Caesar Dressing

caesar-dressingMy lovely 16 year old son has become a salad eating afficiando – he absolutely loves them and has a huge portion after every meal. Yesterday, I didn’t feel like cooking – we had some left over chicken from the night before but I really fancied a herby Greek salad type meal with lots of chopped cucumber, feta and mint. So when Jake came bounding down the stairs and asked what was for dinner as he couldn’t smell anything (!), I replied “A chopped Greek salad” and waited for him to say “Oh great  – how long until we eat?!”  Instead he paused and then said – “Hey Mum, can we have a chicken Caesar salad instead? It’s my new favourite salad.” Well, how could I refuse?

I used to love Caesar Salads when I lived in Canada – crisp salad leaves, crunchy croutons, grainy parmesan cheese and a dreamy, creamy, pungent sauce – I was in! I was also butterfingers yesterday, managing to drop a fresh roll of paper towels into a sink full of dirty water, which really, really annoyed me! That was just before I knocked over a bottle of oil which dripped onto the smooth tiled kitchen floor, ensuring that I had to stop and have a huge clean up and wipe down. At that point, I didn’t like my chances of ending up Humpty-Dumpty-like, on that floor!

caesar-dressing

Chicken Caesar Salad

I know that the dressing traditionally has a raw egg in it but decided that mayonnaise would be a good substitute as it is already egg and oil based and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the result as was Jake. Don’t miss out the anchovies – they add a deep umami flavour that cannot be replicated by salt alone. You could probably substitute with some fish sauce or anchovy paste – you will have to add a little at a time until you get the flavour you like. This makes quite a lot of dressing but it keeps very well and the recipe can easily be halved too.

From the comments below, a few of you have asked about substitutions;

  •  for mayo – I had a google and Jamie Oliver uses Greek yoghurt – it you try it, do come back and let me know and I will update the post with a credit to you and your blog.
  • vegetarian substitute for anchovies – I suggest tamari or soy sauce – start with one teaspoon and see if that adds enough umami – again, do come back and let me know and I will update the post.
  • vegetarian substitute for the chicken – try marinating firm tofu slices in smoky paprika, a little lemon juice and oil, then griddle or barbecue.

caesar-dressing

Caesar Dressing

  • Servings: 300 ml
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise – don’t skimp on the quality here
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of one lemon – about 50 ml or so – see my Tips and Tricks page on how to get the most juice out of a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 anchovies preserved in oil
  • freshly ground black pepper – about ½ tsp
  • 120ml/ ½ cup mild olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp oil from the anchovies – optional but good!
  • 35 g parmesan cheese grated

To serve (for 2 people)

  • 1 large slice of  sourdough or ciabatta bread cubed into croutons
  • a little olive oil
  • Half a romaine lettuce, washed and dried
  • 2 cooked  and sliced chicken breasts – barbecued or cooked on the griddle is the tastiest. Ours was room temperature.
  • grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, anchovies and black pepper in the bowl of a small food processor and blitz until smooth.
  2. With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil and the anchovy oil to emulsify the sauce. Add the oil slowly – this is the key to the dressing emulsifying and not splitting – the mustard really helps with this process in any case.
  3. Taste and adjust the flavour (not the salt though as the parmesan goes in next). More garlic? Add another crushed clove. If it’s too sharp from the lemon, add a little more oil but we found that the above measurements were perfect.
  4. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese (or you could carry on blitzing in the food processor but I was using my really small one and didn’t have enough space!)
  5. Taste again and make any final adjustments to the flavour.

To serve

  1. Toss the bread cubes in a little olive oil and either cook them in a dry non-stick frying pan or toast in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  2. Tear up the romaine leaves into manageable pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Top with the chicken/tofu and croutons.
  4. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of the dressing and toss well to coat. Add more if you like more dressing on the salad.
  5. Scatter with some grated parmesan cheese, dish up and enjoy, hopefully alfresco with a large glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Asparagus and Feta Cigars

asparagus-and-feta-cigarsOnce upon a time there was a girl called Angie who accidentally started a blog. She was learning about her garden so decided to call her blog The Novice Gardener. Shortly after she began her accidental blog, she started to write about the food she was making and the thoughts she was thinking. She also took a few very pretty pictures to go with her musings. Before long she had gathered lots of friends from all four corners of the world and decided that they all needed to meet each other. Angie, the accidental blogger, who never does anything by halves, threw the biggest and bestest party ever. She called it Fiesta Friday. Everyone dressed up, brought something with them and were so busy mixing and mingling that the party went on until Wednesday! Now, not everyone could make it to the first party so Angie throws open her doors to host a new Fiesta Friday every week!

This week, I am thrilled to be co-hosting with Jhuls of the Not So Creative Cook – a misnomer if ever there was one! If you have Fiesta’d then you know what to do. If you haven’t, it’s really easy; write a post – it doesn’t have to be about food but it does have to be a new one for the party; add a link to Fiesta Friday #15 on your post and then add your link to the party page – I’m probably not making much sense so read the guidelines here – http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/ Jhuls and I would be over the moon to see you at our Fiesta. If you are new to blogging, Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. So, put on your dancing shoes on and join the party!!! Click over to Angie’s post for FF#15 to join the party http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/fiesta-friday-15/

asparagus-and-feta-cigarsSeeing as I am going to be busy keeping an eye on all you lot, I am bringing these Asparagus and Feta Cigars which are quick and easy to make. I first made a feta-less version of them last summer as a canapé for a dinner party after seeing them on Pinterest and noticed that Ottolenghi had featured them in his column for the Guardian last weekend. I combined the two recipes, adding feta cheese for Fiesta Friday but had a bit of a disaster and overcooked them – they were edible but too brown. They were also very greasy from the olive oil. So I made some more and tweaked the ingredients, temperature and timing to get the crisp, non greasy cigars you see pictured.

I am also bringing these over to Fromage Homage’s May’s Cheese Please Challenge which has it’s focus on seasonal ingredients this month…apparently this fits the bill! Do take a look at the recipes submitted for this challenge – there are beignets, tarts, parfaits, gnocchi and the most gorgeous pull apart bread too…there is also some rather fabulous chutney for the winner so get something together and join this challenge!

Fromage Homage

Now, let’s get some choons on and fiesta!!

…and to wind down…a couple from Jhuls

So, now, for a quick run through with photos followed by a printable recipe at the end…

asparagus-and-feta-cigars

asparagus-and-feta-cigars

Get your ingredients ready – you will need to work quickly once the pastry is out.

asparagus-and-feta-cigars

Slice the sheet in half  and brush with melted butter. Don’t use quite as much butter as pictured – just dab it on all over. One you have 3 layers of pastry, cut the strip into 6 even pieces and lay the a spears on each one section.

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Add the feta and poppy seeds and roll up tightly. Repeat with the remaining sheets, asparagus and feta.

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Lay on a baking sheet, brush the tops with butter and sprinkle over the parmesan and more poppy seeds.

asparagus-and-feta-cigars

Bake for 10-12 minutes – keep an eye on them towards the end. Enjoy!!

Click over to Angies Fiesta Friday #15 to join the party – we are waiting for you! http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/fiesta-friday-15/

Asparagus and Feta Cigars

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Difficulty: fairly easy
  • Print

Adapted from Asparagus Phyllo Appetisers by Rachel Nairns 

These can be assembled a few hours before and then popped into the oven as your guests arrive…

INGREDIENTS

  •  12 asparagus spears
  • 1 package filo pastry – you will not use all it – freeze what is left over.
  • 40 g of melted butter
  • 70 g of feta cheese – crumbled
  • 10 g of parmesan cheese grated (preferably on a fine grater to get long skinny strands)
  • 2 pinches of poppy seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F and place some parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  2. Snap or trim off the woody ends of the asparagus spears.
  3. Fill a pan with a couple of inches of kettle boiled water and set on the hob to come to a boil. Salt generously and add the asparagus. Blanch for 2 minutes then drain and cool under cold running water (or an ice bath). Lay on paper towels to dry, patting the tops with another paper towel.
  4. Remove 3 sheets of filo from the pack. (You need to work quickly as the pastry dries out but if it breaks or crumbles, it is not the end of the world. Butter will hold it together and once it is cooked you can’t tell.) The filo pastry I used was about 12 inches long and 24 inches wide. My asparagus spears were quite short so I cut the pastry in half lengthwise so that I had long strips. Stack up the sheets in a pile of six and cover with a damp tea towel if you wish – I didn’t.
  5. Now, take one sheet of filo and  brush it sparingly with the butter – don’t be too heavy handed otherwise the cigars will be greasy. Top it with another sheet and brush with the melted butter. Top it with a third sheet and brush with a little more butter.
  6. Sprinkle over some poppy seeds and then slice into 6 equal pieces about 3 inches wide.
  7. Place a spear near the edge of each piece, with the tip of the spear overhanging the pastry.
  8. Place a little feta cheese over the spear and fill the bottom of the pastry with some as well. (See photo)
  9. Roll up as tightly and evenly as possible and place seam side down on the papered baking tray. It is easier to do this as an assembly line job – lay the spears out, crumble over the cheese and roll each one up. Leave a little room between each cigar on the baking sheet.
  10. Repeat with the remaining pastry and asparagus.
  11. Brush the tops with melted butter then sprinkle over a little more poppy seeds and the grated parmesan cheese.
  12. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Do keep an eye on them towards the end.
  13. Serve warm with lots of napkins!

If you want to serve a dip, and I don’t feel that you need one with the feta cheese, then mix up a little creme fraiche with a squeeze of lemon juice and some lemon zest …