Tuesday, 17 June 2008

You See What I`m Reduced To

Now that my website is up and running I am forced to update my blog as frequently as possible. Some posts may be very simple just so I can amass a good amount of them. Nonetheless, each of my recipes are still worth making (with the possible exception of the fresh pasta) and have my wife`s seal of approval. I hope the new website will increase my readership and I hope there will more comments in the comment box.

So, without further ado, here we go with our next little dish. This is one is really, really easy. It's a simple classic. It's fool proof. It's alive, afraid, a lie, a sin. It's magic, it's tragic, it`s a loss, it's a win.

Balsamic reduction is a great back-up garnish in a professional kitchen. It's cheap to make. Keeps forever. Great contrast on your plate. And it's pretty darn tasty. If it's available to you, try purchasing Vin Cotto at your fine grocer. For your reduction, just buy the cheapest balsamic vinegar you can get. Do not be fooled by fancy packaging that says it`s from Modena or something. You are about to change the taste of the vinegar so don`t bother spending your money. It`s like using expensive wine for your Red Wine Jus on your Prime Rib.

I may have explained this before but I am going to repeat: a chiffonade is a technique of cutting a large flat herb. Take several leaves of the herb (basil in this case) and layer them. Then roll it up and slice thinly. Basil can bruise easily and if chopped up, they go brown and lose their appeal.

When cutting your tomatoes, keep them evenly sliced, and not too thick and not too thin. Seems like common sense, but I`ve learned to take very little for granted when giving out recipes. Besides, in a salad, presentation is even more important because, in a restaurant, many patrons ask themselves, "Why would I order this when I can make it at home?" There is truth to that question, so, I take a little extra care in making my salads look great.

Tomato Salad with Bocconcini Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

4 Ripe Tomatoes, sliced as in photo
4 Balls of Bocconcini Cheese, cut in slices
1 Red Onion, sliced thinly
1 Bunch of Basil, chiffonade
Drizzle of Balsamic Reduction (see below for recipe)
Sea Salt to taste

On one large plate or evenly distributed over six, arrange tomatoes attractively. In other words, make nice. In between each tomato, place a slice of cheese for contrast. Randomly sprinkle onion. Randomly sprinkle the basil. Randomly drizzle the reduction. Randomly sprinkle some sea salt. Randomly give to your guests.

Serves 6.

Balsamic Reduction

500 ml of Balsamic Vinegar
Small Handful of Brown Sugar

Put in pot and reduce on low heat to one fifth its original volume. Let cool at room temp, store in an airtight container and serve whenever needed.

A Humble Chef`s Tip: the reduction will bleed quickly after you drizzle it. Do this at the last minute so the salad doesn`t become a pool of balsamic and tomato water.

Variation: Go fusion with this and add a drop of soy sauce to your reduction. Trust me, it`s not bad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oooh. I LOVE your balsamic reduction! Question for those of us terrible with recipes. When you say "small handful", what would the approximate measure be? Like a teaspoon? Tablespoon? Or something more??