Tuesday, June 27, 2017

White Balsamic Vinegar and Jicama Slaw Salad

Balsamic vinegar is frequently used in Italian cooking. In fact, many restaurants will often bring a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to your table when dining.

White balsamic vinegar is found less frequently, but is often used in preparing foods where the dark color of balsamic vinegar may cause distraction.

Officially, there is no such thing as “white balsamic vinegar,” it is referred to as “condimento bianco” because it is not regulated by the Italian consortium and is not aged in wooden barrels like most fine balsamic vinegars from Modena.

We have sampled many white balsamic vinegars and found them lacking.  As such, we decided to private label our own white balsamic vinegar to use occasionally with salads and fish.

For those unfamiliar with condimento biancoit tends to be somewhat lighter and less viscous than good quality aged balsamic vinegar.  We find it particularly refreshing on spring and summer salads.

This following recipe is from Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman and is reprinted in May, 2010 Epicurious from their cookbook: Pastry Queen Parties:  Entertaining Friends and Family, Texas Style.

white balsamic vinegar, jicama slaw salad

White Balsamic Vinegar and Jicama Slaw Salad

INGREDIENTS (12 Servings)

For Salad

  • 1 medium head napa cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 medium carrots, grated on the large holes
  • 1 large jicama (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large matchsticks
  • 1 bunch chopped green onions, white part only
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large matchsticks
  • 3/4 cup dried currants or dried cranberries

For White Balsamic Dressing

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 medium lime)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (Gourmet Living)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds

PREPARATION

To Make the Salad:
Trim off the cabbage root end, thinly slice crosswise, then chop into pieces that can be easily picked up with a fork. Combine the cabbage, carrots, jicama, green onions, apples, and dried currants in a large bowl.

To Make the Dressing:
Vigorously whisk together the garlic, lime juice, honey, oil, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and mayonnaise in a medium bowl until the dressing is thoroughly combined. Whisk in the fennel seeds and pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture. Stir until the dressing evenly covers the slaw. The slaw will be a little soupy, which is just the way I like it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.

Variation
For those who plan to wear their summer shorts short, you can lighten the dressing: for the 1 cup mayonnaise, substitute 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise plus 3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat yogurt.

white balsamic vinegar condimento bianco

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Skillet Chicken for Paleo and Mediterranean Diet

During winter, it seems like one’s batteries run down quite a bit quicker than they do on a warm summer’s day.   This is certainly true in my kitchen where I try to focus on hearty meals that I can prepare and then serve on more than one occasion.  Certainly, stews and soups can be refrigerated, so one can often can more than one meal with a little forward planning.

Paleo Mediterranean Chicken Skillet

I recently came across this appealing recipe on Pinterest.  The photograph, shown below, caught my eye and I decided to give this Paleo Mediterranean skillet chicken a go.  While it may be a bit heavy and elaborate for a summer meal, it hit the spot for a chilly evening at home and my husband and I can enjoy the leftovers another day.   The spinach leaves gave this hearty winter recipe a lively bit of color.

The recipe comes from a lovely website called Paleo Newbie, so if you are into Paleo diets, you may want to give it a go.  I can certainly recommend this particular dish – love the artichokes.

One Skillet Paleo Mediterranean Chicken

Ingredients (Serves 2 – 4)

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 8 oz jarred artichoke hearts, liquid drained
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 lb cooked organic chicken
  • Fresh spinach – a couple of handfuls
  • 2-3 tablespoon olive oil or ghee (1-2 tablespoons to sauté the veggies, another tablespoon for cooking)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar  (Gourmet Living, of course!)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped for garnish
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the chopped onions for 3-4 minutes
  2. Add the minced garlic and sauté together one more minute
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms to the sautéed onions and garlic and cook 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms are golden. Add salt and pepper to taste while cooking
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the pan then toss in the Roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and olives. Sprinkle in the parsley, oregano, and stir a few minutes
  5. Next add the chopped chicken and spinach to the pan – stir and cook 1-2 minutes, or until chicken is heated through. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Serve hot garnished with the fresh basil

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White Balsamic Vinegar Custard Tart with Seasonal Berries

Balsamic vinegar is frequently found in many Italian restaurants.  In fact, in northern Italy most tables will have a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   You need to ask for butter!

White balsamic vinegar is found less frequently, but has become quite popular in preparing foods where the dark color of balsamic vinegar may detract from the colors of other ingredients.

Officially, there is no such thing as “white balsamic vinegar,” it is referred to as “condimento bianco” because it is not regulated by the Italian consortium and is not aged in wooden barrels like most fine balsamic vinegars from Modena.

white balsamic vinegar, balsamic berry tart

We have sampled many white balsamic vinegars and found them lacking.  As such, we decided to private label our own white balsamic vinegar to use occasionally with salads and fish.  In fact, this recipe takes it a bit further and is used in a dessert.

This delightful white balsamic custard tart with a fresh berry topping comes from a 2004 Bon Appetit recipe that is available on Epicurious.  We found it delightful, particularly with Gourmet Living’s new white balsamic vinegar.

White Balsamic Custard Tart with Fresh Berries
INGREDIENTS (8 Servings)

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream

Filling

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (Gourmet Living – Condimento Bianco)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Topping

  • 2 large strawberries, hulled, sliced
  • 2 1/2-pint containers blueberries
  • 1 1/2-pint container raspberries
  • Note:  Feel free to substitute depending on the season

PREPARATION

For crust:

  1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms.
  2. Add egg yolk and cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form.
  3. Gather dough into ball.
  4. Press dough evenly into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.
  5. Pierce dough all over with fork. Chill 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until golden, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 22 minutes. Cool.

For filling:

  1. Stir cream and cornstarch in medium bowl until cornstarch dissolves.
  2. Add eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla; whisk to blend.
  3. Boil vinegar in heavy medium saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add 3/4 cup water, sugar, and butter.
  5. Stir until butter melts; return to boil.
  6. Gradually whisk vinegar mixture into egg mixture; return to pan. Whisk until custard thickens and boils, about 1 minute.
  7. Strain into bowl; cool.
  8. Spread custard in prepared crust.
  9. Cover and chill tart at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

For topping:

  1. Arrange strawberry slices in star pattern in center of tart (or some other variation).
  2. Arrange raspberries in star pattern. Surround with blueberries.
  3. Cover loosely and chill until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 6 hours ahead.)

white balsamic vinegar

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