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Caesar Salad
for 4 large servings:

2 large or 3 medium cloves of garlic
1 entire 2-ounce tin of flat anchovy fillets
2 coddled eggs
1 cup croutons (see below)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large or 2 medium bunches of romaine lettuce
1 small lemon cut into quarters
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Wash and dry the lettuce. Tear into bite-sized pieces and chill
until ready to toss.

Press the garlic cloves into the bowl. With a large wooden spoon
squeeze the pieces against the side of the bowl mashing them into
small bits.

Cut up the anchovy fillets and then add to the bowl. Mash them with
the spoon to make a paste. Add the Worcestershire sauce, pepper,
and mustard and mix into the paste.

Break the shell of the coddled eggs over the bowl by striking
with a butter knife. Pour into the bowl whatever flows out of
the shell halves. Discard the shells and the small portion of
egg white that still clings to the shell. Thoroughly mix the
ingredients by swirling the bottom of the wooden spoon around
the inside of the bowl.

Squeeze the juice of a lemon quarter into the bowl, add the
olive oil, and mix again as above.

Immediately before you are ready to eat the salad, toss the
lettuce in the bowl until the leaves are well coated with
dressing.

Squeeze the remaining lemon and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese
over the leaves. Add croutons and toss again until all the
croutons have begun to absorb some of the dressing.

Serve immediately on large dinner plates, usually before
serving the entree.


Notes:

The most important feature of a Caesar salad is the delicate taste
of the dressing that you prepare in the bowl. It does not keep well
and thus the salad should be eaten immediately after it is made.
The lettuce and croutons serve as the vehicle for the dressing's
flavor. Adding additional ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, or
mushrooms, which have distinctive flavors of their own, masks the
taste of the dressing and is considered highly irregular.

The best bowl is solid teak with a hemispherical shape about 12
inches in diameter. To care for the bowl coat it lightly with olive
oil. Clean the bowl as soon as possible after serving the salad.
The maker of my bowl advised not to use water in it. However, I
have found that a quick rinse with warm water followed by thorough
towel drying and light oiling keeps the bowl in good shape. (My
bowl is over 22 years old.)

To prevent egg shells from cracking when first immersed in boiling
water, let the eggs sit out at room temperature for half an hour.
Or, warm the shells by running cool, then gradually warmer tap
water over them. Bring to a boil enough water to cover the eggs.
Place the eggs in the boiling water for 1 minute and then immediately
remove to cool water for a few minutes. At high elevations leave
them in longer (total of about 2 minutes at 7500 feet).

For very fresh, absorbent croutons make your own from ordinary
white sliced bread. I use one slice per person. First, put the
bread slices in the freezer (wrapped in plastic) until the slices
are firm. With a sharp knife, cut off the crusts and feed the pieces
to the birds. Cut the rest of the bread into roughly 1/2-inch cubes.
Place the cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at
about 250 degrees to dry them out. Stir the cubes around once or
twice. Remove them from the oven when they are a very light tan
color (usually 30 to 45 minutes). Croutons will stay fresh for
several days in a closed refrigerated container.

The most spectacular salad contains all fresh ingredients. However,
if you need to simplify the procedure, here are some recommendations
for substitutions. Use a few tablespoons of lemon juice in place
of a freshly squeezed lemon. In place of the garlic cloves you
could sprinkle garlic powder (but not garlic salt!) into the bowl.
You can try commercially prepared grated Parmesan cheese, but
freshly grated Parmesan is sweeter and has a better texture.
(Commercial grated cheese often contains cellulose to prevent
caking. If it does, it will taste just like a cardboard box.)
Ordinary head lettuce instead of romaine might do in an emergency,
but it's not for guests. Anchovy paste in place of flat fillets
is not a very good substitute. Never use anything but pure olive
oil.

Part of the enjoyment of a Caesar salad is watching the chef create
it at the table. Prepare all of the ingredients ahead of time and
arrange them in saucers and bowls on a small table next to the
dining table. Be sure to include a stack of dinner plates and a
small bowl for discarding the egg shells. Do everything with a
flourish and occasionally tip the bowl allowing your guests to
watch (and sniff) your progress.

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