Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti

A Favorite Ingredient: Parmesan Cheese

3 Comments

“How did it get so late so soon?”  Dr. Seuss

It’s a fact. . .I am behind.  I am behind in my blogging and I am behind in the online class I am taking {HarvardX: SPU27x Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science}.  In addition, I am under the weather.  But it’s not being under the weather that has caused me to be behind; I have no good excuse for that, other than the fact that time gets away from me.  It always has, and I suspect it will continue that way into the foreseeable future {my husband certainly thinks so}.  I have not worn a watch since I stopped teaching in June of 2011, and I like it that way.  I love days when I could care less about what time it is, which are the 5 days a week that I do not go to work.  When I have something going on, I check the clock periodically, but other than that, I like just being present in the moment.

Since I am “lying low” around the house for a few days as I get well, I am going to try and do some catching up.  Yesterday, I finished up the lectures on the concept of elasticity {measured by determining how a food resists compression-think overcooked tough steak compared with rare tender steak}, which was the topic 2 weeks ago.  Today, I am hoping to start watching the lectures on diffusion and spherification, the topics from  last week.  Before next Tuesday, when the new lectures are posted, I need to view the lectures on this week’s topic of heat transfer.  Of course, I also have labs and homework to get done!  Where did the time go, and why did I let myself get behind?  This class is quite interesting, but the science is not for the faint at heart. Many moons have passed since I’ve thought about physics and chemistry concepts and equations; yikes!

I have a number of favorite ingredients, one of which is Parmesan cheese.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I only consider fresh Parmesan that you grate yourself {Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, etc.}.  The stuff in the cylindrical green can just doesn’t cut it for me.

It doesn’t take long to grate up some fresh Parmesan and then pop it into a container to use on all kinds of foods.  You can use a hand grater, box grater or food processor.  It’s great on all kinds of salads, pasta, pizza, etc.

Grated Parmesan on Waxed Paper

Parmesan in Jar

Recently, we have gotten into Caesar salads, which of course include Parmesan cheese.  I have several Caesar dressings that I like, none of which come from a bottle.  One dressing, the one I’m going to share with you today, is from Alice Waters’ book The Art of Simple Food:  Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution.  The other recipe, which I haven’t made for quite awhile, I will share once I have made it again.  Of course, we enjoy Caesar salads with romaine, which is traditional, but Caesar dressing is also great on kale.  Without further adieu, because I have a lecture to watch on diffusion and spherification, here is one of my favorite recipes for Kale Caesar Salad.

kale caesar 1

Kale Caesar Salad

1 bunch kale, stemmed, well washed and dried
Caesar dressing
Croutons for garnish

Caesar Dressing {from The Art of Simple Food:  Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

Mix together:
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, pounded to a puree
2 tsp chopped salt-packed anchovies {about 2-3 filets}
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk in:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Right before serving, grate:
1/2 Parmesan cheese {about 1 ounce}

Whisk into the dressing:
1 egg yolk

Add a small handful of the grated cheese and whisk until thick.  Taste for salt and acid with a piece of kale.  Adjust the seasoning as needed.  Put the kale in a large bowl, pour three quarters of the dressing over the salad and toss.  Taste and add more if needed.  Add most of the rest of the grated cheese and toss lightly.  Arrange the salad on plates.  Garnish with the last of the cheese, croutons and a grind of pepper.  Serve with a wedge of fresh lemon.

Croutons {homemade croutons are immeasurably better than store bought}

Toss about 20 small bread cubes {about 1/2 inch square} with 1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and a little salt.  Spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally for even browning.

Notes:
*  I use anchovies packed in a jar, which I think would be less salty than the salt-packed ones.  I have never tried salt-packed anchovies.  I sometimes rinse sardines and then blot them dry to reduce their saltiness.
*  If you prefer not to use raw egg in your dressing, you could use a pasteurized egg.   I’ve used pasteurized eggs before with success.
*  Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Avoid the bottled stuff, which is light years away from tasting like fresh.
*  For croutons, I always use whatever whole grain bread I have on hand.  May as well make the croutons as healthy as a crouton can be!

Bon appetit!

This is a link to Melissa Clark’s {food writer for the NY Times} take on anchovies:
http://www.melissaclark.net/blog/2011/04/anchovies.html

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3 thoughts on “A Favorite Ingredient: Parmesan Cheese

  1. Sadly, I am also falling behind in my blog posts and the online course! I finally started the week 2 lectures today. Time certainly flies!
    I love kale salad! This looks so delicious 😀 Thanks for sharing!

  2. The food that is prepared during our course is certainly interesting. There have been some pretty elaborate and exotic preparations, which are interesting to watch, but I can’t say that I would ever want to cook that way. It’s nice to learn about what’s possible!

    Congrats on your food blogger nomination!

  3. Pingback: Refrigerator Confidential Day #2 | Maui Girl Cooks

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