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Vinaigrette Guide

A vinaigrette is a type of dressing or sauce that combines an acid, usually vinegar or citrus juice, with oil. Vinaigrettes are easy to make, and once you get the basic idea, you can change them around to make all sorts of different dressings.

BASICS:

  • 1 part vinegar – Any variety except white vinegar, or you can use citrus juice, or combine different vinegars and juices
  • 3 parts oil – Canola, vegetable, olive, or other. Depending on the type of vinegar you use and the other ingredients you add, you may need less oil than 3 parts. In fact, most of the recipes on Sioux Chef use just 2 parts oil.
  • Salt – Add a pinch, then taste to see if you like the flavor. If the flavor seems flat, add another pinch. The salt should make the other flavors pop without tasting salty. If it starts to taste salty, you’ve gone too far

PROCEDURE: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and salt (if you don’t have a whisk, use a fork to mix). Then, hold the whisk in one hand and the oil in the other. Drizzle in the oil while whisking. This helps the oil and vinegar, which naturally separate into two layers, stay together better. Whisk or shake again immediately before using the dressing.

ADD-INS:

  • Mustard – Mustard helps bind together oil and vinegar, so dressing with a small amount of mustard in it will stay together much better. Add a small amount of mustard with the vinegar before whisking in the oil.
  • Sugar, honey, or other sweetener – For a sweeter salad dressing, add a small amount of sugar, honey, or another sweetener to the vinegar before adding the oil. Whisk well to make sure the sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Onion, garlic, or shallots – These vegetables are added raw to flavor the dressing. Finely chop a small amount of onion, garlic, or shallot and add to the vinegar before whisking in oil.
  • Black Pepper – If you’re a fan of black pepper, add it to the vinegar along with the salt.
  • Herbs – Add fresh chopped herbs or dried herbs to the vinegar before adding oil.
  • Spices – Add your favorite spices to the vinegar before adding oil.
HOW MUCH DO I ADD? When you’re making a vinaigrette, keep tasting! Taste what you’re making as you go along and think about whether it might need a little more mustard in there, a little extra black pepper. Make it something you like.

Your homemade vinaigrettes can be kept in the fridge for up to a month, so you can make a big batch and use it for a long time. You may never need to buy salad dressing again!
Vinaigrette recipes from elsewhere on Sioux Chef:

Apple Cider Vinegar and Mustard Vinaigrette: whisk together 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons dijon or regular mustard, 1 teaspoon sugar, a large pinch of salt, and black pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup oil (vegetable, canola, or olive) and whisk to make a vinaigrette.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette: whisk together 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, large pinch of salt, and black pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup oil (vegetable, canola, or olive) and whisk to make a vinaigrette.

  • Variation – Citrus Balsamic: Instead of 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, use 1 tablespoon balsamic, 1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice.
  • Variation – Dijon Balsamic: Add 2 teaspoons dijon mustard with the vinegar and whisk to combine before adding oil.
  • Variation – Honey Balsamic: Add 1 teaspoon honey  with the vinegar and whisk to combine before adding oil.

Citrus Vinaigrette: Whisk together 2 tablespoons lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit juice, 1 teaspoon sugar (optional for lemon, lime, or grapefruit, omit for orange), large pinch salt, and black pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup oil (vegetable, canola, or olive) and whisk to make a vinaigrette.

Garlicky Lemon-White Wine Vinaigrette: Finely chop 1 clove garlic. Whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, chopped garlic, large pinch salt, and black pepper to taste. Whisk in 1/4 cup oil (olive if you have it, or vegetable or canola) to make a vinaigrette.

Onion-Mustard Vinaigrette: Thinly slice or finely chop a quarter of a red onion. Add 1/4  white wine or red wine vinegar and a large pinch salt (the onion should be covered).. Allow to sit at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours (refrigerated). Remove onions from vinegar and add them to your salad (or put them on a sandwich). Add 1/2  tablespoon Dijon or regular mustard and black pepper (to taste)  to the vinegar and whisk to combine. Whisk in 1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola, or olive). Note: this makes a larger batch of salad dressing than the others listed here.

Mustard Dill Vinaigrette: Whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon chopped dill, a large pinch of salt, and black pepper to taste. Whisk in 3 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable) to make a vinaigrette.

Hard Boiled Egg Guide

This method of hard boiling eggs is nearly foolproof – you pretty much can’t overcook them this way. So no more dark gray rings around the yolks!

Note: use older eggs for hard boiling – they are easier to peel.

Choose the right size pot: all your eggs should fit in a single layer on the bottom.

Cover with water: add water to cover the eggs by 1 inch.

Bring to a boil: place over high heat and allow water to come to a boil.

Boil for 1 minute: once the eggs come to a boil, allow them to stay at a rolling boil for a minute.

Turn off the heat: turn off the heat under the pot and set a timer for 14-17 minutes – the larger your eggs, the longer you’ll need.

Cool: place eggs in cold water to cool quickly

Peel: make a lot of cracks in the egg. Start peeling at the bubble at the rounded end of the egg, and make sure you get underneath the membrane below the shell, peeling off the membrane as you go.

Dry Bean Cooking Guide

Dry beans are cheap, nutritious, and tasty. Cooking them does take some planning ahead. Consult this guide to know how to cook all kinds of dry beans.

Overnight soak: Beans need to soak in lots of water for at least 8 hours BEFORE you can cook them. You can soak them up to 24 hours, and it is usually easiest to put them in water the day before you want to use them. Make sure there is plenty of water covering the beans by 5 or 6 inches – they will absorb a lot of water.

Drain and rinse: Drain the soaked beans from the soaking water and quickly rinse them. Do not reuse the soaking water.

Cooking the beans:

STOVETOP METHOD – Place the soaked beans in a large pot and add water to cover by 4-5 inches. If you want, you can add half an onion and pieces of carrot or celery for extra flavor, but you don’t need to. Bring the beans and water to a boil. There will be a lot of foam on the top of the water – skim it off with a spoon and throw it away. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, usually 1.5 to 2.5 hours. The amount of time will depend on the type of beans you used and how long you soaked them.

SLOW COOKER METHOD – Place the soaked beans in a slow cooked and add water to cover by 4-5 inches. If you want, you can add half an onion and pieces of carrot or celery for extra flavor, but you don’t need to. Cook on low until beans are tender, about 5-7 hours. The amount of time will depend on the type of beans you used and how long you soaked them. You can also cook beans from dry (without soaking first) in a slow cooker, but they will take longer to cook and may cause more bean-related gas problems than soaked beans.

When are they done? The longer you cook beans, the softer they get. How soft you want them will depend on how you plan to use them. If you’re putting them into a soup where they will slow-cook again, you might want them less tender. If you’re going into a salad, they should be very tender. If you plan to puree or mash them, you may want to cook them a very long time, until they are beginning to burst.

Salt and storage: Once the beans are cooked to the texture you want, turn off the heat. Add a bit of salt to the cooking water. Taste it (be careful, it’s hot) – it should be flavorful, but not taste too salty. Less salt is better than too much, since you can always add more, but you can’t take any out.

At this point, your cooked beans in liquid can be treated just like canned beans from the store and used in recipes that call for canned beans. You can use them right away, or store them in the refrigerator, submerged in cooking liquid, for up to 1 week.

Cooking liquid: The liquid that the beans cooked in isn’t trash. You can use it in soups, or anywhere else where you might otherwise you chicken broth or when you want to add some extra flavor. For example, you can cook rice in bean liquid for a flavorful side dish.

Whole Grain Guide

Whole grains (including brown rice, wheat berries, barley, and more) are grains that have some or all of their outer layers (husk, germ, etc) intact, as opposed to refined grains, which have these layers removed. Whole grains have a hearty, nutty flavor and are very healthy – they have more fiber than refined white grains, so your body processes them more slowly. This prevents blood sugar spikes and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Whole grains also have more nutrients than refined grains, since these nutrients are in the outer layers of the grain that gets taken away to make refined grains. Whole grains do take longer to cook, so plan ahead. You can work new grains into your meals by mixing them with more familiar ones and eating them with favorite dishes.

Information adapted from the Food Network

Grain What is it? Water* Ratio Cooking Instructions
Barley, hulled Chewy grain, high nutritional value. Serve like rice or add to soups. 3 parts water to 1 part barley Bring water and 1 pinch salt per cup barley to a boil. Add barley, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover pot. Simmer 40-50 minutes.
Barley, pearled More of the outer layers are removed than for hulled barley, allowing it to cook faster. Only slightly less nutritious than hulled barley 3 parts water to 1 part barley Bring water and 1 pinch salt per cup barley to a boil. Add barley, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover pot. Simmer 30 minutes.
Brown rice Rice that still has the outer layers of the kernel, containing many nutrients that are destroyed in white rice. 2 parts water to 1 part brown rice Bring water and 1 pinch salt per cup brown rice to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover pot. Simmer 40-50 minutes. Let stand with heat off 10 minutes before serving.
Corn grits/ polenta Whole corn kernels, ground 3.5 parts water to 1 part corn grits Bring water and 1 pinch salt per cup grits to a boil. Add grits, whisking to prevent clumps. Reduce heat to a low boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 30-50 minutes, depending on how coarse the grind
Farro Grain related to wheat. The kernels are chewy, with a nutty flavor. Good in soups, salads, and pilafs. Plenty of water Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add farro, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 25 minutes, until grains are tender.
Quinoa (KEEN-wa) High-protein seed native to South America. Especially good in pilafs. Check package to see if it’s pre-rinsed – if not, rinse it to remove a bitter outer coating. 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa Place quinoa, water, and 1 pinch salt per cup quinoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, until grains are tender and little spirals are separating off. Let stand 5 minutes off heat, covered before serving.
Spelt Grain related to wheat and very similar to farro. The kernels are firmer than farro and chewy, with a nutty flavor. Good in soups, salads, and pilafs. Plenty of water Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add spelt, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 50 minutes, until grains are tender.
Wheat berries Whole kernels of wheat.  The kernels are chewy, with a nutty flavor. Good in soups, salads, and pilafs. Plenty of water Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add wheat berries, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 50 minutes, until grains are tender but still a bit chewy.
Wild Rice Actually a grass, not a grain, but nutritionally similar and cooked similarly. Different types are available. 3 parts water to 1 part wild rice Bring water and 1 pinch salt per cup wild rice to a boil. Add wild, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover pot. Simmer 35-65 minutes (depending on variety), until tender.

*You can also cook any of these grains in chicken or vegetable stock for more flavor.