Let's face it, everyone loves a good Caesar salad. I have made many versions in my catering and restaurant days, starting at the Gulf Coast Oyster Bar back in the 1980's and up until now at Wren Catering. I have made dressing from scratch with raw eggs and cheated too, just using good mayo as a starting point. But THE best Caesar dressing I have ever tasted is the one made by my daughter Lily. Its zing-y and delicious. She works the garlic and anchovies into a paste with finesse and purpose, making all the difference between great and AWESOME Caesar dressing. She has graciously let me share her recipe and technique with you and I so appreciate that...every wonderful bite!
Lily's Caesar Dressing
2 cloves garlic
1 oz anchovies from a tin or jar
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Best Foods mayo
zest of one lemon
2 lemons, juiced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 cup finely shaved Parmesan cheese (I use my zester)
Put the mustard, mayo, lemon juice and zest in a bowl with a grind or two of black pepper and a generous pinch of sea salt. Finely chop the garlic then sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and smash it with the side of your knife against the cutting board until you have a paste. Chop and smash the anchovies the same way, then add to the bowl with the mustard, mayo, lemon juice and zest and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil in a slow stream until you get the texture you want, not too thin, you want it to stick to the romaine leaves well. Add in the cheese, stir. Check for flavor. Does it need more garlic? Lemon juice? Olive oil? You want it to have a balanced flavor with all ingredients detected. Drizzle on well washed and dried romaine leaves, more Parmesan and homemade croutons. Add chicken or cooked shrimp if you like. This dressing is also good as a crudité dip!
You may think that tomatoes are a weird ingredient for a jam but if you remember that they are a fruit, it might make more sense. We used this jam as a condiment spread for the turkey meatloaf sandwich that we served when I owned Alchemy Market and Wine Bar back in the 2000s. It lends a sweet, spicy and tangy taste to most anything you pair it with—goat cheese and crackers, grilled chicken or shrimp, roasted pork tenderloin, even grilled cheese. It makes about 4 cups and lasts for a couple of weeks in the fridge so, make a batch and get creative!
Tomato Ginger Jam
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup of fresh ginger, peeled - a 2" knob or so
1/4 cup garlic, peeled - about 4 large cloves
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 t cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 T ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t ground cloves
2 cups chopped, canned tomatoes (or you can also use fresh apples)
1/3 cup honey
Drop the garlic and ginger through the feed tube of a food processor and chop finely. Don't bother to wash the bowl as you will be puréeing the sauce after cooking it. Sauté the garlic and the ginger on low heat, without browning, until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the honey, and simmer for 25 minutes covered.
Purée the sauce in the food processor until smooth and then return to the pan. Add the honey and cook for a few minutes over medium heat until thickened and jammy.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"