Do you like tarragon? French nobility did. As one of the “fine herbes” in French cuisine, tarragon plants were a key component of the gardens of French nobility. Peasants need not apply.
And while the French Revolution was certainly not tarragon inspired, one benefit was the release of tarragon seeds to the world.
A little goes a long way. Read any description about tarragon, and you will get that warning. The flavor is distinct and can easily overpower a dish.
A cardinal dish that is tarragon-based is the famed Green Goddess Dressing. According to Wikipedia, this dressing was created in San Francisco in 1923 to recognize actor George Arliss for his play The Green Goddess. The original version, supposedly, was based on mayonnaise, sour cream, chervil, chives, anchovy, tarragon, lemon juice and pepper. My version below has parsley, not chervil, and optionally suggests yogurt instead of sour cream.
The changes are minor and you are free to make yours. The original recipe is lost in time. In the 1970s, manufacturers created bottled versions of the dressing, which now appear on a limited number of store shelves. Some “new” versions are out there, like a brown tahini version thanks to Trader Joe’s. You are far better off sticking with the green style, tart and vibrant. And you are far, far better off if you make your own.
As a salad dressing, Green Goddess will bring life to your table. As an appetizer with chips, it can stand side to side with the best of margaritas.
What is the perfect accompaniment? Crab. Crab. Crab. In fact, tomorrow’s post is Crab Hush Puppies! That recipe and this one come from the lovely book The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, which is filled with ideas for the black pan sitting on your shelf. Use it! And, there’s a new edition of the book with even more for you to enjoy.
Green Goddess Dressing and Dip
Yield: about 2 cups
- ¾ cup fresh tarragon leaves
- ¾ cup fresh snipped chives
- ¾ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Place the herbs, salt, garlic, lemon juice, anchovy paste, and mustard in a blender. Puree until smooth. With the blender on, slow add the olive oil.
Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, and stir in the sour cream until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
Source: The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pan in Your Kitchen by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne
Photo Information: Canon T2i, 18-55MM Macro lens, F/2.8, 1/25th second, ISO 3200
You may be familiar with Alton Brown and his entertaining show Good Eats on the Food Network. Alton is zany, brilliant, and, at times, opinionated. His number one kitchen faux pas? Having something in your kitchen that can only do one thing. He wants you to only have tools and gadgets that multitask.
Suzen and I like to go one step further: make basic ingredient combinations that can be multitasked. Those veggies in the picture above can be used at least four ways:
- A smooth, subtle dip
- A salad dressing
- A condiment for burgers and hot dogs replacing mayonnaise
- A key component in a Mexican squash soup [coming tomorrow!]
The idea here is simple: create a great vegetable base that is available for multiple combinations. The recipe for the “base” below gives you about 2 cups of cooked vegetables, enough for the dip/dressing/condiment being presented today. And there’s enough left over for the soup you’ll see here tomorrow.
While I often preach here about doing everything from scratch, the truth is every cook needs some solid shortcuts. Here I use some store-bought salad dressing. I like the Marie’s brand, found in your refrigerated foods section. The Blue Cheese and Ranch dressing are delicious by themselves, but actually a tad overpowering. Just dipping a chip in straight salad dressing can be eye opening. Here, that striking flavor is extended with veggie tones and then muted with the addition of sour cream.
Brian’s Veggie Dip and Dressing and Condiment
Yield: 1 ½ cup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Vidalia onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, washed and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
Additional Ingredients for Dip/Dressing/Condiment:
- ½ cup salad dressing [such as Marie’s Blue Cheese
- ½ cup sour cream
- Freshly ground black pepper
Put the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized cast iron skillet and heat on high. When the oil is hot, add the onions, shallots, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes on high, then another 5-10 on medium until the veggies are soft. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.
Turn off the heat and transfer the cooked veggies to a 2-cup glass measure cup. You should have about 2 cups total.
Put ½ cup of the cooked veggies in a blender, ideally a Vitamix which produces a much more homogenous mixture. Reserve the remaining veggies for other recipes, or just increase the proportions here to make more dip/dressing/condiment.
Add the salad dressing. For the Vitamix, set the speed to Variable 1. Turn the machine on, then increase the speed to Variable 10 over about three seconds. Process until very smooth, just a few seconds more.
Transfer the blended ingredients to a bowl. Add the sour cream and pepper, then whisk to mix. Store until using.
Source: Brian O’Rourke