Tag Archives: Sauce

Always Dreaming

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
John Lennon

Kentucky Derby Hat
Kentucky Derby Hat

I missed last year’s Kentucky Derby Party at Treo, but, as I revised the poster for this year’s party, I decided I had to give it a go.

“Bring a Southern dish of your choice… fried chicken, …pecan pie, Anything with bourbon…”

Oh, my! How could I not?

Last year’s party was particularly lively (so I heard), fueled by Kate’s Mint Juleps. I noted that this year’s party times from Cathy (our brilliant Social Committee Chair) was from 2 – 4pm, instead of last year’s 2 – 7pm.

Party Prep

Posters went up and the buzz went out. At the monthly Pot Luck party, plans were cooking. Did Eva have extra hats to be borrowed? Who was cooking with whom? Where to buy collard greens? Where to find ham hocks?  

Celeste offered to iron the dress that my sister Cyn had given me. It was perfect for the day, printed with roses, but cotton: even I knew it had to be ironed, but I can count on my thumbs how often I have ironed in the past year. Celeste loves to iron (really??!), and is a pro, so I gratefully accepted her offer. 

What could Steve make? I suggested Pecan Pie in a Jar from Trader Joe’s (I didn’t want to miss out on pecan pie!). I even offered to pick it up for him when I went to the store. I had made a quick pie with it at Christmas and found it delicious.

Turns out, TJ’s only carries it in the holidays, although the checkout person said she had one on her shelf at home. So, I found a Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe from the New York Times and sent it to Steve. We’d make it together on the day.

And, what would I make?

I was dreaming of roasted chicken, smokey and spicy with a sweet bourbon glaze.  But, when I had a go at it earlier in the week, making a dry rub for the chicken and basting it a few times during the last 15 minutes of roasting, it took the crispiness out of the skin. So, I decided to serve the bourbon glaze as a sauce on the side.


Ah bourbon – so smokey, so fortifying, so engaging – the perfect Southern gentleman. A wonderful addition to any party, to so many recipes.

But, bourbon hasn’t always been my beau. I come from a family of Scotch drinkers, for generations, so I was never introduced to it.(Guess it’s my British heritage and husband). We met through a friend, almost by accident.

A few years ago, I wanted to make egg nog from scratch and chose a recipe from one of my most reliable sources: Alton Brown. A Southern gentleman himself, Alton’s recipe calls for bourbon, instead of the brandy or rum that others might. It was delicious! (And reportedly, any alcohol acts as a preservative and sterilizer of the raw eggs.)

Since then, I’ve had a splash in chili to good effect and used it to fortify my turkey gravy last Thanksgiving. I have even had a cocktail or two with it, although I think of it still primarily as an ingredient. 

Derby Day

The day dawned grey in San Diego, rainy in Churchill Downs, making a “sloppy” track for the race.

Bourbon Pecan Pie
Bourbon Pecan Pie

At 10.30, Steve arrived, wearing his Boston Red Sox t-shirt and carrying a shopping bag of all the ingredients, including a bottle of bourbon. The recipe called for only 2 tablespoons, which was certainly in my bottle of Bullitt.

He said he didn’t drink bourbon, so I bought the bottle from him for future cooking.

We mixed up the eggs and syrup, sugar and butter and vanilla, laid the pastry into the pie dish, poured in  the filling, popped it into the preheated oven, and settled in comfy chairs for a neighborly chat. 

Party Time

By 1, it was raining in San Diego, clearing in Kentucky. It didn’t matter to the party goers – we would never step outside on our way to the Community Room.

By 2, neighbors began arriving, decked out in their hats and finery, carrying in dishes to delight.

Chipotle Roast Chicken
Chipotle Roast Chicken

I brought my Chipotle Chicken with Sweet Bourbon Sauce. Eva brought her collard greens, Kaylan (having grown up in West Virginia) had made grits from her grandmother’s recipe.

Marilyn brought meatloaf sliders topped with bacon. Frank brought fried chicken. Celeste, macaroni salad. Silvia, the black-eyed peas. Cathy and Joanne (ever the effort to keep us healthy) brought salads. Chocolate-dipped strawberries appeared next to Steve’s pecan pie.

And there was Kate, with a smile as innocent as Scarlett O’Hara’s, pouring out mint julep after mint julep, made with her own mint simple syrup and plenty of bourbon. 

Tina arrived with a hat she’d decorated for Cathy, and we assembled for photos.

People filled plates, sat at tables arranged around the TV. Always Dreaming was becoming the favorite, despite the sloppy track. Kaylan got a text from her sister (who was at the track) that the rain had stopped. It was now quite steady outside the window in San Diego, but getting quite bright and sunny inside.

More people arrived. Blake introduced himself as a new Treo resident. For some reason, he looked familiar to me but we couldn’t figure out why. 

I sat down next to Kate, with a good view of the TV, discovering that Kate loved watching the horses run. She kept pouring and smiling. Celeste said that she was going with Always Dreaming.

All the food was delicious. Plates filled and emptied. Steve told me that he liked my bourbon sauce, especially with Katlan’s grits.

Post Time

We gathered around the TV as the race began, and for a few minutes something was more important than the food and mint juleps. Celeste was right.

Re-filling our plates and glasses, conviviality bubbled up again and people drifted from one table to another, exchanging places like a Virginia Reel. Over at the bar, Cathy and Blake were speaking German and laughing. Steve tried his pie and liked it. (It was delicious.)

Close to 4, the easy chair in my living room began to beckon, I was ready to take off the high heels. Several of us began packing up and saying “good-bye.” Marilyn gave me the last slider to bring to my husband Mark, and I added a dollop of Katlan’s grits, plus some salad.

I thanked Blake for coming and welcomed him to the building, still perplexed as to why he looked familiar. With glowing, smiling eyes, he said he couldn’t believe I’d forgotten that weekend in Vegas.

As I walked to the door, I saw Steve with a mint julep, heading to the TV for more sports coverage. Always Dreaming may have won the race, but bourbon had won the day.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Chipotle Chicken with Sweet Bourbon Sauce

12 – 15 Servings

Chipotle Roast Chicken
Chipotle Roast Chicken








  • 12 – 15 chicken thighs and legs

For dry rub:

  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee, e.g. Via Italian Roast
  • 1 teaspoon smoked chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic granules
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

For bourbon sauce:

  • 1 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Bragg’s Aminos  or soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 pinches dry mustard powder

Preparation (Chef's hat)Preparation

1 – Pre-heat oven to 350˚ F.

2 – Whisk together all the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.

3 – Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel and assemble in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle the dry rub onto both sides of the chicken pieces, ending with skin-side up.

4 – Roast chicken in 350˚F oven for 50 – 60 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken is at least 170˚.

4 – In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.

5 – Assemble chicken pieces on a platter and let rest for 10 minutes, loosely tented with foil. Serve with bourbon sauce. 

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Lemon Vinaigrette

Fresh Picked Lemons
Fresh Picked Lemons

When using lemon juice instead of vinegar to make a vinaigrette, the proportion is 1 part lemon juice to 1 part extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe makes 1 cup of salad dressing, enough for a couple of large salads. However, if you have limited lemon juice (for instance only 2), use a glass measuring cup and squeeze all the lemon juice into the cup, noting at eye-level the amount you have. Then, top it up with the exact same amount of oil. Add the salt and pepper and whisk vigorously, or, pour into a squeeze bottle or jar and shake at least 20 times before drizzling on salad.


Onion icon smallIngredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon of one of the following dried herbs: basil or oregano or tarragon. Instead of using dried herbs,  you can include fresh herbs with the salad greens.

Chef's hat icon smallerPreparation

  1. In an 8-oz. jar or squeeze bottle (or measuring cup), combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herb (if using). Whisk very well to emulsify juice and oil. If using a bottle or jar, shake at least 20 times, then apply to salad immediately.
  2. Drizzle around edge of bowl of greens or lightly across top, taking care not to drench salad. Toss salad well to make greens shiny, but not dripping.
  3. Refrigerate leftover dressing for up to a week. Take out from refrigerator an hour before using to liquify the olive oil.

Updated July 2016 on CulinaryOracle.com

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Fruit Sauce (Lumpy Syrup)

Fruit Sauce (Nectarines) - by Ilya
Fruit Sauce (Nectarines) – by Ilya

Fruit Sauce is great on pancakes or waffles, ice cream, panna cotta, or simple cakes like pound cake or lemon cake.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.



Ingredients (Onion)Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) fruit: sliced strawberries, nectarines, peaches, blueberries, or pineapple, or a combination. If made with raspberries or blackberries, you will need to strain the sauce to remove the seeds.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar, more if needed

Preparation (Chef's hat)Preparation

1 – Put all ingredients in a saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until sugar is all melted and fruit has softened.

2 – Taste for sweetness, but remember that it should taste like fruit, not sugar. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar, stirring and heating until melted in.

3 – Remove from heat and let cool to warm before serving.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Mint Chimichurri Sauce

Mint Chimichurri on Roast Lamb
Mint Chimichurri on Roast Lamb

A minty version of the South American fresh herbal sauce, especially for serving with roast lamb.

Makes 1 cup

  • 3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • A few grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preparation (Chef's hat)Preparation
  1. Put all ingredients — except olive oil — into a blender cup or food processor and pulse a few times to mix and purée.
  2. Pulse the blender/processor and drizzle in the olive oil to mix thoroughly.
  3. Serve at room temperature over lamb or other roasted meat. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.

First posted by Barbara Newton-Holmes on www.CulinaryOracle.com on March 31, 2016. 

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Thousand Island Dressing

For 4 – 6 servings

Onion icon smallIngredients

1/2 cup Earth Balance Mindful Mayo or other vegan mayonnaise

1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup or other organic tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard

1/2 jalapeño, seeded and deveined, finely minced

2 Tablespoons fresh organic chives, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh organic dill, finely chopped

4 or 5 grinds black pepper

Chef's hat icon smallerPreparation

1 – In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients in the order listed above.

2 – Taste, and adjust seasonings, as desired: salt, pepper, peppers or hot sauce.

3 – Drizzle over greens, vegetables, or seafood. Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Cole Slaw Dressing (Vegan)


1/4 cup Earth Balance Mindful Mayo (vegan) or other mayonnaise

1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

2 – 3 Tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed


  1. Combine all ingredients in an 8-oz. jar or squeeze bottle and shake well.
  2. Just before serving, drizzle over shredded cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables.
  3. Refrigerate leftover dressing for up to two days.
Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Guava Mustard Salad Dressing

Onion icon smallIngredients

  • 3 Tablespoons grated guava
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgen Olive Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of dried dill weed
  • Grind of fresh black pepper

Chef's hat icon smallerPreparation

  1. Put guava, mustard, lemon juice, oil, and salt into an 8oz jar and stir well with a fork.
  2. Add the dill weed and pepper.
  3. Spoon onto salad.
  4. Store any remaining dressing in the refrigerator.
Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Wavy Gravy

“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.” Dean Jackson

Mushroom Magic Gravy
My longest known friend Barbara and her daughter Gwen are coming back this a0ernoon from a week at Rancho La Puerta (http://www.rancholapuerta.com/), the original health spa in North America. It’s a wonderfully peaceful and restorative place (I’ve been there for a week myself with Barbara), so I want to make a delicious, and not too unhealthy, dinner for their return.

Here’s what the muse is playing with this morning, although I don’t promise that it won’t change over the day, especially since I have yet to pick up my CSA box at the Little Italy Farmer’s Market: butternut squash soup (maybe kissed with curry and almond milk?), a green salad with berries, radishes, topped with a grating of guava and a lemon vinaigrette, al dente French Green Beans, a few roasted fingerling and sweet potatoes with parsnips, cold sliced roast beef with mushroom gravy, finishing with a mini- melange of Christmas desserts: a French chocolate truffle, a star cutout of Shaker Lemon Pie, a taste of Ultimate Chocolate Marquise with a Kiss of Whipped Cream.

Trouble is, in a burst of fitness determination (and delight that I still fit into the Christmas outfit I bought before Thanksgiving), I threw out all the wonderfully savory drippings from roasting the rib roast on Christmas. (It does seem a little masochistic at this point…) But, I can still make a flavorful sauce for the roast beef, that’s based on olive oil (and Earth Balance’s olive-oil based spread), and not the suet (great savory flavor but definitely not great for your bad cholesterol count or weight).

What I call “magic gravy” since there are no drippings, could actually be a vegetarian gravy (if you use vegetable stock), handy as a brown sauce for finishing off all sorts of main courses, even a nut and black bean roast (another day…). It’s not gluten-free, since I am still using flour as a thickener, but one of these days I’ll experiment with using corn starch instead.

To build up the flavors that the drippings would normally supply, you need to take the time to caramelize the onions well and use good, flavorful stock (homemade is always the best). The time this takes various by the size and cut and wateriness of your onion, so you need to keep an eye on it and allow plenty of time. You could always caramelize the onions earlier in the day, then re-heat and start again with step 4.

Onion icon smallIngredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance (preferably the Olive Oil variety, but others will do)
  • 1 large sweet onion, small dice1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz Crimini mushrooms, stems removed and cut small dice, caps sliced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup red wine (a good drinkable one)
  • 3 – 4 cups stock or broth, heated
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (optional)
  • A few grinds of black pepper

Chef's hat icon smallerPreparation

  1. Heat the olive oil and Earth Balance in a large sauté or frying pan over medium high heat until it is shimmering.
  2. Stir in the onions and the salt. Cook over high heat with occasional stirring, about 10 – 15 minutes or until some of the onions start to get little burnt edges.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium and continue cooking another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped mushroom stems. Cook another 5 – 7 minutes, or until the mushrooms havegiven up their juices and become quite so0.
  5. Add the sliced mushroom caps. Cook another 5 minutes, with frequent stirring, turning down theheat if the onions are getting too brown.
  6. Add the flour, whisk in well with the vegetables. Cook for at least 1 minute, smashing any flourlumps and blending well. This will be a lumpy gravy because of the onions and mushrooms, but itis good to get out all the flour lumps.
  7. If you turned down the heat, turn it back up to medium now. Pour in the red wine, stirring well tomix with the flour and vegetables, which will seize up with the liquid and turn purple.
  8. Add 2 cups of the stock or broth, a little at a time, whisking it into the flour and vegetables.
  9. Keep adding the stock, a little at a time, over medium heat. The gravy should be thickening as itreduces, but liquid enough to coat the back of a spoon nicely. If you have added all the stock, andit’s still too thick, add filtered water.
  10. Taste the gravy. Need more salt? A few grinds of pepper? A little fresh thyme?
  11. When your gravy has turned from purple to a rich brown, and is the consistency you like it, serve it immediately (or keep it hot, with stirring while everything else is plated).
Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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