You may recall that two weekends ago, H and I attended the second annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo, where we had the time of our lives sampling incredible, small batch, craft hot sauces in every flavor imaginable and meeting tons of great people. We also purchased and brought home dozens of bottles of those sauces, and I immediately got to work coming up with fun uses and recipes for some of our acquisitions.
Over the coming weeks I am going to spotlight some of these products and my uses for them on the blog. No one is paying me for this; I am only sharing because I have truly fallen in love with each and every one of these sauces and the incredible depth of flavor that they have added to my food.
For my first Spicy Spotlight, may I present NW Elixirs. This company uses high quality ingredients to produce four flavors of hot sauce. All four flavors were available to sample at the Expo, but only two of them are vegan, and H and I and purchased those two: the Verde Hott (#2) and the Hott Smoke (#3).
If you’ve ever had salsa verde, picture that…and then turn it up about 1000 notches, and you’ll be approaching Verde Hott.I don’t know what it is about this sauce, but it is bursting at the seams with flavor. It is so incredibly fresh-tasting, slightly sweet, and a little tangy. It is perfect. This is not a particularly spicy hot sauce, but it does have a nice kick. I didn’t even consider myself a salsa verde fan before trying this, but once I tasted it, I had to have it.
The #1 way we’ve been using it is to make the easiest and best guacamole of all time. This is what you do:
Take half an avocado, remove the pit, and fill the hole with Verde Hott.
Mash it up. You’re done.
This is wow-inducing guacamole. If you don’t currently experience cravings for raw veggies, you will after you try dipping them in this.
The Hott Smoke is somewhat similar to a traditional barbecue sauce in consistency, but with a well-rounded, less sickly sweet flavor than other such sauces. It is one of the least spicy sauces we bought. With this one, it’s all about the flavor!
H is a big fan of this sauce as a spread for sandwiches (with non-vegan fillings). I think it is absolutely perfect for grilling tofu:
Just brush it on and grill it up!
Or for amping up your standard mushroom gravy!
HOTT SMOKY MUSHROOM GRAVY
Makes 1-1.5 cups
2/3 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon mild miso (I used yellow)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons worth)
8 oz. sliced baby bella (aka crimini) mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 – 2 tablespoons NW Elixirs Hott Smoke
1 – 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
Combine the broth and milk in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add cornstarch and miso and whisk until dissolved. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallots and saute about 2 minutes or until lightly golden.
Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and shrink down (about 5 minutes).
Add the broth/milk/cornstarch/miso mixture, thyme, and black pepper, stir to combine, and then bring the whole thing to a gentle simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it has cooked down and thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in Hott Smoke and optional nutritional yeast (start with 1 tablespoon, then taste and add more if desired). Add salt to taste (mine didn’t need any because there was enough salt in the broth and miso, but this will vary).
1) If you aren’t lucky enough to have Hott Smoke in your kitchen, you can substitute another not-too-sweet barbecue sauce and a dash or two of liquid smoke.
2) The non-dairy milk is optional; if you don’t have or don’t want to use it, just go with a full cup of broth.
3) Use chickpea miso for a soy-free version, or omit altogether.
This is heaven over mashed potatoes. Heaven, I tell you!
So my first attempts at cooking with Expo products were a success! It felt good to justify the absurd amount of stuff we brought home from it this way 🙂 As per H: “The lack of restraint we showed at the Hot Sauce Expo actually worked out fantastically!”
I’ll have lots more fun, spicy cooking experiments to share in the coming weeks!
Have a great weekend!