Salads & Dressings
last updated 30th April 2000
This is Scrote's favourite creamy salad dressing, or it can also be a dip for raw vegetables. You need an ounce or two of a blue cheese with a sharp taste- the king of blue cheeses is Roquefort, but Danish Blue does very well for this. Take 3 or 4 really big dollops of real french mayonnaise, and mix it with the same quantity again or more of natural yoghurt to make a simple creamy dressing. Crumble your blue cheese into little pieces and stir it in thoroughly then let it cool in the fridge for a while to absorb the flavour of the cheese. The dressing is best straight away, but will keep a day in the fridge.
Another plain creamy dressing (which can be flavoured with herbs or spices such as chives) is made by stirring the juice of half a lemon into about half a pint of single cream. The lemon will thicken the dressing, but do not over-do it because too much acid will curdle the cream. The french add the yolks of a hardboiled egg and some mustard, but poor old Scrote has never really worked out a satisfactory use for the left-over whites of hard-boiled eggs. This dressing is excellent with plain shredded lettuce, or as a dip, or (with the chives) as a classic american dressing for baked potatoes.
Strictly speaking this is not chinese, but it is so quintessentially chinese that Scrote thinks it ought to be. Make a mixed salad of very fresh chinese vegetables- Chinese lettuce chopped, fresh bean sprouts, raw mushrooms sliced, a spring onion or two chopped. Toss the salad in a dressing of a teaspoonful of (chinese) sesame oil and a dessertspoonful of soy sauce.
You need very fresh small white cabbage and some fresh carrots, and a lethal old device called a kitchen mandolin is very handy for this. (A mandolin is basically a flat blade over a slot in a wooden board and is absolutely marvellous for slicing vegetables and fingertips.)
Pick off and discard the outermost leaves of the white cabbage, as these tend to be coarse and peppery. Shred the white cabbage very finely discarding any thick stems. Grate one or two carrots, and (if liked) finely chop a small amount of salad onion. Make a standard yoghurt & mayonaise dressing by mixing several large dollops of real french mayonnaise with an even larger quantity of natural yoghurt and mix everything together. Chill in a fridge before serving with other salads.
For this you need cold cooked chicken. Cold chicken is always good with mayonnaise, and this mayonnaise has a generous addition of a curry powder, which colours it yellow and gives it a considerable 'bite'. Coronation Chicken is just a salad of cold cooked chicken in a curry-flavoured mayonnaise. This is rather expensive by itself as a salad, but it also makes an excellent sandwich filling. The only real problem is that it is usually almost impossible to taste the chicken itself because of the curry. Scrote doesn't really approve of curry-powder, and makes up his own from ground spices- ginger, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, pepper & turmeric.
In France if you see 'Salad' on the menu it means literally just the green leaves. A green salad is a classic salad of the several different types of lettuce which are available in summer, such as the delicious baby Cos lettuce 'Little Gem', Iceberg, Radicchio, Lollo Rosso, Frisée and so on. You can also use some wild plants if you can recognise them- young dandelion leaves, sorrel and rocket can be added to a green salad. Scrote likes a green salad to be shredded to equal size pieces. You can dress the green salad with a little olive oil, or walnut oil or a vinaigrette of oil & lemon juice, or you can just let the diners dress their own at table, as the leaves start to wilt once they have been oiled.
A typical English mixed salad would include lettuce, tomatoes & cucumber with some of green or red peppers, spring onion, & cress. Nowadays it would probably be served chopped or sliced, mixed together in a single bowl and dressed with vinaigrette, like an Italian Salata Misto. However in the past, it would have been more usual to serve the various ingredients separately, and without any dressing, so diners could choose their own. In the past, the salad would probably have included radishes and also slices of pickled beetroot (which Scrote still hates with a fury unabated from his childhood).
A classic British dish, spoiled only by the disgusting imitations which pass for it commercially. You need cold, diced, cooked potatoes which don't disintegrate for this- boiled new potatoes are probably best. Let them get completely cold, otherwise they will do horrible things to your dressing. You can assist this process by dicing them while they are still hot as they will cool quicker this way. Make a considerable quantity of a creamy dressing, from equal and generous quantities of natural yoghurt and real mayonnaise. Finely chop a handful of chives and mix together the potatoes, chives and the dressing (gently so you don't accidentally end up mashing the potatoes). Refrigerate.
Scrote himself is not very keen on raw celery and rarely makes this salad (from the Waldorf-Astoria hotel) which combines lettuce, chopped celery, walnut pieces and a creamy dressing. It is also sometimes bulked out with pieces of eating apple as well.
This is a lovely salad, highly versatile, quick and easy to make and a real favourite of Scrote's. With some fresh french bread it can be a light meal in itself or it makes a delicious starter before a main course. The flavours are characteristic of the Perigord in France, although they would use gesiers (poultry gizzards) instead of bacon.
You need several ounces of bacon pieces, chopped into lardons or cooked chicken or smoked game diced; several ounces of wild mushrooms, morels, cepes, etc. sliced; a few ounces of Mangetout peas, topped & tailed & chopped and a good quantity of green salad, lettuce and red Radicchio for colour, all chopped. You need to use walnut oil to get the authentic taste.
Fry the bacon in a little olive oil until fairly crisp, then add a good dash of walnut oil. Before the lovely smell evaporates, toss the wild mushrooms in it so they absorb the oil and are cooked. Add the Mangetout peas and cook 2-3 mins so they turn bright green, then add the salad greens, toss them quickly until well-mixed with the bacon and mushrooms and coated with oil. (Do not let the salad leaves get too hot- lettuce goes suddenly limp like spinach and radicchio turns brown.) Serve immediately, hot and cold in the same dish.