New Slaw

New Slaw 3

What happened to good old fashioned coleslaw?  I say good but actually, so many times it wasn’t, sometimes in fact it has been downright terrible.  Limp, greasy, over oniony, short on seasoning, cabbage too big, drowned in cheap mayo etc etc.  Poor coleslaw has hung its head in shame and hidden at the back of the buffet table.  Until now and talk about a makeover – the humble coleslaw has had some sort of sonic reinvention, spruced up and started wearing international couture.  Asian Slaw, Spicy Slaw, Citrus Slaw, Moroccan Slaw – it’s thrown off its dowdy mayo, lost the Cole and got down and funky with the kids.   Spicy, herby, tangy or hot – Slaw can be anything you like as long as it is crunchy.

I love a crunchy salad and regulars to these pages will know I am not stranger to this type of side.  My Christmas Salad (December 2013), the Thai-ish Salad (November 2015), Carrot Salad (January 2013) and of course the Celeriac Remoulade (January 2016) are variations on the slaw theme.   They are all cheap and easy to rustle up, happily retain their crunch for a couple of days in the fridge and will go with a myriad of other things as well as being perfect for lunch on their own (I particularly like this ones with a piece of cold salmon).  There is an added bonus though and its a huge and resounding boom of a bonus.  Children love them.   Who knew that getting raw veggies into children could ever be so easy?  My son particularly likes my Christmas Salad and regularly has if for his packed lunch.   My daughter however adores this gingery, piquant New Slaw the best, told me it is her favourite salad and had it three times this week.

Carrots, fennel, beetroot, cabbage (green, white or red), radish, celeriac, apple, broccoli – any of these work well.  Then do you want a sharp, zingy dressing, maybe spicy too?  Or perhaps a creamy dressing, a little more traditional although I favour yogurt or creme fraiche here over the ubiquitous mayo.  Add herbs, lots of them and seeds are good too.  Sometimes I add dried cranberries or raisins as I love that little burst of sweetness.  Customise your slaw as you please, make your own bespoke version.  We eat one of these raw, crunchy types of salad a few time a week and this one is the current favourite.  Gingery, herby and with a little heat it goes perfectly with barbecued chicken and I will post my favourite grilled chicken recipe in the next week or so.  Meanwhile may the crunch be with you, it is delicious and you can just feel it doing you good.

New Slaw

New Slaw

The other day I didn’t have any cabbage so used more carrots and it was just as good.  Different but just as good and that is the point of these slaws really, add a little more or less of something as you please, make it your own.

3 carrots, peeled

1/4 of a small red or green cabbage, core removed and finely chopped

6 radishes, sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

A thumb of ginger, peeled

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

A small packet of coriander

A small packet of mint

A handful of raisins or dried cranberries (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil, a light one

Juice of 1 lime, you may need 2 depending on their size and juiciness.

Grate the carrots and put into a large bowl with the radishes, onions, cabbage and chilli.  I use a box grater for this rather than an attachment in the processor as I find using this makes the veggies really wet.  Finely grate the ginger, add this to the bowl along with the olive oil and lime juice.  Season and mix well with your hands so that everything is combined.  Chop or snip the herbs over the salad, add the raisins/cranberries if using, mix once more and serve to happy faces.

 

 

 

 

Ginger Shortbread

Ginger Shortbread

Half term is a perfect time to get children into the kitchen and these biscuits are a great place to start.  Delicious, crisp, gingery shortbread which are simple to make and employ a useful 3:2:1 ratio in the recipe which is easy to remember and keeps maths in mind even away from school (is that mean of me?).  More importantly cooking something from scratch gives children a huge sense of achievement and their pride in themselves as they offer the biscuits to family and friends is worth any mess in the kitchen.

I must confess to having a bee in my bonnet about children and cooking.  I worry that cooking skills are not being passed on and their importance overlooked.  Nutritionally, emotionally and practically, learning to feed yourself well and to cook is essential and yet it doesn’t seem to get the focus I think it deserves.  If we don’t teach children how to cook for themselves from raw ingredients then we will raise a generation of microwave cookers.

The raw ingredients bit is key here.  Anyone can bung a ready made lasagne in the microwave and cook it.  All you will end up with though, is, well a lasagne.  However, if you take a potato, how many ways are there to cook that?   Twenty or thirty possibilities for your dinner present themselves, but, to be fair, you have to learn how to make them, rather than just read timing instructions on a box.  There lies your conundrum – potatoes, cheap and accessible but requiring a little attention and knowledge;  or a packaged lasagne probably containing preservatives and perhaps more salt and sugar than is advisable, certainly more expensive but easy to heat.

So whilst I am not expecting every 10 year old to be able to rustle up a Coq au Vin or a souffle, learning to cook is a life skill and these biscuits are a good place to start.  You can leave the ginger out if that is not your thing or alternatively, make the buttermilk scones I wrote about last month.   These shortbread are meltingly delicious so make some for those times when you need to sit down with a cup of tea and something sweet to settle your nerves and it is too early for gin – after all it is half term.

Ginger Shortbread 2

Ginger Shortbread

This is a pretty straightforward recipe using 150g flour, 100g butter and 50g sugar but I like to use 100g plain flour and 50g of cornflour to ensure that crispness.  If you don’t have any cornflour they will still work well with 150g plain flour.

100g very soft butter

50g golden caster sugar, plus a little extra

Pinch of salt

100g plain flour

50g cornflour

1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 170.  Cream the butter, sugar and salt together.  You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer.  Then add the flours and ginger and mix until it forms a ball of dough.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut out whatever shapes you like and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.  Sprinkle lightly with caster sugar and then bake in the middle of the oven until golden, about 12-15 minutes but keep an eye on them.  Makes about 20 depending on the size of your biscuits.

 

 

 

Claypot Chicken

Anna May everyday claypot ingredients2

You know that feeling at the end of the day – the one when all you are fit for is the sofa.  Ideally with a glass of wine in one hand and the other held out expectantly for a plate of food which someone else has cooked to be placed in it.  I regularly feel like that and I am sure I am not the only one.  Much as I love cooking and I do, I really do, there are times when I feel like I can’t be bothered.  Invariably at the tired end of the day, possibly after a difference of opinion with one of my children, the house refusing to clean itself or the dog taking himself on a long unscheduled walk and having to be found.

These are the evenings when you need this recipe – easy, quick and totally restoring,  Never mind my top 10 or top 5, this one is firmly on the podium in the top 3.

I must point out one thing, which you may have spotted already, it is not a looker.  As they say though, never judge a book by its cover and in culinary terms, this is that book.  I’ve tried prettying it up, sprinkling it with this or that but it doesn’t work.  Moreover it would be missing the point.  This recipe is beyond simple, uses very few ingredients and is cheap.  To zhuzz it up just for the sake of the photograph would be wrong.

I gave the recipe to one of my brothers ages ago and kept asking him if he had made it.  I guessed not because I hadn’t heard the rapturous applause.  Eventually (after some badgering from me I must admit) he cooked it for this wife – he says they  now have it once a week.  So do we, it really is that good.

So please take my word (and my brothers, and my husbands) for it and try this.

Anna May everyday claypot chicken

Claypot Chicken

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

1 thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

4 chicken thigh fillets, each cut into 6 pieces

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

4 tablespoons basmati rice

250ml chicken stock

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and gently soften the onion.  Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a couple of minutes.  Put the rice, brown sugar and fish sauce into the pan, give it all a good stir followed by the chicken and the stock.  Simmer gently for about 12-15 minutes until the rice and chicken are cooked.  This is enough for two adults (although I think I could probably eat it all myself).  Serve with a drop or two of chilli sauce if you like.