Showing posts with label lemon pepper dressing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lemon pepper dressing. Show all posts

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cleo Coyle's Cool and Creamy Peppercorn Dressing

Dang, it's hot here in New York. At this time of year, it always is, and it's never a dry heat. To paraphrase my amateur sleuth, Clare Cosi, it's the kind of relentless city sauna that liquefies every ounce of energy before sucking it right out of you.

What does that mean for this post? Cool and creamy is the order of the day. No, not ice cream. That's Wendy's department. :)

On my menu for you today is a cool and creamy salad dressing.

But first...

I must pause to send a shout-out of Congrats! to my fellow mystery writing cooks: Avery Aames and Riley Adams (aka Elizabeth S. Craig). Both became official national bestselling authors this week.

If you have not yet picked up Avery's THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE and Riley's DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS, then get yourself on over to the bookstore! These (uh-hem) bestselling culinary mysteries are both delightful reads with the fresh, fun voices of two amazing women writers.

Late breaking shout-out. Thanks to Cooking with Ideas, who just posted a review of Roast Mortem, my new Coffeehouse Mystery. To read the "bibliochef's" thoughts on my book, see her fun foodie comments and informative live links, click here.

( I was saying...)

I grew up on really basic salad. Almost every dinner, my mother would mix Regina brand red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a little salt -- that was it. The greens were usually fresh from Dad's garden and we didn't complain. We hardly ever had bottled dressing, either, and (to tell you the truth) I never could get used to the artificial taste of bottled. Still, vinegar and oil every single night became pretty darn boring.

Then, one day, my family dropped in on my uncle's house for dinner. My older cousin had tossed together the salad and, wow, it was fantastic. If you can imagine an eleven year old getting excited about a salad, that was me. Her secret? Dried herbs and freshly ground black pepper--lots of it. Her advice was simple: "Put more pepper on the salad than you think it needs." Over thirty years later, I still heed that advice, which really just comes down to something I've heard professional chefs say: season and re-season.

That pepper advice was also the inspiration for today's recipe: a cool and creamy yet far from bland salad dressing that my husband and I always enjoy in the summer.

The lemon and pepper in this dressing make for a classic combination, and the shaved Pecorino Romano on top finishes the dish with the perfect balance of flavors. It makes almost exactly one cup and has a nice consistency, too--not too thick and not too watery. You can also easily adjust the seasonings to your taste. The pepper can be decreased for a more subtle dressing or upped for a more powerful punch. The garlic can be doubled or eliminated. You can keep the sour cream, mayo, and milk full fat or cut back and use lighter versions. All up to you.

So eat well, stay cool out there, and...

Be sure to stop back next week. Starting Monday, we're celebrating our ONE YEAR BLOGOVERSARY! HURRAH!!

We will have a mystery giveaway every day, a fantastic grand prize for the week, and a wonderful culinary theme to our daily recipes. So come on back now and celebrate with us, y'hear?!

Cleo's Cool
and Creamy
Peppercorn Dressing

Makes 1 cup


1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
1 Tablespoon black pepper, ground coarsely (for a more subtle pepper dressing, reduce to 2 teaspoons)
1 whole garlic clove (2 if you really like garlic)
1/2 cup sour cream (regular or light)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons milk (whole or skim)

2 teaspoons white vinegar (I use white rice vinegar)
Juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
Kosher or sea salt to taste


Step 1 - Infuse the oil with flavor: Place olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Throw in your whole garlic clove (or 2) and your ground pepper and simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. (To speed up this process, I transfer everything to an empty bowl; give it about five minutes on the counter then 10 in the fridge.) 

Step 2 – Whisk together your sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, and lemon. When your oil has reached room temperature, discard the whole garlic clove (or cloves). Whisk your oil and all of the ground pepper into the creamy mixture. Salt to taste.

Serve chilled over crisp, cold salad greens. Romaine and iceberg pair well with this dressing. Shave Pecorino Romano over the top of the salad. (Parmesean will work nicely, as well.) The sharp, salty flavor of the aged, hard cheese is a beautiful complement to the creamy pepper and lemon on the crisp, cold greens.

Store any leftover dressing in an airtight container in the fridge. It should keep well for several days, so you pull it out on another hot day, and...

Eat with joy!


~Cleo Coyle
author of

To get more recipes ideas or to find out about the books in my nationally bestselling Coffeehouse Mystery series, visit me at my official website:

On Sale
August 3, 2010
Roast Mortem
by Cleo Coyle

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