Heidi Billotto

Cooking with Local Condiments

Cooking with condiments shortcuts meal prep and makes it all easy. Ready for a great recipe? I love sharing all of the delicious ways you can easily eat local. And, I do so regularly, with my series of Eat Local and Drink Local blog posts.

These posts focus on the individual products. But now, it’s time to catch up on how to use them all day to day.


We’ll start with Peggy Rose’s Jellies, a wonderful line of condiments from Wake Forest NC. Yes, there really is a Peggy Rose and her recipe for hot pepper jelly is what started her company.


In addition, I’ll be cooking with TOPO organic spirits new line of bitters. Think of these like extracts for your favorite cocktails, but know they will spice up your day-today cooking as well. With this host of delicious flavors in your pantry, the possibilities are endless!

You first saw me talk about Peggy Rose’s jams, jellies and mustards in my annual December Drink Local post. Shortcut the process of making a simple syrup. Instead, just use a spoonful of your favorite Peggy Rose jelly to stir in and spice up your cocktails.

As a reminder, here is a replay of the December video. from Charlotte Today that goes with the post. The link is to my “As seen on TV” page on this blog. The segment originally aired in Charlotte on WCNC’s Charlotte Today on Dec 3, 2019. It’s the fifth video in the list.

If you live in the Raleigh area, you also heard me talk about both of these local products on WRAL as well. In case you missed it –here is the link to that video, too! Its the fourth one down from the top.

Drink Local with local condiments, too!

In the video, I made a cocktail with Peggy Rose’s Cranberry Pepper Jelly. Start with Fainting Goat Spirits from Greensboro, NC. Use their whiskey and Peggy Rose’s Cranberry jelly to make a quick play on a classic old fashion. Add in a splash of the TOPO organic aged orange bitters to round it all out.

Want to craft another Peggy Rose centric cocktail of your own? Try this recipe for a delicious Winter Mojito. Here I’ve paired it here with Topo Organic Spirits Rum from Chapel Hill, NC. It’s also quite tasty with a pour of TOPO vodka, another way I love to drink local. Thanks to Jeff Rose, Peggy’s son for the original recipe.

Peggy Rose Winter Mojito

1 tsp  lime juice

4 Tbsp. Peggy Rose’s Sweet Pepper Jelly

1 cup ice cubes

A jigger of TOPO organic rum or vodka (that’s 1 1/2 fluid ounces)

1/2 cup sparkling water

Place Peggy Rose’s Sweet Pepper Jelly in glass and mash/muddle to reduce lumps. Add teaspoon of lime juice and gently mix. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum or vodka over the ice, and fill the glass with sparkling water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the lime wedge. Cheers!

Cooking with Condiments & Roasted Root Veggies

Next, a wonderful winter recipe with a kick of the hot pepper jelly, a splash of the assorted bitters. I’m also featuring some great Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced and bottled by Olive Crate, a Greek company with a local Waxhaw NC footprint.


All of these vegetables here are in season and available now from local farmers markets. Make a list and plan to pick up everything you need on Saturday morning. Then plan to enjoy this colorful and tasty salad this weekend. Let the cooking begin…

I had the pleasure of sharing this same recipe and some fu tips on how you can be all cheffy-like in your own kitchen in a cooking segment on Charlotte Today on Wed Jan 22, 2020.

Heidi Billotto on Charlotte Today – January 22, 2020

The video is embedded in this post and you can also view it on my “As Seen on TV” video page, link to it either way and enjoy before you read on.

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Hot Pepper Jelly Croutons


For the root vegetables:

2-3 small NC sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes or slices. I love using the Sunshine variety, exclusively available from my friends at A Way Of Life Farm in Sunshine, NC. You’ll find them in Building A at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Yorkmont Road.

1 bunch hakurie turnips, trimmed and cut in half

4-5 red radishes, trimmed and cut in half

1 bunch small rainbow carrots – cut into chunks or tulips shapes. The carrots I used in the recipe on TV came from New Town Farms in Waxhaw, NC. You’ll find them every Saturday morning at the Matthews Community Farmers market on Trade Street in Matthews.

red or white beets

Olive Crate Kores Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Hot Pepper Jelly Croutons:

Simply toss the cubed bread in the mix of egg, Peggy Rose’s Hot Pepper Jelly and local cottage cheese, feta or ricotta cheese. Use your hands to massage the mix into the bread and then bake

½ cup of your favorite Peggy Rose’s Hot Pepper Jelly

½ cup feta or ricotta cheese – I like to keep it local with Uno Alla Volta cheeses

1 local egg

salt and pepper to taste

1 baquette cut into cubes

For the salad dressing:

There are several delicious flavors of Peggy Rose’s pepper jellies – use your favorites for the croutons and the salad dressing in this recipe

1/3 cup Olive Crate strawberry balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp. of your favorite Peggy Rose Pepper Jelly

½ Cup Olive Crate Kores Estate EVOO

zest of one orange or a splash of TOPO organic aged orange bitters

Sea Salt to taste

Heidi’s Hot Pepper Blend to taste (or use a splash of TOPO organic black pepper bitters, instead!)

2-3 Watermelon radishes, thin sliced

Mixed leafy greens: kale, spinach, lettuce

A mix of local microgreens

The new line of organic bitters from TOPO distillery in Chapel Hill includes these Aged orange bitters. Use a dash or two to spike up the flavor of any salad dressing.

Here is what to do:

As you select local root veggies for your salad, don’t forget local NC sweet potatoes. I love the Sunshine variety only available at A Way of Life Farm in Sunshine, NC. Available at the Charlotte Regional Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

Roast the root vegetables in the oven or butter poach them on top of the stove. I actually think its much faster and easier to pan roast them on top of the stove.


To roast in the oven, cut all the veggies to approximately the same size. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with Olive Crate’s Kores Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to combine. Bake at 350 for about 20 mins.

To butter poach, cut all the veggies to approximately the same size.  Melt 2-3 Tbsp. of real butter, vegan butter or extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet with a lid. Saute the veggies until lightly browned. Add about ½ to 1 cup of water to the pan, cover; reduce heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes until veggies are tender. Drain and season with salt and pepper.

Tender sweet Hakurie Turnips are another wonderful winter root vegetable to add to any salad or side dish.

Can’t beet it – all these veggies are in season now!

If you want to include beets in the mix, it will be best to roast those separately. Wrap  beets in foil and roast at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let stand in foil until cool enough to handle. Unwrap and use a paper towel to rub off the skin. Cut the beets into slices or bite sized pieces.

For the Hot Pepper Jelly Cheesy Croutons:

Combine the ricotta cheese with the Hot Pepper Jelly and the egg. Blend well.

Place the cut cubes of bread in a large bowl. Top with the cheese and hot pepper jelly mix. Blend well to coat all the bread cubes with the cheese.

These crunchy hot pepper jelly cheesy croutons are a wonderful addition to any salad or serve them floating on top of soup as well,

Place the coated bread cubes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 -15 mins.

While the croutons are baking, combine all the salad dressing ingredients in a canning jar and shake to combine.

Serving your Salad

Arrange the winter greens on a large platter or on individual salad serving plates or bowls. Toss the roasted vegetables in the vinaigrette and arrange over the greens. Top with warm or room temp hot pepper jelly cheesy croutons. And enjoy.

A fun cucumber “vase” is a great way to serve local greens. The dressing is in the root veggie mix. Once you serve your guests -everyone mixes their own.

For a fun variation, cut a cucumber into a three-inch-long piece. Use a melon baller to hollow out the cuke and stand it on one end so that you have what looks like a flower vase. Do not trim the stems of the leafy greens and instead, arrange the whole leaves of greens and microgreens in the cucumber vase as if it were a flower arrangement. Serve the edible vase of greens in the center of an individual salad plate and arrange the dressed roasted root veggies all around.

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