New Slaw

New Slaw 3

What happened to good old fashioned coleslaw?  I say good but actually, so many times it wasn’t, sometimes in fact it has been downright terrible.  Limp, greasy, over oniony, short on seasoning, cabbage too big, drowned in cheap mayo etc etc.  Poor coleslaw has hung its head in shame and hidden at the back of the buffet table.  Until now and talk about a makeover – the humble coleslaw has had some sort of sonic reinvention, spruced up and started wearing international couture.  Asian Slaw, Spicy Slaw, Citrus Slaw, Moroccan Slaw – it’s thrown off its dowdy mayo, lost the Cole and got down and funky with the kids.   Spicy, herby, tangy or hot – Slaw can be anything you like as long as it is crunchy.

I love a crunchy salad and regulars to these pages will know I am not stranger to this type of side.  My Christmas Salad (December 2013), the Thai-ish Salad (November 2015), Carrot Salad (January 2013) and of course the Celeriac Remoulade (January 2016) are variations on the slaw theme.   They are all cheap and easy to rustle up, happily retain their crunch for a couple of days in the fridge and will go with a myriad of other things as well as being perfect for lunch on their own (I particularly like this ones with a piece of cold salmon).  There is an added bonus though and its a huge and resounding boom of a bonus.  Children love them.   Who knew that getting raw veggies into children could ever be so easy?  My son particularly likes my Christmas Salad and regularly has if for his packed lunch.   My daughter however adores this gingery, piquant New Slaw the best, told me it is her favourite salad and had it three times this week.

Carrots, fennel, beetroot, cabbage (green, white or red), radish, celeriac, apple, broccoli – any of these work well.  Then do you want a sharp, zingy dressing, maybe spicy too?  Or perhaps a creamy dressing, a little more traditional although I favour yogurt or creme fraiche here over the ubiquitous mayo.  Add herbs, lots of them and seeds are good too.  Sometimes I add dried cranberries or raisins as I love that little burst of sweetness.  Customise your slaw as you please, make your own bespoke version.  We eat one of these raw, crunchy types of salad a few time a week and this one is the current favourite.  Gingery, herby and with a little heat it goes perfectly with barbecued chicken and I will post my favourite grilled chicken recipe in the next week or so.  Meanwhile may the crunch be with you, it is delicious and you can just feel it doing you good.

New Slaw

New Slaw

The other day I didn’t have any cabbage so used more carrots and it was just as good.  Different but just as good and that is the point of these slaws really, add a little more or less of something as you please, make it your own.

3 carrots, peeled

1/4 of a small red or green cabbage, core removed and finely chopped

6 radishes, sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

A thumb of ginger, peeled

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

A small packet of coriander

A small packet of mint

A handful of raisins or dried cranberries (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil, a light one

Juice of 1 lime, you may need 2 depending on their size and juiciness.

Grate the carrots and put into a large bowl with the radishes, onions, cabbage and chilli.  I use a box grater for this rather than an attachment in the processor as I find using this makes the veggies really wet.  Finely grate the ginger, add this to the bowl along with the olive oil and lime juice.  Season and mix well with your hands so that everything is combined.  Chop or snip the herbs over the salad, add the raisins/cranberries if using, mix once more and serve to happy faces.





Christmas Salad

Christmas salad

We are fully in the cosy food season.  Immersed in hearty stews, sticky roasted vegetables and pillows of spongy sweet saucy puddings.  Fabulous, I am certainly not complaining and part of me looks forward to this time of year even whilst in the heat (hopefully) of the summer.  All that said however, I can’t go long without a salad.  Not the gentle floppy green leaves of a summer lettuce, festooned with garden herbs type salad.  More a crunchy, zingy colourful number, both sweet and tangy – a salad in its Christmas party clothes if you will.

This is just the ticket for my lunch when I crave a change from my usual warming soup.  Crisp,crunchy and seasonal it would also work perfectly on the side of some cold turkey, ham or goose in the days after Christmas, or really anytime.  I love the jewel like dried cranberries which make anything feel Christmassy, their sweet chewiness is a great foil to the crunch of the apple, carrots and red cabbage.  The sweet and sour dressing brings everything together.  Incidentally I made this with some cabbage left over after making my firecracker red cabbage to freeze in preparation for Christmas Eve lunch – see how even the humble red cabbage multi-tasks at this time of year.

Christmas Salad

The quantities here whilst not vague exactly are not specific measures because really it is up to you – if you love apple, use a big one or two.  If you love dried cranberries use more.

1/4 red cabbage, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

1 apple, cored and chopped

A handful of rocket

A handful of dried cranberries

A handful of parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 heaped teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

Mix the mustard, garlic, oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.  Taste this dressing and add a little more of anything until you are happy with it.  Put all the chopped salad ingredients in a large bowl, pour over the dressing and mix really well.  Leave for at least half an hour for the flavours to combine.  This will happily sit in the fridge for up to 3 days but I don’t anticipate it will last that long.  Serves 4 as a side.


Firecracker Red Cabbage and Sausages

Firecracker hot dog

It took me a while to come around to Guy Fawkes night as a child.  I found the whole Guy business both slightly mad and macabre.  Firstly because they always looked like a giant pair of tights stuffed with old clothes tied with baler twine and sporting a huge hat over the grinning face.  Rarely worth a penny I thought.  Macabre because I didn’t really like the idea of burning anyone although I did realise it was purely symbolic.  Childish anxieties I guess.

What would cheer me up however was the promise of something good to eat whilst standing around an enormous bonfire.  I can see it now on our village green, almost two storeys high, a huge beast of a fire shooting sparks into the night sky and belting out heat.  There was usually the promise of a toffee apple, good for nibbling the toffee off only to be left with a rather sticky green apple on a wobbly stick.  Or cinder toffee, crunchy, splintering and sticking your teeth together.  Always on offer were hot dogs, proper sausages rather than frankfurters with a good squirt of ketchup which inevitably found its way onto your woolly gloves.

Sadly our fireworks were rained off  this week but if they hadn’t been this is what we would have been eating as a relish with our hot dogs.   Sweet, tangy and with a good kick of chilli it is delicious in a bun with a good banger on top.   It would be just as at home served on the side with some sausages or perhaps with roast pork or maybe a ham.   Ideas, ideas….

Firecracker cabbage

Firecracker Red Cabbage

As I was making this I cast an eye over a jar of chilli jelly which you could very easily use in place of the redcurrant jelly and chilli flakes – the reason I didn’t was because they vary so much in their heat so difficult to suggest how much to use.   You could give it a try and taste as you go.  This amount of chilli means my children are happy with it, add more if you want.

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 red cabbage, quite finely chopped

Good pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes

2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and stir.  Add the red cabbage and give it a good stir and then add the remaining ingredients.  Cook gently for half an hour with a lid on and half an hour with the lid off to allow the liquid to bubble down to a syrup which will coat the cabbage.  Taste, it might need a little more salt or a spritz of balsamic.   Serve with sausages in buns or on plates, enough for 4.