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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for the Category 'Vinaigrettes'

Oil and Vinegar Vinaigrette

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Vinaigrette is any dressing made from oil and vinegar. French dressing implies vinaigrette and the many variations that were created. Britain and America made French dressing popular in the 1880’s. Because people realized how healthy salads were, many recipes have been created for the use of French dressing.

Vinaigrette is from the form of French vinaigre, which is commonly known as vinegar. It was first used in 1699 but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that Vinaigrette came onto the scene on its own. In French, vinaigrette was used to describe a carriage which resembled a vinegar seller’s cart. In Europe, Vinaigrette is also known as French dressing and it is the common salad dressing in the western world. Various flavorings to suit anyone’s taste is added to the mixture of oil and vinegar, using salt and pepper to taste. It is used on green salad and can be used to marinate various meat products, acting as a tenderizer.

By 1880, French dressing was becoming increasingly popular, mixing three parts oil to one part vinegar coupled with added seasonings like mustard or bleu cheeses. Presently, there are many new additions which has created Green Goddess, Thousand Island, Russian, Roquefort and ranch dressings. Dressings that were bottled had the greatest impact. In 1915, Hellmann’s deli style mayonnaise had the greatest impact. Kraft created the now popular Miracle Whip and the coral colored French dressing. Homemakers throughout the world enjoyed these convenience dressings. They seemed to taste even better than home cooked creations and of course cut the amount of time used in preparing these dressings. In the 1960’s, Julia Child, a master chef in her own right, instructed her viewers on how to make vinaigrette, using various herbs and spices to create a unique taste.

Using crisp mixed greens, or potato salad with the French flair, or the Mediterranean way of combining greens, vegetables, tuna, olives, eggs and anchovies, there is no doubt that vinaigrette is the dressing that compliments those dishes. The oil and the vinegar cannot be the “run of the mill” ingredients. For the authentic French dressing, you will need to use red or white wine vinegar; it cannot be very strong or pungent. Using this type of vinegar is a definite compliment to extra virgin olive oil, another classic with a very mellow taste.

Prior to 1880’s, French style dressings were simply known as dressings or salad dressing. Often this dressing contained egg, a carry over from the ancient Roman ways. The name French dressing did not show up in the American cookbook until after the 1880’s.

Whether you purchase a name brand bottled vinaigrette or choose to make your own unique signature dressing, always remember to use top quality extra virgin olive oil and either a red or white wine vinegar. With the added herbs and spices, you can create variations that are unique to your creative abilities. You just may have a winning creation that may taste better than Kraft’s and Hellman‘s dressings.

oil and vinegar, vinaigrette, salad dressing


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Preparing Vinaigrette Dressing

Monday, April 20th, 2009

A vinaigrette and French dressing are one in the same and very easy to prepare. All you need is oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. The secret is to make sure the ingredients are top quality. Extra virgin olive oil with red wine vinegar or nut oils and balsamic or sherry vinegars. You can even use flavored vinegar with canola, corn or safflower oils. Before using this dressing, always whisk together the oil and vinegar as they do tend to separate almost immediately.

Combine these ingredients, using an oil and vinegar that complement one another and the foods that will be used…

• 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• Fine sea salt and pepper freshly ground to taste

The olive oil should be whisked in the vinegar and seasonings combination. The finished dressing should be allowed to stand in place a few hours before using so that the numerous flavors can blend together. Before use, stir the dressing.

A variation to create Dijon vinaigrette is to add…

• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons vinegar
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

If you prefer herbed vinaigrette, simply add 1 tablespoon fresh finely cut herbs or 1 teaspoon dried herbs. Herbs that can be used are basil, tarragon, thyme, marjoram, and/or chives to taste.

By using extra virgin olive oil, you will taste the rich flavor of the oil. If the ingredients are robust, than use an oil that doesn’t have much flavor, such as corn, canola and light olive oil. If a tomato salad is being served, serve it with basil or rosemary infused oil. When preparing a vinaigrette with walnut oil, a salad prepared with green beans will taste so much better.

An easily prepared salad includes…

• Washing the salad greens and drying them in a salad spinner. Wet greens will not allow the dressing to cling to them. Storing wet greens will make them spoil faster.
• Red and white wine vinegars can be used on almost any salad. For milder flavors, use rice or champagne vinegar.

Before serving your salad creation, toss the salad with the applied dressing just before serving. The dressing flavors will evenly distribute throughout the salad. It is a good idea not to toss a salad with the dressing applied, since the greens will wilt in a matter of minutes.

It is so simple to grow your own greens to use in your salad and makes sense given how expensive vegetables have become. You also are guaranteed a healthy meal when picked fresh from the garden and prepared almost immediately. Also, you will be able to taste test your personal combinations and prepare your dressing accordingly.

An entire meal can be prepared around the tossed salad you will be serving. Depending on your preference, you can readily create a French dressing or vinaigrette that is either mild or robust in flavor. This dressing will definitely be a compliment to the various greens that has been mixed together in your salad bowl, allowing a colorful display that is lightly bathed in a delightful tasting combination of your chosen oil and vinegar.

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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.

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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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Vinaigrette basic

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Basic Vinaigrette Recipe

One of the great things about vinaigrette is that it is so versatile and flexible. All you need is a reliable basic vinaigrette recipe and all it’s other variations stem from just this. Below is a basic recipe for vinaigrette, which you can adjust and alter to create several variations.

You will need:
4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled
About 1 teaspoon salt
About 2 cups red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
About ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
About 2 cups extra virgin olive oil (or 1 cup olive oil and 1 cup canola oil)

On a chopping board, finely mince and smash your garlic cloves. Before doing anything, though, sprinkle the garlic cloves with salt to prevent the pieces from sticking to your knife as you mince. This also comes in very handy, as you will be adding salt to your vinaigrette later on, anyway.

Transfer the garlic to a small or medium sized bowl. Add in your vinegar, sugar, and black pepper and whisk it together. Adjust the taste as you go along. Whisk in your oil and adjust the seasoning again as you see fit, adding more salt and pepper if needed. A vinaigrette can have several variations. For a different approach to your dressing, you can try whisking in some shredded Parmesan cheese to add salt and flavor. Adding sun-dried tomatoes is also a good idea, or even some minced herbs. Make your dressing even more unique by adding ingredients that bring surprising flavors, such as cumin, fresh ginger, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and even soy sauce for that Asian zing.

Another vinaigrette prep tip: you can easily create a base for your vinaigrette and you don’t have to worry about it being thick because it won’t have any oil yet. Do this by combining all your ingredients except the oil and refrigerate until you are ready to use it. Whisk together the right amount of vinaigrette base and room temperature olive oil. Toss it with your salad and enjoy!

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Vinaigrette To Shake Or Whisk

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Vinaigrette And Simple Whisking

While shaking your vinaigrette mixture in a jar isn’t necessarily wrong to do (many folks use this method), whisking your vinaigrette is a much better option. When whisking, make sure you’re using a good wire whisk and a bowl or container that is wide enough to accommodate all the whisking action that will be happening, and deep enough to keep the vinaigrette inside as you whirl it around. It’s also recommended that you use a clear bowl, so as to have a better visual of the proportions you’ve put into your mixture. This way, it will be easy for you to adjust and eyeball the situation better.

Preparing your vinaigrette this way is very simple. The first step will be to whisk your vinegar and all the seasonings you’ve decided to use in the bowl. The flavors of the seasonings will develop as you whisk along, so don’t forget to taste your mixture every so often. If you feel like your dressing is a lacking salt, then by all means add. If it’s turned out to be too salty, then add a little vinegar to balance things off. When you’re finally satisfied with the way your initial mixture tastes, whisk in some oil by drizzling it slowly into your bowl. Keep in mind, though, that the olive oil tames some of the flavors so just adjust depending on your taste.

The key to this procedure? Taste as you go along. If you’re tasting, you’re adjusting and you’ll be able to achieve the flavor that you want. Once you’ve reached your desired flavor, it’s never a bad idea to take a leaf of lettuce and sample your dressing. Dip the leaf in the dressing to see how it is going to taste with the salad itself.

After all that, you’re finally ready to toss up your salad. Always remember to toss it just before serving. Whisk through your vinaigrette one last time, and then drizzle some dressing over your salad. Toss to coat each leaf thoroughly, but do this gently as you don’t want to bruise the leaves. Remember, the quality of the ingredients, specifically the olive oil and the vinegar will translate directly to how good your vinaigrette turns out.

A perfect Vinaigrette

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Getting the Perfect Vinaigrette

It never changes – the two basic elements of vinaigrette will always be oil and vinegar. This is why it is so surprising that for some people, making the perfect vinaigrette is such a trial and error procedure.

The creation of the perfectly balanced vinaigrette is heavily dependent on the other ingredients that come into play: balancing the hints of Dijon mustard with the just the right amount of garlic and touching up with dashes of pepper. Making these ingredients work together requires that the one preparing the vinaigrette understands the importance of each ingredient, and how it contributes to the overall taste of the finished product

A Vinaigrette that tastes excellent doesn’t follow a formula, nor is it a procedure governed by strict rules. The key to making the perfect vinaigrette is one easy rule: taste as you go. Who knows, on certain days, your ingredients may not be at their best tastes, and following a formula could mean life or death for the success of your dressing. Adjust with your taste as you go along, that’s the key.

The preparation of a fine vinaigrette, like we said, follows no rules. Yes, there are a set of guidelines, and suggestions, but generally, everything can be adjusted to suit each one’s preferences. For example, it is not a strict rule that the ratio would be one part vinegar for every three parts oil; it may be recommended, but nowadays, with most people cutting back on fatty intake, this ratio has definitely adjusted. Although from some professional chefs, vinaigrette follows a one to one proportion, most individuals are happy with a one to two mix.

Vinaigrette making is only limited to how far you are willing to go and experiment. There are a wide variety of vinegars and oils out in the market all ready for the taking. Experiment with rice wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar. Rice vinegar gives a more delicate flavor, whilst the balsamic kind, having been aged, is milder than the other. These vinegars carry flavors that are strong on the senses, so although they are exciting alternatives, go easy on them as using too much might overpower the dressing.

Just like vinegar, olive oils come in a plethora of flavors, strengths, and blends. There are so many variations to olive oil nowadays; there are those infused with garlic, chilies, herbs, fruits, and even nuts. Just remember to proceed with caution if using flavored oils as they also carry flavors that hit the senses heavily, and the thing to achieve is just the right balance of things. Also take into account, for  both olive oil and vinegar, you get what you pay for. For excellent results, choose a quality extra virgin olive oil, and an authentic Italian balsamic vinegar.

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Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Vinaigrette Dressing: Adding A Touch of Zest to Any Salad

It’s definitely easy and fun to put together various fruits and vegetables to make an interesting and superb salad. But what is really mind boggling in the end is the dressing… what dressings go best with the salads we’ve put together.

Different dressings go best with different types of salad. For example, a mango and shrimp salad on Boston lettuce with avocado, red pepper, and cilantro would taste great with a dressing of olive oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and jalapeño pepper. How about a salad of spinach, capers, and hard boiled eggs with onions and feta cheese? A blueberry dressing would provide the perfect accompaniment to this salad mix. A lemon dill dressing would be the perfect match to a salad of hard boiled eggs, beets, blanched green beans, cucumbers, and yellow and red tomatoes on green leaves. Finally, a romaine and strawberry salad goes really well with a sweet molasses dressing.

If we stretch our imagination and creativity a little, the dressings we make at home for our salads can become innovative and interesting. Salad dressing is easy to make, as most of them have oil and vinegar as their base ingredients, with salt and a little spice. A sweet ingredient is also often added to the mix to round off its flavor. Given this base, the possibilities for new dressings are endless.


Here are some dressings you may want to try at home.

Blue cheese dressings are great with loose-leaf lettuce, such as a Boston lettuce. For a blue cheese dressing, you will need:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

In a small pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame (about 140 degrees). Next, mix the egg yolks and mustard in a blender for about 20 seconds. Add the salt and the lemon and blitz for another few seconds. Run the blender at a slow speed and slowly blend in the heated olive oil. One it has been fully incorporated into the mixture, add the canola or vegetable oil until it is well blended. Pour this mixture into a serving container and mix in the crumbled blue cheese and sage.

A blueberry dressing works best with simple green salad without tomatoes. For blueberry dressing, you will need:

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mint, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Simply combine all the ingredients into a Mason jar, or similar container, and shake vigorously to combine.

A sweet and sour Dijon dressing would work great with a salad of shredded Brussell sprouts. You will need:

  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and balck pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Using a medium sized saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, and garlic. Bring this to a simmer for about two minutes to cook the garlic. Once simmered through and garlic has cooked, whisk in the mustard, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Transfer your dressing to a container and it is ready to serve.




Healthy eating with oil and vinegar

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Taking a Healthier Step

Oil and vinegar? At what cost? In this modern day and age, when our schedules are more hectic and busier than ever, it is no surprise that we are all looking for ways to cut down on food preparation time. The preparation of healthy, all natural food takes a backseat to the other things that are going on in our lives and more often than not, in order to make things easier for us, we end up buying food that is commercially prepared. And although these ready-made foods are helpful in ways, they may actually cause us more harm than good, without us even realizing it.

One very good example of our corner-cutting ways is buying ready made salad dressing. Commercially prepared dressings are made with a lot of additives, preservatives, damaged and damaging polyunsaturated oils, and even hydrogenated fats. All these unhealthy substances can be found, and we actually purchase it, without knowing how unhealthy it actually is. Most people look at salad dressing as a complicated mixture and to make the effort to actually prepare your own homemade dressing is too much of a hassle. But contrary to this popular belief, salad dressing is incredibly easy to make. The basic ingredients? A healthy fat, an acid, and an emulsifier if you are aiming for a creamier dressing.

Try this simple vinaigrette recipe and prove it to yourself that making your own healthy salad dressing is a piece of cake: take the juice of half a lemon, squeezing it into a small bowl. This will serve as the acid of the mixture. Next, add in a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, which will be the emulsifier for this dressing. Finally, take a cup of extra virgin olive oil and incorporate it into the mixture; slowly drizzle it into your mixture of lemon juice and mustard while continuously and vigorously whisking. After mixing all the olive oil, all you have to do is season your dressing with salt and pepper and you’ve got yourself a rich and creamy dressing that literally just took less than five minutes to prepare.

Maybe you are wondering what an emulsifier is? What is the mustard for? Well, an emulsifier acts as a binder between the oil and acid (lemon juice or vinegar), helping to keep them together. Aside from Dijon mustard, an egg yolk is another versatile ingredient that is used as an emulsifier; you can even use a combination of the two to make a really rich and creamy dressing. Always remember, though, that you always mix the acid and emulsifier first, followed by any other ingredients, and finally the oil. It may also be a good idea to use an electric mixer instead of whisking the dressing by hand; this will speed up the process and save you from tiring your arm!

This simple recipe is a basic recipe and modifications to this are endless. You can play up your vinaigrette by adding your favorite herbs to the mix, chopping them finely to attain the ultimate flavor. Add some anchovy paste, chopped garlic, or even some chopped capers and you’ve got yourself a Caesar dressing. You can even infuse your dressing with fruit flavors, such as grapefruit juice for a grapefruit vinaigrette or some mashed raspberry for a raspberry vinaigrette. The acid in your dressing can also be substituted and changed; instead of plain old lemon juice, try using balsamic vinegar, or any other flavored vinegar for an interesting change.

So whenever you reach for that packet on the supermarket shelf, think again. With this simple recipe, it makes purchasing those synthetically flavored dressings unnecessary. And with little imagination and creativity, you can come up with unique concoctions that may even be far better than what can be found in the pack. Not only does this recipe keep you away reprocessed food, this proves that delicious, simple food is possible – an invaluable addition to your table.

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Vinaigrette dressing a simple taste

Sunday, October 05th, 2008

Simple Sophistication: The Vinaigrette

At first glance, the vinaigrette seems to be nothing more than just a mixture of oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices. It is a sauce so simple that it hardly seems like it can deliver anything at all. But vinaigrette is more than that; this amazing dressing can transform your salads and other meals into something more.

What’s the fascination with this simple addition to a meal? Its refreshing and clean flavors make it one of the most scrumptious things one can enjoy in their life. Vinaigrette can do wonders for any dish. It can transform a simple bowl of greens in to a heartwarming salad, or uplift a plate of chicken or steak with just a little drizzle. It is sometimes just the thing we are looking for when we want to turn our simple dining fare into extraordinary plates. A fresh salad dressed in the perfect vinaigrette can be the answer to our prayers when we just want something refreshing, or something that tastes like it came straight from the market.

Making your own vinaigrette is easy and the secret to making your own great tasting classic is the three to one ratio. Follow this proportion and your vinaigrettes are sure to taste superb.

Creating the vinaigrette is easy as the ingredients needed are few, although quality is an important consideration, and the process is simple and uncomplicated. Usually, a recipe would call for oil, vinegar, salt, and fresh black pepper. The only equipment would be a bowl and a small whisk. It helps to dissolve the salt in the vinegar first, as it won’t dissolve in oil alone. Once this is done, the oil is slowly drizzled into the vinegar to emulsify it. You may choose to add other ingredients to add flavor and texture and flavor to the mix, such as shallots, mustard, and other herbs and spices.

There are different kinds of vinaigrettes and each kind goes better with a certain food or dish. A soft and gentle tasting extra virgin olive oil would compliment a green salad exquisitely, especially if it is matched with fresh herbs. Vinaigrettes with sharper, more pronounced flavors go well with food that carry strong flavors as well, such as steaks or wilted bitter greens. Fish or steaks of light meat go well with vinaigrette that carries a more mustardy flavor. Certain dressings are paired up with certain dishes to create a medley of wonderful flavors.

Sometimes, it isn’t necessary to follow the 3:1 ratio. You can veer away from this proportion depending on the type of vinegar you used. High acid vinegar calls for a little more oil, while the milder ones may stick to the usual proportion. Chopped basil, diced shallots, or mashed garlic are great additions for flavor and add texture to your mixture as well. Grated ginger and wild honeys are also some ingredients you can try. Of course, if you are truly after the simple beauty of the recipe, keep it simple. Vinaigrette remains as superb even when left in its minimalist glory.

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