Saturday, July 19, 2008

Balsamic Tasting & Event Round Up!

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Today I took a deeper look into the world of balsamic vinegars. There are so many varieties available and differences among these vinegars? The only way to understand is to taste our way through them! I hosted a balsamic vinegar tasting with friends with a potluck lunch where all our dishes included balsamic vinegar. It was a great to see both sweet and savory dishes using this versatile ingredient. Balsamic vinegar is an aged reduction of white sweet grapes (Trebbiano for red and Spergola for white sauvignon) that are boiled to a syrup. The grapes are cooked very slowly in copper cauldrons over an open flame until the water content is reduced by over 50%. The resulting "must" is placed into wooden barrels and an older balsamic vinegar is added to assist in the acetification. Each year the vinegar is transferred to different wood barrels so that the vinegar can obtain some of the flavors of the different woods. The only approved woods are oak, cherry, chestnut, mulberry, a cacia, juniper, and ash. The age of the vinegar is divided into young – from 3 to 5 years maturation; middle aged 6 to 12 years and the highly prized very old which is at least 12 years and up to 150 years old. For more information on the history of traditional balsamic vinegar: History - History of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. -- What's Cooking Amercia

Here is the menu of our Balsamic Feast which friends brought to share:

Strawberries w/Balsamic Vinegar
shared at the event by Yumi

Roasted Vegetables w/Balsamic Vinaigrette
shared at the event by Patty

Salmon w/Ginger Balsamic Glaze
shared at the event by Semeena

Honey Rosemary Chicken

shared at the event by Joelen

Balsamic Tomato Couscous
shared at the event by Lori

Bulgar Salad with Corn & Tomatoes
shared at the event by Teresa

Roasted sausages w/Grapes

shared at the event by Kara

Braised Chicken with Onions, Garlic, and Balsamic Vinegar
shared at the event by Mary

To join in the fun, my fellow bloggers have submitted their recipes using balsamic vinegar. As I do with each blogging event I host, a lucky blogger receives a giveaway related to the food theme. This event's winner is Lindsey of Noodle Nights & Muffin Mornings! Lindsey will be receiving a gourmet bottle of Elsa Balsamic Vinegar. Congratulations Lindsey and thanks to all that participated in the blogging event! Read on to check out the amazing recipes submitted by my fellow bloggers and the recipes we prepared for my event...


Grilled Balsamic Bruchetta Chicken
submitted by Geriann of Toby's Treats
from Pennsylvania
recipe from Picky Palate
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil8 slices of mozzarella cheese
4 Roma tomatoes- seeded and diced
8 fresh basil leaves- rolled and thinly sliced
3 cloves fresh garlic- minced
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat grill over medium (recipe calls to do this over the stove but I did it over the outside grill). Combine the balsamic and olive oil in a bowl. Season both sides of the chicken the salt and place on grill. Brush top sides of chicken with balsamic mixture. Cook 4-5 minutes and flip chicken. Brush with additional balsamic and cook for 4-5 minutes or until done. During the last 2 minutes of grilling- place 2 slices of cheese over top of chicken and melt.

In a large bowl combines the tomatoes, basil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Toss gently to combine. Serve over chicken.


Pasta w/Balsamic Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce
submitted by Dellene of Cooking and the City
from Melbourne, Australia
Dellene's original recipe
2 kilo's ripe plum tomato's
1 red onion
1 red capsicum char grilled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed & finely chopped
1 tbs finely chopped thyme
2 tsp brown sugar
4 tbs good quality balsamic vinegar
80ml olive oil
shaved parmesan to serve (optional)
500gr penne rigate (or pasta of choice)

Preheat oven to 180c (350f/gas 4) cut tomatoes into chunks & put in large roasting tin. Add onions, capsicum, garlic, thyme, sugar, balsamic, olive oil, and salt & peppar to taste then toss together untill combined.

Roast slowly stirring every 20 minutes or so for approx 2 1/2 to 3 hours untill tomato's are slightly caramelised & breaking down to form a chunky sauce. season to taste then toss with hot pasta . Serve with cheese (optional).


Chicken Caprese Pizza w/Balsamic Reduction
submitted by Linsday of Noodle Nights & Muffin Mornings
from New York
Lindsay's original recipe
1 1 lb whole wheat pizza dough (either store bought or homemade- we love Amber's recipe)
2 medium vine ripe tomato(sliced)
4 oz cooked chicken
4 oz. fresh mozzarella (cut into 1-inch pieces)
1/4 cup fresh basil (coarsely chopped)
extra virgin olive oil
Ground pepper
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp corn starch

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out dough on floured surface making sure to leave at a ½ inch crust all the way around.
Carefully transfer to prepared baking sheet or parchment; top with tomato, chicken, mozzarella , basil and ground pepper(as needed). Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until bottom of crust is lightly browned.

Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before cutting.

Balsamic Glaze: In a small skillet heat vinegar and cornstarch over low heat stirring occasionally until it turns think and syrupy(about 10 minutes). BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN. Drizzle on top of cooked pizza.


Bruschetta Chicken
submitted by Angie of Adventures in Home Cooking
from Chicago, IL
recipe from Kraft
3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T. oregano
1 T. rosemary
1 T. basil
1 T. garlic powder
salt
pepper
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tomato, diced
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
fresh basil for garnish

For marinade: Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a plastic bag, mix together olive oil, vinegar, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and rosemary. Add chicken, turning bag to coat. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat grill to medium-high. Grill chicken for 6 minutes, basting with marinade with occassionally. Mix together tomato, mozzarella, and basil.

Flip chicken and grill till cooked through, basting with marinade occassionally. Top with tomato mixture right after removing from grill.


Penne with Beef and Arugula
submitted by Lindsey of Noodle Nights & Muffin Mornings
from New York
recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
1 (1-pound) New York strip steak
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 pound penne pasta (I used whole wheat fusilli)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for steak and pasta water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for steak
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cups chopped arugula

Season the steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper, herbs de Provence, and minced garlic. In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook steak about 7 minutes per side. Remove the meat from pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh herbs, and 3/4 cup olive oil. In a large bowl toss the pasta with half of the salad dressing and the reserved pasta water. Add the arugula and steak, more dressing and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Toss and serve.


Bruschetta Chicken
submitted by Karen of Loves To Eat Weblog
from Tampa, FL
recipe from Lauren's Kitchen
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Pinch of salt
¼ Cup balsamic vinegar
¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil
8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced into chiffonade
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions:
1. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Spray with cooking spray. Combine balsamic and olive oil in a bowl. Season both sides of chicken with pinches of salt and place on grill. Brush top sides of chicken with balsamic mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip chicken.
Brush with additional balsamic and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. During the last 2 minutes of grilling place 2 slices of cheese over top each chicken to melt.

2. In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, basil garlic, salt and balsamic. Toss gently to combine. Place chicken breasts on a serving plate and top with tomato mixture. Serve warm. (I put the tomato mixture on and then top with cheese. Let melt and serve warm).

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