Caesar salad, mayonnaise and how to poach the perfect egg

It's been a long time since I've stayed home the whole day having the whole place all to myself. Nothing is planned for the day. A break from the treadmill. Mom is away on holiday that means no more hourly calls from her. Alone with myself enjoying the solitude. Best of all I can be in my sleepwear and no makeups. I didn't even bother to brush my teeth till the afternoon till my stomach rumbles with hunger.

Cooking for oneself can be such a pleasure. though hungry, I still took the time to cook, pouring myself some Chardonnay to enjoy the process. When I do eat alone, I love to serve myself a good salad. I don't know anyone who doesn't love a good classic caesar salad. Caesar salad is the King of salads. Salty, briny, smokey, rich flavors. How good a caesar salad is, it's all in the magic of the dressing.

Ordering Caesar salad in restaurants can be a challenging affair. Restaurants in Singapore always serves up tiny servings of this salad. It's hard to come across a cafe that serves up the Caesar salad in full meal size. And that tiny bit of lettuces with yucky water down dressing are charged usually along 12-18 dollars a plate and I am referring to the usual cafes that you go for a quick meal. I felt totally ripe-off, grumbling at the end of the meal, so unsatisfying. The ingredients are actually cheap and easy to find in any supermarkets. Making your own beats any of those you get out there except the caesar salad at marmalade pantry which is super delicious. The only one on par with this recipe.
My caesar salad is made with a base of mayonnaise. I have found that making mayonnaise from scratch is very easy! With homemade mayonnaise, you can adjust the sweetness/tang ratio to your taste and definitely taste way better than store bought versions. It may seem counter intuitive, but doing it by hand is actually easier than trying to get an emulsion in a mixer or blender. Once you get a feel for it, making a batch of mayonnaise is really no harder than whipping up a salad dressing.

It seems like there's a lot of work to build a salad like this, but in truth, once the dressing are made, you’ll have a readymade meal for the next week or so. Not bad for a little prep work, I say.

For the dressing:
2 egg yolk (Get the biggest eggs you can find)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 or 4 anchovy filets, minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped capers
1 tablespoon finely chopped green olives
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup olive oil

1 cup canola oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pinch salt 
Ground black pepper

For the salad:
2 medium heads of romaine lettuce -- outer leaves remove
2 slices bacon, chopped

Firstly start of with MAKING MAYONNAISE
Place the 2 egg yolks into the mixing bowl, add the garlic mince and mustard. slowly drop by drop, whisk in the canola and olive oil mixture until the mixture thickens. Adding the oil a drop at a time will keep the mixture as an emulsion. When you have added about a third of the oil continue whisking but add the oil more and more each time.  Keep whisking to keep the mixture of your homemade mayonnaise recipe into an emulsion. When you finish with the oil, the mayonnaise will with thick and yellowish. Add in the lemon juice to lighten. Now, mix in the remaining ingredients and half the parmesan cheese. Season to taste. Keep the caesar salad dressing into a jar. You can keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

NOTE: Place a wet towel under the mixing bowl to prevent it from moving around while whipping. 
Next, Separate the Romaine leaves and discard the coarse outer leaves. Wash, drain, and pat with paper towels or spin dry the remaining leaves. Set aside.

Tear romaine leaves into smaller pieces and place into a mixing bowl. Add enough of the dressing to coat the leaves and toss well. Add the croutons and toss again to combine (I didn't add croutons on my salad). Sprinkle the bacon and the remaining Parmesan over all and serve. 

Garlic Rosemary Croutons:
2 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (leaves removed and stem discarded)
1/4 cup or more extra-virgin olive oil
1 loaf good country-style bread (fresh or day-old bread works best)
A good pinch of salt.
Preheat oven to 200˙C.
Cut off the crusts of bread and cut or tear into bite-size pieces. Pound 2 cloves of garlic along with the rosemary leaves to a paste in a mortar, then drizzle in the olive oil. Toss the cut pieces of bread in a bowl with the garlic rosemary oil.
Spread the cubes of bread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, shake the pan a bit to roll the cubes around and to make sure they color evenly. If you like your toasty croutons a bit crunchier, leave them in for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Caesar salad topped with a poached egg is a marriage made in heaven. They blend so well together, complimenting each other. The soft custardy whites against the bacon fat and the salty, garlicky dressing. The flowing yolk amplify the richness of the dressing.
Poaching an egg can be down right simple. You'll need some practice to perfect the egg.

Boil water in a skillet. Make sure you have enough water in the pan to cover the egg. Add in a splash approximately 2-3 tablespoon of white vinegar. Turn down the heat till water is a barely simmer.

Crack an egg into a small dish, slowly slide the egg to the simmering water. Let it poach till the whites turns white. The whites might over flow, using a slotted spoon, bring up the sides to cover the yolk. Cook till almost set.

Fish out the poached egg with a slotted spoon. Let it drain a little and top it onto the caesar salad, sprinkle some maldon sea salt over the egg.

- till next post, ss.

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