Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad is one of those dishes that everybody knows, most people love, very few can spell properly, and nobody fucking knows where it comes from.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever idly wondered which cuisine brought us this delight – wonder no more: it’s Mexico!  Yes, the land of tacos, burritos and tamales actually produced this timeless international classic that every culture claims as its own.  It is a staple on the menu of every self-respecting American restaurant (where it usually grows to gigantic proportions and is served in a bowl that would happily feed a family of 5).  It is an unexpected favorite of Russian diners (usually existing on the menus of most pretentious restaurants in Moscow and St. Petersburg in a weird symbiosis with sushi, another “typical” Russian favorite).  One thing you can say for sure about Caesar Salad is that it is recognized and cooked the world over.

The basics are simple – romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing.  You can then pimp your salad up with whatever you fucking please – grilled chicken, shrimp, boiled egg, bacon, even motherfucking lobster tails!  There is no judgement and everything goes, as long as you get the basics right.

Now, this is the catch – while it’s pretty hard to fuck up lettuce, and croutons, the devil is in the dressing.  Do NOT under any fucking circumstances use any store-bought dressing.  ANY.  EVER.  And I don’t care if you are on a deserted island, starving to death, and all you have is a jar of the nasty supermarket-bought sauce with the words CAESAR proudly stamped on it – DON’T.  It’s the dressing that makes the salad, and this is exactly the thing that fucks it up BIG STYLE, if not done right.  Be a dear, and make your own fresh fucking Caesar dressing from scratch.  It’s not that difficult, and you will be awarded big time with the amazing taste of your fucking salad.

You can Google about a thousand different recipes for home-made Caesar salad dressing.  I did.  And I tried quite a few, but I swear by this one, by Jenn Segal.  It’s easy to make, does not call for any overly exotic ingredients, and tastes fucking great – what more can you ask for?…

So, without further ado, here is a step-by-step guide for all those lazy hungry fuckers who fancy making a proper Caesar salad, with motherfucking home-made dressing and pimped to perfection just the way I like it.

Ingredients:

In our household we normally cook for 2 normally-sized and medium-hungry people.  The dog prefers his own food.  If you are a bigger family, bigger-sized individuals, are extraordinary hungry, or have a bunch of guests – do your math yourselves.

For salad per se:

  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped.  No, you absolutely CANNOT substitute Romaine with any other lettuce.  No fucking iceberg, butterhead, batavia, or loose leaf would do.  They won’t!  They taste differently, have a different texture, and are simply fucking wrong for the Caesar salad.  Get proper Romaine, and get with the fucking program!
  • Croutons.  Can be made without further fuzz from a slice of toasted bread, chopped into squares, and fried with a bit of olive oil and Italian herb mix.
  • Parmesan or Grana Padano flakes.  We don’t sweat it, and buy a pack in the supermarket of ready-made ones.  Our palates are not that refined to taste the difference anyway.

For dressing (if you can’t be arsed to open the link from Jenn Segal with all ingredients and follow the step-by-step recipe she carefully lays out there, I can repeat it here for your lazy ass):

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon anchovy paste. They will have it in every proper supermarket, but I bet you won’t be able to find it.  In some, they store them next to canned fish, in others they put it in the refrigerated section next to pates and cheeses.  Save yourselves some valuable eating/drinking time, tuck your pride in your ass and fucking ask somebody who works there – they will definitely be able to locate it, or at least point you in the right direction.
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise – the one that you fucking like (the brand of better quality is usually more advisable for obvious reasons)
  • ¼ cup of grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese (whichever you can find).  Again, you can grate your own, if you have a big lump of cheese and proper equipment, but we usually don’t sweat it, and use packaged stuff, carefully pre-grated by somebody else.
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Pimp up your salad:

  • 1 chicken breast, chopped into bite-size pieces and grilled with whatever spices you fucking like
  • 3-4 slices of bacon, chopped into bite-size pieces and grilled.  Here our household is divided: my husband likes it nuked to oblivion, I prefer it in a still recognizable state, so take my half off the pan a bit earlier.
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

Preparation:

  • Mix the lettuce leaves in a big bowl
  • Make the dressing:
    • In a bowl whisk together minced garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce
    • Add mayonnaise and cheese and continue to whisk together to ensure the smooth consistency of the mixture
    • Add salt and pepper, and mix again.
  • Add the dressing to the lettuce, and mix well, to make sure every motherfucking piece is well coated.
  • Split the mix between 2 serving plates
  • Now, add the croutons into the plates, and mix.  It is important to add the croutons AFTER the dressing.  Don’t ask why, just fucking do it this way.
  • Add egg quarters.
  • Sprinkle the bacon over your salads.
  • Put the pieces of grilled chicken on top, and sprinkle with Parmesan shavings.

As always, you are fucking welcome!

Chicken Korma (aka Ben’s Chicken)

A rich, yet mild curry that is perfect for the cold and shitty weather outside!  Our household name for this amazing dish is “Ben’s Chicken”, named so after a dear friend we got the recipe in a box (together with ALL ingredients and spices needed to cook it!) from.  This was an amazing present, and Ben’s name is forever perpetuated in eternity (and hour extremely grateful hearts and stomachs) in this amazing dish.

Ben, if you ever read this – we are fucking delighted and thankful for your thought of X number of years ago!  The sheet of paper with the recipe is now well-worn and has multiple unidentifiable food stains on it, the spices and other ingredients have been replaced many time over, and the box had first found a new use, and then got lost in one of many house moves we experienced over the past years.  Yet, the dish lives on.  Go, Ben!!!!!!

Ingredients

Before you start, several words of caution:

  1. The official recipe says the ingredients are for 4 people.  We always followed it religiously, yet always managed to eat everything we cooked in one sitting.  And there are only 2 of us…  Whether we are exceptionally hungry for Indian food, or the recipe was meant for people with smaller stomachs, remains a fucking mystery.  Anyways, you have been warned!
  2. Another important thing to keep in mind is time – it takes a fucking long time for Ben’s Chicken to be ready!  So I suggest you have a hearty breakfast, and then start cooking.  The chicken will be ready for dinner.
  3. If you are at a loss as to what cardamom, cumin or turmeric is like, and the only cinnamon you have ever seen was the powdered shit on your Starbucks Frappuccino – I already feel sorry for you.  But don’t despair – for those poor culinary-disabled souls, I took some valuable fucking time out of my busy lockdown schedule, and googled all the pictures.  You are fucking welcome!

So, now, the actual fucking ingredients:

  • 75 gr (3/4 cup) flaked almonds, roasted in a pan, and then ground in a spice grinder/coffee mill into powder with only a handful roasted flakes left for garnish.  After years of fucking with the dish (in a good sense of the word), we started cheating, and buy our almonds already ground.
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • ~675 gr (or 2 proper big fat-ass chicken breasts), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tbsp. of olive/sunflower/vegetable oil – whichever takes your fancy or you have handy
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed with the flat side of the knife
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • a pinch of ground turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a good pinch of chili powder (use as much as you fucking want, if you actually like spicy food!)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) boiling chicken stock (you don’t need to try being fancy, and can use the powdered one, don’t sweat it!)
  • 1 tsp tomato puree (paste)
  • 75 ml (5 tbsps.) single (light) cream
  • 1-2 tbsps. fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. grated lime or lemon rind
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala spice
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Saffron rice and/or poppadums, to serve

Preparation

  • If you could not find the already ground almonds, or specifically want to fuck with the flaked ones, you start with those.  Dry-roast the almonds in the frying pan until pale golden.  Set a handful aside for garnish, and continue to roast the remaining ones until they are slightly deeper in color.  Leave the almonds to cool, and then grind them into oblivion in a spice grinder, food processor or coffee mill.
  • Heat the butter in a big frying pan with high rim, and fry the chicken pieces until evenly brown.  Take them out of the frying pan and set aside.
  • Add a little bit of oil into the frying pan, if necessary, then fry the chopped onion for 5-8 minutes, until golden.
  • Stir in the cardamom pods and garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the ground almonds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon stick and chili powder to the frying pan, mix well, and cook for about 1 minute.  Turn the heat to low.
  • Add the coconut milk, chicken stock and tomato puree and stir everything in.
  • Add the cooked chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover with the lid and cook on low heat for 3 (!) hours (now you know why I said the dish takes fucking long to cook), stirring it every half-hour.
  • After 3 hours, stir in the cream, lemon/lime juice and rind and the Garam Masala, and cook on medium heat for another 30 minutes.
  • Stir once again, and – Voila!  Ben’s Chicken is ready to eat. 
  • Serve it with some reserved almonds on top, and eat with rice or poppadums.  You can get poppadums in any Indian shop and in many supermarkets.  If you don’t know how to cook rice – fucking google it!
Ben’s Chicken

As always, you are fucking welcome!