Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vinegar, a good way to brighten your next culinary adventure.

Last week we talked about how vinegar can be such a useful product that should be in every household. It is great for cleaning in every room to keep things fresh. Not to mention the healing benefits of a bit of vinegar as a tonic for colds and flu. Today we will take a closer look at vinegar as an ingredient in cooking. 

Likely we have all heard of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Along with red an white wine vinegar, these are the mostly commonly used in everything from pickling cucumbers to making a lovely vinaigrette for your salad.

It turns out there are a number of vinegars that are not so commonly known about but should not be overlooked. Each of these vinegars adds their own special touch to dishes.

We'll look at all of them:

  • White Vinegar is colorless and very sharp. It is distilled from grains. It is great for pickling vegetables and is tasty in pasta salads.
  • Cider Vinegar is brown and is made from apples. It holds up well in a salad made of sturdy greens. It is especially good in marinades.
Cider Vinegar
  • Red and White Wine Vinegar is made from different wines. It is full bodied and great for vinaigrette and stews.
White and Red Wine Vinegar

  • Rice Vinegar is lightly tinted but less pungent than white vinegar. It is made from rice. This is commonly used in Asian dishes. This combines well with sesame oil.
Rice Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar is a dark, sweet vinegar. Don't be shy about using it on salads and in sauces. Drizzled on fruit is wonderful.
Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cane Vinegar is made from fermented sugar cane. It is commonly used in Philippine cooking.
Cane Vinegar
  • Coconut Vinegar is made from the sap of the coconut tree. It is mild and is used in Indian, Thai and Southeast Asian dishes.
Coconut Vinegar
  • Malt Vinegar is made from grain, usually barley, and has a strong taste. Commonly it is sprinkled on chips for the English fish and chips.
Malt Vinegar

  • Sherry Vinegar is made from wine in southwestern Spain. It is smooth and mellow and is commonly found in Spanish recipes especially with poultry, salad and sauces.
Sherry Vinegar
When using vinegar, make sure you know its intensity so as to compliment the dish and not overwhelm it. Vinegar should brighten up a dish not overpower it.

Pam and I have a strong European background. Growing up we ate a lot of German dishes, not the least of which was German Potato Salad. Now, I've tasted a lot of different versions of this dish. Some really good; some not so good. Mostly the not-so-good ones had way too much vinegar or way too much sugar, which made it too tart or sweet and not easy to enjoy.

German potato salad is not like the salad brought to picnics and made with mayonnaise and mustard. So get that idea right out of your head.  This potato salad  is served warm and includes bacon for good measure.

So here we go on our way to make German Potato Salad:

German Potato Salad

What you need.
5 strips of bacon cut in half inch pieces then fried crispy
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar**
1 tablespoon sugar **
4 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cubed
dried parsley for garnish

What you need to do:

Fry bacon until very crispy, reserve 2 tablespoons grease.  Drain bacon and set aside.  In large sauce pan add chopped onion to the bacon grease and saute until tender.  Add flour, salt and pepper and gently saute about one minute.  Add water and vinegar and stir until slightly thickened.  If sauce is too thick, add another 1/4 cup water.  Stir in sugar. Cook another 2 minutes.  Set aside.

Cook potatoes until fork tender but don't allow to get mushy.  Drain potatoes and put back in pot.  Pour sauce over potatoes and add bacon.  Gently toss.  Place in serving bowl and garnish with dried parsley.  Serve warm.

** You should have a somewhat tart and a bit sweet finish salad.  Too much of either doesn't work.  So start with less and add more as you like.

Look for all the ways vinegar can be added to your life, whether cooking, healing, or cleaning. It's good for you!  Here's a link with more information.

Now, go out and make something good.

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