New Years Eve is a time for reflection and resolve to change that which no longer serves us well. It has been an interesting year for me with the usual highs and lows but fortunately, the good exceeded the bad. WordPress, the company that publishes this blog, takes this opportunity to prepare an annual review of blog activities and then send out summaries to the writers. I was pleased to see that in 2014 nearly 10,000 people from all over the world viewed this blog. Although most of the readers were from the US, there were high numbers from Canada and Australia as well. Eighty-eight additional countries were also represented. It is overwhelming to think that Queen Jeanne has shared her stories, thoughts and recipes with so many people from varied cultures. I am extremely grateful for all of my readers, their comments and input.
On this eve of welcoming in 2015, you will hear it said, “out with the old, in with the new.” This may be applicable to some things in life but not when it comes to the classics. This term could reference books, music, plays or in this case, recipes. Culinary trends come and go but there are some preparations that sustain the tests of time and go on pleasing palates for years to come. Featured today is The Classic Caesar Salad said to have been created in 1924 by Italian chef, Caesar Cardini, who owned a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico. It has endured for many decades and is still a popular offering. You will see many versions but traditionally, it is made with romaine lettuce, croutons and Parmesan cheese, dressed with a garlic vinaigrette which is what gives it its swagger. Given the modest salad ingredients, it is the dressing that is the star.
I made this to accompany the Christmas lasagna and it was very well received. My step daughter offered the greatest compliment saying my Caesar is the best she ever ate, including the many she has sampled at restaurants. Although I have made it for her often, I have never revealed that it is the anchovy (something she fears) that provides the umami element and briny blast that takes it over the top.
As with all dressings, it is the balance of all the ingredients that makes it a perfect composition. Here is how it goes down.
CLASSIC CEASAR SALAD Serves 6-8
Recipe from Bon Appetit
This is the “go to” recipe from the folks at Bon Appetit. It is classic and delicious. Perfectly balanced, it is my “go to” as well.
6 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 small clove garlic, smashed
2 large egg yolks
2T fresh lemon juice + more if needed
¾ t Dijon mustard
2T extra-virgin olive oil
½ c vegetable oil
3T Parmesan (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, it makes such a difference)
Freshly ground black pepper
Croutons (so much better homemade)
3c torn 1-inch pieces of country bread with crusts
3T olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 Romaine hearts, separated (whole or torn as desired)
Parmesan, shaved with vegetable peeler for garnish
The dressing can either be made by hand or using a small food processor.
- Chop together anchovy fillets, garlic and pinch of Kosher salt to mash into a paste.
- Whisk or blend in the egg yolks, 2T of lemon juice and the mustard.
- Slowly add the olive oil while whisking or running the food processor and the vegetable oil in the same way until the dressing is thick and glossy.
- Whisk in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if desired.
Do ahead: Can be made a day ahead
Croutons (make your own)
- Tearing the bread ensures nooks and crannies that catch the dressing
- and add texture.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Toss bread in olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
- Bake, tossing occasionally until golden 10-15 minutes.
Do ahead: Make a day or two ahead. Cool and store in air tight container.
- Toss romaine lettuce (either whole leaf or torn) with croutons and dressing (I like to use my hands).
- Top with thinly shaved (use a vegetable peeler) Parmesan.
This salad is packed with flavor. The eggs and a high quality Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) give richness to the emulsion and the anchovies provide the swagger. I urge you to resolve in 2015 to get over your fear of these tiny fishes (if it applies) and discover the depth they can provide in soups, sauces and dressings. You won’t even know they are there but you will notice the added punch. Take it to the next level!
As the year comes to a close, I want to thank all of my readers for their continued support. I love the comments and questions you offer and I love to think of all the love shared around the table. A friend (and blog follower) recently wrote that she served the baked brie with bourbon bacon jam recipe I featured before the holidays and “They were such a hit that my family was auctioning off the last piece.” It is this kind of feedback that keeps me developing recipes and sharing them with you in hopes that they will inspire you to spread the love, one dish at a time. I send wishes for a new year filled with good health, happiness and of course, love. Sending mine to you. Happy New Year!