Karen Barnaby: Hail, Caesar salad

Karen Barnaby goes on a never-ending quest for the perfect Caesar salad

Caesar Salad. Photo: Karen Barnaby. Karen Barnaby / PNG

We took the elevator up to the restaurant on the second floor. Francine handed the bag with two heads of Romaine lettuce to the waiter and we were ushered in.

The white linen covered tables and each had a lit candle. We were the only people in the restaurant.

Francine was always full of surprises. I didn’t know she had a Japanese chef godfather who made a killer Caesar salad in an empty, second floor restaurant of an Ottawa office building. An hour earlier she was on the phone, asking him if he would make us a Caesar salad. He said he didn’t have any Romaine and to bring some.

Twenty minutes later the plates arrived. The only hint of what lay ahead were the microscopically thin slices of garlic that clung to the glistening leaves. I eagerly popped a forkful into my mouth and my taste buds exploded. All the flavours had been pushed to the max while staying balanced.

I don’t remember how we got on the topic of Caesar salad that night, and I don’t remember if I had ever eaten a Caesar salad before. That salad made me realize that a salad could be lovingly crafted. I grew up on iceberg lettuce and bottled salad dressing and didn’t know a salad could be that good.

Caesar Potatoes & Broccoli. Photo: Karen Barnaby. Karen Barnaby / PNG

In between this and the next greatest Caesar, I ate a lot of crappy Caesar salads. They were either under-seasoned, too creamy, overdressed, made with pre-chopped garlic, riddled with stale croutons and nasty cheese, in various combinations. I never gave up hope.

The big Caesar of my life was at the Senator restaurant in Toronto. It was not creamy, the egg was only incorporated enough to keep the ingredients in suspension and it was perfectly seasoned with fresh ingredients and real Parmesan cheese.

I would go with my friend Sjoerd and we would order medium-rare burgers — it was the ‘’80s — and Caesar salad. We would eat the burgers and let the Caesar sit until slightly wilted, much to the to the horror of the owner.

Burgers done, we ate the salad with our fingers. Why? Because it tasted great that way! And we just ate a burger and fries with our hands so why stop there? I don’t let my Caesar wilt now, but I still enjoy eating it with my fingers and make most of my Caesar salads with Romaine hearts just to enjoy the crunchy, tactile experience of eating a whole lettuce leaf with my fingers.

What other salad is so special that it is made tableside in certain restaurants? None that I can think of. It is the salad I would pick if I were only allowed one salad for the rest of my life.

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Undressed Romaine, Roast Potatoes & Broccoli. Photo: Karen Barnaby. Karen Barnaby / PNG

Caesar Tips

• For oil, you can use all extra-virgin olive oil if you prefer. I like to use a blend of olive and vegetable oil so the olive oil does not dominate the dressing

• Use freshly grated Parmesan, it makes a huge difference. I like to add in some pecorino Romano cheese for extra tang. You can make elegant shavings instead of shreds by starting with a hunk of cheese and using a swivel-headed vegetable peeler

• For croutons, use an unsliced loaf of flavourful bread and remove the crusts. For a change, instead of cutting bread for croutons into cubes, pull the bread into rough cubes by hand. The jagged edges add textural interest. If you avoid making croutons because you tend to burn them, lower the oven heat to 325ºF (160ºC) or 300ºF (150ºC).

• When tossing, add the dressing first and toss with the lettuce, then add the cheese and toss again. This prevents the cheese from forming clumps with the dressing

• The Caesar treatment is great on roasted broccoli or cauliflower and on roasted potatoes. Don’t stop there though, it’s also great on roasted or grilled asparagus, green beans, carrots, and coleslaw

Caesar salad dressing. Photo: Karen Barnaby. Karen Barnaby / PNG

Caesar dressing

I like to make the dressing in a mortar and pestle, mashing the garlic first then the anchovies. I beat the egg in last with a fork.

4 medium cloves garlic, smashed

4 oil-packed anchovy filets

1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

5 Tbsp (75 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

5 Tbsp (75 mL) neutral flavoured vegetable oil

6 drops Tabasco sauce

8 drops Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp (1 mL) sea salt

1 large egg or 3 Tbsp (45 mL) commercially prepared mayonnaise

Place the ingredients up to the egg in a blender. Pulse a few times, only to finely chop the ingredients.

Add the egg or mayonnaise and pulse just to incorporate it. It should not be creamy unless you prefer it that way. Transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate. Keeps for 5 days.

Makes about 3/4 cup (180 mL), enough for 2 large heads of Romaine lettuce or 4 large Romaine hearts

Roasted Garlic Caesar Dressing

The lemon zest balances out the sweetness of the roasted garlic.

4 Tbsp (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp (60 mL) neutral flavoured vegetable oil

12 medium cloves garlic, peeled

4 oil-packed anchovy filets

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) finely grated lemon jest

1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice

1 Tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp (1 mL) seas salt

Heat the oven to 250ºF. Place the oil in pot or pan small enough that the garlic will be covered with the oil when added. Heat the oil until shimmering then add the garlic. Place in the oven and cook until the garlic is soft and pale gold, 45-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Place all the oil and garlic into a blender container and blend until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the anchovies are finely chopped. Transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate. Keeps for 10 days.

Makes about 3/4 cup (180 mL), enough for 2 large heads of Romaine lettuce or 4 large Romaine hearts

Источник: Vancouversun.com

Источник: Corruptioner.life


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