Last year, my cooking and blog focused on trying and documenting at least 100 new (and mostly diet-friendly) recipes. As 2013 approached its final days, I began to consider my cooking goal for 2014. I liked the idea of working my way through an entire cookbook (rather than picking and choosing recipes from a variety of sources as I did in 2013), and I initially thought that I would attempt one of the classic cookbooks. As I researched those cookbooks, however, I discovered that they were often massive in size and rarely included nutritional information for the individual recipes. It seemed that it would take me years to cook my way through one of them, and if I did, my waistline would not remain where I would like it to be. My 2014 cooking plan was at a standstill.
While menu planning one weekend, however, I realized that the answer to my quandary was right before me: Ellie Krieger. I have almost universally loved the recipes of hers that I have made, and all of her cookbooks have detailed nutritional information for their recipes. I already owned her first three cookbooks (and have since added her latest, Weeknight Wonders, to my collection). The only question that remained: Which of her cookbooks to pick?
I dedicated a large block of time over my winter break to looking over each of Ellie Krieger’s cookbooks. Initially I thought that I would select her first cookbook, The Food You Crave, which was part of my early attempts to cook in a tasty, fresh, and healthy way. I have rather a special attachment to this cookbook, as it opened my eyes to cooking with actual food rather than canned-this and boxed-that. Yet in the end, I chose her Comfort Food Fix because of the number of recipes in it that I found especially appealing and because most of those recipes called for tried-and-true ingredients. I am not opposed to stepping outside of the culinary box on occasion, but I remain enough of a novice to want to be assured of taste success.
With the cookbook and 2014 cooking plan decided upon, it was time to begin cooking. Last weekend I made up a batch of BBQ pulled pork in my slow cooker, so it seemed the perfect time to try Ellie’s Colorful Coleslaw (Comfort Food Fix, p. 244) as a vegetable side.
Right away, this recipe took me into new food territory: fennel. I am not a fan of licorice, so I have studiously avoided recipes calling for fennel. Yet my goal involves cooking each of the Comfort Food Fix recipes as is (at least the first time; I reserve the right to amend and tweak according to my tastes and preferences if I decide a recipe is worth a second attempt), so off I went in search of a fennel bulb. Never having bought fennel before, I was not sure what I was looking for at the store at first. (A quick online image search before leaving on my shopping trip would have been wise.) Fennel could not be found at the first store I tried, but I was rewarded for making a second stop by discovering fennel (labeled as anise) in the organic produce section.
With all of the slicing, shredding, and chopping, the coleslaw took me nearly an hour to assemble. I made it late in the afternoon, so it had only an hour or so to chill in the refrigerator before dinnertime. The Colorful Coleslaw, which is decidedly not a creamy, mayonnaise-y slaw, was rather tart that first night. It mellowed with time, however, as the initial strong vinegar taste subsided in the days that followed. I drained off the excess liquid each night, and the slaw stayed tasty and fresh for several days afterward. This was good because the recipe made a huge batch. According to the recipe, it should have yielded 6 cups, but my version resulted in much more. I did not measure my cabbage before mixing it in, so that may have been the culprit for the supersized slaw. John and I ran out of pulled pork before we ran out of coleslaw! Despite its bulk, I enjoyed the fresh, crispy taste and texture of the recipe — especially once the vinegar taste lessened. As for the fennel, I could not discern a licorice flavor once the sliced fennel was mixed in with the other vegetables and the dressing. Perhaps I can cook with fennel after all! I gave Colorful Coleslaw 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Comfort Food Fix recipes made: 1
Comfort Food Fix recipes still to make: 152
3 TB grainy mustard
2 TB honey
2 TB fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
2 TB cider vinegar
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
¼ large head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
2 large carrots, shredded
1 medium fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced (1½ cups)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 TB poppy seeds
1. In a large serving bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, 2 TB lime juice, cider vinegar, oil, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp black pepper.
2. Add the cabbage, carrots, fennel, onion, cilantro, and poppy seeds and toss well to combine. Season with more lime juice, salt, and black pepper, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup). Per serving, 3 PointsPlus.