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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for April, 2008

Oil and vinegar together

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Oil and vinegar work supremely well in cooking together because of the strength of their individual flavours. Many rich dishes, in French cuisine, rely on the use of butter, cream, rich meat stock as the base and wine or vinegar to balance the fat content. Oil and vinegar work in much the same way by taking on the rich flavours but alleviating the fat content.

Dishes that usually include oil and vinegar have similar ingredients. Oil and vinegar bring both flavour and a sweet acidity respectively. The acidity of sherry vinegar can be substituted for rice wine and produces the appropriate flavour in the recipe for Chinese hot and sour chicken. To create the heat in this dish a little oil flavoured with chilli is added at the end.

Both oil and vinegar can assimilate the flavour of the ingredients they come into contact with. Vinegar can enhance the natural flavour of whatever food it is combined because of its acidity, and vegetable oil carries and takes on the individual flavours of food. A very good example of how vinegar enforces another ingredients natural flavour is the recipe for beets with fennel and fromage blanc. In this case beets are marinated in champagne vinegar and then tossed in walnut oil. The bitterness of the oil complements the sweet flavours of the fruit and by adding some toasted walnuts the nut flavour of the oil is accentuated. The action of the vinegar neutralizes some of the natural sweetness of the beets whilst bringing out the other flavours which were previously overwhelmed.

By using oil and vinegar in your cooking you are getting all the flavour but none of the harmful saturated fat. This is excellent news for those who have health issues relating to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Most fats are rich in saturated fats which have a detrimental effect on people that suffer from high cholesterol. Vegetable oils, on the other hand, make an ideal alternative as they contain less saturated and more polyunsaturated fats than oil derived from animals. If high cholesterol is a health issue for you it may be time to substitute animal oils and dairy products such as butter for the wonderful flavour of extra virgin olive oil. If creating a sauce that usually requires butter, for example a beurre blanc for salmon, try instead a fat free alternative by creating a chicken and balsamic vinegar reduction. This sauce works perfectly with the richness of the fish and the fruit flavour of the balsamic based sauce.

When cooking pork chops you may like to consider brine made from apple cider vinegar. This dish is very simple to make and the brine from the vinegar ensures that the pork remains very moist. To prepare this dish you only have to broil the pork chops. To finish, serve with a little olive oil and delicious juicy apples. You may have a wealth of condiments, herbs and spices in your pantry cupboards but a superior quality oil or vinegar can make their use redundant in some recipes and very little else is called for to add flavour.

[tag] oil and vinegar, classic oil and vinegar flavor[/tag[

 

Classic oil and vinegar combination

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

To most chefs the combination of oil and vinegar is synonymous with vinaigrette, a classic salad dressing. However, there are a myriad of uses for this combination which include use in marinades, sauces, stir frys and brines. Of course the quality of the ingredients can vary from epicurean vinegar to a gourmet extra virgin olive oil. Whatever varieties you have in store, it is good to remember that they can be used in so many different ways, either exotic or simple. An oil and vinegar salad dressing, for example, the classic vinaigrette, is prepared by combining the two ingredients together until an emulsification is formed, and the result is perfectly balanced and though not too acidic, enhances the fresh flavours of the salad. Even if these ingredients are used on their own, they can bring out the natural flavour of whatever food you apply them to. Flavoured vinegars, such as those made from fruits, have a sweet and acid element that can be used with wonderful results. Some olive oils have a similar effect and their richness complements rather than overwhelms many dishes that they are added to. For a perfect combination of oil and vinegar the correct balance is vital.

In the Far East and some European countries the use of oil and vinegar is commonplace, but in Mediterranean countries the uses of oil are endless and are ever present in every aspect of the cuisine. Not only is it used for cooking but it is poured over bread, drizzled over vegetables and added to tapenades and pesto for a richer flavour. In countries where Chinese cooking is popular it is unusual for sesame oil to be used in many different ways. It adds a wonderful mild flavour to stir frys and is often added to the finishing touches of a soup almost as a garnish. An ingredient that has historical origins and has been used for cooking for many generations is vinegar. The word vinegar is from the French vin aigre, meaning literally sharp wine. Vinegar is the product of wine being exposed to oxygen and bacteria. Gourmet vinegars are produced from excellent quality wine and then aged in casks to complete the process. Other superior vinegars are those that are made from the juice of fruits and aged in the same way.

oil and vinegar facts

 

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Quick Pesto Vinaigrette

Sunday, April 06th, 2008

Pesto Vinaigrette
(5 minutes preparation time, no need to cook).Ingredients:
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 ½ tbsp Walnuts or pine nuts
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white-wine vinegar

Procedure:
1. Drop the garlic and nuts into a food processor. Process it until finely chopped.
2. While the food processor is running, add basil leaves until these are finely chopped.
3. Add olive oil by slowly pouring it through the processor’s feed tube. Then, add vinegar. Turn the processor off and stir the mixture and scrape the sides of the processor. You may now use the dressing. This is perfect for a tomato or green salad or fish or chicken that is sautéed, broiled or grilled.

The recipe is good for 6 to 8 servings as a dressing and 4 to 6 servings when used as a sauce. Yield is about three-fourths cup.

Raspberry Vinaigrette
(5 minutes preparation time, no need to cook)

Ingredients:
2 tbsp raspberries, fresh
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Procedure:
1. Mash the raspberries and mix with the vinegar. Add the oil, and continue beating until the oil is blended.
2. Add pepper and salt according to taste. You may serve this over sautéed chicken breasts, some salad greens or grilled quail.

The recipe is good for 2 to 4 servings as a sauce and 4 servings as a salad dressing. Yield is about ½ cup.Lemon-Olive Vinaigrette
(10 minutes preparation time, no need to cook)
Ingredients:
Juice from 2 lemons
1 tbsp black olive paste (also called olivada and can be bought in deli shops)
5 tbsp extra virgin oil
Black pepper, freshly grounded
1 tbsp Italian parsley leaves, minced finely

Procedure:
1. Mix the black olive paste and lemon juice until both are blended well. Add olive oil.
2. Add pepper and salt according to taste. Add some parsley (Optional)

This can served as a sauce for cooked dried beans or fish.

Asian Vinaigrette
(5 minutes preparation time, no need to cook)

Ingredients:
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
½ cup Chinese sesame oil
A dash of red pepper flakes

Procedure

1. Mix the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Add in the oil and beat until well blended.
2. Add red pepper flakes.

This can be used as dressing for vegetables (steamed or boiled). Average yield is ¾ cups.

vinaigrette recipes 

 

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How to make a good vinaigrette

Sunday, April 06th, 2008

To make good vinaigrette, you have to be mindful of the proper blend. It should neither be too oily or too acidic. The sharp taste of the vinegar should be a counterpoint to the oil.

The suggested mixture would be one part acid to every three parts of oil. However, if you are using balsamic vinegar, orange juice, or an acid component that is sweet, you can have a good mixture at one part acid to every two parts of oil.

But that’s not all, the versatile vinaigrette can also be used to marinate meat, poultry or fish. In this case, you should decrease the amount of oil, so that you have two parts acid to one part oil, or even, one part acid to one part oil. Remember, you should not recycle the vinaigrette used for marinating and use it as a sauce for cooked food. Always make a fresh batch or bring the used marinade to a boil, at the very least. This is to avoid contamination from bacteria found in raw food.

What’s good about a vinaigrette is that preparation is very flexible. You can tweak the taste by adding a little more vinegar or oil as you go along. Vinaigrette also keeps well. If you end up making more than what you can actually eat, all you need to do is store it in a tightly closed container and put it in the refrigerator, where it can last for weeks or even months.

One thing you have to also make sure is that the vinegar and oil are properly blended together. Sometimes you need to put the mixture in a jar and shake it or beat the mixture vigorously. A small amount of prepared mustard beaten into the vinegar before the oil is added can help in the emulsification.

You can also add spices, grated minced herbs, diced fruits, crumbled cheese and other ingredients to add more flavor to your basic vinaigrette recipe.

make a vinaigrette, oil and vinegar vinaigrette

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A Healthy Option: Salad with Vinaigrette

Sunday, April 06th, 2008

Salad with Vinaigrette

More and more people nowadays are starting to prefer vinaigrette dressings on their salads. There has been a shift in tastes – from dressings that are sweet and thick several decades ago to the vinaigrette, which makes use of a mixture of oil and vinegar.

Now, vinaigrette dressings are not mainly for your salad. It can also be used as sauces for foods such as fish, meat and other main-course dishes. Even deserts are starting to make use of the vinaigrette dressing. Indeed, there are chefs that create their own mixture to pour over desert. For example sweetened vinaigrette with mint and raspberries is poured over a fruit salad.

When you say vinaigrette, the notion is that vinegar always comes into play as one of the ingredients. However, you can also use other ingredients that have a high acid component, such as citrus juice. The vinaigrette as a dressing or sauce may be prepared and kept warm or at room temperature.

Now, if you do decide to add vinegar, you have many options you can make use of to give your vinaigrette a unique taste. You can use a number of herb vinegars, shallot or garlic vinegar, balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar, sherry vinegar or honey vinegar. You can also use different oils. Usually, the oil used for vinaigrettes is extra-virgin olive oil. However, you may still opt to use herb oil, sesame oil, hazelnut oil, herb oil, red pepper oil, walnut oil, spice oil or ginger-flavored oil. It really is up to you.

[tag] oil and vinegar, vinaigrette[tag]

 

Oil and Vinegar Italian Green Salad

Friday, April 04th, 2008

Italian Green Salad

Crisp fresh picked spring greens flavored with fresh or dried herbs, drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, add a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black peppercorns, and a gentle hint of minced garlic is what an Italian green salad is made of. Sometimes for a saltier taste a small portion of anchovies can be blended into the salad dressing, of course the salt would be omitted.

Fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon, oregano, Italian parsley and many others can be used more generously than dried herbs because of the milder flavor. These are best when they are chopped finely or minced through a food processor. By dicing or mincing the herbs, the distinctive flavors of each spice permeate the entire salad. It is important to use a fine quality extra-virgin olive oil, as your salad will only be as good as the ingredients used. Extra flavor can be added with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Parmesan cheese is noted for its salty flavor but blends well with the other flavors in the salad.

An Italian green salad is another alternative to the antipasto course. It is up to you to serve before or during the meal.

Italian style chef salad
Serves four to six persons

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
one half teaspoon onion salt
one tablespoon red wine vinegar
four tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
half teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
half teaspoon dry mustard
one quarter pound salami thinly sliced and julienned
one quarter pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced and julienned
1 cup chickory, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup escarole, torn in bite-size pieces (this is a variety of endive having leaves with irregular frilled edges)
1 cup fennel, thinly sliced
1 cup Belgian endive, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup watercress
one tablespoon salted capers
one quarter cup chopped black olives
two tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Use a large wooden bowl and rub the inside of the bowl with the garlic cloves pressing the flavor of the garlic onto the walls of the bowl, discard the pressed cloves. Dissolve onion salt early in vinegar in the salad bowl. Slowly drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, pepper and mustard, and stir well. Add the sliced salami, cheese, greens and remaining ingredients. Toss lightly. Add more vinegar wore extra-virgin olive oil to your taste. Serve on chilled salad plates. Oil and Vinegar Italian salad, Italian green salad

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Antipasto Salad, an Italian appetizer

Friday, April 04th, 2008

Antipasto

Antipasto literally means in Italian, “before the pasta.” It is usually served before the main course of a macaroni or spaghetti dish. This appetizer is usually a few bites of flavorful food to make the mouth water
and whet the diner’s appetite for the following meal.

A tasty starter to an Italian dinner is a platter of brimming antipasto. And antipasto can be made from the large variety of foods readily available in today’s fresh markets. Thin sliced deli meats such as salami, pepperoni, and Italian ham with cheeses such as Provolone, Romano, Gorgonzola all combine for a sharp distinct taste. Marinated mushrooms, anchovies, diced peppers, green onions, hard-boiled eggs, pickled green olives, and crisp raw vegetables round out an antipasto salad.

An antipasto salad is an excellent opportunity to use your creativity. This salad should be colorful and savory. Remember to keep the servings small as your purpose is to stimulate the appetite with an appetizer and not satisfy the appetite before the main course arrives.

Antipasto Salad
Serves four to six persons

6 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of peeled garlic, finely diced
3 tablespoons of wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped
one half pound fresh white mushroom caps, then sliced
one quarter pound sliced boiled ham, julienned
2 ounces white truffles thin sliced
one half cup finely chopped celery hearts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over a low heat. Add minced garlic and sauté until brown and discard garlic. Blend rest of oil and vinegar in a salad bowl add basil mushrooms am truffles and celery. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Toss thoroughly. Chill in refrigerator several hours before serving.

antipasto salad, antipasto salad recipe

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Italian Cooking Basic Terms

Thursday, April 03rd, 2008

Some basic Italian cooking terms you should know

Most recipes are written in a simple form. From time to time there are words and phrases that you should become familiar with.

Al dente: You will see this term in practically every pasta dish or recipe. The literal meaning is, “to the tooth”. Al dente means that the pasta is done to a chewy perfection. There are many cooks that tend to overcook pasta, so that when the pasta sauce is added, the whole mixture turns to a mush. In the old country one way to see if the pasta is ready is by taking a strand of the pasta such as spaghetti, and throwing it against the wall. It sticks to the wall the pasta is ready. If you really don’t care for this method, just bite a single piece of pasta to see if it is cooked to the consistency that you like.

Julienne: Some folks think that this is a fancy Italian name for Julian, its not. It’s just the gourmet word for saying “cut into very thin strips”. Even though this word is from French origin is often used in Italian cooking.

Reduce: Creams, sauces, or soups are often reduced by allowing to boil until the stock is condensed in thickness. Boiling off or reducing is an inexact measurement. Don’t burn your pan and use discretion when a recipe calls for, “reduce by half” as this simply means, boil until the liquid is about half of what you started with.

Deglaze: A recipe may call for a pan to be deglazed. When meat is cooked in a pan or skillet in the oven there is residue from the cooking that coats the inside of the pan. Deglazing means to add some liquid, either water or wine, to the pan to help scrape up the brown morsels and drippings that remain in the pan. Normally you will remove the pan from the burner so that it does not burn or catch fire.

Marinara: In the old country, wives of fishermen would make a tomato sauce in a quick manner that would be served with the catch of the day. Today, marinara refers to various forms of tomato sauces that are made without meat. Tomatoes, herbs, and spices are the only additions that are normally used to make a tomato sauce called marinara.

Ragu: A meat sauce sometimes referred to as Bolognese, usually includes some vegetables like celery, minced onions, and diced carrots. One or all three veggie ingredients can be used. Sometimes a small amount of cream is added as well.

Dolce: This is a term that is generally referred to for a desert. The word actually means sweet.

Italian cooking basic terms

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