Lunch Responsibly ~ Use a Condiment!

I have started doing a lovely thing – one day a week I sort out literally hundreds of books that have been donated to Cornwall Hospice Care, dividing them into ones that can be sold on Amazon and therefore get a good price, those that are in good condition but readily available so can be sent out to the 30 or so Cornwall Hospice shops in the Duchy and those, sadly, that are in one helluva state so go to be pulped.

If you are a reader you can imagine my excitement each time I open a new box or bag of books and through the day I set aside several of the Amazon rejects to buy myself. The other day, among the books, was a little sign ...

practice safe lunch

Good advice, in fact I have been known to carry a few readily portable condiments about with me in case I chance upon a bland meal.

A condiment is defined as a seasoning or other edible substance used to improve the taste of food. Salt and pepper qualify, of course, and flavoured salts can be wonderful (make your own such as bacon salt and others) and freshly ground black pepper gives a boost to most things.

flavoured salts

Here is a list of other condiments together with some ideas of how to use them, do bear in mind that several of these are very powerful tasting and act accordingly.

ideas for apple sauce

Apple Sauce

Famously good with pork dishes but here are lots of other apple sauce ideas – I have also made apple ice cream with it using my genius recipe (see end of post for info about this).

how to use balsamic glaze

Balsamic Glaze 

This is a wonderful tasting and attractive looking drizzle to add to all sorts of meals. I used to make my own balsamic glaze by boiling down balsamic vinegar and then adding a little honey but it makes the place stink and it’s so much easier to buy a bottle these days. It goes particularly well with mushrooms, roasted root veg, caramelised onion dishes, certain pizzas, beef (and kangaroo, apparently), cheese and I always drizzle some on hummus. Oh, and strawberries, of course!

cooking with black garlic

Black Garlic 

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that this is my favourite “new” ingredient ever. I have written about black garlic here and all over the blog!  I’ve even made surprisingly delicious ice cream with this (same genius recipe, see below)! 

Black garlic goes well with lots of things and exceptionally well with blue cheese, mushrooms, beef and other umami-ish tastes.

caper recipes

Capers (which are horrid, aren’t they?)

If you like them then sprinkle over smoked salmon, stir into mayonnaise (another condiment) together with some lemon zest and juice to serve with fish dishes in general and oily or smoked fish in particular. Coarsely chop and add to potato salad. Add a few chopped capers to breadcrumbs for coating fried fish, add to fish pâtés and salads or sprinkle a few on pizza (particularly if it include anchovies, they get on very well together).

Chutney and Pickles in general

Add to toasted cheese sandwiches, mix into cream cheese, enhance a salad dressing or mayonnaise, perk up a sauce with a spoonful of chutney (eg. apple chutney in apple sauce or in pork gravy), brush onto grilled meats as a glaze, and Two in Particular ...

how to use chilli pickle

1.   Patak’s Chilli Pickle

I know this is a bit specific but it's so deliciously useful and I find the “sludge”; the oil and spices including mustard seeds, more useful than the whole pieces of chilli so when I open a new jar I purée the lot! 

It goes into a good deal of my cooking and I have sometimes been unfairly complimented (compliments which I gracefully accepted) on the complexity of a dish, which complexity I owe entirely to Pataks. 

Add to cheese on toast, mayonnaise, seafood salads, chicken dishes, mashed potatoes and potato cakes, etc., but always abstemiously! Stir into plain yogurt as a sauce or dip. A little of the thick coconut milk from the top of a can together with a soupçon of chilli pickle sludge and a squeeze of lemon or lime makes a super sauce for scallops and other shellfish. Or simply stir though cooked rice.

mango chutney ideas

2.   Mango Chutney

Stir into chicken curry a few minutes before serving to upgrade the flavour. Purée with roasted red pepper to make an excellent sauce, brush on grilled chicken to glaze just before serving, drizzle the runnier bit of chutney onto appropriate soups (eg curried lentil), stir into yogurt as a dip or accoutrement.

uses for cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce

This is a good side to turkey and chicken, obviously, and duck, goose and sometimes pork, less obviously. It is also a natural accompaniment to Brie and is good with goat cheese too. Add to brie and bacon sandwiches, serve with fried or baked Brie etc. Use to glaze chicken, sausages, pork chops etc. Stir a little into braised red cabbage. Warm a little to drizzle onto pumpkin or butternut squash soup.

cooking with horseradish sauce


Season up mashed potato, add to fish cakes, add a tad to Yorkshire pudding batter to serve with roast beef and/or a little is good in beef gravy. It’s a great addition to smoked mackerel pate and other smoked or oily fish dishes, Add to dumplings to go with beef dishes, stir into a cream sauce to serve with steak or Bloody Mary, of course. You will notice I have used such words as “a little” or “a tad”; be cautious, you can always add more. Stir together with sour cream as an accompaniment to fish.

Caribbean hot sauce

Hot Sauce 

This is, of course, a biggie in the Caribbean where it is so popular that it is placed on restaurant table alongside the salt and pepper and OFF (which can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the last product – it is mosquito repellent!).  

Add a drip or two of hot sauce judiciously anywhere you fancy to spice up mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheese on toast, pasta sauce, soups, chillies and stews, tomato ketchup and lots more.

mayonnaise in cooking


Mayo makes a good alternative to butter or other spread in sandwiches, use instead of milk or cream when mashing potatoes, mix with vinaigrette to make a creamy dressing, use in fishcakes,

cooking with mustard


Stir ready made mustard (maybe Dijon for this) into a cream sauce for steak, add a little mustard to beef gravy, use to season dumplings to go with beef dishes.  Beef loves mustard but so does pork and rabbit and cheese and ham. 

Mix together about equal parts of (wholegrain, if possible) mustard and mayonnaise and then add a little honey to taste for a fabulous accompaniment to ham or spread for ham sandwiches. Stir into the cream before pouring over potatoes when making a gratin, adding little hot English mustard makes for a very good cheese sauce,Add a little mustard powder to flour or breadcrumbs when coating appropriate things to fry.
delicious cooking oils


Interesting ones such as extra virgin olive, sesame, avocado, walnut, truffle, etc. or those flavoured with lemon, chilli or basil, for instance.
Drizzle a tasty oil on top of an appropriate soup eg. basil oil on tomato soup or pumpkin seed oil on pumpkin soup (what a surprise), or salad such as, pizza edges are nice brushed with a little roasted garlic oil before baking, truffle oil is great on mushroom or mashed into potatoes and so on and so forth. Good extra virgin olive oil is good all over the place!
(See here for some excellent flavoured oils which can be used to liven up all sorts of dishes. 
red onion marmalade

Red Onion Marmalade

This is something else that is easy to make at home but easier still to buy. Not only is it a delicious cheese enhancing chutney-like thing it is also great in quite a variety of dishes, stir a little into the pan juices together with a knob of butter to sauce steak or pork, serve with meat pâtés, sausages, cheese, charcuterie and so on.
good ideas for sweet chilli sauce

Sweet Chilli Sauce

I use this a lot to add a certain je ne sais quoi to my meals. It goes very well indeed with Asian dishes ad shellfish but with lots of other things too. Often a tomato dish will require a little sweetness and sweet chilli sauce adds this and a little spice perfectly. If your chilli con carne is lacking add this. Stir into mayonnaise or salad dressings. Add to fishcakes, fish salads and fish dishes in general. (A delicious meal can be made by cooking a piece of fish in butter, setting aside the fish, adding another knob of butter, a dash of sweet chilli sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime to make a sauce).

Tomato Ketchup 

cooking with ketchup
You probably already know a lot of ways to use this, some people like to put it on everything! Sauce Marie Rose for Prawn Cocktail can be made simply by mixing 1 tbsp ketchup into 100ml mayonnaise and seasoning with a little cayenne or hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce (and, not normally considered a condiment, but a splash of brandy is good in this too!). Tomato ketchup can also be used to add a little sweetness to tomato soup, pasta sauces, chill or Bolognese type sauces. I actually make a very cheaty sauce for pizza using 50:50 ish tomato ketchup and tomato paste and no-on has complained so far!


ideas for vinegars
Of all descriptions; balsamic (for cheese, salad greens, mushrooms, beef etc.), cider (pork, chicken, apples), fruit (add a little to fruit salads), sherry (delicious drizzled onto asparagus and other green veggies), red wine (beef, pork, cheese), white wine (chicken, seafood, rabbit), rice (Asian dishes, cucumber), malt (for fish and chips) but not distilled, I don’t think. Match your vinegar to your meal to drizzle, add to pan juices, dress salads, make marinades, highlight dishes and so on, a drip here and a drop there can do wonders.
how to make vinaigrettes


Worcestershire Sauce

wooster sauce
Remember, my American friends, in the UK we pronounce this Wooster Sauce which saves a lot of bother (or you could say Lea and Perrins as that is the traditional make). See here for an Italian guy’s attempt to pronounce it.  
This is great with beef (eg. in burgers or on steaks) and is famous in a Bloody Mary so naturally goes well added to tomato dishes such as soup.  Other good ideas include adding it to Welsh Rarebit  and Cheese on ToastCaesar salad dressing often includes Wooster Sauce, add a little sautéed kidneys and if you make a prawn cocktail (you old fashioned thing, you!) try a splash of the Wooster sauce in that. It is also very good in beef stews and mushroom dishes

In Other News ...

Apropos of my opening paragraph please don’t be shy about donating to charity – on my first day someone dropped off a complete set of “gentleman’s’ apparel” comprising a pair of size 12 thigh high lace up patent leather stiletto boots, a rubbery coat, a strange bra-like thingy and studded leather collar and cuffs. This fetched £250 on eBay so thank you, Sir!


Unknown said...

Fantastic ideas for livening up bland food, Susy. I'm adding some to my repetoire immediately.

Sue said...

This is a REALLY useful post.

When I managed a Scope shop back in Cumbria we once had three bin bags full of 'gentlemen's apparel' donated to us. The said gentleman came into the shop to try and buy most of it back, but unfortunately the good stuff, thigh high boots, specialist make ups, three wedding dresses and all his wigs had already flown off the shelves ....

...seemingly his wife had found his stash in his lock-up garage and discovered his little secret!!

Sudden Lunch ~ Suzy Bowler said...

Oops! I had a husband that way inclined once but I wouldn't have done that!