Monday, March 23, 2009

To Russia With Love - Questing for Dressing

The apparent disappearance of "Russian Dressing" came to my attention whilst I was "Flexing my Reuben". Since then, I have been plagued by this thought. In fact, as a result I have been craving a quartered head of Iceberg lettuce that is slathered in the Russian Dressing of my youth. Which only proves my Culinary Insanity. Come on!! I don't even LIKE Iceberg lettuce!!

None the less, I have been haunted by dreams of the somewhat piquant and semi-creamy nature of the unattainable condiment. To the point of chasing a bottle of Seven Seas (that has legs no less) down a long hallway only to have it disappear around a corner. Leaving me all alone, with a talking head of Iceberg lettuce that is berating my for not being fast enough to catch a bottle of dressing. (sigh, I need help)

The plain and simple fact is, because I can't have it... I have been obsessing on the fact that I cannot have it. So, this evening, while I was waiting for my milk to curd up for the Mozzarella to "clean break". I decided to start perusing through my old-old-old cookbooks to see what I could find. Fannie Farmer Merrit from 1921, Mrs. Lincoln from 1989 (the pride and joy of my collection) and the 1953 version of The Joy of Cooking... They were all different. Not surprisingly, no two were the same on the net either.

Annoyed, I decided to take a scientific approach to the problem. I set all the cookbooks down, 1 in each corner of the living room. Then I returned to the center of the room. Using quantum probability can come in handy. I closed my eyes and spun... Once coming to a stop, while trying not to trip over the coffee table, I took a single step forward. The cookbook I was closest to would be the recipe I would use... Quantum Mechanics had spoken.

The original recipe called for Green pepper and Pimento to be finely chopped, this was not the case with the Russian dressing I remember so I pureed them instead. I also added Red Chili Paste and doubled the paprika.

Russian Dressing

Economical Cookery - Marion Harris Neil circa 1918.

2 Egg Yolks
1 tsp Mustard (I used Dijon)
2 TB Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Grey salt
1/4 tsp Paprika (mine is Smoked)
1 TB Green Bell Pepper; finely chopped (pureed)
1 Pimento pepper; finely chopped (pureed)
1/2 tsp Onion Juice
1 TB chili sauce (Tobasco, original)
1 cup Vegetable oil
My addition - 3 inches of Red pepper Paste and I doubled the Smoked Paprika

Please note that the wrong tube is in the photo, I grabbed my Tomato Paste instead of my Chili Paste.

OK, I remember my mom being able to buy onion juice when I was a kid, but I had to make my own... With a zester and a very uncooperative onion.

Puree the Paprika, Bell pepper, Pimento, Onion Juice, Chili Sauce and Red pepper Paste.

In a small bowl, beat egg yolks and mustard until pale.

While still whisking, add the lemon juice.

Begin adding the oil a little at a time, whisking constantly to create and emulsion.

When all the oil has been added and the mixture is really thick (Congratulations, by the way, You have made mayonnaise) add the Vegetable puree --

Whisk to combine.

Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Slice your head lettuce into eight wedges, place 2-4 wedges on a plate.

Apply chilled dressing and serve with a knife and a fork.

Still not what I was looking for... This was more like a Spicy French Dressing...
Incidentally, my Boston Cooking School cookbook form 1921 gave a "Russian" Salad Dressing that contained Ketchup and Sweet Pickle Relish with no chili powder or sauce. (Thousand Island anyone?)

My Search Continues.....

Stay Hungry~~


Bob said...

Hmmm, weird. I hadn't noticed that Russian dressing had disappeared. Probably because I haven't made a Ruben in forever. I'll keep my eye out in case we still have some on this coast.

Spryte said...

I've never tried Russian dressing.