Potato, Salmon & Pea Fritters with Pea Shoot MayonnaiseIn anticipation of Spring…I’ve poached some salmon and defrosted some frozen peas to make potato/fish cakes! I pulled the recipe for “Potato, Salmon & Pea Fritters” (recipe below) from a cookbook called Small Plates & Sweet Treats, by Aran Goyoaga. The author’s angle is “Basque” and “gluten-free,” but I forgive her(!) thanks to her always-lovely food photos. This recipe was easy enough to pace, and you know how this goes: hands-on patty forming and skillet frying. Simple!

Potato, Salmon & Pea Fritters
Small Plates & Sweet Treats
Makes 10 cakes

2 medium russet potatoes (1 1/2 lbs.), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, crushed but left whole
2 sprigs thyme
8 oz. salmon
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp. or more olive oil

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover them with water and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook for 9 minutes or until you can easily insert the tip of a knife into the center. Drain the water and let the potatoes cool in the pan.

Meanwhile, place the coconut milk, vegetable broth, garlic, and thyme in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off and let it steep for 10 minutes. Bring back to a simmer. Add the salmon, cover the pan, and cook over low heat (do not let it boil), flipping halfway through, until the salmon is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the salmon from the poaching liquid and remove the skin. Discard the poaching liquid. Transfer the salmon to a small bowl and flake with a fork.

Defrost the frozen peas in the microwave. In a medium bowl, mash the potatoes and the defrosted peas with a fork. Add the salmon, eggs, salt, pepper, and parsley and mix to combine.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Remove 1/3-cup portions of the salmon mixture and form them into patties. Cook the patties in batches, flipping halfway through, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add an additional olive oil as needed.

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Poaching the salmon was a rewarding experience, steeping the fish with coconut milk, vegetable broth, garlic, and thyme. This is what I’ll call “passive cooking.” Once I mashed the cooked potatoes with the poached fish and everything else, I increased the amount of salt to 1 1/2 tsp. We all liked these fish cakes (I knew I was guaranteed success). For the two adults at my table, I mixed some mayonnaise with a bit of Sriracha, for a playful dollop.

Sicilian Cauliflower & Black Olive GratinAnd speaking of “guaranteed success”…

I also won the dinner game with the “Sicilian Cauliflower & Black Olive Gratin,” from The New York Times.

This recipe, too, was easy to pace: I blanched my cauliflower, sauteed my onion/garlic/olives, grated my cheese.

I baked this gratin for 40 minutes, until the cheese was “nicely browned.”

Russet Potatoes (1.5 lbs.) = $1.12
Salmon (8 oz.) = $4.09
Cauliflower (1 head) = $4.14
Onion (1) = .44¢

PREP TIMES: enjoy fish cakes after less than an hour of attention; cauliflower gratin also needs an hour or so
mashed potatoes + peas + salmon = soothing comforts; cauliflower + olives + parmesan = always-welcomed friends

Next time, I want to cook the “Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup,” from the January/February 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below), along with the “Honey Buttermilk Biscuits,” from the January/February 2013 issue of Saveur. Witness the magical perfection when you return to my site soon.

Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup
Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2013
Serves 6 to 8

1/4 oz. dried shi­itake mush­rooms
4 1/4 cups water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, peeled, plus 4 cloves, minced
salt and pep­per
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup wild rice
4 Tbsp. unsalted but­ter
1 lb. crem­ini mush­rooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tsp. tomato paste
2/3 cup dry sherry
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1/4 tsp. lemon zest

1. Adjust oven rack to mid­dle posi­tion and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grind shi­itake mush­rooms in a spice grinder until finely ground (about 3 Tbsp.).

2. Bring 4 cups of water, thyme, bay leaf, gar­lic clove, 3/4 tsp. salt, and bak­ing soda to a boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice and return to boil. Cover saucepan, trans­fer to oven, and bake until rice is ten­der, 35 to 50 min­utes. Strain rice through fine-mesh strainer set in 4-cup liq­uid mea­sur­ing cup; dis­card thyme, bay leaf and gar­lic. Add enough water to reserved cook­ing liq­uid to mea­sure 3 cups.

3. Melt but­ter in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add crem­ini mush­rooms, onion, minced gar­lic, tomato paste, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pep­per. Cook stir­ring occa­sion­ally, until veg­eta­bles are browned and dark fond devel­ops on bot­tom of pot, 15 min­utes. Add sherry, scrap­ing up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 min­utes. Add ground shi­itake mush­rooms, reserved rice cook­ing liq­uid, broth, and say sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and sim­mer, cov­ered, until onion and mush­rooms are ten­der, about 20 minutes.

4. Whisk corn­starch an remain­ing 1/4 cup water in small bowl. Stir corn­starch slurry into soup, return to sim­mer, and cook until thick­ened, about 2 min­utes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest. Cover and let stand for 20 min­utes. Sea­son with salt and pep­per to taste, and serve.