Oil and Vinegar: Home Cook’s Essentials

By on 3 February, 2014 in Cooking, Food, Natilee McGruder with 0 Comments

On my journey to a healthier me, I have recently started an elimination diet where I am cutting out known inflammatory foods such as dairy, meat, sugar, grains (rice, wheat, etc), starchy vegetables (beans and potatoes) and alcohol. It has been a challenging and eye-opening experience to keep my meals both satisfying and tasty. As a home cook I have learned the hard way over the years how to cook under various economic conditions. This means I am very familiar with what ingredients are forgiving regarding substitutes versus what ingredients demand quality for consistent and delicious results. My first two commandments of cooking are: 1) Use the best quality and freshest ingredients possible; 2) Have a good selection and command of quality oils, fresh herbs, citrus and spices.

It will certainly save your pocketbook to get cooking techniques like poaching, broiling, grilling, searing, resting, reducing and sautéing down pat first, but it will delight your taste buds and keep you excited to cook at home when you master the art and science of creating flavor. Fresh cracked pepper, high quality sea salt, the best and freshest herbs and spices available and quality oils are the areas where I never skimp, which is why I was overjoyed to discover the Vintage Olive. This labor of love is sandwiched between Pepper Tree Steaks N’ Wines and Montgomery Supper Suppers in the Pepper Tree shopping center off Vaughn Road.

The owners, Ed and Carly Gannon, were on separate mission trips in Peru when they met and fell in love as they enjoyed conversation, ministry and traveling together. Along the way, they discovered gourmet olive oil and decided to return to Ed’s native Montgomery to open a specialty shop featuring extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) from around the world, aged balsamic vinegars from Italy, as well as gourmet spices like black truffle sea salt and Himalayan salt blocks and eggs for seasoning and brining. The store itself is a delight to discover. It features a very eclectic design, much of it handcrafted by Ed: a wall made up of antique doors salvaged from old homes, tables crafted of reclaimed wood, tables made from the old doors from the federal building downtown, antiques that have passed down through his family and more unique offerings.

Ed and Carly also offer private tastings, which feature several delectable dishes made from scratch by the couple with their signature products. Vintage Olive features over 55 varieties and flavors of oils and vinegars. Here are a few to get you salivating:

Aged Balsamic Vinegars:

  • Dark Espresso
  • Pomegranate
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Aged Maple
  • Serrano Honey
  • Sicilian Lemon
  • Blackberry Ginger
  • Lavender

Extra Virgin Olive Oils:

  • Persian lime
  • Butter
  • Walnut
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Blood Orange
  • Garlic
  • Tuscan Herb
  • Mushroom and Sage
  • Cilantro and Roasted Onion

Dynamic salads with tasty dressings are one of my saving graces on this 30 day cleanse. I try to stay on the straight and narrow during the week by meal prepping on Sunday. Along with a big batch of soup, I like to cut my salad veggies and whip up my dressings ahead of time for no fuss lunches and dinners. Below are a few selected healthy and delicious dressing recipes from Vintage Olive’s vaults.

Creamy Ranch Dressing

A healthier version of this classic comfort dressing.

  • 1 large avocado
  • 3 tablespoons Lemon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons Harissa EVOO (Baklouti or Cayenne EVOO for hot or Chipotle EVOO for flavor but less heat)
  • 1/2 cup Garlic EVOO (or your favorite)
  • 1 tablespoon Herbal Sea Salt
  • 1/3 cup skim milk (more milk if you desire a thinner dressing)

Blend together, taste and enjoy.

Classic Vinaigrette Recipe

Delicious with any of your favorite olive oil and balsamic combos.

  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 to 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper

Whisk and enjoy.

Creamy Vinaigrette

A tasty twist on the classic.

  • 1/3 cup Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. Sicilian Lemon Balsamic
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream, yogurt or mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot cut into chunks
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except the shallot and blend; a creamy emulsion will form within 10-30 seconds. Taste and add balsamic a teaspoon or two at a time to reach your desired taste. Add the shallot chunks and turn the blender on and off a few times until the shallot is minced in the dressing.

Natilee is a reader, writer, traveler, live music lover and home cook who is obsessed with soups.




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