Wedge Salad is a typical salad served at classic American steak houses as a starter to your meal. It’s traditionally served with crumbled blue cheese and blue cheese dressing, but blue cheese isn’t one of my kids’ favorite cheeses. I love wedge salad, though, so here’s a version I make for them without any blue cheese in it. If you find you’re really missing the blue cheese flavor, go ahead and sprinkle some crumbled blue cheese on your salad. It’s all good!
(Makes 4 servings)
1 small head iceberg lettuce
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 slices sturdy white bread, crusts removed
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
garlic salt, to taste (optional)
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
chives, minced (for garnish)
Cut the lettuce into 4 wedges and place them in the refrigerator to keep cold until ready to use.
Fry the bacon until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
Dice the white bread into small cubes, a little less than a half-inch big.
Melt butter or margarine in a skillet and fry bread cubes, stirring often, until golden and crispy.
Season bread cubes with garlic salt to taste, if desired.
Assemble the salad by placing one wedge of lettuce on each of 4 salad plates.
Pour some dressing over each wedge.
Top with a little tomato, onion, bacon, and croutons.
Garnish with minced chives, if desired.
BACON BUTTERMILK DRESSING
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Place all ingredients into bowl of a food processor and process until combined.
Chill until ready to serve.
NOTE: Dressing can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept chilled in the fridge.
Every year, when Thanksgiving would roll around, I would try a new stuffing recipe to serve with our turkey. I tried making chestnut stuffing, cornbread stuffing, caramelized onion stuffing, ciabatta stuffing, cranberry nut stuffing, sundried tomato stuffing, you name it. The kids never liked any of them! Then came the year when I finally gave up and said, “I’m not making stuffing this year.” Strangely enough, everyone went up in arms when they heard that. So at the last minute, I sent Old Goat to the grocery to buy some Stove Top “instant” stuffing. Well wouldn’t you know it, for the first time in years, there wasn’t a lick of leftover stuffing in the bowl!
Well I’m nothing if not a quick learner. Stove Top was the key! Since then, I’ve made Stove Top stuffing every year. I just doctor it up with a few ingredients to make it fancier and no one ever guesses that the stuffing wasn’t made from scratch. The empty bowl each Thanksgiving is a testament to how yummy this stuffing is. And my big smile is the testament to how easy it was to actually make.
The amount of stuffing you make depends on how many people you’re having over for dinner. I usually make 6 boxes for our family shindig, but we have a large family. I’ll post the ingredients for one box of stuffing and you can just multiply it as you need to.
EASY SAUSAGE APPLE STUFFING
1 box (6 oz.) Stove Top stuffing
½ lb. bulk sausage
¼ medium onion, diced
½ stalk celery, sliced
½ – 1 apple, peeled and cut in cubes
Prepare stuffing according to package directions in a large pot.
In a skillet, brown sausage with onion and celery.
Stir in the apple and continue to cook until apple is beginning to soften but isn’t mushy. You can use a half to a whole apple, depending on how much you want.
Drain and discard any grease rendered by the sausage.
Pour sausage mixture into the pot with the prepared stuffing.
Summer has kicked in with a vengeance! Boy is it Hot!….. with a capital H! We’ve been experiencing some triple digit days these past couple of weeks. Believe me, 108 degrees is no picnic! This kind of heat makes me think of long, tall drinks, big bowls of ice cream, and cool refreshing salads.
This salad is a play on my friend Cyndi’s winter fruit salad. I thought why not do the same thing for the summer except using fresh berries? I had some leftover shredded rotisserie chicken so I added it in for some healthy protein. The salad made a great lunch served with some of No. 1’s homemade french bread and a cool glass of crisp white wine. Mm… mm… mm…..
SUMMER BERRY AND CHICKEN SALAD WITH LEMON POPPY SEED DRESSING
⅓ cup lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. finely chopped onion
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
⅔ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
Combine lemon juice, sugar, onion, mustard and salt in the container of a food processor or blender; process until smooth.
With the machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream and process until thick and smooth.
Add the poppy seeds and pulse a few times to mix.
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup quartered strawberries
½ cup blueberries
½ cup pineapple tidbits (or pineapple chunks cut in half)
½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Place the lettuce, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and nuts in a large salad bowl.
La Bou is a local bakery cafe chain. They opened their first store in 1981 and it was a huge success with people lined up outside to buy their delicious handmade croissants. Since then, they’ve expanded to open several stores in the greater Sacramento area serving wonderful salads, sandwiches, soups, pastries and espresso drinks. But what they’ve really become famous for is something that’s not even listed as a choice on their menu. I’m talking about their baguette bread that they serve with a creamy dill dipping sauce. I know it sounds weird to dip slices of bread in what is essentially a salad dressing, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It is so addictive that every time you go there, you’ll find yourself ordering a full or half baguette with dill sauce to take home.
Anyway, it’s with extreme sadness that I report that our local La Bou in town has just closed its doors. Everyone at work was so dismayed to hear the news. They were right down the street from the office and were a favorite lunch time spot. I can’t understand why they closed. To mark this sad occasion, I’m making a copycat version of their dill dressing for the family to eat with some baguette bread this evening. I don’t know how La Bou makes their actual dressing, but this tastes just like it and will hit the spot whenever you need a La Bou fix.
COPYCAT LA BOU CREAMY DILL DRESSING
1½ cups mayonnaise
1 pkg. Hidden Valley buttermilk ranch dressing mix
¼ cup fresh dill, minced
1¼ cups water
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
(If you don’t want to mince the dill by hand, you could place all the ingredients into a food processor and process until dill is finely minced.)
Refrigerate until ready to use.
NOTE: If you make this in a food processor, the dip will seem frothy and bubbly immediately after mixing, but don’t worry. The bubbles will settle down and disappear after the dip has sat for a while. It will also seem very watery at first, but will thicken a bit in the refrigerator. La Bou’s dipping sauce is really pretty thin but if you want yours to be thicker, feel free to cut down on the amount of water you add.
Old Goat loves Caesar Salad. He could eat it every week! Thankfully, it’s very easy to make. All you need is some romaine lettuce, a few croutons, fresh parmesan cheese, et voilà! The secret is in the delicious dressing which in some fancy restaurants, is served with quite a bit of fanfare as the waiter expertly prepares your dressing tableside.
Traditionally, caesar dressing is made with raw egg yolks. But if you’re worried about the safety of using raw eggs, then this is the recipe for you! I started doing the dressing this way because there’s no raw egg in it. Instead it uses mayonnaise so it’s safe for the whole family.
CAESAR MAYONNAISE DRESSING
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. anchovy paste
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a bowl, mash the minced garlic and salt together into a paste.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Whisk all together until well combined.
Toss dressing with romaine lettuce.
NOTE: This dressing keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.
A good vinaigrette is a simple thing to make. Sure it’s easy to pick up a bottle of dressing at the grocery store, but they’re usually high in sodium and lord knows what other chemical additives or preservatives. It’s much healthier to just whisk up your own fresh batch and it really doesn’t take that long to do.
The classic ratio for a vinaigrette is 3:1, meaning 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. You can then vary it in a myriad of ways. You could use different kinds of oil like walnut oil or even ordinary salad oil. You could use different vinegars (one of my favorite things to use is seasoned rice vinegar) or replace the vinegar entirely with a citrus juice like lemon or grapefruit. You could add all sorts of flavor enhancers besides the classic minced shallot, like minced garlic, or red onion. You could also add an herb or a blend of herbs like oregano, basil, or thyme. Give it an Asian flair by adding a little soy sauce, sesame oil, and minced ginger. And who does’t love a good raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette? The possibilities are endless!
Armed with a good vinaigrette, you can turn any lettuce into a bright, perky salad, or enhance the flavor of meat, chicken or fish with a little marinating time, or even wake up plain veggies and bring them to glorious, tangy life!
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil or other oil of your choice
¼ cup vinegar of your choice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. add-in, like minced shallot or red onion, herbs like tarragon or chives, even a tablespoon of jam works
Whisk vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper and any add-ins together in a glass bowl. You can adjust the sugar, salt, and pepper, adding more or less to your taste.
Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking constantly.
Taste. If vinaigrette seems too sharp, whisk in a little more oil or even water.
Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Whisk again before using.
NOTE: In lieu of a bowl and a wire whisk, you could place all the ingredients into a jar, screw the lid tightly closed, and shake well. You could also use a blender which works especially well if you’re making a fruit vinaigrette that needs pureed fruit, like raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette.
Vinaigrettes can be made ahead of time. Place in an airtight container, cover, and keep chilled in refrigerator for up to one week.
In the early 1920’s, there was a play called “The Green Goddess” that was a hugely successful hit. The lead role in the play was held by George Arliss, a prominent British actorwho moved to the United States during the turn of the century. The story goes that Chef Philip Roemer, the executive chef at the beautiful Palace Hotel in San Francisco, created the salad dressing for a banquet held at the Palace in 1923 in honor of George Arliss. Chef Roemer named it Green Goddess Dressing after Arliss’ play.
The delicious, creamy salad dressing quickly became famous, gaining popularity all through the 1920’s and well into the 70’s when it suddenly began disappearing from the restaurant scene. I don’t remember where I got my recipe from, nor do I know how close in flavor it is to Chef Roemer’s original recipe which I understand contained anchovies and vinegar. Still, this is a delicious dressing and is well worth trying. It makes a great dip for chips or crudités, too.
GREEN GODDESS DRESSING
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves
2 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp. firmly packed fresh dill leaves
1 tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
Chill at least one hour before serving.
NOTE: This dressing may be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator.