Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eating Out While Faking It

Greetings and salutations! Another week, another set of culinary adventures. As I’m sure you saw on the Facebook, I was beating my brains trying to come up with something to throw down on the Cooking With Pook segment on the Central Valley Buzz. It was late, the beer was flowing and I was rooting through the pepper porn on and I discovered a drunken cooking thread of impressive size. As I flick through the various inspiring and spicy dishes I run across something so strange that I instantly fall in love.

Blueberry cole slaw. What in the heck? I’m normally a fan of more savory slaws, but for some reason it sounded good. It also had absolutely no recipe listed anywhere in the post that I could find. But I rarely let anything as paltry as a lack of experienced advice prevent me from wildly flailing about in some pathetic attempt to imitate an alien recipe! So here we go!

Blueberry Coleslaw

1 head cabbage shredded
1 large carrot shredded
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 small shallot minced
½ cup blueberries
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup mayo (could substitute with yogurt or sour cream)
1/8 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons celery salt
1 hearty pinch pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 small pinch nutmeg
1 tiny amount star anise

First shred your cabbage and salt with the celery salt. Then grate the carrot and dice your walnuts and red bell pepper and add to the cabbage. In a separate bowl begin to prepare the dressing. First, mash your blueberries in the bottom of the bowl with a fork until they’re thoroughly broken up. Then sprinkle with the dark brown sugar. Mince the shallot and add in as well. Pour in the mayonnaise, heavy cream, vinegar, pepper and a pinch of celery salt and whisk together until purpley-smooth. Now for the important part.  The weird spice measurements.  The amount of nutmeg used was scraped in two brief passes over a grater of the whole spice-nut. Less than a standard pinch. Then the star anise, you just use a few of the TINIEST little flakes scraped from one of the star nodules. Any more of either spice and they’ll totally dominate your dressing. And the idea is for them to help meld the savory and sweet flavors together.  Mix again, then toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.  Serve and enjoy!

Given that I was flying blind on the recipe, I was overjoyed with the outcome. It was sweet but not cloying. There was nice crunch from the cabbage and the red bell pepper. The walnuts add a bit of a velvety texture between the softness of the berries and the zestier crunch of the vegetation. The nutmeg and star anise do a good job of staying in the background, lending some perfume to the bite, but not jumping out and dominating the palate. It’s certainly weird and attention getting without being so bizarre as to affront one’s culinary sensibilities.

If I were forced to make suggestions as to how to serve this edible sideshow attraction, I’d probably lean towards the beloved barbeque. Certainly ones with berry or cherry based sauces. Or accompanying a nice pulled pork sandwich and sweet potato fries. I’m even pretty sure that it’d play nicely with a fruitier red wine or a rose’.

So there it is! And I encourage all of you to be wild eyed explorers of the new and strange. Don’t be afraid to try a new twist on an old classic. Even if you don’t have a recipe, trust in your tastes and your experience to carry you through.