Balsamic Reduction: Make It Fancy In Minutes!

Making balsamic reduction is one of the quickest ways I can think of to spruce up your cooking. A balsamic reduction is simply the process of boiling down balsamic vinegar. The result is a wonderful syrup that can be used in sweet and savoury dishes alike. Takes only minutes to make, and can be used in so many ways.  Make the transformation from regular home chef to culinary pro!

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A simple balsamic reduction adds elegance and a beautiful sweetness to leafy greens, and goes especially well with goat cheese and pistachios or other nuts. Dress up your salad with this classic dressing! It also pairs sensationally with tomato salads or strawberries in desserts. Can be used as a thicker topping for meats, fish and vegetables, or a thinner version can be used as a glaze for fish or roasts. So versatile! A simple balsamic reduction can add oomph to any dish that uses balsamic vinegar!

It adds an AMAZING touch to a simple Italian Caprese salad, which is what you will see here in my photos. I’ve also included the Caprese salad recipe in this post. 🙂 Continue reading

Tomato Salad In A Snap!

There is no better time than tomato season to enjoy tomatoes. Everywhere I look, my friends and family are harvesting their crop and bragging about how good their tomatoes taste. My father started a vegetable garden last year and is growing all sorts of tomato varieties. He planted so many he doesn’t even know what to do with them all! And so, of course, I have a never-ending supply of sweet, ripe tomatoes coming to me. I have to say, these homegrown tomatoes are the best I’ve ever had!

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Take advantage of the delicious tomatoes in season and enjoy them in a simple salad! Tomato salads have always been a staple in my home, and I have my father to thank for it. He is the man always on a quest for the freshest, ripest, sweetest tomatoes, and was the one who first showed me this recipe. (I’m sure this is how I developed my love for balsamic vinegar.)

This is the easiest salad to make. It uses only a few ingredients, and takes minutes to make. Continue reading

A Proper Caesar Salad.

Last night’s dinner was AMAZING. I’m so excited about how well it turned out I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll begin with a photo…

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We decided it would be a Caesar salad kind of night. When I got to the grocery store, I decided it was also going to be a shrimp and lobster kind of night too! Lobster tails were on sale…I can’t say no to lobster.

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Have you ever wondered about the origin of Caesar salad? (I do wonder about these things.) No, Julius Caesar did not invent this salad in ancient times. The salad is named after Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant and chef in the United States and Mexico. The earliest documentation of these salads was in the 1940’s. Chef Cardini never used anchovies in his original dressing, the anchovy flavour came from the Worcestershire sauce. I love a good Caesar salad with anchovies. If you’re going to make a Super Caesar, it has got to have the little fishies.

I’ve always wanted to make Caesar salad dressing from scratch, but never really got around to it. I wanted to find the best recipe to use. Tonight, I found it! I’ve heard such good things about the Caesar salads at Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.). They do tableside Caesars right at your table, dressing and all! If you’ve ever been there, you must know what I’m talking about. I was determined to find Jacobs’ recipe. During my search, I came across this fantastic video on YouTube. (Watch it.)

There were no exact measurements in the video for the ingredients so I used my own judgement, and the salad turned out exactly how I wanted it! It’s a garlic-y vinaigrette Caesar dressing. My favourite kind. You must try this for yourself, it’s terrific! Here’s my take on the Jacobs & Co. recipe:

How To Make A Caesar Vinaigrette & A Great Caesar Salad (Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse Recipe)
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
(You can totally adjust the amounts of these ingredients to your own liking/taste. Adding more olive oil will make it a bit creamier.)

  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • minced garlic (1 or 2 cloves, depending on how much you like garlic. I used 2 cloves.)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 or 2 splashes Tabasco hot sauce (out of the bottle)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used fresh lemon juice)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (some extra to sprinkle on top if you like)
  • bacon bits (I made my own using 2 slices of smoked side bacon)
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce (Judge by your amount of dressing how much lettuce you want to use.)

If you’re going to make your own bacon bits, start by frying the bacon in a pan until it’s nice and crispy. Then chop it up. (It may even just sort of crumble if it’s crispy enough.)

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Wash, dry and cut your lettuce. Have it ready to mix into the dressing later on.

Use a large salad bowl. Start by grinding your pepper into this bowl. Next, add your sea salt, anchovies and garlic.

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Using a fork or spoon smash it all together. Your goal to mash the anchovies into a paste.

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Add in the 2 egg yolks, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar and lemon juice. Mix, mix, mix.

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Add the olive oil SLOWLY, bit by bit, while mixing. You want to emulsify all the flavours. The faster and longer you mix, the creamier the dressing will get. (If you’d like your dressing to be creamier, add more olive oil.) Mix in the 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, bacon bits, and croutons into the dressing.

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You did it! Now mix in the romaine lettuce and you’re done! Add more or less lettuce depending on how much dressing you have. Don’t overdress the leaves, but make sure they’re well coated. This is going to be the best Caesar salad you’ve ever had. You can add a little more parmesan on top of your salads once you’ve plated them.

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The lobster & shrimp linguine recipe shall follow! xx