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Kitchen Mailbox: 'Tis the season for salad -- and dressing

Thursday, August 10, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

If there's a season for salad, it's now. And salad dressing is to greens what chocolate sauce is to a sundae -- it completes the dish.

Our recipes today are homemade salad dressings, and we were hard-pressed to come up with a favorite among the four featured. All have their own distinctive taste.

First are two recipes for Caesar salad dressing. Both call for the (to some) dreaded anchovy. The anchovies add just the right amount of flavor -- they don't overpower these creamy dressings. The dressings are perfect for the famous Caesar salad (romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese and the signature dressing). There's one big difference between the dressings: One calls for raw eggs; the other doesn't.

However, pasteurized eggs are now on the market. We were still a bit skeptical about the eggs, so we called Cindy Javor of the Penn State Cooperative Extension, and she said the eggs are safe to use.

That's all we needed to know. We made the dressing and loved it. The second Caesar salad dressing is as good as the first with its blending of mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies and garlic.

If you're a fan of blue cheese, the next dressing is for you. Blue cheese is the name used for cheese that's been treated with molds, which form the blue or green veins that run through the cheese and gives the cheese its strong flavor, which intensifies as it ages. Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton are the most popular.

If you're looking for an easier version of the Martha's Vineyard Raspberry Maple Dressing, look no further. The Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing can be thrown together in minutes -- it's sweet yet tangy. This recipe doesn't call for pine nuts or blue cheese, but you can add those ingredients if you like.

Did you know that coleslaw comes from the Dutch word koolsla, which means "cool cabbage"? Our recipe for cool cabbage fit in with our picnic of hot dogs and hamburgers. This coleslaw doesn't have a watery dressing that some do and has a slightly sweet taste.

We didn't know how to label our last recipe, Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Beets and Eggs, because it didn't seem to fit into the salad category. So we labeled it a snack. Pickled beets and eggs are made with a brine solution (water, vinegar, salt and sometimes a sweetener). It's that solution that gives this recipe its sweet and tart flavor.

Ray Ford of Glenshaw requested a recipe for Klein's Caesar Salad. We received two responses, the first from B. Robins of Churchill: "This recipe was given to me by Ned Fine, a member of the Klein family who operated the restaurant until it closed. Hope this answers the request."

Caesar Salad Dressing

6 eggs
1 ounce anchovies
2 tablespoons coarse ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
8 ounces Parmesan cheese
8 ounces crushed garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 quart plus 1 pint salad oil with 1 cup removed

Place eggs in a food processor, add all ingredients except oil and process until combined. Add the oil slowly. If dressing is too thick, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Chill.

Yields at least 8 cups.

The following recipe was sent in by Susan Miller of Tarentum: "My husband and I ate at Klein's regularly, as it was one of our favorite restaurants. It is sorely missed. I, too, had searched high and low for a dressing that could duplicate their original. While at my sister-in-law's home, I leafed through some of her recipe books and found the following. I'm sure Mr. Ford will agree that this is the closest possible duplication."

Anchovy Dressing

1 clove garlic, mashed
3 tablespoons minced anchovies
3 tablespoons minced green onions
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons vinegar (we used salad vinegar, but any will do)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Place ingredients in blender until smooth or mix thoroughly by hand. Chill several hours before serving.

Joann Wenzel of Franklin Park was happy to send us a recipe from her father, Dr. R. W. Griffin.

Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

4-ounce package blue or Roquefort cheese
1/2 pint sour cream
Add the following to taste:
Salt and fresh ground pepper (we used 1/2 teaspoon)
Tabasco sauce (we used 1 teaspoon)
Dry mustard (we used 1 teaspoon)
Garlic powder (we used 1 teaspoon)

Divide cheese in half, grating or pressing one part through a sieve (we used the grater). Blend cheese in sour cream. Fold remaining ingredients in carefully. Crumble remaining blue cheese and fold into dressing. Refrigerate.

On April 20, Kitchen Mailbox featured the recipe for Martha's Vineyard Salad dressing. Janet Agosti of Baldwin Borough sent us what she calls an "updated" version of this recipe.

Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

1 cup raspberry vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon Poupon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well in mixer or food processor. Mix until mixture thickens and is blended well.

Rose Rosenburg of Squirrel Hill requested a recipe for coleslaw made with buttermilk. Here's a recipe sent in by Patricia Harmon of Baden.

Cole Slaw

8 cups cabbage, chopped very fine
1/4 cup carrot, shredded
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cabbage and carrots should be chopped into tiny pieces (about the size of rice kernels).

Combine sugar, salt, pepper, milk, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar and lemon juice. Beat until smooth.

Add cabbage and carrots. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 8-10.

Dee Ridgley of Baden requested a recipe for hard-cooked eggs in beet juice. In answer, Mary Labys of Latrobe sent:

Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Beets and Eggs

2 1-pound cans or jars whole beets drained, juice reserved
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
8 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cooled
1 cup sugar
1 cup beet juice
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper
2 bay leaves
12 whole cloves

Place beets, onion and cooked eggs in a glass or plastic container. Set aside. In pot, heat sugar, beet juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, bay leaves and cloves. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over beets and eggs. Refrigerate for 48 hours before serving.


If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.



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