Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Salmon Burgers

Salmon. It's probably THE most cliche fish on the dinner table. I won't get into the ins and outs of wild vs. farm raised salmon, there are many reputable sites that you can look up the pros and cons, but I choose to go wild. It has a bad rap being that it's generally much more expensive than farmed, but in the summer, Costco carries freshly packed (family-sized, obviously) wild salmon (according to the OU, salmon with skin doesn't need a hechsher, as it is discernible that it is in fact salmon and not another [non-Kosher] fish. That's a whole other conversation). ANYWAYS, when Costco has it, I stock up. Trader Joe's also carries frozen Alaskan Sockeye as well as Coho (which is what I prefer) at only 7.99-9.99 a pound (it's about $20 a pound at the local Kosher supermarkets). That is the most convenient because they usually pack them 2 fillets to a pack, or 1 large one, so I don't have to waste or separate once it's defrosted.

Yes, we all make the typical roasted or broiled salmon with some type of dressing up (previous posts: Coconut Crusted Salmon & Mashed Potato Topped Salmon) but this time I made salmon burgers (we called them croquettes growing up- sounds fancy!). My mom made them all the time for dinner because they're easy & delicious, and are also essentially a blank canvas for any flavor profile you want to achieve. You can bake or fry them, I've baked them before but they take much longer in the oven so this time I decided to pan-fry them. You can take the extra step and flake a freshly roasted salmon filet, but the canned salmon is just fine. I used a 14 oz. can of Gefen Wild Salmon from Pesach that wasn't used, and just like tuna, Costco sells a pack of the small wild salmon cans. I was watching Ina Garten make her salmon burgers (she used fresh salmon of course), so I used some of her ideas (adding sauteed vegetables) and doctored up my moms original recipe. So here it is! By the way, this recipe would also work for ground turkey or chicken. My turkey burger recipe is very similar.

Salmon Burgers
-1 14 oz. can of salmon (I ended up with 5 burgers)
-Vegetables for saute (can use anything you want): 1 onion, 2 small carrots, & 1 stalk celery, half a zucchini, all finely chopped
-1/4 cup light mayonnaise
-2 tbsp. dijon
-1 egg
-salt & pepper, garlic powder
-Zest of whole lemon
-Juice of half lemon
-Tbsp each freshly chopped parsley, dill, and basil
-1/2 - 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (unseasoned) or Cornflake crumbs for gluten-free
-1-2 tbsp. chopped capers
-Extra Panko for breading

-In a large saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions for a few minutes, and when slightly golden, add the rest of the vegis. Season with salt and pepper. Let saute until browned and softened. Transfer to a bowl to let cool. Add in the chopped capers, and herbs. Mix just to combine.
-Open the canned salmon and drain out the excess liquid. Add to a bowl. Sometimes the spine with little pin-bones are graciously included, so carefully try and remove as much as possible. It isn't dangerous to eat the little bones as they are super fragile, but obviously it's best if you can get them all out.
-Add in the mayo, dijon, the slightly beaten egg, lemon zest/juice and the Panko. You can add more Panko, or another egg if you don't feel like the burgers are tight enough. You don't want them too dry though. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
-When the vegetables are semi-cool, add them in and mix everything together with your hands (it's the best way to incorporate everything, I usually use gloves).
-Before forming patties, add some Panko to a plate, and prepare a plastic cutting board to keep the burgers on before frying them. Form even patties (good tip ala Rachael Ray: smooth out the mixture in the bowl and score out even portions with your finger), dredge one (or both) sides in the Panko, and place on the cutting board. You can also choose to make them into mini sliders.
-If you want to bake them, do so on a greased cookie sheet (or a baking rack atop a cookie sheet- my favorite method for all-around even cooking) & bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. If using Panko for dredging, spray the top with Pam.
-Freeze the burgers on the cookie sheet just for 10 minutes or so until they set (or you can refrigerate, they just need to set up or they'll completely fall apart when you pan fry)
-Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large saute pan over medium-high, and once hot, add the burgers (Panko side down if only dredging one side). Don't move them, let them saute for a good 5-6 minutes or until golden brown and set, then flip and cook on the other side.

-I served mine on toasted whole wheat sesame buns with homemade tartar sauce (mayo, chopped capers, chopped dill and parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice) with kale chips & yukon gold mashed potatoes (I made this dinner on Thursday night so I made extra mashed potatoes to have for Friday night- double duty!)

 Try something new with salmon, you won't regret it!

P.S. I'm not one to freeze a lot, but these did freeze well (cooked)!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fish Tacos - again!

It's been about a year since my first venture into fish tacos. I decided though, that it needed some updating, so I did a fish-and-chips type of thing, the "chips" being my previous post, carrot fries. Last time I used tilapia, but this time I used wild cod and I was able to find great thin filets, so I was able to cut it into small pieces, and it cooked in absolutely no time. FYI, I love yellow cornmeal.

Lime & Cornmeal Crusted Cod
-3 filets wild cod, cut into chunks/small pieces
-Zest of a lime
-Juice of a lime
-salt & pepper
-1 beaten egg
-Finely chopped fresh basil, parsley, & dill
-Canola oil, for frying

-Last time I dredged the fish in flour then egg then cornmeal. I left out the flour part for laziness but also to make them feel and taste lighter. Especially since I decided to (lightly) fry them instead of baking.
-Place the pieces of fish on a plate, sprinkle salt pepper, and the zest of half the lime. Sprinkle some of the juice of the lime, but save the bulk of the juice for the salsa
-I let the fish marinate for a few hours with the lime but you don't have to if short on time.
-Beat the egg in a large glass bowl, and pour cornmeal onto a big plate
-To the egg add: 1/4 of the remaining lime zest, salt and pepper
-To the cornmeal add: salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the chopped herbs (whichever you decide to use)
-Add all the fish to the egg and toss with a spoon.
-Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large saute pan, and begin to dredge the fish pieces in the cornmeal mixture. I like to dredge them all before adding them to the pan because otherwise pieces will be done cooking by the time you add subsequent ones. Add the fish to the pan and it only needs 3-4 or so minutes per side. A little longer if it's thicker.

-Alternatively, you can bake them on a baking rack fitted over a baking sheet on 425 for 10/15 minutes.
-Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, and sprinkle with more lime juice

-Serve with all or some of the following: mango black bean salsa, coleslaw, tartar sauce, shredded lettuce hard or soft wheat or corn tortillas for building your own taco. There are endless options for toppings- salsa, guacamole, etc.

-Serve with a wedge of lime. [See last year's post for mango black bean salsa recipe. This time I took the easy route & only used black beans, avocado, and mango. The dressing is always fresh parsley, lime or lemon juice, salt & pepper. Important to let it sit in the fridge so the flavors meld].

The finished plate :


Carrot Fries

This side I made next to fish tacos (post to follow), I figured I'd make it a separate post since it's essentially THE perfect side to any protein at all. They really come out tasting like fresh fries but they are- CARROTS! I've made roasted carrots many times before, but these are dressed up with cornmeal to give them a more fried feel. I got the idea from one of my favorite restaurants in the village (Kosher Vegan), Sacred Chow. I follow their Facebook page and they constantly have specials. Last week they posted a picture of their cornmeal crusted carrot fries with all these funky spices which I don't have because I simply don't like them (i.e. cumin, cayenne). Anyway, I decided to put my own fresh spin on these carrot fries. I know that they're good because my mom made them the next day and she said Rosie practically ate half! But, she did try to eat chalk today so.. :-)

Cornmeal Coated Carrot "Fries"
-1 lb. bag carrots, peeled, & cut into fries (I cut each carrot in half the short way, and then cut the 2 halves twice in half the long way). They should all pretty much be the same size. Alternatively, you can half baby carrots (shout out to M who did them this way the next day! Total convenience tip..)
-Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika
-1-2 tbsp. fresh chopped dill
-Olive oil
-1/2 cup cornmeal (can add more if you feel)

-Preheat the oven to 425. Spray a baking rack and place atop a foil-lined baking sheet (easy clean-up)
-You will need 2 large bowls. In the first, add the carrots, drizzle with olive oil, just enough so that they are lightly coated so that everything can stick. Add the spices and dill.
-Pour the cornmeal in another large bowl (I did this in a large saute pan, no heat, because of more surface area to toss), and transfer the carrots to coat.
-In a single layer, spread the carrots on the baking rack (utilizing the baking rack just makes an all around crispy fry, and no need for flipping anything). Spray a LIGHT layer of Pam over the top, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

They are totally foolproof, and much easier than making potato fries. Plus, you can eat a whole plate of these without feeling too guilty about it! Don't they look like sweet potato fries? I've made breaded baked zucchini before (with Panko), but I think I'll try that with cornmeal too for a lighter feel... I'd think these are great tricks for kids who don't like vegis. 

Look for the next post coming soon...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms

Hope everyone is enjoying Pesach, lets face it- it's all about the food!

I made this last night as a side dish to some (rather delicious) leftovers of duck sauce-glazed corned beef (post for another time!). We had a Costco size box of mushrooms, and I figured why not just do stuffed mushrooms. Stuffed mushrooms are such an easy side dish or even an appetizer as they are perfect one-bite finger foods. Normally I'd use Panko or cornflake crumbs as the binding agent (I know they have Pesach versions, we just didn't have), but being that it is Pesach, and we are Non-Gebrokts, I opted to add in some quinoa, which we had made already as another side, so it was easy too. I'm not quinoa's biggest fan, but when it's there, I'll eat it. I personally prefer white quinoa far more than the red version. I sauteed extra vegetables and added them to the quinoa, seasoned well with salt and pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh dill- just to put it simply. Now back to the stuffed mushrooms... It ended up being the perfect thing to add in to the stuffing, and I can imagine that some whole wheat couscous would do the job perfectly for a non-Pesach dish if you are looking for something heartier than Panko.

Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms
-1 onion, finely chopped 
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 carrots, peeled, and finely chopped
-3 stalks of celery, finely chopped 
-2-3 pounds stem-in baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel, stems removed (save and wash those)
-1/2 cup cooked white quinoa
-1 tbsp. light mayonnaise (or a beaten egg white)
-Some chopped flat-leaf parsley, chopped
-salt & pepper

-Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a tin cookie sheet with cooking spray.
-Finely chop the mushroom stems. Keep all the chopped vegis separate because you will be sauteeing them in stages. All the vegis should be cut relatively finely, and uniformly, so that there aren't some chunky pieces. Remember, you will be filling small mushroom caps.
-In a saute pan over medium high heat, add the chopped onion with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Let the onions saute a few minutes until slightly browned and translucent.
-Add the carrots and saute another minute, followed by the celery. When all three are sauteeing together for a minute or 2, add in the garlic, and mushroom stems. Saute another few minutes, adding some more oil if necessary. Season again to taste.
-Transfer to a bowl and let cool a few minutes. Add the quinoa, mayo, and parsley and mix until all incorporated.
-Arrange the mushroom caps on the cookie sheet, and place a small amount of the mixture into each mushroom using a small spoon. Fill each one with a little bit, and then after all are filled you can go back and add more. It's okay if they seem "overstuffed"- they will set in the oven.
-Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms themselves soften and cook through. 

Thank you, Instagram, for yet another beautiful food picture :-)

Have an enjoyable rest of the week, and a Chag Sameach!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Coconut Citrus Crusted Salmon

Though I'm not posting this recipe specifically for Pesach, it can be made on Pesach! I am posting it because it's on my mind since I made it tonight at my parents, in an effort to use up a bag of unsweetened coconut. Now, I am not the world's biggest coconut fan- well, that's being nice... I HATE coconut. The only time I ate and liked coconut was in Hawaii, fresh coconut flesh it was delicious and did NOT taste like the coconut I am used to (see pics below)

Anyway, my mom had no ideas for her salmon, and I saw the bag of coconut & decided that I could figure something out with this ingredient which I so despise. Don't worry, it was actually very delicious- coconut success! One thing to note, it's very important to use UNSWEETENED coconut, because sweetened should only be used for dessert (I also think sweetened coconut makes the coconut flavor far more potent). This particular one (I can't remember the brand) was very finely shredded, so with the addition of a few ingredients, it assumed the role of a perfect crust for the salmon... You can also combine Panko in with the coconut, but for a lighter dish (& because we didn't have any), I didn't use.

Coconut Citrus Crusted Salmon
-4 filets of wild salmon (or you can obviously do this on one large salmon)
-1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
-pinch of salt & freshly cracked lemon pepper
-Zest of a lemon & an orange
-Juice of a lemon, divided
-Juice of half an orange
-Garlic powder
-Sprinkle of dried dill and dried parsley (or can use fresh)
-Olive oil

-In a large bowl, add the salmon filets and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fresh or dried dill and/or parsley. Pour in half the lemon juice and let the salmon sit for half hour, or while you make the coconut mixture.
-In a bowl, add the coconut, salt, pepper, some garlic powder & paprika, dill, parsley (all these are seasonings so you can add as little or as much as you want, or mix it up depending on your spice preferences)
-Zest half the lemon & orange into the coconut & mix together.
-Pour half the lemon juice and the juice of the orange into the coconut, and mix around with a fork or your fingers. Drizzle in olive oil while mixing in, a little at a time (about 1/4 cup or so) until the mixture resembles sand thats been slightly wet. If it gets too wet, just add some more coconut. You don't want it too dry orelse it will just fall apart on the salmon, but you don't want it to be too gloppy/wet. Find the happy medium by feeling it with your hands.
-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the salmon filets on a sprayed baking sheet or a sprayed baking rack fitted atop a baking sheet. Carefully spoon the coconut mixture onto the salmon, a tbsp. at a time, pressing it together on top of the salmon.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden & salmon just flakes off.
-Optional glaze to serve alongside: cook down pineapple puree (canned or fresh) in a small saucepan with a bit of balsamic vinegar uncovered on medium-high heat, until it reduces and resembles a glaze. This is a perfect accompaniment to the tropical coconut theme of the salmon, and wont weigh the light dish down.
(This picture is pre-baking, so the crust is obviously not yet golden!)

I recommend this recipe even for coconut skeptics like myself!