Drops of gold


One of the joys of using balsamic vinegar is that it lends itself to simple preparations. Here are some tips for using it:

*Combine 3 parts to 1 or 2 parts to one, depending on taste, with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss with salad greens.

*Just before taking spaghetti sauce off stove, stir in a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Or add a few drops at end of cooking to stew.

*Chef Michael Gettier, of M. Gettier: Sprinkle fresh sliced tomatoes with fresh-ground black pepper and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

*Chef Dave Rudie, Milton Inn: Mix balsamic vinegar with a little sugar; toss with fresh strawberries. Let sit 15 minutes; serve.

*Chef Chris Cherry, Tabrizi's: Marinate Portobello mushrooms in balsamic vinegar over night, then grill.

*Chef Peter Zimmer, of Joy America Cafe: Put balsamic vinegar in a spray bottle and just before serving grilled or roasted meats such as lamb or pork, spritz with a little of the vinegar.

*Or, he says, reduce 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar by half, mix in fresh crushed black currants or other fresh fruit, such as mango or wild blueberries, and brush glaze on roasting poultry or game, using a few sprigs of fresh thyme as a brush.

*Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet, stir in 1-2 tablespoons (or to taste) brown sugar, saute julienne carrots until tender-crisp.

*Bring 1 1/2 cups of balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of allspice and a pinch of ground cloves to boil over high heat in a nonreactive saucepan; reduce to 1/2 cup. Refrigerate and drizzle over vanilla ice cream topped with quartered, sugared strawberries and roasted chopped walnuts. (From Food & Wine, January 1996.)

*Stir a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar into pureed sweet potatoes.

*Sprinkle balsamic vinegar on roasted or steamed vegetables such as onions, bell peppers or eggplant.

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