Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From Scratch

One of the things about living abroad is the absence of familiar products and/or brands. The absence of these familiar sights particularly plays out for me most when shopping at the grocery store. I know I have posted before about having no brand loyalty or pre-conceived notion about which brand to buy here in the UK. (although now after a year of living here, I have become loyal to some UK brands I have to admit....)
The lack of familiar brands really is the lack of American specific goods. For example, certain brand of cake mixes, Cheez-Its, Velveeta, Jiffy Corn Muffin mix, Ranch dressing, etc. - are just not available over here. The question is - what to substitute when a recipe calls for Velveeta? Or when a recipe calls for one packet of Lipton Onion Soup mix? I still have not found an appropriate substitute for either of those two items. 

To be fair, I was never a pre-made cake mix or dinner kit kind of shopper in the US, so I knew I would not miss certain items when we moved here. However, in our last year of living in the US, I did become quite addicted to Trader Joe's and some of their "pre-made" products, including their Caesar Salad Dressing and their freshly made pizza dough. 

I was excited to recently find an American salad dressing for sale on the shelf of the grocery store (Caesar salad dressing with an American flag and all...) but I was quite disappointed when I made our dinner salad and tasted the dressing. It was not tasty!

So, I went back to basics and decided it was time to make Caesar salad dressing from scratch. It will probably be difficult to buy a bottle of the dressing off the shelf again because this home made version is really a winner in our house these days..... Courtesy of Ina Garten, here is the recipe:
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • croutons
  • Parmesan, shaved


Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until minced. Add the anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice, and mayonnaise and process again to make a smooth dressing. (Refrigerate the Caesar dressing if not using it immediately - I think it actually tastes better after it has been refrigerated for a while.)

Maybe by the time we move back to the US, I will be at 125% scratch cooking! Or....more likely I will have familiar products back at hand so I'll "cheat" and use them again every once in a while! 


Anonymous said...

Oh! I'm planning on throwing a thanksgiving dinner party for my friends in Glasgow and was just wondering if the velveeta I need for my baked corn would be available, guess not!

Have you made anything that called for velveeta and found an acceptable replacement?

Love your blog by the way!

Anonymous said...

I've found that they have "American" cheese slices in the M&S food hall as well as my local Sainsbury's... not the same as block Velveeta but not bad.

Not sure how I feel about tomatoes on Caesar salad, though. I'm a bit of a purist on that one. But heck, in Australia they put both bacon and eggs on my Caesar, I had to send it back!