Category Archives: Dinner

Red (Winter) Cabbage Slaw

I’m well aware that we are entering the very last full weekend before Christmas.  Most people are spending time in their kitchens baking up holiday treats of spiced cookies, bars, cakes, cocktails and puddings.  What have I been doing?  Making this slaw salad.

Having said that, I indisputably stand behind this slaw as being more than appropriate for the holidays.  It has many things going for it, most obvious being it’s vivid colours – a platter of celebratory red and green permeated with seasonal sensation.  Ludicrously lit up from within, it appears to glow on the table.

It’s festive in it’s own right.

When you find yourself preparing and eating this salad at least twice a week without reservation, you know it’s faultless.  What makes it hard to feel guilty about continually finding my way back to this slaw is how hopelessly easy it is to make and just as effortless to eat.

Our days have been short and hauntingly dark as of late.  Winter finds itself creeping into our heads and our hearts, calling to us in unforeseen whispers.  Just seeing this dish at the table brings an unexpected sense of assurance. 

Simply put, it brings light into the darkness.

This winter slaw is outstandingly sharp and biting – the ruthless tang of the citrus really elevates the humble red cabbage to a moment of grandeur.  When yielding, rich, stewed and braised foods are a common thread throughout the bitter months, it is a great relief to have a dish with such texture and freshness.

Because I tend to favour a heady dose of heat in bright and intense salads as these, I add quite a bit of fresh red chili.  And because I like my slaws so severely sharp and so ruthlessly astringent, I really douse the cabbage with the lime juice.  When I have radishes on hand, I will typically julienne and include those as well.  What follows, truthfully, isn’t actually a recipe.  Simply combine the raw ingredients with the lime juice and oil and toss – the rest (amounts and ingredients) is up to you.  The point, really, is that this slaw can be adapted any number of ways to suit your personal needs and to make this salad your own. 

I do know that I will continue to make this dish, likely until spring rears it’s long overdue head.  These days, I will seek out illumination and intensity however I can. 

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red (Winter) Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients:

¼ – ½ head of red cabbage – finely shredded

1–2 cups of brussels sprouts – cored, outer leaves discarded, and finely shredded

1–3 fresh red chilis – thinly sliced

1 scallion – finely sliced (optional)

1 cup radishes – julienned (optional)

3-4 limes – juiced

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Maldon Sea Salt

Method:

(1)  Combine shredded, sliced and julienned vegetables in a large bowl.

(2)  Douse slaw with lime juice.  Add olive oil to your liking.  Season with sea salt.  Toss to combine.

* I prefer lime juice, here, to lemon.   Adjust to your own preference.

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Vegetable Barley Soup

There are two types of people in this world – those who are soup people and those who are not.  Undeniably, indisputably, I am a soup person.

I find myself turning to soup when the comforts of home are very evidently needed. When I can’t concentrate on anything besides wanting to curl up on the couch with an oversized steaming mug and sip my way to oblivion, I know it’s time. These phases of intense soup making come and go, but one constant remains – I am a soup lover through and through.

There is something quite extraordinary about taking a mere handful of humble pantry staples and creating something entirely soul satisfying. It’s often a leisurely process – the sweating of aromatics, the simmering of stock, the gentle and quiet reduction and intensity of flavour that only patience and time can create. Consuming it is also a slow process as you simply cannot rush your way through a hot bowl of redemption – you must tread lightly.

The soup below is not of the creamy silken variety. While I admire and appreciate those incarnations as well, this time I needed something much more – rustic home fare. I needed a reminder that soup, and food in general, can be transforming – that no matter how little you have or how restless you feel in your current circumstance, comfort can still be found – and quite easily. This soup is special to me not only owing to all of the above, but because it is also a perfect example of how the rhythm of cookery can be a comfort. After making this soup many times in the past, I know that I can now stand at the stove, barely thinking – sometimes shattered within, and still produce a pot of soothing, undemanding sustenance.

I hope you benefit from this soup as much as we do here in our little home.

Vegetable Barley Soup

Ingredients:

1 – 1 1/2 cups pearl barley

A good splash of olive oil

1 large yellow onion – coarsely chopped

3 cloves of garlic – thinly sliced

2 sticks of celery – coarsely chopped

2 medium carrots – coarsely chopped

2 bacon slices – coarsely chopped

4 large tomatoes – blanched, peeled and coarsely chopped

4 cups of vegetable stock

2 cups of chicken stock

1 teaspoon of sugar

Fresh italian parsley – chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste

Method:

(1) Cook pearl barley according to directions on package.  Set aside.

(2) Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Set aside.

(3) Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery to the remaining oil in the pot and sweat until just tender.

(4) Add the tomato and cook, stirring, for five minutes or until the tomato is soft.

(5) Stir in the pearl barley, stock(s), sugar, parsley, reserved bacon and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours.  Season to taste.

* Can be made and frozen for up to 2 months.

** You can use a combination of vegetable stock, chicken stock, or whichever stock you prefer.  

*** You may need less tomato paste. Add and taste as you go.