Cabbage Slaw

A while back, Andrew and I were planning dinner. There was some chicken breasts in the freezer. Protein, check. But what to make with it? Wanting to utilize ingredients I already had, I took stock of the fridge and saw that I had half a head of cabbage, capers, thyme, shallots, and some preserved lemons, not to mention a bunch of vinegars in the pantry. So I thought, why not make some kind of cabbage slaw with a lemon-caper vinaigrette and place it on top of some mixed greens? It would be a nice, simple salad to pair with the poultry.

Andrew was skeptical of this idea. He loves cabbage, but the idea of it being practically the only thing in the salad wasn’t appealing to him. I understood. Raw cabbage can be tough and a little bitter. To counteract that, I finely shredded the cabbage using a mandoline. I wanted the cabbage to be really fine so that the cabbage would absorb the dressing better, softening its toughness and reducing its bitterness, yet still retain a pleasant crunch.

I expected the slaw to be good, but I wasn’t expecting Andrew’s reaction. He loved it. He said it was so good I should bottle the dressing and sell it. While I’ll leave the salad dressing business to Paul Newman, it was one of the best compliments on my cooking Andrew has given me. Perhaps his low expectations contributed to the inflated praise, but I’ll take it! As you can see, the slaw doesn’t look like much, but it packs a surprising amount of flavor. The preserved lemon is what really makes this recipe pop. It brightens the dish with splashes of lovely Meyer lemon without overpowering everything else.

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I’ve made this slaw using a mix of green and purple cabbage as well. It tastes the same, but turns everything pink. It just depends on what aesthetic you’re going for. Add lentils (I like the little black kind with this) to make a more substantial lunch salad during the week. Because cabbage is so hearty, this keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days without turning soggy. I like to make large batches to have ready-made salads for dinner and/or lunch for a few days. Recipe is below!

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CABBAGE SLAW

This recipe is easily scalable for larger batches. The dressing is forgiving so the measurements below are really just a guide. I mostly make this to taste myself. I also realize that preserved lemons are not exactly a pantry staple, so if you don’t have any I’d use lemon zest and a bit of salt as a substitute. Maybe a little lemon juice as well, but then I’d reduce the amount of vinegar or it will become too acidic. I haven’t tried this substitution myself, but I’m sure it would work well enough. You won’t get those bites of salty Meyer lemony goodness, but you’d still get a nice lemon flavor which really livens the dressing.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 2-3 servings)

  • Quarter head of cabbage
  • Mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced and smashed or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 tbsp capers, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 of preserved lemon, flesh removed, rind rinsed and minced.
  • Fresh thyme to taste (if you have on hand. Dried works too, just use less)
  • Pepper to taste

METHOD

  • Set the cabbage and mixed greens aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together until emulsified. Add more oil, vinegar, pepper, and/or thyme to taste. Let sit for an hour or so (if you have time) to let the flavors meld. Taste again and adjust any ingredients as needed.
  • Meanwhile, finely shred the cabbage. I prefer to use a mandoline, but a food processor will work, too. You could, of course, slice it by hand, but I can never get it as thin as I want when I use a mandolin.*
  • Mix dressing with cabbage. You can let it sit for 10-15 minutes to let it marinate or use right away.
  • Lightly dress mixed greens with olive oil and champagne vinegar. Top with dressed cabbage and serve.

*If you like thin veggies for anything, you should totally get a mandoline. It’s a cooking game-changer. I got a PL8 Professional Mandoline and I love it. There are multiple cut settings, it’s easy to clean, and there’s many safety precautions so sliced fingers can easily be avoided. 🙂

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The Kim’s House of Prime Rib

My mom makes a great prime rib. She roasts potatoes and bell peppers in the roasting pan along with the meat so they cook in all the drippings. It’s so good. In her words, “It’s my favorite entertaining meal. So easy, yummy, and you get to enjoy your guests without concentrating on the food.” I’ve never made her prime rib recipe before, but last weekend I had my chance.

On Saturday, Andrew and I hosted our friends Cory and Margaret, and Shane and Savannah for dinner. I have no photo of them. Despite telling them I was going to take their picture specifically for this blog post, I had too much fun merrymaking that I completely forgot. So it goes. Anyway, I wanted to make a good ole’ meat and potatoes meal, and what better way to do that than with prime rib? So I emailed my mom for the recipe (full recipe at the end of this post).

Although three ribs worth serves six (2 people per rib), I wanted to make sure I had leftovers so I opted for four ribs. Little did I know how much meat that was. I came home with almost 10 pounds of beef, including the bones (because of course I’m going to make stock with it). My mom only gave me a general cooking time: 1 1/2 hours for three ribs, 2 hours for four. Because I had so much meat, I wanted to make sure I cooked it long enough so I Googled prime rib cooking times and came across this great post on prime rib by Simply Recipes.

It was quite thorough about cooking times:

  • 12-14 minutes per pound for rare (115°F)
  • 15-17 minutes per pound for medium rare (120°-130°F)

The post goes into more detail about other factors that affect cooking times, so if you are planning on making this at any point, I highly recommend reading it. I found it really helpful and adapted my mom’s recipe to include some of their tips. (And by the way, my mom was almost spot on about the 2 hour cooking time. Without the bones, the roast came to 7 1/2 pounds. Do the math and you are at just about 2 hours depending on how rare you want it. Goes to show you should always listen to your mother!)

When I seasoned the meat and added the chopped the veggies, my roasting pan was quite full:

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I popped this baby in the oven and it didn’t take long for the apartment to start to smell amazing. While the beef was roasting, I prepped a salad of radicchio, butter lettuce, shaved fennel, and a champagne vinaigrette. It’s a simplified version of Bon Appetit’s Crunchy Winter-Vegetable Salad, and looks very homey in my grandmother’s wooden salad bowl set.

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The salad didn’t take long to prepare and with the rest of the meal in the oven, not needing any attention, I had over an hour to spare before our guests arrived. I actually had time to test-drive the featured cocktail of the evening and actually finish it! Cory and Margaret are big whiskey fans, so I decided to make whiskey sours using a recipe from RecipesPlus. I had a bunch of Meyer lemons thanks to a colleague who literally brought in buckets of them to work, and with the orange syrup leftover from my candied orange peels, I had the ingredients to make the best whiskey sour I’ve ever tasted. Now I need to candy more orange peels just so I can get the syrup so I can keep making this cocktail. It really was that special ingredient that lifted it from being a good cocktail to Captain Awesome.

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The prime rib was done just about when my friends arrived, which was perfect because we were able to have a cocktail while the meat rested. It turned out beautiful. It was juicy and tender and pink and silky from all the marbled fat that makes this cut of meat “prime.” I was quite impressed with myself. I will be the first to tell you everything that I did wrong with a dish. That’s kind of what this blog is all about, but I really can’t cut myself down this time. I did a fantastic job and I don’t mind tooting my own horn at all. We joked about never needing to go to The House of Prime Rib when you can just come to the Kim’s.

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Look at that perfect pink!

But I’m not done yet. Because there is still dessert. Andrew and I were in Napa the weekend before last and had a great pots de creme at Zuzu, one of our favorite restaurants up there. As I was eating it, I thought, “I could make this.” So I did. I found recipes for pots de creme that call for baking the custard like creme brulee. That’s kind of pain to do, so I opted for a simpler Pots de Creme recipe from the Food Network where you slowly thicken the milk, cream, egg yolk, and sugar into a custard and blend it with chocolate. From there you pour it into whatever dishes you want to serve it in and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Because it needs a few hours to set, make this in the morning you are going to serve. Then all you need to do when it’s dessert time is top with whipped cream, grate some chocolate over it for pizzaz, and you have one hell of a dessert.

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This was the most stress-free dinner party I have thrown yet. I wasn’t scrambling to set the table, or running around crazy doing the final steps for multiple dishes. Everything was ready, on time, with space to enjoy a cocktail and most importantly my guests. Prime rib is now my favorite entertaining meal. So easy, yummy, and you get to enjoy your guests without concentrating on the food. Words (and food) never rang truer.

RECIPES

Prime Rib

(serves 6)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ribs of prime rib (bones removed). If you’re my mom you give the bones to the dog. If you’re me you freeze them for stock.
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Rock salt (or any course salt you have on hand)
  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion

METHOD

  • Take the meat out of the fridge 3 hours before roasting to get it to room temperature. Place in roasting pan and cover the entire roast with rock salt.
  • When it’s time to roast, preheat the oven to 500°F.
  • Meanwhile, dice the potatoes, bell peppers, and onion. Mix together and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Pat the roast dry with a paper towel. Generously season all over with with Herbes de Provence.
  • Add the potatoes, bell peppers, and onion around the prime rib.
  • Roast for 15 minutes at 500°F, then turn down to 325°F and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (12-14 minutes per pound for rare and 15-17 minutes per pound for medium rare).
  • Take out prime rib and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  • Mix the potatoes and taste for doneness. If the potatoes are not fully cooked, leave the oven on and continue to cook while the meat is resting. If they are cooked, turn the oven off and keep the potatoes in the oven to keep warm.
  • Slice the prime rib and place on the serving platter. Arrange potatoes around the meat and serve!

Recipe Discoveries

Last week was not great. It was busy at work. I was distracted and annoyed. Unproductive. This weekend I was able to pull myself together a little bit. I caught up on a few (of the many) things I’ve been putting off, got some rest, finished a book, and spent some time in the kitchen trying new recipes with a good measure of success. So when you’re feeling a bit low and uninspired, these recipes can help pick you back up.

Mango Margaritas

I don’t recommend making these every time you’re feeling low, but they certainly can help celebrate the start of the weekend, particularly when you’ve had a hard week, and especially when you share them with good friends. As I mentioned in the Momofuku Pork Buns (part 2) post, margaritas are a great way to use up the leftovers of that mango puree from mango pudding. I loosely followed my girl, Ree Drummond’s recipe, using mango puree to taste in place of the jarred mangos (and adding very little, if any additional sugar). I love the lime zest and sugar rim–it announces a party in looks and taste. And party we did.

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Spicy Tomato Soup

Barbara Lynch’s Spicy Tomato Soup from Food 52 is a simple soup to make on a lazy weekend or a busy weeknight. The ingredients are minimal and the method is easy. It does require blending and straining, which is a bit of a hassle, but definitely worth it to get a good homemade tomato soup and skip the preservatives and sodium of the store-bought kind.

Warm Lentil and Potato Salad

Smitten Kitchen recently posted this recipe. I’ve been waiting for a new lentil recipe to catch my eye so that I can use up the dregs of all the lentils in my pantry. The dressing is a vague cross between the dressing in your traditional potato salad and a German potato salad, containing dijon mustard, shallots, capers, and cornichons. I knew I would love this recipe based on those ingredients alone. It’s another simple dish to throw together, although you have to use a number of pots, and will most likely have to go to the store to pick up those capers and cornichons and a few other things. However, you will come away with a great (healthy) work lunch for a few days to help get you through another busy week.

Potato Chip Cookies

Yes, these are a thing and they are just as good as you want them to be. This is another Food 52 discovery (seriously, if don’t subscribe to them already, do so now). I’m not much of a cookie baker. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t find cookies to be all that exciting–to eat or make–but the whole game changes when you add crushed potato chips. This recipe does not disappoint, and I have 15 coworkers who can back me up on that. And this photo…

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My only regret is that I didn’t come up with this idea myself.

Momofuku Pork Buns (part 2)

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, Andrew and I hosted two dinner parties New Year’s weekend. The first dinner was with our siblings, and the second was with our good friends Katy and Josh. They shared valuable wedding tips with us when we first got engaged, and continue to be a support during our first year of marriage. It’s good to have friends who have forged ahead in the Game of Life to help guide those of us coming up the rear. This is their Christmas card. This is how stinking cute they are.

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Katy is a fellow food-lover and blogger and she and I have swapped many recipes and kitchen stories over the years. She’s also very encouraging of my kitchen adventures when I make things way beyond my skill level. So when deciding what to make for her and Josh, pork buns easily made it to the top of the list. It was adventurous, something she probably wouldn’t make herself, and she would be extremely gracious even if it turned out terribly. (Which, we already know it didn’t, thank goodness!)

Since the hard part of the meal (the pork buns) was made the day before, I had time to supplement the meal with additional dishes. To keep with the Asian theme, I served spicy pan-fried noodles, Thai salad (made by Andrew), and mango pudding.

Spicy pan-fried noodles is one of my go-to weeknight recipes. It’s really easy to throw together and the leftovers reheat well. I’ve made it with all kinds of Asian noodles, whatever I had on hand or could find in the store, and it turns out well every single time. The only mishap I had with it this last time was that I forgot we ran out of soy sauce and had to run down to the corner store to get some. It was an inconvenience but nothing earth shattering. But then, right when I drained the cooked noodles, I realized that I didn’t have enough—I meant to double the recipe and realized that I only bought one package of noodles. Noodles are the main ingredient, and I forgot to double it! What is wrong with me? How could I have missed that detail? I was pissed. Making that kind of amateur mistake is just not acceptable to me, especially when I’m hosting. So I was huffing and puffing during the rest of my preparations, disappointed in myself, and rushing because I was running behind (as usual). It was an embarrassing display of childish attitude, even if Andrew was the only one to witness it (God bless his patience), because in the end it was fine. There were plenty of noodles to go around without doubling the recipe.

The Thai salad is Andrew’s take on the Thai chicken salad at Park Chow, a lovely and homey SF restaurant. The key to this salad is the dressing. It’s citrusy and spicy and has a quintessential Asian flavor, which we learned can really only be re-created using two essential ingredients: fish sauce and ground dried shrimp. You can’t taste their individual flavor in the finished dressing, but you can tell when they’re missing. Other than the dressing, the salad is comprised of basic salad ingredients: romaine, red bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, red onion, and roasted peanuts. You can find the full recipe at the end of this post.

So, in addition to the pork buns (which Katy said tasted just like Momofuku’s!), we had a well-rounded menu.

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Noodles and salad

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Now, for the dessert. I am not all that familiar with Asian desserts. So, as one does, I Googled Chinese desserts and mango pudding was one of the first recipes that came up. It’s pretty straight forward to make, like a slightly more involved jell-o. You just have to make it a few hours ahead of when you want to serve so the gelatin can set. I used Chowhound’s recipe and made it for both dinner parties to keep planning simple. The first night I used fresh mangos that weren’t quite ripe enough, and the second time I used frozen mangos to see if there would be a difference in taste. There wasn’t really. Andrew and I noticed a slight difference in texture, but the taste was basically the same. If you make this recipe, use whatever kind of mangoes you prefer. Fresh or frozen, it doesn’t make that much of a difference except in the mess you make cutting the fresh mangoes. Also, no matter which kind of mango you use, you will have leftover mango puree, which I froze and intend to use for mango margaritas next time I host a Latin-themed dinner.

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It was a busy weekend in the kitchen for sure, but a successful one, even with all of my ups and downs. I came out of the weekend with a number of takeaways, including my 2016 New Year Cooking Resolutions:

  1. Improve my planning skills, really reading and understanding recipes before setting out to make them.
  2. Give myself grace when I make mistakes, which I inevitably will.

So cheers to 2016, when I will forgive my flaws, learn from my mistakes, and laugh when all else fails. Happy New Year!

Recipe Links

Thai Salad Dressing

Adapted from Bruce Cost’s “Thai Cucumber Salad” recipe published in The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook Volume 1.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp red chili pepper (Serrano or jalapeno works too), sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 tbsp dried baby shrimp (ground)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped red onion and/or cucumber (optional)

METHOD

Mix all the ingredients together. Adjust the fish sauce and/or lime juice to taste. Then, dress your salad with however much dressing you like. For the actual salad, we typically chop romaine lettuce, add red bell pepper and carrot (preferably julienned), red onion, cucumbers, scallions, and top with roasted peanuts. If we want to make it a main meal we’ll add chicken. You can also keep it meatless by adding edamame or tofu as the protein.