• 11Mar

    We had a very nice dinner last night with friends we hadn’t see in awhile. It was nice to slow down, sit around the table, enjoy a simple meal and catch up with folks you care about. Reminds me to have friends over more often.

    I served these fish cakes with romesco sauce on a bed of arugula and endive lightly dressed with lemon vinaigrette. The sides: Full Belly Farms vegetable gratin and a pilaf of root veggies with red & white quinoa. Oh and strawberry shortcake for dessert :)

    Here is the recipe for the fish cakes:

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Fish and Potato Cakes

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    3/4 pound salmon — cooked and flaked, be careful to search out all bones
    2 medium russet potato — organic, with skin steamed and roughly mashed
    1/2 cup panko or other bread crumbs — up to 1 cup to hold together
    1 bunch scallion — thinly sliced
    2 tablespoons capers — coarsely chopped
    2 lrg eggs -try Chino Ranch eggs, my favorite :)
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    sea salt to taste
    olive oil

    Mix all ingredients together. Potatoes should be chunky and fish flakey – in other words don’t mash the heck out of it :). Season with sea salt (I like Redmond) to taste. Form into 12 patties.

    Heat olive oil in a saute pan (use a cast iron pan) over medium heat. Saute each cake until golden brown on each side. You can make ahead and warm in the oven before serving. Tasty for breakfast too.

    Yield: 12 each
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Serving Ideas: Serve with tartar sauce or roasted red pepper romesco on a bed of salad greens or with celery root remoulade.

    Variations: Sub fresh salmon with fresh cod or seabass or 14 oz can salmon (all canned salmon is wild – but then you have the metal can…) or canned tuna (sometimes you can find tuna in a glass jar). Sub capers with chopped green or black olives. Use your favorite variety of potato instead of russets (last night I used yellow potatoes from the Full Belly CSA box.)

    For a Vegetarian Version sub the fish with 1-1/1/4 cup of lightly steamed broccoli or cauliflower.

  • 10Mar

    I’ve been meaning to subscribe to a CSA box for – oh years now and finally took the plunge. What is a CSA box you ask? CSA stands for community supported agriculture. You subscribe to a vegetable box from, generally, one farm and every week you get a box of a selection of their harvest. You can pick up the box at the farmer’s market, at a neighborhood pick up (we pick up a few blocks from our home off a neighbor’s porch) or some will deliver to your door.

    The appeal – you are supporting a local organic farmer(s), you eat seasonally, you get to try things you normally wouldn’t, and you feel good ‘cuz you are eating your veggies like mom said to.

    I’ve been trying out Full Belly Farms for a month and then will try Terra Firma. I use to buy from both farms back when I was the forager for Hawthorne Lane. I like both farms and farmers so it will be hard to settle on one.

    As a chef, I get excited with a new box of goodies to play with. And ironically, it forces you to think outside the box. How many of us stick to the same handful of fruits and veggies when we know variety is important to a balanced diet? I have to sheepishly admit I do that more often than not. Face it, we’re all busy and it is a miracle at times to even cook so it’s easier to rely on the tried and true. Luckily the farms provide recipes to go with the boxes so you have the added bonus of new recipes to add to your collection.

    I really enjoyed the Vegetable Gratin from the Full Belly newsletter. Try it out and you will find yourself using any and all veggies. Note: for maximum tasti-ness be generous on the olive oil and sea salt. Last week included a potato pancake recipe (I add carrots and green garlic since they were in the box too). This week’s newsletter had the old stand by for leeks and potatoes – soup. Broccoli was also in the box so you could toss in some for a Potato, Broccoli and Leek Soup.

    Carrots and oranges have been big in the box the last 2 weeks. Here is a great recipe I got from Bauman College when I taught a few of the Natural Chef classes awhile back. The original recipe was adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook. Note: Instead of the mandarin orange you can use oranges or any variety of mandarin or tangerine and chives can be left out.

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Carrot and Satsuma Mandarin Orange Soup

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    2 tablespoons butter — or olive oil
    1 cup yellow onion — chopped
    1 pound organic carrots — scrubbed and chopped
    2 2/3 cups chicken stock — or vegetable stock
    2/3 cup fresh satsuma mandarin juice
    salt and pepper — to taste
    2/3 tablespoon finely chopped chives — for garnish
    1 1/3 whole satsuma mandarin orange — peeled and thinly sliced for garnish
    orange zest — to taste

    Melt butter in a pot. Add onions, cover, and cook over low heat until very tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes.

    Add carrots (leave the peels on for maximum nutrition – the peels are where all the minerals are!) and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.

    Puree soup with a stick blender (you got to get one!) Or use a blender or food processor.

    Add the orange juice and additional stock, 2-3 cups, until soup is of the desired consistency.

    Season to taste with salt and pepper; add orange zest. Simmer until heated through.

    Serve each bowl with a slice of peeled orange floating on top with a sprinkle of chives. A dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche or yogurt is a nice touch too.

    Variation: add some grated ginger when sauteing the onions.