Monday, June 29, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 cups cubed sourdough bread
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salad and Dressing:
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
- 2 large hearts Romaine lettuce, chopped, 7 to 8 cups
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
- Salt and coarse black pepper
- Anchovies, optional garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat garlic and oil over low heat and melt butter into the oil. Place the bread in a large bowl and toss with garlic oil and butter. Season with pepper, Parmesan and thyme. Spread croutons evenly on a baking sheet and bake until crisp and golden, 15 minutes.
In the bowl you made the croutons in, combine garlic, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Whisk in extra-virgin olive oil while mixing the dressing.
Remove croutons and let cool. When you are ready to serve, add lettuce to the dressing in the bowl and toss to coat evenly. Add cheese, salt and pepper, croutons. Toss again. Adjust seasonings and serve, with or without anchovies.
My own tips:
- minced garlic works just as well for the croutons instead of crushing it.
- There is a reason Tabasco is recommended! I have tried other hot sauces and it really doesn't have that tang that Tabasco has. I usually add a little more than called for because I like things spicy.
- I have done the anchovies as a garnish and it's good, but now I prefer anchovy paste right in the dressing. About 1tbsp.
- I am hooked on Fleur De Sel Sea Salt! That is the only kind I use in salads. I order it online from saltworks.com. Also available online from Williams-Sonoma.
- I usually bake the croutons at 350 or 375 degrees for the 15 minutes. I like them really crunchy and golden! Still keep your eye on them though so you get the perfect color you want.
- I have a large wooden bowl that I use for Caesars and a separate salad bowl for all other types of salads. Traditional Caesars usually have actual anchovies ground into the bottom of the bowl so the flavor ends up seeping into it. That's why many prepare their Caesar in the same wooden bowl all the time, and never prepare any other type in it.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Photo from images.businessweek.com
As an English teacher, it is a given that I love to read. Summer is the one time of the year when I can really make a dent in my reading list. Typically, I read almost exclusively about Tudor history, and in particular, Anne Boleyn. Lately, though, I have found that new books on the subject have been slow to come out. So, I have found myself entering a new genre: travel memoirs.
Like many people, if I had the means, travel would be one of my top priorities. Until I become the first millionaire teacher, though (I'm still working on that), I can only travel in my mind through books. I had the opportunity once to travel to Italy, which was a life's dream of mine. I have been into European culture, music, food, history, you name it, since I was old enough to read about it. And let's face it, what says style and elegance more than Europe?
This summer will actually find me re-reading some fabulous books that have the ability to transport you to another place. First up will be Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This will actually be the third or maybe even fourth time I have read this, but it never fails to inspire. A very easy read, with casual, humorous prose, Gilbert explores the direction of her life in three different places: Italy, India, and Indonesia. Okay, not the whole book takes place in Europe, but India and Indonesia are the perfect locales for the more spiritual second and third portions of the book.
The second on my list is The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran. This will be my third time reading this. This was one of those lucky finds on a table at Barnes and Noble. I had never heard of the book or the author, but this book was so enjoyable. It is the autobiography of Doran as he leaves his high-powered career and life in Los Angeles and show business, for an old, dilapidated country house his wife purchases in Tuscany. Oddly, while most of us would dream of living life in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Doran has a hard time adjusting to a slower pace of life, and resists at every opportunity. This is a humorous, and very honest look at the Italian way of life. Great book to enjoy with a glass of wine.
The newest one I've found is Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach. I've read it once and have mixed feelings about it. I'm going to give it another look, however, because it does take you to some wonderful countries. Steinbach is looking for a change in life and takes time to live in three different countries: France, England, and Italy. I found the first section, France, to be quite charming. You could almost imagine yourself dressed to the nines and enjoying a cappuccino and croissant at a sidewalk cafe. The other sections didn't quite live up to the first for me, even though I have a fascination with both countries. Steinbach's writing style is not quite as down-to-Earth as Gilbert or Doran, and not quite as humorous. It is another tempting look at what it would be like to leave your ordinary life behind, for the style and elegance of life abroad.
I'll be looking for more great travel memoirs to tackle this summer, but this should be a great start. Happy reading and happy traveling!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
This school year was definitely an exciting one for me, as well as a crazy one. Trying to teach is already an all-consuming feat, but throw in a wedding and buying your first home, and you've got more than you can handle on your plate!