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Originally published Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 12:04 AM

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Ask the Splendid Table

Recipes for Labor Day entertaining

Lynne Rossetto Kasper offers these recipes for Labor Day entertaining Buttermilk-Garlic Slaw with Smoky-Sweet Paprika and Citrus Fizz Cooler With Fresh Mint and Ginger.

Syndicated Columnist

Dear Lynne: The people in my building hang out at our pool and cook together in the summer. Me, the almost-noncook, gets away with contributing wine and fruit. Until now. We're doing a Labor Day party and cooking competition. We drew lots for dishes. I got "Best Coleslaw"and "Best Boozeless Drink." Have you got some easy recipes?

— Hoping

Dear Hoping: This slaw recipe will let you hold your head high, and the tart and spicy-citrus fizz cools down guests without sticky sweetness.

The one out-of-the-way ingredient you will need is Spanish smoked-sweet paprika. Check out kitchen shops, gourmet stores and spice outlets. If it eludes you, substitute ground Ancho chili or other mild chilies.

Dear Lynne: What's the deal with whole fish with the head on? In a fish store recently, a woman wouldn't accept a fillet — she wanted the same fish with its head on.

— Gary in Bloomington

Dear Gary: If the fish still has its head on, you can check the eyes for freshness. A fresh fish has bright, clear eyes that are rounded, not sunken. Its skin is taut, firm and springs back if you poke it, and it has an appealing sheen. If the eyes are clouded and flat, and if the flesh is soft, don't buy the fish.

But you can check fillets, too. Fillets are fresh if their structure looks tightly knit. When you see sections separating, lots of liquid in their package (if they are prepackaged) and they are mushy when poked, pass on them.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts "The Splendid Table,"American Public Media's weekly national show. The program airs at 2 p.m. on Sundays on KUOW 94.9 FM. Contact her at

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