Salmon Leftovers

Last week I intentionally bought a large salmon fillet so we could have salmon cakes from the leftovers. Usually I make my salmon cakes like I make crab cakes, although I often leave off the hazelnuts and generally make tartar sauce rather than berry sauce. Because I used the orange marmalade glaze on the entire salmon fillet, I decided to go a slightly different route with the leftovers and made a funky apricot-ginger aioli wanna-be to go with it. I also made a mushroom risotto, a first for me, which was average, not stellar but definitely edible. I served the salmon cakes and risotto with some fresh greens and fruit. Another nice meal for grownup tastes.

Salmon Cakes with Apricot-Ginger Aioli

3/4 lb. cooked salmon with orange glaze
1 egg
2 small celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
1/3 c. ground flax meal

Mix all ingredients. Shape into patties. Cook on hot, greased skillet or grill about 2 minutes per side or until browned.

Apricot-Ginger Aioli

1/4 c. light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 t. white rice vinegar
1/8 t. fresh grated ginger

Stir together until smooth.

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Truffling With Your Affections

Today was the farewell for Mrs. V. The astute reader may remember there was a farewell last fall but only Mr. V. left us for TX at that time. Now their house has finally sold and they will be reunited (*yay!*) but we are sad to see them leave (*boo!*). Once again I wanted to make something that would suit her particular list of allergies. I made truffles.

You may be saying to yourself, “That doesn’t seem allergy friendly at all,” but I made several kinds. I saw some recipes online for goat cheese truffles, from several sources so I don’t have a specific link, and decided to play with that concept a little to make it edible for our friend. For the savory batch I simply copied a recipe I saw repeatedly — smooth some goat cheese around a grape and roll it in ground pistachios, all foods Mrs. V. can eat!

For the ‘sweet’ ones, I used agave syrup for the sweetener and used both unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder to flavor the cheese. I rolled some of these in pistachios and some in cocoa powder.

In addition, I made some non-allergy friendly cold s’mores. I rolled a large marshmallow (small ones would have been nice, if I had some) in chocolate ganache (heat whipping to simmering and add chopped chocolate, stir until melted and smooth), allowing the ‘excess chocolate’ (is there such a thing?!) to drip off before rolling the marshmallow in graham cracker crumbs. I made some ‘regular’ truffles as well.

And now I leave you for a week while we go play at the beach, my most favorite week of the year! I have a little something in store for you next week while I’m gone, so hopefully you won’t miss me too much. 😉

Chocolate Goat Cheese Truffles

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
5 Tbsp. agave syrup
2 Tbsp. canola oil
5 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
12 oz. plain goat cheese

In a small bowl, stir together chocolate, agave syrup, oil, and cocoa until smooth. In a medium bowl, beat the goat cheese for 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and beat well. Roll into balls and toppings of your choice.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a good night to end 2007 and ring in 2008, whether that meant going to bed early, watching Dick Clark in your bathrobe, or partying ’til dawn. We had our annual New Year’s Eve Party/Open House event.

We never know from year to year exactly how many people will come and how long they will stay — I think our largest crowd at midnight was around 21, our smallest was just our family b/c everyone went home by 11 PM! When we were listing our RSVPs, Tartlet 1 was jumping up and down in excitement that it looked like the kids were going to outnumber the adults — at one point we had 32 adults and 32 kids on the list and then she asked if I had included us. No. WHOO-HOOO! She cheered. Neenerneenerneeeeenee! But one family left two of their kids at home and another left all four kids at home, but then an adult couple called to cancel . . . our final count, including our family, was 33 adults, 32 kids. She pouts. 😦 Boooooo!

So, given that for our guest list, I tried to pick some things that would suit all palates. We had a lot of repeats. I made the perennial favorite with both adults and kids, mini calzones/pizza pockets, PBJ cut out sandwiches (using cookie cutters to make shapes — crustless sandwiches in fun shapes are always popular with the little crowd), and industrial meatballs from Sam’s in the crockpot served with bottled sauces — sweet and sour, BBQ, and marinara. We also had cheese plates with crackers, chips and salsa and guacamole, veggie plate, beef skewers with balsamic vinaigrette marinade, chicken skewers in both peanut butter/yogurt and garlic lemon flavors, and bruschetta. And my favorite artichoke dip, which appears every year, usually in better focus than here. Even though I fully understand, I was a little disappointed that by the time I was done bringing the waves of hot food out of the kitchen around 8:30, many of the people were already heading home with their little tykes.

For desserts I often make some spectacular new thing, but that didn’t happen this year. Instead we had some of these repeats, with filberts instead of almonds, and some of these repeats in both orange and an experimental mint version. C doesn’t like her chocolate dark. At all. But she loves Andes candies. So, for her sake, I made some with melted Andes candies on top instead of unsweetened chocolate and then sprinkled them with chopped bits. It got a thumbs up approval. I also made baklava using pistachios instead of walnuts and I used lemon in the syrup, as well as some cheesecake squares, some of which I topped with canned cherry pie filling. We had a platter of fresh fruit — pineapple, honeydew, and cantaloupe. And I made some special brownies for Mrs. V, who can now eat cocoa again!! Now there’s something to say ‘Whoo-hoo!’ about because carob? What, is that short for caribou dropping or something? Blech. Her brownies were made with cocoa, rice flour, sorghum flour, honey, egg, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, baking soda, and pistachios. They were a little weird in the baking — I think my oven was running very hot 😛 so the edges were getting burnt while the middle turned out rather fudgy.

Once I closed down the kitchen and joined in the action of the party, after more than half the people went home, we got a telephone pictionary game going, followed by a couple rounds of Catch Phrase. I *LOVE* telephone pictionary, which seems very odd to me. I mean, normally I’m the sort of person who likes to think about things for a long time and not be very spontaneous so a game in which you have 30 seconds to either write a phrase from a picture or draw a picture to match a phrase, with all sorts of surprises along the way, seems like a game I would normally avoid. But I’ll join in a telephone pictionary game any time. This time around I think the funniest twist (certainly the most macabre) came from Abram’s phrase of ‘one giant step for mankind’ which ended with a picture of a person being run over by a train. The more adjectives and adverbs you use, the more likely your phrase will distort by the time it gets back to you . . . and then there are players like my Tartlet 1 who didn’t know what to write or draw a couple of times so she just made something up — as in totally unrelated! There are those who play the game trying to keep it as close as possible to the original version and there are those who play to see twist wildly . . . and seriously, which is more fun? The twisted ones, of course! But especially when the animals are misinterpreted and actions are poorly illustrated.

When I was in college I had a very good friend, the best friend I’ve ever had. In fact, it seemed like we shared a brain. Unfortunately, she always had it while I was in calculus, but we played regular Pictionary like you wouldn’t believe. One of us would start to draw a line and the other would guess it almost immediately. The other people would say — how on earth does that line look like ‘hopping on one foot’?! And we’d just shrug — I knew what she was drawing. The trouble with telephone pictionary is you need 14 people (in our game last night, anyway) who can do that to keep the phrase the same throughout the round.  Anyway, thanks to all those who joined us for the night, however much of it you were able to share with us, and I wish you all a very happy new year!

On The Lighter Side

Tonight we hosted the group party for The Husband’s lab and I made a few appetizers, veggie tray, fruit platter, and Christmas cookies. Since some are vegetarians, I wanted to find something to make that would balance the meat skewers besides the veggie tray and goat cheese with crackers. Weight Watchers came to the rescue with this curried carrot and zucchini pancake. Since I followed the recipe nearly exactly (I used quick oats rather than old fashioned rolled oats), I’m just giving you the link.

I thought they were a little too light to be a main dish dinner, but they were perfect for a lighter appetizer, lunch or snack. I’m not sure the sauce was worth making, though. It does add different spices and is good in that way, but I think I’d just as well add the spices to the pancake and skip the sauce altogether.

Mon Petite Choux

For today’s baby shower I said I made a sweet and a savory. Well, actually I made two sweets and a savory. I made a triple batch of cream puff dough.

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Some I filled with turkey apricot salad.

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And others I filled with either sweetened whipped cream (shown below) or Emeril’s Vanilla Pastry Cream.

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A few got a little squiggle of chocolate ganache on the top. It was so much fun to use a vanilla bean and have pastry cream with those little specks of vanilla seeds. I may have to pull out a few more vanilla bean recipes to test soon. It was not as hard as it sounds. The cooking, thickening, straining, etc sounds a bit time consuming but I think I had the whole thing made and in the fridge to cool within 15 – 20 minutes. Well worth the time.

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Profiteroles (Cream Puffs)

1 c. water
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)

1 c. flour

4 eggs

Bring water and butter to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in flour until it forms a ball. Beat in eggs until smooth. Drop or pipe onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 F until golden brown (depending on size of puff, 15-35 minutes).

I’ve found that a good test for doneness is when they no longer stick to the pan — they seem to stick until they are done and then they easily slide on the pan.

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Turkey Apricot Salad

Salad:
1 1/2 lbs deli turkey, finely chopped
1/3 c. dried apricots, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. celery, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. onion, finely chopped (for the baby shower I used 2 green onions)
3 Tbsp. red and/or green pepper, finely chopped

Dressing:
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise (I use light)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. wine vinegar
1 t. finely chopped fresh ginger (sometimes I’m a bit liberal here)
1/2 t. finely chopped fresh garlic (again, a little liberal with the garlic)
zest of one lime

Whisk together all dressing ingredients, toss to coat salad. Cover, refrigerate 1 hour before serving. If desired, add chopped pecans to salad.

A Visit to Santorini

We didn’t fly off to Greek Isles yesterday, we just drove up to Chicago. The Husband needed to pick up a rather large box of ‘stuff’ for work and he’s been wanting to make it a Romantic Outing for about 2 wks. Yesterday we were finally able to get away, many thanks to Ramona and Nat. The trip to Chicago met the two major criteria we have for adventures to the Windy City — we didn’t get lost and we didn’t get in an accident. But driving in Chicago makes me freak out and the Husband and I discussed some major decisions in the car, our best place to talk, so it wasn’t exactly a relaxing day.

We drove right to the place to pick up the big box and then drove toward the lake and found a place to park for an exorbitant sum of money. We walked out to the end of Navy Pier and back to the car and then drove to Santorini at the corner of Halsted and Adams. One of the Husband’s former co-workers took us there about 6 yrs ago when we were in Chicago for an event at the Field Museum. It’s a nice Greek restaurant with white tablecloths and we had in tow two kids who were about 4 and 1.5 and who were tired after a day of travel and museum wandering. It’s not a place that is typically frequented by people with children but they were ever so gracious and seated us in a distant corner and gave the kids special things to eat. Ever since then the Husband has been wanting to us go back alone.

Santorini offers complimentary valet parking, which we didn’t realize and didn’t use. After you walk in the door of the terra cotta colored building, to your left is a display case of iced seafood. Both times we have been there, at least one octopus was prominently displayed. Santorini has a number of seafood specialties, but I’ve only had the kalimari, which was good. The restaurant interior is rustic with flagstone floors, a fireplace (with a fire yesterday), and homey decor.

They serve a hearty bread with butter and olive oil at the table while you peruse the menu. There are soups, salads, hot and cold appetizers, specials, kabobs, seafood, pasta and desserts. We ordered a fried eggplant appetizer that came with about six slices of deep fried eggplant covered with a delicious red sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. It would have been enough to make a meal by itself. I think it was about $5 with the most expensive appetizers (octopus being one of them) around $10-11.

For the entree, the Husband ordered Chicken Alexander, one of the specials that is served on Tuesdays and another day of the week (the menu labels the days that each special is served). It is a dish of chicken and vegetables (peas, carrots, celery, pepper, onion, etc) wrapped in phyllo dough and covered with the same delicious red sauce as was on the eggplant (I’ve got to learn how to make that stuff! YUM!) with cheese. It’s massive — about 8-10 inches long, 4 inches high and 4-5 inches deep; enough to fill the Husband and still have leftovers! It came with some very tasty potatoes that were cooked with onion. They serve something similar made with lamb, Lamb Stamnos, which I ordered the last time we were there and it was wonderful too. I didn’t take the camera with us so please excuse me for showing you pictures of cold leftovers — it doesn’t do justice to the goodness of the food.

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Showing the inside:

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I ordered Lamb Artichokes and it came with as much meat as I would use to serve the entire family. I’m afraid I ate most of the artichokes, all of the 4 or 5 thick slices of carrot, and part of the potato. The sauce has lemon and seasoning that is just scrumptious.

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I think our specials were both in the $11-12 range. The high end of the menu would be some seafood options around $22-25. The price is very reasonable for the quality and quantity of food you get.  I was hoping to try the baklava for dessert, but I was too stuffed. The service was perfect, the food was excellent, and I hope we don’t wait six years to go back! 🙂

Hazelnut Encrusted Crab Cakes with Berry Sauce

If you read yesterday’s post on stuffed mushrooms, you may have wondered why I talked about *cans* of crab meat (as in multiple) but used only half a can for the mushrooms. Here is the reason. The rest were used to make crab cakes.

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This is probably one of my top three favorite recipes ever. It came from my Grandmother, who loved to putter in the kitchen and try new things, not Grandma Smith.

I was out of celery and white pepper so they were left out but it’s still good. I wish there were leftovers for lunch today but it only made 14 small ones and people were fighting over the last one at dinner. Also, huckleberries are particularly difficult to get in the Midwest and I used all the huckleberry jam I got for Christmas in 2005 (side note of praise — this company was so great that when I called them to cry that one jar had arrived broken, they sent me another right away, no poking through the glass slivers to salvage the huckleberries!!) 😛 So, I used some seedless Marionberry jam (not to be confused with Marion Barry who was in a jam) 😉 I had a bottle of wine that was given to us as a gift and I knew nothing about it but I was a surprised to find it a fizzy sweet wine. Sauce still tasted good.

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Crab Cakes with Huckleberry Sauce

2 cups or 1 lb Dungeness crab, flaked
1 egg
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 Tablespoons finely chopped celery
4 Tablespoons bread crumbs
1 ½ teaspoon Old Bay Spice
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
½ cup finely chopped hazelnuts
Huckleberry Sauce (recipe below)

Whip the egg and add all other ingredients, except the nuts. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for 15 minutes to one hour. Form into 1 inch balls, flatten and roll in hazelnuts. Saute in virgin olive oil about 2 minutes on each side.

Serve with Huckleberry Sauce.

If you wish, you may refrigerate overnight and reheat to eat or serve cold. After sauteeing, drain on paper towels.

Huckleberry Sauce:
½ cup huckleberry jam or syrup
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons dry or semi-dry white wine

Heat jam over low heat, add lemon juice and blend. Add wine just before serving.

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I like to use the same basic recipe to make salmon cakes from leftover baked or grilled salmon.