Sunday, July 26, 2015

Simply Salad Dressing

In this day and age it is hard to compete with the massive industrial processed food machine. If you have ever tried parching your own corn, shelling peas for a big batch of fresh pea soup, or making your own jam you know it is a labour of love. The payoff is knowing where your ingredients have come from and the certainty that the person who grew them has received a fair price for his toil. There are some things where the effort is just too great for the payoff.  Enter Jennifer Reese, the Tipsy Baker.  She did the math, and compiled a list of where the investment in time and energy really pays off in, "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter." If you have not read it yet, it is not too late.

Salad dressing is one of those high return on investment items.  The ingredients are simple, preparation and cleanup are a breeze, and you will save an arm and a leg.  You can also skip cheap oils and chemical emulsifiers like Polysorbate 60 with natural ingredients that have the same effect. There is also a nifty little trick to emulsify your dressing I will relate below. Nyls will provides a handy demonstration of how simple this is as well!

In a glass one cup measure add:
1/3 cup acid (wine vinegar, cider vinegar, balsalmic vinegar, lemon juice lime juice, verjus, or a mixture)
1 tablespoon mustard (choose a flavour to complement the acid)
1 tbsp dried herbs or 3 tbsp fresh herbs (you can use leftovers from a pickle jar as well)
1 clove fresh or pickled garlic (again, leftovers from a picke jar are handy)
1/2 teaspoon of sweetener (sugar or honey, or a tablespoon of balsalmic glaze)
Optional: 1 cooked egg yolk
Stir together and let sit for a while if you have time. Add:
Oil (usually olive* or walnut oil, or peanut oil for an Asian themed dressing at the Hotel Cavell)
Until you have a full cup. Put a small whisk in the cup and spin it between your palms.  Between the air this introduces and the natural emulsifiers in the mustard your dressing will take its time separating.  A quick shake a few days later and you are ready to go.  Decant the lot into a serving bottle and serve.  Store it on the shelf.  None of these ingredients will go bad, especially together.

With this recipe in hand the only reason you should  have left to buy another bottle of Renee's admittedly delicious vinagrette is for the bottle.  You could pay for a salad dressing bottle from your local kitchen supply place. However, one worth paying for will probably set you back as much or more than the salad dressing did. Yet another way to avoid the man getting his pound of flesh from us foodies! 

* Remember that Tom Mueller found that the vast majority of olive oil on grocery store shelves has been adulterated with cheaper oils.  The taste and fridge tests are not reliable, so look for an oil that has been sourced directly from the grower.  You will pay for it, but not as much if you buy in bulk. Five litres of oil will set you back 60% less per litre than a single one.  Or go big with 25l and share with friends!

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