1 head garlic
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon orange zest

12 (1/4-inch) slices French bread
Olive oil, as needed
1 clove peeled garlic, halved
1/4-pound block Canadian bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 hearts romaine lettuce
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the top 1/2-inch off the head of garlic. Put the garlic in an ovenproof dish and drizzle about 1/4 teaspoon olive oil. Cook until garlic is soft, about 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Halve the head of garlic widthwise. Press on the garlic to press out the cloves, and then put the garlic in a blender. Add the buttermilk, mayonnaise, Essence, salt, parsley, chives, and zest and pulse until blended. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the bread slices on a baking sheet, lightly brush the top with olive oil and rub the cut side of the garlic over them. Cook until golden brown and crisp.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the Canadian bacon and cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Meanwhile, remove the outer leaves from the romaine hearts and rinse. Chop these leaves into bite-size pieces and spin dry. Halve the hearts through to make 4 wedges. Rinse under cold running water and shake to air dry.

Divide the wedges among 4 plates. Mound some of the chopped romaine on top. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the dressing over each salad and top with the bacon, croutons, and tomatoes. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.