General Purpose Vinaigrette

I usually keep a container of this vinaigrette in the refrig. It’s good to dress almost anything, from leftover potatoes as salad, to tomatoes, maybe even leftover chicken for chicken salad. Think of it as an alternative to mayonnaise. It’s also very strong-flavored, so you don’t need much. Gather your mise en place:


1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. Capers, minced
2 T. Shallots, minced
1 t. fresh thyme, minced
1/2 t. fresh oregano, minced
1 oz. Good red wine vinegar
1 oz. Sherry wine vinegar
4 oz. EVOO (I use the Tuscan version from Costco)


Measure and mince all ingredients.


Add the vinegar (Get the best you can, it make a difference) and a teaspoon of salt and a few turns of black pepper, and whisk to dissolve the salt.


Slowly drizzle the olive oil in, whisking while you do. Season to taste with salt and lots more pepper. A purist would insist that this vinaigrette should be used within a few days, and it will taste fresher, but I have kept it for a couple of weeks, and it’s fine.

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David Gingrass is a food and beverage operations professional with a career spanning more than three decades. His fascination with and love for food, wine and entertaining allows him to view his work as both a vocation and an avocation. Gingrass graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York then cooked in the Bay Area for two years before landing a job at Wolfgang Puck’s original Spago Restaurant in West Hollywood. There he learned to make the signature breads and sausages that he became known for at Postrio and Hawthorne Lane. He was soon promoted to kitchen manager and managed the operational and expense control aspects of Puck’s iconic restaurant for the next four years. Gingrass returned to San Francisco in 1989 when Puck tapped him and his then-wife Anne to open Postrio, Puck’s third restaurant and his first outside of Los Angeles. Postrio opened to rave reviews and soon became the #1 popular Bay Area restaurant in the prestigious Zagat survey. Five and a half years later, the opportunity to open a restaurant of his own presented itself. Hawthorne Lane opened in 1995 and was a San Francisco dining institution for over twelve years, catering to the likes of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Mayor Willie Brown, James Carville, President Clinton and First Lady Hilary Clinton. He closed Hawthorne Lane at the end of its fifteen-year lease in 2009 to build a consulting practice for the hospitality industry, sharing his wealth of culinary and operational experiences with new and existing restaurants, assisting them to become successful and profitable.