No cooking lately?

If it was feasible, believe me, I would be. As it is, all I’m doing lately is thinking about cooking.That’s about all you can do when your new place is full of boxes, you have no real cooking utensils or apparati, you’re still organizing your kitchen (and reorganizing the pantry for the third time), and you happen to be leaving the state in T-3 days to go home for a week. What’s the point in cooking when it’ll just go bad in storage?

I have a tiny kitchen that, while it kind of scares me with how tiny it really is, I’m itching to test out. (I’ve only made tea and pain perdu, currently. Nothing w.r.t. real food.) Will I be able to cook anything effectively? How am I going to have to change my techniques, my movements, my thought process, to better use my space? I would really like to use my island as it was meant to be used – a cooking and utensil storage space, not a ‘stack-stuff-on-top-because-there’s-nowhere-else-to-put-it’ space. I need a butcher block or cutting board to put on it, first, because I don’t want to slice through the polyurethane. 354 has a slab of white granite on the back of his truck, but I really only want a piece of it for a cold board. A 2’x1′ piece of it would be perfect for making homemade pasta, or slab ice cream scoops, or kneading bread dough… and I like it better than marble. Maybe it’s the country girl in me, but why should I want to pay obscene amounts of money for a slab of rock? Granite and marble are still heavy when you drop them on your foot, and granite is sparkly.

My mother is giving me the old Cuisinart ice cream maker, which thrills me to no end even though I’ll have to store all my freezer goods either in a cooler or clean the freezer altogether before making ice cream so I can store the container. Or use one of the other freezers in the building (I could trade scoops of homemade for freezer space, right?). But I want to make homemade ice cream before the heat leaves (which I never thought I’d say, and in Georgia, I’ve got time). I love making homemade, especially the powerful gourmet vanilla that I’m so fond of.

The photos in this post almost made me tear up, they were so vivid. I wish that I could actually lick the screen and taste the vanilla, because that is what those photos say. ‘Eat me, I’m real!’ Sadly, no; at least, not in a tangible kind of way for me, just for Hannah. (And I’m supremely jealous of her because of that.) After I pushed away all my sadfacing over a lack of that gelato-looking beauty, I read the entry and it got me thinking: How would coconut cream do as an ice cream base? I have two cans sitting in my pantry, waiting patiently to be used in tom kha gai or a silky curry, but it’s too hot as far as I’m concerned. What would the effects of that coconut cream be in my gourmet vanilla? Or a Dutch-process cocoa? Or in a Vietnamese coffee-flavored frozen treat? Cookies and cream? The possibilities could be endless! And delicious!

But what would you have to change?

In the meantime, I bought bologna and cheese last night after karate, so I’d have something to eat for the next few meals of the week while I’m still in Georgia. (Don’t knock it. I’m well aware that bologna, like hot dogs, are made of chicken lips, phonebooks and pig knuckles, and I love it anyway.) I told myself that I wouldn’t buy anything that wouldn’t keep while I was gone – and then I bought a ready-mix bag of salad, and some limes, and two mangoes, and a red onion. I didn’t buy dressing, because I was convinced that I’d make my own damn dressing and it would be tasty. And then I realized that I have no dressing recipes, and my olive oil vinaigrettes never turn out tasting like anything but oil and vinegar. So I’ve been perusing the Internet for salad dressing, and come up with some pretty basic – and some not so basic – recipes that I like. They’re posted with credit under the cut. Tonight I’m going to go home, hard boil some eggs, open and drain a can of black beans and a can of beets, sliver up some sharp cheddar and grate some Parmesan and have a little salad party of my very own. That is, in between unpacking boxes and doing financial accounting spreadsheets and packing my bag(s) for next week.

Never heard of a salad party, have you?

Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
3 tablespoons chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (optional)

1. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, chicken broth, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium size bowl and whisk until well blended.
2. Cover and refrigerate.
3. Bring to room temperature and whisk well before using. Add freshly chopped basil last.

Makes 10 servings.

Cooking Tip: Use as a dressing on mixed greens, or as a marinate for fish, chicken or pork.

Blue Cheese Dressing
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley (1/2 teaspoon dried parsley)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl, stirring well to combine. Pour into a container with lid and refrigerate for a several hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Makes 16 (2-tablespoon) servings or about 2 cups.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 57.9 calories; 78% calories from fat; 5.1g total fat; 11.8mg cholesterol; 113.7mg sodium; 49.0mg potassium; 1.1g carbohydrates; 0.0g fiber; 0.3g sugar; 1.1g net carbs; 2.1g protein.

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 small clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. In a blender add white wine vinegar, fresh basil leaves, fresh oregano leaves, fresh rosemary leaves, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.
2. Blend 10 to 15 seconds until all the herbs and garlic are finely minced.
3. Gradually add Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil and continue blending for 10 to 15 seconds or until everything is mixed well.

Makes about 2/3 cup.

Green Goddess Dressing
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 green onions, minced
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Combine in a food processor or blender the vinegar, garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, anchovies, herbs and green onions. Run the processor and drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube.
2. Transfer the sauce to a bowl. Fold in the sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 2 cups.

Raspberry and Walnut Vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon honey mustard
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons walnut oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

1. In a bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar and salt; add the oils in a small stream, while whisking, until vinaigrette is emulsified.
2. Stir in the tarragon.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Sesame Soy Vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted lightly and cooled

1. In a bowl whisk together sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and salt to taste. Mix the oils together in small cup and then whisk oil mixture in a small stream into the soy/vinegar mixture until it is emulsified.
2. Stir in the sesame seeds.

Makes about 1/2 cup vinaigrette.

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
12 ounces stemmed California strawberries
3/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Granulated sugar, if needed

1. Puree strawberries in blender or processor. Transfer to bowl. Add dried herbs, garlic, salt, pepper and pepper flakes; whisk thoroughly. Whisk in vinegar. While whisking, add oil in a slow, steady stream. Adjust seasoning with salt and/or pepper, and balance flavors with a small amount of sugar, if needed.

Makes about 2 1/4 cups.


Creamy Basil Salad Dressing
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves,
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 scallions with tops, chopped
3 tablespoons vinegar
1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


Creamy Garlic Dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, onion and garlic; simmer until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add sugar; simmer until dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Stir in mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and pepper.


Buttermilk Dressing
1/2 c buttermilk
2 T mayo
2 T cider vinegar
2 T minced shallots
1 T sugar
3 T chives, chopped fine

Whisk thoroughly until creamy and combined. Keep refrigerated up to 1 week.

Balsamic Dressing
1/3 c grated Parmesan
1/4 c mayo
2 anchovy fillets
1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1/2 t Dijon
1/2 t Worcestershire
1/4 c olive oil
1 garlic clove

Puree smooth. Keep refrigerated.


Champagne Vinaigrette

1 cup mild olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup champagne
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch sugar, optional

Whisk together olive oil, champagne vinegar, and champagne. (You may use a blender for this if you wish.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the vinaigrette tastes too sharp, add a pinch of sugar and whisk until dissolved. Refrigerate any leftover salad dressing and use within 1 week.

Yield: 1-1/2 cups, enough for 6 to 8 salads.


1 thought on “No cooking lately?

  1. I’m not sure if you would be interested, but there is a company which sells an excellent extra-virgin olive oil which goes well with virtually anything.
    The company is called Holy Food Imports and their website is at

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