July 4th is nothing more than a day on the calendar for the Irish. Knowing my family and friends back in the U.S. would be celebrating Independence Day motivated me to organize a little celebration of my own. Preparing an authentic American meal stood out as the easiest way to celebrate. I was able to buy a two-pack of portable disposable grills; single-use, just light and cook on their mesh surface. The sunny third floor flat I was living in, was a delight in many ways. It was not a delight for the outdoor cooking enthusiast. Its Juliet balcony was too narrow to fit even the width of the small grill. Luckily, the small parking garage was rarely used, so I set the grill up safely behind the building at the edge of the garage. Once the grill started glowing, I ran up and down the stairs several times with my marinated chicken, homemade bbq sauce, plates, etc. The finished chicken was just as I hoped: juicy, sticky, slightly charred, and tasting every bit like what my family might share for their holiday meal.
I celebrated with Liz, my vivacious English roommate and her new Californian co-worker. We had a great time talking about I can’t remember what. After dinner, I put out a plate of chocolate chip cookies made with Ghirardelli chips that I hungrily snapped up from a specialty import store. Deliciously American, and possibly the most expensive cookies I have ever baked.
Now, hang with me while I change gears. I have a nutritional confession to make.
During this same period in my life, one of my not so guilty pleasures was indulging in a liberal use of mayonaise. There really is nothing like pulling a scorching hot chip (thick cut french fry) from a greasy paper wrapper and dragging it through a creamy blob of mayo before burning the hell out of your mouth. Especially at 2 o’clock in the morning… After more than a couple pints. It wasn’t my idea though. Everyone was doing it. I was merely adopting the local’s social customs to, you know, blend in.
Within a couple days of landing I discovered that sandwich counters in most small Irish neighborhood grocery shops served up one of the most genius uses of mayonaise. Just like the Subway sandwich chain, a customer can pop into the shop and choose the filling for their sandwich. My sandwich of choice was fresh mini baguette spread with the creamy coleslaw and stuffed with diced chicken breast. They called it “coleslaw”, but its impressively high ratio of mayonaise to vegetable turned the familiar summer side dish into a condiment. I often enjoyed my sandwich with an apple and a bag of Hula Hoops, a fried potato based snack food shaped in whimsical little rings.
I have such a specific association with these sandwiches coming from a corner shop that it never occurred to me to make them at home. I just locked them away in my memory vault. This week, in honor of my trip down memory lane, I married these two experiences into one delightful meal.
I couldn’t bring myself to make a slather-able coleslaw but what I did make has just enough creaminess to keep it between the bread and chicken. Our grill is still shrouded for the winter, so I cheated and oven-baked pieces of skinless chicken with bbq sauce. The aforementioned baguette was replaced by a couple slices of toasted Dave’s Killer Bread Light while Special K Cracker Chips pinch hit for the Hula Hoops. A simple weeknight meal with a side of long summer days in Dublin.
Light and Creamy Coleslaw
- 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
- 2 medium carrots – or a couple of stubby ones, grated
- 1 medium shallot, grated
- 1/4 c. fat free mayo
- 1/4 c. fat free plain greek yogurt
- 1/4 c. low fat buttermilk
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- salt to taste
- In a medium salad bowl – Toss together the thinly sliced cabbage, grated carrot, and grated shallot.
- In a small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients and add salt as desired
- Fold the dressing into the salad and refrigerate at least 30 minutes until chilled
Serve as a tangy crunchy side dish or as a condiment on a sandwich. Makes about 6 servings.
Approximate Nutrition per serving: 15 calories; 0g fat; 2g carbs; 1g protein; 0 PP