Monday, February 25, 2013

A Chilly Chile Menu

Depending on where you live, you may be blanketed in snow (like me) and have more on the way! When the temperatures drop and there is a true chill in the air, I crave chiles! So, to warm the hearts of me and my guests, I came up with this "Chilly Chile Menu for a Snowy Winter Night": 

I kicked things off with a "Southwest Caesar Salad" that is not only a fantastic take on the classic Caesar recipe, but awfully pretty as well! With the creation of the original Caesar Salad in Tijuana, Mexico in 1924 by famed restaurateur Caesar Cardini, it's no wonder that it embraces a southwestern twist so well! This salad can be served cut into wedges, as it is intended:

but also makes an impressive presentation served family style in a large bowl! 

(From my experience, the general consensus is that it is easier to eat presented in wedges!) Trust me, this simple salad which gets a kick from tabasco chile peppers tastes as good as it looks! *Don't forget to check back for the rest of this heart warming menu! 

Southwest Caesar Salad

Serves 8

For the dressing
1 cup Dijon mustard (I prefer Grey Poupon!)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 anchovies (optional and not authentic to Cardini's original recipe!)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt

For the salad
2 heads romaine lettuce
2 large tomatoes, 1/2" dice (I use cherry tomatoes in the winter because I think they have the best flavor this time of year!)
1/2 cup Cotija cheese crumbles or Parmesan shreds or strips
2 cups fried tortilla strips (see Techniques)

For the dressing
Place dressing ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the salad
Remove the outer limp leaves from the Romaine and cut into quartered wedges lengthwise. (Keep the end intact to hold everything together!) Rinse under cold water, shake off excess water, then lay wedges on a plate in the refrigerator to chill until very cold (about 30 minutes). This crisps the Romaine.

Place each wedge on a decorative plate or large serving platter. Drizzle the dressing down each wedge, allowing some to run onto the plate. (Depending on the size of the lettuce, you may not need all of the dressing! Don't drown it! Save any remainder for another day!) Sprinkle the diced tomatoes and Cotija or Parmesan evenly over the lettuce and plate. Mound tortilla strips evenly over the center of each wedge.

Recipe from Canyon Cafe: Bringing the Southwest Experience Home.

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