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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for the Category 'Salads'

Oil and Vinegar Cruet Dressing For The Salad

Friday, November 14th, 2008

oil and vinegar cruet glass

Sublimely Simple Salad Dressing

For the simplest salad dressings, you need only blend an acid like vinegar or the juice of a citrus fruit, with a healthy oil such as olive, nut or one with a neutral flavor, and season it with salt and pepper.

With a brisk whisk, the complementary flavors of the oil and vinegar blend together beautifully. You’ll need to restore the balance by whisking the oil and vinegar again before pouring in a glass cruet to dress the salad. Without an emulsifying ingredient the two will always separate.

So if you’d like the oil and vinegar to not separate, you may add mustard to emulsify the mixture in a creamy dressing. As good cooks know, after whisking the vinegar and mustard together, the oil must be gradually added or you’ll risk the dressing separating, resulting in what kitchen parlance calls a “break”. Nor can you add mustard to the oil at the end of the procedure. It will clump up in the dressing and cause the oil and vinegar to separate.

A kitchen towel provides a handy assist to keep the bowl from moving about while you are simultaneously whisking and slowing pouring in the oil. Simply fold it lengthwise, twist it tightly, and form a ring the size of the base of the bowl.
When the bowl is placed on top, it will remain stable and make your whisking and pouring much easier.

salad dressing, oil and vinegar, simple dressing

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Oil and Vinegar and Eating Well

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

A Salad Dressing can Contribute to a Healthier Diet

In today’s world, time is of the essence. We rush, we cut corners, we sometimes even compromise. In no area is this as prevalent as in food preparation. In the not too distant past, many hours of each day were devoted to planning, shopping for and preparing tasty meals. We simply don’t take the time necessary these days to create good, wholesome dishes. And all this corner-cutting could prove detrimental to our health as we choose foods that are fast rather than good for us.

If you don’t want salad dressings full of preservative, additives, damaged polyunsaturated oils like soybean or canola, sugar and sodium and even sometimes hydrogenated fats, stay away from those that are commercially prepared. You can make your own healthier versions in very little time.

It’s simple to make a perfect vinaigrette with just three basic ingredients: a healthy fat, an acid and, if you want a consistent “creamy” dressing, an emulsifier. Here is an easy recipe which will take less than five minutes to prepare:

The juice of half a lemon, squeezed into a small bowl, provides the necessary acid. Be sure there are no seeds or pulp. Next, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard serves as an emulsifier when it is mixed with the lemon juice. Finally, one cup of extra virgin olive oil – the healthy fat – is added to the mixture, poured in a thin stream while vigorously whisking. And that’s it: a beautifully blended, rich and creamy dressing in just a few minutes.

If you’d like, you might add a bit of unrefined sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to enhance the flavor. Or you can substitute flax oil for about ¼ of the olive oil to add healthy omega-3 essential fats. If you are not fond of Dijon mustard, a raw egg yolk will serve well as the emulsifier.

Creative cooks will find this basic recipe perfect for adding their own unique touch. An authentic Caesar dressing can be conjured up with the addition of an egg yolk, finely chopped garlic anchovy paste and maybe chopped capers. Or make grapefruit vinaigrette by adding freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice. With your favorite, finely-chopped herbs, you will discover new flavors. Substitute balsamic vinegar for lemon to produce a balsamic vinaigrette. Or find another flavored vinegar to subtly alter the flavor– how about pear vinegar in a salad of fresh pear slices and Roquefort? And a raspberry vinaigrette is as easy as mashing up fresh raspberries (but be sure to use a strainer to keep out the seeds).

Order of operation is important, here. Just remember to add all ingredients to the emulsifier and acid mixture before slowly pouring in the oil. A hand-blender or food processor may be used to save time and save a tired arm when preparing more complicated dressings, like the Caesar.

You can create a better and healthier version of any grocery store dressing with this basic recipe and your own imagination, and you can do it quickly and at home. Who knows, you may come up with a fantastic new taste destined to become your signature dressing.

Healthy and inexpensive, this one little step takes you away from the processed food aisle and introduces healthier and tastier flavors to your table.

oil and vinegar salad, vinaigrette, salad dressing, healthy salad

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Vinaigrette for salad or pasta

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Whisked, not shaken oil and vinegar vinaigrette

If you thought that vinaigrette is exclusively a salad partner, then you are highly mistaken. As a matter of fact, vinaigrette can be used with a number of dishes, including pasta, fish, and grilled vegetables. It is a very handy thing if you know how to make vinaigrette, as this sauce is simple, very easy to make, and can come from the ingredients that you already have stored in your pantry. A homemade vinaigrette is more economical and tastes leagues better than store-bought vinaigrette.

The two basic ingredients for vinaigrette are oil and vinegar, and the ratio between the two plays a very important role. Generally, it is three parts oil to one part vinegar, but if a milder, less acidic ingredient is used instead of vinegar, the proportion of the oil lessens. As with all things cooked and prepared, the best results will come from using the best and freshest ingredients.

You will need two hands in making vinaigrette: one hand to whisk the ingredients together, while the other is used for pouring in the oil. This is why it is important that your bowl is stationary as you work. Using a rubber bottomed bowl is most helpful, but if you don’t have one, shape a round towel into ring around the bottom of the bowl to provide the needed traction.

Begin by dissolving a bit of salt in the vinegar. This is done because salt dissolves more readily when it is mixed in the vinegar directly; you can still season and adjust the taste of your dressing at the end. Next, add a small amount of Dijon mustard and whisk until all of it is combined well into the vinegar. This acts as an emulsifying agent, which binds the oil and vinegar together. Now, pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking continuously and vigorously, until everything is incorporated well and emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper and your vinaigrette is done and ready for the taking.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and play around with this basic recipe by using a different type of oil or vinegar, such as garlic infused olive oil or balsamic or red-wine vinegar. You can also alter and increase the flavors of your dressing by adding herbs, shallots, garlic, or even citrus zest. As a way to top off your dishes, this vinaigrette can be tossed over salad greens, drizzled over grilled fish, meat or vegetables, or mixed with pasta.

Note: Your vinaigrette dressing will be as good as the ingrediemts you use to make it. Be sure to use a quality extra virgin olive oil as well as a fine vinegar.

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Basil Salad Dressing

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Blender Basil Dressing

If you’ve got a blender at home, then you should know that these things aren’t just for purees or shakes. Blenders can also help you greatly in concocting great salad dressings. Here is a recipe for a wonderful and easy-to-make basil dressing.

The ingredients for this recipe are as follows:

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 to 5 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Add the vinegars, basil, sugar, garlic, oils, salt, and pepper in a blender. Pulse the mixture, or mix it in short bursts so that the ingredients combine thoroughly and the basil do not get chopped too fine. A combination of butter lettuce, freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, marinated mushrooms, juicy red ripe tomatoes, and even some ripe wedges of Haas avocado make for a delightfully superb salad. This recipe yields about a cup dressing.

 basil salad dressing, basil salad dressing recipe

 

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Oil and Vinegar Nicoise Salad

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Nicoise Salad

This wonderful vegetable salad yields about 4 servings and is excellent as a main course.

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon green onion or reconstituted onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound medium red potatoes, not peeled and cut into thick slices, or an equal amount of canned potatoes
  • 1 head lettuce, if available
  • 8 ounces canned French-style green beans or regular green beans
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (if available), each piece cut in half
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
  • 2 large hard cooked eggs, each peeled and cut into quarters
  • ½ cup olives

Prepare your dressing first; for the dressing, mix in a small bowl the vinegar, lemon juice, green onion or onion flakes, mustard, sugar, and pepper until everything is well blended. Boil the potatoes in a pot over high heat, or use drained canned potatoes to save you from the trouble.

After the potatoes have been cooked, your salad is now ready to be assembled. Pour half of the prepared dressing into a medium sized bowl and tossing the lettuce leaves in it, making sure to evenly coat each one. Line the dressed lettuce leaves on a platter. Arrange the other ingredients of the salad – potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, tuna, eggs, and olives – in separate piles on top of the lettuce leaves. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad and serve.

olive oil, nicoise salad, nicoise recipe

 

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Heirloom Tomato Gourmet Salad

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Delectable Heirloom Tomato Salad

The Heirloom tomato salad makes use of five different varieties of Heirloom tomatoes, all at room temperature. Additional ingredients for this recipe include the following:

½ oz fennel, shaved
1 oz Point Reyes blue cheese
2 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 oz aged balsamic vinegar
5 small basil leaves
Fleur de sal (salt) and fresh pepper to taste

Trim the ends of the tomatoes so that the core is approximately one and a half inches thick. Using a small round cookie cutter, cut the cylinders of the tomato and reserve them in a mixing bowl.

Next, trim your fennel so that you will have just the bulb left. Shave the fennel bulb thinly using a mandolin. Place the fennel in ice water and allow it to crisp.

The next step is to add the oil and vinegar to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes. Toss this mixture well in order to coat each tomato thoroughly and evenly and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve the resulting liquid after tossing, which will be used for the tossing the fennel later on. Arrange the tomatoes in a straight line in the center of a plate, about one inch apart.

Plate the crumbled cheese in the spaces between the tomatoes. Take your fennel from the ice water and drain it well. Add it to the liquid from the tomatoes. Toss the fennel in the liquid and place it on top of the tomatoes. Finish up your plate by garnishing each tomato with basil leaves.

heirloom tomato salad, garnished heirloon tomato

 

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Fresh Sliced Tomato and Avocado Salad with Balsamic

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Fresh Sliced Tomato and Avocado Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese, Balsamic Vinegar, and Olive Oil

This simple yet delicious recipe combines fresh, simple ingredients with some of the most delicious and rich ingredients that can be found. This yields four to six servings.

Take a head of crisp Boston lettuce, or crisp leaf lettuce. Clean the head, core, and dry and separate into individual leaves. Nest, take two large, firm and ripe tomatoes; core them and slice them into thin wedges or slices. You will also need to firm, ripe avocados. Peel the fruit and remove the seeds. Slice them thinly and sprinkle the avocado with lemon juice to prevent the avocado from discoloring.

Other ingredients needed will include: extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (as desired); salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning; crumbled Gorgonzola or Roquefort or Stilton or blue cheese – whichever is desired – at room temperature; and about one to two tablespoons chopped parsley or Italian parsley.

Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Arrange the tomatoes and avocado on top of the lettuce leaves and sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste. Take your olive oil and balsamic vinegar and drizzle the desired amount over the vegetables and fruit. Be careful, though, not put too much of the oil and vinegar as it will make the tomatoes and avocadoes soggy. Top it all off with the crumbled cheese and a garnishing of fresh or Italian parsley. You can now serve your salad and enjoy it immediately.

There are several variations that can be made with this recipe as well. You can add a small Vidalia onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings. Any other sweet variety onion will do as well too. You may also add green onions and ripe or black olives over your appetizer.

oil and vinegar, tomato salad, balsamic salad

 

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Crisp Garden Salads

Thursday, July 03rd, 2008

A sublime salad  A perfect, crisp salad made from freshly picked vegetables, either bought or cultivated yourself is always one of the healthiest options at any time. We all enjoy the texture and flavor of a delicious fresh salad but what is more important is that vegetables, consumed in this way, raw, are the healthiest form of nutrition. Vegetables are, of course, packed with all the necessary nutrients for a healthy body including vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants, and according to medical experts the consumption of fruits and vegetables is promoted to avoid the occurrence of many illnesses including cancer and heart diseases. An increased intake of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet can also be most effective in lowering blood pressure. A publicised eating plan called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) advises the avoidance of fats and foods that are high in sugar and the inclusion of fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts and low fat substitutes for dairy products. Another body, namely the The American Institute for Cancer Research endorses this advice and strongly suggests that processed meats are cut out altogether because of the risk of cancer attached to this type of food. Overall, increasing fruits and vegetables into your daily diet is beneficial. If fresh vegetables are not available then the next best thing would be vegetables that are frozen. Canned vegetables should be eaten only as an alternative to fresh or frozen.

Ingredients that are high in fat or calories should be totally avoided when creating a fresh salad as part of a healthy diet. For example, such items such as cheese, salad dressings that are high in calories, croutons, bacon bits etc., should be eliminated altogether.

A healthy salad can be enjoyed by replacing these high calorie fat laden ingredients with low fat or fat free alternatives. The healthiest option for salad dressing is a classic vinaigrette. The ingredients to avoid when creating a nutritious healthy salad are those that have a high fat and calorie content, for example, dressings that are rich in fats and salt, mayonnaise based salads such as coleslaw, croutons, pasta, cheese, unless low fat, and bacon bits. You can always substitute a classic oil and vinegar dressing or choose a dressing that has no fat content at all. A healthy salad should contain a combination of fresh produce such as salad greens, which come in many varieties, sweet tomatoes, citrus fruits, dried fruits such as raisins, nuts, cucumber and zucchini or squash. If you are creating a salad that does not include either meat, poultry or fish you may like to add some protein in the form of eggs or hummus for extra flavour and nutrition.

salads, salad dressing, healthy garden salad

 

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Oil and Vinegar Vinaigrette

Monday, June 16th, 2008

A vinaigrette dressing for fresh salads is just one of the many ways that olive oil and balsamic vinegar can be used and enjoyed. For example, to enhance pasta combine olive oil with some garlic and finish with some grated parmesan cheese for perfect results. A put anesca can be made by mixing olive oil with olives, tomatoes (fresh and sundried) and anchovies. For a quick and delicious evening meal sauté chicken with garlic and olive oil and finish by combining with pasta. Such a simple concept that results in a light and pleasurable meal. Olive oil is also ideal for creating marinades for meat and poultry. A delightful dish of lemon chicken can be created by baking the poultry with lemon after it has been previously marinated in olive oil.

By combining extra virgin olive oil with herbs and spices of your choice a flavored oil worthy of gourmet status can be achieved. The advantages are that you can adjust the flavours added to the oil to suit your personal taste. Gourmet olive oil recipes can make a huge difference to the overall flavour of the dish you are preparing and meat, poultry or fish will take on some of the subtle, complementary and interesting flavours of the herbs and spices that you have used. Creating a recipe for your own gourmet oil is a satisfying and personal endeavour and you may find that though many good restaurants create their own flavoured oils, and delicious as they may be, they will not be exactly the same as the ones that you have prepared yourself which will be entirely unique and suit your personal taste perfectly.

There is a certain spiritual significance attached to the act of giving olive oil as a gift or to welcome someone to a new home. It has been said that olive oil is a gift that inspires the gods to bestow blessing of wealth and wellbeing to a home. It also brings with it connotations of summer days and a happy atmosphere. So, by offering gifts of olive oil to friends and acquaintances, especially as a housewarming gift you are offering them your good wishes for a life filled with happiness in their new home.

For a perfect, gourmet housewarming gift it is worth considering presenting a picnic hamper or basket filled with an array of delicious Mediterranean food items including extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, fresh rustic bread, some fresh salad vegetables, pasta, parmesan cheese, maybe some fresh baguette sandwiches and an olive oil decanter., you may even like to include your own special vinaigrette dressing recipe! You now have all the ingredients for a wonderful Mediterranean lunch or dinner that can be enjoyed without too much preparation, and is for a family moving into a new home nothing could be more welcome.

oil and vinegar, vinaigrette

 

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Salad Dressing Taste

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Salad dressing taste sometimes receives the least of any attention paid to a meal. You may have had the misfortune to have tasted green salads that were doused in burning dressings that were mostly vinegar; tasteless blends of olive oil and little else; or worse yet, store-bought dressings loaded with sugar and cloying to the palate.

Many people eventually acquire a taste for these less-than-satisfactory dressings and never discover the truly wonderful dressings that they are missing out on. It is a simple task, however, to prepare great tasting salad dressings in the comfort of your own kitchen.

The best place to start is with the font of all salad dressings – the classic French vinaigrette. The challenge in making this dressing is being able to balance the various tastes – vinegar or lemon juice for the sour acid taste, olive oil and other ingredients for sweetness, and black or hot peppers or mustard for heat. As most experienced cooks will understand, the higher the quality of your ingredients, the better the flavour of your final product.

The dressing for a basic green salad to serve four should consist of approximately 1 ½ teaspoons of mustard, a tablespoon of vinegar, 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Place all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl and whisk them together until you obtain a smooth texture. Then, while continuing to whisk the mixture, drizzle in the olive oil. You should also remember that salad dressings almost never come out the same way twice, and you should taste your dressing frequently as you make it so you can perform the necessary adjustments.

Mastering the art of making vinaigrette opens a whole world of possibilities to you, especially when fresh herbs become available in the summer. You should not be afraid to experiment with different ingredients, and any mistakes that you make can be remedied through the addition of more vinegar and olive oil. When fresh herbs are not available, you may find yourself using dried herbs, which is perfectly acceptable. You should remember, however, that the taste in dried herbs is twice that of fresh herbs, because the water within them has evaporated, concentrating the taste. A mixture of dried herbs known as Herbes de Provence is widely available in gourmet stores and tastes excellent.

There are many herbs that you could use to flavour your dressing with such as tarragon, rosemary, thyme, mint, cilantro, chervil, parsley, and dill. You can use any combination of herbs too. France, Italy, and California also produce some excellent herbed olive oils, but these tend to be rather expensive.

If you prefer a milder, less-acidic vinaigrette, consider using rice vinegar or cider vinegar. If you have a fondness for sweet dressings, then the balsamic vinegars found in supermarkets, while not truly authentic, help you create a pleasantly sweet dressing. Authentic balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, cost $160 or more for a bottle of only 3.5 oz.

oil and vinegar, salad dressing, balsamic vinaigrette

 

 

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