Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DIY dressing

So, I often joke (semi-seriously) that I consider it a personal affront to serve a baked good that I didn't make from scratch. I apparently have no such qualms when it comes to salad, because the leafy stuff you see on the left here came straight out of a bag.

I'm not really opposed to bagged salad, given that I'm a big fan of things like spinach and arugula, which you can't exactly find heads of like you can romaine or iceberg.  Plus, it's a cheap and easy way to assuage my guilt over serving otherwise unbalanced meals when people come over for dinner. Normally I don't serve it directly out of the bad as I did yesterday, but I think I mentioned Sophie is a kind and forgiving soul when it comes to my culinary eccentricities.

But I'm proud to report that last night, I made my own dressing. Having forgotten said item during my many trips to TJ's this weekend, this culinary experiment was born as much out of necessity as it was any sort of crunchy desire to eliminate weird chemical-y ingredients from my salad dressing (seriously, have you read some of those labels lately?). 

Since I made broccoli and bell pepper stir fry with tofu as the main attraction, I was looking for something complementary flavor-wise, and came up with this New York Times recipe for sesame ginger vinaigrette. It also got bonus points for only requiring ingredients I already had on hand.

I used my tee tiny food chopper (kind of like a mini food processor, only smaller) to whirl everything together, throwing the garlic in at the last minute when Sophie arrived with the routine bottle of wine and the not-so-routine package of garlic (that I also forgot at TJ's this weekend, which is going to make my eventual post in praise of the list-keeping app "Evernote" far less convincing, I suppose).  This recipe was the first time I tried out a new method for grating ginger, by the way, and it was possibly the best discovery ever. 

I first read the tip a while ago via this blog post, in which the author explains that the best way to store and grate the golden good stuff is to peel it, chop it in to cubes, and freeze it. Then, when you're ready to grate, you take the number of necessary cubes out and use a microplane. Because the ginger is frozen, it doesn't get all gloopy like the fresh stuff does, it just falls into the bowl in perfect slivers.

As tends to happen to me in the kitchen, the dinner and dressing were a success, but I had a massive stress baking failure (more on that later). At some point I'll learn to stop taking on too many things at once. Until then, though, I'll have to hope all my dinner guests are as understanding as Sophie when I say something like "ummm, hope you like the wine...it's what's for dessert..."

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