The Basic Perfect Vinaigrette

Ah, the vinaigrette.

I fairly screams summer and freshness.

It should. It is.

Take the time to look on the back of any store-bought salad dressing. It will not be a happy thing. Full of stuff you have never heard of and which is in there to stabilize and preserve.

Making a vinaigrette is simple. It’s a math thing. It’s 4:1 except when it’s 3:1. And after a while, you dispense with measuring cups and spoons altogether, because you can feel when it’s right.

A vinaigrette is the most versatile of dressings. You can add and subtract a few dozen things and get a great new taste.

Better yet, a vinaigrette goes over regular salads, roasted veggies, potatoes, meat salads of every kind, and pastas hot and cold. Top a mild fish or a chicken breast. So, listen up to the basics, and note the choices, and become the queen or king of the salad buffet with your wonderful creations.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 c good quality EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1/4 c vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt, and several grinds of pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Use a whisk, or place all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake it up. You are done.

See? Wasn’t that easy?

Now here are some choices:

For OIL:

  • olive oil
  • canola
  • corn oil
  • walnut oil
  • safflower
  • basically anything but peanut oil which I don’t think would work

For VINEGAR:

  • white vinegar, or cider
  • rice wine, white wine or red wine
  • balsamic
  • lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice

With the more delicate of vinegars such as lemon and rice wine, increase to a 3:1 ratio

OTHER ADDITIONS:

  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • chives, parsley, cilantro, marjoram, green onions, minced, lemon balm
  • dried tomatoes minced, fresh ginger root, hot peppers, minced
  • smokey paprika, cumin, chili powder, or cayenne
  • add a tbsp of mayo for a creamy texture, or honey for sweetness

It’s that simple. Just look at what you want to add it to and think of what would taste good.

Make for a single salad by using 3 tsp oil to 1 tsp vinegar, and then cut down on all the rest. After a few times, you will not even think about it, just do it. Obviously make for a crowd by multiplying up.

Note: if you want an herbal” vinaigrette, you might want to put everything in a blender to puree the herbs.

 

Heaven Sent Blue Cheese Dressing

Once you try home-made dressing (and I don’t mean mixing some dried gunk with some mayo), you will never go back to the bottled stuff.

It’s simply wonderful, and frankly, you don’t even want to pour it on, it’s so bursting with flavor, a little is enough.

Blue cheese is one of my favorites. It tends to dominate so you don’t have to add a lot of other things. And this is not the time to waste your precious dollars on top end blue cheese either. Save the Maytag and Stilton for more elegant fare. I decent blue cheese will do here.

Most dressings take only minutes to make, and last a good week. So make in amounts that work for you.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c mayonnaise (some use half sour and half mayo, but I prefer only mayo. It maintains the consistency best I find)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp micro-planed garlic
  • 1 tsp micro-planed onion (basically a bit of onion juice)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 c of milk or less
  • salt to be adjusted after it has set a couple of hours
  • fresh parsley, chopped if desired

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix everything together except the milk, salt and parsley.
  2. Add milk tbsp by tbsp until you reach the consistency you wish.
  3. Place in fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Taste for salt, add more milk if it needs thinning, and add the parsley.

Serves: about 6 – 8

Stuff That Bird Italian Style

Dressing for Thanksgiving is one of those foods that comes down through the family and people tend to cling to those recipes.

But change is fun. Being adventurous is okay in food. You just never know when you find something utterly wonderful.

I was the old school. It was a celery, giblets, bread and sage kinda dressing for me. That’s what I grew up on.

I saw this recipe on GMA a few years back, and decided to give it a go, and well, I really liked it. I tweaked it a bit (since fennel hates me), but basically, it’s the same.

Do try to make this from scratch without benefit of boxed (eww) cornbread or those bags of cubed bread. The bread stales out over night for goodness sake, and if you have left-over cornbread from a chili dinner, well, wrap it and freeze it and you are set to go. Making cornbread is actually easy.

Once you have your ingredients, the rest is simple and fast.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 lb Italian sausage, casings removed (I use pork sausage instead)
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 7 ribs of celery, diced
  • 6 oz of bacon (1/2 a package) diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 c bread, cubed
  • 3 c cornbread, dried out a bit and crumbled
  • 1/2 c butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 TBSP sage (dried) about 3 if fresh
  • 1 1/2 TBSP poultry seasoning
  • 1 TBSP salt (be careful here. I use unsalted stock. If you don’t you may need NO salt.)
  • 2 c mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1 c Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 c pine nuts
  • 4-5 c chicken stock

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Saute the bacon until it has rendered it fat. Remove and discard most of the fat drippings.
  2. Saute the sausage, onion and celery until done, slowly and not to burn.
  3. Combine that and all the rest of the ingredients except the broth. Stir until fairly mixed.
  4. Place in a buttered baking dish. Then pour the stock over until when a spoon is pushed down on the top, you can see juice. Don’t over do this. You can always add a bit more if after it sits, it appears too dry.
  5. Place in the fridge if making the evening before, covered. Bring to room temperature before putting it in the oven to heat.
  6. Heat at 350° for about an hour, assuming your baking dish is about 2 inches high. It just needs to heat through.