Winter Kale Slaw Endless Ways

The basic slaw unadorned

The basic slaw unadorned

Oh I love recipes that beg to be played with! When I was teaching a knitting class recently one of the students brought  a Brussels sprout and kale salad. I took home the idea and started experimenting. The basic recipe is

Kale any kind ribs removed

Brussels sprouts

Carrots

1. Take these ingredients and chop, food process, cut with mandolin, in any way or shape and combine.

2. Make any kind of vinaigrette or salad dressing your little heart desires and combine with the salad.

3. Garnish and play!

Ways to play!

1. Top with poached eggs. Start with a simple combo and a mild vinaigrette.

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Kale slaw topped with poached eggs

2. To the basic salad add chopped apple, blue cheese and dried cranberries.

3. To a basic salad add orange sections, goats cheese and shallots.

4. Garbanzo beams and grape tomatoes.

5. Grape tomatoes, mixed olives and pepperoncini.

Kale slaw Italian style

Kale slaw Italian style

6. Fresh figs and goats cheese.

7. Make a dressing of fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and veggie oil. Stir in mango and green onions. Top with seared fresh tuna!

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Kale slaw with mango and seared tuna Asian style

8. Make your favorite slaw or ranch dressing. Combine with basic salad. Great with fried fish or any chicken.

9. The ideas are endless …what can you come up with?

 

 

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Vinegar tasting

Ready to taste

Ready to taste

I have been thinking about vinegar lately. For the last few years I have mainly used a Spanish sherry vinegar, but with salad season almost upon us I wondered what I have been missing. I haven’t bought bottled salad dressing in as far back as I can think. Homemade is so much better and so easy. I also like to finish soups and stews with a bit of vinegar for another layer of flavor. I invited my friend Anne to taste a variety of vinegars. The first thing was to buy several. Every place I looked had shelves of balsamics and flavored vinegars but only a couple of wine vinegars. Balsamic has never been a favorite of mine as I find it too sweet for everyday use. Plus the good stuff costs a fortune. We were not looking for the best vinegar but rather identifying the different flavors. Here is what we found.

The process; We used a plain bread to dip into the vinegar. Then cleansed our palettes with water and more bread between vinegars.

1. Colavita White Wine Vinegar: This was surprisingly nice and light much smoother than we expected. You can find this in most grocery stores for under $4.00. It has 6% acidity.

2. O Champagne Vinegar: This was sweeter but sharper than the white wine. The sweetness was not cloying but quite apparent. This is readily available for about $12.00. It has 6% acidity.

3. Gingras Extraold Apple Cider Vinegar: This one is from Canada and aged up to 12 years in oak casks. This one was very smooth and clean. We expected more of an apple flavor. It only has 5% acidity and sells for around $6.00 for 6.76 fl. oz.

4. Monari Federzoni Red Wine Vinegar: This one was full and rich we thought this was very nice. It has 7%acidity and sells for less than $4.00 for 16.9 fl. oz.

5. Columela Vinagre De Jerez Vinegar: I expected this to be my favorite as I have used it for years. It tasted strongly of sherry. It was sweet but quite sharp. It has 8% acidity and sells for about $10.00 for 12 fl. oz.

6. O White Balsamic Vinegar: This is made in California. I was dubious about a white balsamic but this was very good. It was fruity and sweet. I was surprised how much I liked it.

7.Bumble Balsamic Traditional Vinegar: This is a store in the mall that sells olive oils and balsamic vinegars of many flavors. This is made in Modena and aged up to 18 years. We found this sweet and complex without the heaviness of some balsamics. Where I still think balsamic is to sweet for every day vinaigrette  it would be lovely as a glaze or to finish a dish.

8. Fresh Market Balsamic Vinegar: Although made in Modena this was the only one we were disappointed with. It tasted sweet yet sharp with no great flavor or depth. It has 6% acidity and sells Only at Fresh Market stores for about $7.00 for 8.45 fl. oz.

What I learned:

First of all I need to use a greater variety of vinegars. I started using the sherry because so many wine vinegars were so sharp. Either my taste has changed or the industry has.

Second: price does not necessarily predict flavor.

Third : there is way too much low quality balsamics. The variety was overwhelming. How to choose?

Do you have a favorite vinegar? Tell me about it, I would love to learn more!

 

6 Cucumber salads

sour cream & horseradish, yogurt & chili, vinegar salads

sour cream & horseradish, yogurt & chili, vinegar salads

Cucumbers are underrated. They are fresh, crispy and versatile all year long. I used to love cucumber sandwiches in my youth. Just bread, butter and cucumber with plenty of salt and pepper. My husband’s favorite horsdouvre has always been cucumber, cream cheese and dill on party rye. Cucumber makes a wonderful chilled soup and can be used to garnish chilled poached salmon. So clearly it can go from simple to fancy.

Today I am thinking cucumber salads. I make several variations to go with different meals.  Some cool down a spicy meal and others add the spice to an otherwise bland meal.  They can lighten a heavy meal or add some needed richness. I am not claiming to have written any of these, they are just riffs on some classics.

6 Cucumber Salads

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Yogurt variations

1 English cucumber

1 cup plain yogurt

Generous amounts of salt and pepper

The cucumber may be sliced very thin or into chunks. you may peel and seed but I usually don’t as I like the color and textures.

I used to recommend Greek yogurt, but as it has gotten more popular I am finding some brands are too thick. You may thin the yogurt with milk if needed.

Here are 4 yogurt variations

1. 1 Tablespoon finely chopped mint and 3 thinly sliced green onions.

2. 1Tablespoon chopped cilantro and 2 teaspoon ground cumin.

(1 & 2 are great with something spicy like a curry to cool things down.)

3. 2 teaspoons cumin and 1 fresno chili minced.

(This one will compliment a blander meal like baked chicken.)

4. 1 Tablespoon chopped dill and 1 shallot chopped.

(This one is perfect with fish)

A vinegar based cucumber salad

1 English cucumber sliced very thin

1 small red onion sliced very thin

1/2  cup apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 Tablespoon chopped dill

1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar.

2. Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers. Let sit about 1hour.

3. Stir  in the dill

This one is good with creamy dishes or burgers.

Sour cream variation

1 English cucumber sliced thin

1 yellow onion sliced thin

1 cup sour cream

1 Tablespoon chopped dill

1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish ( You will want to taste your horseradish and adjust amount to your taste. There is huge variability as to strength of horseradish)

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix everything together.

This one is excellent with steak or salmon.

Experiment with different herbs and combinations. Have fun!