Salmon cakes. Who am I kidding? These are salmon patties. But cakes sound so much chicer than patties, so I’m going with cakes. This recipe is from Julia Turshen’s new cookbook, Simply Julia, which I’m really enjoying. It’s an approachable, warm book with loads of healthyish takes on comfort food. I’m all about uncomplicated recipes that are satisfying and quick to throw together these days. I love Julia’s personal essays and really enjoyed all the recipes I’ve tried so far – sticky chicken, cornmeal cobbler with frozen fruit, crispy smashed turkey burgers, and a great all-purpose soy saucey/tehina dressing. Other things I’m dying to try from the book: the green spaghetti, kale and mushroom pot pie, and the sled dog muffins!
This recipe, called ‘ricotta and potato chip fish cakes with peas’ in the book, includes a creamy pea sauce which really took me back to childhood. My Aunt Jean made the most delicious salmon patties (pan fried in lots of butter) and always served with a creamy pea sauce. I didn’t know it was really a thing. I butchered the pea sauce here, unfortunately. I had neither enough peas or milk. The salmon cakes don’t really need it though… I also used crushed Ritz crackers instead of sour cream and onion (!) potato chips (which are undoubtedly fantastic). The ricotta adds a whipped lightness to the patties and lemon zest and Old Bay Seasoning give them tons of flavor. Don’t forget to hit these with a generous squeeze of lemon before eating, it really brightens it up! I served these with an easy stovetop mac and cheese and roasted broccoli. This trifecta of fish, mac and cheese, and broccoli is my comfort food love language.
2 (6 ounce) cans of pink salmon packed in water, drained
2 ounces of Ritz crackers (half a sleeve-ish), crushed into fine crumbs
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2-3 tablespoons butter
In a large bowl, add the cracker crumbs, salmon, ricotta, lemon zest, chives, and Old Bay Seasoning. Stir mixture really well breaking up the salmon as you go. Form into 8 patties.
Place the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once butter melts and begins to bubble, place the fish cakes in the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes until nicely browned on the bottom. Flip each one over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Try not to crowd the pan, you can fry them in batches adding more butter as you go. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Cut the zested lemon into wedges and serve with the fish cakes.
Sometimes winter needs a dose of bright, summer flavor to remind us that the ground will eventually thaw and longer, sunny days are on the horizon. I’m partial to making barbecue brisket sandwiches in January, muddling mint in my cocktails in February and sprinkling out of season (but readily available) berries on my yogurt in March. Call me a dreamer but sometimes I just want a hot dog and an ice cream cone for dinner. These blackberry cornmeal pancakes are the perfect antidote to summertime longing. Pockets of juicy blackberries nestled in a fluffy cornmeal pancake – these are not your run of the mill limp pancakes. The flour and cornmeal give the pancake a lovely, rich texture and bonus – these are super quick and easy to whip up. Make a batch and keep them in the fridge for a quick weekday breakfast!
Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes
Yield: About 13 pancakes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ricotta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus more for the skillet
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 cup blackberries
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine 3 tablespoons butter, milk, followed by the eggs. Stir in blackberries. Combine mixture with dry ingredients and stir until ingredients are incorporated.
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into skillet for each pancake. Flip the pancakes when bubbles begin to appear all over top, about 2 minutes. Cook for another minute until golden on the other side. Keep pancakes warm on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.
What do you make for dinner when your apartment is hotter than a sweatshop but the thought of eating cereal and milk as a meal erodes your soul? Cold rice noodle bowl to the rescue! Full disclosure here – while this has the semblance of being a cool oven-free dinner, I did in fact turn on both my burner and oven to make this dish. But, once those were turned off and I was sitting pants-less in front of the AC unit – it was cool sailing! Aside from the oven usage – this really is the perfect summer dish. The rice noodles keep things light, the mint, basil, and cilantro add a delicious herby-freshness and who doesn’t love a peanut sauce? All you need to do is cook the chicken and some noodles and it’s din din time.
2tablespoons Asian fish sauce (I subbed worcestershire sauce)
1tablespoon soy sauce
1teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
8ounces dried rice vermicelli
2small cucumbers, cut in half moons
1medium carrot, cut in thin matchsticks
Small handful basil sprigs
Small handful mint sprigs
Small handful cilantro sprigs
4tablespoons slivered scallions
¼cup chopped peanuts
For Peanut Sauce
2tablespoons Asian fish sauce (again I subbed worcestershire sauce)
2tablespoons rice vinegar
5 tablespoons lime juice
2tablespoons soy sauce
11-inch chunk ginger, peeled and minced
4tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
2teaspoons sesame oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
Puree the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and chili garlic sauce in a small food processor. Place chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Whisk together the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a small bowl.
Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Grill or broil the chicken thighs until browned. About 5-6 minutes a side. Let cool and slice into strips. Reserve the pan juices.
In a small bowl, place a nice handful of noodles in the bottom of your bowl. Spoon some of the chicken pan drippings on top of the noodles. Top with cucumbers, carrots, and sliced chicken. Add the basil, mint and cilantro. Drizzle peanut sauce on top of everything. Sprinkle with the scallions and crushed peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.