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Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Term 3 and a caesar salad

 Lesson 1, Term 3 - Caesar Salad  and dressing @ Kitchen 10

Appetisers, salads and sandwiches and food service!  A new and exciting semester.  Or new and not so exciting, depending on viewpoint.

This term will be all about salads and appetisers.  This includes sandwiches and canapés (or hors d’oeuvre pronounced awr durvz), quiches and wraps.  And tiny things that can be served before the main meal. And then the last term will be double the excitement as we move to Kitchen 11 for the unit on Food Service – preparing and serving food to real customers!

Salads, sandwiches and appetisers.  Sounds a bit boring, but the first day was far from dull.  First of all, our new teacher is the epitome of the true French chef.  He is in fact French, has a million years of experience in a commercial kitchen, some local and  international stints and exudes that posh and almost conceited and distinctively French aura, and accent.   Don’t get me wrong.  I love the French (and at 40  I’m still dreaming of a trip to Paris and immersing into a true French adventure)!  Especially their attitude towards food and eating!  The first time I saw Mireille Guilano (author of the book French Women Don’t Get Fat.  She has since wrote a cookbook which is a take-off from this) on Oprah way back in 2006, I thought, “this lady’s got sense and definitely knows what she’s talking about!”  A lot of which are old truths we already know, but don’t really have habits of like, truly savouring every meal (not rushing that you gorge down every morsel down your throat), eating in portions (not stuffing your face because you love the food),  taking walks for pleasure and just plain to enjoy eating, enjoy food!  She quotes this French saying - joie de vivre – which translated means looking at your life as something that is to be taken with great pleasure and enjoy it.  Enough said. 

I know that its going to be an exciting term because I admire French chefs no matter what their status is. - celebrity, small café owner, retired, whatever.  And Chef A is the vision of a true Chef to me.  Not those in the cooking shows with celebrity chefs.   He reminds me of that French chef in the animated movie Ratatouille.  Not in a disrespectful sort of way, but more of awe and admiration of the passion showed in the kitchen.  He walks about tall and proud and peeks at our benches and what were whisking away in a bowl and sneers or snorts or imparts a quizzical look which leaves you wondering whether your mayonnaise actually looks right, or you’re doing your work flow as instructed.   I like him straight away.  Besides the fact, that amongst all the Caesar salads prepared in class, he chose mine and actually ate it, in the pretense of a real customer.  I’m stoked!

We made all 6 salads on the board including dressings and vinaigrette!  Why is it again exciting?  Besides having a French chef for a teacher, we make the salads and sandwiches, including the dressings!  And so it will come to happen that when we make those canapés in the next few days, we will also be making pastry.  Which is something that I’ve always been keen to take on.  Just think!  Cocktail party! 
Caesar salad with Caesar dressing
Serves 2

1 cos lettuce
50 ml olive oil
30g bacon, chopped
1 garlic clove
 1 slice bread
8 anchovy fillets (can be omitted for those who prefer a less fishy taste)
15 parmesan, shaved
1 batch Caesar dressing

Clean the lettuce and refresh in a colander.

In a small pan, fry the bacon and add the crushed garlic and set aside. (Place them on a plate with kitchen paper towel to drain some of that oil)

Add the diced bread and fry for croutons (or the alternative is to toast the French baguette slices in a tray in the oven.  Rub some garlic on them and drizzle some olive oil.  Alternatively, you can cut them into cubes and fry them as instructed here)

Place the heart leaves on two plates; tear the remaining leaves into bite size pieces and draw through the dressing.

Add some croutons and bacon.  Place on top.

Finish with the remaining bacon, Parmesan and anchovy fillets and croutons.
(For the anchovy fillets, I simply crushed 2 pieces, pan fried them in the bacon/garlic oil till they were crispy and topped them on the saladJust get ready to break the room apart.  It is fish after all.)

Caesar Dressing

2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 anchovy fillet
15g Parmesan
5g mustard (use real honest to goodness English Mustard)
20ml wine vinegar
60ml olive oil
5ml Worcestershire
5ml lemon juice
1/2 parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the yolks with the garlic, squashed anchovy fillet, Parmesan, mustard and the vinegar until all combined.

Add the oil gradually, just like making mayonnaise.
(To be able to do this by hand, you need to place a medium sized sauce pan on the kitchen bench, cover this with a kitchen tea towel and place your bowl on it.  One hand with the whisk, other hand pouring the oil gradually.  Or, you can always asked for a helping hand.)

Season with the remaining ingredients.

The semi hard boiled egg (runny yolks) is an optional extra.  To make this:  Boil some cold water in a sauce pan.  Once boiling, put eggs in and boil for 5 minutes.  Take the eggs from the water and place in a bowl with cold water - to stop the cooking process.  This results in a semi hard boiled egg with runny yolks. The perfect accompaniment to a Caesar salad.

An important tip from Chef A when plating salads for presentation.  Follow the sequence of: 1. Base, 2.  Body, 3. Dressing and 4. Garnish

The rest of the other salad recipes will be shared in the succeeding posts.

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