Despite their elegant-sounding French name, pots de crème are just little cup custards. They’re simple and easy to make in a blender, where the heat generated by the speed of the blade and the boiling cream “cook” the egg liaison. Here they take on a lively South of the Border accent with two of The Salt Table’s flavored sugars: Cinnamon and Habanero. The Habanero sugar is spicy, so be stingy the first time you use it. After that, you’ll know how much you like.
Put the chocolate in a blender and blend at a moderately high speed until it’s ground fine. Add a small pinch of salt, both sugars, and the egg. Blend for 20 seconds at the high speed, or until almost smooth.
Bring the cream to the boiling point in a small, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Turn on the blender to high, and slowly add the hot cream through the small lid opening. Turn off the machine, scrape down the sides, and add the bourbon. Pulse until smooth.
Divide the custard evenly among 6 pots-de-crème cups, demitasse cups, or small ramekins. Cover and chill until firm, at least 2 hours. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a light dusting of ground cinnamon.
Salt Table’s Savannah Sunshine Lemon & Pepper Blend
A different take on pickled shrimp, this classic dish is called Greek-style in French cooking because it contains two Greek staples, lemon and oregano. It’s especially easy with The Salt Table’s Savannah Sunshine Lemon & Pepper Blend.
Serve it from one container or, as I’ve done, inspired by great Savannah Bonnie Gaster, in canning jars for neat individual servings.
1½ pounds large or medium shrimp, peeled
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or more, as needed)
Salt Table Savannah Sunshine Lemon & Pepper Blend
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more, to taste
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced oregano
Saltine crackers or baguettes, for serving
How to Make it:
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and toss until just curled and pink but not quite done, less than 1½-to-2 minutes.
Season well with Savannah Sunshine Lemon & Pepper Blend and toss until the shrimp are just barely cooked through, about ½ to 1 minute longer. Remove it from the heat, add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and toss well. Transfer the shrimp to a glass bowl. Let sit until cooled slightly, add remaining oil and herbs, and toss. Taste and adjust oil, seasonings, and lemon juice. Let cool completely, cover, and refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight.
The shrimp can be served directly from the container. To serve it in individual jars, divide the shrimp among 6 wide-mouth half-pint canning jars. Spoon the sauce evenly over them, and refrigerate or keep on ice until just before serving.
This Salt Table’s Taco Seasoning doesn’t have to be limited to tacos. It simplifies red chili sauce the making red chili sauce, which is the base for all kinds of Tex-Mex and Mexican dishes. Don’t want to go to the trouble of rolling up individual enchiladas? Simply layer the beef and bean mixture and cheese blend with corn tortillas that have been cut in half, just as you would make lasagna.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ pounds ground beef
Salt Table Taco Seasoning
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and diced
½ cup (or to taste) diced canned green chilies, drained
Red Chili Sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups (1 15½ ounce can) pinto or black beans, drained
12 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican quesadilla or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar
Sliced green onions and chopped cilantro for garnish, optional
How to make it:
Put the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot but not smoking add enough beef to cover bottom without crowding and stir until lightly browned. Remove and repeat with remaining beef. Season it very lightly with The Salt Table Taco Seasoning.
Spoon off all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan and add the onion. Sauté, stirring, until translucent and softened, but not colored. Return the meat to pan, add the chilies, 2 cups of sauce, and the beans. Stir well and simmer 20-30 minutes.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350° F. Rub a 9×13-inch casserole with oil. Spoon some of the meat mixture down center of a tortilla, sprinkle with both cheeses, roll up, and put it into casserole, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining meat, cheese, and tortillas, reserving ½ cup cheese for topping.
Knap the enchiladas lightly with Red Chili Sauce, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle with sliced green onions and cilantro if liked before serving. Pass the remaining sauce passed separately.
Red Chili Sauce
You can make this sauce using only The Salt Table’s Taco Seasoning, but a little extra cumin and added oregano really make the flavor pop.
Makes 4 cups
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
About 2 tablespoons Salt Table Taco Seasoning (to taste)
Over medium heat, whisk together flour and oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the Taco Seasoning, cumin, and oregano and whisk until bubbly, smooth, and fragrant.
Slowly whisk in the broth, bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, and whisk in tomato paste. Add a teaspoon of sugar, adjust heat to slow simmer, and simmer 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the Taco Seasoning and sugar and simmer 2-3 minutes longer. Can be made several days ahead. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate until needed.
Refined schnitzel is made with veal, but schwein (pork) schnitzel, made from the loin or tenderloin, is a fraction of the cost of veal, and for my money, far more flavorful. You may also use boneless chicken breast cutlets. The Salt Table’s Halle & Savannah Blend, made with Germany’s own Halle salt, is the perfect seasoning for this classic dish.
1 pork tenderloin, about 1-to-1¼ pounds, or 4 large veal scaloppine or boneless chicken breast
The Salt Table Halle & Savannah Blend in the Grinder
About ½ cup flour, spread on a plate
2 large eggs, lightly beaten in a soup plate
About 1 cup Panko or dry bread crumbs, generously seasoned with several grindings of Halle & Savannah Blen and spread on a soup plate
About 1 cup clarified butter or 4 tablespoons unsalted butter and olive or vegetable oil
2 lemons, cut into wedges
How to make it:
Trim the tenderloin, removing the silver-skin and fat. Cut the thickest part of the center crosswise into 4 equal rounds 1¼-inches thick. Set aside the ends for another use. Put the 4 center cuts round side up on a sheet of plastic wrap spread over a sturdy work surface. Lay a second sheet of wrap over them and lightly pound them out to a little less than ¼-inch thick. If using veal, lightly pound them out to a uniform thinness of less than ¼-inch. If using chicken, split them in half horizontally before pounding them out, taking care not to be too vigorous with the pounding. Generously grind the seasoning blend over both sides of the cutlets.
Dust them with flour, coating both sides, and gently shake off the excess. One at a time, dip them in the egg, coating both sides and allowing the excess egg to flow back into the bowl, then lay the cutlet on the crumbs, turning and patting to coat both sides. Put the breaded cutlets on a clean, dry plate or wire cooling rack and them let stand 30 minutes to allow the breading to set. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 200° F. or the warm setting.
Over medium heat, melt enough clarified butter (or the unsalted butter and enough oil) to cover the bottom of heavy-bottomed skillet by at about ¼-inch. When it’s hot, raise the heat to medium-high and put in enough cutlets to fill the pan without crowding. Fry until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn and brown the second side, about 2 minutes longer. Remove them from the pan to a wire cooling rack and keep warm in the oven while the remaining cutlets fry. Serve hot with lemon.
Hot German potato salad is always a crowd-pleaser, so why wouldn’t it please the Gods in the great hall of Valhalla? The Salt Table’s Halle & Savannh Blend is fashioned with Germany’s Halle salt, is the perfect mate with this classic salad’s traditional sweet-sour bacon vinaigrette.
6 medium waxy potatoes, about 2½-2¾-pounds
3 strips extra-thick-cut bacon, diced small
1 medium yellow onion, trimmed, split lengthwise, peeled, and diced
1 large rib celery, diced
¼ cup diced dill or sweet cucumber pickle
½ cup cider vinegar
About 1 rounded teaspoon sugar
The Salt Table Wagner Blend
How to make it:
Scrub the potatoes and put them in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with enough water to cover them by an inch. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat to a steady simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender and can be easily pierced with a sharp knife. Drain, cover, and let them stand a few minutes. Uncover and let them cool enough to handle, then peel and slice them ¼-inch thick. Cut large slices in half.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it’s browned and its fat is rendered, about 5-6 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the celery and pickle. Deglaze the pan with ½ cup water, stirring and scraping to loosen any cooking residue, and let it boil until it is reduced by half. Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Bring it to a simmer and season well with Halle & Savannh Blend. Turn off the heat.
Add the potatoes to the pan and gently toss to coat them with the hot vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the Wagner Blend and sugar as needed. Can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature.
At the end of the second ring opera, Wotan punishes his daughter Brünhilde by putting her on a rock surrounded by a magic impenetrable fire. Well, what else can a girl do at that point but grill a steak on that fire and nap until Siegfried shows up to rescuer her?
Fortunately, the Salt Table’s Halle & Savannah Blend makes a great steak rub.
When is it done? Don’t try to rely on touch: use a meat thermometer that you know to be accurate. Here’s a quick reference guide of internal temperatures.
“Rare” (warm, soft, deep red center): 110-120 degrees F
“Medium rare” (warm, medium-firm, red center: 125-130 degrees F
“Medium” (warm, firm red center): 130-135 degrees F
“Medium well” (hot pink-red center): 140-145 degrees F
4 strip, filet, or rib steaks, or 1 sirloin, not less than 1¼ and up to-2-inches thick
The Salt Table Wagner Blend
2-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
How to make it:
Wrap meat in several layers of paper towel. Let sit 5 minutes. Unwrap and rub lightly with olive oil and generously with Halle & Savannah Blend. Set aside while getting the grill ready.
Prepare a regular grill with lump hardwood charcoal (not briquettes) and let them burn to a medium-hot fire. If using a gas grill, preheat it for 10-15 minutes. If using hardwood coals, spread them in an even layer over half the grill. Set grill rack 4-to- 6 inches above heat (depending on how hot coals are).
Lightly brush the steaks with more oil. Sear them over direct heat, about 2 minutes per side for 1¼-inch thick steaks, about 3 per side for steaks that are a full 2-inches thick. Move them to the side without coals or turn off the gas flame, cover, and cook to desired doneness (see the chart above), about 2-3 minutes longer.
Stuffed vegetables are a popular tapas in modern Spain, but Carmen’s compatriots in her mountain hideout would love them because they can be eaten right out of the hand. The Salt Table’s Carmen Blend is the perfect seasoning for mushrooms and ham.
Serves 8-12 as an appetizer
24 medium cremini (brown) mushrooms
About 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, crushed, peeled, and minced
2 ounces (½ cup) minced Serrano, prosciutto, or country ham
1 cup fine stale (not dry) bread crumbs
Salt Table Carmen Blend
How to make it:
Brush away any dirt that may be clinging to the mushrooms with a clean, dry cloth or soft brush. Remove the stems and chop them fine. Set both stems and whole caps aside.
Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté, tossing often, until fragrant and golden. Add the chopped mushroom stems and sauté until opaque and glossy, about 3 minutes. Add the ham, toss until it loses its raw red color, and turn off the heat.
Add the crumbs, toss until well mixed, and season well with Carmen Blend. Moisten well with a sprinkling of sherry and a little more olive oil. Toss well, taste, and adjust the sherry and Carmen Blend.
Lightly rub a large baking dish with olive oil. Sprinkle the inside of each mushroom cap lightly with Carmen Blend, and divide the stuffing among them, mounding it up in the center. Put mushrooms into the prepared dish. They can be made several hours ahead to this point. Cover with damp paper towels.
About 45 minutes before serving, position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375° F. Drizzle the mushrooms with more olive oil, and bake until the lightly browned and the caps are tender, about 20 minutes. Serve at once; stuffed mushrooms don’t reheat very well.
A terrific tapas (the Spanish “small bites” served in bars and sidewalk cafés), these are also a fine main dish and so easy to season using The Salt Table’s Carmen Blend. Serve in individual dishes or in a chafing dish, letting guests help themselves. As Carmen would say, “Prends garde à toi!”—they’re addictive!
(See Romesco Sauce Recipe below)
1 pound ground beef, preferably chuck, or ½ pound ground beef and ½ pound lean ground pork
½ medium yellow onion, trimmed, split lengthwise, peeled, and finely chopped
Combine the meat, onion, crumbs, and parsley and season with Carmen Blend. To taste for seasoning, pinch off a small bit, shape it into a flat cake and cook it through in a small pan with a few drops of olive oil, about 2 minutes per side. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Wet your hands and lightly roll into 24 even balls, laying them on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Film the bottom of a large, seasoned iron skillet or nonstick pan with olive oil and turn on the heat to medium. When the oil is hot, add enough meatballs to fill the pan without crowding and brown them well on all sides. Transfer them to a platter and repeat with the remaining meatballs. Alternatively, you may brown them in the oven on a large, rimmed, non-stick baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 425° F., rub the baking sheet with oil, and space the meatballs on it about an inch apart. Bake 10 minutes, then carefully turn the meatballs and bake 6-8 minute longer.
Spoon off any excess fat and return the meatballs to the pan (if you’ve browned them in the oven, transfer them to large pan that will hold them in 1 layer. Add enough broth to almost half-cover them. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to a slow simmer, loosely cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning occasionally. The liquid should reduce and mostly evaporated, but don’t let it dry up completely. Add water (not broth) by spoonfuls as needed.
Remove the lid and if the liquid isn’t mostly evaporated, raise the heat and let it evaporate. Stir in the Romesco and let it warm through. Serve in small tapas dishes or bowls. They can be made ahead: transfer to a storage container, cover, and refrigerate. When ready to serve them, gently reheat in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
(See how to make Romesco Blend below)
Romesco Sauce with Carmen Blend:
There are many variations of Romesco sauce. This one is based on one of the Catalan versions. This can be a separate recipe and is a good dip for vegetables or sturdy corn chips.
Makes about 2½ cups
1 cup whole raw almonds
1 medium red bell pepper or the equivalent of roasted red bell peppers from a jar, rinsed
3 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed, peeled, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup red wine vinegar
The Salt Table Carmen Blend
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
How to Make Spicy Meatballs with Carmen Blend:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven until lightly colored at the center. Meanwhile, if using a fresh pepper, roast it over an open flame or in the oven at 400° F. until the skin blisters and blackens. Peel, seed, and cut it into uniform chunks.
Process the almonds in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until finely ground. Add the roasted pepper, garlic, and tomato paste, and process until puréed. Add the vinegar and a generous teaspoon of Carmen Blend. Process until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin, steady stream. Taste and adjust the Carmen Blend and pulse to blend. The sauce can be made ahead. It will keep, covered
Carmen Blend marries well with just about any fish, seafood and fresh produce. You can substitute or add to the crab if you like: flaked cooked fish such as snapper, or cooked small shrimp, bay scallops, squid, and/or octopus cut into very small pieces.
1 pound (2 tightly-packed cups) picked crabmeat, preferably both lump and claw meat
1/3 cup thinly sliced small scallions (about 3-4), both white and green parts or minced red onion
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic, lightly crushed, peeled, and finely minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1-to-1-1/2 lemons
The Salt Table Carmen Blend
4 medium ripe tomatoes, 8 small Roma tomatoes, or a 24-36 mini San Marzano or cherry tomatoes
The Salt Table Fine Sea Salt
Smoked paprika and/or basil leaves, optional, for garnish
How to Make It:
Pick over the crabmeat for bits of shell and put it in mixing bowl. Add the scallion and garlic and gently toss to mix.
Lightly drizzle it with olive oil and toss until lightly but evenly coated. Sprinkle with the juice from 1 lemon, gently toss, then season lightly with Carmen Blend. Gently toss again and let it stand 15-20 minutes. Taste, adjust the Carmen Blend and lemon juice, and toss again. Cover and refrigerated at least 1 hour or until needed; can be made up to a day ahead.
About half an hour before serving, cut off about 1/4-inch of top (stem end) of the medium tomatoes, halve the Roma or mini San Marzano tomatoes lengthwise, or cap the cherry tomatoes. Carefully scoop out their seeds and inner pulp, leaving only outer flesh to form shell. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and invert over wire rack set in sink. Drain at least 20 minutes.
To serve, gently pat tomato shells dry. Spoon crabmeat into tomato shells. If liked, garnish with paprika and/or basil leaves and serve. The larger tomatoes can be served as an appetizer course at the table, on a lettuce leaf with crackers or toast on the side.
“Chanterelle” is French for “little singers,” presumably because these delicate mushrooms look a bit like a singer’s open mouth. Simply sautéed in butter and seasoned lightly with The Salt Table Southern Italian Blend, they’re tossed with egg pasta noodles from Verdi’s home town of Parma, but they’re equally good with factory pasta. Chanterelles are seasonal, so if you’re not able to find them, cultivated shiitake and oyster mushrooms can be substituted.
¾ pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, or shiitake or oyster mushrooms, mixed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, split lengthwise, peeled, and minced (about ¼ cup)
The Halle & Savannah Blend
12 ounces fresh egg tagliatelle, fettuccine, or short pasta such as fusilli or penne
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
How to Make It:
Gently clean the mushrooms with a dry cloth or soft brush. Halve or thickly slice the larger ones, but leave small ones whole.
Put 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet or sauté pan. Return the pan to medium heat and let the butter melt. Add the shallots and sauté, tossing often, until just beginning to color, about 4 minutes. Add the chanterelles and sauté, tossing gently, until they have started to collapse. Season lightly with Southern Italian Blend, then squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice. Toss, taste, and adjust the lemon juice and Southern Italian Blend. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Turn off the heat.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a 6 quart pot. When the water begins boiling, stir in a small handful of salt, then stir in the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente, stirring occasionally. Just before it’s done, gently reheat the mushrooms over medium-low heat.
When the pasta is ready, drain and add it to the mushrooms with the remaining butter and ¼ cup of the cheese. Toss well and add another ¼ cup of cheese, then serve at once, passing the remaining cheese separately.