Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Italian Elixir...

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a versatile condiment to be used on a variety of preparations. However, being primarily a condiment, its most logical use is as dressing for mixed salads, or even cooked or raw vegetables. When using this condiment it is important to follow a precise sequence: first add the salt, followed by traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, and lastly extra virgin olive oil. This way the balsamic vinegar can slide and stretch on the greens thoroughly and uniformly. In fact, extra virgin olive oil added first creates an oily film that blocks the travel and penetration of the balsamic vinegar.

Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is made by pressing and aging Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes in chestnut, oak or juniper barrels for a minimum of 12 years. The grapes used are white trebbiano, red lambrusco and ancellotta, which come from vines solely intended for the production of balsamic vinegar, and a late harvest to obtain a high concentration of sugar. Balsamic vinegar of Modena can also be used as a glaze for meats, can be drizzled atop fruits, and can even go great alongside less conventional meals, such as grilled cheese or oatmeal.

The balsamic vinegar of Modena has a wonderfully bold and aromatic taste with a distinct sweet and sour flavor. I use it to add rich flavor to meats, fish, sauces, salads, vegetables or even desserts. 
The sweet, sour, woody condiment so often served with oil onto a bed of leafy greens goes nicely with a number of dishes also. 
Like for this recipe with figs!

Caramelized figs with balsamic vinegar...

This recipe I have found in an American cookbook of vegan recipes and instantly experimented by me.

Ingredients for 8/10 figs:
1 tablespoon soy butter
1 teaspoon of sugar
5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 bunch of arugula
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and ground pepper

In a large skillet melt the butter 
and sputter over the sugar (or honey).

Halve the figs lengthwise 
and place face down in the pan.

Let them brown (3 to 5 minutes) 
and when they are golden on the edges 
put to rest face up, on a plate.

In the pan where has remained the butter, 
add the balsamic vinegar and let it concentrate on low heat 
until it becomes thick like honey 
(max 5 minutes on medium heat).

Meanwhile, prepare the arugula cutting it 
and seasoning it with olive oil and lemon, 
and salt and pepper to taste.

Place them in small bowls for serving, 
leaning over the figs, 
and pouring the balsamic vinegar.

An excellent appetizer!

The first recipe for balsamic vinegar in history...

The history of the Giusti family is intertwined with the most important moments in the history of Balsamic Vinegar. In 1863, on the occasion of the agrarian exhibition of Modena is a Giuseppe Giusti to set the first writings, after centuries of oral tradition, the golden rules to obtain a "perfect Balsamic Vinegar: selection of the grapes, the quality of the containers and the time," remained so to this day. It 's the first existing document that explains how to produce the balsamic vinegar, still known and cited as the "Recipe of Giusti."

source of photo:  la bottega golosa