Recently, I find that I'm looking for increased simplicity in food. I've said this before, and there's no guilt in saying it again. Classic dishes, cooked properly (using the correct techniques) and presented simply- and not too much of it, either. Less is more. The dreaded garnishes are out too: nothing worse than those two ridiculous chive snippets placed at jaunty right angles to each other on top of a dish, forming a cross- I'm sure you know what I'm getting at. The sort of thing you see in "gastro-pubs", where it's all about poncy presentation, rather than flavour and technique. In fact, I'm currently rather in favour of ditching garnishes all together. Nothing More, Nothing Less.
I'm keen on lighter dishes, too. It's interesting that Scandinavian food is currently all the rage. Mrs Aitch gave me a signed copy of the Noma cookbook for Christmas, which was a terrific present: it's all ligonberries and wild flowers served up on stone palettes. I like this a lot.
So I've come up with my own version of a light Swedish dressing. It's water based and there's no oil in it. I suppose it is fat-free, though as it's also packed with salt and sugar, I would have thought that one evil has been ruled out by another. Or vice versa. But it's definitely light and delicate in taste, and I think your guests will love it; especially the girls.
I tipped several tablespoons of white sugar into a small pan and then spashed a rather expensive balsamic white wine vinegar we happened to have in the cupboard over the sugar. You'll need to experiment here: I found that I needed to use quite a bit of sugar (and less of the vinegar) to end up with a balanced taste.
Warm the pan, so that the sugar dissolves in the vinegar and forms a syrup. You want to thicken it up, but you definitely don't want to caramelise it. Cook it very gently for a minute or so. As there's going to be no oil in the dressing, this syrup, in effect, replaces the oil and needs to have body. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add a few pinches of salt, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Whisk in several tablespoons of water and serve cold. You could also steep the dressing in fresh dill for a few hours before serving, which I think would taste delicious.