Caesar Salad Dressing

Like with any job in any business, starting out in a restaurant requires you to work your way up for the bottom. I mean, it makes sense. You have time to work your way into the hearts and minds of the other people who work there. No one likes a person who just shoots straight to the top without having to sweep or shuck an oyster or two.

And that’s exactly what happened to me. I started out as a Garde Manger chef (keeper of the cold) and worked my way up to bigger and better things. I had to sweep and mop the floors. I had to take the trash out. I had to re-organize the walk-in on a daily basis. It’s just what you have to do when you’re the newbie. Never worry about being the newbie, though. There is always fresh meat walking through the door that will take over for a week or two until they get tired of the nonsense.

Yes…I know the TV makes being chef seem like so much more fun than it actually is. No, we don’t hire people to clean the kitchen. I’m not going to lie, you gotta be kind of a badass to be a chef. If you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Or so they say.

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My first several months were spent making all of the appetizers. Soups, salads, and bar snacks were all I made for months. In no time, you’re making cocktail sauce and corn soup without even putting any thought into it. Everything becomes second nature. In fact, it’s weird that you never really knew how to make cocktail sauce before starting this job. Why do people even purchase the bottled stuff? Homemade is bright and zesty. Just perfect for that freshly shucked oyster.

Salads were so easy to throw together before I knew better. A true restaurant doesn’t use anything store bought. Croutons are made out of old bread. Lettuces are cut and washed every day. Dressings are made in-house. Goodness, the amount of salad dressings that are possible to create is amazing. Ranch, Green Goddess, Boiled Dressing, Vinaigrettes, Emulsions…

The list is almost endless.

Caesar salad is my absolute favorite type of salad. Probably because it’s full of flavor and loads of fat. But moving on…I never use store-bought dressing anymore either. I’ve had the good stuff and I refuse to go back. No, you can’t make me. I won’t do it.

Like cocktail sauce, it has become second nature to make. I almost always have the ingredients lying around the apartment so I can make it pretty much whenever. It’s thick and creamy. It’s salty and spicy, yet bright at the same time. It’s pretty much a perfect caesar dressing. If you don’t make it at least once, you are doing yourself a terrible disservice.

THE INGREDIENTS. Most of the ingredients are things you have around the house. You’ll probably have to go out and buy one of them and that’s the anchovy, but there are a lot of other dishes you can make with it so don’t fret!

  • 1/2 Tsp Anchovy Paste (or 1-2 anchovy fillets packed in oil)
  • 1/2 Tsp of Dijon
  • 1 Whole Egg
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a Lemon
  • 2 cups of Corn Oil (or any vegetable oil, I’m just used to using corn)
  • A dash or two of Worcestershire Sauce
  • A dash of Tabasco
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

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THE METHOD. So, you can make this dressing without a food processor, but I honestly wouldn’t. You’ll be whisking until your arm falls off. I’m not even kidding. You’re arm will literally fall off if you try to make this with a bowl and a whisk. So, don’t do it. Use a food processor or a blender of some sort. You will thank me later.

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the whole egg, anchovy, dijon, and garlic. Pulse until it is all combined. (Fun Food Science Fact: The lecithin in the dijon mustard helps emulsify and, therefore, stabilize the dressing.)
  2. Turn the processor on high and start to slowly drizzle in the oil. Oh, and I mean slowly. If you pour the oil in too fast, you might cause the emulsion to break and you’ll have to start all over. Trust me, that isn’t fun. It’s annoying and mighty frustrating.
  3. After drizzling in half of the oil, add your lemon juice. This will add brightness and also thin out the dressing a little bit.
  4. Continue to slowly drizzle in the oil.
  5. Once the dressing gets super thick, and it will, thin it out with a little bit of water. This is a super thick and creamy dressing, which I love, but it can get a little too thick. Hence the water.
  6. After you have drizzled in all of the oil, add your Worcestershire and Tabasco.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Pour in a covered bowl and place it into the refrigerator to mellow for a few hours.

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ENJOY IT. This dressing is amazing. My family asks me to make it all the time when we are all together because it’s one of the the best caesars they have ever had. It’s pretty pungent, too, so I wouldn’t go and make it on a first date if you know what I mean. But dang, it’s good. I personally used it for Chicken Caesar Flatbreads, a favorite of mine. But feel free to use it as you would any type of dressing. Or just buy pita to use as a vehicle for the deliciousness. That’s what I do, anyways. I merely add the lettuce and chicken to make it more acceptable to those that are around me.

Until next time…

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Black Bean Salsa (A Classic)

It’s officially the month of November. While some people are putting away their Halloween decorations and beginning preparations for Thanksgiving, us Southerners are preparing for a different kind of holiday. College Football is in full swing with just 4 weeks remaining in the regular season. But these aren’t just normal football games. These are the games that decide the destiny for each SEC team. We have our rivalries in the Iron Bowl and the Egg Bowl. Don’t forget that battle between the hedges when Auburn goes to take on Georgia or the battle in the trenches when LSU hopes to knock off the Crimson Tide in Death Valley. The month of November is like Christmas to a lot of us Southerners…well, at least for those of us who love our College Football.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetFor those people who don’t actually enjoy watching the sport, there are the tailgating games and, perhaps most important of all, the tailgating food. There are wings, BBQ, dips and spreads. Never is there a shortage of food when your favorite team takes the field. I’m particular fond of dips for game days because they are the perfect food for grazing throughout the day. Just grab a chip every time you walk past the table and you’ll have eaten plenty by the end of the evening. My favorite dish to make for a tailgate is black bean salsa. It’s refreshing and bright. Also, the saltiness of the tortilla chips pairs perfectly well with an ice cold beer, which is a must have every Saturday.

So roll up your sleeves and get out those utensils, it’s time for you to learn how to make this tailgate classic! Let’s get started…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetTHE INGREDIENTS. Now, salsa is defined as a sauce made from chopped, uncooked vegetables and fruits. They are most commonly used as condiments or for dips. Because salsa is uncooked, the freshest ingredients need to be used.

  • 7 Roma Tomatoes, de-seeded, diced*
  • 1 Red Onion, quarter-inch dice
  • 2 cans of Corn, preferably White, drained and rinsed**
  • 2 cans of Black Beans, drained and rinsed (I suppose you could use dried, but I don’t know who would want to do that).
  • 2 Poblano Peppers, roasted, peeled, de-seeded, and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons Cilantro
  • Lime juice
  • Cumin, ground
  • Salt and Pepper

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetTHE METHOD. This is a super easy dish to put together. You simply prepare and dice all of the ingredients and place in a large bowl.

For the poblano peppers, we need to roast them in order to get a nice charred flavor as well as to remove the waxy skin. Usually, I would have done this on the grill, but our gas line was being worked on so I turned to the broiler. Just turn it to high, rub the peppers with a little bit of oil (not too much or you will have a kitchen full of smoke), and place them on a pan covered with aluminum foil (just to prevent the pan from being ruined). Roast them until they are nicely charred on all sides. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This will create steam as the peppers cool off and will make peeling the skin off easier.

Once cooled, peel the skin off and finely chop the peppers. Place them in a large bowl.

For the tomatoes, quarter them, remove the seeds and do a quarter-inch dice. Place in a bowl with your onion, corn, and black beans. Give it a nice stir.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetNow is the time that we add the flavors and really create the salsa. Sprinkle with quite a bit of salt (to taste). The salt is going bring out all of the flavors in the vegetables. Don’t be afraid to be a little overzealous with the salt because these ingredients can take it. You don’t want a bland salsa, do you? But don’t go too cray cray at the beginning. Add it a little bit at a time while tasting as you go. You can’t take any of the salt out, but you can always add more. I’ve always found that if a dish just doesn’t taste right, a little sprinkle of salt brings it all together.

Add your ground cumin. I went with a 1/2 teaspoon, but it’s really up to you. It’s a pungent spice, so add it a little at a time until you have it where you want it. Cooking is always about your taste buds.

Cut a lime in half and squeeze all of the juice out into the bowl. Citrus has a way of brightening the foods it touches. It also acts similarly to salt, in that it brings out the natural flavors of the ingredients. If you don’t want to add more salt to something, try adding a little bit of acid. It might just bring everything together.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetNow, add your chopped cilantro and give everything a good mix. Fresh cilantro is the only way to go here. Herbs add brightness and freshness to foods.

Tasting is imperative for a good salsa. So taste all throughout the process. If it needs more salt, add it. Lime juice? Add it. Cumin? You guessed it…add it.

You might be thinking that this seems like a really dry salsa…and you’d be right. At the current moment, it is rather dry. The magic happens when you let the salsa sit and allow all the ingredients to mellow. The salt and the lime juice draw some of the moisture out of the vegetables, which creates the liquid portion. Because of this, it is best to make the salsa the day before you plan to serve it. After all, most dishes are better the next day, right?

ENJOY IT. Serve up the salsa at your next tailgate. Perhaps do a shot of it every time your favorite team scores. A nice shot of Evan Williams Apple Orchard doesn’t hurt either. Basically, just take a shot of something. It is the holiday season after all.


* I know, I know. It’s November and tomatoes are a Summer vegetable (fruit). I am very aware of this fact, but you’re just going to have to do your best to find a good tomato because canned simply will not do for this salsa. 

** Okay, so canned is perfectly fine for the corn, but not the tomatoes. Who wants to shuck corn and cut it off the cobb? No one. Ain’t no one got time for that. So just be a hypocrite like me and use fresh tomatoes and canned corn.