Saturday, October 29, 2011

Caesar Salad

Let me start by apologizing for the fact that I absolutely cannot spell the word 'caesar.'  I have to look it up every time.  So I plan on covering my bases in this post by spelling it every way possible (I suppose spellcheck would be the other solution, but that just sounds so time-intensive).

With that out of the way... lets talk ceasar salad!  I'm a little ambivalent about certain modern molecular gastronomy-type foods, and when I read the recipe for the caeser salad, that's what I thought I was getting.  Weird stuff disguising as my beloved ceaser salad.  Oh, and I *do* love ceasar salad.  And my brother in law and his wife were coming for dinner, so I thought there was absolutely no way in hell that I would get them to even try a custard-looking thing that was supposed to taste like cheese, since they are quite possibly the pickiest eaters in the world.  But... it was surprisingly good.  So good that even the picky people ate it.  So good that angry toddler ate THREE custards as part of lunch the next day!

The caesar dressing was not my favorite - it was more 'vinegary,' less of a 'creamy' dressing.  I think that only a vinegar-based dressing would work with this dish due to the rick nature of the custard, though.  I ended up throwing the dressing out later on (despite best intentions to eat the massive amount of leftover dressing I had), so if I ever made this again, I would definitely find a way to cut the dressing recipe.


See these anchovies?  Salt packed!  I only got these (or, more accurately, was able to track them down at a market 5 blocks away from my work) thanks to Chowhound.  I love the internet.

There are lots of and lots of measuring to do, so I did a true mis, rather than my half-assed mis of usual:

Basically, you puree everything except the oil and egg yolks together...

Then beat the egg yolks into the mixture....

Slowly drizzle in oil....

And, ta-da, dressing!

(and lets talk about how fabulously that emulsified.  Patience is key here)

Next up: Parmesean custard.  Parmesan is another word I can't spell right (and before people start judging: I may be college, and even law-school educated, and I did go to an excellent law school, but I have much more important things to do with my time - like watching t.v. - than worrying about spelling!)  Because I can't spell it, and because it's waaaayy too long of a word anyways, henceforth on this blgo it will be "parm."  I made this the night before dinner; it has to chill at least 2 hours anyways, so its a great thing to do well beforehand.

The mis:

I heated up the cream and milk, and "infused" the dairy mixture with parm by letting it sit, covered, for 45 minutes.

By parm didn't quite melt all the way, and I thought it was supposed to (its still unclear), so I heated the mixture up a teensy bit and whisked the hell out of out.  Then I whisked the eggs and yolk:

And whisked in some cream mixture.  Note the black pepper - even though I have 20 kinds of fancy salt, I somehow always forget to buy white pepper (and by 'forget,' I mean that I have a subconscious refusal to buy it so I never do)

I poured it into some fantastic silicon fluted molds that I bought on amazon (they are brioche molds):

And baked in a water bath

About a half hour before people were coming over for dinner, I made some baguette croutons, chiffonaded some romaine and tossed it with the dressing, and shaved some parm.  I put a little extra because: (1) I knew picky eaters would at least eat the lettuce/dressing; and (2) I had a ridiculous amount of dressing and lettuce.  I think I also unearthed some balsamic glaze from somewhere and put a pretty dot of it on the plate.  I also think that I burned the balsamic when I made the glaze, and having it sit in the fridge really brought that out.  But still... look how pretty it is!

The best part of this was that I was able to do all of it before people got here, so I just brought it out when I was ready to serve the first course (and it gave me a little more time to work on the second course right before people were coming over).

Overall, I really like it, but I don't know that it made enough of an impression to go on my 'repeats' list. I'm about halfway through the book now, so we'll see!

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