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   Saturday, April 19, 2014 

United Mexican StatesHow To Make The World's Greatest Caesar Salad!

By Don Novak

 Food / Recipe     

THE WORLD'S GREATEST CAESAR SALAD RECIPES!

CAESAR CARDINI, BAR RESTAURANT CAESAR, TIJUANA

My love of Caesar salad even motivated me to take a special trip to Tijuana, Mexico in 1966 to the current shrine of Caesar salad, the Bar Restaurant Caesar next door to the Hotel Caesar.

It was very near there in his first cafe in 1924 that Caesar Cardini (1896-1956), an Italian restaurateur was running low on supplies and scrambling to feed a July 4th weekend crowd of patrons.

Just so happened the main ingredients of romaine lettuce, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and croutons were on hand and the rest is history. Cardini prepared the salad table side by coating the romaine leaves with dressing and placed each lettuce stem side out on a flat platter so the salad could be eaten with the fingers.

In 1926, Alex Cardini (a pilot in the Italian Air Force) joined his brother, Caesar at the Tijuana restaurant and started adding other ingredients to the salad, one of which was anchovies. Caesar objected to the anchovies, but Alex's Caesar salad version (originally named Aviator's Salad by him) became even more popular.

The restaurant and hotel were opened in 1930, near Fifth Ave on Avenida Revolucion and exists to this day.

PROHIBITION - A Prince and a Consort

Tijuana became a famous watering hole for Hollywood celebrities during prohibition and having a drink and a Cardini Caesar salad became quite the in thing to do. In fact the Cardini brothers lived in San Diego but operated their restaurant in Tijuana to circumvent Prohibition.

After the repeal of Prohibition (1934) and the outlawing of casino gambling in Mexico (1935), the Cardini's sold the Tijuana restaurant and moved to Los Angeles in 1938.

The first person who is said to have actually cut up her Caesar salad instead of picking it up as finger food was Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson (mistress and ultimately wife of Prince Edward VIII of Wales). Mrs. Simpson visited Hotel Caesar's Place many times and became quite fond of Caesar's salad, always demanding that Caesar himself make it at her table.

From there, as a result of Mrs. Simpson's worldwide travels, Caesar salad was introduced to many of the great restaurants of Europe.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

In Los Angeles, in 1938 the Cardini's started selling a homemade bottled, hand labeled version of their salad dressing from the family station wagon at the Farmers Market in LA. The wholesale/manufacturing food business grew from there.

In 1948 Caesar Cardini was granted a patent on his Caesar dressing recipe. This bottled dressing is sold as "Cardini's Original Caesar dressing mix," and was distributed by Caesar Cardini Foods in Culver City, California until 1995.

Rose Cardini (1928-2003), the daughter of Caesar later became the head of this very successful multi-million dollar spice and salad dressing business in Culver City. Caesar Cardini Foods was sold to T. Marzetti Co. of Columbus, OH in 1995. Rose then retired to San Diego, her birthplace, where it all began with her dad, Caesar.

WAYNE NEWTON'S CAESAR SALAD DIET

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Many years ago Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton had a serious weight problem to the point where his manager said to him, "Listen, lose the weight or lose the show".

Wayne ate nothing but Caesar salads for the next 6 months, breakfast, lunch and dinner and lost nearly 50 pounds. What was his diet Caesar salad secret? NO croutons!

REAL GENIUS

**The real genius of Cardini's salad however was in the warming of the eggs in hot water (120 degrees) for about a minute and then cooling them in cold tap water for another minute before mixing them with the remaining dressing ingredients. The "coddled" egg(s) makes the dressing stick to the lettuce better, making a more even coating.

**Another step is to dry out the well rinsed romaine lettuce on newspaper for at least 4 to 6 hours. Newspaper is the best, paper towels just don't work as well. Then pull apart by hand or cut (with a very sharp chefs knife) the dry lettuce into "manly" bit size pieces and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This will "crisp" the lettuce.

**And finally if you ever go to the Bar Restaurant Caesar next door to the Hotel Caesar, you will notice dozens of glass bottles all around the room filled with olive oil and cloves of garlic. Good Italian extra virgin olive oil infused with garlic cloves is just another critical step in the creation of the world's best Caesar Salad.

NOW FOR MY CAESAR SALAD RECIPES

Prepping the olive oil -

Set aside a good Italian extra virgin olive oil just for your Caesar salads. Crush 3 or 4 garlic cloves per liter, put them the bottle and leave it that way. Let it infuse for at least a day before making your salad.

Prepping the romaine -

Fresh organic romaine, one medium head per person.

Bath lettuce in cold tap water in sink. Pull off the tough outer leafs. Keep bathing lettuce till you feel it's clean. Take a knife and cut off the bottom core, spread the good tender leafs out on newspaper to dry for at least 4 to 6 hours. Thirty minutes before you want to eat, put romaine in the refrigerator to crisp.

(Or) 1 bag of pre-washed, pre-cut hearts of romaine lettuce.

Prepping the croutons -

There are two ways to prep the croutons:

1. Ready made from a box:

*Put 2 cups of Restaurant style croutons into a microwave safe bowl, drizzle some garlic infused olive oil over them, stir, drizzle some more olive oil.

*Put in microwave for 30 seconds just before serving salad.

*If croutons are not warm to the touch, zap again for another 30 seconds, but do NOT burn.

2. Freshly made from either a sour dough or French baguette:

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

*Cube bread into bite size pieces about 2 cups.

*Put into mixing bowl with 3 to 4 tablespoons of garlic infused olive oil

*Lightly sprinkle some Mrs. Dash Original Blend and grated Reggio Parmesan cheese over the croutons and gently mix.

*Spread out prepped croutons on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on center rack.

(You can make garlic bread from the remaining baguette(s), in fact if you want the Caesar salad as an entrée this step is traditional)

Prepping the plates and forks -

Use large dinner plates or salad plates depending on your appetite and whether the Caesar salad is going to be the main course or an appetizer. Put both the plates and the forks in your freezer at least 30 minutes before serving time.

Some extras you can add:

  • Grilled Steak, cubed or strips
  • Grilled Chicken, cubed or strips
  • Shrimp, Tuna steak, Salmon steak
  • Crushed or cut up crispy bacon
  • Ripe tomatoes, Bermuda onions
  • Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles


There are two ways to prepare Caesar salad dressing:

1. In a blender

2. In a wooden bowl

First let's do the blender method, not as good or romantic as the traditional bowl method but still 10x better than any bottled dressing (even Cardini's).


QUICK BLENDER CAESAR DRESSING FOR TWO

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  • 2 large eggs (prefer brown, organic)

    1. Boil water in a small pot, remove from heat and gently add two eggs with shells, let steep for 1 minute NO longer. Pour out hot water and pour in cold tap water over the eggs. Let cool for 1 minute. Take eggs out of water and set aside

    2. Crack the eggs; put 1 whole egg and the yolk only from the second egg in blender

    3. Then ADD to blender:

    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (double this if no anchovies)

    • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    • 1 medium garlic clove, crushed/chopped

    • 1 pinch salt

    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    • 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste (or) 4 flat anchovies (optional)

    • 1/2 teaspoon capers (optional)

    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    • 1 teaspoon of sour cream

    • A few drops of Tabasco sauce

    • A squirt of red wine vinegar

    • (DO NOT ADD the 1/3 cup Italian virgin olive oil into the blender. This will go directly onto the lettuce later just before adding the dressing.)

    4. BLEND on slow speed for about 5 seconds.

  • Then ADD slowly your 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese.

    KEEP blending till dressing bubbles up like molten lava (about another 10 to 20 seconds).

    You can add slightly more cheese or slightly more lemon juice till you get that bubbling molten lava consistency as the blender is running on slow speed.

    5. Now let your dressing rest and infuse while you prepare your salad bowl. Just give it a quick pulse blend before pouring it over the salad.

    TO PREPARE THE DRESSING FOR MORE THEN 2 PERSONS, JUST KEEP DOUBLING THE INGREDIENTS.

    6. Pour your 1/3 cup garlic infused Italian virgin olive oil over the chilled romaine in a large bowl, and then toss.

    Pour half dressing over the chilled romaine, toss gently, pour the rest of the dressing, and toss gently.

    Add the croutons, toss again.

    7. Spoon your prepared salad onto your chilled serving plates. Grate some more pepper on top of the salad.

    Add anything "extra" you want on it like shrimp, then as the final step, hand grate some "real" Reggio Parmesan cheese over the top.


    TRADITIONAL WOODEN BOWL - CAESAR DRESSING FOR TWO

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    1. Prepping the olive oil -

    Set aside a good Italian extra virgin olive oil just for your Caesar salads. Crush 3 or 4 garlic cloves per liter, put them the bottle and leave it that way. Let it infuse for at least a day before making your salad.

    2. Prepping the romaine -

    Fresh organic romaine, one medium head per person.

    Bath lettuce in cold tap water in sink. Pull off the tough outer leafs. Keep bathing lettuce till you feel it's clean. Take a knife and cut off the bottom core, spread the good tender leafs out on newspaper to dry for at least 4 to 6 hours. Thirty minutes before you want to eat, put romaine in the refrigerator to crisp.

    3. Prepping the croutons -

    Freshly made from either a sour dough or French baguette:

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    • Cube bread into bite size pieces about 2 cups.

    • Put into mixing bowl with 3 to 4 tablespoons of garlic infused olive oil

    • Lightly sprinkle some Mrs. Dash Original Blend and grated Parmesan cheese over the croutons and gently mix.

    • Spread out prepped croutons on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on center rack.

    (You can make garlic bread from the remaining baguette(s), in fact if you want the Caesar salad as an entrée this step is traditional as your oven is already preheated and the baking sheet is at the ready)

    4. Prepping the plates and forks -
     
    Use large dinner plates or salad plates depending on your appetite and whether the Caesar salad is going to be the main course or an appetizer.
     
    Put both the plates and the forks in your freezer at least 30 minutes before serving time.
     
    Some extras you can add -

    • Grilled Steak, cubed or strips
    • Grilled Chicken, cubed or strips
    • Shrimp, Tuna steak, Salmon steak
    • Crushed or cut up crispy bacon
    • Ripe tomatoes, Bermuda onions
    • Peppers, Chiles
    • Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles


    The Caesar Dressing Ingredients For Two

    • 2 large eggs (prefer brown, organic)

    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (double this if no anchovies)

    • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (bottled juice last resort)

    • 2 medium garlic clove, crushed (fresh)

    • 1 pinch salt (prefer kosher sea salt)

    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    • 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste (or) 4 flat anchovies (optional)

    • 1/2 teaspoon capers (optional)

    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    • 1 teaspoon of real sour cream

    • A few drops of Tabasco sauce

    • A squirt of red wine vinegar

    • 1/3 cup Italian extra virgin olive oil (garlic infused best)

    • 2 medium heads of romaine lettuce -- outer leaves removed

    • 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese -- grated (real premium Reggio Parmesan hand grated )

    5. Boil water in a small pot, remove from heat and gently add two eggs with shells, let steep for 1 minute NO longer. Pour out hot water and pour in cold tap water over the eggs. Let cool for 1 minute. Take eggs out of water and set aside. Using eggs that have been put into hot water will enhance the coating qualities of the dressing.

    6. Mash (with force) with the back of a wooden serving spoon 2 crushed garlic cloves on the bottom of your wooden salad bowl. Spread some of the garlic around the sides of the bowl. You can remove any large chunks or not.
     
    Mix the following ingredients in the bowl with the garlic -
    * 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (double this if NO anchovies)
    * 1 pinch salt (prefer kosher sea salt)
    * 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste (or) 4 flat anchovies (optional)
    * 1/2 teaspoon capers (optional)
    * 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    * 1 teaspoon of real sour cream
    * A few drops of Tabasco sauce
    * A squirt of red wine vinegar
    * WHISK TOGETHER
    * Now Add 2/3 cup of real hand grated Reggio Parmesan cheese. Whisk in.
    * THEN Add cracked: 1 large whole coddled egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • Whisk all these ingredients together till smooth.

    7. Then SLOWLY add the olive oil in a steady stream while CONSTANTY whisking until smooth again. CAUTION: if you add the oil too quickly, the dressing will separate and not emulsify.

    Add your chilled romaine toss gently, coating all the lettuce with the dressing.

    Add the croutons, toss again.

    8. Spoon your prepared salad onto your chilled serving plates. Grate some more pepper on top of the salad.

    Add anything "extra" you want on it like shrimp, then as the final step, hand grate some "real" Reggio Parmesan cheese over the top.

    Then enjoy the best Caesar salad known to mankind!

    Bon appetit!

    These recipes are dedicated to my Mother - Hazel Augusta Nowak, 1926- 2006

  •  About the Author     

    Don Novak was born in Seattle, Washington and graduated from UCLA. A former Army Ranger, Vietnam Vet, Hollywood actor and stuntman, retail chain store owner in Hawaii and retired Florida Real Estate Broker. Daria Novak was born and raised in Anderson, Indiana, worked at GM and Delphi. Also spent the last 30 years as an interior decorator and antique collector. Daria is the proud grandmother of 6. Don and Daria Novak http://www.DecorateWithDaria.com

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