Smitten Kitchen’s Pepper Salad

A friend of mine got married this weekend, the ceremony being at another friend’s lovely home. To help with the catering, I volunteered to make this lovely salad from one of my favorite recipe blogs, Smitten Kitchen.

smittenkitchen's pepper salad

You can pop over there to get the full ingredients list and the how-to, but it’s really a super-simple bit of dicing and mixing. I really loved the way all the peppers and other ingredients combined to form a delicious rainbow. I think this salad is going to become one of my staples, and I’m surely going to have to add sweet peppers to my garden this spring!!

One crazy thing I noticed when shopping for ingredients was that there was only ONE bottle of plain old red wine vinegar in the whole store, and to be honest, it seemed of dubious quality. I wondered if I could make a better version at home for the future and looked it up to see if it was anything more than old red wine.
Well, there was a great article on the Food and Wine blog that basically answered all of my questions.
I’m intrigued, and I think my mom might even have an old crock lying about. Time for a trip to the home-brew store!

from Food and Wine blog:
1. Buy a 1-gallon earthenware crock with a top-quality wood or plastic spigot. Add water to the crock to check for leaks; drain the crock.

2. Buy an 8-ounce bottle of commercial mother from a wine- and beer-making supply shop (or get it from a friend).

3. Add 2 cups of good red wine and 1 cup of filtered water to the crock, then add the mother. Cover the crock with a double layer of cheesecloth and fasten with a rubber band.

4. Set the crock in a warm (70° to 90°), dark spot and let stand for 1 1/2 weeks.

5. Add red wine to the crock in three 2 1/2-cup installments over the next 1 1/2 weeks; the crock should then be two-thirds full. Once a thin veil has formed on the surface, add the wine through the tube of the bulb baster tucked under the edge of the veil. Let the crock stand for a total of 10 weeks. Check periodically: If your vinegar ever begins to smell like furniture polish, discard it, wash the crock and start over.

6. Bottle the vinegar when it smells sharp and crisp: Strain it into sterile bottles through a plastic funnel lines with a paper coffee filter. (If you plan to start the process over, leave 2 cups vinegar in the crock and just add wine and water.) The vinegar will mellow in the bottle and improve with age, but if you plan to keep it more than 4 months, pasteurize it: Heat the vinegar to 155° in a stainless steel saucepan and hold it there for 30 minutes. Store the vinegar in sterilized, well-sealed bottles in a cool, dry place. Use homemade vingear for dressings and sauces and as a seasoning; never use it for pickling.

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