Balsamic Vinaigrette

Saturday was food shopping day. Every Saturday is food shopping day. Two hungry boys and a husband, I am amazed I can actually make it from Saturday to Saturday without shopping again for anything more than milk.

I am, much to my husband’s chagrin, one of those shoppers that needs to go up and down every aisle, even though I have a list that I TRY to strictly stick to – never successful at that one, I can assure you.

I am always amazed at the salad dressing section. I can understand purchasing – okay, forget I said that. I cannot understand buying salad dressing. It is so easy to make and so much less expensive and so much better for you than ‘junk in a jar’.

The dressings in a bottle that perplex me the most are Balsamic Vinaigrette and Italian dressing.  The Italian dressing is simply oil, vinegar and dried herbs.

Balsamic Vinaigrette is slightly different, but just as simple. Once you try this, you will never buy bottled vinaigrette again.

  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 C olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste

Let me start by saying the recipe for this usually calls for taking out the blender of food processor. I have an old Grey Poupon jar – you know the large kind that you get Costco or Sam’s Club. I use this to mix up my dressings and marinades. It weighs less, is easier to clean, and emulsifies just as well as the blender.

Mince the garlic or use a microplane hand zester. I use the zester. For me, it’s faster and more fine than I could ever hope to mince it.

If you are using the blender or food processor , combine the balsamic and red wine vinegars, mustard and garlic in a blender. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil through the opening in the lid to process into a thick dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
If you are using the jar method – pour the vinegars, mustard, garlic, s&p, and oil into the jar. Cover. Shake!
The dressing will last about 1 week, store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Stir well before using. Again, mine stays in the jar, in the fridge, and a quick shake has you ready to go.
Tonight I steamed green beans, topped them with some chopped tomatoes and chopped red onion, poured the vinaigrette on top.Simple. Healthy. Quick. Perfect side dish.

Homemade Butter

Not quite sure what comes over me or why I have these overwhelming urges to conjure up something in my kitchen that I can readily buy in the market. But I am a curious person by nature and learning how things work and the alchemy of it has always been fascinating to me.

So this time, folks, it’s butter. This can’t be simpler ~ 2 ingredients, heavy cream and salt. Cream into food processor or blender, turn it on, walk away, come back in 10 minutes. DONE!

This was amazing. Soft, creamy, slightly salty, wonderful on the Italian bread I made that morning.

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

Pour cream into a food processor or blender.

Process for 10 minutes, or until the butter separates.

NOTE: The photo above was taken at about the halfway mark. I scraped down the bowl and continued on.

Strain off the liquid. Season to taste with salt, if you want salted butter.

NOTE: I put a coffee filter in a small fine mesh strainer, added the butter and let it sit there. When I was putting it into the jar, as I pressed, more liquid came out, just pour that out.

NOTE: I added only salt this first time, but next time I may add some herbs. Perhaps roll it into a log, slice and freeze to always have a compound butter in the freezer. Maybe some fruit or honey. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Texas Caviar

In May of 2009 I saw this recipe. I ripped this recipe out of the magazine and added it to the ever growing pile of  printed and magazine recipes I had been hoarding. As I went through the piles of recipes, trying to pare them down a bit, I always kep this one – but never quite getting to the point of making it.

Last week, as I was reading through the foodie emails I receive, I saw this recipe again on the Saveur website. This was a sign. This recipe needed to be finally tried.

The recipe is originally from Helen Corbitt, a New Yorker transplanted to Texas, where in the 1950s she became the director or food services at Neiman Marcus. Many of her recipes still grace the menus there.

This recipe just kept calling to me to be made and I am glad that I finally tried it – the recipe is sweet and vinegary with a touch of heat. I made this with ham steaks, but I can see it on the table when it’s time to get the BBQ going again!

This comes together in a snap with just a few ingredients. 

  • 2  15-oz. cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1⁄4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1⁄4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Serve on top of lettuce leaves.

NOTE: How easy was that!? I let mine sit for about 2 hours before dinner, but the left overs were amazing the next day!