Friday, June 25, 2010

Poppy Seed Dressings

Update: Whoops! The second recipe is actually a yummy Sweet and Sour Dressing. I've added the real Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing below. Sorry!

After posting about my ranch dressing here, a friend asked about the poppy seed dressing.

I actually have two that I use -- one a vinaigrette and the other creamy. I use the vinaigrette most often, but mostly because I don't always have the ingredients on hand to make the creamier dressing.

Here's both. Enjoy!

Poppy Seed Dressing

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. grated onion
1/3 cup vinegar
1 cup salad oil
1 tbsp. poppy seed
red food coloring (optional -- I leave this out)

Throw everything in a bowl and whisk together. Or, mix ingredients in a blender. Makes close to 2 cups.

Sweet and Sour Dressing Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Miracle Whip/salad dressing)
2 tbsp. mustard
1/2 cup oil
1 tbsp. onion, minced

Mix together in a bowl or blender. Makes a quart.

Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip/salad dressing)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. poppy seed

Whisk together or mix in a blender. Enjoy!
An Amazon product related to this post:

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ranch Dressing

I've taken to making salad dressings from scratch. Our favorites so far are honey mustard (me), blue cheese (Chris) and poppy seed (both).

I hadn't, until recently, been able to find a ranch dressing recipe. I tasted a friend's dressing last summer and liked it, but she used a pre-mixed spice mix from Penzey's. Not what I was looking for, but I kept that open as an option since I was already aware of Hidden Valley's mix and liked it. (Penzey's is a great source for spices, by the way.)

Then in the June 9 feature section of News & Record, the newspaper I work for, I found a ranch recipe! And it is so easy! I can't believe I couldn't find a recipe before now.

Basically, you take whatever fresh herbs you have on hand and throw it in a bowl with buttermilk (or substitutes), mayo (or salad dressing/Miracle Whip), lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

Since we're participating in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program this year, we already have a bunch of herbs on hand. I added dill, loveage, parsley and oregano.

Here's the recipe:

Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. finely chopper mixed fresh herbs
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove

Mix all the ingredients together and serve! That easy.

* Some buttermilk substitutes are yogurt or 1 tbsp. lemon juice with enough milk to make one cup. Let the milk mixture sit for a few minutes before using.

I used vanilla yogurt, which turned out to be too overpowering. The vanilla competes with the herbs so next time I'll use plain yogurt or the milk/lemon juice trick.

I also never use mayonnaise since I don't like it that much. I grew up on Miracle Whip (salad dressing) and prefer it. Plus, it's lower in fat. :)


Here are some products from Amazon:

Note: I am an Amazon Associate and select products that are related to blog posts or that I personally recommend. For this post, I do recommend Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix if you don't want to make your own dressing from scratch. My grandma has used it for years and it's delicious.

Though I haven't tried the Williams-Sonoma cook book above, I do have the Williams-Sonoma Mexican cook book and it's easy to use and has good recipes. So, it might be worth checking out the one above too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Glass or metal pan?

I realized over this weekend that the type of pan you use — glass or metal — will affect your pie, cobbler or coffee cake.

Now this may not be a revelation to you, but it was to me and I'm happy that I'll now be able to cook a cobbler or coffee cake without fear of it turning out doughy.

Through Bill Neal's book, "Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie," I've learned that for a double crust pie you should use a lightly greased, glass pie pan. I used that technique here:

This cherry pie is the first I've made from scratch. Not only did I make the crust from scratch, I also canned those cherries last year. Using Neal's technique, the dough did not come out overly moist or crumbly. I could slice out a piece of pie and it would hold together!

Neal said single crust pies should be cooked in metal pie pans. After pricking the dough all over, use tin foil and press it over the crust and then pour in some pintos or other dried bean. Cook and then remove. I haven't tried this technique yet.

When I made blackberry pie this weekend, I got to thinking about what Neal talks about in his book. Usually when I make a cobbler, it comes out doughy. And no matter if I cook it longer, it remains icky. This happened with a cherry coffee cake I made the weekend before using the left over canned cherries from the pie.

I got to thinking and realized that I baked all my cobblers and the coffee cake in a glass square pan. I wondered what would be the result if I used one of my metal pans. So I tried it out. And, viola!, the cobbler came out the best it ever has:

Here's Neal's book:

I love this book. It's full of history, recipes and tips. I've used it to perfect my bread baking, to experiment with crackers and learn about Southern baking history.

You can also find it at Mabry Mill off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. That's where I got my copy. While you're there, stay for some yummy buckwheat or sweet potato pancakes.

Here's another of Neal's books:

Note: I recently started using Blogger's Amazon Associates program. I may not be able to recommend all the products I link to here. I can, however, vouch for "Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie."

Friday, June 11, 2010


Sara recently shared another recipe to make good use of all our CSA veggies — chimichurri.

As she explained, "This is an Argentinian dip/sauce/spread that's a lot like pesto. It is so simple, but so good on almost anything." She said it's traditionally a condiment for steak, but her use it one sandwiches, potatoes and more.

It made a quick meal for me last night. I threw the ingredients in the food blender last night, including the pepper and lemon juice, and processed it in a matter of seconds. I also added sunflower seeds and parmesan cheese.

I added a bit of sauce to a slice of bread and topped it with shiitake mushroom caps and swiss cheese. Then I broiled it for about a minute. So wonderful! I can't wait to try this on steak and/or pasta.

Here's the recipe I used:


From Sara Fennell

This is an Argentinian dip/sauce/spread that's a lot like pesto. It is so simple, but so good on almost anything. It is traditionally a sauce for steak, but we use it on bread, sandwiches, potatoes, etc.

Olive oil                                                       
Optional — lemon juice and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. If you like a strong garlic flavor, use a couple of cloves (or green garlic). Serve at room temperature.

Epicurious has a version here and here's Wikipedia's description of the sauce.

Here's some chimichurri sauces and Argentina cookbooks here:

Note: I recently started using Amazon Associates, a new Blogger program. I'm giving the program a shot. I haven't tried these products, so I can't necessarily recommend these specifically.