Essay About Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Cooking, & Recipes
How Low Can We Go?
As I write the sun is shining and the sky is a brilliant clear blue, but our temperatures are hovering near the freezing level and more snow is expected this weekend. I should not complain; I have many friends in the midwest (specifically Wisconsin and Minnesota) who with the wind-chill factor are struggling with temperatures at minus 60 degrees.
However, the daffodils are now 6-inches in height and I have a rhododendron in full bloom. I am hopefully optimistic that Spring will arrive in the Pacific Northwest. And, when I figure out the logistics, I will pack some up and ship it to my friends in the more frigid climes.
Let’s get cozy by the kitchen stove and read the mailbox together.
Post Script: I am hitting the “publish” button earlier than usual because at this moment it’s snowing like the dickens, and we could lose power.
Do You Have a Caesar Dressing Recipe?
My first question this week is from Flourish.
Flourish, it has been years since I made Caesar dressing because the key ingredient that gives it that great pop of umami flavor is anchovy. My daughters don’t “do” anchovy anymore. So, I’m going to give you two recipes. One will be the traditional fishy-fishy, and the other will be a vegetarian substitute.
A Google search for Caesar salad dressing will provide many short-cut methods, but the only true Caesar is built of raw egg yolks (to make an emulsion, not unlike mayonnaise), and anchovy fillets (rich, salty, briny). This recipe from Bon Appetit magazine is the real deal and the one I used once upon a time.
Mock Caesar (concocted after a bit of trial and error)
- 3/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon grated/minced fresh garlic
- black pepper, to taste
Place all ingredients in the jar of a blender and whirl until smooth and well-blended.
“Mock” Worcestershire Sauce Recipe
Do you have a ‘mock Worcestershire sauce’ buried in one of your cook books? I bought some “English sauce” here and my husband nearly spat it out. He wants it to put on Cornish pasties.
Mary, what a coincidence. Worcestershire sauce and Caesar dressing have one thing in common—both contain anchovies. I made a vegetarian version a few months ago because baking party mix (aka Chex mix) is a yearly Christmas tradition in the Carb Diva household. My recipe came from the internet. Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen has been a valuable resource for me in sourcing ideas for keeping my vegetarian daughters healthy and happy. Her recipe for vegan Worchestershire is here. Soy sauce is an obvious choice for much of the umami taste of standard Worchestershire, but the surprise ingredient (and the one that I think makes this recipe really POP) is the inclusion of allspice powder.
The inspiration for this recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens. Their website has a “Triple Tomato Soup” with just two comments—one reviewer loved it, but didn’t stick to the recipe. The other followed the recipe and complained that it was “bland.” I didn’t make their recipe but donned my Sherlock Holmes cap to find a solution to ramping up the flavor without increasing calories.
My first rule is “always use the best ingredients”. If you use canned tomatoes, use the best ones you can find—not the generic bottom-shelf variety. Second, use fresh herbs whenever possible. And my last rule is think about your cooking technique. Is there some way of encouraging more flavors out of these ingredients? My Sherlock Holmes powers of deduction led me to investigate the tomatoes. They contain lots of natural sugars so why not caramelize them in the oven? Here is the Carb Diva approach to “Tomato Soup to the 3rd Power.”
Triple Tomato Soup
- 2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup sundried tomatoes, (not oil-packed)
- 1/2 of a 6-oz. can tomato paste
- 1 14-oz. can chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Stilton cheese (or blue cheese of your choice)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Strain canned tomatoes, reserving the juices. Spread the canned tomatoes on large baking sheet; season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast in oven about until caramelized, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sauté onion, celery, and garlic in a large saucepan, with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the roasted canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, sun-dried tomatoes, broth, sage, and bay leaf. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf. Puree soup in the pot with immersion blender until smooth. Stir in chopped parsley and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish with crumbled cheese.
Did you know that there is a Table of Contents for this series? I have created an article that provides a detailed listing of each question I’ve received. It’s broken down by category, and within each category, the questions are listed alphabetically. Each question is actually a hotlink back to the original post.