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Splendid Table: A good coleslaw

October 03, 2009|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: The people in my building hang out and cook together. Me, the almost-non-cook, gets away with contributing wine and fruit. Until now. We're doing a party and cooking competition. We drew lots for dishes. I got "Best Coleslaw" and "Best Boozeless Drink." Have you got some easy recipes? -- Hoping in New Haven

Dear Hoping: This slaw recipe will let you hold your head high, and the tart and spicy citrus fizz cools down guests without sticky sweetness.

The one out-of-the-way ingredient you will need is Spanish smoked sweet paprika. Since you live in a big town, check out kitchen shops, gourmet stores and spice outlets. If it eludes you, substitute ground Ancho chile or other mild chiles.

BUTTERMILK-GARLIC SLAW
WITH SMOKY-SWEET PAPRIKA



Serves 6 to 7 and doubles easily.

o For prime flavor, make the slaw a day ahead and refrigerate. Since cabbage throws off a lot of liquid, drain the slaw of much of its liquid before serving.

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To simplify, use a food processor with the steel blade to make the dressing, leave the dressing in the bowl, switch to the slicing blade and then slice the cabbage and onion into it. Then just turn everything into a storage container to marinate.

Cabbage is coming into farmers markets in much of the country. Freshly picked cabbage can be especially sweet, and personally I prefer organic ingredients.

Dressing:

Juice of 2 large limes
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
2/3 cup mayonnaise (do not use low-fat)
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
2 generous teaspoons smoked mild Spanish paprika, or ground Ancho chile
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Coleslaw:

1 green cabbage (about 2-1/4 pounds)
1 medium red onion, peeled and halved

Garnish:

1/3 cup fresh coriander or parsley leaves

Fit a food processor with the flat steel blade and turn it on. Pour in the lime juice and drop in the garlic. Process 3 seconds. Turn off machine, scrape down the side of the bowl and add the mayonnaise, buttermilk and paprika or chile. Process another 2 seconds. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Remove the flat blade and add thin slicing blade. Slice the cabbage and onion into the dressing. Scrape everything into a storage container and refrigerate overnight.

Cabbage throws off a lot of liquid. To serve the coleslaw, drain off any excess liquid, turn the coleslaw into a bowl and scatter with the coriander or parsley leaves. Serve cool, but not ice-cold.

CITRUS FIZZ COOLER
WITH FRESH MINT AND GINGER



Serves 6 to 8 and doubles easily.

o No alcohol is needed with the tang of this cooler, but if you'd like to add some, rum or tequila are good choices. Use organic fruit if possible.

1/2 cup fresh spearmint leaves
1-1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium orange, thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 limes, thinly sliced
8 large sprigs fresh spearmint
1 large bottle bubbly mineral water
1 large bottle tonic water (sugar-free, if preferred)
Ice

In the bottom of a pitcher large enough to hold all the ingredients, combine the 1/2 cup of mint leaves and the ginger. Crush them together with a wooden spoon to release their fragrances.

Then garnish each of six or eight glasses with a thin slice each of orange, lemon and lime and a sprig of mint. Combine the remaining fruits with the mineral water and tonic in the pitcher. Stir to lightly bruise the fruits and blend in the ginger and crushed mint. Add ice to the glasses and pour.

Dear Lynne: What's the deal with whole fish with the head on? In a fish store recently, a woman wouldn't accept a fillet -- she wanted the same fish with its head on. -- Gary in Bloomington

Dear Gary: She wanted to be sure the fish was fresh. If the fish still has its head on, you can check the eyes for freshness. A fresh fish has bright, clear eyes that are rounded, not sunken. Its skin is taut, firm and springs back if you poke it, and it has an appealing sheen. If the eyes are clouded and flat, and if the flesh is soft, don't buy the fish.

But you can check fillets, too. Fillets are fresh if their structure looks tightly knit. When you see sections separating, lots of liquid in their package (if they are pre packaged) and they are mushy when poked, pass on them.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts "The Splendid Table," American Public Media's weekly national show for people who love eat, and is the co-author of "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories and Opinions." Ask questions and find Lynne, recipes and station listings at www.splendidtable.org or 800-537-5252.

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