I think I have a serious vinegar hoarding problem. I can’t believe how many vinegars I got out to photograph! When I travel or go to a fabulous specialty cooking store, I will often bring home a bottle of vinegar because it fits in my suitcase more easily than the gorgeous gateau au chocolat in the pastry case or Moroccan tagine. Interesting vinegars inspire me to make a fabulous vinaigrette or sauce, and I guess I really need to start making tons of salads and use these beautiful vinegars up! I have my standby basics that I couldn’t live without ~ balsamic, rice, sherry, cider, raspberry, champagne vinegar, and good old red wine vinegar. Some wonderful vinegars that inspire me are curry and mango balsamique, Verjus – pressed from the juice of unripened grapes and used in a classic Provençal chicken dish, cherry balsamic vinegar, cassis vinegar, pomegranate, and the list goes on…… It’s such a humble ingredient, but it can elevate a dish to the next level with concentrated flavors and no extra calories! I also love balsamic glaze which is balsamic vinegar that has been cooked down and reduced to a syrup. Trader Joe’s has a good one. It’s wonderful to drizzle over cooked scallops, or a bowl of sweetened strawberries. Another time I will show you my salt collection which is a little more under control and my herb and spice collection which is not under control!
Knowing how to make a vinaigrette should be in everyone’s repertoire because it is so easy, delicious and fresh. You can use any kind of mustard, vinegar and oil and the only thing to keep in mind is the magic ratio of 1 part vinegar and mustard, to 3 times the amount of oil. In a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon Dijon – or any mustard, 1 tablespoon vinegar – any kind or lemon juice, and salt and pepper. With a whisk, mix well and slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil (or any oil) until it has emulsified. I have a ceramic olive oil container with a thin spout that is great for drizzling into sauces and pans. You can add minced garlic, shallots or honey with the mustard and any herbs can be used either fresh or dried. 30 second salad dressing. Taste for seasoning and correct and there you go!