The latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine has arrived just in time for tonight’s dinner! I was at the produce market yesterday and was planning salads for dinner, tonight.

The store, Gentile’s in Newtown Square, is about 15 minutes from us – depending on traffic, of course. I used to go there quite often, but my schedule and theirs hasn’t been working out all that well. That’s about to change.

One of the many things I like about them is being able to buy lettuce in its natural state – not chopped up in a plastic bag. Actual heads of romaine – gritty sand and all – is my idea of heaven. Even their baby greens and lettuces are loose – no plastic bags there, either. And the prices are great, as well.

I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have bought bottled salad dressing in my life – we always just make one, usually an oil and vinegar-based with fresh herbs when we have them, sometimes a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing, even a buttermilk ranch when we have buttermilk in the house. No recipes are involved. Ya just make salad dressings. Okay. I take that back. Victor just makes salad dressings. He makes 99.9% of our dressings.

As I was getting the salads ready, today, he came into the kitchen and asked if I wanted him to make a dressing. For once, I said no – and pointed to the magazine. The June/July issue has 8 different dressing recipes – most of which are variations of things we already make – but the Sweet and Spicy French Dressing sounded different. We made a really good French dressing when I worked at Pirro’s, lo, these many years ago, but my addled brain as never quite remembered what we did back then. When I saw this – which is not triggering any sort of memory – I thought I’d give it a shot.

Sweet & Spicy French Dressing

adapted from Fine Cooking magazine


  • 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/8 tsp. powdered onion
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 tsp. grapefruit bitters

Mix all ingredients in a pint mason jar and shake well to mix.

It did the trick. Very well, in fact. Sweet, tangy, just spicy enough…

The salads had romaine, hard cooked eggs, tomatoes, blanched green beans, shredded carrots, stuffed olives, green onions, and thin slices of grilled skirt steak.

And since we were good, we both get big slices of cake for dessert!