Monday, June 7, 2010

Seizure Salad

The guys have been helping out in the kitchen more and more. Nic loves Caesar salad and has taken on the task of making the dressing whenever we plan to have salad with dinner. Last night Nic made his dressing, but thought it had too much lemon, so his solution was to add more garlic. We all sat down to dinner and our palates were hit with the hot pungency of too much garlic. Everybody learns from their mistakes! I doubt Nic will add more than 2 cloves of garlic again.

Garlic is a key component in countless Italian recipes, but we don’t always want that pungent raw flavor. Raw garlic’s harshness comes from a compound called “allicin”, which forms as soon as the clove’s cells are ruptured and continues to build as it sits. Since the citric acid in lemon juice hastens the conversion of harsh-tasting allicin to more mellow compounds called thiosulfonates, disulfides, and trisulfides, we recommend steeping sliced garlic in the lemon juice while you get the other ingredients ready. Heating the sliced garlic in the olive oil is another method to mellow the garlic which produces the same milder-tasting compounds that form when the garlic is steeped.

This delicious salad was originated by Caesar Cardini who had a small hotel and restaurant in Mexico not far from the California border. During Prohibition, the Hollywood crowd would drive to Mexico to party. Apparently on the Fourth of July, 1924, celebrants arrived in droves and the kitchen ran low on food. However, there was plenty of lettuce left (in those days, Americans weren't wild about salad) so Caesar made a salad that was as much a performance as food. It became an instant hit!

Dressing:
  • 1 large egg (dropped in boiling water for 60 seconds, shell on)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 anchovy fillets (or 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • A few drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil

2 medium heads of romaine lettuce (outer leaves removed and thick stems removed)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh croutons or garlic toast

Place egg, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, mustard, and Tabasco sauce in a food processor and pulse. Slowly add in olive oil. The dressing will start to emulsify. Adjust flavor to individual preference. You can add a little red wine vinegar or more lemon juice to thin. Shred lettuce into bite-sized pieces and coat well with dressing. This is best done by hand. Add some grated cheese and croutons while mixing. Top with more grated cheese, croutons (and any remaining anchovy filets) before serving.

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