Sunday, December 2, 2007

Oil, Vinegar, Dishes + Cranberry Vinaigrette

Hello. My name is Carolyn. And I'm an oil, vinegar and dishes addict. I need a 12-step program, I think. They come out with some new flavored oil or vinegar and I'm a sucker. Hand it to me. Gotta have it. I'm embarassed to say that I have way too many, and more often than not, when I'm making a complex salad dressing (I usually make my own, since I dislike most bottled dressings) I don't even GO to my cabinets for these specialty oils or vinegars because I think the flavor will be wasted (as well as the money I paid for them) in the dressing.

So, now you know. I'm flawed. It's a good thing I don't really have a food budget. My DH probably wishes I did. I do remember the days when I really had to watch what I spent, but thankfully life has been good to us. I do look at prices, but if I want some kind of food item, I'll usually buy it.

The only time DH complains is when I buy dishes. I do love buying new dishes. I have to just slap my hands sometimes when I get into a TJMaxx store or Home Goods and I see some darling little set of 4 plates. No salad plates with them. Maybe 2 bowls. Or, maybe a couple more soup bowls would be nice. I just have to talk to myself. Where will I put them. Will I really, really use them? I walked in the door the other evening with a set of 8 salad plates. Since DH washes almost all of the dishes I couldn't fool him by hiding them somewhere and pulling them out in a couple of weeks. He'd know. So I confessed right up front. WHAT?, he said. This wasn't a what, dear, kind of response. It was a loud WHAT? Then I reminded him that our little set of 4 dark green salad plates that kind of went with our everyday dishes now was a set of 3. We can't use a set of 3 plates. They're going out into the donation bag in the garage, I said. So these are to replace those. But why 8, he said? Well, because when I bought the other four, that's all they had. The new ones had 8, so I bought them all. They were only $2.99 each, I said. As if that would make much difference. He sighed. And washed them. I reminded him that I don't have many vices. Buying books and cookbooks maybe. Spending time on the computer, yes. And probably this blog too. I think I'm forgiven. I think.

So what brought this all to mind was making a salad dressing yesterday. I'd read about the dressing over at Culinary Fool, and thought it was so festive and holiday-ish. So I got out all the ingredients and went to my vinegar cupboard. You want to see?

Yup, those are ALL oils (mostly in the left two) and vinegars (mostly right). The shelf at top right is awry because it's where DH stores his wine essentials (corkscrew, cap remover) so it sits cattywampus because I need the height for the bottles below.

When we had our kitchen remodeled there was this space at one end of the island, facing our family room. The cabinet maker was going to just put in blind ends there. They'd have looked pretty, but I knew there was about 4-5 inches of depth in there. Crying out for just the right things to store on shelves. Aha. Oils and vinegars. Perfect home for them. One cupboard is a bit deeper, so I can get 2 layers in there. I made the cabinet maker put in cupboards. I don't want to know how much extra that was. I'm very happy with my oil and vinegar cupboards.

But, I've digressed; back to the salad dressing: Searching through the vinegar options, I found a citrus vinegar, a specialty one. Perfect, I thought, to go with the orange juice in the dressing and the cranberries. I like all the pretty shaped bottles they use for vinegars these days. I have a couple of balsamic bottles that are too tall for these cupboards, so they have to live in the walk-in pantry. But I forget about them in there.

This dressing isn't appropriate for every salad. With the fruit (cranberries) and juice (orange) it's best suited for a simple salad. I used half sugar and half Splenda, to keep the carbs down a bit. Apples, just a few, sliced in a simple salad would be nice. Or pears. Dried cranberries are so popular to toss into salads, but I think they'd be too sweet in this case. Certainly some toasted nuts would go well. I added walnuts. My salad came together, then, with arugula, head lettuce even, sliced apple and walnuts. Very yummy. Thanks to Culinary Fool for this one. It's a keeper.

Cranberry Vinaigrette
Recipe: Dishing with Kathy Casey: Food, Fun, and Cocktails from Seattle's Culinary Diva, via Culinary Fool blog
Servings: 12
2/3 cup fresh cranberries -- or frozen
1/4 cup sugar -- [I used half sugar, half Splenda]
1/2 cup white wine vinegar -- or distilled vinegar [I used citrus vinegar]
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup orange juice -- or other citrus juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1. Place cranberries, sugar and vinegar in small saucepan and heat over medium heat until cranberries pop, 5 - 10 minutes.
2. Let cranberries cool slightly and then transfer to a blender. Puree (being careful to make sure the top doesn't pop off if they are still warm) the mixture until fairly smooth - there will still be pieces of bright red skin. Add the mustard and orange juice and lightly mix.
3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Slowly, slowly add the oil while continuously whisking until all oil has been incorporated and the mixture is emulsified.
4. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator.
Per Serving: 143 Calories; 14g Fat (83.5% calories from fat); trace Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 50mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 2 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.

1 comment:

Kalyn said...

I'm laughing because I might have nearly that many oils and vinegars too!