Smears and Dips, Slathers and Spreads; Ode to the Condiment by Kelly Sears

I confess, I have a condiment problem.  At any given time, our refrigerator looks more like an apothecary than a cooling unit, filled mostly with big jars, little jars, half-filled jars, and jars chock full. There are smears and dips, slathers and spreads all just begging for the star protein or vegetable to give it life and make it shine.

 

We all have our favorites.  Bright, spicy, smooth, silky, or chunky, condiments are the pop, the surprise, the little something extra that elevates ordinary to extraordinary.  Condiments work because they help us achieve balance.  When making any dish, we strive for balance to make that dish a success.  Balance comes from the ying and yang of tastes like bitter vs. sweet (dark chocolate brownies) or sour vs. salty (sour cream onion dip with chips).  Richness, temperature, and texture also play a part in keeping the palate scale level.  Yet balance can’t always be achieved by one component alone; enter the condiment!

 

Let’s start easy.  Ketchup and mustard are two of America’s most popular condiments so let’s examine why they work.  Vinegar give both their tang, both are bitter and acidic with sugar, salt and spices in the blend.  Usually served with burgers, brats, sausages or other grilled meats, the richness of the meat gets relief from the acidity (so you don’t feel like you are eating a stick of butter straight up!).  The meat is usually hot, the condiments cold; ketchup and mustard are smooth while the meats have some tooth.  Thus without even knowing it, balance is achieved just by eating a burger with the works.

 

Now let’s take another step up, relish, pickles, mayonnaise, and barbeque sauce. Again, these work just like ketchup and mustard to even out the flavors of the base component.  Fatty ribs love barbeque sauce, creamy mayonnaise and blt’s are great friends, and what perfect Chicago dog isn’t topped with a pickle or relish.  Starting to make sense?

 

Okay, we’re on a roll, so let’s not stop there.  A condiment doesn’t have to be just a store-bought accompaniment to food; a condiment can also couple as a solid component to a dish.  A condiment can be a dip, drizzle or dollop over a vegetable, a slice of meat, or on grilled toast to add sparkle and spice to the final dish.

 

I feel you starting to apply the brakes – work zone ahead!  I know its summer and the last thing you want to do is spend a ton of time in the kitchen. So don’t!  Make a stop at the butcher and pick up some proteins for the week, visit your favorite farmers market for fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and you’re almost there. We can whittle the kitchen time down to about an hour for two of my favorite condiments. Each one can be made and stored in the refrigerator for at least a week and each has multiple uses depending on your main course selection and meal time constraints.

 

Pepperonata plays nice with chicken, beef, and pork; it’s delicious added to Italian sausage, both on a bun or on a plate.  It can be a stand-alone side dish (although the true definition of a condiment is that it isn’t eaten by itself. Sssh, I won’t tell) or I like to serve it on grilled toast with a smear of ricotta or burrata.

 

The green goddess, although technically a dressing, qualifies as a smear, a dollop or a slather. It wears so many hats. This creamy green goodness is the perfect match for summer’s first bacon, lettuce and tomato; add a slice of avocado and a hard-boiled egg for an extra dose of flavor. Green goddess skips happily along when drizzled over garden fresh (or someone else’s garden!) lettuce, dolloped on cold shrimp, slathered on a roast beef sandwich, or served as a dip for roasted or raw farmer’s market fresh vegetables. A great way to utilize those fresh herbs in your garden, green goddess will make your taste buds happy.

 

The simplest definition of a condiment is that “it imparts flavor onto another food.” Beyond that, it gets subjective.  Make your own rules, combine your own flavors, find your own balance and enjoy a dip, a drizzle, a smear or a dollop of your favorite condiment.

Pepperonata (Caramelized Onions & Peppers) & Green Goddess Dressing
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Ingredients
  1. Pepperonata
  2. 2 large onions, julienne
  3. 3 large red peppers, julienne
  4. 3 large yellow peppers, julienne
  5. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  7. 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  8. 5 basil leaves, chiffonade
  9. 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley
  10. 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  11. Green Goddess Dressing
  12. 1 ½ cup mayonnaise
  13. ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
  14. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  15. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  16. 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  17. 1 garlic clove, rough chop
  18. 1 anchovy filet
  19. Buttermilk for thinning (or regular milk works fine too but I like the tang buttermilk brings to the dish)
Instructions
  1. Pepperonata
  2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté the onion, oregano, red pepper flakes, and peppers until lightly golden; this should take about 20-25 minutes, longer if you want them super caramelized and sweet. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in basil, parsley, and thyme.
  3. Green Goddess Dressing
  4. Blend mayonnaise and all other ingredients in a food processor or immersion blender. Thin with buttermilk. The consistency should work for your intended purpose. This will vary per application, thicker for a smear or a dollop, thinner for a dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, adjust and enjoy!
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Maison – We Bring The Chef To You!

Whether you’re planning a casual dinner party at home or a lavish affair for a large group, Maison is a great new way to elevate your next event with the experience you have come to expect from Marcel’s! 

This Week at Marcel’s: June 19th – 25th

Vintage photo of Pepere and staffHappy Father’s Day to all the dads, grandpas, uncles, brothers, and father figures in our lives. Coincidentally, today is also Marcel’s birthday (he was born in 1898) so it seemed fitting to share a picture of him today. He is the one with his arms folded, third from the left. The best guess is that this is the kitchen team from a restaurant Marcel worked at in the late 1920s in Rhode Island, shortly after he came to the United States. He was a fine grandpa (we called him Pepere) and I was so happy to share dinner with his son, my father Jacques, today. So much love to them both.
 
On to planning your next event? Let the experts at Marcel’s bring our new in home private chef business, Maison, to you. Whether it’s an intimate dinner party, an outdoor barbecue, a bridal shower, or a rollicking cocktail party, we bring the chef, the staff and the party to you.  Get more details at 630-790-8500 or email paul@marcelsculinaryexperience.com.

MAISON - we bring the chef to you

Here’s what’s happening in our kitchen this week: 

 

Mid Kids Camp: Farm to Table with Chef Jamie Bordoshuk for 9 – 11 year olds starts Monday with the early session from 11 am  – 1 pm and the late session from 2 – 4 pm. Seats are available in a few sessions. Click here to see all of the opportunities. 

 

Thursday, June 22nd 6:30 – 9 pm Hands On Havana Nights with Chef Robin Nathan $85 Two Seats Available

 

Saturday, June 24th 6:30 – 9 pm Cocktail Party with Interactive Demonstrations Summertime Scotch Cocktails and Juicy Steaks with Chef Paul Lindemuth $80 Seats Available

 

Sunday, June 25th 11:30 am – 2 pm Hands On Of the Moment Cooking: Farmers Market Fresh with Chef Dave Sahs $70 Seats Available

 

Give us a call at 630-790-8500 to get on the Waiting List for these Sold Out classes:

 

Friday, June 23rd 6:30 – 9 pm Hands On Aperitivi: Snacking on Rome with Chef Dave Sahs $85

 

 Come Cook Create and Celebrate at Marcel’s!

Make it an Event by Jill Foucré

A number of years ago when the first twinklings of Marcel’s started to emerge in my mind, the part that I was in love with was the prospect of having cooking classes.  I love to cook and entertain, I love to try new things, experiment with new recipes and techniques and make as many of the ingredients as possible from scratch.  When I would attend classes at recreational cooking schools, I always learned something, had fun, had a great meal and was in the company of those who also shared my love of cooking and great food.

Marcel’s clearly evolved into both a cooking school and a beautiful retail store and I am so glad we can offer both and that they complement each other so well.  I love everything about Marcel’s but my heart is in the kitchen.  Since we opened almost two years ago we have held 368 classes and have had 113 private events – and have had over 6,000 students in our kitchen!  The private events have been something I didn’t fully anticipate when we were initially planning Marcel’s.  I thought we would do some events like this but not nearly the scope and quantity.  

For private groups we have done everything from kid’s birthday parties to bachelorette parties and bridal showers to corporate groups (including some fun competitive formats!) to couples to friends to families.  We like to tailor to the customer’s needs so we don’t have predetermined menus — we set a date, I book a chef, we plan menus, and then we’re ready for a great event!  From personal classes for two people to cocktail party-style events for 60 and everything in between, we can format something for everyone.  We also love to do add ons like favors or flowers or personalized aprons.  

Open House 08242013Recently we held our first ever open house for event and meeting planners to spread the word about Marcel’s and we have joined the Dupage Convention and Visitors Bureau so we can become a destination for those looking for the best venues in the area.  And in the process, so many people are also discovering downtown Glen Ellyn — we regularly hear “I had no idea Glen Ellyn had such a great downtown!”

I am excited to be the host site for so many fun, memorable events – it truly embodies our quest to help everyone cook, create, and celebrate.