Salmon cakes

28 02 2008

We eat salmon about once a week, and we usually end up preparing it the same way every time.  We rub some spices or garlic on it and broil it, and then we pair it with some rice –  a quick and easy weeknight dinner.  We’ve tried some actual salmon recipes that we use when we want to change things up a bit, but we’re usually too uninspired to try something new on, say, a Wednesday night.

Well, today I decided that I wanted to make salmon, but I wanted to make something new and semi-special since… Our offer was accepted on our first home today!  WOOOO! 

Enter Rachael Ray.  On my lunch break, I quickly went to www.rachaelraymag.com and typed “salmon” into the search feature on her site.  I found the recipe for salmon cakes and decided they would be perfect for tonight.  (P.S. I LOVE crab cakes but had never had salmon cakes.)

I made the recipe in two parts, and it worked out perfectly.  After work, I prepped the salmon and then refrigerated it until later (it ended up being 3 hours later!), because we were off to work out and then sign some paperwork for the house.  (YAY for our new house!!!)  When I got home, I formed the patties, followed the rest of the recipe, and pan seared them in our cast iron skillet. 

The result?  A new favorite recipe!  I can’t wait to try this for guests soon.

 

I did tweak the recipe a bit by skipping the scallions and celery and using regular bread crumbs instead of the Japanese version.  I also used fresh salmon instead of pre-made, because I wanted to use the salmon that we already had in the fridge.   I cut the recipe in half, and I didn’t make the sauce.  Instead, I served our salmon cakes on rice with some salad greens on the side. 

Fun note: Brett said these salmon cakes were “fantastic.”  We both loved them = double success!

Salmon cakes
Everyday with Rachael Ray

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds store-bought cooked salmon fillet, chilled and skinned
3 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
6 scallions, green and white parts chopped separately
2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2/3 cup mayonnaise plus 1/2 cup mayonnaise
salt and black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 large eggs, beaten
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1. Flake the salmon into a large bowl.  Using a fork, mix in half cup panko, the scallion whites, the celery, the parsley, 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a pinch black pepper, and the cayenne.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Form the mixture into 8 patties about 1 inch thick.  In a bowl, mix the remaining 2 1/2 cups panko with 1 teaspoon salt.  Coat the patties with the panko, then the eggs, then the panko again.

3. In a skillet, heat half of the olive oil over medium heat.  Add 4 salmon patties and cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side.  Drain on paper towels.  Repeat with the remaining oil and patties. 

4. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup mayonnaise, the vinegar and 1/3 cup scallion greens; season with salt and pepper.  Serve two cakes per person with the sauce alongside.





My first lasagna!

25 02 2008

I was flipping through recipes and searching for inspiration online this morning, and I came across more than one picture of lasagna. My mouth started watering, and I knew that lasagna should be my next recipe-to-be-blogged!

As I searched for the perfect lasagna recipe, I started reminiscing about my mom’s cooking from when I was a little girl. I used to hate ricotta cheese, and she used to make me my own separate lasagna with just mozzarella cheese instead. That’s love!

As I got older, I grew to love Mom’s original version of lasagna, complete with ricotta, mozzarella, and her homemade meatballs, sliced between the layers. Yum.

I would have loved to attempt Mom’s recipe, but I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen today. Still, my lasagna craving ensued. After reading another food blog (Annie’s Eats), I decided to try her recipe from allrecipes.com. The recipe didn’t look too complicated, and I figured I could whip up the lasagna without a problem. With some Italian bread with oil for dipping, I thought it sounded like the perfect Sunday meal.

I didn’t want to have to eat lasagna for the next week, so I cut the recipe in half and did a little improvising along the way. I ended up using a lot less mozzarella and more spinach than what the recipe called for. I also skipped the onions and added some garlic powder to the sauce.

Here are some pictures:

Overall: Lasagna success! I’m not sure why I was intimidated to make it, because I figured out that lasagna is pretty easy and very forgiving. I think I’ll play around with some of the layers next time and try some more veggies if Brett will let me get away with it!

Deep Dish Lasagna
From allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

12 lasagna noodles
1 lb. Italian sausage
2/3 cup chopped onion
½ tbsp. minced garlic
2/3 cup chopped parsley
3 cans tomato paste
15 oz. tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
1 ½ tsp. basil
1 ½ tsp. oregano
1 lb. part-skim ricotta
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
½ cup parmesan cheese
3 eggs
2 tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Brown sausage with onions, garlic and half the parsley. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, oregano and basil. Simmer for 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine remaining parsley, ricotta, spinach, parmesan, eggs, garlic, S&P. In a 9×13” baking dish, spread 2 cups of sauce. Begin layering with 4 noodles, half of the cheese mixture, a third of the remaining sauce and one cup of mozzarella. Repeat. The last layer will be noodles, sauce and mozzarella. Bake, covered at 350° for 45 minutes and then uncovered for 10 minutes.





Chocolate Rocks

22 02 2008

I saw a picture of these cookies in O Magazine before I actually read the name of the recipe.  The picture of the cookies looked super yummy, but the name?!  Chocolate rocks?  They sound like something that would break your teeth and/or sink to the bottom of your belly if you ate one.  Name aside, I decided to try the recipe because: a) I love cookies, b) I especially love oatmeal in cookies, and c) I thought these would be quick and easy (I was right).

On to making the dough!  First, I realized that I should have read through the entire recipe before beginning.  It says to preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare the dough, and then it says to refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes before baking.  Needless to say, I wish I hadn’t started the oven, turned it off, and then started it all over again 40 minutes later.  Oh well.  Lesson learned – read the entire recipe before beginning!

 The recipe was super easy, and the dough came out incredibly hearty, as I suspected, and super tasty.  Here’s a picture:

 

I kept the dough in the fridge between batches, and I think they turned out pretty well.  They may not look pretty, but they sure do taste good.  They’re definitely heartier than your average chocolate chip cookies thanks to the mix of chocolate chips, oatmeal, and raisins.  I also subbed pecans for walnuts and used white flour instead of whole wheat flour, only because that’s what was already in the pantry. 

The result:

And an extreme close-up:

Verdict: The cookies were really good when they first came out of the oven and were warm and gooey, but they weren’t as good when they cooled down.  I think a quick pop in the microwave prior to eating might make these a bit better. 

Chocolate “Rocks”
O Magazine, March 2008

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup raisins

 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven.  In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Remove from heat; stir in brown sugar.  Stir in apple butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Add flour mixture; stir until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts, and raisins.  Return dough to bowl, cover, and refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop dough by rounded soup-spoonfuls about 1 inch apart.  Back 13 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking, until bottoms of cookies are golden brown.  Immediately transfer cookies to racks to cool.  Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.





Lemon gnocchi – Part II: The cooking begins!

21 02 2008

After hanging out in the fridge all afternoon, my gnocchi were ready to be cooked – or at least I hoped so! I started the lemon butter sauce – super easy – and started boiling some salt water in a large pot. When the water was boiling and ready, I was actually excited to dump the pasta in, but then I started to worry!

The recipe said that I needed to drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, wait until they rose to the top, and then cook them for one more minute. This is where I started to panic a bit. What would I do if they didn’t rise? Was I supposed to wait one minute after the last gnocchi rose to the top? I ultimately decided to just plop them all in and hope for the best.

As I hovered over the pot, the gnocchi miraculously started popping to the top!  I was thrilled that they were doing what they were supposed to do. I decided to relax a bit and wait until the majority of the gnocchi rose to the top, and then wait one more minute, as suggested by the recipe.

Here are my little beauties rising to the top:

After I drained the pasta, I pan seared them a bit and then gently tossed them in the lemon butter sauce. I couldn’t help myself, and I snuck a taste before Brett tried them – you know, just in case they were horrendous tasting.

The finished product:


Overall, I thought they were tasty – soft but a little crisp thanks to the pan searing. The lemon butter sauce was rich, so I was glad I didn’t use it all, and I skipped the scallions and topped my gnocchi with some romano pecorino cheese. Yum!

Meyer Lemon Gnocchi
Food & Wine, March 2008

Ingredients:
1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
3 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, preferably Meyer lemons
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt
Snipped chives, for garnish
Bottarga, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

– In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pan; shake over moderately high heat until dry.

– Working over a large rimmed baking sheet, rice the hot potatoes in an even layer. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the salt and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the flour over the potatoes and stir gently just until a dough forms.- Gently roll the dough into four 1/2 inch thick ropes. Using a sharp knife, cut each rope into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges. Transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

– In a small saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the 1 stick of butter, a few pieces at a time, until the sauce is creamy. Warm the sauce on low heat if necessary. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt.

– In a large pot of salted water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then cook them for 1 mintue longer. Gently drain the gnocchi, toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet until cool.

– In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add half of the gnocchi and cook in a single layer over high heat until browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and gnocchi.

– Reheat the sauce; pour it over the gnocchi and fold gently with a rubber spatula until they are evenly coated. Transfer to a platter and garnish with chives. Grate the bottarga on top, if desired. Serve.





Lemon gnocchi – Part I: The prep work

21 02 2008

Today I attempted the Food and Wine Meyer lemon gnocchi recipe, although I’ll just call my recipe lemon gnocchi since I didn’t use Meyer lemons.

It was a little tricky to make the recipe, because I didn’t really have any idea of what the dough should look like. I followed the directions carefully and had to improvise occassionally (example: I don’t have a potato ricer, so I used a fork to get a similar consistency).

Making the dough was actually easier than I anticipated, and the only challenging part was getting that gnocchi shape. I think I did a decent job; I’m just hoping they don’t all unroll when I pop them in the boiling water tonight!

The Food and Wine recipe wasn’t really clear on how to get the ridges in the pasta. They simply said to, “Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges.” Huh? I had to do a quick Google search to find some pictures on how exactly to do that, and I think my attempts were pretty good for my first try.

Here are a couple pictures of the raw gnocchi before their plunge into the bubbling water.





The adventure begins!

19 02 2008

Brett and I just got back from skiing in Bromont, and now I have the rest of my February break to rest, relax, rejuvenate, and cook!  I’m ready to take full advantage of my days off and get started on my quest to try new recipes and write about them in my new blog. I found some recipes in various magazines and cookbooks, and I can’t wait to get started. The problem is deciding which recipe to make first!  Since it’s sitting in front of me right now, I guess my first new recipe will be Meyer lemon gnocchi from the March 2008 issue of Food & Wine.  I love gnocchi, the picture looks delicious, and the recipe doesn’t sound too difficult, so here goes!