"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Those of you who have met the Mister are probably aware of his Renaissance Man tendencies.  The guy does it all.  Seriously.  He's got the manly-man stuff nailed down.  He can fix anything.  If it can't be fixed, he'll build a new one.  And matching his mucho-manliness, he's got the creative artist thing going on.  He surfs.  Which is quite possibly one of the sexiest things a man can do.  Especially in boardies.  And get this:  he can cook.  In fact, he taught me a lot about cooking, back in the early days.  Be still my heart.

But I'm just going to come out and say it:  there is one thing that I can do better than the Mister.  My coleslaw is better.  The Mister perhaps doesn't agree.  The debate is ongoing.

Here's our thing with coleslaw.  Despite being fairly free and loose in the kitchen, with recipes (recipes, people!), I like my slaw to be pretty traditional.  Aside from one or two tiny additions to the standard mayo, vinegar, sugar that is the backbone of (to me) good coleslaw, I stick fairly faithfully to the spirit of coleslaw.  My interpretation of the spirit, anyway.  Now, to the Mister, coleslaw pretty much just requires some shredded stuff, and a dressing.  And the dressing is where we differ.  I've seen that guy in there, throwing in all sorts, with wild abandon, I tell you.  Worcestershire and cumin have been spotted going into his dressing.

Okay, before you get the wrong idea, and start thinking I'm slaw-ist or something, I will confess.  His coleslaw is delicious.  Always.  But when I'm the one making the slaw, I prefer to make it my way.

I'm pretty sure this debate has been ongoing for about eleven years now.  The first time I remember making coleslaw was in a wee studio apartment, off the Mirage Bar, in Praia da Luz.  (Yup, we lived off a bar for a bit.  Those were the days.)  I mixed that slaw up in a plastic ice cream box, because we had no mixing bowls.  And it was simply cabbage, carrots, mayo, vinegar, and sugar.  Just like my Grandma B used to make.  Which may be why I'm so attached to this sort of standard recipe.  Plus Grandma B really didn't make much else.  At least not so very well, bless her.  Anyway, ever since that day, we've been trying to show each other up, on the coleslaw front.

A year or two ago, I discovered a tasty (and non-threatening) addition to my stand-by slaw, in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  She adds dijon mustard to her dressing, and celery salt.  So I decided, hey, let's live a little, I'll throw in some grainy dijon, and my homemade celery salt & pepper.  And it's pretty nice, if I do say so...

Here you go:

(Obviously, I'm not fit to serve food in the real world.  Didn't even wipe the rim of my bowl.  Damn.)

My Coleslaw - inpired by Grandma B, and Barefoot Contessa
- makes oh, rather a lot

1/2 small, or 1/4 large, head green cabbage, or savoy cabbage
1/2 small, or 1/4 large, head red cabbage
4 medium carrots, grated
2 green onions, thinly sliced
small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
1 - 2 Tbs fresh dill, chopped

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs grainy dijon
3 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp homemade celery salt & pepper, or store bought celery salt
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Core the cabbages, and slice into thin shreds.  Combine in a very large bowl, with the other vegetables, and herbs.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, and pour over the veg.  It may look like you don't have enough dressing at first.  Don't worry, after sitting for a bit, it'll be just right.  Stir well to coat everything, cover, and leave in fridge for at least 2 to 4 hours before serving.

I think coleslaw is best once it's had a good several hours, or even half a day, to sit and hang out.  The flavors are well dispersed, the mayo thins out nicely from the liquid that's released from the cabbage, and the texture of the slaw goes just slightly less crunchy.  After about 2 days in the fridge, it goes a little too watery though, so eat it up before then!

An awesome coleslaw trick I learned from the Mister, is to serve it atop baked potatoes, with a little grated cheese.  This is the thing in England.  At least with baked potatoes.  I thought it sounded quite odd at first, but it's absolutely lovely.  Oh, another thing he does with leftover slaw is to make sandwiches, with sharp grated cheese, on a good, crusty bread.  Tasty.

See?  I am open to suggestions from the Mister.  Just not on my coleslaw recipe.

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