Stephanie Alexander’s The Cooks Companion has sold over 500,000 copies. And rightfully so. It is the go to reference book in my kitchen and that is the key to the utility of this book, it is an A to Z reference book by ingredients and apart from the recipes for each ingredient, has valuable information such as selection and storage, cooking times, methods of cooking, preparation, etc. Plus a basics section for sauces, pastry, etc. And of course, it is written from an Australian perspective in terms of seasonality and availability. I’m not saying its my absolute favourite cookbook (it’s close) but if every kitchen was only allowed to have one cookbook, this would be it. I turn to it a lot.
I had a request for a chicken caesar salad for dinner last night and settled on adding some grilled chicken to The Cooks Companion’s recipe for Caesar Salad. Stephanie emphasises the importance of using quality ingredients. Into my salad went free range Yarra Valley eggs, Ortiz anchovies and smoked streaky bacon from Linke’s butchers in the Barossa.
First make the dressing. Boil 3 eggs for 4 minutes and then run under cold water for a minute to stop the cooking. Crack into a bowl and scoop out contents (be careful of egg shell). Blend in a processor till creamy and smooth. In a mortar and pestle, grind a clove of garlic and a pinch of salt into a paste, then combine with 2 chopped anchovy fillets, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese. Add these ingredients to processor, blend and keep motor running. Gradually add 1/2 cup of olive oil to the blender. Once finished, season with salt and pepper to taste. I used a Thermomix for this process.
This dressing was very good, notwithstanding the fact that while typing this, I realised that I used 1 tsp of vinegar instead of 1 tbsp.
To make salad, wash and chop some cos lettuce. Top with browned streaky bacon (i chopped mine up), sour dough croutons (made by frying slices of sour dough in a little olive oil). Also add grilled chicken at this stage if doing so. Top with a halved hard boiled egg, sliced anchovy fillets and generously drizzle with the dressing. Finish with chopped parsley and shaved parmesan. Very good salad.