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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for September, 2008

Oil and Vinegar: Healthy Gourmet Essentials

Friday, September 26th, 2008

The ingredients oil and vinegar have long been integral components of Italian cuisine, which adheres to the Mediterranean diet. This diet advocates the consumption of nutritious items, such as olive oil, vegetables, herbs, grains, fish, fruit, wine, and cheese. Given the healthiness of olive oil and vinegar, you should certainly consider making these items a regular part of your diet.

Due to their wonderful flavors and wide number of uses, oil and vinegar are considered essentials in gourmet cooking. Gone are the days when such ingredients were treated simply as components of salad dressing. Olive oil and vinegar are so much more than just additions to salads. Given the various flavors that these ingredients may possess, numerous chefs use olive oil and vinegar to add different tastes to their dishes. Olive oil and vinegar combined is great for all kinds of food, from seafood to pasta to grains. Oil and vinegar can even be combined to create a tasty balsamic vinaigrette.

Surprisingly, the health benefits that may be derived from olive oil and vinegar were only recently discovered. As mentioned, such ingredients are major components of the Mediterranean diet and this is precisely why there are limited cases of coronary disease in the Mediterranean region. This culture is greatly benefiting from the health value of olive oil and vinegar.

Oil and vinegar are excellent cooking ingredients because they can easily be added to a wide variety of dishes. These two items should be kept well stocked in one’s pantry, especially for times of spontaneous cooking. In fact, oil and vinegar are what gives Tuscan cooking its distinctiveness. Additionally, these ingredients can really turn an ordinary Italian recipe into a healthy gourmet feast.

How one uses oil and vinegar solely depends on the discretion of the cook. However, you want to be sure to use top quality variations, as anything less will be evident in the overall outcome of your dish. Ideally, you want to ensure that the product is fresh, went through a careful manufacturing process, and was carefully stored and bottled.

Given that olive oil and vinegar are gourmet essentials, you will find that cruets to hold these ingredients are essential implements in the kitchen. Keeping a stock of dipping dishes and oil drizzlers on hand is likewise strategic. Additionally, such accoutrements are great decorative items to have in one’s kitchen or dining table. These items are perfect for gift-giving occasions, such as housewarmings, birthdays, anniversaries, or Christmas. Cruets are highly durable and come in a variety of beautiful and elegant hand-blow designs.

oil and vinegar gourmet


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Balsamic Topped Strawberries

Friday, September 26th, 2008

A Unique, Healthy, and Tasty Dessert

Everyone loves desserts, so you shouldn’t let their unhealthiness stop you from eating them. Instead, you can create your own delectable, low-calorie dessert right in your own kitchen. Such low-calorie desserts are especially great for mothers, who, according to research, are overweight more often than not. Even if yours is not among the over 50 percent of mothers who are currently at risk for diabetes, help your mom stay healthy by preparing healthy desserts for her to enjoy.

Because fruits are both sweet and a healthy choice, these are great for desserts. Strawberries, in particular, possess a delicious sweet taste. Strawberries topped with balsamic vinegar may seem like an odd combination, but this is actually quite a mouthwatering treat. In fact, once you try topping your strawberries with balsamic vinegar, you’ll never find the need to use sugar.

Instead of taking your mom out to dinner this Mother’s Day, prepare this tasty balsamic-topped strawberries dessert for her. She’ll surely remember it for years to come as a dessert that is both flavorful and good for her health.

A recipe for homemade balsamic vinegar is listed below. If you opt to buy store-bought brands, go for Villa Bellentani Gran Reserva Balsamic. This vinegar has an exquisite and complex aroma, a dense and syrupy consistency, and a rich taste that makes it perfect for drizzling over strawberries.

Preparing a Homemade Balsamic Topping

To create a delicious balsamic topping, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. Let it simmer until its viscosity is reduced to a thin syrup and the vinegar has a sweet taste. The vinegar should be reduced to less than half of its original volume. This process is called reduction or what some refer to as “boiling down.”

Featuring a taste much bolder than apple cider, authentic balsamic vinegar is made from grapes. It is the result of years of aging in wooden barrels. The barrels actually have a great influence on the final taste of the vinegar. The finest, and most expensive, balsamic vinegar comes from the province of Modena in Italy.

Cheaper versions of the Modena-made balsamics are available as traditional brown-colored balsamic or white at local grocery stores. Try which of the two you like best. Dark balsamic vinegar is great with strawberries as explained above. You can even add a dash of pepper to this dessert for added flavor. Aside from being a great dessert topping, balsamic vinegar can be used on all types of vegetables, like cauliflower, asparagus, squash, and also on fish.

Fresh Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

1 cup balsamic vinegar (white balsamic if desired)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups ripe red strawberries

Using a saucepan that won’t react to the vinegar, combine the vinegar and sugar. Constantly stirring the mixture, bring the ingredients to a boil. Once the sugar dissolves, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes, while you stir occasionally. Be careful, as the vinegar can scorch if left unattended. You want the vinegar to turn into a thick syrup. Once it does, remove it from the heat and leave to cool.

As for the strawberries, wash, dry, and slice the strawberries, preferably with an ulu knife. Place the strawberries in a bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons of the balsamic reduction your created over the strawberries. Gently stir the berries together with the reduction using a plastic spatula. Refrigerate the dish for one hour.

To serve your strawberry dessert, place the strawberries in a dessert saucer and garnish with fresh mint. You now have a unique, flavorful, and low-calorie dessert perfect for Mother’s Day or any special occasion.

balsamic strawberries dessert

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