“The breezes taste of apple peel, the air is full of smells to feel.” ~ John Updike, September
The signs of a waning summer are most visible to me during evening walks with Jack, my six year old english yellow labrador retriever who’s anxiously awaiting to get out in the field and hunt pheasant – the promise of fall. With colder nights creeping in early and shorter hours of sunlight our walks have become a fleeting luxury. It was on our Thursday walk last week we happened to pass under an apple tree straight into a fragrant breeze of the sweetest smelling apples. The lingering scent is the inspiration behind this delicious fall recipe, the very one I used for a rustic barn themed wedding over the weekend.
Taking the effort to chill the apples, cabbage and fennel helps to retain crunch, producing a more vibrant coleslaw. Blanching helps to tenderize the fennel, and golden raisins are the perfect accompaniment to the tart, sweet dressing.
Apple, Celery, and Fennel Slaw // serves 12-16
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Christmas Entertaining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2005).
1 head green cabbage
Ice water as needed
2 fennel bulbs
2 Granny Smith apples
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup golden raisins
4 green onions, including tender green parts,
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons celery seed
Cut the cabbage in half through the stem end. Slice the cut face of each half into paper-thin slices. Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl and add ice water to cover. Set aside.
Fill another large bowl with ice water and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into it. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat and add the juice of the remaining lemon half.
Cut off the stems and fronds of the fennel bulbs and remove any bruised or discolored outer leaves. Working with 1 fennel bulb at a time, cut the bulb in half lengthwise and cut out any tough core parts. Using the small julienne blade of a mandoline, slice each half into matchsticks and place immediately in the bowl of lemon water. When all the fennel is cut, transfer with a slotted spoon to the boiling water and blanch for 20 seconds. Drain the blanched fennel and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer to a fresh bowl of ice water. Set aside.
Working with 1 apple at a time, quarter and cut away the core. Then slice each quarter into matchsticks on the mandoline and place immediately in the reserved lemon water. Repeat with the remaining apples.
In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, milk, salt and mix together. Taste. The dressing should be both sweet and tangy, and the consistency should be pourable, not thick.
Drain the cabbage, pat dry and place in a large bowl. Drain the fennel, squeeze gently to remove excess water, pat dry and add to the bowl of cabbage. Drain the apples, pat dry and add to the bowl. Add the celery, raisins, green onions, parsley, and celery seed. Pour the dressing over all and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!