Slaw-terhouse Five

Easter weekend was an absolute whirlwind of people coming and going through our front door. (Although part of this is simply the seasonal cheer, this was mainly due to the fact that Edward flew from London with me and was literally the talk of the town.) The main event was Easter itself, as we hosted twenty-two members of my extended family for dinner, board games, and the annual watching of The Ten Commandments. The Easter menu is always the same at our house: ham, some sort of bready pineapple heaven, and the all star: Grammie Kay’s coleslaw.

All of my cousins and I regard this dish as a sort of magical experience. There is constant debate over the goodness of mashed potatoes or which pie wins at Thanksgiving, but Grammie’s coleslaw shuts us all up (mainly because we’re too busy scarfing it down). Perhaps it’s because we still sit at “the kids’ table,” but like Billy Pilgrim, the main character in Slaughterhouse Five, we all experience a sort of time travel when we eat this coleslaw. All of a sudden we’re all pre-teens again, running outside after dinner to play Star Wars (I was always Chewbacca). And when this year I made a point of learning Grammie’s tricks to the perfect coleslaw, I adapted Kurt Vonnegut’s style of slipping in autobiographical elements. True, to the dressing I adhered strictly to Grammie’s recipe, but by adding shredded apples and red cabbage, I’ve made a coleslaw that is all my own.

We never do watch all of The Ten Commandments on Easter – in fact, we pretty much switch it off as soon as Charlton Heston parts the Red Sea – but we always make it to the end of Grammie’s coleslaw.

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Slaw:

1/2 of a red cabbage

1/2 of a green cabbage

4 Granny Smith apples

4 carrots

Dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp grated onion

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Instruction:

1. Either by hand or using appliance of food processor, shred cabbage, apples, and carrots.

2. Combine mayo, vinegar, onion, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Add to shredded vegetables and toss to combine.

Enjoy Grammie Kay’s coleslaw with Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!

Much Ado About Stuffing

My actual boyfriend was the one who broke the news to me about my make-believe boyfriend’s engagement. When Benedict Cumberbatch made his grand announcement in the Times last week, Sherlock devotees all over the world took the news quite hard. But he’s not the only Benedict causing trouble. In William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick toys with Beatrice in a variety of ways and surprises everyone (players and audience alike) with a sudden shift of his views on marriage.

All of Shakespeare’s comedies make for very pleasant reading (or viewing) material. Like a proper Thanksgiving stuffing, something that has gone stale (seemingly past the point of being salvaged) can indeed be the foundation for all of the other components. In this dish, different textures keep each bite interesting, and the playful combination of smooth honey and punchy ginger teases the consumer’s palate.

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Ginger Honey Stuffing

6 pork sausage links, casings removed

10 strips of bacon

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

1 onion, finely diced

2 loaves of stale bread, crusts removed

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 small egg (or half of a larger egg), beaten

1/4 cup honey

3 tbsps ground ginger

3 tbsps unsalted butter

1. Cube bread and lay out in baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with half of the ground ginger. Bake in 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, then remove and let cool.

2. In the meantime, cook sausages (casings removed) over medium heat in olive oil, breaking up with a wooden spoon into small bits. Remove and let cool on paper towel (to soak up extra fat). Dice bacon and cook in same pan until crispy. Remove and let cool on paper towel (to soak up extra fat).

3. In excess bacon fat, cook diced onions until translucent and soft. Let cool, then combine with sausage, bacon, diced raw apples, and cooled bread cubes.

4. Beat egg with warm (but not hot) chicken stock. Toss dry ingredients in the liquid, then spread entire mixture evenly in baking dish. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle the rest of the ginger. Dot the stuffing all over with bits of cold, cubed butter.

5. Bake stuffing in a 350-degree oven until liquid is absorbed and top is golden brown.

Enjoy ginger honey stuffing with William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!

A Tale of Two Chutneys

Anyone who has thrown a borderline stale baguette into the garbage and exclaimed, “This is the worst of times!” perhaps needs to remember how Charles Dickens began A Tale of Two Cities. Although this day old bread may seem like a lost cause – a sign that you were too preoccupied yesterday to dig into some freshly baked carbohydrate-y goodness – what otherwise would be a waste may indeed be a golden (well, golden-brown) opportunity. By turning a baguette into small toasts and accessorizing it with delicious toppings, this appetizer will make you rejoice and declare, “It is the best of times.”

Like the two male protagonists in A Tale of Two Cities, crostinis can be seemingly similar – identical in foundation, size, shape – perhaps no one can say which is ‘better’ or ‘more desirable.’ One may prefer a Charles Darnay character: a simple flavor, transparent, no surprises, elegant, easy to figure out. Or, like me, one may be intrigued by the complexity of Sydney Carton – a sweet chutney with the surprising cut of vinegar on the smoothness of brie. The reader and eater can constantly side with one and in the blink of a bite or chapter begin sympathizing with the other.

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Crostini:

Baguette (I use sourdough, but anything will work!)

Olive oil

Brie cheese, room temperature

Fig -Apple Chutney:

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 apples, diced

10 (or so)  fresh figs, diced

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Olive oil

Instruction:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

2. In saucepan, sweat red onion in olive oil until softened (medium heat). Stir in brown sugar and allow to melt on heat. Add apple cider vinegar and allow to reduce by half.

3. Add apples, figs, and cinnamon, lower heat, and cover saucepan with lid. Allow chutney to cook until apples have softened and begun to break down. If, when apples are cooked, the chutney looks too wet, remove the lid and raise the heat to medium to allow some moisture to evaporate.

4. Slice baguette into rounds, about a half-inch in thickness. Drizzle with olive oil and let bake in oven until golden brown and crispy.

5. Spread brie on the toasted baguette rounds, top with chutney.

Alternative (Pineapple-Lime) Chutney:

1 can of crushed pineapple

1 lime, zest and juice

1/4 onion

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Basil to garnish

Instruction:

In saucepan, cook onion in olive oil and salt on low heat until caramelized. Add crushed pineapple, lime zest and juice and warm through. Raise the heat to medium to allow some moisture to evaporate. Garnish with basil.

A Simpler Assembly:

(In place of apple-fig chutney and brie.) Toast baguette rounds. Top with a slice of cheddar cheese, several slices of apple, and a bit of prosciutto.

In honor of Bastille Day, enjoy chutney on baguette with A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and check in at warandpeach.wordpress.com for future recipes and book reviews!