April 20, 2012

Foodie Friday -Homemade Italian and Balsamic Vinagrette Dressings - PART 1

Homemade Italian and Balsamic Vinagrette Salad Dressings

by Resident Chef James Wood

Happy Friday everyone and I hope you all are getting some sun that is much needed up here in the Northwest. It is still 50, grey and raining :-/.  Let's get cooking!
Today I will be sharing a few salad dressings that I have invented.  Next post I will incorporate a few of them into a Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad.

Some of you may already know, oil and vinegar are two very essentials ingredient when it comes to cooking; kind of like a yin and yang. Balancing these two things is crucial to most cuisines and learning this "balance" is one of the first things a cullinarian would learn when working in a kitchen. 

I would first like to teach you a money saving trick when it comes to extra virgin olive oil by turning it into a "blend oil" . By mixing extra virgin olive oil with say canola, corn or vegetable oil you can stretch out an expensive bottle of the good stuff with some of the basic stuff. You can always buy it in the pre-marked blend oil bottles but you never know the quality of the cut. Not only does this stretch out the value, it also makes it easier to cook with at high temperatures. We call this term a "smoke point". Since olive oil is a much denser oil than your common clear bottle that you get at the grocery store it tends to "smoke" much faster than its clear bottle counter part when put under the stresses of high heat, sometimes even catching on fire. One way I was taught to prevent this was to create a blend oil. Here is the recipe…

Blend Oil

2 cups canola, corn or vegetable oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

This mixture allows the fruity, herbaceous flavors of the extra virgin press to penetrate the other oil while saving you money and quite possibly a kitchen fire. (When buying olive oil or extra virgin olive oil be a snob and hold it up to the light, the harder it is to see through the bottle, the more pure the initial press.   Also… olive oil expires so keep it in a place where there is little to no change in temperature but not in the refrigerator. Probably around 60-75F is best and try to use it within 2-3 months of purchase.)

So let us get to some salad dressings…

Italian dressing

1 vessel for storage
1 1/2 cups Blend oil + 1/4 cup
1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
Half teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
1 teaspoon chopped dried onions
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Step by Step
Place 1/4 cup blend oil and the dried spices into a sautés pan and place on low heat until you smell the garlic, stirring occasionally to incorporate ingredients.

Once you smell the garlic turn off the heat and add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard whisk to incorporate and let cool to room temperature and add 1/4 cup of cheap Parmesan cheese. (Just the one with the Green Lid will do) and 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar to the sauté can and whisk to incorporate.

Using a funnel pour into storage vessel then add the 1 1/2 cups of blend oil.

Screw lid on and shake, shake, shake.  And there you have it! Italian dressing. This will last in the refrigerator for two to three weeks.

Balsamic vinaigrette
4 cups Blend oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon
1 teaspoon garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
One vessel for storage

Start by adding all ingredients except oil into blender or a vessel that can be used with a stick blender (I love my beakers.)

Slowly drizzle oil while device is running until you have the consistency of chocolate syrup. If it gets too thick it is totally ok to drizzle water, orange juice, apple cider or anything you think might go well with balsamic to thin it out until proper amount of oil has been incorporated.

The proper consistency should hold onto a spoon like this (I really need to descale my dishwasher!!)

Transfer to a storage vessel, label and date. This will last in the fridge for at least 3 weeks.

Do you have a favorite that you like to make?

James Wood

Be sure to check out Part 2 for homemade Caesar dressing and a great way to use this Italian dressing as a marinade for Grilled Shrimp Caesar salad!  See the recipe here!

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