PHOTO: John D. Ivanko/Flickr
June 4, 2014

Blending two ingredients that don’t normally mix well is usually not a great idea—unless, of course, it comes to making vinaigrette. Thank goodness someone thought to defy the laws of nature and mix oil and vinegar together in a delicious dressing that lightly coats tender, fresh spring greens.

Chef Jeremy Critchfield of The Historic Stone House Restaurant and Country Inn in Farmington, Pa., makes nearly all his menu items. His restaurant is located not far from the town of Ohiopyle, where you’ll find thrilling white water rafting, miles of bicycle trails and spectacular Frank Lloyd Wright homes.

Simply put, Chef Jeremy’s salad dressings turn simple seasonal abundance into gourmet feasts.

“The one lesson [grandma] taught me that I’ve built my career around is knowing where your food comes from,” he says in a blog post.

With his decades of culinary experience, he’s definitely mastered the emulsion, blending various herbs, oils and vinegars into fantastic condiments. Vinaigrettes lightly envelope lettuce and greens, clinging to the leaves but not overpowering or masking their subtle flavors.

The trick in making great vinaigrette is in the whisking. It’s not hard, but it does take a few minutes. We do it by hand, with a whisk or two forks, in a glass or ceramic bowl. Avoid mixing in an aluminum bowl, however, as the acid in the vinegar can interact with the aluminum. Just keep at it, whisking, until the ingredients seem to disappear into one another, becoming one tangy liquid. You’ll wonder why you ever wasted your money on the bottled stuff carried on most supermarket shelves, plus you’ll avoid ingesting a few unnecessary ingredients, like artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup or preservatives.

Whether vinaigrette is house made or homemade in your farmstead kitchen, forgo the bottled varieties and make your own. If you need a place to start, Chef Jeremy’s Peach and White Balsamic Vinaigrette below is a winner. You might get requests for salad seconds before the main course is even served.


Recipe: Peach and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

from Chef Jeremy Critchfield, The Historic Stone House

Yield: about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ripe peaches, sliced, without skins
  • 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cup soybean oil
  • 2 T. fresh cilantro
  • 2 T. honey
  • 3 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 T. grated onion

Preparation

Blend all ingredients until well emulsified.

Serve by drizzling vinaigrette on fresh, tender salad greens, tossing and adding in croutons, some spiced pecans and, possibly, sprinkling in some edible flowers.


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