The Classic Caesar Salad

Classic Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons. Dear Martini

All Hail Caesar salad!  Most people agree the Caesar salad was invented by Caesar Cardini in his Tijuana restaurant, opened during the 1920s to circumvent Prohibition laws.   The Hollywood in crowd appreciated Cardini’s flare for the dramatic.  Cardini himself would prepare the salad table side with a flourish.   The Caesar salad soon became a national and international hit!

Anchovies, or no anchovies?

How to Make Anchovy Paste for Caesar Salads or Pasta Sauces.  Dear MartiniThe great debate rages on:  anchovies or no anchovies?  Many cooks and food experts debate about whether or not to include anchovies in Caesar Salad. Some critics say the original Cardini recipe did not include anchovies, but instead used Worcheshire sauce, which also contains anchovies. However, others believe that the best Caesar salad include anchovies, and it’s just not a Caesar  without them!  We believe the secret is not to add too many anchovies.  The anchovies give the salad a nice subtle savory note and we promise, our recipe is not the least bit fishy.

Classic Caesar Salad in a Wooden Salad Bowl.  Dear Martini

How to Enjoy Caesar Salad

If you’re having a party, you can serve the salad on a large platter, or prepare and serve it out of a large wooden bowl, just like Caesar Cardini did in his restaurants. But if you want to try something fun, make it portable for a picnic by serving it in individual mason jars.   Enjoy the salad by itself, or add  chicken or salmon for extra protein.  Caesar salad is a great option for lunch or dinner or as Chef Terri prefers for brunch– preferably with a Blood Mary cocktail!

 

Classic Caesar Salad

Serves 6 to 8

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 anchovy fillets, smashed

Pinch kosher salt

2 large egg yolks, coddled (see below)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Dash Worcestershire sauce

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large head Romaine lettuce, washed and spun dry

¾ cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

2 cups fresh croutons, recipe follows

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

In a large salad bowl, add the smashed garlic cloves and anchovy fillets.  Using two forks, smash and rub the cloves and anchovies with a pinch of salt to create a paste.  Add the yolks one by one and whisk to combine with the garlic.  Add the lemon juice and Worcestershire, whisking to combine.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil while whisking constantly to create an emulsion.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Tear the romaine lettuce leaves into bite-sized chunks directly into the bowl with the dressing.  Toss together with Parmesan cheese and croutons.  Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and serve immediately.

* to coddle the eggs, place the eggs in a small saucepan.  Cover with water and heat to just before simmering.  Use immediately.  Note:  Consuming raw or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.  Make sure your eggs are fresh and stored in the refrigerator.  Coddling the eggs will eliminate any bacteria that may be present on the surface of the shell, but will not completely render the egg yolk 100% safe.

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Baked Croutons

Makes approximately 2 cups

½ loaf country bread, such as ciabatta, pulgiese or batard, crusts trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread cubes together with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread the bread cubes in one even layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake in the pre-heated oven until golden brown, about 9 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow the croutons to cool.

Classic Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Dear Martini

How do YOU like to enjoy your Casear Salad?  Let us know on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DearMartiniCooking

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Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Recipes for Cinco de Mayo, fresh home-made guacamole, salsa recipe, perfect your knife skills by making guacamole and salsa

Whatcha makin’ for Cinco de Mayo this weekend?  We’re pretty sure your celebration plans include  kicking back with at least some beer, margaritas and chips!  Why not throw in some guacamole and salsa, too?  

We’ve got a really awesome portfolio of technique videos you can use.  Take a look here:  http://vimeopro.com/dearmartini/salsaandguacamole

Guacamole
Makes 3 cups
2 ripe avocadoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and small diced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 green onions (scallions) thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1-2 pinches kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
a dash or two of your favorite hot sauce
In a medium-sized bowl, add the avocado, garlic, tomato, jalapeno, lime juice, scallions and cilantro.  With a large spoon or potato masher, mash the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.  Taste, and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.Refrigerate until ready to use by placing plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole to prevent the top from turning brown.Serve cold with lots of chips!
Salsa
Makes 2 cups
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bell pepper, small diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and small diced
1 white onion, small diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 pinches kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until everything is mixed together.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, pepper and lime juice if needed.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.  Serve cold with lots of chips!
Turkey Chili
Serves 4-6
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, or 3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup frozen yellow corn kernels
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 cup water
Garnishes:
diced avocado
chopped cilantro
sliced scallions (green onions)
shredded cheese
sour cream
Heat a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Cook the ground turkey until the meat is brown and crumbly, about 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic for 30 seconds, then place the lid on the dutch oven and lower the heat to medium to sweat the vegetables, about 7 minutes.  Remove the lid and add the beans, tomatoes and corn and saute for another minute.  Add the spices and saute until fragrant, about another 20 seconds.  Add the bouillon cube and water and stir to combine.  Cover and let the chili simmer for 40 minutes on low heat stirring occasionally.Evenly divide the chili among the serving bowls and garnish.  Serve hot.

Guest Blog: Pasta alla Puttanesca

If ever there was a quick and easy pasta dish to make for dinner, this is it! Many thanks to Pat, whose blog, Rantings of an Amateur Chef so graciously published Chef Terri’s recipe and photos! We had a great time making this dish for Pat’s blog!

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Once again we have guest blogger Terri from Dear Martini. I love that she creates videos on certain cooking steps to help readers through. Take a look at the great recipe below and make sure you spend some time over at Dear Martini

Pasta a la Puttanesca is literally named “pasta in the style of a whore.”  Why it’s called the pasta for puttanas, I’ll leave it up to your imagination; however, I choose to ignore its impolite connotations and keep all of the ingredients for this dish at my fingertips in my pantry at all times.  The important ingredients for this sauce are crushed tomatoes, olives, red pepper flakes, shallots or onions, garlic and olive oil.  For the piquant briny/salty notes, you can add anchovy paste or chopped capers (if you wish to make it vegetarian).

This recipe falls under my personal category:  PVD (“preparazione veloce e delicioza”…

View original post 564 more words

Sautéed Greens

Everything but the kitchen sink . . . La Cucina literally translates as ”the kitchen” in Italian.  It is also used in the Marche region as the colloquial name for a dish of mixed sautéed greens that includes whatever you have on hand.  This sautéing method works well for a wide variety of hearty greens.  The dish works best if you use a combination of mild and bitter greens.  Mild varieties include: beet greens, chard, kale, cabbage, and spinach.  Bitter varieties include: chicory, dandelion, and mustard.

Dinosaur Kale, or Tuscan Kale grows in abundance locally here.  The lush, dark green, bumpy leaves are super-nutritious: a cup provides more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins K and A, and 88%of the DV for vitamin C. Like other members of the cruciferous family (cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts), kale is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention.  Lucky for us, it’s easy to grow in our climate and can be found everywhere — green grocers, farmers markets and supermarket stores.  We like to pair this dish with a side garlicky beans for a satisfying, comforting supper.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, check us out on Vimeo or subscribe to our YouTube channel!

La Cucina — Sautéed Greens

Serves 4

1-1/4 pounds mixed leafy greens (such as Dino Kale or chard), washed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled, and finely minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste!)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, for garnish

If the greens have thick hardy stems, remove the stems and slice the stems in ½-inch slices and the greens in 1-inch slices (place stems and greens in separate bowls.)

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the stems only. The stems will take the longest to cook, putting them in the pan first will ensure they are ready at the same time the leaves are.  Season with salt and pepper and cook covered for 5 minutes.  Add the leaves, as many as you can fit at a time, and turn them gently to wilt.  Continue adding greens and turning them over until you have added all the leaves.  Season leaves with salt and pepper and add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add a couple of tablespoons of water, and cook covered for 10 minutes or until the liquid is gone and the greens are fully cooked.

Eat your leafy greens!

In Defense of Brussels Sprouts

In Defense of Brussels Sprouts

There comes a time in one’s life when a singular event makes such an impact, there is time BEFORE, and time AFTER.  And, every human adult’s life in Western Civilization begins with intense dislike for Brussels sprouts.  At some point, either in early adulthood or even much later on in life, one might be fortunate enough to be reintroduced to the Brussels sprout and find he comes to like the pleasant delicious vegetable after all.

I can honestly say I’ve never known another fruit or vegetable that remains so divisive — there is the WE LOVE camp and the WE HATE camp.  And why hate?  There is nothing this humble mini-cabbage has ever done to make one hate it so much.

Tips for cooking Brussels sprouts for maximum potential:

  1. Buy them fresh, still attached to the stalk.  They stay fresher for up to a week and a half when still attached to their stem.  If you buy them loose in a bag or from the bulk bin, chances are they’ve been trimmed a week ago.  They start getting bitter soon after they are cut from the stalk.
  2. How can you tell a good sprout from a not-so-good one?  Squeeze the head between your thumb and forefinger.  The tighter the sprout, the fresher and tastier it will be.  If you feel something spongy with a lot of give and take, it’s lost its mojo.  Too much air between the leafy layers can only mean bitterness and sadness.
  3. Try different methods for cooking:  steaming, braising, roasting, sautéing, frying… and see which method works better for your palate.
  4. Add yummy aromatics like garlic, shallots, celery or caraway seeds, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes or BACON to the recipe.  Their complexity complements many different flavor profiles.  Find one that fits your palate.
  5. As a leafy green, they are downright fluffy and easy to digest.  Slice them in thin ribbon-like strips for a quick sauté. They cook so fast this way!
  6. Just don’t EVER buy them frozen. EVER.

The recipe below is Chef Mia’s, which was inspired by a photoshoot we did one afternoon (pictured above).  We liked the look and texture of both halved and sliced that we decided to keep them together in this dish.  I actually made this for dinner tonight — and added julienned carrots.  Delicious!

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Serves 4 to 6

RT @DearMartini “Dear @Brussels_sprouts_haters, This is a life changer.  You’re welcome.  Love, us.  #Baconmakeseverythingbetter”

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced in half

4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into ½-inch dice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced horizontally

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

¼  teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (to taste!)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Take half of the Brussels sprouts and thinly slice them horizontally.  Keep the remaining halves in tact.  Keep them separate and set aside.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until brown and crispy.  With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.  Pour off the bacon grease in a disposable container and discard.

In the same pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the halved sprouts.  keep tossing the sprouts until their outsides are brown and crispy, about 7-8 minutes.  Add the shallots and garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.  Stir in the sliced Brussels sprouts, and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the sprouts turn bright green, about 5 minutes more.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar and return the bacon to the pan.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed and serve hot.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Winner of a Chicken Dinner!

A Winner of a Chicken Dinner

As a follow-up to our blog post on pan-seared steak, and for the folks who are more inclined to have chicken for dinner, this is for YOU!

In this episode, we feature the pan-seared chicken breast and a garlic-rosemary pan sauce.  If you watch closely, you’ll see that the elements and techniques for this chicken recipe are almost exactly the same as the methods for the steak recipe.  In fact, it’s DESIGNED to be similar – once you master the basic techniques, you can apply them to virtually anything as long as you understand heat management and flavor profile.  And those two foundations of cooking only come with experience – the more you cook and taste your own food, the more you’ll figure out where to add a little here, push it a little there…  you’ll be on your way to eventually cooking WITHOUT recipes!

Here’s a great base recipe to follow and make your own.

Pan-seared Chicken Breast with Garlic-Rosemary Pan Sauce

Serves 2

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 half chicken breasts, boneless, skin-on

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

Make a beurre manié:  In a small bowl, use your fingers to rub together the butter and flour until it forms a paste.  Roll the paste together into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Sear the chicken breasts:  Take the chicken breasts out of the fridge, unwrap and set them on a large plate.  Generously sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and set aside until they come to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before cooking.

Heat a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high flame and add the grapeseed oil.  When you see the oil shimmering, place the chicken breasts in the middle of the pan, skin-side down and sear for 4 minutes.  Check after 4 minutes – if the skin is still sticking to the pan, leave it alone.  It’s not ready to be flipped yet.  If the chicken lifts up with no problem, check the color – the skin should be golden and crispy.  Flip the breasts to the other side and sear for another 4 minutes.

Transfer the entire pan to the oven and roast for another 7 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165°.  Remove the breasts from the pan to a clean plate and tent with foil to rest.  In the time it takes for the breasts to rest, you can make a tasty pan sauce with the pan drippings that are left in the pan!

Make the Pan Sauce:  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan and return the pan to medium-flame.  Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds until it is fragrant.  Pour a small amount of chicken stock in the pan and use a wooden spoon to rub and scrape up the hardened pan drippings from the bottom of the pan.   This step not only cleans the pan, but also dissolves the pan drippings (or fond) back into the sauce, boosting the sauce’s flavor.  Add the remainder of the chicken stock and rosemary and increase the heat to high.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer.  Simmer for 3 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by a third.   Turn off the heat and swirl in the butter and flour mixture, gently stirring to melt the butter.  As the butter melts, the sauce will thicken slightly.  Remove the garlic and rosemary or strain the sauce.  Taste and add any additional salt and pepper, if needed.  Stir in a couple of drops of lemon juice if you feel the sauce needs some acidity.  Keep warm.

To serve, slice the chicken breasts into 1-inch thick slices across the grain and drizzle the sauce over.  Serve hot with a side of pasta tossed with minced garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes, and some vegetables, like blanched peas.

As always, you can check out the video collections on our Vimeo Channel!

A Conversation about Crying and Stinking… Onions and Garlic, that is.

The following is an excerpt from a general-composite conversation we’ve had with a number of people over the years.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Perhaps the dialogue has not been transcribed verbatim…but whatever.  You get the gist.

Q:            Hey there, DearMartini, what’s up with the Onion-crying thing and the Garlic-stinking thing?

DM:            Onions and garlic are the most aromatic tools in the culinary world.  They offer flavor and aroma in so many different ways – without them, our lives (and tastebuds) would be terribly bland and boring.

Q:              Why does chopping onions make us cry?

DM:            That’s perhaps the most common cooking-related question in the Culinary Universe — the mystery of how and why onions make us cry… and how can we avoid crying.

Chefs Mia and Terri have taught home cooks like you the basic knife skill techniques for years.  Each time, when we reach that point in class where we have to face the inevitable onion-dicing lesson, we are pelted with a barrage of questions from students.  “How can we stop from crying?”  “OMG, my eyes are burning!  What’s happening to me??”  “Does that method where we chop them under water actually work?”  One of the best answers we have to the most common question, “How do we keep from crying when we chop onions?” is “Get someone else to do it for you.”

OK. All joking aside, if you wear eye protection in the form of goggles, contact lenses or scuba masks, then you’re pretty much out of the woods.  The rest of us, however, have to suffer the intense burning and eye discomfort as we prep for dinner.

So, why do onions make us cry?  The answer is both simple, and complex.

The simple answer is, onions have a natural defense mechanism to keep predators from eating them:  there is a compound in them that releases gases and fumes into the air when their cell walls are broken, which react to the delicate membranes in our eyes and noses that cause the burning reaction.

For a more complex answer, we turn to our most honored and respected food scientist, Harold McGee, who wrote the definitive book on food science, On Food and Cooking, the Science and Lore of the Kitchen:

“The distinctive flavors of the onion family come from its defensive use of the element sulfur.  The growing plants take up sulfur from the soil and incorporate it into four different kinds of chemical ammunition, which float in the cell fluids while their enzyme trigger is held separately in a storage vacuole.  When the cell is damaged by chopping or chewing, the enzyme escapes and breaks the ammunition molecules in half to produce irritating, strong-smelling sulfurous molecules… One sulfur product is produced in significant quantities only in the onion, shallot, leek, chive and rakkyo:  the “lacrimator,” which causes our eyes to water.  This volatile chemical escapes from the damaged onion into the air, and lands in the onion cutter’s eyes and nose, where it apparently attacks nerve endings directly, then breaks down into hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, and sulfuric acid.  A very effective molecular bomb!”

Q:            WOW.  TMI.  All we wanted to know is how do we REALLY keep from crying when we chop onions.

DM:            Well, if you really can’t handle wearing your swim goggles in the kitchen, we suggest a couple of things:

1)   Keep your onions as cold as possible – the cold temperature slows down the enzyme, buying you a few more seconds of time before waterworks begin;

2)   Keep your cuts to a minimum – be as efficient as you can with your chopping.  No mincing or mashing, please.  Remember, the more cell walls that are damaged, the more the enzymes have a chance to tango with the compounds;

3)   Keeping your knife as razor-sharp as possible is related to #2 – a super-sharp knife can cut through just enough cell walls that it needs to without mashing, tearing or bruising more (which is what a dull knife would do).

4)   If you have a lot of onions to chop at once, keep your kitchen well-ventilated or light a match over the fumes.

5)   And if all else fails, get someone else to chop the onions for you!

Q:             Ha.  Ha.  Very funny.  Can’t we just buy them pre-chopped?

DM:            Well, you could, but that won’t minimize the effects of crying.  The compounds and volatile fumes only get stronger when they sit for longer periods of time.

Q:            So is that why garlic stinks so badly on our hands after we chop it?

DM:            You could say that…

Q:            Do you have any tips on how to get the garlic smell off our hands?

DM:            Try rubbing your hands with a stainless steel spoon under running water, then washing your hands with soap and water.  The steel reacts to the garlic compounds on your fingers and neutralizes the odor.  It’s always worked for us.

Q:            What if I want to get rid of garlic breath?  Can I rub a spoon all over the inside of my mouth, too?

DM:            Nice try, but no.  Sorry.