Wednesday, October 28, 2015

To eat like a child

Caesar salad at ten in the morning? Pizza and ice cream for breakfast on a cruise with Sarah? Key lime shakes at home? Finally figured that one out.  Where would I be without my Vitamix?

We laugh about the day we were taken in by the $400 blender. It was the first day that it appeared in Costco. We concluded that we had reached the age of insanity, or was it maturity, when we actually bought it. And we haven’t been sorry, not for one day.

So there I was at ten this morning. There was a big container of Caesar dressing that I had whipped up in my Vitamix two days ago. It was sitting just above some fresh romaine lettuce, and it was beckoning to me, so I answered its call. Is Caesar salad for breakfast less bad for you than cotton candy?

When the company named the Vitamix, I think they had the word vitamin in mind. They demonstrate all these yucky shakes with vegetables and fruits with the skin and seeds, of course. They add some evil-looking powder and let you taste it. It scares me because I have to read the ingredients on everything I eat, lest there be some migraine-making-monster hidden in the list. So I never try their stuff. I stand there and keep muttering about my key lime shakes. Really healthy stuff: ice, sweetened condensed milk, and key lime juice (I live in Florida, so it’s available at the corner store.).

So what went into the Caesar dressing? Unfortunately, you really do need a Vitamix to make it because it's so powerful that it heats the eggs to kill whatever bacteria might be lurking Otherwise, you have to warm the eggs some other way. 

I start with an egg or two (I’m terrible at giving out recipes—my way is taste it to try it.) Let it whirl until the eggs are warm, just short of cooked. They dump in a can of anchovies with the olive oil, a clove of garlic, the juice of a lemon or two, and drizzle in some olive oil until the dressing looks like mayonnaise. On top of it all goes a hefty amount of Parmesan and some pepper (no salt—anchovies are salty enough). The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two. Serve it with Romaine lettuce and some croutons. It was a really good breakfast. 

To a real restaurant, like Keen’s Chop House in NYC, where the Caesar salad has been legendary, my method is a sacrilege. They start tableside with a big wooden bowl. They rub it with garlic and add a raw egg, then the lemon and the anchovies and olive oil, mashing like mad with a wooden spoon. In goes the Romaine, that they claim they tear (Romaine is never supposed to go near a knife.) and then the Parmesan. It’s really good, but costs a small fortune. About now my mouth is watering for the mutton chop dinner. If you haven’t been there, you won’t understand.

But back to my Vitamix: If the Caesar dressing looks like mayonnaise, it’s because mayonnaise is made from nothing but eggs, lemon, and oil. Try making your own with really good olive oil: Hellmann’s beware. The same emulsion method works for Hollandaise sauce, but you use less lemon and butter instead of all. The trick is the Vitamix. I never could make it work with the Cuisinart. I guess it just doesn’t spin fast enough.

Oh no, it’s lunch time. May I have some more Caesar salad?

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