Ratio, Percentages and Eyeballing It [Arugula, Orange and Hazelnut Salad with Tarragon, Crispy Fried Onions and Orange Vinaigrette]

I have been out of town and catching up on life administration stuff. For anyone wondering, m hay’s grandma is doing very well and made her move on Friday. We’re still waiting on news of how she’s settling in to her new place.

I should also mention that I have been busy writing a restaurant review for Ottawa XPress, a local arts newspaper. My review should be up here on Thursday, April19. Please watch for it!

Lemon and tarragon accent the orange flavour of the vinaigrette.

Blistered skins.

Rubbing skins off of the hazelnuts.

I’m posting a salad recipe because I want to talk a bit about ratio in cooking, but am not quite sure how to.

An understanding of cooking ratios just comes to people who cook a lot.

Learning cooking ratios is key to being able to eyeball ingredient measurements.

It’s the ratio of one ingredient to another that creates the infinite variation of flavour, texture and colour among finished dishes.

I can’t think of a food preparation that better exemplifies ratio than a simple salad. None of the ingredients are cooked down, so the ingredient ratios are plain to see. Also, vinaigrettes use the classic 3:1 oil to acid ratio.

Make this salad as big or small as you like. Ingredients are listed in percentages and ratios.

The crispy fried onions really make the salad. I cheat and buy mine either in Chinatown or at the Indian grocer. You can get 400g for three or four dollars, which is a lot less than it costs to make them at home.

Arugula, Orange and Hazelnut Salad with Tarragon, Crispy Fried Onions and Orange Vinaigrette

For the Orange Vinaigrette:

60% vegetable oil
10% olive oil
2% mustard
23% orange juice
5% lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl. Adjust seasoning.

*This dressing combines vegetable and olive oils because too much fruity olive oil will overpower the fruit flavour of the orange.

For the Salad:

6 cups loosely packed arugula
2 sprigs tarragon, leaves picked (1:3 tarragon to arugula)
1 large orange, segmented (1:6 orange to arugula)
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped (1:12 hazelnuts to arugula)
1/4 cup crispy fried onions (1:24 hazelnuts to arugula)

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Gradually add orange vinaigrette and gently toss to coat. Avoid overdressing.

To toast hazelnuts: In a jelly roll pan, bake a single layer of hazelnuts at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until the skins blister. Remove from oven and wrap the nuts in a clean terry cloth kitchen towel. Allow the nuts to steam themselves for about 5 minutes. Rub the nuts with the towel to remove their skins. Removing the skins decreases the bitterness of the nuts. Don’t worry if some of the skins don’t come off.


4 thoughts on “Ratio, Percentages and Eyeballing It [Arugula, Orange and Hazelnut Salad with Tarragon, Crispy Fried Onions and Orange Vinaigrette]

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