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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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

We all know what happened last Sunday….

It was Super Bowl Commercial Day! I just have to say that this year they really keyed in on our emotions as opposed to making us laugh. I still stand by my previous comments that it was just a little “dusty” in the room during the Budweiser “Lost Puppy” ad. No, I was not tearing up…that was someone else named Kelley…*cough*…

Anyways…

We all gathered around our televisions to either watch the football game, which was quite the game, by the way, or the commercials, which had their ups and downs (c’mon Nationwide…was that necessary?) To be honest, we are all probably most excited for the Super Bowl spread as opposed to anything else. Wings, hotdogs, chips, and dips. What’s not to love? We had an excuse to chow down for a full four hour period of time and not feel guilty about it because, um…hello? It was Super Bowl Sunday.

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I personally made this dank Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Bon Appetite. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and bam! There it was. Looking all hot and tasty. So, I thought why not? Dips are pretty easy to throw together and they are usually crowd favorites for parties. Plus, anything that combines cream cheese, sour cream, AND mayonnaise is probably worth the fuss. (All full-fat versions, by the way, none of this low/reduced fat nonsense up in here. C’mon…it’s a holiday. Live a little).

Let’s. Get. Started.

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THE INGREDIENTS. 

  • 1 package Frozen Spinach, thawed, drained (like super drained…don’t want watery dip) and chopped
  • 1 can of Artichoke Hearts, chopped
  • 1 large Shallot, finely diced/grated
  • 1 clove of Garlic, finely diced/grated
  • 1 tsp of Vegetable Oil
  • 4 oz of Cream Cheese (at room temperature…trust me)
  • 1/2 cup of Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup of Mayonnaise
  • 3/4-1 cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Chips…Crackers…Toasted Baguette (my personal preference)…Basically, a vehicle of your choosing for the dip because a spoon is frowned upon

THE METHOD. It’s pretty simple really. Cook this. Chop that. Throw everything together and stir. Bake until bubbly and delicious. Okay…fine. I’ll go into a little bit more detail.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, add your oil and sauté the shallot until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in your garlic and cook another minute.
  3. Add your thawed, DRAINED, and chopped spinach. Cook for a few minutes. Season to your liking with salt and pepper. Set aside and allow it to cool.
  4. In a large bowl (or food processor if you really want to get that dirty) add your cream cheese (at room temperature), sour cream, and mayonnaise. Stir until smooth and combined.
  5. Fold in your chopped artichokes, spinach mixture, and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper until it tastes delicious.
  6. Place in a quart-sized baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or so. Allow it to cool slightly before serving.
  7. Serve with the vehicle of your choosing.

ENJOY IT. Not that this tip is necessary. We have homemade spinach and artichoke dip. Who needs to be told to enjoy it? Certainly not this girl. This particular version is thick and luxurious…the way all dips need to be really.

Until next time…

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