I sincerely hope that everyone’s main course of choice met with a happier ending than did that bird in Christmas Vacation (a holiday-movie MUST in my family), and that all are interested in mebbe a little something lighter…
Like a salad?
First, let’s talk about the salad dressing I featured last spring, which I first thought the product of a New England inn or tavern. I have a hand-typed (let’s all think back before the days of desktop publishing, this was more than likely produced on a Smith Corona electric) recipe card – with the name – ‘Sanford House Dressing’ – and ingredients and little else. My Aunt Buzz was known to type, and to slouch about Sanford, Maine a bit with some old golfing buddies, so I just assumed the recipe came from her and the recipe from someplace over by there.
Then I received a very nice email from a very nice lady named Sara, who gives tours of what looks to be a storied old home and inn – The Brown-Stetson-Sanford House – in Milledgeville, Georgia, a former capital of the state. Sara very convincingly proved to me that the recipe I had thought from my aunt in New Hampshire, was actually a version of a rather noted one from the house’s years as a tea room and restaurant.
Here are scans of my card – with some notes from when I first got around to trying the recipe earlier this year – and the card that Sara hands out to folk touring the house – which is just a wee, tiny bit different than the recipe on my typed card.
And worth, I thought, a revisit. In my first attempt, I used celery salt instead of seed and simply eliminated adding any additional salt; I also used chopped onion in place of onion powder, opted for red wine vinegar, and tossed the whole thing together in the blender – drizzling the oil in last, of course. This time, for our Thanksgiving salad course, I scored some very nice celery seed at The Spice House, and decided to, kinda, sorta, try it old school…
except I still used my blender to put it all together; and it was GOOD.
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tsp celery seed
•1 tsp salt
•1 tsp dry mustard
•1 tsp paprika
•1/4 small onion, chopped
•1/4 cup tarragon vinegar – I cannot abide tarragon, so used Heinz Salad Vinegar
•1 cup canola oil
Combine everything but the oil in the jar of your blender and pulse to combine and liquefy the onion. With the blender running, stream the canola oil through the top opening until the dressing emulsifies. Ideally, you should stash this in the fridge overnight to let the flavors combine.
Beets deep, dark red and earthy smelling, I set them aside to cool in the fridge.
Just before dinner, I layered some freshly torn romaine and baby spinach on a platter, then topped them with the roasted beets, some thinly sliced red onion, celery, and radish, and topped it all off with a nice sprinkling of spiced walnuts.
Sitting down to this salad – as a first or a third course (I don’t enforce strict menu order at a holiday table – especially when there’s a pregnant woman involved) – drizzled with a bit of the more-or-less-original dressing, we were all quite happy with the results. Well, OK, so Rich didn’t go back for seconds, but anytime he comments ‘nice salad’ on something green and crunchy, it is a very good thing.
Check it out – and if you’re in Georgia, mebbe visit the Brown-Stetson-Sanford House. If you can no longer sit down to a meal and taste the original salad dressing, you can at least learn a bit, and meet some nice folk while you’re at it.