Category Archives: Seafood

Fish 101 – Oven Baked Salmon with Lemon and White Wine

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

Once upon a time I loved salmon; then 5 or 6 years ago my family passed around a particularly bad stomach virus. The night it nailed me, what do you think I had for dinner? Why salmon of course. After that night I swear I could hardly even look at cooked salmon without feeling a little lightheaded, let alone eat the stuff! As the years went by though I slowly regained my taste for cooked salmon; a little at first, sampling small bites here and there, then by preparing my childhood favorite, salmon cakes. Before long I was actually cooking and enjoying salmon again.

My wife came down with that nasty virus that same night and she too refused to touch cooked salmon for even longer than I did! In time, she came around and once again she too enjoys cooked salmon (especially that crispy skin). So what is the point of my story? Well I believe that salmon, more than any other fish, is an acquired taste. Like coffee, caviar, and even beer; salmon is one of those foods that, for many people, seems to be an acquired taste. My wife and I learning to love salmon all over again is a perfect example.

Think about how many people you know that love fish yet claim to hate salmon. Curiously, I also know those that would tell you that salmon is the only fish they will eat! Why? Because for whatever reason salmon is a fish they developed a taste for or for those that hate it; maybe they never ate enough salmon to learn to like it. Which brings me to my final point, that salmon is one of the healthiest and sustainable foods in the ocean…it is well worth giving it another chance!

If until now you’ve avoided salmon I encourage you to give it try. If you’re ready…here are a few ideas on how best to enjoy this wonderful fish.

What to choose…

When it comes to fish, I have been known to preach about freshness and with salmon, freshness is paramount! Why? Simply put, the fresher the salmon is, the sweeter and milder the flavor will be. If you’ve had unpleasant, strong tasting salmon it may be that it wasn’t the freshest. When buying fresh salmon look first for whole fish with bright (not cloudy) eyes, and skin that is so moist that it has a sparkle to it (never dry looking!).

The gills should be bright red or healthy pink (not dull or off-color) and if you poke the fish in the shoulder (I’m snickering at the mental image of poking a salmon in the shoulder but it works!) the flesh should spring back firmly rather than leaving a divot. Finally, there should be no “fishy” smell. A fresh fish should have little smell, perhaps only the pleasant scent of the mist from a breaking wave or an ocean breeze, if any smell at all.

Once you’ve found your perfectly bright, moist, firm, and nice smelling whole salmon, most fishmongers will be happy to fillet it for you. But, you’re not always going to be able to find whole salmon…the next best thing to whole salmon is fresh, skin-on, salmon fillets. Again, look for firm, moist (the skin helps retain some of that moisture) fillets with little or no smell at all. I often buy fresh salmon fillets at Costco and I have no qualms at all about opening one little corner of a sealed package to sniff the fish for freshness. If it smells fishy…don’t buy it!

What about frozen?

Salmon actually freezes quite well and I often buy frozen salmon when fresh fish is not available. Look for a package that states the salmon is ICQ or “Individually Quick Frozen”. (These fillets are usually flash frozen while still very fresh, sometimes even still on the boat.) It’s ok if the fish portions are individually wrapped…I actually prefer it since I’m usually cooking for only two.

Frozen salmon to avoid would be whole fillets that are packed loosely, fillet portions that are not individually wrapped and are all stuck together in one big frozen lump, or any fillets that have frost directly touching the flesh. If the only salmon fillets you can find fit any of the descriptions in this paragraph; now might be a good time to go with the canned salmon!

To thaw frozen fillets, move them from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to cook them. In a pinch, if you forget to thaw your fish ahead of time, you can also thaw them quickly by placing them in a cold heavy bottomed steel pan. Cast iron works very well for this but a good heavy stainless pan will work too. The metal of the pan draws the cold out of the frozen fish and will thaw frozen salmon portions completely in about ½ hour or less. (This is also a good trick for quick thawing frozen boneless chicken breast.)

OK, I’ve got my fish…now what?

Now that you have found your salmon, treat it with respect and do not overcook it! For the best flavor, cooking the fish properly is nearly as important as freshness. When overcooked, salmon dries out very quickly which ruins both the texture and the taste. It’s actually amazing to me how often restaurants serve dried out, overcooked salmon. It’s so rampant in fact that I would bet many of the people that do not like salmon have simply never had a piece that was perfectly cooked.

Salmon should be cooked just through to the center leaving just a trace of pink in the very middle. There is really no trick to it, just keep a close eye on the fish while it’s cooking and when you think the fish is almost ready, use a fork to test for doneness. When the fish is done the flesh will flake easily but still hold together towards the center. It’s important to note: If you wait to remove it from the heat, until the fish flakes all the way to the center, then it will likely end up overcooked. This is because residual heat will continue to cook the fish for a little while, even after you take it off the heat.

Again, baked salmon, like most fish, is done perfectly when you can flake it easily with a fork, but the flesh still holds together towards the center. Below is a rough guideline for baking your salmon. Remember, this is strictly a guideline so start checking your fish early…if you let it go too long it will overcook.

If baking at 400 degrees salmon fillets 3/4” to 1” thick should be done in 8 to 10 minutes, 1” to 1-1/2” thick, 10 to 12 minutes, and 1-1/2 to 2” thick, 12 to 15 minutes.

What else?

Quite often salmon fillets will have small pin bones running along part of the center line. These should be removed prior to cooking. To easily remove pin bones, drape the fillet skin side down, over an inverted bowl. This will arch the fillet so that the pin bones stand out making them easy to find and remove using just your fingers or a pair of kitchen tweezers. Needle nose pliers will even work in a pinch.

Are you ready?

This is a super easy recipe, so easy actually, that for just the two of us, I baked it in our toaster oven!

I sprinkled my fish with a little dried dill but you can use any herb you like. Fresh rosemary or parsley would also be good with salmon and even a little lemon zest would be nice…don’t be afraid to use your imagination. On the plate pictured, I served the baked salmon over a bed of fresh spinach sautéed with just a little olive oil and lemon juice. Along side is a white bean puree topped with a few green onion curls, lemon wedges, and a little creamy dill sauce. Dinner was on the table in about ½ hour and was elegant enough to serve to company.

Salmon is a versatile, healthy, and delicious fish that can be very easy to prepare. If it’s been a while since you’ve tried it…I hope you will give it another try! 

Oven Baked Salmon with Lemon and White Wine

2 to 4 – Salmon fillets, 3/4″ to 1 inch thick, in 4 – 6 oz portions
Olive oil
Lemon juice
White wine
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
Dried dill (or your herb of choice)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and thoroughly dry your salmon portions by patting them with a paper towel. Cover a ½ or ¼ size baking sheet with aluminum foil and place your fish on the sheet with plenty of space in between. Drizzle the salmon evenly with roughly ½ tablespoon of the olive oil, turning it over a time or two just to coat. With the salmon skin side down, drizzle with roughly ½ tablespoon each of the lemon juice, then the wine.

Sprinkle the fish with a pinch of kosher salt and approx. ¼ tsp each of fresh ground black pepper, and dried dill. Place the fish in the pre-heated oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes, checking for doneness after 8 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven when the flesh flakes easily with a fork but still holds together slightly towards the center.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Randy

Sometimes Simple is Best – Florida Lobster Rolls

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

South Florida sportsmen enjoyed the Lobster mini season this week and I managed to get my hands on a couple of nice plump Florida spiny lobster tails. Having only two, I was at odds as to how to prepare them until I spoke to my wife who without hesitation exclaimed “Lobster Rolls!” Well, who am I to disappoint? Lobster Rolls it was.

This presented something of a challenge considering that she was talking about the highly regarded Maine tradition of a simple “Maine” lobster salad stuffed into a wonderfully fresh, soft hot dog roll.

Florida spiny lobster, quite a different animal from the Maine lobster, is also very different in both flavor and texture. I love them both but I wasn’t about to try to make my Florida lobster taste like the Maine version. Instead I set out to simply turn my lobster tails into the best lobster salad sandwich I could make and where does any good sandwich begin? With the bread of course!

I have enjoyed some great Maine style lobster rolls and for me, the thing that always stood out was the foundation this sandwich was built upon; that sweet, soft, impeccably fresh hot dog roll. Not having access to any impeccably fresh hot dog rolls it occurred to me that I work right around the corner from Direct From Philly, a very good, authentic Philly cheesesteak shop that uses rolls shipped in from the famous Amoroso’s bakery in Philadelphia.

The owner of Direct From Philly obviously appreciates good food and he loved the idea of the lobster rolls and very happily sold me a couple of fresh Amoroso’s rolls. So while they weren’t impeccably fresh hot dog rolls; I had found my foundation!

Next up was getting the lobster ready. In Maine the lobsters are typically boiled or steamed until just cooked. Since these were Florida lobsters I decided to broil them as I like the way broiling intensifies the “lobstery” flavor. I also tried making my own mayo but decided against using it because I used extra virgin olive oil and the olive oil flavor of the mayo came out a little too strong. Next time I will stick to the recipe and use lighter flavored oil. (I did use the homemade mayo in the cole slaw though!)

Once the lobster was cooked I chilled it for a half hour to get it to the right temperature for a salad. Then, following the lead of our friends in the great state of Maine, I kept it simple. Using just the minimal ingredients to compliment, allowing the flavor of that lobster to be the star.

If you try the recipe I recommend using the tender, white celery branches from the inside of the celery so you don’t have to worry about peeling. Also, if you really want to put a Florida spin on this sandwich; try a little key lime juice instead of the lemon. So what was the final verdict from my wife? “Mmmmm” was pretty much all she said…she was just too busy enjoying her fresh “Florida” lobster roll to do much talking!

Florida Lobster Rolls

2 – Sub or hot dog Rolls (Find the freshest softest rolls you can find!)
2 – Florida spiny lobster tails
1 – Celery stick, chopped (about two tablespoons)
2 to 3 Tbsp – Mayonnaise
1 squeeze – Fresh lemon juice
¼ Tsp – Dried tarragon
¼ Tsp – Kosher salt
1 Pinch – White pepper
2 Tbsp – Butter, plus enough to butter the bread

Pre-heat the broiler then split the lobster tails, brush with 2 Tbsp melted butter, and broil until just cooked through, being careful not to overcook. Remove the lobster meat from the tails and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before continuing.

When the lobster is chilled, split your bread and spread it with butter then place in the toaster over or broil to toast. Remove the bread and cool slightly before adding your lobster salad.

While the bread is cooling use your fingers (and a knife) to pull your lobster into bite sized pieces and chunks. Toss the lobster meat in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, using just enough of the mayonnaise to coat the lobster.

Fill each sandwich with a generous portion of the lobster salad, trim the ends of the bread just up to the edges of the filling, and serve.

Serves 2

Enjoy!

Randy

Butter vs Olive Oil – Penne with Shrimp, Fresh Herbs and Lemon

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

There was a time when most any meal I set out to cook began with a big glob of butter melting in a hot pan. Whether it was sautéing onions for a casserole, browning chicken for a braise, or scrambling an egg; it all started with butter. Then as I began reading about nutrition and becoming more conscious of my health, slowly but surely I transitioned to olive oil. Quietly and gradually, somewhere over the last few years, olive oil became my butter.

Through most of my years of cooking, it was not unusual for me to use a pound of butter per week, or at least every couple of weeks. Nowadays it is a rare purchase indeed and though I still keep (un-salted) butter around for a special treat in a pan-sauce or on my Sunday morning toast…I can honestly say the transition is complete. And why not?

Butter is a saturated fat too much of which can contribute to the build-up of blood cholesterol – Olive oil actually contains anti-oxidants and monounsaturated fats that have been proven to help lower cholesterol. Olive oil also contains vitamins E, K, and A, powerful anti-inflammatory properties and a host of other health benefits.

So why eat butter at all? Well, aside from that wonderful flavor there are a few good things about butter. For one, it does not contain any trans-fat, it also contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, can be high in Omega 3, and can even help your body fight off cancer cells. There is a great article at getmybodyback.com that discusses the details.

To my thinking these days, a little butter goes a long way…It’s a good fit in my “everything in moderation” theory that I mention so often. Butter is not inherently evil but it can easily be too much of a good thing. If you balance it out with a good bit of olive oil though, I think you can find a happy medium that will help you live a longer and more enjoyable life.

Recipe notes: This recipe uses olive oil as the base for the “sauce”. It is surprising in that it is not dripping in fat or greasy tasting. The idea is to coat the pasta rather than drenching it in a heavy sauce. The recipe comes together very quickly so I recommend having all of your ingredients ready to go by the time the pasta is almost ready to drain.

Penne with Shrimp, Fresh Herbs and Lemon

1 Lb – Med fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/3 Cup – Extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp – Fresh garlic, minced
2 Sprigs – Fresh thyme
½ Tsp – Dried red pepper flakes
8 Oz – Dried 100% whole wheat penne
Juice of ½ Lemon
1 to 2 Tbsp – Fresh basil chiffonade
Fresh Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

Add a tablespoon of kosher salt to a large pot of water over medium-high heat. When the water comes to a boil gently stir in the pasta. Continue stirring occasionally and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until the pasta has softened to your desired doneness.

When the pasta is roughly two minutes from being done, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, stir in the garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and about ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds then add the shrimp in a single layer. Shake the pan to “nestle” the ingredients.

Meanwhile, test the pasta for doneness, and drain into a colander reserving a little of the pasta water on the side.

After about 2 minutes, shake the pan again to loosen any shrimp that may be sticking and turn the shrimp over. Cook 2 minutes more on the second side then add the lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water. Cook another minute and remove the pan from the heat. To finish, stir in the pasta and the basil, gently tossing to combine.

Serve with fresh grated parmesan sprinkled over the pasta.

Enjoy!

Randy

Birthday Dinner (plus leftovers) – Crab Cakes with Dijon & White Wine Cream Sauces

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

There are indeed times that life becomes so overwhelming that I don’t even have time to cook. Then there are those times that I am just having so much fun that I’m too lazy to take the time to write about it on my blog! Thankfully, since I last posted, the latter has been the case.

I am feeling much better, work has been manageable and we have been busy having a little fun over the last couple of weeks including a camping trip for the Memorial Day weekend. This past weekend we celebrated my wife Kat’s birthday and as bad as I am at picking out gifts, hopefully I made up for it by cooking some of her favorite meals.

On Saturday night I made Crab Cakes with a Dijon cream sauce then yesterday, her actual birthday, the leftovers made for a very special brunch; Crab Cakes Benedict! I was pleased with the way they came out but the Benedict would have been better with a traditional Hollandaise sauce. I used a “quick and easy” version and I don’t think it was as good as taking the trouble to do it right. I am going to include a link below that explains both the quick and the traditional Hollandaise.

Speaking of sauces, the Dijon and white wine cream sauce is simply a variation from rouxbe.com, I just cut the recipe in half and used a little more wine to boost the flavor. You could certainly substitute plain non-fat yogurt but I don’t think a little bit of cream is all that bad for you as long as you practice moderation. If you do prefer to use yogurt remember not to let it come to a boil or it may curdle. Just move the pan on and off the heat to control your temp and you will be fine.

Unless you are picking the crabs yourself, I recommend using only the “fresh” canned crab that you find in the refrigerator case at a fresh fish market or a warehouse store. In my experience the stuff on the shelf (next to the tuna) at the grocery store just isn’t worth messing with. Lump crab is quite sufficient for crab cakes, I don’t think the extra expense of “jumbo lump” or “back fin” is really necessary. Usually, I buy the 16 oz can of Phillips or Blue Star brand at Costco or Restaurant Depot.

You may notice that the crab cake recipe itself is quite simple, even more so than my salmon patties, but there is a method to my madness. I have tried many different crab cake recipes including adding mayo, chopped onions, peppers and/or celery, Worcestershire sauce, and even cubed wonder bread to the mix. I have always gone back to minimizing the ingredients because crab has such a wonderful and delicate flavor…I prefer to keep it simple and let that flavor shine through.

Crab Cakes with Dijon & White Wine Cream Sauce

For the crab cakes…

1 Lb – Lump Crab meat, drained
1/3 Cup – fine panko bread crumbs, plus 1/3 cup on the side
1 – Egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon – Old Bay seasoning
Olive Oil
Canola Oil

For the Dijon & white wine cream sauce…

1 Tbsp – Unsalted butter
1 Tbsp – Shallots, finely chopped
¼ cup – Dry white wine
1 cup – whipping cream
½ Tbsp – Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine the first four crab cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and fold gently to combine. Mix well trying to break up the crab pieces as little as possible.

Using a 1/3 cup measure mold the mixture into cakes pressing firmly to compress into an evenly shaped patty. Dust the outside of each cake with additional panko and set very carefully on a lined cookie sheet so as to avoid breaking the cake. (This recipe should make 6 equal cakes with a little left over for one smaller cake for the cook.) When all the cakes have been formed, refrigerate the crab cakes for at least 1 hour to allow them time to set up.

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium high heat and add enough olive oil and canola oil (combined 50-50) to cover the entire bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, using a spatula, very gently place half of your crab cakes into the pan and cook about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Gently turn and cook 3 minutes more. Remove the browned crab cakes to a cooling rack or paper towel then carefully wipe out the pan and repeat with the rest of the crab cakes.

When all the crab cakes are browned, carefully pour off the oil and return the pan to the heat. Add the butter and when the butter has melted and just stopped foaming add the shallots. Cook the shallots for about one minute, stirring them to prevent burning then add the wine to the pan. Allow the wine to come to a boil and cook until the wine has nearly evaporated leaving only a few tablespoons of liquid.

Add the cream, whisking to combine and continue whisking steadily until the sauce returns to boil. Cook, whisking continuously until the sauce has reached your desired thickness, whisking in the Dijon mustard at the last minute. Test the sauce for seasonings and add salt & pepper to taste.

To serve, plate the crab cakes individually resting in a small pool of the cream sauce or serve with the sauce in a small dish on the side.

If you have leftovers do try Crab Cakes Benedict for breakfast the next day!

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

Simply reheat the crab cakes in a toaster or conventional oven until warmed through then serve them on a toasted English muffin topped with a poached egg and a little Hollandaise sauce. These are simple, elegant, and truly a great way to treat your loved ones to something special!

Enjoy!

Randy

Mother’s Day Brunch – Tuna Soufflé Bake

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

For my third installment in the Mothers Day brunch series I am revisiting my youth once more. The recipe I’m posting below is verbatim from an old, yellowed, newspaper clipping I found in one of my mother’s recipe boxes:

I remember the recipe well and I loved it as much for dinner as I did (leftover) for breakfast. So as a nod to my mom and her wonderful ability to always provide us with the tastiest meals, even when times were a little tight, I felt this one very appropriate.

The dish is definitely a budget meal like so many of the recipes from that era, and it’s more of a “strata” than a “soufflé” as it contains more bread than eggs but I don’t think they were shooting for gourmet status when they published it so many years ago. Rest assured, it was gourmet to me back then and today I still enjoy it exactly as written.

Another beauty of the recipe is that the variations are endless; if you don’t want to use tuna, try crumbled and browned breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, or go meatless for that matter. Some of the combinations I can envision are Italian Sausage with fontina and swiss chard, feta cheese, with tomatoes and spinach, and how about chili & cheese? Yum! See what I mean? This is also a versatile and inexpensive weeknight recipe with many possibilities.

Getting back to the brunch though…I did substitute whole grain bread (crust included) and unsweetened almond milk in the soufflé pictured and it could have used a little more moisture. I think next time I would soak the bread in an extra ½ cup of the milk before assembly just to get the texture and moisture a little closer to the original. (If you use a white bread this extra step should be unnecessary.) Otherwise, use your imagination a little and have fun with the recipe. I’m sure your mom will appreciate the effort!

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

 Tuna Soufflé Bake

8 slices – Day-old bread
1 Can (7 oz) – Tuna, drained
2 Cups (8 oz) – Shredded cheddar cheese
1 Can (4 oz) – Mushrooms, drained
3 – Eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon – Prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon – salt
1/2 teaspoon – Onion salt
1/8 teaspoon – pepper

(Preheated 325 degree oven – 2 Quart Casserole / 6-8 servings)

Trim crusts from bread: cube. Place ½ of bread cubes in casserole: add tuna, mushrooms, and cheese. Top with remaining bread cubes: then remaining cheese. Blend together eggs, mustard, salt, onion salt, and pepper: add milk. Pour over casserole. Bake 60 – 70 minutes or until set.

Mission “Learn to like Tilapia” – Tzatziki Crusted Tilapia

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

For some time now I have been wrinkling my nose at tilapia. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sustainability factor of conscientiously farmed raised fish; I do! It’s the taste and the texture of most tilapia that turns me off. In my experience tilapia often has an unpleasant earthy (or muddy) taste and the texture can be mushy even when it’s perfectly fresh and flawlessly prepared. I don’t mean to be a food snob, really I don’t! But compared to all the fresh Atlantic seafood I have the opportunity to catch (well sometimes), or purchase here in South Florida, tilapia just seemed second rate.

Last night however, I decided to give tilapia another chance. Why? Because tilapia has taken over the market in leaps and bounds becoming one the most popular seafood products in the U.S. today. Everywhere I look, from restaurant menus, to grocery stores tilapia has become a recognized value and a very popular request. Hey, what was the old adage…If you can’t beat them, join them? So I picked up a package of fresh tilapia fillets and set out to prove myself wrong.

According to Cooks Illustrated the muddy taste in tilapia is caused by a naturally occurring compound called geosmin which is Greek for “earth smell”. (Go figure!) They said this compound is abundant in the blue-green algae found in the bottom of the man-made ponds that catfish and tilapia are raised in and that the flavor can be diffused by acids. They went on to recommend soaking in buttermilk for an hour before cooking which of course, I didn’t take the time to do.

My thinking in using this recipe was that the yogurt, garlic, and vinegar in the tzatziki would provide enough acid to overcome any unpleasant taste in the fish and indeed it did…somewhat. While the recipe is a keeper that I will definitely use again, I might opt for pre-soaking the tilapia in buttermilk next time (if I don’t use snapper, grouper, or mahi-mahi instead).

Hang on now…don’t fret! I haven’t given up on tilapia yet. After all, I still have 3 big fillets left from that package last night. I think I might try it with an acidic marinade, a Cuban mojo perhaps or some other citrus blend. I’ll keep you posted as mission “Learn to like Tilapia” continues!

Tzatziki Crusted Tilapia

2 to 4 – Tilapia fillets (preferably pre-soaked in buttermilk for one hour)
¾ Cup – Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp – Olive Oil
Zest of one whole lemon
½ Tbsp – Large grind, fresh ground black pepper
Kosher Salt
Tzatziki Sauce (Recipe below)

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pat the fillets dry and place them on a lightly oiled, foil covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle the fillets with kosher salt and set them aside while you mix the crumb topping.

In a medium bowl combine the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, and pepper then drizzle in the olive oil while stirring. Continue stirring and fluffing the crumbs loosely until the oil, lemon, and pepper has been very well distributed, about 5 minutes.

Spread an approximately 1/8 inch thick layer of tzatziki evenly on top of each fish fillet then sprinkle the crumb mixture over the tzatziki to form an evenly thick coat. Bake for 10 minutes then broil for 1 minute to crisp and brown the topping. Carefully remove from the oven and plate the cooked fillets.

Serve with additional tzatziki and a lemon wedge on the side.

Tzatziki Sauce

2 Cups – Greek Yogurt, plain non-fat
1 small (or 1/2 large) – Cucumber, seeded and grated  (about 1/2 cup)
1 Clove – Garlic, grated fine
1 Tbsp – Red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp – Olive oil
1 good pinch – kosher salt

Grate the cucumber and place it on a paper towel or dish towel, sprinkle it with the kosher salt and let it sit while you prep the other ingredients. In a medium bowl stir together the garlic, vinegar, and olive oil then stir in the yogurt. Finally, gently squeeze any excess moisture out of the grated cucumber and stir into the yogurt mixture until well blended. Taste for seasoning and chill until ready to use.

Enjoy,

Randy

Salmon Cakes – The easiest recipe I’ve posted yet!

Photo by KathyHuntPhoto.com

It has been a busy couple of weeks since I last posted, highlighted by a trip to visit my parents. I haven’t done a great deal of cooking and when I did cook, I kept it simple. This recipe is a perfect example of a simple and fast weeknight recipe for when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. It is also, comfort food (once again) for me as it reminds me of the salmon cakes my mom made years ago. Are you noticing a trend here?

Speaking of simple, I have experimented with all manner of ingredients for salmon cakes and none really came out any better than this ultra easy 4 ingredient version. I even commented last night that they don’t even require salt & pepper as the (Arctic Bay from Aldi) canned salmon is seasoned quite well.

When I was a kid I doused them in ketchup; I don’t recommend that these days! What I do highly recommend with these salmon cakes is the Creamy Dill Sauce from Eating Well magazine. Last night, for the sake of time, I went with a quick cocktail sauce but that Creamy Dill Sauce has become a favorite of mine and it compliments these salmon cakes perfectly. Do give it a try!

The only other note I would add is; if your salmon cakes seem to be cooking too quickly, lower the heat by a notch or two. Once it’s that hot, the pan will retain a good deal of heat, even for the second round of cakes. I also recommend wiping out the pan between batches. The fresh oil browns the patties more evenly without leaving bitter charred bits of the first batch behind.

Salmon Cakes

1 – 14 Ounce can pink salmon, drained (Did I mention? Cats love the juice!)
1/3 Cup – Panko bread crumbs, plus ¼ cup reserved
1 – Egg, lightly beaten
3 – Green onions, sliced thin
Olive Oil

In a large bowl use a fork to break the salmon into flakes, crushing any large bones and mixing in any skin (You may remove skin and bone but it is not necessary). Toss the salmon first with the bread crumbs and onions, then with the egg until well mixed.

Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup as a mold, press the mixture to a level 1/3 cup then gently remove the patty. Use your hands to carefully press and finish molding the patty into an approximate ¾ inch thick round. As you finish each patty, dust the exterior with some of the reserved panko crumbs then place it on a platter or cookie sheet to set. Chill the patties in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before browning.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering hot. Place 3 of the salmon cakes gently into the skillet and cook about 3 minutes, until crispy and golden. Gently turn the cakes and cook 3 minutes more. Remove the browned salmon cakes to a cooling rack or paper towel. Carefully wipe the pan, replace the 2 tablespoons of oil and repeat.

Serve with cocktail or Creamy Dill Sauce.

Enjoy,

Randy