Foodie Tuesday: Salmon Champagne Evening

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Shake it up a little even when you’re hungry for a favorite: this time I made my staple smoked salmon pasta in lemon cream sauce with a half-and-half combination of hot-smoked and cold cured salmon. It was a hit, and we demolished the dish in double time.

Salmon is calling me once again. Steamed, poached, roasted, smoked; cold, room temp or hot. I love it as a broiled filet and I love it as freshly made sushi. It is the perfect fat and tender foil for lemon cream sauce with pasta, the ideal topping for a chewy cream cheese-schmeared bagel, and the cedar planked heart of a gorgeous summer supper.

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Salmon, simply cooked in a covered stove-top pan with ginger juice and lime juice, makes a quick and tasty main dish for a simple meal. And can you tell I love dill with salmon? Must be my Norsk roots showing. Of course, I could also make a Champagne beurre blanc or a Champagne version of Hollandaise, and wouldn’t that be nice, too?

So I thought it was time to make some nice salmon cakes to cheer my salmon-loving heart and fill my seafood-hungry innards. What else is a landlocked mermaid to do?photo

Sweet Salmon Cakes

2 hand-sized boneless, skinless wild salmon filets

1 small tin of tiny, briny sweet shrimp (drained) [when minced, these combine with the potato flour and egg as great binders for the cakes]

Juice and zest of 1 small lemon

1 teaspoon of Tamari

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 Tablespoon of sushi gari (pickled ginger)

1 Tablespoon of potato flour

1/4-1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 egg

Combine all of these ingredients in a food processor and pulse them together until they’re as coarse or fine as you like for fish cakes. [In lieu of a food processor, you can of course hand mince the fish and shrimp and mix together lightly with the other ingredients.] Don’t overwork the blend. Form the mix quickly into 4 cakes and coat them generously with no-additive dehydrated ‘mashed’ potato flakes. Fry the cakes over medium-high heat in butter (use a nonstick pan) until golden brown. Turn off the burner before the cakes are fully cooked, and just let them finish cooking as they set up while the heat’s dissipating from the burner. These, too, would of course be swell with Hollandaise or beurre blanc, but worked nicely on this occasion with lemony avocado puree, and were happy companions with a cup of Southern style tomatoes, okra, corn and green beans, plus  butter-steamed carrots bathed in maple syrup.photo

Foodie Tuesday: Thai Me up in Noodles

photoRice noodles + ginger = Asian-flavored happiness. Hard to go wrong with a fresh southeast-Asian tinge when starting with those two elements as inspiration, not least of all when there are a few other appropriate ingredients lounging around on all the pantry and refrigerator shelves just leering at me suggestively. So as soon as I start salivating over this stuff, I must head for the hob and get cooking up something semi-respectfully enthusiastic in its homage to the marvels of the Asian-inflected kitchen.photoThis expedition can lead down byways as remote and convoluted as any of my other forays into cookery, but on a recent occasion I hewed just a little closer to the genuine article, ending up with a peanut-sauced noodle dish that was definitely reminiscent of those subtly spectacular and deliciously heartwarming feasts my Thai college roommate (Hi, Beautiful!) and friends fed me years ago.photoThai-inspired Peanut Noodles

Starting with a combination of homemade broth (about 3 cups) and 1 8 oz. can of coconut milk, I added about 2 heaping tablespoons of diced ginger root (I keep a jar of it in vodka in the fridge), another tablespoon of preserved kaffir lime leaf shreds (bought jarred), yet another spoonful of minced preserved cilantro, a scant half teaspoon of ground black pepper plus about 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a tablespoon of fish sauce (I use Squid brand because it’s the one I ‘learned’ from my roommate), and lastly, I added about 8 dried Shiitake mushrooms. All of this simmered over low heat until it reduced by about 50%, and then I strained it. The strained broth went into a broad saucier, where I cooked the handful of Pad Thai-style (though in this instance Vietnamese) rice noodles until done. I tossed a heaping two tablespoons of creamy natural (only salt added) peanut butter into the pan and let it soften while I was raiding the freezer, and by the time I got back with a 1-cup packet of frozen peas, the peanut butter was soft enough to stir in along with them.

My spousal-person was happy to keep the dish as served, not adulterating it with the garnishes a strange creature like his wife would add, but I was happy, on the other hand, to reintroduce the kaffir shreds and the ginger–this time in the form of my old favorite, sushi gari, also shredded thinly–and to top it all off, a nice sprinkling of sesame seeds. But however it gets to the table, this little concoction is a pleasant quick trip to southeast Asia that even those who can’t tolerate air travel can afford.

Foodie Tuesday: I Think in Food

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Some of these things are not Food like the others . . . (sing along with me, now) . . .

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Don't cry, Darling, it's only an onion . . .

I think in food.

The synesthesiac is infinitely more poetic,

dreaming every waking thought into links

of lovely chain bridging the senses

in one graceful catenary arch of a deep synaptic sigh:

lemons taste triangular; music glows first purple,

then exquisite blue: radiant, gradient skies of blue.photo

I could change it all to solid gold, yet I? I Sigh.

Yes, I too, am given to magical flights, and yet

they all lead, every thought, each sense,

each memory and every moment of experience

is all, forever,

food.photoToday’s episode of Foodie Tuesday is brought to you by my new chia pet:

Mocha Chia “Tapioca

And yes, the quotes are intentional and not Air Quotes, because there’s no actual tapioca involved but this dish tastes remarkably like it, which in my book is an excellent thing, despite having more nutrients and fiber than its textural cousin. I started my recipe, of course, by stealing from a number of similar magazine and online recipes and monkeying around with it to the degree that I think I can safely say it’s all mine by now.

All I did was mix 2-1/2 cups of almond milk (store-bought), 1/2 cup of chia seeds, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of Splenda sweetened (“sugar-free”) vanilla syrup of the kind sold for coffee and soda sweeteners. I stirred it all together and put it in the refrigerator to soak overnight, stirring a couple of times to break up the clumping and keep the chia seeds suspended in the liquid so they could all get their nice little fattening-up chances. Before the final stirring, I heated up another 2 tablespoons of vanilla syrup in the microwave until good and hot and then melted about a tablespoon of instant coffee crystals (decaf–what I have on hand just for flavoring baking, really), plus four sections of a Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate bar (about two big chomps’ worth, if you’re like me!) into it, stirring until it was smooth. Lastly, that mocha soup got stirred into the Tapi-Chia, if I may coin a word, and dished up for serving. As you can see, it got a bit of candied orange peel and a sprinkling of freshly zipped orange zest to finish, and I must say those went down a treat with the mocha-licious chia pudding. Will I do this one again, you ask? Oh, yes I will. Too easy to both prepare and eat not to consider it a keeper.photo