Monday, 12 October 2009
I only very rarely ever buy ready made salad dressings, preferring to make my own.
When I was growing up I am not sure there was such a thing as store bought salad dressing. If there was, my mother never ever bought it, for she always made her own as well.
She learned how to make a proper vinaigrette when we lived in Germany from the German Landlady of the GastHof which we lived over top of.
As a child I watched her mix one together every Sunday afternoon in the bottom of a green plastic bowl. She would eyeball her measures, measuring in oil and vinegar and a bit of sugar. Then she would slice raw onion into it for it to macerate. Those salads were so tasty. Plain, simple. Delicious.
I think every good cook should know how to make a simple vinaigrette. It's indispensable and will come in very handy to dress any variety of salads, raw vegetables or even cold meats.
The hotel I first worked at as a young pastry chef back in the early 1970's had a very popular first course that consisted simply of delicious ripe raw tomatoes, sliced and drizzled with a vinaigrette.
The salad you see here to illustrate my dressing, is a simple salad of baby gem leaves, toasted walnuts, crumbled stilton cheese and some sliced green apples. Pears are also very good. Normally I would also add thinly sliced spring onion, but alas . . . I did not have any. Remember always that your dressing will only be as good as the quality of vinegar and oil you use. Good quality medium priced is adequate, better quality expensive ones are better. Cheap ones are nasty . . . in my opinion of course!
*Basic French Vinaigrette*
Makes 3 cups
This is a basic French Vinaigrette Dressing. You can change the flavours of it by changing the flavour of the vineger or by adding a variety of herbs. It all depends on what you want to serve it with.
1/2 cup good quality red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
Put the vinegar, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic into a glass jar. Screw on the lid tightly and shake well. Add the oils, recover, and shake again, vigorously to combine. Chill thoroughly for several hours for the flavours to blend properly. Shake again before using. This dressing will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Note - You can add fresh herbs, such as chopped parsley, basil, thyme, etc. With fresh herbs it won't last quite as long. You may also add finely chopped red onion. Experiment with a variety of vinegars. Balsamic, or Cider are particularly good. With Cider vinegar I always add a touch of liquid honey. This is great on fruit salads!