Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Secret Ingredients





I have two "secret" ingredients in the kitchen that make everything oh so tasty. And they are convenient, too... onion and garlic powder.

I have long wanted to discover how to make my own "Ranch" style salad dressing. I am a little bit suspicious of all the teeny tiny print on bottles of salad dressing, and would prefer to make it myself and keep it simple. Salad dressing doesn't last long around here so we don't really need all the preservatives. After several years of trying, I think I have hit on the "secret" to the taste of the bottled stuff (I mean, besides MSG and "natural flavoring"): Garlic and onion. But more garlic than onion, and the sprinkling of green herbs are just for show.



Onions, a Jug and a Ceramic Pot on a Tablecloth
Onions, a Jug and a Ceramic Pot on a Tablecloth Giclee Print
Brooker, Harry
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However, fresh herbs from the garden really are tasty, and one doesn't have to be skimpy with them in one's own recipes. I don't really measure ingredients when I make up recipes, I just measure taste.

Ranch-style Salad Dressing ingredients:
Several large spoonfuls of Best Foods or Hellman's Mayonnaise
A bit of cream or milk, or water if someone is avoiding dairy. Just enough to thin the mayonnaise down to pouring consistency. Made a little thicker it makes a great dip for raw veggies.
Garlic powder
Onion Powder
Fresh or dried herbs, your favorite flavor. This dressing tastes with chives alone, dill alone, or a mix of herbs such as thyme and marjoram.
A small bit of salt if needed, but it shouldn't need much if any.
Mix this with a little whisk to get any lumps out. Add the garlic and onion powder in small amounts until you get to the right taste- however you like it.


Herb Display 1
Herb Display 1
Art Print

Gamboa, Consuelo
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Garlic and Onion powder also happen to be a "secret" ingredient in making my own imitation Alfredo sauce. This is lower in fat and works well in a pinch when you don't have cream on hand but crave a creamy pasta dish.

Make a white sauce, using your favorite recipe and milk. We aren't being super gourmet here, and you can use the quick cornstarch white sauce recipe on the side of the cornstarch box. Add 1/4 cup or more finely grated Parmesan cheese, and the garlic and onion powder as you like it. Don't cook it until it is super thick, just until it starts to thicken, then pour over your pasta and vegetables.

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