It's Gettin, It's Gettin, It's Gettin' Kinda Hectic.

I am getting nervous. I am nervous.

In just one short week the second Dinner at Eight will be upon us. But this one won’t consist of six of my friends. This guest list includes six of my fellow food bloggers – only some of whom I have met personally. My peeps, yes, but these are also critical minds and educated palates.

I have the menu pretty much put together. I have been and will continue to tweak and test all of my recipes. Plus, I have to shuttle all the samples to Jill at Domaine LA so she can get all of the pairings just right. Sadly, Jill won’t be able to personally attend this next dinner party. I will have to find a substitute Jill. That should be interesting. I’ll add that to my very long Dinner at Eight to do list, now.

The other night I had Doug over to be a taste tester for a few of the recipes. One would think most people would not hesitate to say yes to that invite. But it was the night of the last game of the Lakers/Celtics thing. So, I agreed that we could tune into the game and taste test simultaneously . Awesome meal + Lakers/Celtics thing + my effervescent company? Not for free, buddy. Doug had to install the hardware for my new curtains--a little off my talent chart. That’s a fair trade, yes?

Some things worked out well, some needed attention. Such is life. We had fun. A couple of the recipes that will be involved in the next dinner I have already written about here and here. But today I am going to share with you the recipe for the salad course.

I know I have told you about my moniker from my days (years) in Atlanta. Michael Fancini coined a new name and it stuck. I became known as The Duchess - to me it was endearing and strangely flattering.

According to my Larousse Gastronomique, Green Goddess dressing is a variation of a dressing originated in France by a Chef to Louis XIII who made a Sauce Au Vert (Green Sauce) which was traditionally served with 'Green Eel'. Another story has the dressing invented at the historic Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the 1920's in honor of William Archer's hit play The Green Goddess. Much like my Duchess moniker, I don’t see the royal Goddess parallel anywhere with either of these stories. So, with a few twists and toggles, I have created a Duchess dressing. You saw that coming, right?

This dressing is crisp, cool, tart, and light, yet creamy, rich and delicately textured. It needs very little in the salad-bells-and-whistles department: merely romaine lettuce, avocados, cucumbers and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.

Duchess Salad with Romaine, Avocado, Cucumber and Pine Nuts
(Adapted from Suzanne Goin)

Serves 6

2 large heads romaine lettuce
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 cup grapeseed oil
1 1/4 cup Italian parsely
1 cup packed watercress, cleaned, stems removed
2 Tablespoons tarragon leaves
3 Tablespoons minced chives, plus 2 tablespoons 1/2-inch snipped chives
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed, bones removed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
2 large ripe avocados
1 hothouse cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the outer leaves of the romaine. Trim and separate the leaves, clean and chill in refrigerator.

Place the egg yolk in a stainless steel bowl. Slowly pour 1/4 cup of the oil in bowl, drop by drop, constantly whisking. Continue until mixture is emulsified. At this point whisk in another 1/4 cup of oil in a steady stream.

Purée 1 cup of parsley, watercress, tarragon and minced chives in a blender with the garlic, anchovies, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 cup of oil.

Whisk the herb purée, vinegar, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper into the mayonnaise. Taste for balance and seasoning.

Cut avocados and cucumbers into long diagonal wedges and season generously with salt and pepper.

Place the romaine in a large salad bowl, and toss with 1/2 cup of dressing, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some more black pepper. Gently toss in the avocado and cucumber. Arrange delicately on a plate and sprinkle with pine nuts, parsley and chives.

Printable Recipe

1 comment:

  1. This sounds lovely although look wise you might consider a pop of red, purple or yellow. Maybe baby heirloom tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers or kalamata olives. Just my two cents, I'm sure it's divine all by it's self. Have a great night with your fellow bloggers!!