5.31.2012

Flavored Vinegar


Can you do something for me? Go to your fridge, check the shelves in the door and tell me how many bottles of salad dressing are in there? I’m guessing at least eight. A few Fancy vinaigrettes and some Caesar… ranch for the kids. How long have they been there? Check the expirations, read those ingredients, do you still feel comfortable putting that in your body?
I don’t keep any salad dressings. I always make them whenever I am making a salad; it is a few extra steps but a world of difference.  
I recommend that you keep a couple good oils on hand, maybe a peppery Spanish olive oil, sweet nutty almond oil and rich sesame oil. You will also need some sort of acid - lemon juice, white wine or a couple of the thousands of types of vinegar. I live off of a simple olive oil/lemon juice combo – as seen on my ever popular Tea Party Salad. But I have also been know to gussy up some greens and goat cheese with a turbulent splash of fig balsamic and blood orange olive oil.  
Vinaigrettes should be made with 3 parts Oil and 1 part acid. Onions, garlic, shallots and fresh herbs are always a welcomed addition.
Imagine a field greens salad with toasted almonds, grilled chicken and fresh berries, which obviously needs raspberry vinaigrette, and NOT some used up ranch. Chop and little shallot and parsley – then whisk with almond oil and a splash a raspberry vinegar. Fresh flavors are always more intense and it will make your dish sing.
Making flavored vinegar ahead of time is so simple; you’ll kick yourself for not doing this a long time ago. Wash your raspberries and fill a jar about a third of the way up with them, smoosh them a little if you want a more intense flavor and then cover with vinegar that has just come to a boil. Orange Zest and Bay Leaf, Jalapeno Lime, Pineapple Ginger, Pomegranate, Garlic, Lemon Tarragon, Rose Petal, Fig, the possibilities are endless. Buy a jug of regular white distilled vinegar and go to town. Pick the flavors you will use most.


I made Blueberry. Chive. Peppercorn. Lavender Mint.
These would also be cute in a basket for someone’s birthday or make an extra sweet hostess gift.
After everything is assembled in jars, seal them and store in a cool, dry place for three weeks. Then taste to see if the flavors are strong enough. If they are strain the flavoring agents out and they will last for about three months. If you open them and there are whitish bubbles on the top, it is fermented and halfway along to being wine – toss it, don’t taste it, its gross.
I was one of those high school kids that had a job, I worked at a grocery store, a ghetto one, and it was THE most entertaining job I have ever had. Extreme Couponers (before they had a name), ice cream thieving old ladies, baby-mamas with WIC vouchers, People taking their clothes off… never a dull moment. We had this bizarre/hilarious hazing ritual for new employees. Either we made them mop the inside of the ice cream freezer, which was super cold and the mop immediately frozen to the cement floor; or my personal favorite walk them down the salad dressing aisle and make them shake the salad dressing. You know, only the oil and vinegar ones – we don’t want them to look like the have been sitting on the shelf forever. They stand would stand there for hours taking a bottle off the shelf, shaking it, putting it back. It was the best part about getting new people.
Don’t be like them, don’t let your salad dressings sit around for months on end, whisk them when you want to eat them. It’s easier than it looks (but everyone will think you are a dressing goddess).

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