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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for the Category 'Balsamic Vinegar'

Balsamic Vinegar Selection

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Balsamic vinegar is a local product produced in the Italian regions of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Authentic traditional balsamic vinegar is an extravagant and pricey condiment. A small bottle of traditional aged balsamic vinegar can easily sell for several hundred dollars, especially if it is 30 to 50 years old. Balsamic vinegar is a treasured gift that is so highly prized, it is sometimes not sold at all. For centuries it has been saved by Italian families for special gifts and wedding dowries. A quality Italian balsamic vinegar is usually served by drops or a thin drizzle, it is never poured. A rich syrupy balsamic vinegar is often used by gourmet chefs as a dessert accoutrement. One popular recipe is simply to drizzle the thick, syrupy balsamic vinegar over a quality vanilla ice cream.
There are three types of Italian balsamic vinegar. Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena has a heritage dating back over a thousand years. Trebbiano grapes are locally grown and processed through the acetificio process over a very lengthy time. After the initial cooking and concentration of the Trebbiano grapes, the thick syrup is placed in special wooden vinegar casks for the aging process to begin. The family estate vinegar master oversees the yearly tending and transferal of this precious commodity from one barrel to another. Traditional balsamic vinegar is required by stringent consortium rules to be aged no less than 12 years.

The commercial or industrial version of balsamic vinegar is produced as an inexpensive alternative to the traditional balsamico. This second grade of balsamic vinegar is often called an imitation balsamic vinegar because it is produced by adding sugar and flavorings along with a very small portion of authentic balsamico. This grade of balsamic vinegar is often used in day-to-day cooking purposes and recipes. Many restaurants would use this type of balsamic vinegar in preparing balsamic vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces.

There is a third type of balsamic vinegar that is produced by the traditional balsamico producers. It is a blend of traditional balsamic vinegar along with commercial balsamico. This product has become popular due to its taste and affordable price. Even though the content may only have 5 to 10% authentic balsamic vinegar, the producers have made this blend into a very palatable gourmet product. Italian balsamic vinegar follows centuries of Italian tradition. The rich flavored vinegar will be thick and rich and have intense woody aromas with a delicate balance between sweet and sour flavor. A quick tip of identifying quality balsamico is; If you turn a unopened bottle of balsamic vinegar on its side and the vinegar splashes very easily like a wine, it is not an authentic balsamico. If you tip the bottle to one side, and the contents is similar to the syrupy consistency of maple syrup, then you can tell it is a much better quality balsamic vinegar. The price will reflect it as well.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette over Asparagus

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

A Balsamic Vinaigrette with asparagus is a delicious healthy dish for lunch or dinner. The same Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe can be used with a mixture of green bean varieties.

2 pounds asparagus stalks or spears, washed and trimmed, (optional: a mixture of green and white asparagus spears)
3 tablespoons Italian aged balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed through a garlic press
1/4 teaspoon coarse fresh ground black pepper
Coarse sea salt to taste

To prepare balsamic vinaigrette: using a medium mixing bowl, whisk together aged balsamic vinegar, minced red onion, extra virgin olive oil, pressed garlic, and ground pepper. Let stand until asparagus is cooked.
Cook, or blanch the asparagus spears in boiling water for about 3 minutes or until tender crisp, make sure not to overcook. Remove from heat and rinse with cold water, then drain. Arrange asparagus on individual serving plates. Whisk balsamic vinaigrette and immediately spoon the vinaigrette over asparagus, allow a little extra vinaigrette to pool on the side. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.

Makes 4 servings.How to properly select asparagus spears:

Visually select bright green asparagus with closed, compact, firm tips.
If the asparagus tips are slightly wilted, you can freshen them up by soaking them in cold water. Keep fresh asparagus moist in the fridge until you intend to use it.

Another tip to cook or steam asparagus spears: use a medium saucepan with a small amount of boiling water. Place asparagus spears in boiling water and cook until tender. Fresh asparagus spears will be tender in 4 to 7 minutes.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe method and tips

Monday, March 26th, 2007

A balsamic vinaigrette can be very simple or can be made complex. Numerous herbs and spices can be substituted along with other flavors that mix well and enhance the inherent taste of aged balsamic vinegar. Search out recipes that include honey, seasoned sea salts, various nuts and seeds, dried fruit, and fruit juices. Gourmet chefs are constantly making new variations of the simple balsamic vinaigrette recipe.

Select only quality extra virgin olive oil as well as gourmet quality balsamic vinegar. Your recipe will only be as good as the ingredients you use. Be creative, yet prudent with a condiment such as balsamic vinegar, especially when making a vinaigrette dressing. Never cook or overheat a balsamic vinegar, as it will ruin the flavor that has taken years to produce. Balsamic vinegar is best used immediately before serving, whether it be in a dressing or vinaigrette, or as a drizzle condiment over an entrée.

Add herbs and spices and other seasonings a little at a time. Taste while you are making the vinaigrette. Add more sea salt, fresh ground pepper, olive oil for consistency, and aged balsamic vinegar to your personal taste preference.

Be sure to make a seasoned balsamic vinaigrette well ahead of the meal and allow to stand for a period of time, this allows the flavors of the herbs and spices to mingle and blend together. After preparation, store a balsamic vinaigrette in the refrigerator until use.

You can whisk oil and vinegar together to make a vinaigrette. Oil and vinegar don’t mix as well as you might expect, (which is the nature of oil and vinegar.) You can use a blender to emulsify the olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a better consistency.

A leafy green garden salad needs to be dressed lightly with your balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It is important to add the vinaigrette to the salad just before serving, to ensure freshness and the best flavor.

If you’re going to use a vinaigrette over pasta, rice, or a potato salad, try using a little more wine vinegar and less olive oil in the vinaigrette recipe. These types salads invite a bit more wine vinegar taste and less olive oil.

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Balsamic Salmon Sockeye Fillets

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Balsamic Salmon Fillets, baked Sockeye Salmon recipe

Two fresh sockeye salmon fillets, about 2 1/2 pounds each
one tablespoon lemon zest
two garlic cloves peeled and pressed through a garlic press
three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
two tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
one half cup red wine
one half cup aged balsamic vinegar
one quarter cup unsalted butter
one half lemon, thin sliced
1 teaspoon brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350°. Place sockeye salmon fillets, skin down, in an oiled baking dish. With a basting brush, coat salmon fillets with olive oil. Mix together lemon zest, chopped thyme, and pressed garlic. Rub mixture of herbs over salmon fillets. Place baking dish with salmon fillets in the oven and bake at 350° for 40 minutes, or until salmon flakes with a fork. While salmon fillets are cooking, combine balsamic vinegar, red wine, and brown sugar in a skillet. Bring to boil and reduce until a syrupy consistency. Reduce heat to low, and whisk in unsalted butter. Spoon sauce over salmon fillets and garnish with a thin slices of lemon. Servings 8 to 10.


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Balsamic Vinegar

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Balsamic vinegar from Italy, is an aged reduction of Trebbiano or Spergola white grapes. The grapes are boiled to a syrup by being cooked very slowly in open fired copper cauldrons. The grapes are cooked until the moisture content is reduced by over 50 percent. The concentrated cooked balsamic grape reduction results in what is called the “must.” The grape ‘must’ reduction is put into wooden casks and an older aged balsamic vinegar is then added to promote the acetification process. Balsamic vinegar goes through a series of transfers from larger wooden barrels to progressively smaller wooden barrels. This aging process normally spans a period of twelve years. Every year the aging balsamic vinegar is transferred to different wooden barrels made from various wood varieties. In this way the balsamic vinegar obtains rich flavors inherent of the different woods. Popular wood varieties which the balsamic vinegar barrels are made from are: oak, cherry, chestnut, ash and wild cherry. Juniper and mulberry are the most difficult to procure, but are highly sought after for the unique flavors they impart to the balsamic vinegar.

A gourmet shopper can be perplexed about selecting balsamic vinegar at the grocery store. $5.00 balsamic vinegar can be next to $35.00 balsamic vinegar. Often taste testing is the best way to determine a quality balsamic. Inexpensive commercial grade vinegars are really not balsamico at all. Know what you are buying before you purchase.

The Italian producers from Reggio Emilia have designated three quality levels for Tradizionale Balsamic Vinegar.
12 years aged, indicated with a Red level or label.
20 years aged, indicated with a Silver level or label.
And 30-40 years ages designated with a Gold level or label.

Authentic Italian aceto balsamic vinegar comes in 3.4 ounce bottles and sells from $60.00 to $700.00 per bottle. It must be aged a minimum of 12 years. The better balsamic vinegars are aged 25 to 50 years. These balsamic vinegars are nearly liqueurs, rather than a vinegar. Serve them by the drop, never pour them.

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Balsamic vinegar that brings true robust Italian flavor to your table.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Balsamic Vinegar that is nearly syrup.

Fresh sliced strawberries and a drizzle of VSQP.
…’incredible taste and palate.’ ‘flavor like balsamico should be’
‘how can this be vinegar? … its absolutely delicious’

From the family operated balsamico production of Villa Bellentini. Aceto Balsamico di Modena. VSQP Black Label – “Very Special Quality Product” (V.S.Q.P.) This balsamico vinegar, is mature and rich in flavor. Aged for a minimum of twelve years in small casks made of fine antique woods, some of which are centuries old. This aging process creates a dense pleasantly sweet syrup in which the flavors of the fruit and woods is discernable. The unique and delicate flavor make it a wonderful taste for oil and vinegar dressings or a treat which can be enjoyed on simple foods like ice cream or fresh strawberries.

Modena Villa Bellentini Aceto VSQP is syrupy sweet with only a hint of vinegar tartness. Aged gourmet balsamic vinegar is ideal in oil and vinegar recipes. This gourmet condiment is used as a dessert topping, drizzled over fresh fruits, ice creams or cakes. It is also popular to drizzle it over Parmesan cheese as a dessert too.

Each balsamic vinegar we offer has been taste tested. All balsamic vinegars offered on our site are of exceptional quality and taste and have passed our stringent taste requirements.

balsamic vinegar, vsqp, balsamico, modena balsamic

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Fresh Sliced Strawberries with orange and balsamic vinegar

Thursday, March 08th, 2007

1 pint fresh sliced strawberries
One half cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
One tablespoon fructose
Six sprigs fresh mint

Wash and stem fresh strawberries. Slice berries and place in medium-sized bowl. Now mix together with orange juice balsamic vinegar and fructose. Pour mixture over sliced strawberries. Gently stir berries to cover in liquid. Let stand for about one hour. Spoon into dessert dishes and garnish with sprig of mint. As a variation spoon over one scoop of quality vanilla ice cream.

Should serve six.

balsamic vinegar and strawberries, balsamic dessert recipe

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Creamy Aceto Balsamico Potatoes

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Makes 4 Servings Excellent complement for roasted meats or grilled fish. You can prepare ahead of time and reheat.

1 ½ lbs potatoes, you can use a gold potatoes, such as Yukon Golds
peel, and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 bay leaf
¼ cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon Aceto-Balsamico vinegar from Modena
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly oil a 2 quart glass casserole dish with canola oil.
Arrange in a layer, (in the casserole dish) half of the sliced potatoes.
Place small dots of 1 ½ tablespoons of butter on top of layer of potato slices.
Season with salt and pepper.
Make another layer of potatoes on top, with remaining potato slices.
Dot with remaining softened butter, 1 ½ tablespoons.
Season again with salt and pepper.

Pour milk into small saucepan and add bay leaf.
Keep over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge of saucepan.
Remove bayleaf and pour heated milk over layered potatoes.

Cover casserole dish with glass lid or aluminum foil. Make sure foil does not touch food.

Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove foil or glass lid and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Place under broiler for 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Just before serving, drizzle balsamico over the potatoes.

balsamic potatoes, balsamic recipe, aceto balsamico recipe, potatoes casserole recipe

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Berries with Balsamic Cream and Orange

Thursday, November 09th, 2006

Orange Segments and Berries with Balsamic Cream
Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
6 servings

An outstanding Balsamic cream dessert. The vinegar becomes thick and syrupy and very sweet when it’s reduced. Use it like you would a chocolate sauce; it’s fabulous over ice cream or frozen yogurt. I tend to make this a lot in the winter months when citrus fruits are the best offerings at the produce stand.

– 4 navel oranges
– 3/4 cup aged Balsamic vinegar from Modena ( aceto balsamico )
Р1/3 cup cr̬me frąche
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 12 ounces fresh strawberries, quartered

With a very sharp knife, cut the peel and white pith from the oranges. Cut between the membranes to release the segments.

Whisk the vinegar, crème fraîche, and sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until it thickens and resembles chocolate sauce, about 8 minutes.

Arrange the orange segments and strawberries decoratively on dessert plates. Drizzle the warm balsamic sauce over the fruit and serve. Alternately, the Balsamic sauce can be served at room temperature and spooned over the fruit.

balsamic dessert, balsamic and cream

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Beef and Arugula Penne

Thursday, November 09th, 2006

Penne with Beef and Arugula
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

– 1 pound New York strip steak
– 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 3/4 cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
– 1 pound penne pasta
– 1/4 cup aged Balsamic vinegar from Modena ( aceto balsamico )
– 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
– 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 1/4 cup chopped basil
– 1/4 cup chopped parsley
– 2 cups chopped arugula

Season the steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper, herbs de Provence, and minced garlic. In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons Spanish olive oil over medium heat. Cook steak about 7 minutes per side. Remove the meat from pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

In a small bowl, whisk together the Balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh herbs, and 3/4 cup olive oil. In a large bowl toss the pasta with one half the salad dressing and the reserved pasta water. Set aside.

In a large bowl toss together the pasta, arugula, and steak. Add more dressing, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Toss, pack for the picnic, or serve.
balsamic beef, beef penne recipe

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