Pesto Piccante Pasta Sauce

Pesto Piccante Pasta Sauce

After having made variations on this recipe for quite a while, I discovered that the name I came up with, Pesto Piccante, has, already been used before, chiefly, as far as I can see, for commercial tomato-based productions looking a bit like an Italian Salsa. Well, screw it … I am going to use the name anyway.

I originally put together this Pesto with a view to doing something a little different than the usual Genoese style with garlic and pine-nuts, and I decided to use green olives and green Jalapeno for a tangier, spicier result. As with the typical Pesto alla Genovese, this sauce is quite versatile and can have many used beyond being a pasta (as a Bruschetta topping, or a condiment for grilled meat, for instance), but it definitely shines on freshly cooked pasta and, if you follow along, I will show you an example of a very nice spaghetti dish using it that way.

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Chimichurri Sauce
Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri is an Argentinian preparation used with grilled meats. Though essentially a sauce, it is also used as a marinade and a basting mix as well as being served alongside, or on top of meat at the table. Essentially, it consists of parsley and garlic in oil and wine vinegar but there are many other additions with oregano being widely added, as well as cilantro, chili, onion, cumin, paprika and lemon juice. In my version here, I am cleaving fairly closely to the basic theme except that I am entirely replacing the oregano with thyme and reducing the usual vinegar quotient a bit as I find that too much acidity overwhelms the more delicate flavors of the parsley. Naturally, you can experiment with the ingredients however you like.

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Spicy Pickled Bell Peppers

Spicy Pickled Bell Peppers

I often have a jar of commercially pickled Banana Peppers in my fridge as I like to have them on hand to add to Sandwiches, Burgers, Nachos, and many other things where a little spicy tang is needed. Still, while the commercial brands are nice to have, I also like making my own stuff. Unfortunately, most mild peppers available in supermarkets are green (Jalapeño, or Anaheim, for example), and they tend to turn an unattractive greyish color after they have been pickling for a while, while the red types available are mostly WAY too hot for my needs. Anyway, I hit upon the idea of using tiny red and orange bell peppers (which are increasingly common these days), and adding smaller, very hot chillies to the pickling mix to provide the right ‘bite’.

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Daikon Water Kimchi
Daikon Water Kimchi

Daikon Water Kimchi

Most people are familiar with the Korean Kimchi composed of cabbage, fermented in huge pots, and colored a brilliant, vivid red from lashings of Gochujang, or Chili Powder. There are thousands of types of Kimchi however, and many of these involve vegetables other than cabbage being fermented in brine, without a lot of other ingredients. These sorts of simple pickle are referred to generally, as varieties of ‘Water Kimchi’, in Korea, and radishes, especially those known by the Japanese name ‘Daikon’ are probably the most popular. The process is not complicated, and crisp, tangy pickles can be prepared, and ready for the table, in as little as two, or three days.


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Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This sauce enhances the lovely sweet and smoky flavors of Roasted Red Bell Peppers with the mellowed bite of lightly fried garlic. Other than a little optional salt and sugar, no other flavorings are added, which makes the result very extendable. It can be used as a sauce, dip, or condiment in its own right, but is largely designed to be an ingredient in other dishes, or a starting point for other condiments and sauces.


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Cantaloupe Sauce
Cantaloupe Sauce

Cantaloupe Sauce

The translucent, orange condiment that is known as ‘Duck Sauce’ in America, is chiefly made from plums, and supposedly is so named as it is similar to a plum-based sauce sometimes served with Peking Duck. We have the same sauce here in Canada, where it is almost de rigeur with Egg Rolls, but most of us, perhaps a bit unimaginatively, simply call it ‘Plum Sauce’.

Almost twenty years ago, living in the far north, I tried to replicate the restaurant classic but found plums completely unavailable. I was able to buy cantaloupe, though, and I used this instead with very nice results. Since then, I have always made my ‘plum sauce’ with cantaloupe out of choice rather than necessity, and I think it every bit as good the sauce you get in those little plastic packets with Chinese take-out. It is also way easier, I have to say, to make a sauce using a single cantaloupe rather than having to de-stone and peel a crap-load of plums.


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A Bowl of Tzatziki
A Bowl of Tzatziki

Tzatziki is one of those condiments based on Yoghurt that are popular all the way from Eastern Europe, through the Middle East and Central Asia, to all across India.

The condiment by this name is the Greek take on the basic theme, and it has a counterpart in the Turkish Cacik , as well as the Iranian ‘Mast-o-khiar’. There is an Afghan sauce for grilled meat which is very similar, and India has the popular Cucumber Raita used as a ‘cool-down’ accompaniment to spicy-hot dishes.

All are easy to prepare….


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Basic Cabbage Kimchi
Basic Cabbage Kimchi

As Basic Cabbage Kimchi recipes go, this one can rightfully be called the Simplest and the Most Basic version for a couple of reasons. First, it requires you to have on hand only four ingredients; Cabbage, Green Onion, Salt, and Korean Chili Paste. Secondly, the fermentation process uses the traditional Korean method for salt-pickling, which is dead easy to follow.


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A Basic Bacon Jam
A Basic Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam, also known as Bacon Marmalade, is a very versatile condiment. Many people love the salty, sweet richness of it spread on crackers, or crostini, while others use it with grilled meats and sausages, or as an ingredient in dressings and sauces.

My favorite use for the jam is as a topping for hamburgers. I LOVE bacon on my burgers, but it is often too much trouble to cook up just a few slices if you are only cooking for one or two people. The beauty of this Bacon Jam, however, is that it keeps for ages in the fridge (much longer than actual bacon), and you can enjoy the smoky richness of it on your burgers whenever you like.

There are many different ways to make Bacon Jam, of course. Many people, for instance like to spice it up with a little hot sauce, and many enjoy the added warmth provided by Maple Syrup. My recipe here, however, is relatively basic and will allow you lots of scope for enhancing it with such other flavorings as suit your fancy.

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