A Different Path for the 3rd of the 4th (of July)

A one day holiday is never enough.We learned that in Mexico.

It was living in this foreign country where we learned to savor the "puente," the bridge between a holiday and the weekend which ensures a luxurious three (or more) day weekend of whatever you want it to be. It seemed like a puente took place every month as there is no cause too small for a celebracion en Mexico--and we have had plenty of puentes to practice the art of the puente.

Since we don't normally travel on these rambunctious summer holidays like the 4th of July, we seriously forage for everything we'll need for at least two days and sit back, relax and enjoy each other, the dogs, a few friends and the shady backyard and pool.

This means there are several pre-culinary celebrations to the actual celebration, which, of course, revolves around food. You can bet the grill will be fired up, the pool will be filled with humans and dogs and cole slaw will be an essential part of the menu.

Maybe it's the German in me, but whether it's homemade sauerkraut or pinto bean soup (with cabbage) in the winter or some sort of tangy cole slaw in the summer, cabbage is a varsity player in my vegetable drawer. (To prove my affinity for cabbage, at the bottom of this post, see the list of 10 cabbage recipes previously featured on the blog.)

For our pre-celebration on July 3rd, I knew I was going to make a Thai-inspired cole slaw recipe from Milk Street Kitchen, Christopher Kimball's new venture. Chris was the face (and brains) behind the wildly successful subscription recipe, website, Cook's Illustrated magazine and PBS cooking show known as America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country

Chris Kimball is a true Vermonter and though we really like his PBS cooking shows, the recipes are on the verge of being dated and even uninspiring. When I read of his newest initiative earlier this year, Milk Street Kitchen, I have been filled with the curiosity of a kid.

Thanks to a fellow foodie friend who posted this recipe on her Facebook page last week, I was sucked in at the combination of cole slaw, cilantro and cashews. Because this recipe grabbed me so ferociously, David was up for the challenge to turn his classic Texas BBQ ribs upside-down this year with an Asian slant to pair with this slaw I had to have.

Using a combination of sesame oil, rice vinegar, tamari and hoisin sauce, David marinated the ribs overnight and then gave them a liberal sprinkling of five spice before hitting the grill. A final basting of hoisin and honey after two hours of baking and the ribs were a perfect companion to the bold, raw Thai slaw that tickled every taste bud.

Milk Street Kitchen is approaching cooking with a focus on fresh ingredients and combining unique flavors in new ways. This cole slaw recipes speaks directly to that mission. The dressing is tart with a hint of spicy and a touch of sweet which plays so well against the crisp cabbage, crunchy radishes, sugar snap peas and earthy-salty-sweetness of the roasted cashews. The vibrant accents of cilantro and mint shine a light on the depth of flavors that make Thai food so intoxicating.

If Chris and his Milk Street Kitchen team continue creating wildly flavorful, wholesome and healthy recipes like this brilliant Thai cole slaw, they will quickly gain a legion of fans who will enjoy these creations whether it's a puente or not.

Buen provecho!

Other cole slaw and cabbage recipes previously featured on The Cowgirl Gourmet:
Thai Cole Slaw
The Cowgirl Gourmet is happy to share this recipe from Chris Kimball's new Milk Street Kitchen that has been slightly adapted

Print recipe

This is a cross between the refreshing flavors of a Thai papaya salad and the comfort of a chopped salad. Crisp, fresh and overflowing with zestiness, you will soon have this recipe put to memory so you can make it whenever the craving sets in. If you want to eat "seasonally," make this salad in the spring when cabbage, snap peas, radishes and cilantro are readily available at your farmers market. But, really, this slaw is worthy of making off-season as well.

Makes 4-6 servings

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 medium serrano, seeded and minced
5 tablespoons coconut milk (full fat and organic)

For the salad:
1 pound Napa or savoy cabbage (1 small head), thinly sliced crosswise
6 radishes, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
4 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mint, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup roasted and salted cashews, coarsely chopped

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and chili and let it sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk until combined.
In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, radishes, peas, cilantro and mint.
Add the dressing and toss until evenly coated. Stir in the cashews and serve.
Notes: Do not use "light" coconut milk or "cream of coconut" for this recipe. The former is too thin and the later is too sweet. And don't forget to shake the can of coconut milk (preferably organic) so the cream and liquid milk are emulsified.
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