With the abundance of fresh produce this summer, I will probably be talking frequently about many of the canning and preserving books I have in my library. This one is a favorite; it’s a small book filled with big flavors. Every cook knows that a spoonful of chutney or a dollop of relish can take any dish to new heights, from appetizers and salads to entrees and sandwiches. Not only that, chutneys and relishes can be a healthier alternative to heavy salad dressings or sauces. They also can provide the perfect solution for spontaneous entertaining. Say you just have chicken breasts planned for dinner; adding something as simple as a homemade tomato relish to the chicken will bring a taste of summer to a cold winter’s eve. There are over forty simple recipes for making and using a dazzling array of versatile and delicious condiments. They seem to sharpen the flavors of other foods, with their bold flavors of sweet-sour to spicy heat.
Not all the recipes must be water-processed; some can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator for a month or so. The canned items make wonderful hostess gifts. You can personalize jars with a label, ribbon, string, and even include serving ideas. Your recipients will love a pear-anise chutney, cilantro-corn relish, yogurt-pear chutney, fiery ginger-tomato relish, blueberry-port chutney, or my favorite, the Mediterranean fennel and olive relish. I love serving the latter with grilled fish or lamb. Several of the pages include taking sandwiches to a whole new level. How does this sound: make the cranberry-shallot chutney and serve it on pita bread with roast lamb, feta, alfalfa sprouts and sprigs of arugula or basil; or make the red pepper relish and serve it on 7-Grain bread with smoked turkey, and sliced white cheddar. This book is a gift in itself, full of great ideas for simple cooking to make all your meals seem gourmet.