Make the dish, excerpted from Graham Elliot’s “Cooking Like a Master Chef” from Atria Books.
Graham’s Signature Caesar Salad
Prep time: About 30 minutes.
Cook time: five to seven minutes.
2 small heads of romaine or romaine hearts
2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley coarsely chopped
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¾ cup)
1 cup grapeseed oil
1 tsp anchovy oil (from the can of anchovies) or extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces mascarpone cheese (about ¼ cup plus 2tbs)
2 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
2 tablespoons half-and-half
½ tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ unsliced brioche loaf or loaf of white bread
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
Four ounces Parmesan cheese
12 Spanish white anchovy fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
Trim the heads of romaine so the tops are somewhat even and discard the tough base. Cut the heads into quarters, to make eight pieces total. Soak the lettuce quarters in cold water for a few minutes. Pat dry and set aside.
For the dressing, put the sour cream, lemon juice, shallot, mustard, egg yolk, garlic, and parsley in a blender and puree on high speed until smooth.
Add the Parmesan and puree for about one minute longer. With the blender running on medium speed, slowly add the grapeseed oil and anchovy oil in the thin, steady stream. Pause every 10 seconds to make sure the oil is fully incorporated. If the dressing is too thick, add a touch of water.
For the Twinkie Filling, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, mix the mascarpone, cream cheese, Parmesan, half-and-half, shallot and garlic. Process until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pulse to mix.
Using a rubber spatula, transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and set aside.
For the brioche Twinkies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a serrated knife, remove all the crust from the brioche loaf. Slice eight rectangles from the load, each about three inches wide and one inch think. (It’s a good idea to cut a few extras, in case you need them.)
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Brush the melted butter over all sides of the bread in rectangles.
Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and gently brown the Twinkies on all sides.
Drain on paper towels to absorb extra butter.
Use the rounded handle of a wooden spoon to hollow out two holes in the bottom of the Twinkies, each about one-half-inch deep.
For the Parmesan fluff, using a Microplane, carefully grate the Parmesan over a bowl. The Microplane will produce very light, fluffy gratings. While you can grate the cheese ahead, grating it just before using will ensure it’s light and fluffy.
To assemble the salad, use a clean paintbrush or similar brush to generously coat each piece of lettuce with dressing. Roll the coated lettuce in the fluff so all the pieces are nicely covered.
Meanwhile, pipe the filling in the holes in each Twinkie until stuffed. Put the filled Twinkies on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about three minutes to warm the centers. Remove from oven.
Put two warm Twinkies on each of four serving plates and gently rest a piece of lettuce on top of each Twinkie. Garnish each plate with three anchovy fillets and season with pepper.
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