Who says oil and water don’t mix? Take a look at emulsion (ih-MUHL-shuhn), and you will see that they do. An emulsion is a mixture of incompatible fluids in which tiny droplets of one liquid are suspended in the other. Everyday kitchen emulsions include vinaigrettes, mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce. For the cook, getting incompatible liquids to bond requires serious mixing.
When you produce an emulsion, you’ve created something mind-boggling––a single tablespoon of oil added to a mayonnaise breaks into about 30 billion individual droplets. But the procedure isn’t difficult. To make mayonnaise, you simply mix eggs with lemon or vinegar, then whisk vigorously while slowing adding oil. A vinaigrette can be created by shaking. Since the ingredients’ natural behavior is to repel each other, a vinaigrette that’s been sitting around for a while will need to be re-shaken.
To produce more stable emulsions, you need an emulsifier. Eggs contain a natural emulsifier called lecithin. The casein proteins in milk and cream can also do the job. From there, the list of common emulsifiers veers into items familiar only to those with an advanced degree in Chemistry. Emulsifiers are found in everything from commercial ice cream to the sauce on your Big Mac and include such items as diglycerides, polysorbates, sorbitan monostearate and xanthan gum.
Potato and Asparagus Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
This potato salad is delicious at room temperature or chilled.
Coarse Grain Mustard Dressing:
2 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard (French Country-Style)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds new potatoes, washed and quartered
1 large bundles fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch diagonal pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 bunch fresh radishes, cleaned and sliced thinly
1 bunch green onions, cleaned and sliced (white and green parts)
1. To make the dressing, place all ingredients in a large (12-ounce) jar. Shake well.
2. To make the salad, place new potatoes into a large pot of lightly salted boiling water. Cook until tender, but not mushy, about 12 minutes. When potatoes are almost done, drop asparagus pieces into pot and cook until asparagus is tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.
3. Place potato-asparagus mixture into a large bowl. Add radishes and green onions. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss well. Delicious served room temperature. Serves 12.
Per serving: 229 calories, 14g fat, 0mg chol., 4g prot., 23g carbs., 4g fiber, 197mg sodium
Recipe courtesy of Nancy Vienneau and Third Thursday
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Photo credit: Teresa Blackburn