Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Salmon Cakes, and other recipe tips

Dear Folks,

I have been trying to come up with a take on 'crab cakes' using salmon.  Deane loves salmon - I like it best when I make my signature salmon steamed in herbs, but occasionally Deane enjoys the canned, and because I'm not that crazy about it I wanted to come up with something he would really love and I could 'enjoy' with him.

So, I had some left over cooked sweet potatoes, I got some pecans (one of my first thoughts to go with the canned salmon), and we still have fresh basil in the garden.

HARVEST TIP:  This time of year, make sure you harvest your basil AFTER it has been in the sun for a couple of hours, otherwise the flavor and scent will not be as nice -- cold damp air and soil makes the essential oils retreat.


Deane said this one is a keeper!

1 6oz can of boneless, skinless salmon (I used Alaskan pink)
1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potatoes
10 basil leaves
1 slice of bread
a scant 1/2 cup of pecans
salt and pepper
Lemon wedges.

Process the bread into crumbs.  Grind the pecans into crumbs, don't let it become 'butter' - mix pecans and bread crumbs together - set aside.

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Drain salmon and flake into small pieces.  Sliver the basil leaves and sprinkle over the salmon,  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I used coarse salt and fresh ground pepper).  Spread the mashed sweet potato over the salmon.  Add a handful of the bread/pecan mix and thoroughly mix the salmon mixture together.

Take a small handful of the salmon mixture and press together to form a ball or patty, gentle place in bread crumbs and pat more crumbs on top.  Place patty on baking sheet and press down to flatten slightly.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Last week when the temperatures dipped down, I was cold so I immediately think of soups and stews.  While I don't mind spending a couple of hours preparing meals, a lot of the time I want something fast.

For fast soups - ready in 15-20 minutes, but with all the home cooked taste and flavor, I rely on pre-cooked meats and my broths.  Here are easy proportion soups to make whenever.   By giving you some ratios you can easily double, triple or multiply to fit your family and company needs.  An old cooking wisdom is with unexpected company a soup or stew is easily and healthfully expanded with the addition of meat, pasta, potatoes or beans and some extra liquid.

1 cup of broth
1/4 cup of bite-size meat and/or cooked beans
1-2 tablespoons of uncooked pasta (I like Barilla-plus for its high protein / fiber ratio)
half a small new potato or 1/4 of a small baking potato, cooked and diced
half a stalk of celery, sliced or diced small
half a carrot sliced or diced small
1-2 tablespoons of diced onion
Salt and pepper to taste
handful of Fresh greens/herbs, coarse chopped (lettuces, basil, mint, kales, arugula etc.)
slurry 1 tablespoon of corn starch to 2 tablespoons of broth or water
Optional:  a teaspoon of olive oil, butter or bacon fat

Optional saute if you have time - saute the onion celery and carrot in the fat for five minutes.  Add broth and proceed.

Bring broth to a boil and add onion, celery and carrot.  If the past takes 10 minutes to cook add it now.  Set time for 10 minutes.  If the past takes 6 minutes add it at the 4 minute mark.

Meanwhile place a handful of the fresh greens in each soup bowl.  When the timer goes off add potatoes, meat and/or beans and cook 1-2 minutes to heat through.  If you want a thick soup, add the slurry before or after the meat etc. and cook 1-2 minutes.  Ladle into bowls over fresh greens.  Serve with a nice crusty bread or crackers.

In the next blog I'm going to give you some FAST AND FUN FOOD IDEAS for your family and holiday entertaining, using farmers market products and recipes to make quickly at home.

SHOP LOCAL FOR THE HOLIDAYS:  In a special newsletter next week I am going to highlight some of my friends and farmers market vendors who have great options of gift giving or something for yourself -- watch for it :-)

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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