Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Work, Vinaigrette and Kitchen Must-Haves (part one)

I'm finally starting to get on the ball, here, people. I had to work the last couple of days. Click on the word "work" to check it out. It's the place that I gave you a tour of in January.

You know what? Working a little makes me way more productive. I love getting out of the house once in a while. And I forget how much I like to work until I get out there and do it.

Speaking of work, my new job is with General Mills. I will be working out of their R&D facility and it involves a lot of travel, but most of the time it will just be a day trip or overnight. Fly-in, work, fly-out. I'm thrilled. It's part time work, which is soooo nice. Plus? I can still consult for others, so I can continue to work at the Photography studio, which I love.

Okay, so let's talk recipes.

I was thinking really hard about what to include in my 3 recipes for Sarah. I have a million favorites, but very few that I make all of the time. Some of my favorites are just too complicated. Well - not complicated - but I tend to just "eyeball" things or I change them every time I make them or they're just not something that maybe YOU wouldn't want to make (i.e. French Onion Soup), so then, why bother sharing that one?

I want to please you people. Because that's what it's all about, right? Right.
Pleasing the Internets. Right. Yes. Because I want you to be happy.

One of the few things I make all of the time is a homemade mustard viniagrette dressing. Now, this is one of the recipes where I don't measure the ingredients. I'm going to give you the recipe that I based my vinaigrette from. It's good. But I tend to add more mustard - maybe double than the recipe calls for. It makes the vinaigrette thicker and then you can skimp on the oil a bit. I also vary the vinegars and oils. I really like Champagne vinegar (and don't buy really expensive champagne vinegar - that's just silly), but you can use anything. Cider vinegar is great in here. So is balsamic.

Homemade Mustard Vinagrette

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teapsoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk together all items except the oil. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream while whisking.

That's it! Besides changing the oil or vinegar, here are some other ways I change it:

*I'll add garlic (1/2 clove.)

*fresh herbs - basil or chives- are really nice in here.

*Like I said: add more mustard.

*I use this on a Caprese salad or on a green salad

* I use it on sandwiches,too.

*My favorite dinner in the whole wide world is baked chicken, a big green salad with shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, green or red onions, tomato and cucumbers and a baked potato. I put a little vinagrette on my potato with some sour cream.

* My favorite lunch is hummus spread on a panfried wheat pita flat bread (I use cooking spray to fry it) with the green salad I mentioned above on top of the hummus and drizzled with the vinaigrette and folded and eaten like a taco. Click on "hummus" for my recipe. I've never met a pre-made hummus that I've liked. It's gotta be homemade.


Are you ready for my list of kitchen must-haves? Here we go!

I make my vinaigrette in these working glasses. I only have one size: the one on the right. I should get some taller ones, but I don't have the room for them. If you buy them at Crate & Barrel you can get some red lids for them. I use these for SO many things. Food storage, of course. You can use them as a drinking glass - I don't like them for that purpose, but Zuddy doesn't mind. I use them to hold cotton balls and swabs and toothbrushes in the bathroom medicine cabinet.

A good Chef's knife is a must. I like the 8-inch Wustof. There's a place in Mpls. that sells discounted sales returns. I buy mine there and I get them sharpened there once or twice a year. Zuddy sharpens them for me, too. But the guy at this place (It's called Eversharp) is top-notch.

Good dry ingredient measuring untensils are a must, too. I have 3 sets of measuring spoons and 2 sets of cups. I like the spoons to not have a large flared cup. I like the stainless ones from a cookware store. I'm picky about these. I don't have the ones above (which are All-Clad brand from Williams-Sonoma), but they look like good ones. I have the Williams-Sonoma store brand ones and I have an older model that they don't sell anymore.

A flat whisk. I didn't know I needed this until I was at my friend, Hilary's house using hers. She bought me one. I freakin' love it. I have a few different whisk sizes that I like.

Silicone spatulas. I like the ones from Pampered Chef. They're the best, but these ones from Williams-Sonoma look kinda peppy, don't they?

An instant-read meat thermometer. I just get mine at Target - the no-frills Taylor brand one.

Okay, this is an extravagance: this pepper mill. The very one pictured. I freakin' love this thing. Zuddy bought it for me when we were dating. It's super-easy to get the pepper in there and it's top-notch. Unfortunately? This is a photo from the one at Williams-Sonoma. It's Seventy-Five-Freakin'-dollars. I highly doubt Zuddy spent that kind of money on it, but there you have it. And if I had to do it all over again? I'd spend the money on it. But not for the salt. For the salt, just use kosher salt.

Okay, I could go on and on with this, but I will continue tomorrow.

I loved all of your comments on the cologne! Sarah!!!!!! You are too funny about the Pot-head at the party!!!!!!!!


Janet said...

I love that you like to cook. It seems like such a lost art and I swear in another generation no one will have ever eaten homemade food. I could cook all day and I swear that I look like I eat all day long too. I don't have a flat whisk, but I may have to buy one. I swear by my 8" santuko knife. I crave a set of really good knives!! Yada yada yada

Sarah said...

You do know that every party has a pothead. That one was captured on film in his element for sure.

I will have to admit I have never tried hummus. The name is scary to me... but I might have to try it.

Also I would agree that a good kitchen knife is essential. I am a sucker for high end cookware... stuff a girl can dream about.

Congrats on your new job.. its sounds fun!! Are you a good flyer? I am a nervous flyer...


Cutzi said...

I make almost that exact same dressing and we have it in our fridge most of the time. I generally make it with balsamic and garlic and the best part? Flax seed oil. How healthy is that! If you find Barlean's flax oil - it's made in my town. BTW.

Also, BTW (I'm so blog lingo saavy) I use the Pampered Chef salad dressing thingy. It doesn't look half as cool as your little glass containers but it has a pour spout and mixer whisk thing (I'm so technical too). I love it.

Michelle said...

Yea! I love "Martha's Kitchen Must-Haves"! I can't wait for part 2!

Have you tried the hummus from the Mississippi Market deli? That stuff does something to my brain that even chocolate can't match. That hummus makes my top 5 list of things I miss about MN.

I, too, crave high-end cookware, but only if I can get a deal. My proudest moment in kitchen bargain acquisitions was getting my 8" Wusthof santoku knife for $19.99 at Marshalls. I was so giddy, I hardly slept that night.


So you are a food stylist? looks like a great place to work...they look like one big family sitting around that table...yay! for you!

Thirkellgirl said...

Your new job sounds great. It's fun to be able to do something you're good at part-time, isn't it? Thanks for the vinaigrette recipe - I usually wing it and do not have a good success rate with that method. I hate silicone spatulas (they *stick to plastic bowls) except for making omelets but I love all the rest of your picks. I couldn't live without my chef's knife (or my santoku, now that I'm used to it). I just got a pepper mill at Ikea that has a glass jar on the *bottom, so you don't end up with pepper-mess on the counter all the time.

Lisa said...

Great post Chef Martha!

I too, adore all your cooking must haves, along with that vinaigrette recipe. We use one very similar, here.

Being a former Pampered Chef diva, I do have alot of fun tools, mostly the thermometer, which I love and the spatulas, which I also love. PC also has a really nice dressing mixer thingy, which has alot of fun dressings to make, right on the side. We love these also, and use them alot.

Its gorgeous here, almost 40 degrees at 9:oo! yay, blue skies. spring is coming girls!
coastal nest

restyled home said...

Oh boy, you are waay out of my league!! I pretty much pick my cooking instruments by the way they look in my kitchen...I think I need an interpreter around all this culinary speak!!


Amy said... about a few more details on the new job. What are you going to be doing? Flying around making mashed potatoes for the apple pies???

Anonymous said...


I love your blog and you too.


Mrs. Jones said...

Yes, it is all about me. And thanks for the recipe. I can only hope it helps me.

Ooooh, corporate travel. We are quite the working woman now.


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