Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Last-Minute Apple and Mint Cabbage Slaw

My mother was a phenomenal home cook and a natural entertainer. Old family friends fondly recall the days when my mother threw banquet-style feasts at our large Chinese antique table, wooing a dining room full of guests with course after course of meticulously presented dishes fit for emperors and empresses.

My mother would begin planning weeks in advance, polishing our heirloom silverware set retrieved from the depths of storage, orchestrating her nine-course menu to ensure a seamless score for the palate.

Not a single detail escaped her. Whether it is the wreath of paper-thin cucumber half moons encircling her Poached King Prawn Salad; or the individually rolled and plated hand towels accompanying her famous Wok Fried Crabs with Ginger and Scallions - my mother executed each and every facet of her performance with precision.

Yes, my mother was a perfectionist, and she took her craft seriously. Her banquets were venerable culminations of an extraordinary culinary gift and a life dedicated to feeding her family well.

Only one thing, if any, was often missing from her banquets. Her.

Having inherited a passion for cooking and home entertaining, I periodically throw party gatherings at home, once catering up to fourteen hungry friends cramped into a tiny apartment. While my parties are never going to be full-blown formal banquets like my mother's, they invariably involved extensive planning and certain levels of stress, ranging from sheer stage fright to virtual breakdowns.

Entertaining means spending time with your friends!
The culprit? Over-ambition, poor time management, occasional kitchen mishaps (i.e. the oven rack that collapsed under the enormous weight of a three-pound pumpkin cheesecake circa 2011. Both the cake and I survived, though). Oh, and obviously, the lack of a dish washing machine is much to blame. Nonetheless, nothing can be worse than disappearing from your own party, slaving away in the heat of the kitchen and getting frazzled by things like cream that is yet to be whipped.

It took me years to finally understand Nigella Lawson's philosophy in entertaining. Entertaining means "spending time with your friends, not anguishing alone in the kitchen." And here are my two cents:
Things need not be perfect nor utterly life-changing. And, in my opinion, it is perfectly okay to cheat once a while with store-bought frozen pastry.
When deciding a menu for a party, creating dishes that are simple yet presentable is just as important as designing a coherent menu. When you are already busy dancing your solo through the dinner preparations, the last thing you need is yet another side dish that requires more complicated choreography. This is where this beautiful cabbage slaw comes into rescue.

With no more than a few ingredients and requiring just minutes to assemble, this slaw is perfect to toss together just minutes before your guests show up.

Salads always add a delightful touch to a dinner spread, complementing and balancing out other heavyweight dishes, helping to cleanse the palate in between. Without any mayonnaise, buttermilk, or even yogurt, this zingy and crunchy slaw is refreshingly light and tangy sweet, melding beautifully with mains like smokey meats, barbecue, and Mac 'n' Cheese without contributing any heaviness.

I first had this salad at Ribs and Burgers, Brisbane (some of the best ribs I ever had!) made a few tweaks, and now it became my go-to salad for my party gatherings. Check out my previous party featuring this colorful slaw!

This simple yet elegant slaw adds a wild burst of summery colors and festivity to any party!

What you'll need...
3/4 head small green cabbage (approx. 480g)
1/2 head small red cabbage (approx. 200g)
2 Granny Smith apples
A handful of fresh mint (approx. 20g)
A few sprigs of fresh parsley (approx. 10g)
Lemon juice from half a lemon
Lemon zest
1 tablespoon white sugar

Suggested additional toppings:
Toasted Pine nuts

1. Finely shred cabbages, discarding the core. Set aside. Core apples and chop into matchsticks. Zest lemon and squeeze juice over the chopped apples to prevent oxidization.

2. Finely chop mint and parsley. Toss cabbage, apples and lemon juice, herbs, and sugar together and finish with desired toppings.

* Select apples that are firm and crisp.
* If making this salad ahead of time, sprinkle lemon juice over the chopped apples and keep chilled separately from the cabbage in the refrigerator. Toss all ingredients together at the last minute.

My recent reunion party features this light and refreshing slaw to balance out heavier dishes like Slow Cooked Pork and Bean Chili and Broccoli, Asparagus, and Spinach Mac 'n' Cheese

Mint and lemon add a pop of freshness to this slaw
青椰菜  3/4 個(約 480 克)
紫椰菜  1/2 個(約 200 克)
青蘋果  2 個
薄荷葉  約 20 克
義大利香葉  約 10 克
鮮檸檬汁  約半個檸檬
檸檬皮碎  隨意
砂糖  1 湯匙


1. 椰菜去芯,切成幼絲備用。
2. 蘋果去芯,切成火柴條。
3. 檸檬表皮擦成碎碎,再在蘋果絲上榨檸檬汁,以防止氧化。
4. 薄荷、義大利香葉剁碎。把以上材料拌勻,拌入砂糖再撒上其他配料即成!

1. 建議選用果肉較爽脆而不粉的蘋果,如青蘋果。
2. 如欲提早準備此莎拉,可先切好所有材料,把沾了檸檬汁的蘋果切條跟其他材料分開冷藏,最後才加入拌勻。

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