Balsamic Vinegar Cookbook

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9780002251334: Balsamic Vinegar Cookbook

An estimated 1.75 million liters of commercial balsamic vinegar and 1,760 liters of traditional balsamic vinegar are sold annually. Noted for its rich color, intense fruity aroma and exquisite sweet-and-sour flavor, it has become America's most coveted condiment. It is now served in the trendiest restaurants and is frequently featured in gourmet food magazines.

For gourmets who want to learn more about this uncommon elixir and use it to add a touch of flavor to their own home-cooked meals comes The Balsamic Vinegar Cookbook. Featuring more than 40 tantalizing recipes that make the most of balsamic vinegar's assertive, complex flavor, it offers dishes such as Minestrone Modena-Style, Maple-glazed Balsamic Carrots, Salmon with Gingered Balsamic Vinegar and Strawberry Granita. An engaging history of balsamic vinegar combined with a fascinating look at how it is produced round out this tribute, which also defines terms, clears up misconceptions and provides a list of mail-order sources to ensure that readers have access to the best balsamic vinegar possible.

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About the Author:

Meesha Halm is a freelance food writer who has chronicled the food and wine scene of northern California for Food Arts, Bay Food, and Appellation magazines. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Parmesan-Crusted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

Serves 4

Balsamic vinegar is often sprinkled over thin wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano, another of Emilia-Romagna's prized delicacies, or served as a dip for cooked asparagus. This warm appetizer combines both ideas--baked spears of asparagus get an ivory topping of shaved cheese. Indulge yourself with the finest balsamico you can find.

40 thin spears asparagus (approximately 1 pound), tough stems snapped off and discarded
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce Parmesan cheese curls (shaved off a large chunk of cheese with a vegetable peeler)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Balsamic vinegar, for serving

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss well, coating the asparagus completely. Spread the Parmesan curls over the top half of the asparagus spears.

Bake in the top one-third of the oven until the cheese is melted and the asparagus is barely tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with pepper to taste.

Using a metal spatula, transfer the asparagus to warm plates. Serve immediately with a cruet of balsamic vinegar, allowing guests to sprinkle their asparagus with vinegar to taste.

---------------------------------------------

Classic Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6; Makes 1 Cup Vinaigrette

Most cooks are on the lookout for a classic vinaigrette that they can turn into a "house dressing" to use again and again. This one will be a contender. The characteristic balsamic flavor is underscored with a little brown sugar, given a touch of acidity with red wine vinegar, and accented with mustard.

1 small red onion thinly sliced 1 large head green, red leaf or Romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces 1 large ripe beefsteak tomato, cut into eighths 1 seedless cucumber unpeeled, thinly sliced Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

To make the vinaigrette, in a medium bowl whisk all the ingredients except the oil until mixed. Gradually whisk in the oil until smooth.

In a small bowl, cover the onion with iced water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain well. (Soaking the onion removes its sharp bite.)

In a large bowl, place the lettuce, drained onion, tomato, and cucumber, and add the dressing a little at a time, tossing gently and thoroughly until all the vegetables are evenly coated. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately on chilled salad plates.

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