"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coleslaw with Hot Caraway Vinaigrette

Yes--more salad! Anybody who thinks that salad means putting some tomatoes and pre-washed lettuce bits in a bowl (and who does that not include?) will find real salad recipes off-putting because they require more than 10 seconds of time to assemble. There is a certain casual charm to tomatoes and pre-washed lettuce bits, but they DO get old after a while so if you can just wrap your brain around the fact that you're going to spend half an hour or so on a salad you can lovingly approach it as a work of art.

So here we have Coleslaw with Hot Caraway Vinaigrette, and--full disclosure--right out of the gate I altered this recipe to substitute my ever-growing kohlrabi collection for the green and red cabbage this recipe calls for. DON'T JUDGE ME, PEOPLE--if you had a veggie drawer full of little green sputniks you'd be playing fast and loose with your own self-imposed cook-through recipe rules too.

Don't know what a kohlrabi is? Don't feel bad--hardly anybody does. Here's a picture:

See what I mean? Like a little green sputnik.


Hello? First satellite ever in orbit around the earth? Put up by the Russians? Kicked off the space race? Ask your parents and/or grandparents if this is not ringing any bells for you.

Anyway, back to kohlrabi--it actually IS a cultivar of the cabbage family, and it tastes kind of like broccoli stem (after you've peeled it). Wikipedia helpfully states that it's sweeter, and I guess it kind of is but it's also a little peppery too. Anyway, if you've ever had broccoli slaw you'll have no problems making slaw out of kohlrabi.

So this recipe is coleslaw without the mayo--if you don't like mayonaissey dressings (and I only like the ones I make myself because usually storebought coleslaw is waaay too sweet) you'll really love this one. And I see it's not on epicurious so I'll tell you what it is in case you too have lots of slaw material hanging around taking up real estate in your fridge.

So--make slaw. Easiest w/ a food processor with a grater attachement. Generally this means cabbage (or kohlrabi etc), carrots, maybe some onion, maybe some bell pepper. Toss it together in a bowl. This recipe serves ten so cut the dressing recipe below in half if you don't have that much.

This recipe then asks you to do the following--toss the slaw w/ five tablespoons white wine vinegar. Then heat five tablespoons olive oil in a pan until it's hot but not smoking, and put in 2 tablespoons caraway seeds and 1 tablespoon mustard seeds. Cover and wait until the mustard seeds have stopped popping--then take it off heat and drizzle over the slaw--toss with salt and pepper to taste.

I didn't quite understand why the pan needed to be covered until my mustard seeds actually started popping (and spitting oil out of the pan). 'Nuff said. What you get are basically fried seeds, which are wonderfully toasty and crunchy--and it's this taste experience that elevates the slaw into something different from what you've probably ever had in the slaw department.

You would think five tablespoons of oil would be oppressive, but it just vanished into the salad. And in spite of my grumbling about hand-peeling eight kohlrabi and also the agedness of my food processor (which sometimes goes off without me telling it to and startling me half out of my wits) I really liked this salad, though I was glad I didn't have any kind of dentures or bridgework with all of those seeds.

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