The Food Chick: The Classics
Around this time of year – I like to serve (and eat!) The classics – and the comfort food. American Food started to became Fabulous in the Fifties. Hollywood’s Golden Age helped create the beginning of what is now known as American Cuisine. The glamour, the glitz, the desire to be indulgent and whimsical gave everyone hope for the future.
Times were different, portions smaller and the cuisine was classic, with a combination of American and Continental flare. Restaurants were redolent with red leather booths, dark mahogany counters, velvet walls and even some “seasoned” wait staff created an atmosphere that is evocative of that era where people drank Martini's in lieu of Mojitos, and where the baked potato was the ultimate vegetable.
Much of the time was defined for its Martinis, Manhattans and Gimlets and the ubiquitous cocktail hour, served mostly with cheese & crackers or veggies with dip.
Dishes like the Welsh Rarebit, a Delmonico Steak, Tableside Caesar Salad, Shrimp Cocktail, and Cherries Jubilee – with the waiter impressing us with tableside flambé skills were the ultimate indulgences at the time. We take some of these classics for granted now – but when they are made perfectly, with just the right ingredients – it can be a real treat to make and enjoy.
The Dean Martini
Dean Martin himself lent us this recipe. Two parts good gin or vodka, a dash of dry vermouth, and the juice of a ripe olive, Shaken by the sexiest person in the house and served straight up with no frills- just the way Deano would do it. Perfect for this recipe is the Dirty Sue Martini Mix available Exclusively in South Florida at the L’Hermitage Gourmet Emporium (954-568-2383). Serve with our “Filthy” olives- you have to see them to believe them!
For the Perfect Table Side Caesar
One of my favorite salads and one that I usually request when dining out is Caesar Salad. I remember dining at a couple of restaurants in New York City where they made the Caesar Salad table side with such flair and showmanship. Now you are lucky if they make the dressing from scratch. For those of you who are not fans of anchovies, you may be interested in knowing the original recipe for this salad did not include them.
For the Croutons:
2 large garlic cloves
1 Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 cups French baguette slices cut up into 1/2 inch cubes (white bread works too)
For the Salad:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove crushed
1 pinch of salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 ½ teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium heads of romaine lettuce – outer leaves removed
1/3 cup parmesan cheese – grated Prepping the croutons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of a –
chef’s knife (be very careful) or with a garlic press.
Slice up the baguette and cut them into 1/2 inch cubes. Prepping the salad
Again crush the garlic.
Grate the Parmesan cheese. It’s always better to grate it yourself if you have the opportunity.
Croutons – Combine garlic, oil, salt, and bread cubes in a bowl. Mix until cubes are coated evenly. Spread the coated cubes onto a baking sheet and bake until the croutons are golden. This should take about 10 minutes.
To make the salad – Bring a pot of boiling water to boil, add egg and cook for just 45 seconds….NO MORE. This is coddling the egg. Remove from heat and let it cool off.
Meanwhile, mix the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, anchovy, mustard and capers in a bowl. Crack egg and add to these ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
Now for the tricky part: Slowly add the oil in a steady stream while constantly whisking again until smooth. Reason: if you add the oil too quickly, the dressing will be separate and not emulsify.
Tear the romaine lettuce into 1-2 inch pieces and add them to a large bowl (wooden if you have one). Add half the dressing, toss, add remaining dressing, Parmesan cheese, and croutons and toss again. Serve on chilled plates.
Shrimp Cocktail (for 6)
2 pounds large shrimp in the shell (about 30)
1/2 cup chili sauce (recommended: Thai Sweet Chile Sauce)
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup beer
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
Cut the lemon in half and add it to a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the shrimp and cook, uncovered, for only 3 minutes, until the shrimp are just cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of cool water. When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel and devein them. Keep cold until ready to serve.
For the cocktail sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Serve with the shrimp.
Welsh Rarebit Hors D’Oeuvres style
• 10 firm white bread slices (each about 4×4 inches), toasted, crusts trimmed
• 2 1/2 cups (packed) grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
• 5 tablespoons mayo (enough to bind)
• 3/4 cup chopped Scallions
Mix last three ingredients and Spoon over toasted bread slices to cover. Place on baking sheet. (Can be made 4 hours ahead and Chill.)
Preheat broiler. Broil until topping begins to brown, watching to avoid burning and turning baking sheet around, if necessary, for even broiling, about 2 minutes. Cool 2 minutes. Cut each slice into quarters. Transfer to platter; serve.
Executive Chef and Owner of L’Hermitage Catering and Gourmet Emporium
3045 North Federal Highway, # 38
Perfecting the Art of Catering in South Florida Since 1996
Events for from 10-500