Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Episode 7, Dressings and Emulsions

Shallot and balsamic vinaigrette
Shallot and balsamic vinaigrette
A. Trachta

See also: The Martha Stewart Cooking School archives.

Unlike, say, the stocks episode, we're not sure this dressings and emulsions episode of Martha Stewart's Cooking School is going to save you any money. What you'd spend on really good grapeseed oil or high quality Dijon mustard for use in homemade dressings is likely going to come out to more than what you'd spend for a bottle of Wishbone. But the product you'll end up with will be infinitely better, of course. And despite Martha's constant and sometimes false claims that all her recipes are easy, these truly are. (Even the mayonnaise.) Which gives us no reason not to at least give them a shot. Yes, even during this busy Thanksgiving week when the kitchen's already crowded with stress.

Martha explains, for anyone who may not know, that an emulsion is simply a mixture in which acid is suspended in oil, with the ratio tending towards three parts oil and one part acid. That formula was applied to the vinaigrette, creamy dressing, mayonnaise and aioli that made up Martha's lesson.

Basic Vinaigrette

2 tbsp white champagne vinegar (acid)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 shallot, finely minced

Apx. 6 tbsp olive oil

1. Add acid to a salad bowl, then add salt. Whisk together.

2. Add Dijon, mustard, pepper and shallot. Whisk together.

3. In a steady stream, add oil while whisking vigorously until you see a visible thickening take place.

Creamy Dressing

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Thyme leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup buttermilk

Salt

Pepper

4 oz. blue cheese

1. Add all ingredients except blue cheese to a mixing bowl and whisk together.

2. Crumble blue cheese into dressing and stir.

Homemade Mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 salt

Pinch of white pepper

1. Add egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice to a mixing bowl and whisk together.

2. Drizzle in oil slowly, whisking constantly, until emulsified.

3. Add salt and pepper.

Aioli

Pinch of saffron

1 tsp warm water

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp mustard

Large pinch of salt

2 egg yolks

1 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Add saffron to water to draw out the yellow color.

2. Use a mortar and pestle to crush garlic, mustard and salt into a paste.

3. Add saffron and water and continue to grind with pestle.

4. Add egg yolks and continue to grind with pestle.

5. Drizzle in oil slowly, grinding with pestle constantly, until emulsified.

6. Add salt and pepper.

Turn the page to see how our dressing turned out.

 

Vinaigrette ingredients
Vinaigrette ingredients
A. Trachta

Since we were in the middle of said crazy busy Thanksgiving week, and making this dressing at an ungodly hour, we opted for an easily storable dressing -- a vinaigrette. And in a more Bethenny Frankel than Martha Stewart moment, we embraced a "use what you have" kitchen mentality and went with a simple balsamic and shallot version.

In Martha's lesson she used two methods for making vinaigrettes: one employed whisking while the other relied on shaking in a Mason jar. We opted for the latter, adding one part balsamic vinegar to three parts olive oil, tossing in some freshly minced shallots and salt, and shaking it up. Voila. Vinaigrette. Literally in seconds. Really, nothing could be simpler, yet somehow homemade dressing adds a personal touch that far outweighs its effort. That's a formula we're happy to stick to.

See also: The Martha Stewart Cooking School archives.


Follow Ali Trachta on Twitter @MySo_CalLife. Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page.

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