Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Caesar Revamped

Caesar salad is everyone's go to, whether at home or in a restaurant. It's more livelier than the usual iceberg one and can be turned into a dinner with just the addition of any protein. Is there room for change? Surprisingly yes.As with any dish, there's room for improvement .

Julia Moskin experimented and wrote about it in today's New York Times Food section, Her Food Lab column\gives not only new spins, namely the addition of the ever popular kale,  on this American classic but its' origins as well.It did have Romaine leaves but that was not the only recommended green thanks to its' creator, Italian American restaurateur, Caesar Cardini. She cites a 1947  report from the Times Los Angeles desk about the dish' growing popularity in southern California. The bureau chief of the Times then, Gladwin Hill wrote to the New York's branch's food editor Jane Nickerson about the basic ingredients. yes, there should be romaine but also endive and escarole. The salad needs hardy greens that can stand up to the rich, dense dressing. Don't sub in any of the more tender leafed ones such as Bibb or mesclun. They will absorb too much ad become soggy at best.Kale is your best bet but it should be mixed with other greens. Some leaves have a very bitter taste so it's best t mix them with romaine or the aforementioned escarole. Ms. Moskin also recommends using other types of kale such as dinosaur  or Tuscan kale along with the curly variety.

Preparing the salad may be a more labor intensive than the usual  every day salads.Chef Brian Loicano ,of Manhattan's  Noho's Acme Restaurant suggests washing them the night before using a ice water bath . He then lays each leaf on a towel line tray the night before. However this is easy if you have a restaurant's mammoth size fridges so Ms. Moskin tells readers to dry the leaves on tea towels, sandwiching them between two bags of ice. As  for the dressing The dressing  recipe is more or less the same as the original - garlic, Parmesan, lemon and Worcester sauce. Ms Moskin throws in black pepper and mustard for more flavor and emulsification. The proportions can be adjusted to suit the home chef's tastes.keep in mind how it should taste. There should be layers of heat, starting with the Dijon mustard , then the raw  garlic and finally with the freshly ground pepper.It should meld well with the creamier ingredients  Everything together gives the finished dish that unami, the fifth flavor thanks to the Parmesan and Worcester. As with guacamole and steak tartare, it should be made fresh table side for more of an impact, although it can be made before hand and served up two hours after making. It's up to the home chef to go modern and add any kind of meat poultry or seafood.

Caesar salad is a classic  but it can be modernized. Try it with kale for a different taste and texture. It'll liven up lunch or dinner with a new unique taste.

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