Thursday, June 3, 2010

Madeleine's Caesar Salad and Dressing

Dedicated to the memory of Charlotte Williams Intres,

wonderful friend and excellent cook

Serves 4 -6

¾ - ½ C extra virgin olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves

2 egg yolks

1 heaping TBLS Dijon Mustard

½ tsp. (or just a squirt) *anchovy paste

Juice of 1 lemon

A few drops red wine vinegar

1 TLBS corn syrup - optional

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Crumbled Bacon or 1 can rinsed anchovies

3 slices bread (for Croûtons)


1 head Romaine lettuce

Crush garlic. Add to olive oil. Allow enough time for garlic to flavor the olive oil. Refrigerate overnight if preparing ahead of time.

Beat two egg yolks thoroughly in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil, omitting the garlic pieces, into egg yolks beating continuously until mayonnaise consistency forms. Do not allow mayonnaise to become soupy. Use any remaining olive oil along with butter for coating bread cubes.

Add heaping TBLS Dijon Mustard, anchovy paste, juice of lemon, a few drops of red wine vinegar and optional corn syrup (balances acidity). Mix vigorously.

Butter bread, slice into cubes, and toast in oven or microwave until crispy.

Rinse lettuce, pat dry with terry towel or use a lettuce spinner to wash and ring out water, and break into bite-size pieces.

Place lettuce in serving bowl. Pour on dressing and add grated cheese. Toss thoroughly. Add crumbled bacon or anchovies and croûtons. Salt and add freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

*Do not be afraid to use the anchovy paste, even if you do not care for anchovies, as the amount used is so insignificant that its flavor is undetectable in the dressing, but does add a wonderful salty flavor, in keeping with the best of Cesar salad dressings.

If using anchovies in the salad, I have found that the individual flavors of the entire salad remain separate and distinct if the anchovies are drained, rinsed, and patted dry with paper towels. I have had many a pizza ruined, not by anchovies, but by anchovy oil permeating entire toppings, because they were not drained and rinsed of their oil.

If serving this salad to guests, consider placing toppings of crumbled bacon, anchovies, and croûtons in separate serving bowls with serving utensils, giving guest a choice of toppings. Although I do like anchovies on occasion, my favorite is the crumbled bacon which I fry up ahead of time and heat just before serving. Real cooked bacon pieces can also be purchased in a jar.

©Wilma Carolyn Johnson Short

NOTES: While we were traveling through New Brunswick on our way back to the states from our Nova Scotia vacation, we stopped at our friends' home, Madeleine and Monty. Monty was in another part of Canada picking up their soon to be new pets, two Alaskan Huskies, while Madeleine minded the fort. The backside of their home, which is very cozy and cottage-like, faces the quiet, but vast St. John River in Fredericton.

Madeleine, who is a cook par excellence, treated us to one of her special meals, accompanied by an amazing Caesar Salad with crumbled bacon and croûtons. I watched her make the dressing. I had only experienced homemade Caesar salad dressing one other time, made by my mom and I was simply too young to appreciate it, especially after I was alerted there was a raw egg in the salad. This I learned half-way through eating it. I don't remember if I finished the salad, but being a picky eater growing up, I imagine I that raw egg knowledge stopped me in my tracks.

I asked Madeleine for her recipe and she gladly dictated it to me later that evening. The measurements are approximate. I still have the penciled directions and ingredients outline written on lined yellow paper in my “collected recipes” notebook and I've been referring to it for well over 20 years. Actually, I've memorized it.

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