Sunday, August 20, 2006

Salad Dressing

My son has been making salad dressing in our house since he was in kindergarten. This is his recipe. I don't like bottled salad dressing very much. Besides being lots cheaper to make, I think it tastes better, too. We like our salad dressing more tart and lighter, and so we use a 75/25 ratio of vinegar to oil.

3/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. coarse ground black pepper
1 T. minced parsley
1 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. minced basil
1/2 t. minced oregano

Combine in a jar with a lid and shake. Refrigerate whatever's left over. Tastes better the day after you make it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Tale of The Veal Demi Glace

Okay, I've decided to chronicle my veal demi glace ordeal right here. I have a feeling that the veal demi glace is going to turn out to be an "ordeal" (as opposed to a simple cooking project) on par with some of my other notable cooking ordeals in my past. For example, the time I tapped my own maple trees to make maple syrup, or my semi annual salsa canning experience. The only difference is this time, my former neighbor and fellow cooking ordeal participant Ann has moved away to upstate NY, so I am on my own. I was inspired to do this by Anthony Bourdain - I have just finished his "Les Halles" cookbook and he swears by having a good veal demi glace in your freezer as a "mother" for any kind of sauce you'd like to make. You all should know that I have never successfully made a good stock in my life, so to make a demi glace is risky business for me - it is a stock reduced with wine and shallots - sort of like a stock concentrate. I also have never cooked veal in my life, but he has suggested veal as the universal "mother" base. I admit, I like veal, but can understand why people might be a little squeamish about it.

I got veal bones from Sparrow's Butcher Shop in Kerrytown. I had to order them ahead of time - I ordered 5 lbs. because I thought that's how many would fill my stock pot. When I picked them up, the guy behind the counter, who I think is Bob Sparrow himself, asked if I lived in Dexter This is a neat little bit of info, but the "426" phone number prefix is an old time Dexter exchange, so you can tell someone that's lived in Dex for a while by that number. Someone newer might have a "424". So it's like a Dexter secret handshake or something when you say your phone number. As it turns out, he lives in Dexter, too. I have to hold off from begging him to move his butcher shop/fruit market to Dexter - we so desperately in need of one there. Business is probably better at Kerrytown anyway. So, I have resolved to shop there more often. His beef and veal are naturally raised, not confined, etc., so it takes some of the squeamish "veal factor" away from my demiglace.

So, Chef Bourdain says to roast the bones with some tomato paste and flour on them, so that is what I am doing now. Stay tuned for more of my ordeal - this could be a mutli day affair! I am sure that I will be thinking "Why am I doing this?" several times during the event. I consider this like hitting the wall while running or working out, or going through transition while in childbirth. Every time I have a cooking ordeal, I hit the wall. It is not that Chef B. hasn't warned me - he said to make demi glace and stock a couple times a year, because you definitely won't want to be doing it more often than that. Hmmm, this sounds suspiciously like canning salsa to me.....

...several hours later...

I have roasted the bones. Chef B says not to have any blackend parts, but I do have some. I think I will peel them off before I put the bones in the stock pot. I am now carmelizing my vegetables - another roasting pan, lightly oiled, with peeled carrots (25%) celery (25%) and peeled white onions (50%) - this should be enough to fill 1/3 the stock pot. By the way, I am thinking of using my canning pot instead of my stock pot because it is bigger. Don't know yet. Chef B is right - it makes your house smell wonderful! As soon as I get the pot on the stove started with a flame tamer under it, I am thinking of leaving the house for a while. This makes me slightly nervous, but in theory it should be okay. The stock has to cook for 8-10 hours, it says! Yikes!

Okay, so how browned do the veggies need be to be caramelized, I wonder? I have checked and my stockpot will work, except I have one bone too many. I have put that in a big saucepan to make extra. I am wondering what water to use - we have hard water where I live - should I use hard, I am wondering? I never cook with softened water. Anyway, I've decided to use bottled water, because demiglace is supposed to be clear, not cloudy.

I've started the stock pots on the stove while I am awaiting the carmelization. Supposed to add a spring or two of thyme, some peppercorns, some bay leaves and the vegetables. Then, it is 8-10 hours of making stock.

After the stock is done, then the demi glace starts. That will be tomorrow's adventure, I think.

.... did finish it finally. It yielded about 4 ice cube trays worth. I had to buy the ice cube trays, because I did get rid of the ones I had. They are in the freezer. I am still not sure if I reduced it enough. What you are supposed to do is use a cube or two of it when you are making any one of a number of sauces, or to liven up the taste of soups or stews. I haven't used any yet, but I did taste it and it tastes pretty good. Since finishing, I've been making real gourmet food like Boboli pizza (today) or frozen enchiladas (yesterday). Maybe I will try to use it this weekend. All in all, it probably wasn't worth the effort. Demi glace can be bought.