Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Balsamic reduction is balsamic vinegar that has been cooked down to give it a syrupy consistency. Great for drizzling over dishes as a finishing dressing, should be used sparingly as it is very strong in flavor.

Easy to make! I like mine with honey, as it cuts the astringency of the vinegar a little.

Here's how it's done:

Combine 1/4 c. honey and 1 c. balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes. I like mine at that point, but you can keep going for up to an hour, depending how syrupy you want it.

Pour the mixture into a jar or container with a lid. Keep at room temperature. Use on everything!


Supreme Citrus

Supreme: verb. to cut into segments after removing peel and pith, discarding seeds.

Basically, when you 'supreme' a fruit, you are taking just the central flesh and leaving all the extra behind. The goal is typically twofold. First, you want to eliminate the bitter pith and peel entirely. Second, you will find that supremed fruit is just prettier to look at, and will present a much more elegant presentation.

When I am using citrus for supreming, I always zest it first and save the zest to make citrus sugar- waste not, want not, and all that.

So, here's how it's done:

1. Cut the top and bottom off of your fruit so it sits flat on a cutting board.

Be sure to cut the ends of and not the sides- look for the stem.

Be sure to cut the ends of and not the sides- look for the stem.


2. Cut at an angle around the sides of the fruit, removing the peel and pith entirely.

3. Gently cut out the segments, using the pith as guides for your cuts. Always cut the side closer to you first, and then the further side second. Otherwise it can be challenging to remove whole segments.

Also, don't cut yourself please. kthanks.

Also, don't cut yourself please. kthanks.

4. Awe your friends, family  and household pets with your mega knife skills.


Sage Vinaigrette

This dressing was extraordinarily popular at the restaurant. We served it on some of our breakfast items and our house salad. I haven't found a better dipping sauce for a roasted breakfast potato.

Use it on a salad or dress up some cut veg. Bracingly acidic with strong herbal notes from the sage, tempered by the honey and brown sugar. Try it. I promise you'll love it.

Recipe:

1/2 c fresh sage, chopped

1/2 c apple cider vinegar

1 T honey

1 t brown sugar

3 t dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

salt + pepper

1/2 c olive oil

Put all of the ingredients into the food processor except the olive oil. Process until finely ground. Add the olive oil very slowly with the processor running, until it emulsifies- you may not need all the oil.

 

Citrus Sugar

I use fresh citrus all the time in my recipes- lemon, grapefruit, oranges, limes... and oftentimes the recipes only call for a small amount of zest, or none at all. Well, I won't stand for that! If I'm already getting the microplane dirty, I'm going to zest everything in sight.

It's very simple to take the fresh zest and make citrus sugar. You can mix it with sugar as is after zesting, and the sugar will take on the flavor of the fruit. If you really want to go above and beyond, you can put the mixture in your food processor and really grind up the zest. Your call!

My ratio is 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 T of zest, but you can play with it and see what you like.

What will you use citrus sugar for? Well, everything and anything! I love having it around for cocktails, but you can use it anywhere regular sugar is called for (pretty much) to add some brightness and punch. Dust it on fresh cut fruit, add it to iced tea or lemonade, use it in whipped cream to go with a fruit pie...the options are endless!

Very high tech over here. 

Very high tech over here. 

In a blackberry muddled cocktail? Well, yes please!

In a blackberry muddled cocktail? Well, yes please!


Macerating Fruit

Macerate: verb. soften or become softened by soaking in a liquid.

When macerating fresh fruit, often you will just add sugar and a little salt and then let it sit. The salt and sugar will draw out the juices of the fruit and break down the tissue slightly, creating a soft fruit sauce- no added liquid necessary!  

There are a few reasons you might use this technique.

1. Softening dried fruit by soaking in flavorful liquid, like vinegar (for a salad dressing), wine, or other alcohol or juice.

2. Breaking down stringent fruit before baking or serving, to change the feel and presentation of the fruit or draw out more flavors. I find macerated strawberries to be much more flavorful than fresh.

Here's how it's done.

Start with fresh fruit, chopped up, and have the recipe amount of sugar and salt at the ready.

Start with fresh fruit, chopped up, and have the recipe amount of sugar and salt at the ready.

Sprinkle the recipe amount of salt over the fruit. You can use a measuring spoon. I'm a rebel.

Sprinkle the recipe amount of salt over the fruit. You can use a measuring spoon. I'm a rebel.

Add the sugar and stir the fruit together well.

Add the sugar and stir the fruit together well.

Right now it will look pretty dry and grainy. Don't worry! Cover the fruit well with plastic wrap and set it aside to chill. Soon magical things will happen.

Right now it will look pretty dry and grainy. Don't worry! Cover the fruit well with plastic wrap and set it aside to chill. Soon magical things will happen.

Magic! The fruit has released it's delicious juices and is fully macerated.

Magic! The fruit has released it's delicious juices and is fully macerated.



Blooming Gelatin

Bloom: verb. use cold liquid to soften gelatin before adding to a hot liquid, allowing gelatin to dissolve.

'Bloom' is also a term used to describe the stiffness of the gelatin, which can be graded at different levels. If I call for gelatin in a recipe, unless otherwise noted, I'm talking about the unflavored gelatin packets you can buy at the store.

Here's how you do it. Pour the liquid called for in your recipe, room temperature or cold but not warm, into a bowl or ramekin. Sprinkle the gelatin on top of the liquid- your goal is to keep large clumps from forming. You don't need to stir it, just set it aside for a few minutes to bloom.

Once the gelatin has absorbed the liquid, it will be a solid-gel substance and spring back if you touch it with your finger. It may also be emitting a nasty odor- it is an animal-based product, and it's not a good smell. It will go away once added to your recipe, I promise.

Be sure to whisk your gelatin very thoroughly into the hot liquid in your recipe, to avoid clumps. Clumps are gross.

Knox is giving me a million dollars for this photo. Ha. Not. But seriously- no product endorsement going on here at mise en place.

Knox is giving me a million dollars for this photo. Ha. Not. But seriously- no product endorsement going on here at mise en place.

blooming gelatin 1.jpg
It's done! Don't try this at home. I mean, you can, but it's 50/50 that you'll make a mess on your counter.

It's done! Don't try this at home. I mean, you can, but it's 50/50 that you'll make a mess on your counter.

Don't worry if you have little dryish patches. It's ready!

Don't worry if you have little dryish patches. It's ready!