Calgary·RECIPES

Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Make your own kitchen basics

At a time when running to the grocery store isn't as simple a task as it used to be — and isn't always an option — there are staples we've become accustomed to purchasing that are simple to make yourself.

Yogurt, vinaigrettes and mayonnaise can be made at home with fresh ingredients

Make your own salad dressings with fresh herbs and vinegars. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

At a time when running to the grocery store isn't as simple a task as it used to be — and isn't always an option — there are staples we've become accustomed to purchasing that are simple to make yourself.

Once you get into the habit, making your own salad dressings and yogurt can also save money, while drastically reducing the excess packaging that winds up in the recycling bin. 

Out of brown sugar? You can blend 1 Tbsp. molasses into 1 cup of white sugar with a fork, whisk or food processor to make your own.

If you'd like some sour cream or crème fraîche (which is very similar to sour cream — it tends to be creamier, and not quite as tangy), it's simple to make. 

Simply stir 2 Tbsp. buttermilk into 1 cup cream and let it sit on the countertop overnight, or for up to 24 hours, then refrigerate. That's it! 

Here are a few other common kitchen items we tend to buy a lot of, that are easier to make yourself than you might think.

Vinaigrette

Vinaigrettes are quick and easy to whisk together. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

A classic vinaigrette is made with oil and vinegar — or another acidic ingredient, like lemon juice — in a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 or 4 parts oil, with a spoonful of mustard to help emulsify it, and a bit of salt and pepper.

From there you can add garlic, herbs, honey or maple syrup.

If you want a creamy dressing, shake or whisk in a spoonful of mayo, sour cream or yogurt, or make an herb dressing with fresh herbs and buttermilk.

It's a great way to use up a wilting surplus bunch of herbs.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp. vinegar (white wine, red wine or balsamic) or lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive or other vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp grainy or Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • finely crushed garlic, grated ginger, minced shallot, honey, maple syrup, finely chopped herbs or other additions

Instructions:

Shake all the ingredients up in a jar, or whisk them in a bowl until well-blended.

Taste and adjust the vinegar, lemon juice, salt or other ingredients as you like it.

Makes: About 3/4 cup.

Green Sauce

Green sauce can be made easily at home. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Most fresh herbs are perfect for whizzing into a sauce or dressing.

For a green goddess-style dressing, try basil, parsley, cilantro, tarragon and other leafy herbs with garlic, buttermilk, mayo, yogurt or sour cream (or any combo of these).

You can also try this bright cilantro, lime, jalapeño and garlic sauce on everything from tacos and salads to fish.

Cilantro stems are perfect — they have tons of flavour, and plenty of moisture compared to the leaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-1 bunch cilantro (stems too!)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • juice of a lime (or peel and toss it in whole!)
  • about 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • about 1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • salt

Instructions:

Whiz everything in a blender, adjusting the lime juice and salt to suit your taste.

Makes: About 1 cup. 

Mayonnaise

Using a hand-held immersion blender is Van Rosendaal's favourite way to make mayo. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

You can make your own mayo in plenty of ways — with a bowl and whisk, with a blender or food processor (though sometimes if you're making a small batch, it can be tricky in a larger machine), or using a hand-held immersion blender, which is my favourite way.

Whichever you use, if it happens to split — I find this happens more often with whisking, as your arm tires out — a common technique is to add about a tablespoon of very hot water and whisk until it comes together again.

You can also start with a new egg yolk and add the broken mayo as you would add the oil, whisking until it comes together.

And once you can make mayo, you can make hollandaise! Just use melted butter instead of oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed (optional)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil
  • 2-4 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)

Directions:

Place the egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, garlic (if you're using it) and salt in a round-bottomed bowl, small blender or food processor

If you're using an immersion blender, use a glass measuring cup instead. 

Whisk it together if you're doing it by hand, or get the blender going, and add the oil in a thin stream, whisking or blending until the mayo emulsifies and thickens.

Taste and add salt if it needs it.

Makes: About 3/4 cup.

Yogurt 

Making your own yogurt is much like making your own sourdough — once you have the starter going, you can make your next batch using a bit of the last, and so on.

To begin, you'll need a small container of the best plain yogurt you can find, making sure it contains active cultures.

I use Vital Green Farms or Bles-Wold, both great locally-produced yogurts that contain only milk and bacterial cultures with no additives or stabilizers.

Ingredients:

  • milk (one or two per cent, whole, goat milk, or even cream)
  • good-quality plain yogurt (a small container is fine)

Directions:

Heat as much milk as you want to turn into yogurt (you could also use cream, or a combination of the two, for extra-rich yogurt) and bring it to a boil, being careful that the pot doesn't boil over.

Cool until you can hold your finger in the milk and count to 10 — if you have a thermometer, it should be around 110˚F.

Stir in a tablespoon of the yogurt per cup of milk to inoculate it. 

If you're making a large batch, scoop out some of the warm milk, whisk in the starter yogurt, and then pour it back into the milk to combine it more evenly.

Pour into a Thermos, thick glass, ceramic jar or bowl and wrap in a towel or place in the microwave — you want to keep it relatively warm overnight, so keep it away from drafty places.

In the morning, transfer it to the fridge, where it should firm up even more.


Our food guide Julie van Rosendaal on how to dress up your salad. 6:41

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