Being Spoiled for Dinner

I was a princess yesterday. Or, at least, wonderfully lazy and treated quite nicely. Luis, on his first day of spring break, decided that he would cook dinner for me. After a lazy morning, we headed down to the Greenmarket at Union Square, picked up what we could there for the recipes of choice (this time of year, that’s mostly potatoes, onions and squash, plus a drinkable yogurt for Luis from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy). Then we hit Whole Foods for the non-seasonal, non-local items. Even with the best intentions, I can’t bring myself to eat *only* local and seasonal. I’d lose ginger, chocolate, citrus, bananas, peanuts and year-round bell peppers.

Back at home, I lounged and then played the occasional sous-chef for Luis. The result:

special dinner

Curried Winter Squash and Sweet Potato soup (New World Kitchen) with Salmon Cakes and Corn Salsa (Foster’s Market Cookbook). Both of these cookbooks create dishes with amazing flavors, involving many ingredients and much time. We usually save cooking from them for weekends.

If you happen to have a weekend and feel like playing, the Salmon Cakes are absolutely worth trying. Every time we make them I think, “Oh, these really are worth it.” So, for the next time you have two hours and a craving for salmon cakes, here you go. Straight from Foster’s to you (via Luis’s cookbook purchase and my blog, reduced by half).

Salmon Cakes with Crunchy Corn Relish – makes ~8 2″ cakes (4 servings)

Ingredients – relish (make first and allow to chill)

  • 1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/8 c. dry white wine (Vermentino works well, and is good w/ dinner)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. julienned fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh thyme (or 1/2 Tbs. dried thyme – can be omitted)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbs. pink peppercorns (if available)
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cored seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored seeded and diced
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions – relish

1. Place the corn, wine, vinegar, ginger, thyme, garlic, peppercorns, coriander, sugar, salt and bay leaf in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir and cook about 5-7 minutes, until the seasonings are incorporated. (If using frozen corn, reserve the corn, let other ingredients cook for 5 minutes than add corn for the last 2 minutes.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the green bell pepper, red bell pepper, scallions and basil and stir to mix.
3. Add the corn mixture to the pepper mixture and stir to mix. Season with pepper and check for salt balance. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

Ingredients – salmon cakes

  • 1 lb. cooked salmon (poached, grilled or canned)
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 1/4 mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 c. canola/safflower oil (for frying)

Instructions – salmon cakes

1. Carefully break up the salmon with a fork into large chunks in a large bowl. Add all the ingredients EXCEPT the cooking oil and stir gently to combine. Do not over mix; the salmon pieces should be bite-sized chunks, not fine flakes.
2. Form the mixture into 8 2-inch cakes about 1 inch thick. Coat both sides of the cakes lightly with the remaining 1/4 c. bread crumbs, shaking off excess crumbs.
3. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, non-stick skillet. 3-4 cakes at a time, about 3 minutes per side, turning only once, until light golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain. If desired, place in pre-heated oven to keep warm while cooking the second batch of cakes. Serve immediately with Crunchy Corn Relish.

The prep is pretty simple, just lots of time-consuming chopping, mincing and dicing. Still, let me repeat, it is absolutely worth it. Ever so tasty, and what a wonderful treat to have them made for me!

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