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Three Keepers

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Cunningham's latest book is "Cooking With Children" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995)

We are often careless in our attitude toward the classic recipes of the past. Just as we wouldn’t consider tossing away family heirlooms, we shouldn’t neglect classic recipes that are still capable of giving great pleasure.

Three examples of heirloom recipes are Cobb salad, Celery Victor and green goddess dressing.

Cobb salad, a version of a chef’s salad, was originally prepared by Bob Cobb in 1936 at the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood. It’s a wonderful salad but only as good as its ingredients--it depends on the best--and it needs tender loving care in preparation. Do not regard it as a catchall for leftovers.

Celery Victor was named after Victor Hirtzler, the San Francisco chef who created it at the St. Francis Hotel around 1916. Green goddess dressing was created when George Arliss, a British actor who later became a Hollywood star, made such a hit in San Francisco in a play called “The Green Goddess” that it inspired the creation at the Palace Hotel of an anchovy-flavored, green-colored mayonnaise to dress salad greens.

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CELERY VICTOR

3 bunches celery, about 2 inches in diameter

4 sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

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1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

6 flat anchovy fillets, halved

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley

Remove outer stalks of celery and reserve for another use, leaving heart about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long. Cut each celery heart in half lengthwise. Cut away all but small leaves, reserving cut-away leaves, and trim root ends. (Do not cut too deep; celery halves should hold together.) Scrape outer stalks if they seem coarse.

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Tie together parsley sprigs, bay leaf and few cut-away celery leaves to make herb bouquet.

Arrange celery halves side by side in 10- or 12-inch skillet and add broth, using additional broth or water if needed to completely cover celery. Add herb bouquet. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until celery shows no resistance when pierced with tip of sharp knife, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer celery with tongs to deep platter and arrange in single layer.

Whisk together vinegar and oil and pour over celery while still warm. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

To serve, arrange celery halves on individual chilled plates and crisscross 2 anchovy fillet haves over each serving. Drizzle spoonful of vinegar-and-oil dressing over celery and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

6 servings. Each serving:

190 calories; 456 mg sodium; 4 mg cholesterol; 19 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.61 gram fiber.

GREEN GODDESS DRESSING

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3 anchovy fillets, chopped

1 green onion, minced

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1/2 tablespoon minced tarragon leaves, packed

1 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

1 tablespoon minced chives

When making a salad using Green Goddess Dressing, rub wooden bowl with garlic before adding mixed greens. Add dressing and toss until well mixed.

Combine anchovies, green onion, parsley and tarragon. Add mayonnaise and mix well. Add enough vinegar to make consistency of heavy cream. Stir in chives.

About 1 cup. Each 1-tablespoon serving:

59 calories; 132 mg sodium; 4 mg cholesterol; 5 grams fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.02 gram fiber.

COBB SALAD

3/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt, pepper

6 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

2 cups chopped chicory (curly endive)

1 cup watercress sprigs

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or chives

3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

2 cups finely diced cooked chicken breast

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1 avocado, peeled and diced

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Combine oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in jar. Screw lid on securely and shake vigorously until blended. Set aside.

Toss together lettuce, chicory and watercress sprigs in large bowl. Refrigerate.

Toss eggs in small bowl with parsley, salt to taste and 2 tablespoons dressing. Toss chicken in separate bowl with 2 tablespoons dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour remaining dressing over chilled greens and toss to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Spread greens in shallow mound and arrange eggs, tomatoes, chicken, blue cheese, avocado and bacon attractively on top. Toss at the table just before serving.

8 servings. Each serving:

428 calories; 335 mg sodium; 115 mg cholesterol; 39 grams fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 14 grams protein; 1.25 grams fiber.


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