Renovate dinner with some tricked-out garnishes
It's time to go over my article checklist:
- Lie to faithful reader about writing an article on bratwurst. Check.
- Supplant with sarcastic checklist to open my magnum opus. Check.
- Finish submitting grades for the early semester. Check.
- Install French patio door with no formal carpentry training. Check.
- Actually have aforementioned door open and close with little effort and lock securely. Check.
- Make presentation for the early class. Check.
- Watch Disney's Christmas Carol with the tyke while I write my weekly tirade. Check.
We have lived in our house for 13 years, and it never ceases to amaze me how much we have accomplished in renovating the beast.
It is nigh impossible to enter a room without thinking about either the work we've done or that which needs be completed.
In fact, when I installed the door tonight, I mused to my wife that the molding, caulk, sill board and every other detail would be complete in approximately 18 months, the average project time for any self-respecting American Husband.
Needless to say, in all of the labor that took place tonight, there was no time for me to eat dinner. As soon as I had created a 72-inch x 80-inch hole in our house, it proceeded to rain cats and dogs; Murphy's Law in its finest hour.
So, as I finished the door, or at least finished it to a point where the raccoons and mosquitoes would stay out of our house, I sat down to some leftovers from a charity dinner I cooked on Saturday night.
Once again, my children and I cooked a dinner to raise money for Believe in Tomorrow's Children's House. It is such an important charity and one that I ask everyone who I talk to and write for to at least investigate the work that Wayne Littleton and his crew accomplish for the families who simply need a break.
It is always an honor to cook one of these dinners, subjecting myself to the auction block at events in Ocean City. I keep within my budget and the remaining money goes to the house. It's a sweet deal. It costs me a couple of days of work, but I get to work with my children to try to emphasize the importance of volunteerism and at the end of the day we are whooped.
Saturday's dinner was a veritable feast bordering on absurdity. Wisely, we agreed to pace the event and it took four solid hours of eating before desserts came out.
Shawnee at Cupcakes in Bloom in Berlin was very gracious in donating desserts for our group and the cupcakes, cookies and whoopie-gobs were loved by all, albeit after four hours of eating there was a little more caution in the size of the self-served portions. Either that or our guests were simply trying to sample a little bit of everything that Shawnee gave us.
Among my leftovers tonight I had the remnants of caesar salad with some little twists. Not everyone knows that you can cook with romaine lettuce, but it is very hearty, making it perfect for braising, grilling and searing.
Having all of the components done, it was a matter of a one-minute sear in the pan and off to the races.
Topping the warm salad off with some homemade Caesar dressing and some tricked-out garnishes makes it a simple and delectable dish.
So the door is in, the molding to be finished tomorrow and the kids are in bed. I am satiated and it is time to shut this thing down. Now where's my sleepy time checklist?
Grilled Caesar Salad
1/2 head Romaine heart, trimmed
EV Olive Oil as needed
Salt & Pepper as needed
1 Prosciutto chip (recipe follows)
1 Parmesan tuile (recipe follows)
2 oz. Caesar Dressing (recipe follows)
1 Vinegar-cured Anchovy (Bocorones)
- Heat grill until piping hot
- Brush romaine with olive oil and season
- Grill romaine halves, cut-side down, for about 30-45 seconds, or until they are exhibiting some good dark brown char on the edges
- Place in a salad bowl immediately and garnish with remaining ingredients
1 piece of prosciutto per salad
- Place on silpat or other silicone baking sheet
- Bake in 350° oven until crispy
- Cool and set aside until service
- If you are going to save this (for up to one day), place in an airtight container with a paper towel or some kind of humectant packet
1 oz. of parmesan per salad shredded or sliced
- Place the parmesan on silicone mat, similar to prosciutto chips, and bake until they are a golden brown
- Remove and cool in their natural flat shape or set on a rolling pin to give them some curvature
- 3. When they are cool, store them in the same manner as the chips until ready to serve
1 Pasteurized egg yolk
2 Garlic cloves, crushed into paste
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. Ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp. Red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. EV Olive oil
heavy cream, as needed to thin
- Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil with a whisk
- While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil until well incorporated
- Add cream until the dressing is pourable
- Adjust seasoning