Whether store-bought or homemade, condiments are typically used to enhance the flavor of a meal. Here we discuss the top Italian condiments and how you can use them to elevate your favorite meals!

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If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you can probably guess some of our favorite condiments, especially as they relate to Italian and Italian-American food.

In this episode, we dive deeper and discuss some of the top Italian condiments and how you can begin to use them to add flavor to and elevate the quality of any meal!

We explore the differences between cherry peppers (aka vinegar peppers) and the more trendy Calabrian chilis, and while they both pack some heat, they’re not necessarily interchangeable.

Included in the discussion are other store-bought condiments, such as sundried tomatoes, sundried peppers, and balsamic vinegar.

We also discuss our favorite homemade Italian condiments, such as gremolata, a citrus-forward condiment that’s traditionally served with osso buco to balance the richness of the veal, pesto Genovese and how it can be used for so much more than pasta, and salsa verde, one of our favorites for topping grilled meat.

Overhead shot of orecchiette, sausage, and broccoli rabe.

If you enjoyed the top Italian condiments episode, leave us a comment below and let us know!  

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Thanks for listening!

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Full Transcript


Tara (00:00):
These are your options. Dried parsley, Reddit commenters who know it all, too many onions in the sauce. Okay, which do you kiss? Which do you marry? Which do you kill?

James (00:13):
I’m telling you, there’s a lot of good information on Reddit, but there is an epidemic of know-it-alls on that platform. Welcome back to the Sip and Feast podcast. Today we’re going to talk about condiments and specifically how they can improve your meals. We’re going to talk about ones that we use all the time that we think are indispensable in our kitchen. Tara, I think this is a great one. Did you come up with this idea or did I?

Tara (00:36):
I think you did.

James (00:38):
Of course I did. I think now we’re all cooking a little bit more this time of year. It’s starting to get a little cool out. Kids are going right back to school now. This is being filmed one day before our kids return to school, and we’re stocking up on stuff. We’re getting ready for the bigger meals, meals that can be given to our kids for lunch, meals that if you’re making a lot and maybe you take lunch for work, stuff like that. I think that for whatever reason, we all as a culture, especially in America, start cooking more when it gets a little cool out and the summer’s over. Do you agree with that, Tara?

Tara (01:18):
Yeah, definitely. I think it’s normal. Your appetite increases more when the weather changes, even though the weather hasn’t changed here, it’s like 90 degrees out. You can still feel the changes in the air and you want to start having those heartier meals.

James (01:37):
Also, I think it’s that you’re wearing a little bulkier clothing right now, so you’re maybe not as worried about how you look. You’re not going to the beach and stuff. You’re laughing, right? It’s not.

Tara (01:48):
No, I think true.

James (01:50):
I think it’s true.

Tara (01:51):
Yeah. I think people definitely are more aware of how your body is when you’re wearing less clothing, which is in the summer, you’re wearing bathing suits, shorts, maybe smaller tops. I don’t know.

James (02:03):
I like to eat all the time, but I’m going to go with what Tara’s saying. I think you’re probably in that boat too. We’re not talking about fattening foods specifically today, but we’re talking just more about food and the condiments we use for that food to make it better. This isn’t a top five. We probably have more than five.

Tara (02:22):
Yeah. We have more than five. What we’re not going to talk about right now, we’re not including ketchup, mustard. It’s more Italian American focused.

James (02:34):
These are Italian ingredients that we’re speaking about. None of these are Italian American per se. Most of these ingredients come from Italy. They’re imported.

Tara (02:44):
That is true.

James (02:45):
Though there are some American brands that do make these as well. Names will be a little different depending on in Italy versus here. Rest assured, all these ingredients are used in Italy. Now they might not be used in the same way that typical Americans or just Italian people here, they use the ingredients different. We’re going to talk about what people here in America do, because we live here in America, we don’t live in Europe, we don’t live in any other country. That’s really what we try to do here. We tell you how we do things here and we also try to give you a clue and information about how other people who live here do things.

Tara (03:27):
This is the only region we’re truly experts on is where we live.

Cherry Peppers

James (03:32):
Yeah. We’re going to get into the first one right now. What do you have, Tara?

Tara (03:34):
I broke these out into two categories. I’ve got store-bought condiments, which some of the ones on this list you could certainly make homemade, but when we use them, we’re using store-bought. Then the second would be homemade condiments, things that you can make in your own kitchen. We’ll start with a store-bought condiment, which is cherry peppers.

James (03:56):
Cherry peppers.

Tara (03:57):
Your favorite.

James (03:58):
Yeah, cherry peppers are my favorite. I’ve been using them forever. Before we even discuss the use of them. Since you’ve known me, you’ve known me for four years have you been watching our YouTube channel from the beginning and you could go back that far and you’ll see me using them, but I’ve been using them realistically for my whole life. I was probably three years old when I ate my first one. They were always very much, I would say, a New York centric thing and New Jersey here way before in popularity, before Calabrian chilies ever came on the scene. Calabrian chilies obviously have been in Calabria and they’ve been using them forever in Italy, but they were not a thing here in America up until about 10 years ago. We’ll speak about those later because those are great.

Cherry pepper spread on toasted Italian bread in white plate.

Pictured above: cherry pepper spread

Cherry peppers, now you can grow them in your garden. They’re a little round pepper. I’m sorry, I don’t know the genus, the species of pepper right now. Tara will look it up as we’re discussing this, but you can use them right off the vine, but they’re almost always sold in vinegar so people will call them vinegar peppers. You might be familiar with Sopranos, and Sopranos has a lot of great food. Sopranos represents Italian American food better than anything, better than Goodfellas, better than anything, because they had about seven seasons to do it. What is it Tara?

Tara (05:35):
Cherry peppers, also known as pimiento, are the species is capsicum annum.

James (05:41):

Tara (05:44):
Some Latin for you from someone who does not speak Latin.

James (05:47):
Anyway, back to the Sopranos. They were in multiple episodes, but one of the most famous ones was Vito when he made pork with vinegar peppers. In the show, they refer to them as vinegar peppers. Most people will call them cherry peppers here. You might disagree with me and say, “Oh my Nona always called them vinegar peppers.” Anyway, in the show it was Vito was making it for his secret boyfriend. You remember that, Tara?

Tara (06:13):
Yeah. That was the Live Free or Die episode that took place in New Hampshire. Johnny Cakes.

James (06:17):
Johnny Cakes. That’s right.

Tara (06:19):
That’s what he called him.

James (06:20):
He made him his famous pork chops with vinegar peppers. That was one of the first recipes that I put out on the channel. Maybe one of the first 30 recipes. Great use of them, but not the only use by no means the only use. These peppers are very, very frequently found in different types of sausage dishes, sausage with broccoli rabe, cherry peppers almost always go in that dish. You can go to a huge swath of Italian restaurants here, New Jersey, and you’ll see them in dishes. Some of them won’t use broccoli rabe. A few of them might use broccolini for the dish, but almost universally it’s broccoli rabe. That dish is the Italian American interpretation.

Tara (07:05):
I’ll read what you wrote. The Americanized version takes its cue from the Apulian dish Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa.

James (07:14):
Nobody will make it how it’s probably made in Italy. That’s what makes this type of food great, is all the different interpretations of it. Cherry peppers get in there. They also are frequently found in deli cases stuffed, and they’re often stuffed with a breadcrumb mixture or they’re stuffed with ham and provolone.

Tara (07:35):
Once they become stuffed, they’re not a condiment.

James (07:39):
They’re not a condiment. That’s true.

Tara (07:40):
A condiment, the definition of condiment, it’s usually something you wouldn’t eat by itself. You’re not going to sit there and spoon ketchup into your mouth.

James (07:49):
You’re right.

Tara (07:49):
Let’s keep it to condiments.

James (07:50):
Tara’s right and she brought me square back to center again. We’ll stay on condiments. I actually made a condiment. It’s a recipe that is on our site. It is a cherry pepper spread. What I did was I cooked them, cherry peppers with a bunch of cherry tomatoes. Tara, you know this dish because this was one of the dishes that I made for you a long time ago, and you absolutely loved, right?

Tara (08:14):
That’s right. You used to make it all the time. When I used to work in the city, I would get home very late and you would make dinner and often you’d have the cherry pepper spread waiting for me when I got home so I had a little something to snack on while you prepared the larger meal. Didn’t we do a Valentine’s Day Patreon episode where you made the cherry pepper spread?

James (08:35):
There’s a video of it on Patreon, so yeah.

Tara (08:38):
That’s when we made Negronis too.

James (08:38):
Yeah, it was a Negroni and that one.

Tara (08:41):
A non-alcoholic one and a regular one, right?

James (08:43):
Can’t even remember. There’s so many videos I’ve made. Yeah, that’s another use. Thank you, Tara. That’s another use of cherry peppers. A couple other uses. They will often find their way on Heroes. On your standard Italian Hero. The standard Hero will have a bunch of different cured meats. Some of them will be pepperoni, salami, sometimes mortadella. You’ll have Provolone, lettuce, tomato, oil and vinegar. No mayo, no mustard ever, ever. I’m serious about that. We got so many comments on the video about that. Oh, they’re saying how I ruined it there and I ruined it because I didn’t toast it. I’m like, “This isn’t Quiznos. It’s ridiculous.” By the way, the Quiznos went out of business. It shows you how smart of a move that was.

I digress. Cherry peppers go on the sandwich. Don’t confuse the cherry peppers with banana peppers that Subway puts on their sandwiches or jalapeno peppers. The good way to confuse them and group them with jalapeno peppers, and not really banana peppers, but jalapeno peppers is because they Scoville units are very close. They’re about 5,000 on the scoville unit. This isn’t all encompassing of what cherry peppers are good for. In fact, they’re so useful and they are so ubiquitous in this area of the country that you can go to any supermarket and there will be like five brands of them. Then if you go to the Italian specialty stores, there’ll be like 20. Cento, which is a popular brand, they don’t just sell the cherry peppers whole, they sell them sliced. They also sell them as a Hoagie spread for Philadelphia because Hoagie, the name is from Philadelphia. You put that on your Hoagie or your Hero if you’re from New York.

Tara (10:27):
I actually like using the Hoagie spread because it’s so much easier than having to slice up the cherry peppers. I like to add that to pasta.

James (10:36):
It’s delicious. I recommend you get some of it, really, really good. I don’t want to make this whole episode about cherry peppers, so I think we should probably move right into Calabrian chilies.

Calabrian Chilis

Tara (10:46):
Yeah. Let’s talk about Calabrian chili peppers and Calabrian chili pepper spread more specifically. It seems that, as you mentioned earlier, Jim, that Calabrian chilis and Calabrian chili spread has certainly increased in popularity. You see it on more and more menus, even I think it’s our local coffee shop here I think they use it on their sweet potato toasters or something like that. They’re fairly widely available.

James (11:27):
This is a recent phenomenon, probably really started to get popular about five or six years ago, though they’ve been around here for over 10 years. I remember seeing them, never really caught on. Most of the time they would be sold dried and then couple companies started releasing them and now everybody’s releasing them. The dividing line, you can actually tell somebody’s age often by which one they like more, if they use more cherry peppers or Calabrian peppers. Cherry peppers will be consumed and loved by pretty much people over 40, maybe 45. Then you’ll see, if you go on TikTok and stuff, you’ll see a lot of 30 year olds or younger using just almost exclusively Calabrian peppers. A lot of them don’t even know what cherry peppers are. It’s a very odd dynamic. I would associate the Calabrian peppers, and again, I’m not talking Italy here because this is what they eat all the time in Calabria, but here it’s definitely much more trendy and in to use Calabrian peppers than cherry peppers. Would you agree with that?

Tara (12:32):
Yeah, 100%.

James (12:33):
Now they’re different. Calabrian peppers are almost smoky. They almost have a smoky flavor and they’re not really interchangeable. Calabrian peppers are spicier though they’re not much spicier. You can look online and you’ll find information and they’ll say they are 40,000 Scoville units. I will say I’ve had probably 30 brands of Calabrian peppers in my life, and I’ve probably eaten more Calabrian peppers than most people who live in America have. I have never experienced one that has been 40,000 Scoville. That would be the equivalent of a bird’s eye chili, which is a Thai chili. Those are hot, and I’ve never experienced that.

In fact, often the majority of the time the Calabrian chilis I eat will have barely any spice at all. Listen, there’s five varieties of them from the research I’ve done. Maybe all the brands, and this wouldn’t be a surprising thing, they’re probably all getting the peppers from the same factory and putting their label on it. Some of the brands that are not spicy at all to me are Tutto Calabria, never been spicy with them. Trader Joe’s one, Baba Sauce or the Bomb Sauce.

Tara (13:40):
Hold on.

James (13:41):
See how I come prepared for these every time? It’s actually a really good deal the Trader Joe’s one, because they’re a smaller jar, but like everything in Trader Joe’s is very inexpensive.

Tara (13:53):
Italian Bomba.

James (13:55):
Bomba. Yeah. Okay.

Tara (13:56):
Fermented, crushed Calabrian chili peppers.

James (13:59):
That one’s good. It’s a small bottle. It’s probably only four or six ounces. We have a lot of different brands that a lot of them are resellers, so a lot of the products that come into the port here in New York they’ll either be labeled here when they get here, or I think they’re labeled often in Italy. Then they got to go through customs and everything. Then all these different sellers will only sell them to certain supermarkets. If you go to a place by us here, Uncle Giuseppe’s, when you bought them they probably had what, 20 brands of Calabrian chilies when you got them that time?

Tara (14:31):
Yeah, they have a lot.

James (14:32):
Yeah, so that’s when we just got a whole bunch of them. Then individual brands, every brand is pretty much making them now because they’re popular. The only brand that’s been spicy for me is, do you know Tara which has been the only spicy one yeah, very spicy, right?

Tara (14:48):
Yeah, Cento is spicy. Yes.

James (14:49):
I don’t even know if they’re all Calabrian chili in there. I think they’re putting cayenne pepper or something in it because it’s so much spicier than all the other brands. Do this, do it yourself, buy a few bottles and test them out. Depending on where you live, you might have to order them from Amazon, but Amazon has about 15 or 20 brands also, so have at it. They last a long time because you’re not going to put a lot on your dishes like cherry peppers, you tend to go through a lot quicker, right, Tara?

Tara (15:16):
Yeah, for sure.

James (15:18):
What would you do with Calabrian versus you can’t do with cherry peppers? Do you agree with what I’m saying, how they’re not?

Tara (15:25):
I do. The way that I use the Calabrian chili paste is if I make an egg sandwich for breakfast, I will put the Calabrian chili paste on it. I wouldn’t put the Hoagie spread or the cherry peppers on an egg sandwich unless it was a pepper and egg sandwich. That’s a little bit different. That’s how I use it. We use it in the Assassin’s pasta.

Assassin's pasta in large cast iron pan on walnut cutting board.

Pictured above: assassin’s spaghetti

James (15:51):
Assassin’s pasta is from Bari, right?

Tara (15:54):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James (15:55):
Yeah, that’s where it hails from. That was a recipe that was found in a crumbled up paper in the back of a cabinet in a restaurant saying how to make this odd, fried, spicy spaghetti dish with a tomato liquid, basically a very watered down, tomatoey broth in a cast iron pan. The legend goes in Bari after each time they would make it to order, they would just wipe the cast iron pan with newspaper, never washing it. Anyway, Calabrian chilies are also good in, I would say like a cream sauce, but I’ve used them in a bunch of recipes. I think I did a spicy sausage Ragu that I put them in.

Really where they excel is if you watch me or you watch other cooking shows, you’ll often see somebody taking some hot red pepper flakes and putting it in the oil after they fry their garlic for 20 seconds at the end. That’s the time you could throw a little bit of Calabrian paste in there versus you wouldn’t really do that with cherry peppers because cherry peppers, the vinegary-ness of them, it will really change the flavor of the dish.

Tara (17:04):
That’s right.

James (17:04):
I think we should go right into the next one.

Sun dried Tomato and Peppers

Tara (17:06):
Up next I’ve got sun dried items, sun dried tomatoes and sun dried peppers, both of them.

James (17:15):
Actually, I don’t want to assume anything. Maybe you haven’t heard of sun dried tomatoes, but sun dried tomatoes are a very, very popular ingredient I would say everywhere in America. Sun dried peppers on the other hand are definitely not, and they’re both done in the same way, though I don’t think most places probably aren’t doing it to traditional way of using the sun, probably using big ovens and dehydrators. Sun dried tomatoes great on sandwiches, great on grilled chicken sandwich. They’re great. You can make a pesto out of them. You can make a tapenade. Sun dried tomatoes are sold a lot of times in oil, and then they’re also sold in no oil where they’re just like the individual tomato.

Tara (18:02):
If you buy the individual sun dried tomatoes that are dry that are not in the oil, do you have to rehydrate them in oil before? What would you do with just a dried sun dried tomato?

James (18:14):
They’re great on sandwiches like that.

Tara (18:16):
Just the dried version.

James (18:17):

Tara (18:17):

James (18:18):
Yeah, because say you’re doing a chicken sandwich like old, out of style thing would be, and they used to make this at the deli I worked at all the time, would be a grilled chicken on ciabatta with fresh mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.

Tara (18:39):
That sounds good.

James (18:40):
Maybe a few basil leaves. It’s definitely a sign of the times, dated.

Tara (18:45):
Yeah, I feel like sun dried tomatoes remind me of the nineties.

James (18:48):
Yeah, very dated. Just because something’s dated doesn’t mean it’s good and things go in and out of style. I don’t want to go off on a tangent too much here, but we were discussing before the use of cream in Italy was actually very popular in tons of pasta dishes in the eighties. You can find a lot of information about this online. Basically modern chefs now and Italians in general have tried to disown any cream in all their sauces. There are certain dishes that still retain it, like Penne al Baffo and prosciutto and peas and cream and Pasta Norcina and there’s others, but really they were using a lot more of it. Like Penne al Vodka, which I always associated with being created in America, was actually created in Italy. A lot of those dishes originated in Italy.

The saying goes now is that the cream cancels everything out. It overwhelms all the flavor. Maybe we’ll devote a whole episode to that. There’s a huge amount of vitriol that comes at us when we put cream in the pastas, which I suspect is from people that are under 30 years old in Italy because they probably were born before when it actually was stopped being used. That’s a different discussion. The actual recipes there like anywhere else in the world change and everything goes through changes. It would’ve been funny to be a fly on the wall in a restaurant in the eighties in Italy when all that was going on and then how the cuisine just boom changed again. I could get behind that understanding why it’s not that important, but not that good to use.

Yeah, same thing goes with sun dried tomatoes, bringing it back to sun dried tomatoes. They were everywhere here in the nineties and early two thousands and now you make a dish with them and people, I don’t know, kind of cliche now, maybe a little bit.

Close up shot of seared chicken with sun dried tomato and spinach cream sauce.

Pictured above: creamy sun dried tomato chicken. It’s often called creamy Tuscan chicken which is probably from the Olive Garden. Some TikTokkers are now calling it marry me chicken.

Tara (20:37):
I think so.

James (20:38):
I don’t care though.

Tara (20:39):
Yeah. I still like them. I think they’re really good. The thing I like more than sun dried tomatoes are those sun dried peppers, which I know are probably hard to find, I think there’s only one or two brands that actually sells them.

James (20:52):
We’ve had two brands and the first brand that we had we’re were not mentioning that brand because that brand annoyed us. The other brand is Pastene. If they have it I would assume that Moody and all the other brands are going to be doing it too, Cento because they all copy each other all these brands. They basically have a line. They all have a line of product. They might have 300 different jarred condiments and items like tuna, anchovies, Calabrian chilis, cherry peppers, they have everything. They want to have artichoke hearts, capers, they want to have everything. They want to fill out their product line. If a competitor has these delicious sun dried peppers, then they’re going to have it. Now Tara, what would you do with these sun dried peppers?

Tara (21:36):
What I’ve done with them is I put them on sandwiches and they make everything that much better. When I had them, I didn’t do anything other than that, although I did eat them straight out of the jar, but I know that that makes it not a condiment. You’re not supposed to do that.

James (21:53):
No, there’s wrong with that.

Tara (21:54):
No, I can’t even remember what type of sandwich it was. Maybe it was a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich that we made.

James (22:01):
I think it would be good on bread with oil. The oiliness just on bread.

Tara (22:05):
It is. That’s one of my favorite condiments. If we were going to have guests here, I would put out a jar of those peppers with some bread and cheese and whatever else we’re going to have out that day and let people do whatever they want with them because they’re versatile and they’re fantastic.

James (22:24):
They are freaking delicious. I mean, they are. My biggest complaint about them is they don’t come in a big enough jar.

Tara (22:31):
Yeah, they’re very tiny.

James (22:32):
Tiny jar.

Tara (22:33):
They are expensive.

James (22:34):

Tara (22:34):
I think the last time I saw it, I think it was around $10.

James (22:40):
That much, huh?

Tara (22:40):
Yes. This was at a regular, I did see them at Stop and Shop and I was like, “Oh, that’s expensive.”

James (22:46):
You know what it is, it’s probably big peppers that they become so small when they’re sun dried.

Tara (22:51):

James (22:51):
That’s probably what it is. It probably takes this much amount of peppers to get into a little jar.

Tara (22:57):
But they’re good and the flavor is really, really concentrated so they have a rich…

James (23:02):
I don’t know how new they are either. They’re new to us, but I will say, and I don’t know if I spoke about this in the past, I had a friend Danny in college, and he had a girlfriend at the time whose parents were hardcore off the boat and they owned an importer company, so they had a whole all line of stuff. They were in Staten Island, so they probably sold to a lot of the Italian delis there and the pizzerias and stuff like that and to specialty stores. This was back in 2000, or no, earlier, like ’98. He was giving me all these different products. I remember there was a pepper one. Do you remember that, Tara?

Tara (23:47):

James (23:48):
Oh, it was like this pepper, but it was peppers in oil or something. This is when I was really getting into, like really learning what I like. Obviously you like this stuff here a lot if you’re listening to me babble about it the whole time. It was like life-changing those peppers. Then Danny broke up with her and I couldn’t get them anymore. It was like before the internet and stuff.

Tara (24:15):
Oh God. Okay.

James (24:17):
Yeah. I think her name was Valentina.

Tara (24:19):
Yeah. Maybe you shouldn’t mention people’s names.

James (24:22):
I’m not talking bad about the company. Valentina if you’re listening to this, reach out to me and send me more of those peppers.

Balsamic Vinegar

Tara (24:30):
Up next store-bought condiment. You already mentioned it. Balsamic vinegar. I would add to that, any of its derivatives, like a balsamic glaze.

James (24:41):
Balsamic vinegar. The thing that is probably the most trendy of all things in America specifically comes from Modena, Italy.

Tara (24:55):

James (24:55):
Modena, Italy. Thank you, Tara.

Tara (24:58):
I learned that from Mario Batali.

James (24:59):
Okay. Yeah. You learn everything from Mario Batali. You learned a lot of things to do in life from Mario Batali and some things you shouldn’t do.

Tara (25:05):
What not to do we learned too.

James (25:08):
Yeah, as far as balsamic vinegar goes, it was a very niche thing even in Italy then it exploded. There’s a ton of articles about this online, how they would export it here, counterfeit. If you’re doing a hundred-year balsamic and you’re selling it to everybody, how much a hundred-year balsamic do you have? Same thing goes for, this happens probably with Scotch and bourbon, anything that is a long time because once it’s gone, it’s gone. Then you don’t have another a hundred-year one.

Anyway, most of the balsamic vinegar that people in America think about is not the hundred-year stuff and isn’t the very ultra aged stuff or anything like that. They think of more of the balsamic vinegar that you would use on a salad. Now Mario taught me, and I’m sure taught Tara that in Italy, they will put it on Parmesan cheese.

Tara (26:03):
Yes, it gets drizzled on. Although I think it’s definitely a more expensive, older balsamic vinegar. When I’ve seen it it’s been very thick, almost syrupy.

James (26:16):
Syrupy, expensive and then they will put it on berries too, I believe, or ice cream.

Tara (26:21):
Yes. I don’t know if you remember this, but a few times I had made-

James (26:26):
Not ice cream, gelato.

Tara (26:27):
Yeah. I don’t know if you remember this a few times. I had made a balsamic reduction and put it on top of strawberries and vanilla ice cream.

James (26:38):

Tara (26:39):
It is really good.

Plate of honey balsamic brussels sprouts in white plate with gold spoon.

Balsamic vinegar has many uses. It’s great for this honey balsamic roasted brussels sprouts recipe, picture above.

James (26:40):
There’s actually a balsamic place local to us here. Is that place still around or did it go out of business?

Tara (26:45):
Are you talking about..?

James (26:46):
Then there’s a vinegar place near here.

Tara (26:48):
Oh yeah, that’s-

James (26:50):
You were buying balsamic vinegars from them.

Tara (26:52):
I do.

James (26:53):
This place which is local they have all different types. They have a fig balsamic and they have a white balsamic and a big variation in prices.

Tara (27:06):
The Crushed Olive is the name of it. They’re in Stony Brook Village, but they have other locations.

James (27:12):
Then they sell olive oils too.

Tara (27:14):
Yes. It’s olive oils and vinegars and yes, their fig balsamic vinegar is the one that I was always getting. They have other ones too. They have a blueberry balsamic, a chocolate balsamic, anything you can think of. Then they have all the white balsamics too, like peach, elderflower, all different flavors. They’re all really good.

James (27:38):
Yeah, balsamic is great. I don’t use it particularly very much at all for cooking. You will notice probably some of other channels you watch that do similar content to us they might be dumping the balsamic in their bolognese or something like that. That’s something I never do. It’s something I probably never will do, but I do like it on salad. What I really like are the glazes that are sold now in Trader Joe’s and Costco has one, because if you try to make a glaze yourself, you need a lot of balsamic and then it really gets cost prohibitive almost. Often these glazes are so much cheaper and they already did all the work for you.

Tara (28:16):
Yeah. The Trader Joe’s Blaze is good. I don’t know. It’s probably not-

James (28:21):
No. There’s nothing high end about it.

Tara (28:25):
It’s not.

James (28:26):
If you want ultra high end, this isn’t the right channel for you. You know that if you’re watching here. We care about really good food, we care about family, we care about making the best stuff we can, but we are not going to be showing you shaving gold leaf on top of a 90-day dry aged steak. That is not the type of stuff that we do here. Furthermore, I don’t like any of that type of content, so I’ll never do that even if I win the lotto.

Tara (28:55):
Speaking of the balsamic glaze, the taste tester, James, went through a period of time where he didn’t want to buy lunch and he wanted me to make him this special sandwich. I made it, I don’t know, every day, probably for two weeks. Then he got tired of it and moved on to something else. It was Boar’s head, black forest ham, sliced fresh mozzarella, which I got the pre-sliced one. If you want to make things easier for yourself, definitely get the pre-sliced roasted red peppers.

James (29:29):
Yeah, roasted red peppers. Perfectly compliment balsamic vinegar and mozzarella.

Tara (29:33):
Then I had to put the balsamic glaze on it and I was putting it on, I think it was like a ciabatta roll that I put it on a few times and he loved it. That was the sandwich for those two weeks.

James (29:49):
That’s the bakery that I worked at. They were a bakery too, and the deli, so they had ciabatta rolls. That’s where they would put the sandwich on. We’re not getting into today as Tara’s talking about this red wine vinegar is far more useful to my kitchen than balsamic vinegar is, I use that far more. Don’t need to go into that because just buy whatever’s affordable to you. There’s not really good aged red wine vinegars. We’re not talking about Jardiniere, which we will do a recipe and that recipe has to come up soon before we do the Italian beef sandwich, which is a Chicago thing. That one I really want to do a good job on. Yeah, the Jardiniere there has to come first. Just like when I do Pastina in Brodo, I got to do the Brodo first.

Tara (30:36):
I think it’s so weird how it’s pronounced, Jardiniere.

James (30:40):
I hope I’m saying it right.

Tara (30:42):
No, you are or at least you’re saying it the way people here in the US say it.

James (30:46):
In Italy, I believe it would be [foreign language 00:30:49], but I don’t even think they have a word. It’s not even a word. Yeah, things are often made up here. Another Chicago dish that’s a uniquely Chicago thing that has nothing to do with Italy is Chicken Vesuvio. Vesuvio if you recall, was the name of the chef in Sopranos.

Tara (31:04):
No. Not the name of the chef.

James (31:07):
Was Vesuvio’s. Vesuvio’s was the restaurant.

Tara (31:08):
Yes, it was his restaurant. His name was Artie Bucco.

James (31:11):
Artie Bucco owned Vesuvio. Excuse me. He always got the bad end of the stick in that show. I always felt bad for him.

Tara (31:17):
I know.

James (31:19):
People are like, “Oh, I would love to have people like that eating at my restaurant.” No, you wouldn’t. That’d be the worst thing ever.


Tara (31:24):
Let’s move on to some of the fancier homemade condiments. The first one I have on the list is gremolata.

James (31:33):
Okay, Tara, do you know what gremolata is used for?

Tara (31:36):
I believe it’s mainly used on top of Ossobuco. Is that right?

James (31:41):
Why is it used though? What’s the purpose of it?

Tara (31:43):
Okay, so it’s got parsley and orange. Is that mainly what it is, parsley and orange?

James (31:49):
There’s variations, but parsley, lemon, lemon zest.

Tara (31:51):
All right, so it’s a citrus, parsley, and I believe it’s served with fattier food because it helps cut the fat.

James (31:59):
It brightens it because Ossobuco has no greenery on it. There’s no herbs. Instead of just throwing shaved parsley on your Ossobuco, which is totally fine to do, you put a little bit of gremolata on there. Personally, I like to serve the gremolata on the side because some people won’t like it. You could do the gremolata with lemon, orange zest, grapefruit zest. You want to go easy with the grapefruit or the orange because they could be a little bit more bitter. I put a little oil in mine too. I put a little bit of garlic or a lot if you like, a lot. I also like a couple anchovies in there.

Closeup shot of osso buco with risotto topped with gremolata in blue plate.

Pictured above: Osso Buco with gremolata

Tara (32:35):
Other than Ossobuco what else would you serve it with?

James (32:37):
Lamb shanks would be good.

Tara (32:39):

James (32:40):
I have a feeling that green sauce that people, not green sauce but the green herbs that they’re talking about with people who’ve been to Florence, that’s probably a gremolata that’s put on top of it too, because a gremolata would make sense. Ossobuco is a Northern dish, as is Peposo. It’s probably a lot of those braised meat stuff that gets to gremolata.


Tara (33:03):
Okay. Next I have pesto. It’s more of the preparation of the way you’d prepare something, right? It’s derived from the verb [foreign language 00:33:13], which means I think to pound, like mortar and pestle.

James (33:18):

Tara (33:18):
There’s all different types of pesto. We have the Genovese, which is with the basil and pine nuts. We’ve got artichoke pesto, sun dried tomato pesto, walnut pesto. These don’t just need to be mixed with pasta as a sauce. They can all be used as condiments. How would you serve these different condiments?

James (33:40):
No, you’re right. That’s how I would. You could put them out with crackers, like a regular basil pesto would be good on that chicken sandwich that we were talking about. Delicious. If you do a nice pizza, say do like a grandma pizza and you bring it out of the oven, drizzle the pesto on top of it would be great. There’s a lot of easy things to do with pesto and pesto I’m just talking about pesto Genovese, the basil pesto, the one that you’re probably thinking about, you could just freeze it in ice cube trays or then you can bag those ice cubes, put them in a Ziploc bag, pull it out when you need it, just let it sit at room temperature for a couple hours. It’ll get right back. Yeah, really simple and really potent after it sits there for a while.

Tara (34:27):
Yeah, I love it on a sandwich. It’s great especially with fresh mozzarella.

James (34:31):
Pistachio pesto great on a sandwich too.

Tara (34:33):
Yes. With Mortadella.

James (34:36):
Mortadella like on focaccia.

Tara (34:37):
Yes. We don’t have a pistachio pesto recipe. We need to get that one up.

James (34:41):
Not yet.

Salsa Verde

Tara (34:42):
Next on the homemade condiment list is salsa verde.

James (34:46):
Salsa verde is a little different than a gremolata and a gremolata think of it as more of not too wet, kind of like spoon it.

Tara (34:54):
It’s more chunky.

James (34:55):
Chunky, like chopped and a salsa verde you can do in a food processor or you can use a mortar and pestle but it’s definitely smoother. For my salsa verde, I use parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, anchovies, capers and hot red pepper flakes and then salt. I just keep seasoning it until it’s ultra potent and delicious. That salsa verde could be used on grilled chicken, grilled steak, seafood it’s great on. There’s a lot of things you can do with it.

Tara (35:25):

James (35:26):
All cultures have something like this, Argentine, Spanish. I am thinking of, what is it, [foreign language 00:35:34], the Spanish dish that…

Tara (35:35):
That’s a seafood dish I think.

James (35:36):
Seafood and it’s all green sauce, so it’s all very similar and fresh. Fresh is the word from the parsley.

Question 1 – Lime/Lemon Squeezers

Tara (35:44):
Yeah. For sure. Let’s move into the listener questions. I have from Christine, Christine is wondering if she’s been using her porcelain lemon lime handheld juicer wrong her whole life. She says, “I always put the half lemon round side down into the cup portion of the juicer and then squeeze it that way. Works fine.” She’s always having to deal with lemon seeds. She said she was watching someone on a video and they put the lemon round side up and then squished it. She tried it, it contained all the seeds, but she found it to be much harder to squeeze that way. How do you use yours? Can you give her some tips? I know, I think you yourself said you were using it the wrong way. What is the right way?

James (36:35):
Christine, the way you’re describing, the way you use it is the way I’ve been using it, which apparently is wrong and not apparently, it’s definitely wrong and I’ll tell you why. Anytime I do anything wrong on my channel of almost 700,000 subs now I get so many people letting me know. Some of them let me know in a very nice way, and some of them don’t. Okay. Some of them really don’t and those are the people that end up, the comment doesn’t even come up. They tell me to kill myself and whatnot. I’m not kidding. Something as silly as that, there’s probably about a thousand people letting me know that I did it the wrong way. I know it is a little harder to squeeze like you’re saying, because it’s almost unorthodox. You’re like, “Well, you would think the outside of the lemon, the round part would go right into the cup there.” It doesn’t.

Tara (37:23):
Yeah. The round side goes up.

James (37:26):

Tara (37:27):
Okay. The flat side goes into the divot.

James (37:30):
What’s weird about it is, so the round side is up that half of the lemon, so flat side down into the cup, which it’s weird to begin with, but then when you’re squeezing it it’s one round side hitting the other round side. It’s like it almost wants to slip away. You know what? There’s an easy solution here. Don’t use that squeezer at all and just use the one that Tara loves.

Tara (37:49):
Yeah. I don’t ever use that handheld thing. I hate it. I use the one that it has, the citrus juicer looks like a-

James (37:57):
It’s like the one your mom had from a Tupperware sale=a-thon from the seventies or eighties.

Tara (38:03):
Yeah. It screws into the jar on the bottom and you just do it and you squeeze it.

James (38:08):
Yeah. Remember those Tupperware parties that people used to have?

Tara (38:10):
Yeah. I forgot about those.

James (38:12):
Yeah. They were for women, men were not allowed. Things were very sexist back then.

Tara (38:18):
My mom had a few Tupperware parties and there were no men.

James (38:21):
We’re letting Bob come today. Nah, Bob’s not allowed.

Tara (38:25):
They don’t do anything like that anymore. My mom used to have a Christmas around the World party every year too. It was like you just got Christmas stuff.

James (38:32):
You know why people don’t do anything like that anymore? Why do you think?

Tara (38:35):
Because they’re busy looking at their phones.

James (38:37):
Exactly. It’s social media. Thank you Mark Zuckerberg for making the world a better place.

Question 2 – Who Does The Dishes

Tara (38:43):
All right, so onto the next one. This is from Frank. Frank wants to know after all the cooking that happens, I’m assuming for when we make videos, who does the dishes and cleans up?

James (38:58):
Frank, Tara helps me a ton. Now, it wasn’t always like that. Tara, prior to her coming in full-time with me, Tara had a full-time job. She worked at Charles Schwab. Tara was a big shot at Charles Schwab.

Tara (39:10):
I was not a big shot.

James (39:11):
No, but she wasn’t a lowly person. Tara had a great job. She’s so modest.

Tara (39:18):
Yeah. Okay.

James (39:20):
No, she didn’t have the bandwidth to help me back then the way. Now it’s a 50/50 equal effort from the both of us now. What I will do, and I’ll say is sometimes Tara will have to take the kids out or whatnot, and I can’t let the dishes fill up. We always film two videos in one day. Filming day is typically five to nine hours depending on the recipes. I always try to do one easier recipe and easier doesn’t mean difficulty because nothing’s difficult for me to cook. You’ll feel this, you’ll realize this the more you learn to cook, nothing will be difficult for you as you become more experienced. What I mean by difficulty is how long the dish is going to take.

I’m going to film Beef Bourguignon on Wednesday. That is not a quick recipe. There’s no way to make it quick. Even if you were to use an Instapot, which would be a terrible thing to do because Beef Bourguignon depends on different sears on each step of it. Even if you were to do that and throw it in the pot, it still would take a fairly long amount of time. I need to balance that one out with a really easy recipe. Beef Bourguignon is going to use a lot of dishes, there’s going to be a lot of prep. I have to wash as I’m going.

Tara (40:26):
The reason also that I’m doing most of the cleanup after we film a video is because it’s very important for Jim to take the video cards and bring them up to the office and get them on the computer and make sure that everything that was just filmed is actually there.

James (40:44):
Not to get too much in the weeds, but it’s called ingesting. Now if you’re on a Hollywood set, if you’re on a professional set, there will be so many people involved in this process. There will be assistant editors, there will be somebody who’s just basically an assistant he or she makes sure the footage is okay. I need to do that right away. I film the cameras that all have backup cards, so they all have two SD cards per camera. I take one card up. If God forbid anything ever happened, knock on wood, I would go down and get the other one.

Each video is roughly 200 gigabytes of data. If you don’t know what a gigabyte is, basically just the footage I take for the videos is more than your whole entire iPhone holds. That’s just one video because it’s two different cameras, sometimes three. It’s a process and it’s just Tara and myself. There’s nobody else involved with this. Someday there might be a videographer, they call him a videographer or a producer or somebody who wears a bunch of hats. That might be a person that we would like to bring in probably as a full-time position and that would allow us to make more stuff. Yeah, no, it’s Tara needs to be their helping me because it doesn’t end for me when…

A lot of people aren’t aware of this, my parents still don’t know what I’m doing. They have no clue because I think it’s the age thing. They think that when I film stuff, that the polished video comes out of the camera and they don’t understand and it’s cute, but they don’t get that. There’s a whole lot more to it like the real fun or work starts after the video’s filmed.

Tara (42:15):
Yeah, I’ve had people ask me or not ask me, but they’ve watched a YouTube video that came out on a Thursday and they’re like, “Oh, I saw what you ate for dinner last night. It was pasta [foreign language 00:42:28].” I was like, “It wasn’t filmed last night.”

James (42:32):
If it was that easy, I would put a video out for you every day. I would love to do that.

Question 3 – Kiss/Mary/Kill

Tara (42:37):
Final question, and this is a fun one because it’s a kiss, marry kill. If you have more questions and if you have more kiss, marry, kill ideas, please send them our way.

James (42:47):
Maybe we’ll just do this every week.

Tara (42:49):
Send them to podcast@sipandfeast.com. This one comes from Mary, it’s kiss, marry, or kill. These are your options. Dried parsley, Reddit commenters who know it all. Too many onions in the sauce.

James (43:06):

Tara (43:06):
Which do you kiss? Which do you marry? Which do you kill?

James (43:10):
Kill all the Reddit commenters. I’m telling you, there’s a lot of good information on Reddit, but there is an epidemic of know-it-alls on that platform. It is horrible. Most people on that platform are under 30, which causes more know-it-all-ness. I used to suffer from massive know-it-all-ness when I was that age too. A I get older, I’m approaching 45, I realize I don’t know much of anything. Okay. This is what happens. The more you actually know, and this is academic studies support this, the more you know about something the less you are to speak confidently about it. It’s a scary thing when a 22-year-old thinks he has the knowledge of somebody like Chef Jean Pierre, who we were talking about last episode. You just don’t, it doesn’t even matter if you were cooking from when you came out of the womb. Yeah, so that’s a kill. What were the other two?

Tara (44:07):
Dried parsley or too many onions in the sauce.

James (44:10):
Kiss, marry, or kill.

Tara (44:12):
Well, you’re killing the Reddit people.

James (44:13):

Tara (44:14):
Who are you kissing and who are you marrying?

James (44:16):
Too many onions in the sauce is fine. That’s a marry. Then which is the best, kiss or marry?

Tara (44:24):
I don’t know.

James (44:25):
Yeah, I think marry means the best. Kiss would be dry basil.

Tara (44:28):
Not dry basil.

James (44:30):
Thank God it’s not dried basil. That would be a lot tougher.

Tara (44:33):
No, you did dried basil already in the other one.

James (44:35):
Yeah. It would be a lot tougher. Listen, dried parsley is not bad. It just has no flavor anymore. It’s basically just like dried green leaves that have no flavor. Now where it’s actually useful is say you’re doing chicken cutlets because if you use a lot of wet parsley in it, everything’s going to start clumping a lot. You’ll often notice when you buy commercial breadcrumbs that’s where the dried parsley is always in. It’s not going to do anything to your dish. It’s not going to improve your dish either.

Tara (45:06):
It’s neutral.

James (45:07):
It’s a complete neutral. It is a waste and it’s just not going to do much. Maybe there’s a possibility you could reconstitute a massive bottle of it possibly. I doubt it.

Tara (45:18):
That’s it.

James (45:20):
This was a great one. Hope you enjoyed it. Remember podcast@sipandfeast.com. We’ll see you next time.

Closeup shot of various jars of Italian condiments.

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  1. ThePontificator says:

    One of my favorite Italian condiments is or rather was Cento pickled eggplant strips. Haven’t seen them in decades. Cento no longer lists them in the products section of their website.

    They were awesome on sandwiches.