes are great served with whipped cream or plain yoghurt and drizzled with the salted caramel sauce.
Cupcakes: 1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter with chocolate
50g butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2/3 cup milk
Salted Caramel Sauce: 50g butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
Topping: whipped cream or plain yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 10-12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
Beat the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar in a large bowl — with an electric mixer preferably — for about 2 minutes or until blended. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
Fill the paper cases to about three-quarters full.
Bake until golden and a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn the cupcakes out onto a rack and cool completely. Makes 10-12.
To make the salted caramel sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring. Cool a little then drizzle over the cream or yoghurt-topped cupcakes just before serving. Or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 1 cup.
PAPRIKA CHICKEN WITH PRESERVED LEMON
Preserved lemons are lemons on steroids. Salt is the preservative which livens up the flavour.
Chicken: 4 large (500g) skinned and boned chicken thighs
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
Sauce: 1/2 preserved lemon
3/4 cup plain Greek-style yoghurt
1 teaspoon each: olive oil, crushed garlic, Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Trim the chicken thighs, if necessary. Pound with a rolling pin to an even thickness. Season with the combined paprika, salt and pepper. Place in a shallow dish. Combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the mustard and garlic and drizzle over the top. Move the chicken around so it is evenly coated. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Rinse the preserved lemon and pat dry. Chop finely. Combine with the yoghurt, olive oil, garlic, mustard and parsley.
To cook the chicken, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Pan-fry the chicken (in batches if necessary) for about 6 minutes each side.
Serve with the sauce on the side. Can be garnished with extra preserved lemon. Serves 4.
SPICY HAZELNUT WAFERS
These delicate cinnamon pastries are great served with coffee or as garnishes for desserts.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 sheet filo pastry
2 teaspoons butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease two baking trays.
Process the nuts, cinnamon and caster sugar in a food processor until very finely chopped and well combined.
Brush the filo pastry with the melted butter, then cut the pastry in half lengthways into two strips. Place each one on a separate baking tray. Sprinkle the nut mixture evenly over each right to the edges.
Cut each piece lengthways into two evenly-sized strips, then cut each length in five (7cm x 7cm) squares. Finally, cut each square diagonally to make triangles.
Bake for 5-7 minutes, until pale golden and brittle, swapping the trays around halfway through cooking if necessary. When cool, carefully store in an airtight container in a cool place. Makes 40.