MARCH 31 — vinaigrette

it’s not magic, it’s just oil and acid and whatever you want 

Gus thinks the way I make vinaigrettes is semi-magical, which is very cute of them, but really, it’s so simple. Making your own salad dressing is so easy. There are a few main principles to remember, and then you’re free to experiment endlessly.

The main building block of a vinaigrette is oil + acid. You want about two parts oil to every part acid. I like pretty lightly dressed salads, so I generally start with two tablespoons oil + one tablespoon acid. You want to get the oil and acid really well combined aka EMULSIFIED, and you whisk it for a really long time with a fork, but I love to make vinaigrette in a jar so I can just shake it. It’s so much easier, and fun too!

For oil you want something that tastes good on it own. I almost always use decent olive oil, but I’m sure there are other options. Sometimes I use part sesame oil, but doing all that might be overwhelming.

There are two main acid groups to chose from: vinegars or citrus juice. Obviously there are so many different types of vinegar (read this if you’re interested in my opinions on vinegars). If you chose a strong flavored vinegar like balsamic that will be the dominant flavor of your vinaigrette, but if you use something like a nice light white wine vinegar it will just add the zip you need. I think plain white vinegar would be too harsh, but I’ve never actually tried it. Citrus juice is also great. I keep bottles of lemon and lime juice in the fridge, they’re great things to have around. Drinking orange juice might not be sharp enough, but you could do part orange/part vinegar, and that might be fun.

Oil and vinegar is the base of your vinaigrette, then you get to decide what other flavors you want to add in. I usually add a little something for sweetness, usually honey, but sometimes maple syrup. Then some spices! Some curry powder is really good. You could add some diced garlic. You just want to play around with it. Think about the other foods you’re serving, and what flavors would go with them. If you’re cooking a piece of meat with a spice blend, try using the same spices in your vinaigrette.

The most important thing to do when you’re working without a recipe is taste as you go. Have some leafs on hand to dip in your vinaigrette after each major addition, and adjust as needed. If you think it’s too overpowering, add more oil. If you think it’s too sharp, add something sweet. It’s hard to really fuck up a vinaigrette because you can keep on fiddling with it until you’re happy. Just work slowly, and taste as you go! Tasting as you go is so important!

There’s a lot more I could say, but there are no rules. once you’ve got a grasp on the basic formula of oil + acid + flavor you can do anything.

PICTURE OF THE CAT

WHAT I WATCHED YESTERDAY

Gus and I started watching Word of Honor, and so far I like it a lot. A bunch of people I know are watching it, and tweeting positive things, but nobody told me that it’s about a boy full of nails. In the first episode the main character has to put a bunch of nails in his body for important fantasy reasons. Why did nobody think to tell me about this immediately? That’s so exactly my jam. Obviously my personal brand is not strong enough, and I need to spend more time tweeting about how interesting stigmata is.

SONG OF THE DAY

I’ve been going through a lot of weird NME nostalgia lately, which did include reading the wikipedia entry for “new rave,” and being reminded that this song exists. I read about this song, and then watched the video on youtube when I was like 15, and at the time I had not heard anything like it. Now I can be like, yeah, this is pretty annoying rap-rock version of grime, but at the time it was! Really exciting! Sorry for inflicting it on you, I know it doesn’t hold up.