Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Rain & the Doldrums

Well, I learned how to spell a new word today, even if I've been using it for years!

"Doldrums" - what caught my eye about this word is down towards the bottom of the Wikipedia page: The doldrums gave rise to a place called The Doldrums in the Phantom Tollbooth inhabited by the Lethargarians who do nothing all day, a place where "nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes", to depict the area in life where you become stagnant. The time when you stop questioning things and believe everything with no rebuttal.

eek! Well, I'm not that far gone with these rainy, gray days that have me locked up inside the house, unable to do much in the gardens. My greenhouse isn't build properly for me to start seeds in it at this time of year (it's too cold & draughty) and I don't have the proper grow lights in the house to start more than a few pots of things a time.

So I'm left with becoming dirty in the kitchen. Well, creative should be the term, but I do tend to make quite a mess!


Yesterday's successful recipe came from Saveur - a great on-line site for food & all articles relating to food. Right now they keep showing me a red velvet layer cake...I will have to whip that one up in the near future as it's been too long since we've had one!
 

-Salmon Croquettes with Green Goddess Dressing
 Salmon Croquettes
1/2 cup white wine
3 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 Tbsp+ kosher salt
1 lb salmon fillet
1 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
3 Tbsp melted butter
4 scallions - finely chopped
1 small onion - finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
juice of 1 lemon
oil for frying




1) combine 4 cups of water, 2 Tbsp Old Bay, 1 Tbsp salt & wine in a 10" skillet. Bring to a boil, add salmon (skin side down) & turn off heat. Cover & let salmon gently poach in hot liquid for 10 minutes. Transfer salmon to a plate (skin side up) & let cool. Salmon should still be rare in the middle.
      * my note: I drank the wine the night before & didn't add the seasoning or salt to the water.

2) Peel off & discard the salmon skin. Break into small piece & place in a large bowl. Add remaining Old Bay seasoning & salt, along with bread crumbs, butter, scallions, onions, eggs & lemon juice. Stir to combine & refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
       * my note: I'm notorious for not following recipes exactly. I think the Old Bay seasoning is a great flavour - just don't add a full tablespoon as it is salty & can over power the croquettes. I use panko bread crumbs, which are wonderfully light. Who has scallions in their fridge at this time of year (or any time for that matter?)! I went out to the garden & harvested some fresh wandering Egyptian onion tops - lots actually, as they are reproducing at an alarming rate & taking over the gardens. I didn't have lemon juice (!! I ALWAYS have lemon juice!!) so I harvested some fresh sorrell, which has a great lemon flavour. I also harvested some fresh thyme. At the end of all this, the patties were flecked with lots of fresh green. And I forgot to add the butter...

3) Spoon some of the salmon mix into  1/3-cup measuring cup & pack it with your hands. Unmold & put patty on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 patties. Refrigerate patties for at least 1 hour or overnight.
        * my note: getting the patties out of the measuring cup is tricky. I have a pastry/icing knife (like a rounded, flexible putty knife) that worked like a charm. I made the patties thick & dense, so I ended up with only 7 or 8. As I started cooking late, I popped them into the freezer for half an hour & then into the fridge while the oil was heating up.

4) Add oil to a 12" cast-iron skillet til it reaches a depth of 1/2". Heat over medium-high heat til hot. Gently transfer half the patties to the skillet & cook - flipping once with spatula, til golden brown - about 5 minutes. Transfer croquettes to a paper towel-lined plate & repeat with remaining patties.
      * my note: I hate deep frying food - I will never own a deep fryer & cringe each time I come across a recipe that calls for '1/2" of oil' in a pan! I use considerably less & I also use my herbal olive oils. I bake with olive oil & have yet to notice the difference. If I want a lighter oil, I'll use safflower or even peanut. But have your hood vent going on high the minute you turn the oil on, put a lid on the skillet & have a timer on hand to do sets of 2 or 3 minutes so that you aren't standing over top a spitting oily skillet the entire time.

SERVES 6
Unless you are serving these as appies, this recipe will really only feed 3 or 4 people. As you can see in my photo above, we ate them with a spinach salad (spinach & a wheat berry salad) & all covered with Green Goddess Dressing. I'll have to share those 2 recipes at a later time - but the flavour of the Green Goddess is tarragon white wine vinegar.

This would also be great served chilled so that you aren't cooking with scary oil while dinner guests are watching.

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