Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Savoy cabbage and apple spiced sweet slaw

Can I just say I love my mandoline? With a dearth of kitchen utensils, it's easy to convince yourself you don't need another one, so I put off picking one up for a long time. But now that I have it, I can't believe I ever lived without a mandoline. It slices right through the bulkiest of vegetables, and even makes matchsticks and french fry shapes. I swear it took me 3 minutes to obliterate an entire head of cabbage into the perfect size for slaw. I'm truly in love!

As the weather gets warmer, I'm really getting into making fresh salads with my own dressings. I've made a ton that I haven't had a chance to post here yet. It's just so darn exciting trying to mix and match flavors, textures, and the cornucopia of plants available for us to eat. Cabbage and apple sounded like a perfect pairing to me, and a beautiful savoy cabbage along with a few nice tart apples to become my first summer slaw.

Believe it or not, when I'm working my kitchen magic, I sort of let the ingredients perk up on the shelves and call out to me, as if they can't wait to join the party of flavors. I must say I ended up with quite a mish-mash of elements in this slaw's dressing, but they really worked, and the flavors weren't overpowering at all. I really wanted something light and sweet, yet creamy and tart. And maybe most importantly, I didn't want anything to overpower the apple; as flavorful as apples can be on their own, when combining them with other foods they can become quite delicate.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think of what I came up with! I'm not sure I've ever tasted anything quite like it. There's something light and summery about it that I love. It also has a bit of a spiced and sweet flavor, which is unique for slaw, so expect something a bit different!

Savoy cabbage and apple spiced sweet slaw

1 head savoy cabbage (don't confuse it with it's non-crinkly brothers!)
2 medium-sized tart apples (green, or most red varieties besides red delicious)
1 half large yellow or white onion
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp cane sugar
smoked paprika
black pepper

Grate cabbage into slaw. Cut apple into matchsticks. Slice onion thinly. Toss.

In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, sugar, and spices. Mix and adjust amounts to taste. (Sorry I can't be more specific! Start with a dash of each spice and go from there. Make something that tastes great to you.)

Fold dressing into chopped veg. If you have time, chill, and allow flavors to settle.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Portobello and ricotta open-faced sandwich (vegetarian)

I cannot sing high enough praises for this sandwich. I don't know what to tell you -- all of a sudden one day I had a stroke of genius and it all just fell together as I assembled each facet individually. It's creamy, sweet, acidic, meaty, and cheesy -- all the best things known to man! And perhaps the best thing about it is it's completely meat-free, yet filling enough to satiate even my most carnivorous guests. Also, for the grain-free out there, the bread isn't all that necessary to the amazing combination of flavors; use the tofu slices as bread, and you can join in on the fun, too!

The sandwich is made up of a base of fresh rosemary bread slathered in a ricotta-parmesan spread, topped with fried tofu slices, sautéed portobello mushroom, and caramelized onions. The unifying flavors are fresh basil and red balsamic vinegar. I hope your mouth is watering as much as mine is right now! I'm definitely drooling over here, and I just ate this a few hours ago. Send help!

Every time I make this I remember that it might be the most delicious thing I've ever eaten, and it seems to go over extremely well with whomever I end up serving it to... at least I'm pretty sure it does -- their praise can tend to get muted out by the angel chorus of flavors going on in my mouth at the time. I'm not kidding.

Tonight, I served this with a side of savoy cabbage and apple slaw (the subject of my next blog post) as an early Father's day celebration, but honestly, I could eat this alone, and preferably for the next several months if possible! Seriously, send help! Or an endless supply of portobello mushrooms; either will suffice!

Portobello and ricotta open-faced sandwich

serves 4
1 block extra firm organic tofu
5 large portobello mushroom caps
1 yellow onion
1 loaf rosemary bread
1.5 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
fresh or dried basil leaves
red balsamic vinegar
smoked paprika
black pepper
sea salt 

Combine ricotta, parmesan, and Ranch dressing in a medium bowl. Season with black pepper and smoked paprika. Fold in sliced basil leaves. Set aside (it will be hard if you snuck a taste!) and allow flavors to mingle.

Slice tofu into thin rectangles about 1/3" thick. Rub each side with sea salt and fry in a non-stick pan with a generous amount of oil until golden. Set on a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with smoked paprika.

Slice onion and thinly and sautée slowly with oil until golden and caramelized. Season with salt and black pepper and add remaining sliced basil until wilted. Set aside.

Slice portobello mushrooms into hearty 1/2 inch slices, and allow to sautée with oil until dark brown and soft all the way through. Season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and toss with 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (if your vinegar is thick and syrupy sweet) or 1 Tbsp (if your vinegar isn't sweetened) and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. 

Toast rosemary bread to desired toastiness. I like to allow my guests to construct the sandwich themselves, starting with a base of bread, topped with the ricotta spread, tofu slices, mushrooms, and onions. Enjoy the impending bursts of pleasure in your mouth. You're welcome!