Saturday, May 29, 2010
i heart balsamic vinegar
Charlotte: "I'd like you to make 4 different vinaigrette's using balsamic vinegar. Use whatever flavours you want, different textures and consistencies, different oils... but I need 4 to taste test tonight."
Charlotte: "Whichever one I prefer will go on the new menu (starting Tuesday, June 1st)."
Me: "Seriously?! AWESOME!"
3 reasons why this request got me so excited:
1. I heart balsamic vinegar... like, I could drink it straight up and be perfectly happy.
2. I heart challenges... especially culinary challenges.
3. How cool that something I create could end up on the new menu? I think pretty darn cool.
I took some time to think about what I wanted to make... after all, I was asked make 4 different options! So I started off my evening working on some other things:
Cleaning out the fridge and then reorganizing it. Check out all those supplies lined up on the counter. Pretty awesome eh?! I heart getting to the Whalesbone on Friday nights' and getting to set-up the dessert station. Pulling out the sauces and toppings and organizing them so that I can quickly assemble the sundaes as the orders come through - LOVE IT!
Making mini donuts, dipping peppermint fillings in melted chocolate, doctoring up the flambeed bananas, cleaning the fresh berries for that nights fresh fruit option (raspberries, strawberries, pineapple) - don't those strawberries look so juicy and delicious? They were.
I then cleaned some more greens :0) It went waaaayyyyy better this time round - especially dealing with the dill. They seemed to cooperate with me better this time round.
I made some sundaes. I liked Davine's choice: 2 scoops ice cream / strawberry coulis / chocolate ganache / espresso syrup / fresh fruit... lots of it all chopped up. Pretty eh? I though so. Especially that line of ganache. Sigh.
Then I started on the vinaigrette's. Upstairs to the fridge for an egg, lemon, grapefruit, chives, garlic, Dijon mustard, creme fraiche. Back downstairs to pull out the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, burnt honey, sugar, a selection of spices, and salt.
I started on the first option. I decided to call it India - since i used some garam masala and mustard seed. I thickened it up with some creme fraiche (rather than plain yogurt) and sweetened it with some brown sugar. It needed some lemon juice once I had added the balsamic vinegar and then the canola oil. This was a flavour profile that I would totally enjoy at home.
Number two was called Canadian - maple syrup was the star... along with the star anise that I ground up. Some garlic added a little flavour to it too... but other than salt, this was all about the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Again I used canola oil so that the oil wouldn't overpower the flavour of the other ingredients.
Third option was thick and creamy - a Dijon and garlic base, coupled with lemon juice and lemon zest, honey, balsamic vinegar and an egg yolk. I then slowly incorporated the extra virgin olive oil... a slow emulsion. Nice and thick. It still needed something... salt was added.. but I still (even today) think that it needed an extra kick of flavour. But it was nice and thick, super creamy and really consistent.
Finally, the fourth one, and my favourite to make, my citrus vinaigrette. Diced grapefruit, grapefruit juice, finely chopped chives, salt, honey and the extra virgin olive oil to balance the grapefruit with the balsamic vinegar.
I was super happy with what I had made and was excited to have the ladies blind taste test... BUT I did learn a couple lessons making these... although I heart the burnt honey on ice cream... it is completely wrong for the vinaigrette's. Just plain ol' honey would be much better. Secondly, I should have gone upstairs and taken some goodies from Charlotte and Jenna's work station - some green onions, other herbs... I would have created a more chunky dressing along with the others.
But... in the end, the ladies sampled them with some beautiful tomatoes and liked the ideas I came up with. They're going to work off one or two (perhaps creating a new combo?) of the vinaigrette's that I had them taste test and round it out... make it a little less bitter or not too sweet.
I still think it's AWESOME that one of my ideas is going to end up on the menu June 6th. Even a tweak idea is UBER COOL!
For those of you interested in finding out which vinaigrette is going to be on the menu - hit up the WBOH as of Tuesday.
Oh! And if you could have made one... what would you have made? Leave me a comment and let me know! I heart hearing from everyone!!!!