It's that time of year where I drink apple cider at every meal! I like it hot, I like it cold, I like it in my cocktails, in my donuts and I even like it on my salad. Here is a simple way to bring the fall, cider season to your salad. It goes great on simple salads or, if you go apple picking this weekend, grab some fresh apples and garnish your salad with apples, craisins, walnuts and goat cheese, like we did. While I used cranberry apple cider, it only gave a tiny hint of cranberry flavor and mostly just gave it a pretty amber/reddish hue, so you can easily swap it for regular cider.
It was while making what I thought was this simple, can't-mess-it-up recipe that I learned a valuable cooking lesson. I learned all about emulsions and how it can either make or literally break your dressing. It took me two tries to get it somewhat right and a lot more patience the second time around. I never knew in order to make a salad dressing of oil and vinegar to mix perfectly and stay mixed together, that you had to add the oil, slowly, while whisking quickly. I always kind of ignored that "form an emulsion" step in the instructions and just threw the ingredients together, then right before I dressed the salad would give the bottle a good shake! Here is a great explanation of what an emulsification really is, but my biggest take away was that in order "to create a successful emulsion, you need two things: an emulsifier (in this instance - honey!), and force. Force -- usually in the form of whisking or blending -- breaks apart the oil, dispersing it through the surrounding liquid; the emulsifier keeps it from retreating back into itself." So be patient while whisking in the oil (like way more patient that you can bear), and whisk hard. Whisk harder than you've ever whisked in your life and do it in a bowl. I think by the third try, without a screaming baby and photo shoot happening in the background, I will nail it and it will be perfectly emulsified. But even the slightly separated version of this sweet and tart autumnal vinaigrette is delicious.
CRANBERRY APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
**this makes a lot of vinaigrette - I suggest halving the recipe which means less time whisking in oil!
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup cranberry apple cider or regular apple cider
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
In a small bow, whisk together honey, vinegar, lemon juice, apple cider and shallot. Slowwwlllyyyy (I mean painstakingly slow) whisk in olive oil to form an emulsion (!). Season with salt and pepper.
Should I be a little worried that my arm was sore that evening? Maybe that's a sign that I should start working out...
(all photos jamie grill photography)