Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pretty Tasty Salmon Cakes

I'm a huge fan of pantry/basic fridge recipes that can be made without any special grocery purchases or preparation. I'm normally turned off by long ingredient lists, but in this case, dry and canned goods, along with long-lived refrigerator staples make up virtually all of the ingredients, so you can just decide to make it at seven o'clock without worrying about going out for anything. The wheat germ is kind of weird, but a nice, slightly nutty (& nutritious!) replacement for bread or cracker crumbs. Serves 3.


2 - 7 oz. cans good quality salmon
1/2 cup shallots, minced
1 tblsp. minced garlic
1 medium egg
1 1/2 tblsp. wheat germ
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. mayonnaise
1/2 lemon, juiced
olive oil

Saute the shallots and garlic over medium heat for 5 or 6 minutes, until somewhat softened and slightly carmelized.

In the meantime, combine the remainder of the ingredients in mixing bowl, breaking up the salmon and mixing with a fork. Add in the shallots and garlic, and season to taste. Form the mixture into 3 hockey puck-sized patties, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.

To serve, saute the patties in a little bit of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat; a nonstick pan is best for this. You want to make sure to get a good color on both sides of each cake. Serve hot, with your preferred starch and veggie alongside.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Salad: Greek + Wheat

About a dozen years ago, my sister and I took a trip that involved grinding our way up and down the hills of mainland Greece in a tiny, tempermental, stick-shift car. Though our knowledge of Greek was limited to "please", "thank you", and the alphabet as gleaned from physics class and a childhood musical (don't ask), we got around well enough for me to have a real Greek salad at a taverna somewhere south of Thessonaliki. It was cool and crunchy and delicious - and very hard to replicate.

More recently, I discovered that I love bulgur wheat. This can be entirely attributed to Ina Garten's Chicken with Tabbouleh recipe, and her preparation of the bulgur is, I think, a wonderful basic recipe. It's nutty and fresh and the perfect accompaniment for the cucumber and feta of the Greek salad, turning it into a great summer lunch.

Note: this recipe has a day-ahead timeline, so that the shallots have a chance to both mellow out and flavor the olive oil. Generally, this salad keeps very well in the fridge, and the flavor tends to improve over time.


The Greek:
1 cup shallots, sliced
3/4 cup delicious olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 medium cucumbers, mostly peeled
4-5 plum or other firm tomatoes
8 oz. block feta cheese

The Wheat:
1 cup bulgur wheat
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup also tasty olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 day ahead:

Put the olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and shallots into your favorite plastic storage container, give it a stir or a shake and leave it in the fridge.

A few hours ahead:

Prepare the bulgur: in a large bowl, add the salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and water to the dry bulgur and give it a good stir. Immediately cover with plastic wrap or a plate and let it alone for about an hour. Definitely don't skimp on the lemon juice and ALWAYS use fresh! Lemons keep quite a long time in the fridge, so it's easiest to just keep 2 or 3 on hand.

Chop the cheese and veggies: roughly dice everything into about 1/2 inch chunks; you should have about equal parts tomato, cucumber and feta when you're finished. Toss it all into a big bowl with the shallot/olive oil dressing, season to taste, and then pop the whole thing back in the fridge while you wait for the bulgur. When most or all of the liquid is absorbed and the little grains are al dente, it's ready.


Combine the salad with the bulgur wheat, mixing thoroughly. Season to taste and return to the fridge until ready to serve.