Russian Dressing

Several years ago during one of my many road trips, I stopped off at a deli for a Reuben and was completely blown away by the flavor packed into my sandwich. It was the best Reuben I'd ever had, miles ahead of anything that had previously crossed my lips and I've eaten a fair amount of Reubens in my time. It was a slow day in the shop so I spend a good 20 minutes talking with the owner trying to pin down what was so different about this particular sandwich. He proudly told me that what made his sandwich the best was the fact that everything was made from scratch in house except for the cheese which was locally made by a family friend. He went into great detail about the process of curing the corned beef, fermenting the sauerkraut, and how easy it was to make the dressing from scratch. During our talk you could tell that he enjoyed his craft and took enjoyment from the looks of ecstasy that crossed his customer's faces as they took their first bite.

From our conversation I took away several things, first of all I wanted to try to make my own corned beef some day and second, I was going to stop buying commercially prepared salad dressing. Before that conversation I never stopped to think about how easy it would be to make my own, I just picked up a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch whenever it was on sale and never gave it a second though. I'm pretty sure my love of convenience foods came to an end in the weeks following this conversation, as I realized what I had been missing out on. One of the first dressings I decided to tackle was Russian dressing, since as you can tell, I love a good Reuben and often make them at home. Not only is this dressing great on a Reuben, it's perfect on top of an ordinary salad to make it a little more interesting and it's a necessity for the Reuben salad recipe that I will be posting soon as part of our what to do with the leftover series.

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Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon onion, minced
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon dill pickle, minced
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons parsley, dried
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 

Directions

  • In a bowl combine mayonnaise, ketchup, minced onion, horseradish, minced dill pickle, Worcestershire sauce, dried parsley, paprika, and black pepper. Mix well and refrigerate at least two hours before serving to allow the flavors to combine.

Recipe Inspiration

Adapted from a Russian Dressing recipe from food.com

Egg Drop Soup

Ahhh, Chinese food, I get hungry just thinking about you.  

If you couldn't tell, I'm a Chinese food addict and many of my favorite memories happen to coincide with a meal of Chinese takeout. I almost always start with a bowl of Egg Drop soup. When I was in college I was a Wednesday night regular at the Chinese buffet near school. I would sit around with friends studying for my 7pm graphic design class, stuffing myself silly and cramming for those pop quizzes Matt (my professor) was always fond of having. We had a lot of fun in those days, until the great ice storm of aught-six caused the roof to collapse. Sadly, they never reopened after that, but parts of the St. Louis area, including the University, were without power for several weeks due to the severity of the storm.

To this day I miss that restaurant, they had the best wait-staff I've ever encountered. They knew their regulars by name and always remembered what they preferred to drink. Before I managed to fill a plate my waitress had my drink of choice ready and waiting for me at the table. After my first few visits she didn't have to ask me what I wanted, she just knew.

That my friends is the sign of a good waitress.

My fond memories of Egg Drop soup actually go back quite a bit farther than my college days, all the way back to kindergarten. My teacher Mrs. K let us make it in class one day (it's a shame they don't let teachers do things like that anymore because that is one of my most vivid memories of school.) I don't remember why we were making it, but to 5 year old me it was absolutely fascinating to sit on the carpet watching her spoon long ribbons of egg into the pot. This is why it will be one of the first recipes I teach my son how to make. Since Chinese New Year is coming up later this month I thought I would share this comforting classic with you. It is especially tasty when you're sick or on a cold winter day when you need to warm up.

In other words, it is perfect for this unusually cold January weather we're having this year.

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Egg Drop Soup
makes approximately 2-3 servings

Ingredients

2 large eggs
16 oz chicken stock
⅛ teaspoon ginger
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon salt (if you are using commercially prepared stock, omit this since it already has salt in it)

Garnish:

green onions
black pepper 

Directions

  • In a sauce pan combine chicken stock, ginger, white pepper and salt, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • While waiting for stock to boil, slice green onions and set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl, beat eggs until whites and yolks are well combines and set aside.
  • Once soup has begun to boil, turn heat to low. 

Don't add eggs while the broth is boiling, it will cause the ribbons to break up, leaving you with clumps of scrambled eggs instead.

  • Using a fork or slotted spoon, slowly drizzle egg into the broth making a circular motion above the pot.

If you are having trouble making the ribbons with a fork, try using a mesh strainer. It will allow the eggs to pass through slowly, ensuring your ribbons remain delicate. 

  • Garnish with black pepper and sliced green onions, then serve immediately.

This soup is best when served warm, as it cools the egg ribbons have a tendency to sink to the bottom.