A Simple, Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

Not for something different, simple dressings for salads, and a word or two about balsamic vinegar or ‘aceto balsamico’ to sound classy.

Surprise! The real balsamic vinegar isn’t a vinegar at all. True vinegar is acetic acid and water, the result of the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria in various liquids which contain the simple sugars such as wine, cider, rice liquid. Which is where we get the express that vinegar is a good wine gone bad. But true Balsamic vinegar, the outrageously expensive bottle, isn’t the result of any fermentation, but is reduction of cooked white  Tebbiano grape juice. The Balsamic in my pantry is actually red wine vinegar with caramel color and ‘additives’ to make it an awful lot like the expensive one.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

    Combine all the ingredients into a shaking bottle and shake away. Then, shake some on your salad!

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Red Cabbage with Kielbasa

This is a really flavorful side dish that seems to be a winter staple around my table. The side dish of red cabbage is usually just that, pickled red cabbage and sometimes a little seasoning,  simple and straight forward, vegan friendly even. But, I sometimes take a different tack, carnivore’s red cabbage. Some times its bacon, some times its ham… today, its polish kielbasa bringing meat to the side.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium head of red cabbage
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup of diced kielbasa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp ground clove

Cut red cabbage into quarters and cut out the core and slice thin. Peel onion, cut in half and slice thin. In a dutch oven, begin browning the kielbasa. Then add the onions, cook for 2-3 minutes and add the red cabbage; braise the cabbage until just tender 3-5 minutes. Season with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste. Add ground cloves, brown sugar, and vinegar. Cover and simmer until the cabbage is cooked and tender— do not boil or overcook.  Cooking time is about 30 minutes low and slow to let the flavors really meld.

braised-red-cabbage2

Braised Red Cabbage w Bacon

This side goes well with the crock-pot pulled pork. A nice head of red cabbage and good thick cut bacon are the real stars of this dish. As always, I highly recommend the thick cut bacon from Western Beef (now where’s my check for product placement!). This is also one of the sides that’s great a room temperature, even if that room is outside. The weather is fantastic way are you not picnicking.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium red cabbage shredded
  • 6 rashers of bacon chopped
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Duck Walk red wine
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp caraway or rye seeds

In your cast iron pot, brown the bacon  then saute the onion. Te crispiness of the bacon is up to you, i tend to prefer mine non-crispy more chewy. Add the cabbage and the caraway, or rye, seeds and season with a little salt and pepper ‘to taste’.

Toss this until the cabbage wilts down, about four minutes or so. Then add the water and wine, cover and turn the heat to low. Let this simmer about 15 minutes.

Add the vinegar, cover and cook until the cabbage is tender. As this is a personal test for done-ness, I prefer firmer, crunchier cabbage so I only cook this for an additional five minutes or so.

Extract the cabbage with a slotted spoon and pack it for your picnic.

 

Simple Seared Scallops w German Coleslaw

The fresher the scallop, the more I prefer the simple sear cooking. I picked up some very nice large sea scallops and, as Best Yet market was running a sale on red cabbage, I figured that I would keep things simple, and use up the bacon I had left over in the fridge. Now, I know, most people would reflexively wrap the scallops in the bacon and grill them up, but I would rather add the bacon to flavor the coleslaw and leave the freshness of the scallop alone.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the scallops –

  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds dry sea scallops, approximately 16
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the scallop, remove the small side muscle, rinse with cold water, and pat dry thouroughly.

In a nice 12 inch non-stick sauté pan add the butter and oil. Turn the burner on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the butter/oil begins to smoke, gently add the scallops. This ensures that the oil is indeed hot and the scallops will sear on the oil and not stick to the pan (if you’re not using a non-stick pan). Make sure they are not touching each other, or they will stick to each other. Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center.

For the coleslaw –

  • 1 red cabbage
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 rashers thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2/3 cup beef stock
  • 1/3 cup duck walk red wine
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and black pepper

Remove outer leaves from cabbage. Cut into quarters, cut out white trunk. Slice cabbage into very thin shreds.

Set large heavy pan over medium-high heat. Melt butter and add the bacon and caraway seeds. Cook until the bacon starts to brown. Add sugar and onion, cook until softened and translucent. Add cabbage, stir to coat well with the fat then add the salt.

Next, add the beef stock and red wine. Cover and bring liquid to a boil, cook for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and add the vinegar, stir well, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the scallops and serve with a refreshing beverage…

As an option for you picnickers out there… You can let this refrigerate this slaw for a couple of hours and serve this cold, or room temperature.