Bite-size grilled cheese sandwiches that double as croutons? Brilliant! Just published and getting rave reviews, The Fish Sauce Cookbook was the inspiration for a recent deep dive on creating a Next Level Caesar, which gets its superstar power from the greatest croutons in the universe.
The entertaining book by Veronica Meewes takes readers in all sorts of directions, making the funky ingredient much more accessible. She taps chefs from around the globe to show the ability of fish sauce to add complexity and depth to dishes, to bring the mysterious sixth taste humans experience known as umami. There's nothing better than opening a new cookbook, thumbing through it and finding so many tempting recipes and interesting anecdotes.
First up for me was the Kale Caesar with Spedini Croutons. The key to making any kind of kale salad is to make it in advance, so the dressing can soften the chewy greens. I followed the recipe for the dressing, but went on a detour for the croutons, only because I just learned a very cool method for making grilled cheese from the owner of Beecher's at Seattle's Pike Place Market. (Watch the video!) Instead of going with the Monte Cristo-type approach of dredging the bread in eggs and flour and breadcrumbs, my grilled cheese for the croutons took a minimalist approach and they were fantastically crunchy, standing up well to the rich Caesar dressing. I highly recommend making extra cheesy croutons and floating them in a bowl of homemade soup.
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