Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blouses, Lost Dogs and Caesar Salad

Little Maya from Watford, England read my post about her and wrote to explain what it meant when her mom called her a blouse.

Lol, a blouse is short for girls blouse, meaning big baby!!!

Now I'm wondering is that a sexist term? What do you think? I prefer the more straightforward bitch.

I also received a note from Ella, my new dear friend from the Isle of Skye. She looked into the status of Maisie, the adorable 3-legged TT that needed a home in London and provided an update.

Dear Suddie,
Great news we just checked on the Mayhew Animal Home where Maisie was staying, she has been reserved for adoption and looking forward to her new home.
Love and licks,
That is great news. I just love Maisie. I can't help wondering what is happening with the adorable TT in LA that needs a home. HOT TIP: LA TT Needs a Home

And, now, let's get to the good stuff...Caesar Salad. I got dad to give me the Julia Child recipe that he loves so much and also a little a history too. A little more than I (and you) bargained for perhaps?


The salad's history is unclear. Contrary to popular belief it is probably not named after Julius Caesar. It probably was created by Caesar Cardini (an Italian-born Mexican). Cardini was living in San Diego but also working in Tijuana where he avoided the restrictions of Prohibition. As his daughter Rosa (1928–2003) reported, her father invented the dish when a Fourth of July 1924 rush depleted the kitchen's supplies. Cardini made do with what he had, adding the dramatic flair of the table-side tossing "by the chef".

Another story is that the salad was created for Hollywood stars after a weekend party. Others suggest Caesar's brother Alex created it as "Aviator's salad" for San Diego aviator comrades who were in a hurry, and the dish was renamed later, when Alex was a partner of his brother. A few fellows among Cardini's personnel claimed the authorship, but without success.

There is no direct documentary reference to it until the mid-1940s— twenty years after the 1924 origin asserted by the Cardinis. It appeared on a Los Angeles restaurant menu in October 1946.


The original Caesar's salad recipe (unlike Alex's Aviator's salad) did not contain pieces of anchovy; the slight anchovy flavor comes from the Worcestershire sauce. Cardini was opposed to using anchovies in his salad.

In the book From Julia Child's Kitchen, Julia Child describes how she ate a Caesar's salad at Cardini's restaurant when she was a child in 1920s, and some 50 years later she called Cardini's daughter, in order to discover the original recipe. In this recipe, lettuce leaves are served whole on the plate, because they are meant to be lifted by the stem and eaten with the fingers. It also calls for coddled eggs and Italian olive oil.

Julia described Caesar's tableside presentation in her book:

"Caesar himself rolled the big cart up to the table, tossed the romaine in a great wooden bowl, and I wish I could say I remember his every move, but I don't. The only thing I see again clearly is the eggs. I can see him break 2 eggs over that romaine and roll them in, the greens going all creamy as the eggs flowed over them."

The Cardini family trademarked the original recipe in 1948, and more than a dozen varieties of bottled Cardini's dressing are available today. Some recipes include one or more of mustard, avocado, tomato, bacon bits, or garlic cloves. Rochelle Low is credited with the creation of the "nouveau-Caesar" style by adding the hotly contested ingredient of anchovies to the dressing recipe. This style is found in fancy restaurants with the anchovies served on the side. Cardini's Brand original Caesar dressing is somewhat different from Rosa's version.

Many restaurants offer a more substantial salad by topping a Caesar salad with grilled chicken, steak, salmon or shrimp. Certain Mexican restaurants even improvise on items such as substituting tortilla strips for croutons and Cotija cheese for the Parmesan, or the addition of tomatoes in the Letchworth salad.

1/2 cup day-old bread, cubed
3/4 cup garlic oil
2 small heads romaine lettuce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 eggs, coddled (boiled in the shell for 1 minute)
Juice of 2 medium lemons
8-10 drops of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. To prepare the garlic oil, place 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped in a good quality (e.g. Extra Virgin) olive oil and let it stand at room temperature several hours or even up to 5 days.

2. To prepare croutons, pre-heat oven to 225 degrees. Toss bread cubes with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and garlic mixture and spread on a pan or baking sheet. Toss frequently and bake until golden brown, about 2 hours.

3. Wash, dry and crisp (in the refrigerator) the leaves of the romaine lettuce. Originally, Caesar left the lettuce leaves whole, and the salad was eaten with the fingers, but later he tore the outer leaves into 2-inch lengths, leaving only the small inner leaves whole, and the salad was eaten with a fork.

4. Place lettuce in a large bowl and toss with remaining 1/2 cup of garlic oil. Add pepper, again tossing gently. Break the coddled eggs over the lettuce, add lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and toss two or three times. Add cheese. Toss. Add croutons. Toss lightly once more.

Serves 4.

Note: Instead of making the croutons from day-old bread, my dad buys plain unseasoned croutons at the store and prepares them on the stovetop in a pan with the 1/4 cup of the olive oil and garlic mixture. Cooking until the croutons are lightly golden brown. He also tends to be more liberal with the Worcestershire sauce and parmesan cheese.