Thursday, August 27, 2015

Southern Salmon Croquettes

SALMON CROQUETTES ARE SOUTHERN PATTIES made with canned salmon which is cheap affordable and nutritious. Most of all it is delicious. Salmon croquettes are very popular in soul food cookery where they are generally served for breakfast with grits and scrambled eggs. It is also very popular to serve these croquettes with hot, fluffy, white rice.

I like mine with macaroni and cheese and a fresh vegetable, this time it was ripe summer tomato slices.

I really love these patties and every time I make them I question myself about why I don't do it more often. Kids love them too. They are very easy to make. I use my black iron skillet and very little oil, so there isn't even that "fried food" messiness. The only drawback is that the aroma is very, um, assertive. Pritchard Parker knew what we were having for supper before he even got in the house.

Any brand of canned salmon will work and some people even use canned mackerel, which is even less expensive, yet still has all the great nutrients.

I open the can and pour out all but about 1/2 cup of the liquid, and dump the remaining contents into a bowl. Some people like to remove the bones, but I don't.  They are very fragile, basically disintegrate in the process, and are an excellent source of calcium.

Salmon croquettes are sometimes served with tartar sauce but the child in me likes them with ketchup.

Salmon Croquettes
1 (14 oz.) can salmon
1 egg, lightly beaten
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. old bay seasoning. or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup, as needed, cornmeal mix

Drain all but about 1/2 cup of the juice from the salmon. Pour the remaining contents into a bowl and flake with a fork. Add egg, lemon juice, old bay, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add 1/3 cup of cornmeal mix. Mix and add more cornmeal, if needed so patties can be formed.

Pour a coating of oil (I use peanut) into a heavy skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the patties and brown on each side. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

BLT Salad - as a meal

AUGUST MUST SURELY BE MY FAVORITE MONTH. Summer fruits and vegetables are at their peak of ripeness, abundance, and affordability. Brilliant pink crepe myrtle and golden black-eyed Susan on every corner cheer me. The scent of lavender fills the air.

Our back yard is alive with butterflies and hummingbirds. Not to mention all the other critters--birds, bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, an occasional raccoon and snake, even a bear. I have seen foxes and deer around town, but so far not in our yard.

Suppers are casual and relaxed and we often dine by fireflies.

Our next door neighbor gave me a bowl full of cherry tomatoes which inspired a BLT salad. I roasted the tomatoes and also made croutons with some leftover chiabatta bread. I cooked the bacon until crisp, thinly sliced some red onion, chopped an avocado, and served it all atop a bed of freshly washed and dried, crisp lettuce, and topped it with homemade blue cheese dressing.

BLT Salad
Freshly washed and dried lettuce
Thinly sliced red onion
Crisp bacon
Diced avocado
Roasted cherry tomatoes
Homemade blue cheese dressing (Recipe)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cherry tomatoes on a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss lightly and spread into a single layer. Roast for 15 - 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

Cube day old French bread or ciabatta into bite sized pieces. Place on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss lightly and spread into a single layer. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.

Arrange the onions, bacon, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and croutons on top of a bed of crisp lettuce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with blue cheese dressing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Freekeh Tabouli

NOT TOO LONG AGO, I WAS SHOPPING at a lovely locally owned natural foods store. I had a list but I was also browsing, for inspiration and ideas, at some of the other beautiful and well selected foods offered.

I love shopping in small specialty food stores. The prices are often very good and the service is usually excellent. Not to mention they sell food. Only food. I am so weary of giant stores. If I have a small list of fresh produce, brown rice, olive oil, yogurt, and feta cheese, I really don't want to wade through lawn chairs, market umbrellas, stack after stack of soft drinks, a pharmacy, stinky scented candles that make me sneeze.

I shop for food almost everyday. That way, my food is always fresh and I don't waste. I typically shop for household supplies--dish soap, laundry detergent, bathroom tissue, etc. monthly. So I don't appreciate my food having to share space with all that merchandise.

I know the concept--everything you need in one "convenient" location. Between the huge store, the huge parking lot, the long lines at checkout, it takes seemingly forever to shop at those places.

Back to the lovely food store. . .

A small bag of freekeh, roasted, cracked green wheat, caught my attention and into the shopping basket it went. I had no idea what I would use it for, but I love designing recipes around newly discovered and healthful ingredients.

Several weeks later, I was staring out my kitchen window while washing dishes. I was admiring the beautiful stand of parsley growing in the border garden and thought to myself that tabouli would be a delicious way to enjoy it. I remember the freekah in the pantry and, click, this recipe came together.

Normally I make tabouli with bulghur which is traditional. The taste of this tabouli was not that different but the grain, freekah, had a different and pleasant, slightly chewy texture. It was so, so, very refreshing on the hot day I made it, and we both loved it very much.

Freekeh Tabouli
1 cup freekeh (roasted green wheat)
2 1/2 cups water
2 bunches parsley (about 6 - 8 cups)
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, sliced (about 1 cup)
2 - 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 - 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded. and diced
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Place freekeh and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 25 - 30 minutes, until water is absorbed and freekeh is tender. Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the parsley and mint,  slice the scallions, dice the cucumbers and tomatoes, and squeeze the lemons.

Add the cooled freekeh to a large salad bowl. Stir in the parsley, scallions, mint, cucumber, tomatoes, olive oil, and lemon juice. Let sit for 30 minutes or more, then stir, taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.