I can never use a recipe without chaging it up. I just can’t. It doesn’t matter how much I like the original recipe. I have got to play with it and make it mine. I am obsessed wih Culver’s Cranberry Bacon Bleu salad. I love it as it is but I have to play with it. I wanted to make it Whole 30 compliant so I can eat it on my November Whole 30. I found compliant bacon and juice sweetned cranberries at Natural Grocers. I pumpkin spiced some nuts for a little compliant crunch. Now I need a new salad dressing. I chose a pumpkin vinaigrette because, apparently I have jumped on the all things pumkin this year. Don’t worry. I have some cranberry recipes in the future.
I have always wanted an indoor herb garden. Every year I go a little nuts planning what herbs I will plant and then decide it would be too expensive and decide not to do it. Last year I decided to scale my plans down to a managable level and give it a try. I planted oregano, thyme, basil, and cilantro. The plants did pretty well until one of my animals disappeared for a total of 7 days. On the 3rd day after Callie disappeared, I woke up to the utter destruction of my herb pots. I couldn’t blame Callie for eating my herbs. She was literally starving.
The experiment did well enough before Callie got to the pots that I decided to try it again. This year, I found a pot that has thyme, rosemary and basil in it. You can see from the picture that they plants are already established and ready to use. I have been looking for ways to use up my bounty. It’s horribly hot here in North Dakota so I have been eating a lot of salads so I though salad dressings might be a good place to start. This is one of the first recipes I tried with my fresh herbs.
I used to laugh at the people I knew who made their own salad dressings. It seemed like such a ridiculous thing to do when a person has so many to choose from right from the grocery store shelf. Then I joined Weight Watchers and started reading labels very carefully. It was then I realized most salad dressings are very high in sugar, fat and many other things I can’t pronounce. If I can’t pronounce it, it probably isn’t very good for me. It seemed to me I was undoing all the good things I was trying to do for my body with Weight Watchers by using these products. I began making my own salad dressings and I haven’t looked back since.
My second recipe every beginning cook should know is the basic vinaigrette.
The basic recipe for a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 2 parts vinegar the rest of the ingredients are up to you. I have included 3 recipes for vinaigrette to show you how infinitely variable they are. I think once you try them you will find them better then anything you can buy.
Put salt, mustard and vinegar in a small jar and shake it to dissolve the salt. Pour in the oil and shake throughly again. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Drizzle over your salad greens.
I have been aware quite sometime that I am losing my sense of smell. It is a genetic thing because my dad lost his sense of smell years ago. It is scary because as a cook, I am very aware of how much your sense of smell and sense of taste are entwined. My dad says his lack of smell hasn’t effected his sense of taste. So far, losing my sense of smell has only effected my sense of taste n one way. I like bigger, bolder flavors than I used to. Flavors that used to be too much for me, like cumin and pepper jack cheese, are now some of my favorite flavors.
This cranberry vinaigrette has a tang to it that I really like. It goes well with stronger flavored greens, like kale. I like this dressing thicker than my usual salad dressings so I just mash the cranberries with a fork. If you like your dressings thinner give it a whirl in a blender.
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup canola oil
1 TBS Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
In a small saucepan combine the cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer until the berries burst, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. When cool place the rest of ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add the cranberry mixture and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until cool. Use on assertive salad greens, over ice cream and any other thing you can think of.