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A simple coleslaw

July 22, 2010|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: Can you refreeze partially defrosted meat? And should I buy meat and chicken that's labeled "previously frozen"? Question one comes from the two steaks I bought, not realizing one was partially frozen. I cooked one and put the partially frozen steak in the freezer. Question two arises because my market has a lot of these labels and they're lower-priced. Is refreezing that bad? -- A Cheapskate Cook

Dear Cheapskate Cook: For safety, juiciness and flavor, buy fresh, not partially frozen or defrosted meats and poultry. For dollars spent, you'll get more goodness. Two issues add up to that conclusion.

One is spoilage. Partially frozen or defrosted meats deteriorate fast. If the partially frozen steak has been in your refrigerator several days, I would sniff it for any off aromas. If it smells fine, cook it right away. If there's even a hint of something "off," throw it away.

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The second fact that makes this dicey is juiciness. Every time you freeze meat, the moisture within its tissues expands as it ices up. With defrosting and the melting of that moisture, it drains away, leaving less-moist and less-flavorful meat.

Dear Lynne: Coleslaw is the bomb for us -- we love the stuff. Got any new ideas for slaw? Anything goes for us. -- Mike and Georgie

Dear Mike and Georgie: Coleslaw -- let me count the ways.

First, you've got the good old (it's been around nearly 200 years) American boiled dressing done with dry mustard, flour, sugar, vinegar and egg that you cook in a double boiler. There is the sour-cream/mayo school that goes whole hog for green herbs.

Chef Michel Richard, a man with an impish sense of culinary originality, started the trend of turning old-time slaw on its ear back in the '80s with his crab slaw of fresh crustacean, assorted veggies cut in slawlike strips and an Asian dressing. Meanwhile, the long-standing Miracle Whip Cult holds its own. The Mediterranean take is olive oil, vinegar, capers and even the occasional anchovy.

But let's face it: Usually, old standbys like coleslaw end up being about making it up as you go along. I like my slaw tart with vinegar, a little creamy with mayo, somewhat sweet, but ideally not from just sugar, and it has to have something unexpected going on. On a recent Saturday, this is what those ideas led to -- next time it will no doubt be different.

SIMPLE COLESLAW WITH FRESH MINT AND GARLIC



Serves 6 to 8, and holds well for several days in the refrigerator.

Have sweet corn and grilled vegetables with the slaw.

Cook to Cook: In the best of all possible worlds, the ingredients should be organic.

Do shred the slaw (use a food processor for speed) as finely as possible for this particular recipe. I've come to like that idea because the slaw's so much easier to eat.

Seasoning the slaw with vinegar and letting it stand has it throwing off its liquid before it's actually dressed. This way you don't get the usually soupy effect.

Small head of cabbage (1 to 1-1/2 pounds), finely shredded
2 medium carrots, finely shredded
1/2 medium onion, finely shredded
About 1/3 cup white wine or cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 to 3 tightly packed tablespoons of fresh spearmint leaves
1 to 2 large garlic cloves
3 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, or 3 tablespoons cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon or more of sugar
1/3 cup mayonnaise, or to taste

In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, carrots, onions, the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 30 minutes. Then squeeze out most of the slaw's moisture into its bowl and put the squeezed portions in another bowl. Add about 1/4cup of the liquid back to the slaw.

In a food processor or by hand, mince together the mint and garlic (add the next amount of vinegar if using the processor). Turn it into the slaw along with the second quantity of vinegar if it is not already in the mixture. Toss together everything so it's thoroughly blended, then stir in the mayonnaise. Taste for enough sweet/tart balance (it should be subtle), enough mayonnaise, and for salt and pepper.

Refrigerate the slaw for anywhere from 3 hours to several days. It's best the first day when the fresh mint flavor blossoms up.

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