CREAMY ITALIAN SALAD DRESSING
The creaminess comes from an egg, which emulsifies the oil and vinegar, and a bit of gelatin, which also helps with emulsification and thickening. Once you've dealt with those two items the rest of the dressing is very easy.
1 egg (I usually buy jumbo ones.)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp. unflavored gelatin (This isn't completely necessary; don't use any more or the dressing will start resembling jello. If you're sure you'll just be using the dressing over greens and not over sturdier items such as vegetables, it's probably best to leave it out.)
1/3 cup vinegar (Red wine vinegar gives a fairly mild taste; balsamic or sherry vinegar is stronger. Your choice.)
Sprinkle the gelatin over the vinegar and lemon juice in a microwave-safe container. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften, then whisk in the egg and microwave on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute. You want to get the temp to 160 degrees to kill any salmonella in the egg. (I use an instant-read thermometer to make sure it has gotten hot enough, although in reality it's very rare to get sick from a raw egg. It's more for my own peace of mind than out of any real danger that I go through this procedure, but I'd need to heat the vinegar anyway to dissolve the gelatin.) Then use a stick blender if you have one to whir up the resulting mixture; if you've used a container that will accommodate the blender then you'll end up just messing up that one item. Otherwise, you'll need to scrape the mixture into a regular blender and proceed from there. Either way, after you've blended the egg/vinegar/gelatin mixture you will blend in:
1 tablespoon sugar (Which is not very much compared to what's in the store-bought stuff--take a look sometime at the labels of commercial dressing. 1 tablespoon is only 12 grams, and that's for the whole recipe. Many store-bought dressings have way more than that in just one serving.)
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, pressed, or 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic (I actually prefer the granulated garlic for this type of recipe, as it gives a smoother product. I buy a high-quality toasted granulated garlic from a spice store.)
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground pepper (Which I don't really measure--just give it a good half-dozen or so grinds)
1/4 tsp. salt
Blend together thoroughly on high speed, then slowly add
3/4 cup olive oil
as you continue to blend on high. You can see the color of the mixture in the picture; the light color shows that it has been fully emulsified. Store in the fridge; the dressing will thicken a bit more after it is thoroughly chilled.
ROASTED RED PEPPERS
I think that the directions usually given for making these are unnecessarily complicated., so here's the way I do it:
Turn the broiler on high to get hot while you prep the peppers, and move an oven rack to the very top position. Cut the peppers into quarters lengthwise, removing the stem, seeds and white membranes. Place the pepper segments skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. They should be pretty well blackened and blistered all over. Remove the pan from the oven and just roll/fold the peppers up into the foil and let cool. Then pull off the skin--I usually use a small knife to help me get hold of an edge. This is a tedious process that will make you want to scream, but persevere. There will probably be some uncooked skin here and there, so just leave it. Don't rinse the peppers, as that removes a lot of flavor. Cut the skinned peppers into 1/4" strips.
This is another sort-of-fiddly item that I make because I can't stand the thought of buying them pre-made. They're really not all that hard.
I buy a loaf of French multigrain bread from King Soopers and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and spread the bread cubes out on a baking sheet. Blend 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp. salt, several generous grinds of pepper, and garlic as desired--I usually use a couple of cloves, put through a garlic press, or 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic. Drizzle this mixture over the bread cubes and bake for 5 minutes, stir around with a spatula, bake for another 5 minutes, and then see how dark they are. They should be golden brown and crisp. Let cool and then store in a plastic bag in the freezer. Take out as needed.