Friday, May 14, 2010

Graduation weekend #1: Chickpea salad (p. 170), Tangy coleslaw (p. 161), and Spicy Chinese slaw (p. 161)

The next few posts need a bit of introduction (a happy introduction!).

Most of you know that I'm working on a PhD--I'm nearing the end (thankfully!) but my university only has graduation ceremonies in May and December. I was originally going to be finished within summer session (I will be done in September now) but because of the lack of an August graduation ceremony, I decided to walk (and get hooded) in the May ceremony.

My mom, her sister, her best friend, my dad, his brother, Josh's mother, and Josh's brother all traveled in for the ceremony and everyone stayed in the house for at least a few days. It was my first time to host that many people and took me a couple of months to get the house in shape. I learned a few things, like take the amount of toilet paper that you think you need and buy twice that.

The part (aside from the actual graduation) that I was the most excited about what cooking the meals. I thought we would have appetizers and cold salads as people trickled in on Thursday, our big dinner Thursday night (giving me an opportunity to cook a big piece of meat), and a nice brunch on Friday before the afternoon ceremony, which would really help my goal of "201 TJOC recipes in 2010".

My thought process with the cold salads was that they could be snacked on during the day on Thursday and kept in the fridge if people needed a snack.

The first salad I made was Chickpea salad (p. 170). The salad was simple. I mixed together chickpeas, roasted red peppers, onion, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and garlic. Simple!

Actually, the only disaster was while I was roasting the red peppers--I used too much olive oil and put the rack too close to the heating source and there was a small fire incident.

This is a hard salad for me to rate because I dislike red peppers--the chickpeas really soaked up the red pepper/onion flavor and the garlic and lemon juice gave it a nice kick. I think it was better the next day after it sat overnight and the flavors totally melded.

I thought that Tangy coleslaw (p. 161) would also be good. I like coleslaw but not enough to eat it for several days until it's gone, which is why I haven't made many of the coleslaw recipes in the past. I mixed scallions, rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar together:

I then tossed cabbage, watercress, and a carrot with the mayo mixture:

And it was finished! I liked this dish. The watercress gave it a nice peppery kick and the carrots were nice and crunchy. I don't think it was particularly tangy but it wasn't the same ole boring coleslaw that I'm used to, so I liked it. It was easy and eye-catching--I think it would be a good choice to bring to a potluck.

Finally, I also made Spicy Chinese slaw (p. 161). I picked up a nice piece of diakon (a type of Japanese radish) at the grocery store and cut it into matchsticks. I ate a TON of diakon when I was in Japan--it's worked into essentially every dish and it's used in probably a hundred different ways.

Honestly, that is some of the best work I've ever done (sad but at least I'm improving!). I salted the daikon with a TON of salt.

I let it marinate and rinsed it off, then stirred in garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, rice vinegar, olive oil, and sesame oil.

It was so pretty! But WAY too salty. WAY too salty. Rinse the heck out of the daikon. Rinse it until you think it's done and then rinse it some more. I imagine you salt it to reduce the moisture--which it definitely did--but the salt really soaked in. So it's really hard to judge because it was so salty. I think if it had less salt, it would have had a great spicy flavor. Has anyone else made this dish?

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