June 22, 2017

Dear friends,

No potatoes. No cabbage. No macaroni. A bag of carrots was the only fodder I had for a picnic salad to go with the ribs that were slow-smoking on the grill. “I’ll make carrot slaw,” I thought. “I bet no one has thought of that before.”

Ha! The Internet and a zillion food bloggers have ensured that every dish I dream up these days has been dreamed up before. When I Googled “carrot slaw,” I got 675,000 hits.

The way I deal with this overload is to ignore it. I create most of my recipes without looking at versions that have come before. That is the only way I can remain fresh and come up with something new tailored to (hopefully) your tastebuds and mine.

The slaw recipe was also tailored to my pantry. I had just bought a bag of walnut halves, so I toasted some in a skillet for added crunch. I found some crumbled feta in the fridge and added that, too, for little bursts of creaminess. The herbs in pots out back were ready for harvesting, so I plucked some basil and rosemary to add freshness to a mustard vinaigrette. Everything came together in a slaw that not only is unique — I think — but delicious.

Make that 675,001 hits for “carrot slaw.”

CRUNCHY-CREAMY CARROT SLAW

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  • 4 cups grated carrots (on the large holes of a box grater)
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Grate carrots into a medium-size serving bowl. Scatter walnut pieces in a dry skillet and toast over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until nuts are golden brown. Cool, then add to carrots with feta cheese.

In a small lidded container combine olive oil, vinegar, salt, mustard, basil and rosemary. Shake well to combine. Pour about half of dressing over carrot mixture, tossing to coat evenly. Add more dressing only if needed. Season to taste with more salt. Makes about six servings.

GUT CHECK

What I cooked last week:

Scrambled egg, ham and feta cheese on a toasted baguette with hot sauce; grill-smoked ribs with Tennessee rub and spicy barbecue sauce, carrot and toasted walnut slaw; strip steaks with wine sauce, balsamic-roasted cauliflower.

What I ate in restaurants last week:
Thai chicken salad at Panera; a Coney dog and a sugar-free country apple pie ice cream cone (1 scoop) at Boss Frosty’s in Wadsworth; soft Indian paratha bread dipped in egg, fried, and folded around curry-seasoned chicken and sautéed onions (the Frankie) at Greedy Girl Restaurant in Cleveland Heights; a BLT at Rockne’s in Fairlawn; huitlacoche spoonbread, half a Cuban sandwich and half a chorizo-sweet potato-pineapple burrito at Nuevo Modern Mexican Restaurant in downtown Akron; and a steak sandwich and excellent fries at the Canal Boat Lounge in Canal Fulton.

Note: In my defense, I couldn’t cook for a few days after I fell and injured a shoulder. I’ll be back in the kitchen soon.

THE MAILBAG

Dear friends: I know summer is dawning and you’re busy, but could you spare a minute to dash off a note? Tell me how your tomatoes are growing and whether you lost herbs last winter like I did (my thyme and tarragon mysteriously died).

Tell me where I can buy good, reasonably priced lamb, because I’m stumped.

Tell me where you go for Thai food. Tell me where I can buy naan. Tell me whether you like my
what-I-ate-last-week feature or if you’ve heard quite enough.

Basically, just write.

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