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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Oil/Vinegar/Dressing

TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Ways To Eat “Mediterranean Diet” Healthy

While our “day job” is to try lots of specialty foods and cook and bake alluring recipes, we aim to make the right choices when we’re not working.

If we’ve been heavy on the healthful eating tips lately, it’s because we’re struggling even harder after the onslaught of Valentine chocolate.

So today we’re passing along five Mediterranean Diet tips, adapted from an original article by Ashley Lauren Samsa on Care2.com.

For about 30 years, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals have encouraged Americans to follow the “Mediterranean Diet,” a heart-healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats.

Substituting olive oil for butter, fish for meat, vegetables for starch, fat-free dairy products and a limit on carbohydrates is said to explain why Mediterranean dwellers have a lower incidence of heart disease. Here’s more from the Mayo Clinic.

What if you’re young, healthy and have no family history of heart disease? Hedge your bets. You don’t know how your system will change as you age…and even if your kin live to 100, you may have a partner and kids to plan for.

 

bottle-with-tree-flavoryourlife-230

Olive oil can do whatever butter can do, and it’s better for you. Photo
courtesy FlavorYourLife.com.

 

1. SUBSTITUTE OLIVE OIL FOR BUTTER

A few decades ago, journalists seized on the fat in the American diet as a no-no. A cascade of media proliferated and a generation of people grew up thinking fat is bad.

That’s not the whole truth. Saturated fat (cholesterol and other sources) is bad. Monounsaturated fats (avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and others) is good for you. The government recommends two tablespoons a day as part of a heart-healthy diet.

Here’s more on the good fats. Here are tricks to cut down on cholesterol:

  • Sauté in heart-healthy olive oil, not valve-clogging cholesterol (butter or lard).
  • Replace the butter in sauces, glazes and marinades with oil. Look at adding a bit of highly flavored oils, like sesame oil and nut oil.
  • Cook your eggs in oil. We grew up on butter-fried or scrambled eggs in butter every morning—it was what our mother preferred. We love the taste of butter, but it was easy to make the switch.
  • Use olive oil instead of other salad dressings. Make your own vinaigrette with a 3:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar. Use a quality vinegar—we prefer flavored vinegar or balsamic. We often add a pinch of dried mustard, which helps to keep the emulsion. You can add a small amount of Dijon or honey mustard, or a small amount of honey or the better-for-you agave nectar.
  • Mash potatoes in plain or flavored olive oil. Basil olive oil is our favorite for this!
  • Use olive oil as a condiment instead of a pat of butter.
  • Instead of butter with bread, serve olive oil, like Mediterranean restaurants do. A delicious, full-flavored oil is just fine served plain. If your olive oil is on the bland side, add spices add/or herbs.
  • Check out Italian olive oil cake recipes—they’re delicious (especially with fresh basil and rosemary—seriously!).
  •  
    Get past “generic” olive oil. It’s fine for sautéing, but doesn’t add good flavor for vinaigrette and condiment use. If you can afford better oils, go for them. The ones we use are so delicious, we relish the two tablespoons we drink at breakfast each day.

    Seek out an olive oil bar and taste the different varieties; also try flavored olive oils. If someone asks what you want for a birthday gift, ask for a bottle of basil olive oil (or the flavor of your choice).

     

    grilled-chicken-salad-230

    Grilled chicken atop a tasty salad. Photo
    courtesy Just Bare.

     

    2. EAT YOUR PROTEINS ON A BED OF GREENS.

    Get into the habit. Instead of a side salad, often an afterthought topped with too much dressing, plan for a salad-based meal.

  • Slice the beef, chicken, lamb, pork or other protein and serve it atop a salad of mixed dark, leafy greens and bright colored veggies, lightly dressed with olive oil, vinegar and/or lemon juice. Slicing the meat can also help to cut down on portion size. The recommended size is three ounces—the “deck of cards”—which seems very meager. It can look like more when it’s sliced, diced and added to vegetables or grains.
  • “Greens” should always include two colors in addition to green. It’s easy to add red cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, or radiccho; or yellow/orange cherry tomatoes, bell peppers or summer squash.
  • Alternatively, dice the meat into a chopped salad tossed with homemade vinaigrette. The flavors blend so much better, it’s no surprise that chopped salad is a menu favorite.
  • Place an entire fish filet on top of the salad.
  • Instead a sandwich of grilled chicken or steak, use a lettuce wrap.
  •  

    With this switch, you both reduce your carb intake and increase your vegetable intake. As an added bonus, you are intake more olive oil, too.

    3. REPLACE MEAT WITH FISH & VEGETARIAN MEALS

    Not only is the cholesterol in meat bad for you; breeding animals is the single largest cause of greenhouse gas. It also is responsible for pollution of the water tables and destruction of the rainforest to ranch cattle and grow feed for them. Not only are we a society of carnivores; as third world countries grow more affluent, they want more meat. The environmental impact is growing bigger each year, despite educational efforts and interest in sustainability.

    What can a meat lover do? Start by replacing two meals a week with fish, seafood or vegetarian dishes. There are many vegetarian and vegan favorites, from pasta primavera to bean-based chili and stir-frys. Pick up a cookbook of tempting vegetarian and vegan recipes, or look at the many online. Don’t be swayed by a preconception of vegan as “weird.” In the hands of good cooks, the food is so good you don’t notice there are no animal-derived ingredients.

    Fish are generally high in omega-3 fatty acids, another very powerful ingredient. This easy switch will keep you healthier as it helps the planet.

    4. TRY VEGGIE SMOOTHIES THAT TASTE LIKE FRUIT

    If you simply don’t like the taste of vegetables, blend them into sweet smoothies. Toss vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale or celery into a blender. Add a liquid like milk or fruit juice, along with yogurt or a banana and some nut butter (almond butter and sunflower seed butter are nice alternatives to PB). Flavor with cinnamon and honey.

    All you’ll taste are the banana, cinnamon and honey, but you’ll be getting all the benefits of the veggies.

    Smoothies can be made in advance and frozen. Toss one in your lunch bag in the morning to keep your food cold while it thaws, and it’ll be ready to drink by noon. (By the way, this is a great way to trick kids into eating more vegetables.)

    And…stay tuned for our Top Pick Of The Week, Veggie Blend-Ins from Green Giant. We couldn’t believe that a chocolate cupcake made with added spinach purée resulted in…a really delicious chocolate cupcake!

    5. SNACK SMART

    If you’re not the type to grab a banana or other piece of fruit, you’ve got choices that give you “snack satisfaction”:

    Popcorn, baby carrots or mixed crudités with lowfat or nonfat dip, Bare Fruit apple chips (our favorite—so sweet yet there’s no added sweetener) and dried fruit and nut mixes are easy and very tasty. There are books and websites of “healthy snacks.”

    As a fun challenge, print out a calendar page and research a different healthy snack for every day. It’s not as daunting as you think: garlic popcorn and jalapeño popcorn are three separate snack ideas.

    Here are some of our favorite healthy snacks for the office. Send us your favorite better-for-you snacks.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Garlic Oil

    Boyajian was a pioneer in infused oils and vinegars, introducing its delicious condiments to the marketplace some 25 years ago. From the beginning, their basil oil, chile oil, garlic oil, oregano oil and rosemary oil added zing to our everyday cooking—pure olive oil infused with fresh herbs.

    Moving with the times, Boyajian has added chipotle, habanero, jalapeño, roasted chili and scallion oils. (Alas, our beloved wasabi oil, the easiest way to make wasabi mashed potatoes, has been discontinued.)

    Not everyone has an ongoing need for oregano oil or chipotle oil, but one that you can count on using every day is garlic oil. For some people, it’s a pantry essential.
     
    Appetizers & Snacks

  • Bread: Add herbs to create a dipping oil for baguette or pita slices or crudités
  • Dips: Add a dash to guacamole, hummus, or yogurt dip
  •  

    garlic-oil-beauty-kingarthurflour-230

    You can use garlic oil in just about every savory dish. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     
    Mains

  • Fish & Seafood: As a seasoning, cooking oil or garnishing oil, garlic oil goes great with grilled salmon, swordfish, shrimp and other favorites
  • Meats: Rub on beef, lamb, pork or poultry before roasting or grilling
  • Main Salads: Top a salad of raw and roasted veggies and lean protein with an egg fried in garlic oil
  • Pizza: Drizzle on pizza, hot from the oven
  •  

    garlic-rosemary-mashed-potatoes-mccormick-230

    For simply smashing mashed potatoes, mash
    with garlic oil, then add minced chives or
    rosemary. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Sides

  • Flatbread & Garlic Bread: Drizzle or brush on
  • Grains: Use garlic oil as a dressing for whole grains, like farro or quinoa
  • Starches: Use garlic oil in place of butter in mashed potatoes or drizzle over rice instead of a pat of butter
  • Vegetables: Drizzle over roasted cauliflower, sauteed kale or other veggies
  •  

    Find many more recipes at Boyajian.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP: Uses For An Olive Oil Mister

    misto-salad-230

    The Misto is one of the most popular misters. Photo courtesy Lifetime Brands.

     

    Olive oil misters have been around for several years. They control the portions of olive oil you use, delivering a much lighter—but equally effective—coating than brushing with oil. You save calories as well as the cost of the oil.

    Some enthusiasts have more than one mister, to hold different types of oil.

    Yes, there are aerosol sprays, which do provide a finer, more even coating. But they come with a cost: chemical propellants and a can that goes into the landfill, both of which are needed to create that fine spray. Not to mention, the slightly chemical flavor and aroma, and the ongoing cost per can as opposed to the small investment in a mister.

    Originally, we used one as a diet tool, to cut down on the oil calories on salads. We abandoned that approach in favor of tossing lightly with homemade vinaigrette. So we looked at other ways to use the mister.

     

    WAYS TO USE AN OLIVE OIL MISTER

  • Balsamic vinegar: cuts down on waste on balsamic and other expensive vinegars
  • Bread: on bruschetta and focaccia, to keep dough moist when rising
  • Frying
  • Garnish: as an annointing oil on fish, meat, and poultry
  • Greasing pans and muffin tins
  • Low fat cooking: basting, grilling, roasting, sautéing
  • Pasta
  • Vegetables, grilled or roasted
  •  

    And of course, there’s always salad!

     

    TIPS

    Read the directions! The biggest complaint about the misters is that the spray clogs.

  • Don’t overpump. You’ll end up with oil “in the air.”
  • Don’t fill to the top unless you’re a heavy user. Over months, the oil can become rancid.
  • Clean the mister frequently per the manufacturer’s directions.
  •  
    CLOGGING

    Oils vary in viscosity. Vegetable oil, for example, can be thicker than olive oil, and contribute to clogging. Frequent cleaning with hot water and soap is recommended. But clogging is common. Here’s how to avoid it:

  • Fill the mister just half way with oil.
  • Twist the top after each use to release the pressure.
  •  

    meat-aliexpress-230

    A great pan spray. Photo courtesy Aliexpress.

     

    Even if your mister clogs and you can’t unclog it, it costs the equivalent of about three cans of aerosol spray. You’ll be ahead of the game.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

    iceberg-blue-cheese-wmmb-230r

    Creamy blue cheese dressing. Photo courtesy
    Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

     

    To our palate, the best blue cheese dressing ever is from Kathryn’s Cottage.

    But it isn’t sold near us, so if we haven’t gotten around to ordering it online, we need to make our own. Our first tip: Buy a decent blue cheese: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, whatever. It’s the major flavor component. You don’t need to buy the very finest; but don’t go for the cheapest unless you can taste it first, to see that it’s up to par.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CREAMY BLUE CHEESE
    DRESSING

    Ingredients

  • 4 ounces blue cheese plus 1 ounce crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 5 ounces sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 2 scallions, white and green, thinly sliced; or
    minced chives
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BLEND all ingredients until smooth, except final ounce of crumbled blue cheese. Stir in the crumbles. Season with salt and pepper.

    2. CHILL for at least 1 hour before serving; taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

     

    WAYS TO USE BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

  • Baked potatoes, used instead of sour cream
  • “Blue” cole slaw, pasta salad, macaroni salad, layered salad
  • Burgers, roast beef, ham, turkey or veggie sandwiches
  • Chicken tenders and wings
  • Cobb salad, iceberg wedge salad (TIP: dried cherries are delicious in blue cheese salads)
  • Dip for crudités
  • Pasta, used instead of sauce (toss with gnocchi, wilted arugula and fresh-cracked pepper)
  • “Red, white and blue” potato salad with red and blue/purple potatoes, blue cheese dressing, crumbled bacon and chives
  • Sliced beef, grilled chicken, lamb, or pork salad, with strips of grilled meat, on greens with pickled red onions and blue cheese dressing
  •  

    artisan-blues-wmmb-230

    There are many different blue cheeses. Buy a good one for this recipe. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    VARIATIONS

    After you taste this recipe, you’ll know how you want to adapt it for next time, to achieve your ideal blue cheese dressing.

  • More creaminess? Increase the sour cream and decrease the mayo.
  • More lemony? Add the zest from the lemon.
  • More sweetness? Eliminate the mustard and lemon juice.
  • More/less cheesy? Adjust the amount of cheese accordingly. First, either increase or eliminate the final blue cheese crumbles.
  • More tanginess? Substitute 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or other mild vinegar, like white balsamic) for the lemon juice and substitute buttermilk for the sour cream.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Oil Spray

    It’s truffle season, and while we love the aroma and flavor of truffles, our budget doesn’t afford them often.

    So when we encountered an easily affordable spray bottle of Grand’Aroma Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Fratelli Mantova, we thought, “Why not?”

    We know that most truffle oils are flavored with “truffle essence”—laboratory approximations of truffle aroma. But some of them are quite passable. In fact, truffle oil made with natural or chemical aroma and flavor—as opposed to infusion with real truffles—has a more assertive truffle flavor. The downside is that some brands, flavored with chemicals, have a hint of artificiality.

    We were willing to invest $9.00 to explore the truffle oil spray. We have a couple of bottles of truffle oil, but were particularly attracted to the spray format (which uses no chemicals, additives or emulsifying agents).

    And we like it—we really like it!

  • Eggs: Spray on the nonstick frying pan before cooking eggs.
  • Pizza: Spray on a white/mushroom pizza when it leaves the oven.
  •  

    Truffle-flavored EVOO and sesame oil sprays. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Grilled Proteins: Spray on grilled or roasted beef, lamb, poultry and seafood.
  • Starches: Spray on fries and other potatoes, pasta, polenta, and risotto.
  • Vegetables: Spray on cooked asparagus, cauliflower, corn, mushrooms.
  • Vinaigrette: Replace some of the olive oil in a classic vinaigrette; use on salads and to make marinated mushrooms.
  • Tartare: Mix into beef, salmon or tuna tartare; on beef carpacio
  • Snacks: Spray on popcorn and potato chips.
  •  

    Mantova Spray Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil in an eight-ounce spray is $9.22 on Amazon.com. It’s a welcome stocking stuffer or small gift for any cook or foodie.

    We also picked up a sesame oil spray, a very good way to add just a hint of this heavy oil to stir-frys and other protein or vegetable dishes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ginger Miso Salad Dressing

    The other week we went shopping at a large Japanese superstore (and the largest Japanese supermarket in the U.S.), Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey.

    Strolling up and down the aisles, we wandered into the salad dressing area and found ourselves hungering for a big salad with ginger-miso dressing—the type of dressing, often orange in color, served on green salads at most Japanese restaurants.

    We purchased three different brands, chopped up a big salad for dinner and tossed it with dressing. OMG: Is every prepared consumer food product sold in America drowning in sugar? Would the same brand sold in Japan be this sweet?

    (Indeed, manufacturers alter their recipes to suit the tastes of different nationalities. For example, the original Dutch Heineken beer is much heartier than the watered-down product sold in the U.S.)

    At $4.59 for a 12-ounce bottle, we were, to say the least, disappointed.

     

    Freshly chopped and waiting for ginger miso dressing. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    We rarely purchase salad dressing because it’s so easy to make, and the price is very high given the low cost of a bit of oil, vinegar and seasonings. If we buy a bottle, it should taste great!

    We knew we could do better than these overly sweet bottles. The next day, mixed our own, using it to top a dinner of grilled chicken on greens.

    The recipe that follows took us 5 minutes (just toss all ingredients into the food processor); and the ingredients cost pennies, not dollars.

    GINGER MISO DRESSING RECIPE

    This recipe makes 3/4 cup dressing, enough for salad for four. Feel free to double it and refrigerate the extra dressing—for your next salad, as a dip with raw vegetables or a sauce for grilled chicken, seafood or vegetables.

    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (you can substitute grapeseed or olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste (white or red)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove or 2 small cloves
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  •  
    TIP: Substitute 1 teaspoon of sesame oil for 1 teaspoon of the canola oil. If you like it, add more next time. Sesame oil has a strong flavor, so add a bit at a time.

     

    This award-winning salad dressing is $5.49
    for 10 ounces. You can make a version of it
    for 50 cents. Photo courtesy
    CanadianGrocer.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until creamy.

    2. USE immediately or refrigerate.
     
    CHOOSING A SALAD OIL

    When choosing oil for any culinary use, head to the monounsaturated fats, the “heart-healthy” oils.

    Canola oil and olive oil, two popular cooking oils, are low in unhealthy saturated fat and not-so-healthy polyunsaturated fat, and high in healthy monounsaturated fat.

    Scientists believe that monounsaturated fats help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) that can clog arteries, leading to heart disease or stroke, while increasing the level of good cholesterol (HDL) that removes cholesterol buildup from the arteries. Integrate more of them, as well as the other oils listed above, into your diet.

     

    Examples of heart-healthy oils and their percentages of monounsaturated fat: Almond oil (66%), avocado oil (74%), canola oil (62%), macadamia oil (84%), olive oil (73%—whether refined [regular], virgin or extra virgin), sunflower oil (high oleic version, 82%), tea seed oil (60%).

    HERE’S MORE ON GOOD FATS VS. BAD FATS.

    What about corn oil and vegetable oil?

    While all oils are a combination of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats, a heart-healthy oil has a preponderance of monounsaturated oils.

    In contrast, corn oil, vegetable oil *and other popular cooking oils are largely polyusaturated oils, where the preponderance of the fat is not monounsaturated: corn oil 62%, grape seed oil 71%; safflower oil 77%; sunflower oil (linolenic—69%).

    SEE OUR CULINARY OILS GLOSSARY FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKING & SALAD OILS.

    *Vegetable oil can be a blend of oils, e.g. corn, soybean and sunflower, or it may be only one type of oil. There is no requirement for the label to list the type(s) of oil in the bottle. Generally, “vegetable oil” is refined to have a high smoke point but very little taste or aroma. This makes it a good all-purpose oil for baking, frying and sautéeing. However, it is not of sufficient quality to be used as a condiment oil or for salad dressings.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Salmon Salad With Easy Homemade Ranch Dressing

    Pretty as a picture, and much tastier. Photo
    courtesy Stasty.com.

     

    If you have less-than-great memories of salmon salad made from less-than-stellar canned salmon: Forget them. They have nothing to do with this delicious salmon salad recipe—something you can be assured of just by looking at the tempting photo.

    This salmon salad is the creation of blogger Vicky at Stasty.com. Vicky is hard core: She makes her own butter, and the by-product is buttermilk.

    “So I made some scrumptious buttermilk dressing, otherwise known as ranch dressing.” said Vicky. “To me, store bought ranch dressing is usually too sweet and gloopy, and nothing like the real thing. However, homemade ranch dressing is so divine; you can almost eat it on its own.

    “Fresh buttermilk does make a difference and makes a really light and creamy ranch dressing. The white wine vinegar gives it a bit of bite and the dill makes it taste fresh and tangy.

     

    “There are so many ways to use ranch dressing: on fresh green salads, on baked potatoes or as a dip. It’s a pretty versatile dressing, so I usually make a double batch to keep in my fridge, ready for all eventualities!”

    Here, Vicky pairs ranch dressing with simple but colorful mixed greens and hot smoked salmon (“hot” refers to the smoking process, not the temperature of the fish—types of hot smoked salmon). You can use grilled salmon, poached salmon, and certainly, any leftover salmon. If your fishmonger sells salmon scraps, by all means save the money and grill them for the salad. Serve warm or chilled.

    The key here is to contrast the rosy color of the salmon against the greens and white dressing. You can also use Arctic char, shrimp or lobster—or a combination.

    And you can add more color with cherry or grape tomatoes. We had leftover boiled Yukon Gold potatoes and added them, sliced, as well.

     

    STASTY’S RANCH DRESSING

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (150ml)
  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ clove crushed garlic
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  •  
    For The Salad

  • Mixed greens, washed and dried
  • Cooked salmon, cut into bite size pieces
  • Optional: red or yellow cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Garnish: Dill sprigs, lemon or lime wedge
  •  

    Ranch dressing lovers will be very happy with this recipe. Photo courtesy Stasty.com.

    Preparation

    1. MIX the buttermilk with the mayonnaise and white wine vinegar in a medium sized bowl or pitcher. Use a small hand whisk to smooth out any lumps.

    2. ADD the crushed garlic, chopped dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with the whisk and store in an airtight jar in the fridge. I find if you leave the dressing in the fridge for a few hours before serving, the flavours really develop.

    3. ASSEMBLE the salad: Plate the greens and scatter the salmon or other fish on top. Drizzle dressing on top, and provide extra dressing on the side for those who want more. Garnish and serve.

     
    HOW TO MAKE BUTTERMILK

    If you’re not familiar with buttermilk, it’s a delicious beverage, like drinkable yogurt. In earlier times, when butter was churned at home, there was always plenty of buttermilk to drink and cook with. It adds richness to recipes from cake to fried chicken.

    If you don’t have it on hand or don’t want to buy a quart, make what you need by adding white vinegar to regular milk:

    1. ADD a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar (not white wine vinegar) to a one-cup measure.

    2. FILL to the rim with milk. Let stand five minutes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Vinaigrette

    Forget the bottled dressing and mix your
    own. Here, a balsamic vinaigrette: olive oil
    and balsamic vinegar. Photo by Elena
    Thewise | IST.

     

    Having spent the weekend at a home with a fridge-full of bottled dressings, we’re inspired to revisit the homemade vinaigrette. It’s better, it’s cheaper and it takes up less space—no space in the fridge—than half a shelf of bottles.

    The components of a vinaigrette couldn’t be simpler: oil and acid in a 3:1 ratio, plus a pinch of salt and pepper and optional herbs. Some people prefer a 3:2 ratio. It’s up to your palate. Start with 3:1 and if you want more acidity/tartness, move to 3:2.

    What if your family prefers creamy dressings? Wean yourself away from them, except for special occasions when you’ve simply got to have chunky blue cheese. Bottled dressings are clogged with calories, added sugar and with creamy dressings, cholesterol.

    In the time it takes you to shake and uncap the bottle, you can combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. After you whisk together your vinaigrette, dip a lettuce leaf and taste it. Adjust proportions and seasonings as needed.

     
    SALAD OIL

    The choice of oils is up to you. Foodies prefer the flavor and healthful qualities of olive oil, but you can use any vegetable oil—ideally, a monounsaturated (heart healthy) oil. Here are the good fats and the bad fats.

  • Flavored oils. A great aid in the kitchen, flavor-infused oils make it easy to add a seasoning—basil, chile, garlic, lemon, rosemary, and on and on—with no added work.
  • Combined oils. Nut and seed oils—hazelnut, sesame and walnut, for example—add great flavor. But they can be overwhelming at a 100% strength, so cut them with a milder-flavored oil. We use we half olive oil, half nut oil. Some sesame oils are particularly potent; try a 3:1 ratio instead of 1:1.
  •  

    VINEGAR & OTHER ACIDS

    There’s a legion of vinegar types out there (see our Vinegar Glossary for starters). You can use a simple cider vinegar, but wine White vinegar: sorry, it’s harsh and should be reserved for pickling and cleaning.

  • Flavored Vinegar. As with flavored oils, these are great additions. You can use both a flavored vinegar and a flavored oil for combined flavors—basil oil and garlic vinegar, for example.
  • Citrus Juice. You can substitute all or part of the vinegar with any citrus juice: grapefruit, lemon and lime. If you use a lower-acid juice like orange juice, you may have to amp up the acid with some cider vinegar.
  •  

    You don’t even have to pre-mix: Just put oil and vinegar cruets on the table. Photo | IST.

    MORE FLAVOR DIMENSIONS

  • Heat. Spice it up with a few drops of sriarcha or other hot sauce, or 1/4 teaspoon of grated ginger (more to taste).
  • Condiments. For flavor as well as texture, consider pickle relish or chutney, chopped olives or giardiniera.
  • Mustard. You can use any type, but in our book, there’s nothing better than a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Adjust the recipe to 3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar and 1 part mustard.
  • Honey & Maple. Some people want a sweet vinaigrette. Add a half teaspoon of agave, honey or maple syrup to the vinaigrette. You can also go the calorie-free route and use noncaloric sweetener.
  •  

    KEEP TWEAKING

    In addition to playing with the proportions of oil, acid and seasonings, play around with other ingredients at hand. For example, in a 3:2:1 proportion of oil, acid and “other,” consider one part of:

  • Pomegranate juice, with arils (seeds) tossed in for color, flavor and texture.
  • Fruit purée, such as apple, with apple cider vinegar.
  • Fresh berries, whole or diced.
  • Herbs. Fresh or dried, they add zing to a vinaigrette.
  • Spices, such as a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg in a holiday vinaigrette. Don’t be shy: try a dash of whatever spice you enjoy.
  •  
    Keep working at it, and don’t be surprise if everyone asks for the recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Match Your Vinegar To Your Food

    Apple cider vinegar is a versatile favorite.
    Photo courtesy Heinz.

     

    Vinegar begins life as alcohol. Through fermentation, alcohol is converted to full-strength vinegar, which is then diluted with water to achieve a 5% acidity level for cooking and table use. (Here’s the history of vinegar and how it is made.)

    How many different types of vinegar are in your pantry? Heinz, America’s vinegar king, describes the most common varieties and how to match them with different foods:

    Apple Cider Vinegar: Made from apple cider, it’s ideal for salads, marinades and recipes. It is also used for canning and pickling.

    Balsamic Vinegar: Sweet and tart with fruity undertones and much less acidity than other vinegars, balsamic is excellent on salads, in sauces and gravies, with meats or with fresh fruits.

     
    Distilled White Vinegar: Made from corn and water, white vinegar has a clean, crisp flavor ideal. Personally, we prefer any other vinegar in recipes. But no-flavor-added white vinegar is a great all-natural helper for cleaning and other household uses.

    Garlic Wine Vinegar: Typically produced from red wine, it’s subtly seasoned with garlic. Try it with antipastos, cold meats, salads and marinades.

    Malt Vinegar: This English favorite is manufactured from malt syrup that has been fermented into a malt “beer.” Its pungent, full-bodied flavor makes it particularly popular for seafood dishes (like fish and chips), on meats, in macaroni and bean salads, It’s also used for pickling.

    Red Wine Vinegar: The most popular of all flavored vinegars, use it for all your favorite salad dressing, sauces, glazes or marinades; with steak; and for pickling.

    Tarragon Vinegar: a favorite on meats, salads, fish or eggs.

     

    VINEGAR TIPS FROM HEINZ

    Better Burgers: Add a teaspoon of garlic or tarragon wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of prepared mustard, favorite herb or dry seasoning mix per pound of hamburger.

    Brighter Coffee: Remove mineral deposits from your coffee pot by filling the reservoir with distilled white vinegar and running through a brew cycle. Rinse thoroughly with two brew cycles of water. (Check with your appliance’s manufacturer’s instructions about the use of vinegar for cleaning.)

    Cleaner Counters: Use distilled white vinegar to clean your microwave, cutting board and other kitchen areas where you prepare food. It‘s natural alternative to chemical cleaners.

    Cooking Wine Substitute: When a recipe calls for wine, substitute red wine vinegar, diluting one part vinegar with three parts water.

     

    People love balsamic vinegar because it’s complex, sweet, fruity and not acidic. Photo: The Nibble.

     
    Fluffier White Rice: Add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the boiling water. Your rice will be easier to spoon out and less sticky.

    Hard Cooked Eggs: To prevent cracking, add two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar per quart of water before boiling. The shells will peel off more easily, too.

    Make Buttermilk: When a recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any on hand, just add a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to a cup of milk.

    Marinade: A mixture of one-half cup of cider, white or wine vinegar added to a cup of liquid bouillon makes a great marinade base.

    More Flavorful Fish: You can enhance the flavor of your favorite grilled fish dishes by adding a dash of white vinegar. For firmer, whiter fish, soak your favorite filet or seafood steak for 20 minutes in one quart of water and two tablespoons of vinegar.

    Odorizer: To remove cooking odors, leave a bowl of distilled white vinegar on the counter while cooking. This works great when cooking fish!

    Rescue A Recipe: If it tastes too sweet or too salty after you’ve mixed the ingredients, try adding a dash of distilled white vinegar. It may save the day.

    Revive Vegetables: If raw vegetables look a little tired and wilted, soak them in one quart of cold water and a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar.

    Find more tips at HeinzVinegar.com, including uses in the bathroom, family room, laundry room and all around the house.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Ice Cream, Cheese Ice Cream

    Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with something new and exciting, like the ice cream recipes below. They may sound unusual, but they’re absolutely delicious.

  • Blue Cheese Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Cheddar Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Cream Cheese Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Goat Cheese Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Olive Oil Ice Cream With Shaved Parmesan (recipe)
  • Parmesan Ice Cream Sandwiches With Parmesan Tuiles (recipe)
  • Stilton Ice Cream (recipe)
  •  

    Cheddar ice cream with grilled pineapple and balsamic reduction. Photo courtesy WMMB.

     

    Goat cheese ice cream. Photo courtesy
    Charlie Trotter | Chicago.

     

    GARNISHES

    Most of these ice creams don’t pair with caramel, chocolate or berry sauces. Instead:

  • Drizzleg a good, fruity olive oil over olive oil ice cream.
  • Add a pinch of sea salt, especially pink or red salts (Alaea Hawaiian salt, Himalayan or Peruvian salt).
  • Use a balsamic vinegar reduction for a tart-and-sweet sauce.
  • Make a tart fruit puree by adding balsamic vinegar to raspberry purée.
  •  
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM
    RECIPES IN OUR GOURMET ICE CREAM SECTION.

     

      

    Comments

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