Home cooks "tend to have a couple of things they do brilliantly," Prue Barrett says, but they often get bored of making them or eating them or feeding them to friends and family. That's where her company, Agrodolce for Fast Foodies, comes in.
The products themselves cover a lot of culinary ground. Master Stock, an intensely flavored combination of soy sauce, Chinese Shao Xing rice wine, yellow rock sugar, fresh ginger, garlic, and spices, is ideal for braising meat or cooking rice. The Apple, Saffron & Sultana chutney makes a sensational condiment or works well when mixed into ground meat for meatballs. Caramelized onions add flavor to soups, sauces, or salad dressings, or can be used as a sandwich spread or to top a steak. And the Red Wine Poached Pears are delicious in salads, with cheese, or for dessert.
In part, the product development was based on Barrett's work as a private chef and ways she found to keep her clients happy and well fed when she didn't have much space to work in or access to a lot of ingredients. "They're the kind of things I'd make ahead of time and bring with me if I was going to be cooking on a yacht and going to the Greek Islands where I couldn't buy anything but tomatoes and eggplant," she says.
That's basically how she encourages her customers to cook: buy fresh produce and meat and use her products to make something they'll be excited about eating (the yacht is optional). "Anyone can use them to make a deeply satisfying meal without a lot of effort," she explains. "They balance between salty and sweet, which is always how you get the best flavor."
In addition to the relatively simple but tasty-sounding recipes already on her site—the Vietnamese Lettuce Cups With Chicken in Master Stock are at the top of my own to-cook list—Barrett plans to add how-to videos and customer-submitted recipes. She says she has "dozens" of ideas for new products, starting with low-sodium and gluten-free versions of Master Stock and continuing with curry sauce, more wine-based braising products, and dipping sauces. See more at agrodolceforfastfoodies.com.
About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.