Pandemic Pantry - Cobb Salad
define the current situation better than the Cobb Salad. As
we write this we are at home (of course, unable to go to the
supermarket, relying on curbsiding and delivery and basically not
getting all the things we are used to, or thought we needed).
salad is named after the owner of the once-renowned Brown Derby
restaurant in Los Angeles. Whether he, Howard Cobb, or someone else
actually thought up the recipe is not known and doesn't matter. The
heart and soul of the Cobb Salad is that you can pretty much make of it
what you want. Generally speaking the base is a mixture of greens with
roquefort and other 'stuff'. The truth is maybe our version
closer to a Crab Louie Salad, but in the end, for us, it's just what is
In any event, when WE say Cobb Salad we know what we'd
like and most of it is on the easier to get spectrum of Covid-19
shopping. We paired our
version of Cobb Salad, or rather, what we should probably call "Kitchen
Sink" Salad with a really good Zinfandel and the match was outstanding.
Scroll down for the wine we drank it with (as if you can't guess).
original point of these essays is to try to convey something beyond a
bare recipe, we now take up the matter of Armoracia rusticana.
A large brownish root and in our experience, when shopping for it in
the supermarket (oh for the day to return), the checker will not know
what it is and will have to ask the next checker over if they know and
what's the code to put into the register computer. A friendly 'it's
horseradish' doesn't work in this SKU'd up world.
white rime on the root. We took it out of the freezer for this photo.
Freezing isn't the best idea but it works for us
In hand it
doesn't really smell like anything but just wait! Take a potato peeler
to it and you start to understand the attraction (or dread). Remove the
peel and grind it and take the brunt of its power. Enzymes in
horseradish feed on sinigrin to create allyl isothiocyanate (aka mustard oil), irritating the
mucous membranes of the eyes and sinuses. It isn't 'hot' like a chile
but your eyes will water.
afficianados it is wonderful indeed. Some cultures like to grind it up
with some beets, hence you'll find white horserash and red horseradish
in some markets. One of the common brands in a relatively iconic little
bottle is called "Atomic" for obvious reasons.
There is a wonderful relative of the horseradish called Wasabi.
You know, the green
stuff you think you are eating with sushi. They are both members of the
family Brassicaceae. Except that Wasabi is rare and extremely
expensive. We've had it once. It also needs a particular climate to
survive. Too hot and it will perish. Too dry and it will perish. Don't
keep it slightly misted and it will perish. (All of this has not kept
us from stupidly ordering one to go into an herb garden. It was planted
a week ago. It looks ok now, but unfortunately it wasn't really
something to try in our climate).
Perhaps it is all of the
trouble and/or expense but maybe, compared to wasabi, the
horseradish pretty much gets you to the same place and is all you need.
In fact, take a look at the ingredients on packages that claim to be
wasabi. the green powder (that you mix with water) or the tube with the
green goo in it. You'll find horseradish, not wasabi.
And just what did you think was one of the key components of Heinz 57 Cocktail Sauce
any event we love horseradish. We are talking about it here because we
use it in our salad with seafood, but it might work just as well with turkey
Our 1000 Island "Style" Dressing
the eastern edge of Lake Ontario, just where Ontario, Canada and
Northern New York come together is an area called Thousand Islands. It
was apparently there, around the turn of the 20th century, that 1000
Island Dressing was born (and we always thought it was because the bits
of relish were like islands... guess not!). Look
for what may be the full story. Basically it consists of mayo, ketchup,
pickle relish and hard boiled egg. About the same time Russian Dressing
came into being in the resorts of New Hampshire. Called 'Russian'
because at one time it may have contained caviar, it's mayo along
with things like chili sauce, paprika, pimentos, Worcestershire Sauce
Without knowing the recipes for or derivation of
either of these classic preparations for greens, we invented our own
which turns out to be similar to both. In the end, both really are just
Mayo and Ketchup with the additions of ones choice. Having now read all
these histories we're thinking of calling ours Kuril Island Dressing.
leave it to the student to find out why.
Here's what we do for our version of an American red hued salad
Almost all the ingredients are optional. Of course you have to have
ketchup and mayo... after that it's up to you.
we use the low fat. Non-fat is more vile and has more sugar. Homemade
mayo (a whole other story, but something you can do if you don't have
mayo but do have eggs and oil) is one of the best things around but
with all the other stuff you mix in, probably not worth the effort,
though certainly is a whole lot better. Of course many have their own preference for regular Mayo in a jar. Use what you like.
- Pickle relish
- Spicy brown mustard (you know, like Guldens, but even
Joe's. Nothing fancy)
- Tabasco sauce
- Lemon juice and/or White Wine Vinegar or Rice
- Worcestershire sauce, semi-optional
- Water, optional
- nam pla (fish sauce), optional
a suitable jar. We like to use a glass jar that used to have pickle
relish, mostly because when we get down to the end of the relish in the
jar, we just make the dressing in the jar.
Put a few
tablespoons of relish (more or less to taste, we tend to use a lot
more) in the jar. Pour in about 1/4 cup of ketchup (more or less to
taste). A few dashes of tabasco, a tablespoon or two of
Worcestershireshire (more or less to taste), a dash of nam
(optional, anchovy paste if you got it, a bit, optional), about 2 tsp
ballpark mustard. 2-3 TB of lemon juice/vinegar, a few TB of water to
Add mayo till the jar is about 3/4 full. Mix again. Now it is again up
to you. Do you like real thick dressing? No? Add some more
and maybe some more mayo depending on how you like. Like REAL thick
dressing, skip any added water and just add mayo to the point the jar
is almost full. Leave just enough room so you can still mix it one more
You'll find you've made whatever this 'iconic' salad
dressing is for far less money than the runny bottle of thin salad
dressing from the market and it tastes at least as good, if not a whole
lot better. You probably have most of the ingredients. And if you don't
have mayo, you probably have an egg (but making homemade mayonnaise is
For the salad recipe below we're adding horseradish. So, 1000 Island, Russian
or Kuril? Invent your pleasure.
Cobb v Louis
not a Supreme Court ruling nor a heavyweight match, just two salads
that have similar traits and somehow by sheer happenstance are the
underpinnings of a whatever you've got throw-together salad.
- Iceberg lettuce, watercress, endive and romaine
- Roquefort, or cheddar or Monterey Jack, or no cheese
- chicken breast
- hard-boiled eggs
- red-wine vinaigrette
- Crab meat
- Hard boiled eggs
- Iceberg lettuce
- Louis dressing (mayo & chili sauce &
more). or Thousand Island dressing or Green goddess dressing
So you see already you have lots of choices. Which brings us
The whole point of this recipe entry is to show you can have a really
good salad with mostly stuff you have on hand, or in a pinch, of
course, only with what you have on hand. There are so many choices...
this is what we like. Use any or all!
- Avocado (sliced & salted)
crab or shrimp or lobster (hey, if you've got it!). Frankly we
much prefer Dungeness Crab over Lobster any day. We ate our way up the
U.S. east coast and Canada before coming to that conclusion.
- Bacon, cooked crispy and broken into little bits
- Green onions, sliced
- Black olives, sliced (for this we use the decidely not fancy
California, just as we do for pizzas)
- Blue cheese - there are so many good to extraordinary ones.
Last time we used a Point Reyes Blue. Remember Gorgonzola and Stilton all count as blue!
- Tomatoes, sliced or quartered, slightly salted
- Romaine lettuce (or whatever you've got)
- 1000 island dressing
- Fresh lemon juice (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sourdough bread
- Hard boiled egg
- Cooked chicken breast
- Whatever cheese you've got lying around that you think
- Ham? (but probably skip the horseradish and make a dressing
that is more mustard based.
- Toasted pine nuts
- Toasted salted pumpkin seeds
- Croutons (probably never really used, but if you like
crunch, we won't tell)
like using large plates. Sometimes we put them in the freezer.
Does it matter? Not really but it seems so much more like eating out?
up the Romaine and cover the plate. In pie slice sectors lay down
ingredients such as bacon, olives, cheese, green onion, tomatoes,
the center, mound your seafood. Sprinkle some lemon juice if using over
the seafood (and wherever else you like. Grind black pepper all over
Combine as much horseradish as you like with as much salad dressing
(see ours above) as you like. pour over the salad.
realize that you might not have access to crab (and even we fudged here
and used a rather expensive, but certainly not as good as fresh,
'canned' crab) or shrimp. And this IS about stuff on hand. If no
seafood, skip the horseradish, and use what you've got!
Crisp up some sourdough and serve with the salad.
homemade 1 lb 12oz. loaf would cost about $1.50 if you are using very
expensive flour and about 30 cents if you can score (keep around and
use) 50 pounds of bread flour!
Not exactly. Hard, nope. Good, nope... it is really great and easy.
Look, in a pinch, you could even use that Velveeta you bought when you
thought there would be nothing you could get during these weird times.
Stay safe. Wash your hands.
We had the Nalle's Flagship Dry Creek Valley Zin, A
balanced wine that is never outlandishly high in alcohol. A wondeful
food wine that matches really well with the mix of flavors in our
Kitc... uh, Loui... uh, Cobb Salad.
is a summary
of the recipe in a .pdf you can print