Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ketchup: King of condiments!

I went out to dinner a month or two ago to a local vegan-friendly restaurant in Providence, Julians. This has long been one of my favorite places to eat even before I went vegan. The menu and specials have always been very creative and out of the ordinary (Vegan Gingerbread Pancakes with red raisins, whiskey sugar, & cinnamon maple syrup....uhhh...YUM!). Not to mention the quirky atmosphere which includes Star Wars action figures on display in the bathroom and pictures of rock band KISS on the dessert menus!

The last time I was there for dinner, I ordered something with fries, and of course, when the plates came out, so did the usual assortment of condiments, two of which included ketchup and "house catsup."

As an aside, the only difference between "ketchup" and "catsup" is the spelling. My guess is that if you wanna sound Avant-garde these days, you should use the latter.

Anyway, I always go for the house catsup because unlike store bought, it's usually a little sweeter, has less sodium and is generally a cool thing I don't always get to have. I mean, when I get to go to a restaurant that makes their food in house as opposed to buying it mass produced, I'm always in for a treat. For my money, I think it's worth it to pay to eat something that you can't really get anywhere else. Plus, I like that when something is truly homemade, there's less to no crap in it (preservatives, artificial flavorings, colors, etc.)

On this particular night, I got to thinking " hard could it possibly be to make your own ketchup at home? It's really only just tomatoes and spices, right?"

So, I did a little research and I found out that it really is not that hard at all! Some recipes call for cooking down fresh tomatoes, if they're in season, but that process is too lengthy and time consuming for me because I'll be honest, I'm lazy. I've always been from the "Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals" school of thought. I like it homemade and healthy, but I also like it done today.

Lucky for me, I found a fantastic (and just as good) alternative that uses tomato purée as the base. It was very simple to make takes about an hour, mostly due to the fact that you have to simmer your ingredients on the stove top for about 45 minutes. Now, as much as I like my ketchup sweet, I love it spicy too. A few years ago, I found what I considered a breakthrough product on the shelf when shopping for something to put on my fries: Heinz Kick'rs Hot & Spicy Ketchup, which was basically just regular Heinz ketchup with Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce added to it. I bought it all the time until one day, it seemed to have disappeared from the shelves of my local supermarket. Oh well, I guess the supply/demand ratio was a tad off and they did away with it. Since then, I've had to relive those glory days by mixing hot sauce in my regular ketchup. Not anymore, my friends! The following recipe has just enough kick to it to satisfy my spicy tooth as well as my sweet tooth! And let me say, it was out of this world with my homemade french fries and vegan "meatloaf." And as with almost everything else that I make, I can confirm, it all tasted even better on the second day as leftovers! From here on out, no more store bought for me!

Homemade Spicy Ketchup

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 60 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 16
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 28-oz can tomato purée
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until for 5 to 8 minutes until translucent. Add in the garlic and stir together. Add the tomato purée, brown sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, salt, mustard, cloves, allspice, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 to 60 minutes until it is thick like ketchup.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, puree the mixture until smooth.
  3. Adjust seasonings if needed and pour ketchup into a container and seal. Can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.

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