Showing posts with label lettuce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lettuce. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Head is Not Dead! My Iceberg Conversion and an Italian Blue Cheese Dressing by Cleo Coyle

First a tasty shout-out to our new Crime Writing Cooks! Lucy Burdette and Peg Cochran, welcome! 

We will be seeing their first posts very soon. In the meantime, three cheers to Lucy who is launching a brand new series today with her book An Appetite for Murder. Huzzah! ~ Cleo 

Now for my regularly 
scheduled blog post... 

The Head is Not Dead! 

For years I wouldn't touch iceberg. Why? Why this prejudice against a harmless little head of greens? Because where I grew up, nobody ever heard of arugula or radicchio. (Not in the 1970's, anyway.) 

Cleo Coyle, Iceberg
Convert, is author of
The Coffeehouse
At home, my Italian father grew green and red leaf lettuce in the summer months, but during the winter, we ate one kind of lettuce, the only kind found in local markets and on restaurant menus: iceberg. Sure, the dressings would change, but the dulling sameness of the salad set me off that particular variety for years. Until lately... 

Under the heading Everything Old is New Again (especially in a  New Year), I give you a classic "chop house" salad: a wedge of iceberg lettuce generously drizzled with a fresh, creamy blue cheese dressing. 

Yes, I know...iceberg offers less nutrition than other varieties, but in the winter, when I'm feeling particularly dehydrated, I find an iceberg wedge to be just the ticket. It's stupidly simple to prep, of course: cut the head into quarters. It's also hydrating, refreshing, satisfying, and stimulating. Yes, stimulating... 

"Wakey, wakey!" 
CRUNCH keeps you up!

According to foodie research, cold foods that crunch in your mouth (like apples, carrots, and iceberg lettuce) keep the mind alert. So, on top of hydration, iceberg lettuce is an alarm clock for that sluggish winter brain. 

Crunch with joy! 
~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle’s Creamy 
Italian Blue Cheese Dressing 

To download this recipe in a free PDF that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Gorgonzola is my favorite blue for this recipe (it's Italian, after all), but you can use Roquefort, Stilton, Danish, or your favorite blue. Or we can ask our blog's cheese expert, Avery Aames, for advice on her favorite blue cheese. :)

As for the other ingredients, I find the scallions bring a fresh flavor to the dressing, and the lemon juice offers the kind of bright zip that usually comes from vinegar. As for the anchovy (another Italian heritage addition), have no fear. The single anchovy will not make the dressing taste fishy. Instead, it will enrich the dressing with a delicious note of umami. To learn more about umami, one of the basic notes of flavor beyond sweet, salty, bitter, and sour, click here

Makes 1 cup 


4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 Tablespoon finely chopped scallions
6 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon sour cream*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt 
1 anchovy, mashed (optional but I always add it!)

*Note for thinner dressing, stir in about 1 tablespoon of milk or buttermilk or add a bit more sour cream.

Directions: In a large bowl mix the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. You can leave the dressing thick or thin it out (as noted) by adding a bit more sour cream or about one tablespoon of whole milk or buttermilk (fresh buttermilk or light buttermilk is truly the best for flavor, IMO).

Left thick, this dressing can be tossed with leafy greens or used as a delicious dipping sauce for raw veggies or hot chicken wings. Made thinner, you can pour it over a wedge of iceberg, and...

Eat with joy
in 2012!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Say Cheese Salad!

Congrats to last week’s winner who won our final $25 Williams-Sonoma gift certificate! For all of our new readers, look at the right column to find out more about the next contest!

As I do research for The Cheese Shop Mysteries, because my protagonist is supposed to be an expert in all things cheese, I am having the best time checking out restaurants that spotlight cheese. I found a great place this past week. It’s actually, get this, called Say Cheese! [my motto] It’s in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles on Hyperion. It’s a charming deli as well as a café.

So, anyway, my friend and I went for lunch and we chose the same salad, Lemon Dill with Smoked Salmon. The salad was DELICIOUS!!!! But it did not have cheese in it, and I thought, harrumph, I must rectify that. I wanted to add a cheese that had a nutty flavor and the firm texture of a Tomme Savoie. The cheesemonger at Say Cheese fixed me up with Vacherin Fribourgeois, a cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland.

I went home that night with all the fixings and plated the salad as I’d seen it at the restaurant, but I tweaked by adding some spicy olives, baby tomatoes, and slices of the cheese. Voilá!




[makes one salad]

Mixed greens

4 stalks asparagus per salad, cooked al dente and cooled

3 oz. smoked salmon per salad

6 mixed olives

2 slices Vacherin Fribourgeois

6 baby tomatoes


Layer the greens on a large plate.

Place the four stalks of asparagus down the center of the greens.

Place three olive and three tomatoes on each side of the plate.

Wrap slices of salmon around each stalk of asparagus.

Crisscross two triangular slices of Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese below the salmon.

Next, I tried coming up with the same dressing as the restaurant. While they probably used mayonnaise, I kept mine simpler, a little lighter. I had brought a sample home and had my husband taste-test. He preferred mine. [Note: He might be biased.]

Here’s the recipe:



[enough for 3-4 salads]

1 large lemon

2 Tbs. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 egg (whipped)

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Pinch of dill


Squeeze lemon juice into a bowl, remove any seeds.

Add the other ingredients.

Whip with a blender. Serve immediately.

Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and you’ve got a lovely fall meal as the temperatures start to turn.

Enjoy! And Say Cheese!

And if you like, visit my website: and sign up for my newsletter with recipes and tips and a recurring column about the history of cheese. Next month I'll spotlight Vacherin Fribourgeois!