Dips, tips and dressings

Jon Hauge developed a knack for cooking at an early age. Hauge said his mother, being a registered dietician, approached food from a “clinical” standpoint. In an attempt to expand his palette, he ventured to the kitchen.

Hauge carried his love of food along with him as he established himself in the business world, after a close call of enrolling at culinary school where he realized he could not spend his nights at a hot restaurant stove. Five years ago, however, the opportunity arose for Hauge to jump back into the ring, or rather the jar, of his foodie interests, and he opened a tiny franchise filled with spices.

Enticing the locals with another successful Taste of the Market Series – occurring on the first and fourth Thursday of the month at the Princeton Farmers’ Market – Hauge set up a table and dished out dips, tips and dressings to “mmm-ing” and “ahh-ing” participants.

Hauge stood casually in a “Savory Spice” apron behind a row of mason jars, which he began to, one by one, toss ingredients into.

“There’s going to be one theme throughout this [demo]: add some things, shake it up, let it set, then taste,” Hauge said. “I’m focusing on dips and dressings, since in summer it’s fun to have cool dinners. The vegetables just came from the farmers’ market.”

While each recipe Hauge explained was unique – a lavender vanilla vinaigrette for any sweeter salad; an Asian-style ranch featuring ginger, wasabi, toasted seaweed, buttermilk and greek yogurt; and a “similar but better” Italian dressing – each was also exquisitely simple.

The base, Hauge told his audience, is almost always oil and vinegar. While Hauge’s go-to is rice wine vinegar for its light consistency and low acidity, most variations work – white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, for example. Then you add your spice and, if you’re calorie counting, a little water.

Hauge’s spice blends included one called Capital Hill consisting of dried shallot, parsley, chives, dill, salt and pepper. To this he added honey powder, which Hauge always uses in lieu of white sugar for not only health benefits but for its solubility, salt and his oil and vinegar.

Another one of Hauge’s spice extraordinaire tips is to use a dash of truffle salt on any vegetable to give that wow-factor and Madagascar vanilla powder on a bowl full of berries.

Hauge moved down the line, shaking each mason jar vigorously until he got to the dips.

“The only real difference between a dip and a dressing is consistency,” Hauge said.

To create thickness, Hauge usually adds Greek yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese or cottage cheese. He crafted dips with salty dill, bourbon black pepper and Bajan seasoning – a flavor reminiscent of Barbados that Hauge called “Jamaican Jerk’s little sister.” He also passed around black garlic before blending it into a creamy dip that made even the sliced raw squash erupt with flavor.

“I love introducing this to people,” Hauge said. “You can bite right into it raw in our shop, and when people discover it they always say, ‘Oh, this is wonderful.’”

Black garlic is an organic garlic bulb that undergoes an aging process in an environment where the temperature and humidity is controlled. Once it’s ready, the garlic turns jet black and no longer tastes of garlic. It evolves into a fig-like flavor with a mildly smoky taste.

To view more of his recipes, visit www.savoryspiceshop.com. To find out about more spicy tutorials, contact Hauge and his team at (609) 454-5627 or Princeton@savoryspiceshop.com.

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida