Results tagged salad dressing from David Lebovitz

White Vinegar (vinaigre blanc)

vinaigre

The most common bottle of crisp white that you’ll find in any Parisian apartment isn’t a musky Muscadet from the Loire, or a Petit Chablis from Burgundy. This one comes in a plastic bottle, has a screw top with a little opening just underneath so you can squeeze out a stream as needed, and costs less than a buck. It’s le vinaigre blanc, and it’s obligatoire to keep a squeezable plastic liter bottle handy in your kitchen.

(Not to say the other kinds of whites aren’t obligatory as well. Each just help hurdle different kinds of obstacles.)

Before I moved to France, I rarely paid white vinegar a second thought. My pantry was stocked with red wine and sherry vinegar, and a little bottle of fancy balsamic. But their importance is secondary to white vinegar, which does everything from keeping your wine glasses spotless to making sure your dishwasher doesn’t seize up on you mid-load, completely clogged by the infamous calcaire, never to wash another dish again.

I arrived completely unaware of it, and in my first apartment, apparently neither did the person before me because right after I moved in, one day, my dishwasher simply ground to a permanent halt. However I was fortunate regarding the laundry machine because a friend confided in me over lunch in a café shortly after I arrived, as if it was some big unspoken secret in Paris that you can’t just wash clothes or dishes without adding a little something “extra” to the load. (And now you can stop wondering what all those French people are talking about in Parisian cafés, if you don’t speak French.)

She advised Calgon, but a well-meaning friend from California came to visit and reprimanded me for having a box, saying it was an environmental catastrophe. Apparently the word hasn’t made it six thousand miles away because I see it in almost every household I visit, tucked under the kitchen or bathroom sink. But it was then that I made the switch to 100% white vinegar.

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Celery Root Remoulade (Céleri Rémoulade)

cerey root remoulade

I’ve never liked celery. To me, it’s like eating green water held together with a lot of stringy, indigestible fibers. Unless it’s filled with peanut butter or cream cheese, you can have it. The only time I ever buy a bunch is when I’m making stock, which is a shame, because I only just need a few stalks and usually the rest sits in my refrigerator until it wilts and dies and I have to throw it out. And I hate throwing food away. A lot of other people in France must feel the same way I do because at the markets, the vendors will gladly slice a bunch in half and sell you just part of one.

slicing celery root 2

Yes, I’ve seen those recipes for things like braised celery and boiled celery, which allegedly are the most wonderful ways to transform that ho-hum vegetable into something edible. I’ll have to take their word for it, because when I read through those recipes, no matter how excited the authors are about discovering a new way to prepare celery, the finished dish still sounds like it’s going to taste like rolled-up soggy newspaper. Until I’m proved wrong, for now I’ll stick with celery root, which is a whole ‘nother story.

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How to Make French Vinaigrette

One assumption that I’m going to make about the French is that they’re not afraid to make things au pif, or “by the nose”.

utensils

I don’t know if a precise recipe for sauce vinaigrette actually exists. But if there is, I bet few people follow it very closely. And Romain is no different from his compatriots when it comes to recipes, and rules.

They are both for other people—and don’t apply to him.

adding salt salad basket

Vinaigrette is just one of those things. It’s a few simple ingredients which come together so well, when done right. Anyone can make it: you just pour, stir, marinate, then taste until it’s just right. But the salad dressings in France always taste better to me than elsewhere. So thought I’d follow Romain when he made a true vinaigrette. He was surprised at the idea of measuring anything, so I follow him through the steps, taking a few notes along with way (see Recipe, at the end) and along the way, I learned two French secrets for a great salad dressing.

One is that you must use good Dijon mustard.

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