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Creamy Caraway Coleslaw

Creamy Caraway Coleslaw

Can you ever have too many coleslaw recipes? I think not!  I love coleslaw and I am always figuring out new ways of presenting it, flavours to add to it, etc. I especially like this version here today, which is a tad bit different than the usual variety.  Salad season is one of my favourite seasons!  But then having said that, I could eat coleslaw any time of the year!

It is one of those salads that goes with everything.  We also like it as a pick on hot sandwiches, like pulled pork or turkey or chicken burgers.  Believe it or not, its also very good on hot dogs!

I think I get my love of coleslaw from my mother.  She made the absolute best coleslaw.  She always did all of it by hand as well, the shredding of the cabbage, the chopping of the carrots, etc. I have to admit there is something almost calming to hand shred all of your vegetables.  It is also a great way to practise mindlessness . . .

Additionally I think the texture of hand shredded vegetables is much nicer than anything you do by machine.  I do cheat sometimes and grate the carrots on a box grater.  I never buy the bags of already shredded coleslaw mix.  In fact I really eschew any type of pre-bagged salad mix if I can help it. They always taste like bleach to me and I find that quite unpleasant.

There are only a few vegetables in this version today  . . . its basically cabbage and spring onions.  The cabbage gives a great crunch and the onion a bit of sharpness and of course colour. 

I used a sweetheart cabbage for this, which has a lovely flavour and texture. It is neither too strong or too mild.  Just in between.  Most of the flavour comes from the dressing! 

Its a simple dressing made by combining dairy sour cream along with some mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and seasonings. 

Caraway and celery seeds also provide a bit of crunch and some lovely flavours. I adore caraway seed and it boasts a beautiful affinity with cabbage.  The two ingredients together are almost always synonymous with delicious!

*Creamy Caraway Coleslaw*
Serves 4 
This well flavoured and attractive slaw makes a great summer side dish to grilled pork or poultry. 

450g cabbage (1 pound)
60g dairy sour cream (1/4 cup)
60g full fat mayonnaise (1/4 cup)
30ml white vinegar (1/8 cup)
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 tsp celery seeds
3 spring onions, trimmed
freshly ground black pepper to taste 

Trim and core the cabbage.  Cut in quarters and then thinly shred by hand. (Don't be tempted to grate.)  Put into a bowl. Wash and trim the onions. Thinly slice and add to the bowl with the cabbage.  Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush and bruise the caraway and celery seeds.  Whisk into the dressing.  Add the dressing to the prepared vegetables, tossing together to coat. Add black pepper to taste. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours prior to serving. Bring to room temperature before serving.

The Clever Cook could add a handful of chopped sultanas or raisins to this salad. They would add a bit of interest in the way of flavour and would also go very well with the caraway seed. Chopped apple would also make a great addition.  Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
Downside Up Pineapple Cobbler

Downside Up Pineapple Cobbler

This just might be one of the ugliest desserts you have ever seen, but it also might be one of the most delicious.  This is a case where you definitely should not be judging a book by its cover because this fabulous cobbler is one of the tastiest I have ever eaten! 

I love desserts that include buttery biscuit cobbler toppings.  My Apple Pan Dowdy is very similar to this, except it uses apples instead of pineapple and you actually create a molasses vinegar syrup to cook the apples in. Its a very old recipe.  There is no faffing about with creating a syrup in this recipe.

It begins as a Pineapple Upside Down Cake would begin  . . .  with creating a base of melted butter and brown sugar  to lay your fruit on, in this case chopped fresh pineapple.  I am no stranger to Upside down Cakes. I have an excellent recipe for a Pineapple Gingerbread Upside Down Cake on the blog along with another recipe for a Pear and Maple Upside Down Cake, both of which are excellent cakes!

This differs in that it is a dessert not topped by cake, but by buttery biscuit cobbles . . .  all shaggy and craggy and buttery with lovely crisp edges . . .

I like to use fresh pineapple when I have it. Tinned would do, but if you have fresh pineapple then there is no excuse not to use it really.  It tastes incredible! 

The pieces of fruit caramelise in that brown sugar and butter, creating something quite magnificently moreish  . . .  I could just eat the fruit on its own  . . .

but then again, that buttery biscuit topping is to die for  . . .  and some a lot of that syrup soaks into the bottom of that lovely topping  . . .  creating, once again . . .  something which is really quite moreish.

Served warm and topped with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, you will find it very difficult to resist  . . .  your spoon wants to dip into it again and again  . . .

Carrying that sweet, sticky almost jam-like brown sugar fruit, with that buttery crumble  . . .  mixed with the sweet coolness of the vanilla ice cream up to your lips . . .  you can't help but close your eyes and go . . .

Mmmmm . . . . mmmm . . .

and mmmmmm  . . . again and again  . . .

Just look at that tasty mouthful  . . .  impossible to resist . . . almost dangerous.  Turning something quite ugly into something most beautiful indeed!

*Downside Up Pineapple Cobbler*
Serves 8 - 10
(Depending on how hungry people are)

Every bit as tasty as an upside down cake, but a whole lot easier. Serve warm with ice cream.   

150g soft dark brown sugar (3/4 cup, packed)
3 TBS butter
345g chopped fresh pineapple (1 1/2 cups)

For the biscuit topping:
280g plain flour (2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
86g butter, frozen (6 TBS)
240ml cold buttermilk 

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.  Heat the butter and soft brown sugar for the pineapple over medium low heat until melted and amalgamated.  Pour into a 9 inch round cake tin and swirl to spread over the bottom. Top with the chopped pineapple.

Sift the flour into a bowl along with the baking powder and soda.  Whisk in the sugar and salt.  Using a box grater, grate in the butter.  Quickly work in with your fingertips until evenly distributed.  Stir in the buttermilk with a fork, mixing in just until all of the pieces are damp and moistened.  You may not need it all, or you may need more.  For some reason this seems to depend on the weather.  Drop by dollops on top of the pineapple and brown sugar mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the pineapple mixture is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown. (Test in the centre to make sure all are cooked through. If not cook for a few minutes longer.) Invert onto a serving plate and serve immediately, with or without cold vanilla bean ice cream.

Note - if you think the cobble is browning too quickly towards the end, lightly tend with foil.


The original recipe is adapted from one I found in the book entitled, Perfect One Dish Dinners, by Pamela Anderson. (No, not that Pamela Anderson! This one is a great cook!!) 

The Clever Cook could add some halved Maraschino Cherries, or even fresh cherries and coarsely chopped pecans to the base along with the pineapple.

If you make one dessert this weekend, you really can't go wrong with this one!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Easy Cinnamon Nut Croissants

Easy Cinnamon Nut Croissants

I like to pull the boat out a bit at the weekend when it comes to breakfast. During the week we keep mainly to the script having cereal or toast and fruit, but when the weekend rolls around, I really like to do something a bit more.  Doing something a bit more however, doesn't have to mean that you slog away in front of a hot stove for hours, as this delicious recipe I am showing you today will prove! 

And what's more you only need five simple ingredients.  What else could you ask for ?  Not a lot I don't think, and I will pretty much guarantee that your family are going to love these!  You will too, as they truly are a real doddle to make! 

You will want to start off with a good store or bakery baked croissant.  In all truth, this is also a great way to pop some life back into stale croissants! 

First you melt some butter and you roll the croissants in the melted butter.  Truth here, I have also just spread the outsides of the croissants with softened butter without taking the time to melt it, and they have also worked very well. 

Once you have them coated in butter, shake them in a bag with cinnamon sugar to coat.  Easy.  Simple.  I like lots of cinnamon, so I add a lot of cinnamon to the sugar mix . . .  a full TBS, but you can use less if you want to. A full TBS is what works for me.

Pop those butter and cinnamon sugar coated pastries onto a prepped baking sheet and then sprinkle them with some toasted nuts.  Walnuts or pecans both work very well. Pat them in a little bit so that they stick.

And that's it.  Just pop those babies into a pre-heated oven and bake them until they are golden brown and nicely crisped!  WOWSA!

Crisp, golden brown and nutty Cinnamon tasty good. We love these! 

These were day old croissants that I used today and just look at how crisp and flaky they ended up. They look (and taste) pretty perfect to me!

I served them with some cinnamon hot chocolate.  I used the milk frother to lay some milk on top of the chocolates . . .  I tried to do the heart thing with it, but failed abysmally.  I am sure there is a trick to it, but I am not in the know  . . .

Other than that I like to serve them with some softened butter and a bit of jam.  Today it was black currant jelly, but any jam goes great really.  Just pick your favourite.  These are sooooo tasty! 

*Easy Cinnamon Nut Croissants*
Makes 6 servings

Make your family something delicious for breakfast or brunch this weekend!  Simple, quick and very tasty! 

6 baked croissants
190g granulated sugar (1 cup)
1 TBS ground cinnamon
125g melted butter (1/2 cup)
60g chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (1/2 cup) 

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Line a baking sheet with foil and butter the foil.

Place the melted butter in a large shallow bowl.  Place the sugar and cinnamon into a large paper or plastic bag.  Roll the croissants in the melted butter, one at a time and then shake in the bag with the cinnamon sugar to coat.  Place onto the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with the chopped nuts, pressing them down a bit to help them adhere.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.  Serve hot with butter and jam if desired.

It didn't take us very long to snuffle these up.  Todd actually had two today as he was super hungry.  I shouldn't have but I had one and I enjoyed it very much. So there.  I can pay for it tomorrow with a bowl of gruel.  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad

I hope you are not superstitious about things such as Friday the 13th and the like.  I have never been superstitious about such things.  In fact I was born on the 13th of a month, so occasionally my birthday has actually been on a Friday, so it is actually a very lucky day for me. In fact on my 40th birthday, I went to Bingo with my SIL and I won the jackpot.  So, yes, very lucky for me.  Hmmm . . .  perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket!  And this has absolutely nothing to do with today's recipe, except for the fact that today you should absolutely make this, Friday the 13th or not! 

I had never heard of Greek Salad until I was in my late 20's.  I had gone to lunch with a friend of mine to a Pizza place and she ordered a Greek Salad.  It had all this weird looking white cheese scattered over the top of it and plenty of Kalamata olives.  I wasn't so sure about the white cheese, but it looked really tasty. 

Of course back in those days, I only ever ate plastic cheese.  (I know horror of all horrors!)  I allowed my friend to tempt me into trying the feta cheese, which is what that white cheese was called.  I have to admit, it took all of my plastic cheese eating courage just to try it.  I really didn't think I would like it. I was prepared to shudder . . .

I fell in love at first bite.  I quite liked this Feta cheese, and since then have embraced Greek Salads in every form or shape (along with Feta and a few other Greek cheeses as well).  Today's is one of my favourite versions.

It embodies all of the elements of a good Greek Salad with fresh crisp cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, plenty of parsley and a delicious red wine herbed dressing.  Oh, and pasta twists, which while not exactly traditional, make this a fabulously tasty and hearty salad!

I have always loved cucumbers.  Crisp, with an almost melon texture and flavour, they are really refreshing. Some people have problems digesting them, but I never have. Sometimes they can be bitter, but my mother always said that if you peeled them from the centre down to the end, it took the bitterness away.  I always do that and have never had a bitter cucumber. Luck perhaps, but then again, this is Friday the 13th!

You can also run a fork down the sides of the unpeeled cucumber, which not only does the trick, but makes a pretty pattern on the cucumber.  I have also heard that if you cut off both the blossom and the stem ends of the cucumber, just a sliver, and then rub the cut sides of the bits you have cut off, against the cut ends of the cucumber until a foam comes up, that also takes away the bitterness.  I cannot speak to the truthfulness of that because I have never done it!

Today I used a mix of red and yellow baby plum tomatoes.  Nice and sweet, and I confess right now, i didn't have any Kalamata olives and so used a good black olive, but traditionally Kalamata are the way to go and the ones I normally use.

I also use whole wheat pasta, which I quite like. It almost has a nutty flavour and is really good for you with more fibre, which makes it low GI.  The dressing is what really pulls this all together. I use a pure extra virgin olive oil and a good quality red wine vinegar.  Fresh herbs from my garden, picked just prior to using also helped to bring a lovely fresh herby flavour.  I included some oregano flowers to garnish it which I thought were really pretty, as several of my herbs are now in bloom.  Altogether this is really, really nice!

*Greek Pasta Salad*
Serves 6

If you like Greek Salad, you are going to love this pasta salad filled with vegetables, herbs, olives and feta cheese. 

230g (2 cups) fusilli pasta, uncooked
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 pound tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
a handful of diced pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 peeled red onion, very thinly sliced
a handful of parsley, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
230g feta cheese, cubed or crumbled (1 cup)

For the dressing:
60ml red wine vinegar (1/4 cup)
180ml good olive oil (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely minced fresh basil, oregano, and or dill (a very large handful)
1 tsp finely minced peeled garlic
salt and black pepper to taste 

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.  Drain well in a colander. Drizzle with 1 TBS of the olive oil.  Shake the colander to distribute the oil and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, place in a serving bowl and add all of the vegetables, tossing all well together.  Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake to emulsify the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning as required.  You will have more dressing than you need for the salad, but it is a good dressing to have for other salads.  Add 80ml (1/3 cup) to 120 ml (1/2 cup) to the salad, tossing all together well.  Gently fold in the feta cheese.  Serve at room temperature.

The Clever Cook could turn this into a meal by adding cooked chickpeas,  tinned artichokes, grilled chicken, homemade garlic croutons, or fresh seafood such as cooked shrimps or calamari! Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner

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