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Archive for August 4, 2013

RECIPE: Cobb Sandwich

The Cobb Salad endures on restaurant menus, decades after once-popular luncheon salads such as Allerton Salad, aspics, Russian Salad, spinach salad (with mushrooms and bacon), stuffed tomatoes and Waldorf Salad have faded into obscurity.

And thank goodness it’s still here, because it’s one of our favorites.

THE HISTORY OF THE COBB SALAD

Late one evening in 1937, Bob Cobb, owner of The Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, was scrounging in the kitchen’s refrigerator for a snack.

He grabbed a head of iceberg lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, a cold breast of chicken, a hard-cooked egg, chives, blue cheese and some old-fashioned French dressing*. He took some crisp bacon from one of the chefs and started chopping.

Cobb shared the salad with his friend Sid Grauman, proprietor of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, who came back and asked for a “Cobb Salad” the next day. It was put on the menu and became an overnight sensation. Customers like movie mogul Jack Warner regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick one up.

 

Cobb Salads are often served with the ingredients in rows. Photo by S. Brogan | IST.

 
Since then, the salad has often been served with the ingredients laid out on the plate in rows, rather than tossed or with the other ingredients layered atop the greens, like a chef salad.

People who don‘t like blue cheese substitute Cheddar. People who don’t like tomatoes substitute red pepper. People who don’t eat bacon substitute kidney beans.

There have been variations like Wolfgang Puck’s Lobster Cobb Salad. And now, here’s the Cobb Sandwich.

COBB SANDWICH

Ingredients For 4 Servings

Blue Cheese Mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  •  
    Avocado Purée

  • 1 cup puréed avocado
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Sandwich

  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 ounces mixed greens
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 8 ounces smoked chicken or turkey, sliced (we substituted chunky chicken salad: chunks of chicken lightly dressed with tarragon mayonnaise
  • 8 strips bacon, fried crisp
  •  

    The evolution of the Cobb Salad: the Cobb
    Sandwich. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE blue cheese and mayonnaise in a small bowl; mix well and set aside.

    2. MIX the avocado purée, lemon juice, salt and pepper until well blended.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Spread one bread slice with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the blue cheese mayonnaise. Layer the mixed greens, 2 tomato slices, 2 ounces smoked turkey and 2 bacon strips on the bread. Spread another slice of bread with the avocado purée, and top the other half of the sandwich. Repeat to make three more sandwiches.

    RECIPE: ASIAN COBB SALAD

    Can you call something a Cobb Salad variation when the only ingredients it shares with the original are lettuce and chicken—ingredients common to more than a few salads? We’d say no, but we like this salad with a more appropriate name, like Asian Chicken Salad.

     

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

    For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    For The Salad

  • 3 cups chopped lettuce (iceberg or romaine)
  • 3 cups napa cabbage, shredded
  • 6 to 8 grilled chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 avocados, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1-1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, halved
  • 3 tablespoons green onions, sliced
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid. Cover and shake to combine. Set aside.

    2. MIX the lettuce, cabbage, snow/snap peas, bean sprouts and parsley in large serving bowl; toss to combine. Arrange the chicken, avocados, carrots, green onions and mushrooms on top.

    3. SPRINKLE the rice noodles and almonds on top. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.
     

    *The French use vinaigrette—oil and vinegar—as a salad dressing. Originally, “French dressing” was synonymous with vinaigrette. Over time, a sweet, decidedly non-French, orange-colored vinaigrette (from ketchup, not a very French condiment) appeared in the U.S. and Canada. It’s what “French dressing” is today. To make it, combine 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of salt. Our mother halved the sugar and threw in a clove of garlic.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Five Minute Marinating Tips

    Whether you decide to grill, roast, or sauté meats and other foods, marinating will make them tastier.

    A marinade is a savory, acidic sauce comprised of an acid, oil and seasonings. The food—fish, meat, vegetables—is bathed in the marinade to enrich its flavor and/or to tenderize it. The breaking down of the tissue also causes meat and poultry to hold more liquid, making it juicier.

    The marinade should be relatively thin in consistency, in order to penetrate the food. The acidic ingredient can be buttermilk, lemon juice, wine/beer, or yogurt, seasoned with herbs and/or spices. Sometimes oil is eliminated from red meat marinades, because meat generally contains enough fat.
     
    EASY MARINADE RECIPE

    1. MIX any good cooking oil with an acid (lemon juice, vinegar, wine).

     

    Old-school marinating: in a glass or plastic dish. Photo courtesy 12Tomatoes.com.

     
    2. CHOP up some fresh herbs and garlic cloves or add herbs and/or spices from your pantry. For an Asian marinade, mix soy sauce with oil, chopped onions and garlic.

    Thanks to Linda Stadley of What‘s Cooking America and FoodSafety.gov for some of these tips:

  • RATIO: A general rule of marinade-to-meat ration is 1/2 cup of marinade per pound of meat. If you use a little more marinade, it will be OK.
  • FRIDGE: Always marinate in the refrigerator, never marinate at room temperature or outdoors when barbecuing. Bacteria can quickly multiply on warm, raw meat. If the recipe says to marinate at room temperature, ignore it.
  • TIME: Marinades that contain no salt, acid, or alcohol can be marinated overnight or, in some cases, longer.
  • TIME: Marinades that contain acid, alcohol or salt should not be used for longer than four hours, because those ingredients will chemically “cook” or denature the food, the way raw seafood is cured by citrus juice to create ceviche.
  • TIME: Marinades that contain citrus juices, especially lemon or lime juice, should be used for only 2 hours or less. Mind the time: foods left too long in these blends can change color and texture. Fish fillets, for example, can change in a matter of minutes.
  • TIME: You can store marinated poultry in your refrigerator for two days. Beef, veal, pork, and lamb may be marinated up to 5 days.
  • SAFETY: Be sure to use a food thermometer and cook the meat to a safe minimum internal temperature. Here’s a temperature chart.
  •  

    The best way to marinate: in a resealable
    plastic bag. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
  • NO METAL: Do NOT marinate in a metal container: The acidic mixture can react with the metal. Marinate only in a sealable plastic bag, plastic container or glass container. Turn the food occasionally so that all sides are coated evenly with the marinade.
  • COVER: If you marinate in container (as opposed to a plastic bag), cover it.
  • DON’T REUSE: Never reuse marinade unless you’ve boiled it to destroy harmful bacteria, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. If you plan to use some of the marinade as sauce for the cooked food, reserve that portion apart from what you are using to marinate.
  • BOTTLED DRESSING: A common tip is to marinate in bottled Italian dressing, a ready-mixed combination of acid, oil and seasonings. But why pay several dollars for bottled dressing when you can use your own oil, and vinegar and garlic for pennies?
  •  

    EASIEST MARINATING: PLASTIC BAG

    The easiest and least messy way to marinate food is to use a resealable plastic bag. When all of the air is pressed out before the bag is sealed, the marinade completely surrounds the meat.

    This dramatically reduces the amount of marinade necessary, and also affords even marination, allowing maximum penetration of the marinade from all sides.

    Here are tips from McCormick for five-minute marinating. If your recipe calls for a longer time, follow the instructions.

    1. PLACE the food and the marinade in a resealable plastic bag.

    2. PUSH the air out of the bag and seal tightly.

    3. MASSAGE the food for five minutes, turning the bag often so it absorbs most of the marinade. (this is easy to do with meat and seafood; vegetables should just be squished around in the bag).

    4. REMOVE the food and cook. Discard the bag with the remaining marinade.

      

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