As much as I enjoy the holiday season, I am always ready for it to be over. I like the clean, sparseness of January. The decorations are down, the tree is removed from our living space, and there is usually bright, white daylight bouncing off the snow and illuminating the rooms; altho' that doesn't seem to be the case this year with our lack of snow cover and unwinter-like temperatures. Another change once we enter January -- fewer cartons of heavy cream in my refrigerator. I miss the baking, but not the consumption of rich desserts and meals that seem too common in December. Salads with crisp lettuces and citrus is what I crave.
These Salmon-and-Spinach Cakes are going to be dinner tonight, along with a salad of greens, oranges, red onion, and toasted almonds. I think they'd also be great as part of a brunch menu.
+ Salmon-and-Spinach Cakes +
recipe by Marcia Kiesel via Food & Wine
• 1 1/2 pound large Yukon Gold potatoes
• 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus additional for garnish
• 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• 1/4 cup minced onion
• Vegetable oil, for frying
1. In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with water. Simmer over moderately high heat until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and let cool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch dice. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of water over moderately high heat. Add the spinach in batches; cook until wilted. Drain, squeeze dry, and coarsely chop.
3. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, the jalapeno, and the chopped dill; season with salt.
4. Put the salmon in a food processor and pulse a few times, until chopped. Pulse in the cream until incorporated. Add the salmon to the potatoes. Stir in the spinach and onion and season with salt. Form the mixture into 12 patties.
5. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1/8-inch of oil. Add half of the cakes and fry over high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately high and cook until well-browned, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook for another 3 minutes, until browned. Repeat with the remaining cakes, adding more oil to the skillet as needed. Garnish the salmon cakes with the dill sprigs and serve with the sauce.
TAKE a LOOK:
There are many reasons why I look forward to spring. Probably the unanimous reason shared by every Minnesotan is the prospect of warmer weather. After Minneapolis-St. Paul received another 12+ inches of snow this past weekend, we're all thinking... enough already! Being outdoors in my vegetable garden would also be in that top tier of "reasons why I look forward to spring". But what do I really, truly look forward to this time of year as spring approaches?… extended daylight hours!
I made Lemon Risotto with Shrimp for dinner. It was 8 p.m. before we sat down to eat, and any natural light coming through my kitchen window was long gone. I rarely photograph food with the flash on my camera; the results are never good. (Oh, how I miss those sun-lit summer dinners on the patio!) But I really wanted to share this meal with you. Not only was it delicious, but also makes a beautiful presentation. The lemon risotto (made even more lemony-yellow from the orange colored organic vegetable broth I used) along with the large, pink shrimp clustered on top is a colorful dish, and perfect for all of those spring dinners that lie ahead.
…Lemon Risotto with Shrimp…
adapted from Marie Claire Seasonal Kitchen by Michele Cranston
• 4 1/2 cups organic vegetable stock
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2 leeks, white part only, rinsed and finely sliced
• finely grated zest and juice of 1 organic lemon
• 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
• 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
• 16 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail intact
• extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
• flat-leaf parsley, to serve
1. Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, then reduce the heat and keep at a low simmer.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and leek and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the leek is soft and transparent. Add the lemon zest and rice and stir for 1 minute, or until the rice is well coated and the grains are glossy.
3. Ladle 1 cup of the hot stock into the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has been completely absorbed. Add another 1 cup stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed, then test the rice to see if it is al dente. If it needs more cooking, stir in the remaining stock. Lightly fold the Parmesan and half the lemon juice through the risotto. Remove the pan from the heat while you cook the shrimp.
4. Quickly heat a large frying pan over high heat and coat pan with a light film of olive oil. Sear the shrimp on both sides for a few minutes, until they turn pink and begin to curl up. Pour the remaining lemon juice over the shrimp, then remove from the heat. Spoon the risotto into warmed pasta bowls and top with the shrimp. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of parsley.
TAKE a LOOK:
It was our turn to host "gourmet", the term we've all been using for the dinner that six of us partake in several times a year. Too chilly to be outdoors for more than our appetizers, we ate three courses in our dining room. I served the main course in my favorite bowls, made in Spain, that I hauled back from Aix-en-Provence last summer.
The shrimp almost seemed camouflaged within the marbleized red and yellow glazed swirls. Prepared in a spicy herb butter, we ate the unpeeled shrimp with our hands and soaked up the sauce with French breads.
This is a fantastic dish that does not involve much time and the results are hugely delicious! The shrimp were excellent... large and meaty. I figured 1/2-pound per person and that was really pushing our limit. From a Sunday New York Times magazine, "This Southern recipe, altho' called "barbecue", is actually prepared in a hot cast-iron skillet".
• 16 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, crushed
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 3 to 5 thyme sprigs, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• Salt to taste, if desired
• 2 pounds unshelled large shrimp, approximately 20 to 24, rinsed briefly in
• 1/2 cup bottled clam juice
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
1. In a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan, melt eight tablespoons of the butter over high heat. Add all the remaining ingredients except the remaining eight tablespoons of butter, the shrimp, clam juice and wine. Stir well and add the shrimp. Cook about three minutes, stirring and shaking the pan.
2. Add the remaining eight tablespoons of butter, clam juice and wine. Cook, stirring and shaking the pan, until the shrimp are cooked through. Remove from heat and serve immediately with the hot butter sauce from the pan and French bread or rice. YIELD: Four servings.