Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tomato & mozzarella salad with basil & Dijon mustard dressing

As I so frequently mention, my mother is a brilliant cook. She has a tenacious memory for food facts & ingredients, collects cookbooks voraciously which she reads in bed at night, can cook any style of food (she prepped & cooked a fully authentic Chinese buffet for 120 people for my 21st) and taught me not to be scared in a kitchen.

Most of the day to day recipes that I carry in my head have been inherited from her. Altho when I say recipe I don't mean lists or weights as neither she nor I cook our classic repertoire by rote but more by feel and informed guesswork. This makes writing down recipes a chore as I rarely have a clue to the exact proportions of any recipe's ingredient that I use from day to day. (Bar pastry, breads & cakes of course.)

At the weekend I made a tomato & mozzarella salad for our all-American steak & baked potato supper. The obvious dressing was my mother's basil & Dijon mustard vinaigrette which can only be made in a food processor. It goes something like this:

a slug of extra virgin olive oil
a slug of vegetable oil (purists may wince but if yr good olive oil is very fruity or grassy then cutting it with a neutral oil stops it catching at the back of the throat)
2 tsps of Dijon mustard
a splash of Balsamic vinegar
a good pinch of Maldon salt & freshly ground black papper
a bunch of basil leaves, de stemmed.

Shove it all in a Magimix or similar and blend till all the ingredients are incorporated.

The mustard & oil will emulsify, so you get a lovely beige coloured, thick dressing flecked with green basil.

If it's too thick add more oil.
Correct seasoning.
Pour over a dish of sliced tomatoes & mozzarella. Avocado would be good too.

Tomato & mozzarella salad with basil & Dijon mustard dressing