|Tin Can Bay|
Settle down! Don’t get into a pickle! I’m not referring to me! Although, I guess in some uninformed, acerbic quarters it could be a subject of intense, lengthy debate. I don’t think I’m overly tart, although I admit if enough of my buttons are pushed, and I’ve had time to ferment I can be.
I may be an old tart, but I’m not bitter. However, I must remain concentrated on the subject at hand. I’ll share a vignette with you - “V-i-g-n-e-t-t-e”…not “vinaigrette”. In the words of the Naked Chef …”dressing comes later”.
I was prompted to write this post from reading River’s post today.
When I was a child vinegar was a major ingredient in our kitchen. And it's importance remains so in my own kitchen, even to this day - now that I’m a sour old tart…oops…a matured elder.
During my childhood vinegar served many purposes including soothing annoying sand fly bites. Therefore, a bottle or two of vinegar always came with us on our many visits to Tin Can Bay, the home of the sand-fly.
Tin Can Bay was a regular get-away place when we were kids. Mum loved fishing and mud crabbing while Nana took my brother, Graham and me to collect fresh oysters by the dozens off the rocks from from the esplanade.
We couldn’t imagine relishing the abundance of sumptuous oysters we’d collected without still warm fresh bread, butter, pepper, salt and lashing of vinegar to accompany them; nor could we envisage eating the mouthwatering fish and mud crabs our mother caught without a bottle of vinegar, with its top off, on the table.
As for vinaigrette, in my childhood I’d never heard of it, let alone tried it in those early years of innocence. Vinaigrette came later...in the mid-Sixties.
Tossed salads were summer regulars when I was a kid; and they still are now I'm an old tart. Only vinegar and vinegar alone was sprinkled over out mixed salads.
You may shudder and be shocked at what I have to say next. Please be assured I was taught excellent manners, and I heeded the lessons to the letter – the majority of the times. You might want to look away now; stop reading or, at least, sit down, to help soften the blow.
I’m about to tell you what I used to do - it might alarm and haunt you. If it lessens your outrage I did confine my behaviour within our own 12 walls (our home was small, but we did have more than four walls).
At meal’s end whenever a mixed salad was part of the fare I’d tip the salad bowl, raise it to my lips and drink the dregs. There you have it! Would you prefer I go no further? I hope you’re not hyperventilating. Inhale deeply a few times - it helps.
I loved drinking the leftover vinegar infused with pepper, salt and salad flavours. I still do.
Every time I guzzled the dregs I received a rousing from both Mum and Nana.
Scolding me, they’d say – “Lee! Stop drinking the vinegar! It’ll dry up your blood!”
Most of the time I heeded their advices (I think), but throwing caution to the wind, that particular recommendation I recklessly disregarded.
My drinking the salad bowl dregs was the least of their worries. Obviously their warnings weren’t true because I cut my finger yesterday and it bled profusely. See! A lesson to be learned – don’t believe everything you’re told - unless told by me, of course!
The fact is, vinegar is a blood purifier, in which case I must be very pure! (Don’t choke!)
Because most people are aware of apple cider vinegar’s many health benefits I won’t go into details. If you’re one of the few not familiar with its benefits…check it out. Mr. Google is always willing to help.
I’ve just realised the many vinegar varieties I have in my cupboards; cider, balsamic, white balsamic, red wine, white wine, rice, garlic-infused, white and malt.
Obviously my childhood tastes haven’t changed, but I do manage to keep my behaviour as described above in check - within my own precinct. Remy and Shama don’t mind my bad table manners when it comes to skolling the vinegar...they don’t like vinegar...it’s all mine to enjoy!
Artichoke-Oregano Salad: Combine 2c grape/cherry tomatoes, ¼c chopped, fresh oregano, 1/4c x-virgin olive oil, 1/4tsp dried pepper flakes, 10 large butter lettuce leaves, 12 pitted Kalamata olives, 12 small pepperoncini peppers, 1 can, quartered, drained artichoke hearts, 1 can rinsed, drained chickpeas and 3tbs garlic-infused red wine vinegar; toss to coat. Add 85g fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes; toss gently.
Roasted Potato Salad: Toss 1-1/2kg unpeeled red potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes and 1 thinly sliced red onion in 2tbs olive oil; season; spread evenly on oiled baking sheet; bake at 218C, until crisp, yet fork-tender, 20-25mins; cool to room temp. Return to bowl; add 1-1/2c roasted fresh corn (kernels sliced off cobs after roasting), 1c diced celery and 2tsp garlic powder. Whisk 1/2c x-virgin olive oil and 1/3c cider vinegar; drizzle over salad; toss; season; chill at least 3hrs; stir in 3/4c thinly sliced basil at serving.
Roasted Pumpkin, Beets & Feta Salad: Preheat oven, 180C. Peel 1 beetroot and 1 red onion. Cut half a Jap pumpkin and 1 sweet potato (kumara) into quarters or eighths. Toss in olive oil; sprinkle over Italian herbs or seasoning; toss again; place on roasting tray; cook approximately 30mins. Turn vegetables halfway through cooking time. At that stage add some 1-inch wide capsicum strips, if you like. Towards the last 6 minutes or so of the roasting time, toss in some raw walnuts, or raw mixed nuts; you could add some pepitas/pumpkin seed or sunflower seeds, too, if you like. Go crazy let your imagination and tastes go wild! Place some rocket aka arugula and baby spinach leaves into bowl; add the roast vegetables, nuts etc; season; sprinkle over a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar; toss gently. Sprinkle 120g crumbled feta over top; serve.
Caramelized Peach Tart: Peel and halve12 peaches (or 2x400g can peach halves). In pan add 2tbs olive oil, 4tbs ginger-infused honey (1/4tsp ground ginger added to honey) and 2tbs balsamic; place peaches cut side down in pan; simmer on low heat until glaze begins to darken and caramelize; remove from heat. Place peaches, cut side up in a round baking tray; pour glaze evenly over them. Place sheet of rolled puff pastry over fruit. Bake in 200C oven, 20-25mins until puffed and golden. When cool, carefully invert onto plate; serve immediately.
Vinegar Tart: Whisk 2 eggs, 3/4c packed brown sugar, 1/4c sugar, 1/4c melted butter and 2tbs white vinegar; pour into pre-baked shortcrust tart base; bake 45-55mins in 176C oven.