Halibut and Corn Cakes
My relationship with fish is rather complicated.
As a child growing up in the middle of the Canadian prairies, my fish-eating experiences were rather limited and mostly featured frozen fish sticks or canned tuna (does that really even count as fish?) mixed with Miracle Whip and sweet relish. The few times “real” fish – usually trout I think – was served for dinner, I ate the minimum required to escape Mom’s scrutiny, filled up on the side dishes and hoped there was dessert.
Later in life I expanded my fish options to include swordfish and cod. However they were mostly consumed under duress when others insisted on going to a seafood restaurant and the only non-fish item available would have had me selecting from the kid’s menu.
But somewhere between then and now, I grew up, bravely started trying new foods and discovered that fish, when properly prepared, is delicious!
I have discovered the beauty that is home-smoked salmon gently folded into an alfredo sauce, the simplicity of cod drizzled lemon-butter sauce and studded with salty capers, and the meatiness grilled swordfish provides to a plate piled high with lightly steamed fresh veggies.
So when Paul and I came home from this summer’s anniversary trip to the Olympic Peninsula and proceeded to vacuum seal about five million bags of freshly caught salmon and halibut, I was giddy with anticipation of all the upcoming fish dinners we would enjoy.
Until after four months of repeating the same recipes over and over, I realized that my fish repertoire is pretty narrow. I needed to do something new, and I needed to do it quickly because I had four huge halibut fillets defrosting in my fridge.
Online recipe searches for a new halibut recipe left me uninspired until one link led to another and I ended up here. In spite of Paul’s grave look of concern when I told him the recipe included corn, I poached the halibut in water, lemon slices and Old Bay Seasoning. When cooled, I flaked it up and used it in place of the original recipe’s salmon.
It was a hit. With everyone.
Next time I want leftovers, so I’ll have to make a double batch – at least!
Halibut or Salmon & Corn Cake Recipe
- 1 lb Cooked Halibut
- 1/2 cup Cooked Fresh Corn (I used frozen)
- 1/4 cup Shallots, diced medium
- 3 Tbs Italian Parsley, finely chopped
- 1 Egg, beaten
- 3 Tbs unsalted Butter, melted
- 1 Tbs Fresh Ginger, grated
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 2 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Fresh Bread Crumbs
- oil for frying
- lemon wedges
1. Combine everything except fish and bread crumbs. Add 1/4 c of bread crumbs (reserve the rest.) Mix in halibut gently, making sure there are still good sized chunks of the fish.
2. Pour remaining bread crumbs onto plate. Form mix into patties, pressing together firmly (I used a 1/3 c measuring cup to portion them out evenly). Gently dredge both sides of patties in bread crumbs and set aside until all patties are formed.
3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook each side until golden brown – about 3 or 4 minutes each side. Do not attempt to turn the patties until they are dark golden brown or you’ll end up with fish cake hash. It helps to use two spatulas at the same time to prevent the cakes from breaking apart.
4. Drain on paper towels, serve with lemon wedges.
Vanilla Pearl Cookies with Saffron Glaze- Marx Foods Recipe Challenge
Shortly after we first started dating, I made a batch of cookies for Paul. He had been feeling under the weather, and I wanted to do something sweet to cheer him up.
I pulled out my brand-new copy of the Joy of Cooking and paged through the Cookie section until I found a recipe that met the few requirements I had:
- It had to be a cookie that was familiar to me
- I had to have all the ingredients in my very limited pantry
- It had to be easy (I had very little patience for baking back then)
Oatmeal cookies fit the bill perfectly. Paul ate them with enjoyment, and in the many years since, they have become a familiar friend in our home. Where I once had to look up the page number in the back of the book, it now falls open automatically at the right spot. And that page is beautifully marked with speckles of vanilla, flour and sugar.
So when I was notified that I was selected to participate in the Marx Foods Fregola Sarda recipe challenge, this family favorite kept begging me for consideration.
I was skeptic, however. The key ingredient that I had to utilize in a dessert wasFregola Sarda pasta – little toasted balls of pasta. When cooked, they bear a striking resemblance to tapioca pearls. Taste-wise, they are a little chewy with a slight nutty flavor.
Along with the pasta, Marx Foods also provided me with star anise, vanilla beans and saffron. I had to use at least one of these in a dessert recipe.
My thought was that I would simply substitute the Fregola for the oatmeal in the recipe. So I boiled up a bit of the Fregola with half of one of the vanilla beans, and mixed it in to the dough.
That first batch of cookies was – uh – yucky. Apparently the oatmeal provides a lot of bulk to the cookies.
For the second batch I added extra flour. Hot out of the oven, they were pretty good. The pasta added a light, pleasant chew. I thought I had it nailed.
But then they cooled. And the pasta became little balls of gummy rubber. Not good.
I tried baking them less time, more time, hotter and cooler. Nothing worked. They always reverted to an unpleasant chewiness when they cooled.
By this time, I only had enough Fregola left to try one more time. So I boiled the pasta way beyond any definition of al dente. Where I had originally cooked them about 12-15 minutes, this last time I had them going for 23 minutes. There was no bite left at all.
And I met with resounding success! After cooling, the cookies developed a very slight, and very pleasant chew to them. To finish them off and make them beautiful, I used the saffron to create a beautiful and delicious glaze. Update: Voting is happening now. Please visit Marx Foods Fregola Dessert Recipe Challenge to vote.
I must say, the infusion of the vanilla flavor into the Fregola is amazing! The flavor permeated the pasta, leaving behind a delicious pop of vanilla with every bite. I imagine that the pasta would pick up other flavors just as readily. I intend to get some more and explore it’s savory use as well.
Vanilla Pearl Cookies with Saffron Glaze
- 1/2 cup Fregola Sarda pasta
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split down the middle
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp. milk
- 2 c all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. hot water
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 1 c powdered sugar
Cook Fregola, vanilla bean and salt in boiling water until pasta is very soft – approximately 20-25 minutes. Drain and cool completely. Remove and discard the vanilla bean. Measure 1 cup of Fregola.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together.
Mix in egg, vanilla extract and milk. Beat until smooth.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir thoroughly into butter/egg mixture. Stir in 1 cup cooked and cooled Fregola pasta.
Drop cookies 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown.
Remove cookies from pan and cool on cooling rack. When cooled, combine all glaze ingredients and drizzle over cookies.
Yield – about 24 cookies.
Disclaimer (please read really quickly and quietly)- Marx Foods provided me with the Fregola Sarda, vanilla beans, saffron and star anise (which I did not use). This recipe was adapted from the Joy of Cooking Quick Oatmeal Cookies recipe. If this recipe is selected as a winner in the Marx Foods Fregola Sarda dessert challenge, I will win a Marx Foods gift certificate.
What to do with Leftovers – Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie
Carrots … peas … mushrooms … creamy sauce … what’s not to love about a chicken pot pie? It’s warm, cozy goodness on a plate.
But the very, very best part that makes it superior to any other type of casserole, soup or stew is the pie crust. Baked on top of the filling, the bottom of it soaks up just enough of the sauce to hold onto a bit of the flavor and elevates it to extreme deliciousness.
This past weekend we had our annual pre-season Thanksgiving dinner, with a chicken filling in for the turkey.
The great thing about having an early Thanksgiving dinner is having early Thanksgiving leftovers. And in my house, that means pot pie.
Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie
- 2 Tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 3 cups chicken, cut in approximately 1/2″ pieces
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup half & half
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 pie crust
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon water.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In large saucepan, melt the butter. Add onions, carrots and mushrooms and cook until tender.
Stir in flour, poultry seasoning, slat and pepper. Mix well.
Add chicken broth and half & half. Cook until thickened and bubbly.
Mix in chicken and peas.
Pour into 9″ pie pan. Cover with pie crust, flute edges.
Brush top with beaten egg. Cut several steam holes in crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.
What food means Fall to you?
Based on the huge number of pumpkin recipes I’ve seen in magazines and blogs lately, it’s the Fall flavor of choice for many. However, I get tired of pumpkin very quickly – in fact, I made a few loaves of pumpkin bread a few weeks ago and that seems to have satisfied my pumpkin craving for now. (Although I’m sure it will return in time for Thanksgiving dessert!)
For me, the food that truly says Fall is cranberries. The brilliant red tart-sweet berries are the flavor of crisp autumn mornings. Mornings when the bright sun beacons me, enticing me to enjoy my coffee outside on the deck, but the chill in the air sends me quickly back indoors.
So when I saw this recipe in the September issue of Fine Cooking magazine, I filed it away, saving it for an upcoming Fall day.
Yesterday was that beautiful, bright Fall day. I pulled the magazine out and baked a panful of Fall deliciousness.
The recipe is pretty easy – several steps are involved, but none that are difficult. The result is a gorgeous pan full of ruby red and toasty Fall flavors that were enjoyed by the whole family.
Except Austin, who won’t eat anything with nuts.
That’s all right though – it just means more for me!
Expanding Our Vegetable Options
Two months ago a very fortunate thing happened. Farmer Paul and I met Graham Kerr – The Galloping Gourmet. Thanks to a mutual friend and impeccable timing, we spent a very enjoyable lunch hour talking with Graham and he shared with us his excitement about his upcoming book which is completely focused on vegetables.
And, during the one hour we spent with him, Graham was able to do something I have not managed in almost twenty years of marriage – he convinced Farmer Paul to try brussels sprouts. He told him that, when cooked properly, sprouts are delicious. He convinced him that they’re not mini-cabbages. He made Paul promise to try them.
And so, Paul tried them tonight.
To put this in proper perspective, you must realize that twenty years ago, during our first years of marriage, I was shocked to discover that there was one – yes, ONE green vegetable that Paul would eat. Green Beans. Cooked southern style – that is to say, slow boiled with bacon until very, very tender. That’s it. (Unless you count an occasional salad….a very occasional salad.)
Slowly over the years, my cooking skills and his trust in these skills has persuaded him to try numerous other veggies. He now counts a multitude of green vegetables as completely enjoyable and welcome at the dinner table. And this enjoyment seems to inspire the kiddos to eat their veggies too. In fact, the whole family eagerly looks forward to asparagus, broccoli and big servings of salad all summer long.
And, happily, as of tonight, brussels sprouts are added to the mix. Cause Graham was right, and Farmer Paul does like them!