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salad – La Gourmandista

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Etiqueta: salad

On the Original Caesar’s Salad, Homemade

As a child, I used to when the Maître D’ would to come to our table and do something. I didn’t mind if he prepared a salad, a flambéed dessert, or if he only came to cut the piece of meat my parents had had asked for and would share. My curiosity was enormous, and I must say I thought it was delightful. Of course, at each restaurant I would have my own personal favorite. There was the place where I liked to ask for strawberries jubilée. Somewhere else, my choice would always be a zabaglione. Nonetheless, the Caesar’s Salad might have been the ultimate favorite. It was something we never prepared at home. It was something simple, yet for me it was a show in itself. As a matter of fact, I remember my father once told me it wasn’t but lettuce with cheese and a few slices of bread.

It called my attention that I could find it here and there nation-wide, as well as abroad. Nevertheless, there was something inside me that complained, for it was never prepared just as we did it back home. Someone -which might have been my mother- told me it had been invented in Mexico.

In time, I was able to confirm the information, and even learned that it wasn’t just Mexican, but from Tijuana. As I had never been there before, I hadn’t been able to taste the original version. Now, last Spring, I was able to go there to visit my stepdaughter. She made it our first stop in the trip. It was like traveling in time.

Once you get there, the charriot in charge of traveling from one table to the next is right in front of you, and it’s loaded up with ingredients to prepare the famous salad. Here, the main difference with my experience as a child is that everyone at the restaurant knows how to prepare it as per the house’s recipe. Evidently, I asked for mine. I confirmed that my ingredient list is correct. I noted some slight differences. For example: I don’t add garlic to mine. I always put yellow mustard instead of Dijon. I use the whole egg, whereas at the restaurant they only use the yolk. I do add an anchovy filet and I asked why they don’t. I was reassured that the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce has anchovy and therefore it isn’t necessary. I admit that the result is quite similar, but I guess that if I want to imitate the original dish, I must slightly modify my recipe. Among us friends, I will change the type of mustard immediately, for I like more the French rather than the English sauce.

Once we were served our salads, I asked the garçon which of all legends regarding the creation of the salad was the one considered as the real one by the organization. He honestly didn’t give me a straight answer. However, he did confirm though the “official legends”. But before I go into the nitty gritty of the gossip, let me tell you a bit about the history of the man who allegedly created it, and obviously, the gossip.

The Caesar’s restaurant is located on Avenida Revolución, in downtown Tijuana, Baja California. It’s actually no that far from the Mexico-United States international border. The place was founded by an Italian-born restaurateur named Cesare Cardini. He had originally migrated to California from Italy, but he then decided to press his luck in the Mexican border city as he was escaping from the alcohol prohibition in place in the United States in 1919 after the 18th Amendement made to the Constitution became effective. Said law prohibited all alcoholic beverages from being consumed, thus giving the city of Tijuana the chance to live years of glory and abundance. It also became a place that the American society cherished, as everyone started to cross the border to go party.

Evidently, then, just as now, festivities for the 4th of July are an opportunity for all Americans to celebrate, and obviously, crossing the border when not even a beer was allowed would be mandatory if one would want to party with the refreshing beverage in one’s hand. Therefore, Mr. Cardini, having his restaurant open and continuously full, started to run out of ingredients. Among one of the popular legends, it is said that a group of aviation officials arrived, and having nothing to offer them, Alex Cardini, brother of Cesare, and who was in charge of the kitchen the day in question, mixed the ingredients that today make up the famous salad and the rest is history.

Another legend says, that yes, there wasn’t much to offer guests, and the idea came from one of the servers, also from Italian origin, and whose mother used to prepare said recipe back home in Italy. As they saw everything was available in the pantry, the Cardini family prepared it, and then appropriated themselves with the recipe.

The last one of the stories was in fact the one our server told us. I honestly felt it was even more fascinating, as when I asked if the legend was true, he immediately started to narrate it and I didn’t stop him. We just listened and sat there with our mouths wide open. It is said that among the rich and famous who visited the Caesar’s restaurant there was a lady who always came by the restaurant and ordered it. She used to like it so much, she would go to different places around the World and ask for the dish to be reproduced. Her name: Wallis Simpson. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the same lady who was originally from Baltimore, Maryland and who turned upside down the English Crown… to the point that the new king, Charles III, sits at the throne because of the marriage of Mrs. Simpson and the king who abdicated the crown, Edward VIII, his great uncle.

See? I told you the gossip was good. Anyhow, God knows which one of them all is the true story of the Caesar Salad. Maybe in each one of them there is a little bit of truth. The best of it is that even when the place had fallen into ruins, Javier Plascencia, a chef originally from Tijuana and a great representative of the region and its cuisine, together with this family, who’s in charge of a restaurant group, decided to rescue the place that today vibrates with the rest of the city and carries on reminding us that THIS IS the place of birth of one of the most emblematic dishes of the Western Cuisines of the 20th Century.

Lastly, I read somewhere that the Cardini family, upon their return to the United States had sold the recipe to make a bottled version of the dressing. And yes, curiosity killed the cat and I looked for it at a local supermarket. I found it, we tested it, and the consensus at home was that we prefer the homemade version or that of the restaurant.

Here, I share with you the brief video I recorded that day. Then, you’ll find the recipe I usually make at home whenever I can’t go all the way to Tijuana.

The Recipe

Homey Caesar Salad

The classical dish served at the Caesar's Hotel in Tijuana in a version that my mind recreated from memories of my childhood and restaurants from the 80s in Mexico City.

  • small pot
  • small bowls
  • Salad bowl
  • Fork
  • Whisk
  • Kitchen Tongs
  • cheese grater
  • 2-3 leaves lettuce (romaine)
  • 1 filet anchovy
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ lime (the juice)
  • 3 TBSP. olive oil (extra virgin (approximately))
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano (finely grated)
  • 2-3 bread croutons
  1. In a small pot with water, add an egg and let it come to a boil. As soon as the boiling starts, leave for one minute and bring it out. Submerge the egg in iced water to stop the cooking. (By the way, you may also use the raw egg, but be careful. Also, if you don't like raw eggs, this is a good option to have it partially cooked).

  2. In a big bowl or a salad bowl, and with the help of a fork, mash up the anchovy filet.

  3. Add the Worcestershire sauce, the lime juice, the Dijon mustard, and a teaspoon cheese.

  4. Emulsify all ingredients with the whisk.

  5. Add the soft-boiled egg and then emulsify with the olive oil using the whisk by adding the oil as necessary. The recipe asks for three tablespoons, but you may use a little more if you'd rather. Verify seasoning with salt and pepper.

  6. Roll the lettuce leaves around the salad bowl to dress them well.

  7. Serve in a plate and finish with the amount of Parmigiano Reggiano you desire. Add a few croutons.

  8. If you want to prepare the croutons yourself, a very easy way I like is to cut a few slices of baguette, smear some butter and garlic salt, or some salted garlic paste, sprinkle some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and toast them a little in the toaster oven. They come out delicious and it takes 2 minutes.

Salad
of the World
Caesar, classic, Salad

Lastly, if you go to Tijuana, don’t miss the Caesar’s. Gon and enjoy a Caesar’s Salad. The map to get there is below. Save it!

Salpicón: A Mexican Shredded Beef Salad

Even if the constant at home has always been cooking, since the beginning of the sanitary emergency that has us all with stress levels and somatized pathologies never seen before, I have tried to focus most of my energy in feeding us as varied, deliciously and healthy as possible. The variety is achieved almost on a daily basis, just as the deliciousness. The healthy, not always, but hey, sometimes one has a sweet craving, and the nutritionist cannot win every single battle. 

Then, sharing images of what I have been preparing in my kitchen there have been several requests, so now that we have made all the recipes shared by your mother, your grandmother, the neighbor and why not those of Massimo Bottura and Jamie Oliver, hold on to your horses, because here comes La Gourmandista®.

Most, if not all the recipes I prepare and share have their own little story, and the Beef Salpicon Salad is no exception. It reminds me of summer, when my mom left everything ready to just assemble it whenever we would get home after having been all morning long running and jumping at the summer camp we attended every year. This version, however, was what I prepared with whatever I found in my fridge during the quarantine, since I had to substitute the lime juice, since there were no more limes, then I had some spring onions I added since they were about to die on me. And honestly, who is to have food tossed away these days?

Now, if you don’t find or don’t have any of the ingredients suggested just like it happened to me, no worries at all. Just make whatever adjustment necessary. Also, take into consideration that the amounts are a bit rough, since there is no better judge than your eye when you’re putting together a salad.

Beef Salpicón (Salad)

A mixed salad I had forgotten about and which is very easily prepared at lunch time upon warm weather arrival.

  • Pressure cooker
  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Salad bowl
  • Salad serving utensils
  • Small bowl
  • Fork or small whisk
  • Salad spinner or colander
  • 500 g flank steak
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 romaine (finely sliced)
  • ½ onion (finely diced)
  • 3 scallions (sliced)
  • 2 tomatoes (cubed)
  • 1 avocado, cubed (I only had ½, but it was lacking)
  • 5 radishes, sliced (I had bought them, but someone took them from the fridge before I did, so we hadn't any, and I skipped them)
  • Dry oregano
  • Salt and pepper (to season)
  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • 1 Lime (juice) (I used Yuzu and worked marvelously)
  • Corn tostadas
  1. Sear the meat and cook it with the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. It took 25 minutes in the pressure cooker.

  2. Whenever ready, let it cool down and shred it.
  3. In a salad bowl add the lettuce previously washed, rinsed and sliced, the onion, spring onions, tomato, shredded flank steak, radishes, and avocado.

  4. Separately, in a small bowl, prepare your vinaigrette with the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, and oregano. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. Try it, and make the necessary adjustments.
  5. Add your vinaigrette to the salad and mix the lot.
  6. Serve with corn tostadas.
Salad
Mexican
lockdown2020, Salad, salpicón, stay home

How to Make Authentic Lebanese Tabbouleh

When the summer arrived I bumped into a Lebanese gourmet store that made me remember my mother’s cooking afternoons with her Middle Eastern friends; their afternoons cooking everything they could put their hands on. And even though I didn’t learn how to prepare anything at the time, I threw myself into the challenge to cook some of these delicacies in the following weeks.

I was curious and did some research, and it turns out this is a Syrian original salad, but highly popular in other countries nearby.

Tabbouleh

Fresh, delicious, and simple to accompany practically any Middle Eastern cuisine.

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Salad bowl
  • Salad serving utensils
  • Medium bowl
  • Lemon Juicer
  • Small bowl
  • Fork or small whisk
  • 200 g bulgur wheat
  • 1 yellow onion (finely diced)
  • 100 g fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
  • 100 g fresh mint (roughly chopped)
  • 4 tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 20 ml Olive Oil
  1. Soak the bulgur wheat in fresh water.
  2. In the meantime, chop the rest of the vegetable ingredients and put the in a salad bowl.
  3. Squeeze the wheat and incorporate into the salad bowl.
  4. Season with the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil emulsified in a small bowl with the fork or small whisk.

  5. Personally I like serving it as a side dish to something else with labneh and hummus, but there are people who prefer serving in on a lettuce leaf or on top of vine leaves.
Salad
Lebanese, Middle Eastern
VegetarianDiet
Lebanese Cuisine, Middle Eastern Cuisine, Salad, Vegetarian

Caprese Salad with a Mexican Twist

On Bastille Day we made a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. For the event, I prepared some caprese salad skewers that turned out to be really good, but every time we go on a picnic everyone brings something and end up with a lot of food and have one week worth of leftovers to eat after the reunion. So I made a little revolution with the skewer leftover. Obviously, the quantities of the ingredients used will be at the cook’s discretion.

Revolutionized Caprese Salad

To give a second chance to a salad is not always an easy task, however, it wasn't very difficult to do it with the caprese.

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Salad bowl
  • Salad serving utensils
  • Small bowl
  • Fork or small whisk
  • 6 cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 6 mozzarella cheese pearls (cut in half)
  • 3 basil leaves (roughly chopped)
  • 1/4 cucumber (diced)
  • 1/4 avocado (diced)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 dash Olive oil
  • 1 dash Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  1. Mix the cheese, tomatoes, basil, cucumber, and avocado. Season with a well-seasoned vinaigrette prepared with the balsamic-vinegar, lemon, and olive oil.

*The recipe as calculated here is for one person, but the amounts, I repeat, are at the discretion of the cook. 

Salad
of the World
VegetarianDiet
leftovers, picnic, repurposing leftovers, Salad

My Delicious Recipe for Shrimp Stuffed Avocados

It’s getting warmer every day and we are starting to crave fresher lighter foods. As a passer-by in the market I suddenly saw some incredible extra large shrimp. At home I had some homemade mayonnaise I prepared with a friend who recently taught me how to prepare. So, I decided to use the beautiful shrimp to fill avocados. Here is what I did:

Shrimp-Stuffed Avocados

As a child, I would love asking for this dish when at fish and shellfish restaurants. I still enjoy them nowadays, so whenever I can, I prepare them with whatever I had at hand. Here's this season's version.

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Big Bowl
  • Immersion blender with its glass
  • Lemon Juicer
  • 2 avocados
  • 3/4 Kg. cooked shrimp (extra-large)
  • Mayonnaise (to taste)
  • 1-2 shallots
  • 1 bunch fresh chives and dill
  • 1/2 lemon (the juice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Para la mayonesa:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup colza, peanut, or sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix the clean shrimp with the mayonnaise, the finely chopped shallots, dill and chives, and the lemon juice in a salad bowl and season with salt & pepper. Once everything is well integrated having paid attention to not break the shrimp, cut the avocados in lengthwise halves and fill them up with the shrimp salad. Serve immediately to avoid oxidation to start showing. If not, rub with a little lemon to slow the oxidation process.
  2. Tortilla chips may be served on the side for a crispy touch.

However, I think the an important part for the salad to come out as tasteful as it did was the mayonnaise, so, for those who don’t know how to prepare it, here is the recipe I followed:

  1. Hand mixers like Minipimer or Bamix come with a tall plastic glass-like container to be used with. In this plastic glass put the egg, oil, and the teaspoon of mustard. Insert the mixer turned off into the container in order for an emulsion with all the ingredients to take place when the mixer is turned on. Beat then at a low temperature until ingredients are well emulsified. To integrate the oil on the surface move the mixer up and down until homogeneous. Salt and pepper to season.

It’s very likely you won’t use all of the mayonnaise obtained from the recipe, however, you may store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 24 hours and use it with something else. It is, however, not recommended to store it longer because of the raw egg. 

I suggest you prepare the mayonnaise with peanut, sunflower, or colza oil. You may, without a doubt, prepare it olive oil, however, it may bee too heavy for the stomach and be a bit troublesome.

Salad
of the World
easy, Homemade, Salad, shellfish

How to Make a Great Traditional Chef’s Salad

A classic dish served in cafeterias all around that has its own quick version in my kitchen. Very attractive for hot summer days when one does not want to mess up a lot one’s diet is this chef’s salad. The amounts to be used depend on you, however, I propose here a personal portion.

Chef’s Salad

The base recipe for my salads whenever there wasn't any time available to cook, or whenever I just want to eat something light, nutritions, and without leaving my regime.

  • Salad bowl
  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Peeler
  • Fork or small whisk
  • Small bowl
  • Salad serving utensils
  • 20 g Spring mix
  • 50 g Panela or mozzarella cheese (diced)
  • 25 g White mushrooms (sliced)
  • 30 g cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 50 g cucumber (sliced)
  • 30 g corn (grained/baby)
  • 5 g sprouts (bean/soy/pea)
  • 30 g broccoli fleurets
  • 100 g tuna in oil (Ortiz (is my favorite))
  • 1 egg (hard-boiled and chopped)
  • 1 slice bacon (fried and chopped)
  • 10 ml olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 5 ml red wine vinegar
  • 5 g Dijon mustard
  1. Add all the veggies, the chopped hard-boiled egg, the rinsed tuna, the fried and chopped bacon, and the diced cheese into the salad bowl.

  2. In a small bowl add the extra virgin olive oil, the Dijon mustard and the red wine vinegar. Emulsify with a fork or a small whisk. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Pour the vinaigrette on the salad and mix everything with the salad serving utensils.

  4. Serve.

Salad
Diner
Salad

As you can see, this recipe is probably the simplest possible and it can be modified depending on what you want on a specific day. If you don’t want something or you don’t like it, just exchange it with something you would prefer. For example, in the salad I photographed I added avocado and pine nuts. I had them and I fancied them, so, I added a little bit of both.

es_MXSpanish