Sunday, September 21, 2014

Classical Lettuce Play - Part 4

Raw Slaw

Classic Vinegary Cole Slaw


Whether it's beside fried chicken, a burger, or a sandwich, I think we can all agree that Cole Slaw is the staple side dish. It's refreshing, crunchy, and if you're like me and prefer vinegary Cole slaw to a mayonnaisey aka creamy one, it provides that lovely acidity we need to cut through all the grease.

For the purists out there, I'm going to give you a more traditional recipe for vinegary Cole Slaw, followed by my take.

Here's how you do it traditional:

Ingredients

1/2 a head of Green Cabbage and 1/2 a head of Red Cabbage OR 1 Whole Green Cabbage OR 1 Whole Red Cabbage - I used 2 kinds for colour contrast - Rinsed, the core cut out with your trusty paring knife - see the image below - and then sliced as thinly as you can -These varieties of cabbage are not only cheaper than others, they are extremely versatile and can be used in anything from stir fries, to veggie pancakes and fritters, to slaws, to cabbage rolls!



2 or 3 Carrots - The tough woody bits at the ends removed with a paring knife, and peeled and grated

1 Cup of White Vinegar

1/2 Cup of White Sugar

Salt and Pepper - to taste

2 Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard

Equipment

Measuring Cup

1 Small Pot

1 Whisk

Measuring Spoons

1 (small) Paring Knife

1 Regular Kitchen Knife

1 Cutting Board

1 Large Bowl

1 Pair of Tongs

1 Peeler

1 Box Grater

Plastic wrap or a plate slightly smaller than your bowl.

Put your sliced cabbage in your salad bowl and break the slices up with your hands to separate the layers.

Dump in the carrots.

In a small pot, pour in the vinegar and sugar and heat on medium, whisking until the sugar dissolves.

Turn off the stove and take the pot off the heat.

Whisk in the mustard and season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage and carrots and toss with a pair of tongs to coat.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or the plate and put it in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to allow the cabbage to soak up the dressing.

This will serve at least 6 people as a side dish, and will keep for at least 3 days in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Asian Style Slaw



As borders fade and cuisines merge, more and more flavours from the east are coming west with delightful results! Cole slaw no longer has to taste like only vinegar and sugar or mayonnaise. With a little imagination and a love of those flavors, you can take an ordinary classic and make it into something extraordinary!

Inspired by the crunchy vegetables in Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches, I decided to tweak the classic Cole Slaw recipe to fit my love of Asian flavors.

This will feed at least 6 people as a side dish, and will keep for at least 3 days in the fridge.

Here's how you do it My Way:

Ingredients

1/2 a head of Green Cabbage and 1/2 a head of Red Cabbage OR 1 Whole Green Cabbage OR 1 Whole Red Cabbage - Rinsed, the core cut out with your trusty paring knife and sliced as thinly as you can

1 Cup Grated Daikon Radish - Daikon is the short name for the big radishes commonly used in Asian cuisine. See the image below. They can now be found in many major grocery and fruit stores, and in Asian Markets. The radish needs a good rinse or peeling before grating it. Depending on the size of your radish, half of one will get you the amount you need for this recipe.

Daikon

2 or 3 Carrots - peeled and grated

1 Tablespoon of Sesame Seeds - Toasted - to toast the sesame seeds, put 'em in a hot pan for a minute and then take the pan immediately off the heat. This will allow the seeds to release a bit of their oil and become crunchy, nutty and delicious.

1 Cup Vinegar - you can use white, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or a mix.

1/2 Cup of White Sugar

2 Tablespoons of Soya Sauce

1 Teaspoon of Fresh Grated Ginger

1 Drop of Sesame Seed Oil

Hot Sauce - To Taste - Optional - Sriracha, a Thai chili sauce, would work well

Salt and Pepper - To Taste

Equipment

Measuring Spoons

1 Small Pot

1 Box Grater

1 Whisk

1 Large Bowl

Plastic Wrap or a plate slightly smaller than your salad bowl

1 Knife

1 Cutting Board

1 Pair of Tongs

As you would with classic Cole Slaw, dump the cabbage in your bowl and break up the layers with your fingers.

Dump in the grated carrots and daikon.

In a small pot, pour in the vinegar and sugar and heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves.

Add the soy sauce and the ginger and whisk together, leaving the pot on the heat for a minute more.

Remove it from the heat and add the sesame oil, hot sauce, if using, salt and pepper and whisk again.

Pour the warm dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat using your trusty tongs. Add your toasted sesame seeds and toss again.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and put the bowl in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to allow the salad to soak up the dressing.

Once it's ready, you can serve it as a side dish, or as a crunchy element in burgers and sandwiches!

Fried Rice with Asian Style Slaw



Enjoy!

And stay tuned for next week when I'll be making everyone's favourite: Caesar Salad!

Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Classical Lettuce Play - Part 3

Niçoisities



I have to admit that before preparing this article, I knew next to nothing about Salad Niçoise other than the fact that it was French and that my sister in law ate it the last time she was in France and loved it. That being said, I did my homework. There are tons of recipes for Salad Niçoise out there, but they all seem to have the same common ingredients, namely green beans, potatoes, olives, fresh or canned fish (anchovies and tuna - though I'm told that the latter is a UK addition), and capers, all tied together with a buttery olive oil dressing. Everything else seems to be up to the cook. Some versions have salad greens, some have eggs, others have roasted peppers, and still others have artichoke hearts. I've opted to make my version as simple as possible so that it's both easy to make and on the budget. For the purists out there, you'll find a more traditional recipe listed first. I had my sister in law taste test both before publishing this, and I am happy to say they both passed with flying colours!

Serves 2 as a meal or more as an appetizer.

Here's how you do it traditional:

Ingredients

6 Red Skinned, Yellow fleshed, - peeled, rinsed and chopped into eighths OR 12 (as they tend to be much smaller) New potatoes

1 bunch of Green Beans (about 24) - the very ends removed and the beans rinsed to remove any dirt

2 - 3.5 oz Cans of Tuna in oil

10 Anchovy Fillets - You can find these in small jars or cans in the fish section of the grocery store - see the image below.


1/4 Cup Chopped Olives - the recipe calls for the Niçoise variety, but those aren't easy to find and tend to be pricey, so try pitted black olives instead -  sold in grocery stores with the pickled stuff - if you're feeling lazy or pressed for time, you can buy them already sliced.

2 Heaping Spoonfuls of Capers - also found in the grocery store with the pickled stuff - see the image below.
4 Hard boiled Eggs - to make the salad above, I cut the eggs into quarters length wise for a nicer presentation but you can just coarsely chop them - meaning you don't have to cut them up in any specific way, so long as they are cut up.

1 medium or large Tomato cut into six wedges OR 1/2 a basket of Cherry Tomatoes

Salt and Pepper - to Taste

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Herbs - about a teaspoon - Optional - Julia Child's recipe calls for herbs, but other traditional recipes I saw did not, so it's up to you - I'd go with the oregano you probably already have, to keep with the Mediterranean flavors of this dish

Equipment

1 Pot

1 Strainer

1 Metal Mixing Bowl or Heatproof bowl

1 pair of Tongs

1 Glass Jar or clean soda or water bottle with tight fitting cap or lid

Measuring Spoons

1 Knife

1 Cutting Board

1 Slotted Spoon

Put the Olive Oil, Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Salt, Pepper, and dried herbs (if using), into a jar or bottle, seal it tight, and shake until the ingredients are combined.

You can now set it aside for a bit while you get other things ready.

Boil the potatoes until they're edible but not falling apart. See the instructions for potato salad in "Playing with Potato".

Dump them into a strainer to drain.

Refill your pot with water and bring it to a boil. While the water is slowly coming to a boil, fill your mixing bowl with water and ice.

Once the water is boiling dump in your green beans, wait 1 minute, and then carefully, without burning yourself, pull them out using your trusty tongs and dump them immediately into the ice water.  This process is called "blanching" and is a handy way to cook vegetables that not only tenderizes and brings out the best flavor, but also the best colour. Once a vegetable is blanched, you can either sauté, quickly roast, or stir fry it without worrying that it won't be fully cooked when your other ingredients are done, or you can serve as is.

Don't worry if the beans are a little crunchy. For this salad, you want them al dente.

Dump the ice water and beans into the strainer with the potatoes and drain.

Dry your bowl and toss in the potatoes and green beans.

If your dressing has separated, shake it up again to combine, and pour half of it over the potatoes and green beans.

Let them marinate for about 10 minutes, and then arrange them on two plates or in a salad bowl with the eggs, tomatoes, olives, and anchovies.

Carefully drain the oil from the cans of tuna and put them on top of each salad (or one large one, if making the salad in one bowl).

Pour the remaining dressing over the salad(s).

Sprinkle the salad(s) with the capers and you're good to go!

Serve immediately.

Doin't it MY WAY


I've never been a big fan of olives or anchovies. For me, the flavor of both are great, but the look of them is pretty unappetising. Though I managed to solve this problem with the first Niçoise recipe via some clever plating, I realise that some of my readers may share my squeamishness about  these ingredients. Mucking about in the kitchen, I found a way to get all those flavors into the salad without actually having to see them.

Serves 2 as a meal or more as an appetizer

Here's How You Do It:

Ingredients



2 Teaspoons of Jarred Black Tapenade - see the image above - Tapenade is a tasty spread made of Olives, Anchovies and Capers - nearly ALL the things that go into Salad Niçoise. I found my jar at an Indian grocer among the spreads and pickles for $1.99, but you can also find this stuff among the hummus and fresh pestos at the grocery store. Can't find tapenade? No problem! Get yourself some Olive paste (about a teaspoon) which can be found among the jarred pestos - see the image below - or Jarred Black Olives (about a teaspoon) - and mash with 2 anchovy fillets and a teaspoon of chopped capers et voila! Tapenade!


1 Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice or Vinegar - if using vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar is ideal, but if you don't have it, save a few pennies and use White Vinegar

5 1/2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil - one of beautiful things about Salad Niçoise is the oiliness of it. This comes from the fish and the dressing itself. I've upped the ratio of oil to acid in this salad dressing because using the tapenade removes some of that oiliness - and besides, this salad is French! It's supposed to be rich!

1 Teaspoon of Basil or Oregano - optional

Finely chopped or grated outer skin aka Zest of 1/2 a Lemon - Optional - there are a lot of fishy flavors in this salad, and lemon always pairs well with those and adds a note of brightness.

Salt and Pepper - To taste

6 Red Skinned or Yellow fleshed potatoes - rinsed and chopped into eighths OR 12 (as they tend to be smaller) New potatoes  - don't bother peeling 'em

1 bunch of Green Beans (about 24) - the very ends removed and the beans rinsed to remove any dirt

2 - 3.5 oz Cans of Tuna in oil - drained

2 Tablespoons of Capers

4 Hard Boiled Eggs - Peeled and coarsely chopped OR for a prettier presentation, cut vertically into quarters

1 Tomato cut into sixths OR 1/2 basket of Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

Equipment

1 Pot

1 Strainer

1 Metal Mixing Bowl or Heatproof bowl

1 pair of Tongs

1 Glass Jar or clean soda or water bottle with tight fitting cap or lid

Measuring Spoons

1 Knife

1 Cutting Board

1 Slotted Spoon

Put the Olive Oil, Vinegar or Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest (if using), Tapenade,  Dijon Mustard, Salt, Pepper, and dried herbs (if using), into a jar or bottle, seal it tight, and shake until the ingredients are combined.

You can now set it aside for a bit while you get other things ready.

Follow the instructions for the potatoes and green beans in the first Niçoise recipe.

Dry your bowl and toss in the potatoes and green beans.

If your dressing has separated, shake it up again to combine, and pour half of it over the potatoes and green beans.

Let them marinate for about 10 minutes, and then arrange them on two plates or in a large bowl with the eggs, and tomatoes.

Carefully drain the oil from the cans of tuna and put one on top of each salad.

Pour the remaining dressing over the salad(s).

Sprinkle the salad with the capers and you're good to go!

Serve immediately.

Next time I'll be showing you two ways of doing cole slaw, so keep on reading!

 -Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

 Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.