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TIP OF THE DAY: Salad Mashup (Your Signature Salad)

Here’s what you get when you combine three salad concepts:

  • Cobb Salad
  • Wedge Salad
  • Salade Lyonnaise
  •  
    It’s a Wainer Salad (photo #4). Created by the creative folks at Sid Wainer, a gourmet produce distributor, it demonstrates how you can combine favorite ingredients from different dishes to create something new.

    Sure, people have been substituting lobster for the chicken to make a Lobster Cobb Salad; but how about substituting romaine or frisée for the iceberg lettuce?

    We have a list below of salads for your mashup; but first, the Wainter:

    All three of these salads have been popular for decades—even centuries. Two are American creations, one is French.
     
     
    COBB SALAD

    Cobb Salad (photo #2)was created in 1937 at the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood: an on-the-fly assembly of whatever was in the kitchen one late night.

    Owner Bob Cobb was scrounging in the kitchen’s refrigerator for a snack for himself and Sid Grauman, proprietor of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. He compiled a plate of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cold breast of chicken, hard-boiled egg, chives, blue cheese, bacon and some watercress.

    The original French dressing used was synonymous at the time with vinaigrette—the standard salad dressing of France.

    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.

    But we prefer the original vinaigrette, or even better, a chunky blue cheese dressing.

    The salad created on that long-ago evening was so delicious, that Sid Grauman came back the next day and asked for a “Cobb Salad.” It went onto the menu, and never left. (The restaurant was destroyed by fire in 1987.)

    Here’s more of the history of Cobb Salad.
     
     
    SALADE LYONNAISE

    Cooked eggs on salads have long been part of French cuisine. The most noteworthy:

  • Salade Niçoise, from the city of Nice on the French Riviera. The salad began to evolve in the late 19th century using ingredients accessible to the poor, including hard-boiled eggs. The recipe evolved to include additional ingredients, from steamed green beans to anchovies and tomatoes. Here’s a recipe.
  • Salade Lyonnaise (photo #1)a, classic French country with roots in the area around Lyons, France. It has a poached egg on top, plus lardons (a salad version of bacon and eggs). In the U.S., a simpler version without the egg it is often called Frisée Salad. Here’s a recipe for Salade Lyonnaise.
  • Salade Lyonnaise was popularized in the U.S. in the early 1980s at The Odeon, a bistro in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood.
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    WEDGE SALAD

    Wedge Salad (photo #3) began to emerge in the 1950s, when restaurants offered hearts of iceberg lettuce salad with creamy dressings. The head was cut into quarters and plated with a slice of tomato for color.

    Homemakers were fans, too, because iceberg heads were sold fully trimmed, with little waste, and had a longer shelf life in the fridge. It was easy to cut into wedges or slice into shreds. The lettuce’s crunch was very popular, if bland-tasting (solution: lots of dressing—like creamy blue cheese).

    Thanks to the retro food movement of the past decade, iceberg has returned to restaurant menus beyond its steakhouse stronghold, and the hearts of lettuce salad are now known by a trendier name: wedge salad. Bacon was added, because bacon has become a garnishs of choice.

    By the way, iceberg lettuce was a mutation, discovered in the late 1800s. Here’s the history of iceberg lettuce, and more about wedge salads.
     
     
    WHAT’S YOUR SALAD MASHUP?

     

    Salade Lyonnaise
    [1] Parent #1: Salade Lyonnaise, a French frisée salad with lardons (here’s a recipe from Saveur).

    Cobb Salad
    [2] Parent #2, a Cobb Salad, invented at the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood (here’s the recipe from La Creme De La Crumb).

    Wedge Salad
    [3] Parent #3: Wedge Salad (here’s a recipe from Little Broken).

    Cobb Wedge Salad
    [4] The Sid Wainer fusion: a slice (not wedge) of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing and bacon from the Wedge Salad, cubed chicken from the Cobb Salad and a poached egg from Salade Lyonnaise.

     
    In addition to the three salads above, here are 10 more popular green salads with ingredients you can pick and choice to make a [Your Name Here] Salad.

  • Arugula Salad: arugula, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, olive oil vinaigrette with fresh lemon juice, parmesan cheese
  • Avocado Salad: avocado, cucumber, tomato, red onion, cilantro
  • Caesar Salad: romaine, anchovies, croutons, grated parmesan cheese
  • Endive Salad: endive, blue cheese, pear, walnuts, balsamic vinaigrette
  • Greek Salad: feta, bell peppers, peperoncini, red onion, kalamata olives, tomato, oregano, lemon juice, oil and vinegar, optional stuffed grape leaves
  • Kale Salad kale, chopped almonds, apple, parmesan cheese
  • Mesclun Salad: mixed baby lettuces, walnut oil or hazelnut oil vinaigrette, goat cheese
  • Mixed Green Salad: lettuce with bell pepper, carrot, celery, onion, tomato
  • Spinach Salad: baby spinach, bacon, feta, strawberries
  • Watercress Salad: watercress, onion, dijon vinaigrette
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    HALLOWEEN RECIPE: Spider Cake

    Halloween Spider Cake
    [1] A hairy spider, ready to eat (photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter).

    Chocolate Sprinkles
    [2] Chocolate sprinkles make the spider “hairy” (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Candy Eyeballs Wilton

    [3] Wilton makes the smallest eyes we’ve found. These are from Target (photo courtesy Wilton).

     

    Along came a spider and sat down beside her—and she ate him!

    This eye-catching chocolate spider cake from Go Bold With Butter doubles as a table centerpiece and dessert.

    The ingredients are easy to find. Chocolate chocolate sticks for the spider legs and candy eyeballs can be found at kitchen specialty stores and online.

    You also use use Pocky, the Japanese chocolate-covered biscuit sticks that have good distribution at grocery stores and international markets.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 50 minutes.
     
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE SPIDER CAKE

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

    For the Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  •  
    For the Spider Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  •  
    Decorations

  • 8 small candy eyeballs
  • 1 cup chocolate sprinkles
  • 16 chocolate sticks or chocolate-covered biscuit sticks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the frosting. Combine the heavy cream and chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 45 seconds and stir. Return to the microwave and heat again for 20 seconds. Let the mixture stand for 2 minutes; then whisk together until smooth. Place in refrigerator to firm to spreading consistency, about 1 hour.

    2. MAKE the cake. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine first six ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk together. Add the milk, melted butter and vanilla and beat on low until combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg; beat again until well incorporated.

     
    3. LINE one well of a cupcake tin with a paper liner and fill it 2/3 full with batter (this is the spider’s head). Grease and flour 2-1/2 quart ovenproof bowl for the body (you can use stainless steel) and pour in the remaining batter. Bake the cupcake for 12-15 minutes, or until the center springs back when pressed. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Allow the cupcake and cake to cool on wire rack.

    NOTE: If you want to use the rest of the cupcake tin to bake more cupcakes, plan ahead for your batter of choice.

    4. PLACE the chocolate sprinkles in a bowl. Cut the cupcake in half and cover top portion with chocolate frosting (bonus: you get to eat the other half of the cupcake). Place 8 candy eyeballs on top of the frosting. Use a spoon to cover the cupcake with chocolate sprinkles. Gently shake off excess and set aside.

    5. PLACE the cake on a large serving platter. Cover the bowl-shaped cake with chocolate frosting, then cover frosting with chocolate sprinkles. Apply more frosting to the back side of the cupcake to attach the “head” to the “body.”

    6. GENTLY INSERT three chocolate sticks, standing upright on each side of spider body (do one side at a time). Use leftover frosting to attach a second chocolate stick, creating three sets of spider legs on each side. Insert two short chocolate stick “legs” on either side of spider head. Use frosting to attach two additional short chocolate sticks to legs, creating segmented front legs.

    7. SLICE and serve, but only once your guests have applauded the finished cake.

     
      

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    RECIPE: No Sugar Added Caramel Apples

    If you love caramel apples but are cutting down on sugar, make your own with sugar-free caramels.

    Werther’s makes delicious sugar-free caramels in regular and chocolate-flavored. Pick up a few bags and get dipping!

    You can use the same recipe with regular caramels.
     
     
    RECIPE: SUGAR-FREE CARAMEL APPLES

    Ingredients

  • 5 Granny Smith apples (1-1/2 pounds), washed and thoroughly dried
  • 12 ounces Werther’s chewy sugar-free caramels (not the hard caramels)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Wooden sticks
  • Optional garnish: chopped nuts or whatever your reduced-sugar diet allows
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    Preparation

    1. INSERT the wooden sticks into stem end of the apples. Cover a large plate, baking pan or tray with waxed paper. Lightly grease the paper with butter.

    2. COMBINE the caramels and water in large saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the caramels are completely melted, stirring constantly.

    3. DIP the apples in the melted caramel, spooning additional caramel over the apples if necessary to coat evenly. Place on the buttered paper and allow the excess caramel to drip off.

    4. SCRAPE pooled caramel from the bottoms of the apples for neatness. Garnish as desired, then place on a prepared serving plate and refrigerate for 1 hour.

     

    Dipping A Caramel Apple
    [1] Enjoy your apple covered with sugar-free caramel (photo courtesy Daffy Apple).

    Werther's Sugar Free Chewy Caramels

    [2] Werther’s makes sugar-free soft chewy caramels and chocolate-flavored chewy caramels (photo courtesy Werther’s Originals).

     

    MORE CANDY APPLE, CHOCOLATE & CARAMEL APPLE RECIPES

  • Bourbon Caramel Apples
  • Classic Red Candy Apples
  • Easter Candy Apples
  • Matcha White Chocolate Granny Smith Apples
  • Modern Art Chocolate Apples
  • Sugar-Free Red Candy Apples
  •  
    You can also host a candy apple party!

      

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    RECIPE: Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

    Hong Kong Egg Tarts

    Hong Kong Egg Tarts
    Fragrant and warm from the oven: Who can resist? (Photos #1 and #2 courtesy My Bare Cupboard, which has a slightly different recipe).

    Natural Hens' Eggs Colors

    [3] Where would dessert be without the incredible, edible egg? (Photo courtesy The Egg Farm.)

    Check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary.

    See the different types of custard in our Custard Glossary.

     

    World Egg Day was established in 1996, and is celebrated on the second Friday in October.

    Since the dawn of the hunter-gatherer, eggs have played a major role in feeding mankind around the globe. They one of nature’s highest quality, and most affordable, sources of protein.

    Since this is a global celebration, we’re featuring one of our favorite global recipes with eggs.

    No, it’s not egg drop soup (we published an egg drop soup recipe last year). It’s a favorite Cantonese dessert made with eggs: Hong Kong egg tarts.

    Walking around the streets of Hong Kong or any Chinatown elsewhere, you’ll see these popular tartlets* through the windows of bakeries.

    Whenever we hit New York City’s Chinatown for a dim sum brunch, we look forward to a dessert of Hong Kong Egg Tarts. We like them so much, we buy extras to take home.
     
     
    THE HISTORY: WHAT ARE HONG KONG EGG TARTS?

    Egg tart, dan tat in Cantonese, is sweet tart pastry crust filled with egg custard. It’s essentially fusion food, since custard was created in northern European dairying countries.

    Hong Kong egg tarts (also called Chinese egg tarts, but that’s too nonspecific a term given the variety of regional cuisines), are related to Portuguese egg tarts.

    The concept arrived in Hong Kong during the 1940s—from, some sources believe, the neighboring island of Macau, which had been colonized by the Portuguese.

    According to more likely sources, the egg tart first appeared in Guangzhou (Canton) in the 1920s [source].

    There, the local chefs, inspired by western fruit tarts, filled tart pastry with egg custard. As butter was very costly, they used lard crusts instead of making puff pastry.

    At the time, there was tough competition between department stores in Guangzhou. To attract customers, the chef of each department store would invent a new dim sum or dessert weekly; hence the initiative that produced these first Chinese egg tarts.

    A few decades later, in the 1940s and 1950s, many chefs migrated to Hong Kong and brought the recipe with them.

    Portuguese egg tarts—pasteis de nata—scents the custard with cinnamon, in a puff pastry crust. Here’s a recipe.

    Both versions taste best when freshly baked and still warmed. Even when we warm the take-out tarts we bring home from Chinatown, they’re a shade less heavenly than those we eat on the spot.

    Yet, they’re so easy to make that they can be whipped up to serve regularly at brunch, or with tea and coffee breaks.

    In fact, we’re making them both on Saturday and Sunday to serve at brunch. We’ll double the recipe but only cook half on each day.

    If you have a source for very good tart or tartlet shells, you can substitute them. The texture isn’t “Hong Kong,” but the overall taste is good.

    You can buy Clearbrook Farms’ tartlet and mini-tart shells at Sur La Table, Walmart and elsewhere. We always keep a few boxes in the pantry. You can fill them with berries, pudding, cream cheese and preserves, ice cream, etc. when you need a quick dessert or teatime treat.

     
    RECIPE: HONG KONG EGG TARTS

    This recipe was sent to us by The Incredible Egg (the American Egg Board), via All Recipes.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 9 eggs, beaten
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the confectioners’ sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Blend in the butter with a fork, until the mixture comprises small crumbs.

    2. STIR in the egg and vanilla until the mixture forms a dough. The texture should be slightly moist. Add more butter if the dough is too dry, or add more flour if the dough seems greasy.

    3. SHAPE the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. Press the balls into fluted tartlet molds to cover the bottom, extending the dough higher than the sides of the molds. Use this technique to place the dough into one tart mold, then tamp it down with an empty mold.

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F.

    5. COMBINE the white sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.

    6. STRAIN the eggs through a sieve, and whisk into the sugar mixture. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Strain the filling through a sieve, and fill the tart shells.
    Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown, and the filling is puffed up a little bit.
     
     
    *TARTS VS. TARTLETS

    To be completely accurate:

  • “Tart” refers to a full-size, multi-portion tart.
  • Individual-size size tarts are called tartlets.
  • Bite-size versions are mini tarts.
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    RESTAURANT: Oscar Wilde Gastropub In New York City

    Oscar Wilde, the gastropub, has the longest continuous bar in New York City, at 118.5 feet.

    There’s a cocktail and spirits list almost as long—such that if we lived or worked in the neighborhood, we’d be tempted to head to the bar every day after work and work through the list.

    The restaurant celebrates the acclaimed Irish writer (1854-1900).

    The venue should become a tourist destination for literati. If you don’t foresee a trip to Dublin to see the stunning Oscar Wilde Memorial Sculpture in Merrion Square in Dublin, then Oscar Wilde restaurant in New York City is an opportunity to capture yourself with bronze Oscar Wildes.

    There are two photo ops with Oscar: one inside with a standing bronze (photo #1), the other outside, seated on a bench (photo #4).

    These bronze Oscars are even better photo ops than Real Oscar’s tombstone, a popular destination in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris. It is beautiful piece of modern sculpture, but not an image of Wilde (and now, it’s surrounded by a glass wall to keep [more] people from further defacing the monument with lipstick kisses).

    But back to the gastropub Oscar Wilde: The interior is a showplace. One expects to see a motion picture or period televisions series in production.

    An almost incalculable number of artifacts have been gathered—clocks, marble mantles, fireplaces, carved columns, candelabra, chandeliers, lamps, statuary, paintings, prints, newspaper holders, painted/stained glass, objects d’art. They cover almost every inch of wall space.

    You can photos of the rooms here..

    The eclectic furnishings look like they may have been a part of Wilde’s milieu—and many could have been, gathered throughout the U.K. and Paris. Others come from points around the globe. The Victorian-style wallpaper was handmade in Mexico, some hand-carved marble is from Vietnam.

    An Irish Writers Wall pays homage to the other greats: Beckett, Joyce, Shaw, Yeats, etc.
     
     
    DINING AT OSCAR WILDE

    While you may have stumbled back into Victorian England visually, don’t expect a corresponding bill of fare.

    Oscar Wilde’s food menu does feature traditional dishes such as cottage pie, striped bass, moules frites and Skellig cheddar from Ireland (on a grilled cheese sandwich).

    But patrons are more likely to order contemporary items that Wilde never envisioned:

  • Crispy cauliflower Buffalo wings
  • Fried tomato BLT
  • Kale Caesar salad
  • Salt and pepper squid
  • Wilde burger with chili aïoli
  •  
    There’s something for everyone.

     

    Oscar Wilde Statue NYC
    [1] Have a drink with Oscar: a great selfie opportunity (all photos courtesy Oscar Wilde restaurant).

    Cocktails Oscar Wilde NYC
    [2] Specialty cocktail menus include both Victorian and Prohibition favorites.

    Broccomole

    [3] Broccomole: broccoli purée mixed with guacamole. A hit!

     
    We tried just a few items; each was excellent. New to us was broccomole—a relatively new creation you can find online, but we’d not previously seen on a menu.

    Broccoli is puréed into guacamole, served with taro chips: a great marriage of ingredients.

    Oscar Wilde is located at 45 West 27th Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue.

    It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., 7 days a week. There’s a private events room. Phone: 212.213.3066.
     
     
    Oscar Wilde Restaurant NYC
     
    [4] Have a drink with Oscar, at Oscar Wilde’s in New York City. Irony: In 1919, following the Volstead Act, the building became Prohibition Enforcement Headquarters. It was later discovered—purportedly—that the federal agents’ phones were bugged by the mob.

      

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