Linguine with Mussels, Herbs and Wine

This is a quick and simple dish that packs in a lot of flavor, from the brine of the mussels to the floral quality of the herbs and the salinity of the wine. The herbs bring a lot to this dish and so it is worth using fresh if you can get them (at a minimum try to get at least one fresh). While it is important to have a mix of green herbs, you can easily substitute ones you like best. In addition to the three listed below, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, and even scallions work fine.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

2 lbs. mussels (preferably small Maine mussels, Whole Foods often carried Moosabecs which are tasty and usually well-cleaned) NOTE: The mussels should be stored in a bowl sitting on a small bag of ice in the refrigerator until ready to use. You can ask the market to give you a bag of ice when you get the mussels.

2 T. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 ½ T. fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 ½ t. dried thyme)

1-2 T. fresh basil (or 1-2 t. dried)

4-5 chives blades snipped or chopped into small pieces

¾ c. dry white wine (for a slightly different take, you can substitute beer)

2 T. unsalted butter

freshly ground pepper

freshly grated parmigiano or pecorino cheese, best quality you can find

½ to ⅔ lb.of dried linguine

Preparation:

  1. Wash the exterior of the mussels well and pull off any beards (fibers coming out from where the shell closes) and return to the bowl in the refrigerator. Throw away any mussels that do not fully close within a few seconds when tapped on the counter as they are already dead and should not be eaten.
  2. Bring a well-salted pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
  3. While the water is heating, finely mince the garlic, chop the fresh thyme (if using), and snip or cut the chives.
  4. Place a deep pot or large fry pan with a tight fitting lid over medium low heat. Add the olive oil and then the garlic. Allow the garlic to sauté for a minute or two, but do not let it brown.
  5. When the pasta water reaches a rolling boil, add the linguine and cook for the recommended amount of time on the package (usually 10-12 minutes).
  6. Add the white wine to the pot/fry pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Allow to come up to a simmer to cook off some of the alcohol.
  7. Add the mussels to the wine and garlic and immediately cover the pot/pan.
  8. While the mussels are cooking, roll up and thinly slice the basil leaves (chiffonade). This is done after the other herbs because the leaves will begin to discolor soon after they are cut.
  9. Cook the mussels for 3-5 minutes until all (or almost all) have opened. Immediately turn off and remove the pan from the heat.
  10. Add the butter and the herbs to the mussels and toss well. Discard any mussels that did not open.
  11. When the pasta is cooked, drain well, and divide among serving bowls.
  12. Top the pasta with mussels using tongs, leaving the bulk of the sauce still in the pot/pan.
  13. Once all the mussels have been removed, carefully tilt the pan and using a ladle or spoon pour the sauce over the mussels and pasta, leaving behind any residual grit (there shouldn’t be much).
  14. Top the dish with freshly ground pepper and grated cheese to taste. (The cheese will melt into the sauce and enrich it.)

Barbecued Beans

These beans are a cross between Texas style barbecued beans and New England baked beans. They don’t have the ground beef typical of Texas, but are spicier and less sweet than the New England tradition. The beans can be made in either a vegan or a carnivore’s version. They are wonderful as a side dish to almost any cookout food, but have enough depth of flavor to serve as the main attraction with additions like crusty bread, avocado, a fried egg, or even just tossed with some leftover brown rice. They also reheat and freeze beautifully so it is worth making a big batch.

Ingredients:

1 lb. best quality pinto or similar bean (in the ones pictured I used Rancho Gordo‘s King City Pinks), soaked for a few hours or overnight

1 or 2 pieces of thick cut bacon (or 1-2 oz. or guanciale, if you weirdly happen to have it as I did) cut into medium dice (about ⅓”) – OPTIONAL

1 T. of neutral oil (safflower, canola, or vegetable) NOTE: Use 2 T. oil if not using bacon

1 small or ½ large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small or ½ large green pepper, finely diced

1 (or more) jalapeño peppers, finely diced (feel free to substitute Fresno or other hotter chiles if you prefer more heat)

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1-3 cups water (amount needed to ensure that beans are submerged in at least 1 ½ inches in liquid)

¼ cup of ketchup

1-2 T. mustard (Coleman’s English if you have it, but you can use anything you have on hand)

2 T. dark brown sugar

1 T. apple cider vinegar (feel free to substitute any vinegar you like if you don’t have apple cider)

1 T. hot sauce

2 t. smoked paprika or your favorite chili powder

salt to taste

PREPARATION:

  1. Soak the beans, if you have time, for at least 3 hours or overnight. If you don’t remember to do this, don’t worry, it will just take longer for the beans to cook and they will probably need added liquid (hot water) during cooking.
  2. Drain the beans.
  3. In a large oven-proof pot or pan big enough to hold the whole dish, add the oil and the bacon, if using. If using bacon, cook slowly over medium low heat to render as much fat as possible from the meat. Remove the diced pieces from the pan when they are cooked. If not using meat, heat the oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the diced onions to the pan and sauté until just starting to turn opaque.
  5. Add the garlic, green pepper, and jalapeño and sauté for a minute or so.
  6. Add the chicken stock, beans, and water to cover.
  7. Bring to a simmer and cook covered for 45 minutes on the stove top on low to medium heat. Just high enough to keep the beans bubbling and so they begin to soften. Add hot water if the top begins to look dry.
  8. Preheat the oven to 300° F.
  9. Add all the other ingredients to the pot, except the salt: ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, hot sauce and smoked paprika or chili powder, as well as the reserved bacon, if using, and stir gently to distribute throughout.
  10. Cover the pot and bake for 2 ½ hours. Check for doneness and add salt at this point (whether or not they are fully done). If the beans are fully cooked and have absorbed the flavors, you can take them out and let them rest for at least 15 minutes (or longer if you want) before serving. If they are a little too liquid for your taste, remove the top and bake uncovered for another 15-30 minutes. If they are not fully cooked when you check at 2 ½ hours, return to the oven and check every 20 minutes or so until they are done. (Depending on their age and if they were soaked before cooking, beans can take up to 4 hours in the oven).

This is also a great recipe to change up the flavorings, heat and sweetness level to suit your own taste!

Shrimp Burgers

These burgers have the best texture of any seafood burgers I have ever had. They are even better if you top them with a spicy mayo or other hot and creamy sauce. This recipe is adapted from one that appeared in Cook’s illustrated Light & Healthy quite a few years ago. This makes four good-sized burgers.

Note: This recipe requires a food processor, a blender will turn the shrimp to mush.

Ingredients:

1 lb. cleaned and deveined raw shrimp, preferably untreated for the freshest taste

3 T. mayonnaise, commercial is fine

¾ cup fresh bread crumbs from flavorful white bread slices, crusts removed and bread torn into pieces (1-2 slices if it is from a large boule, more if from a smaller ciabatta or other long loaf).

½ cup of panko (for coating the burgers)

2 scallions, thinly sliced both white and green parts (except the roots and tough green ends)

1 t. freshly grated lemon zest

2 T. flat leaf parsley (or, if you prefer, cilantro), minced

¼ t. kosher salt

fresh ground black pepper

pinch of cayenne

1-2 t. olive oil

Preparation:

  1. In a medium or large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sliced scallions, lemon zest, parsley or cilantro, salt pepper and cayenne.
  2. Put the bread into the bowl of the food processor and pulse to tear into coarse crumbs (this should be about ¾ cup).
  3. Add the breadcrumbs to the mayonnaise mixture.
  4. Add ⅓ of the shrimp to the food processor and pulse until it is minced to medium fine (but be careful not to let it become a paste).
  5. Add the remaining shrimp and pulse between 4 and 10 times to create a mixture that includes both chunks and finely minced shrimp. (Pulse two times then look, then pulse two more times, etc. to make certain you do not go too far–the number of pulses required will depend in part on the size of shrimp you are using.)
  6. Scrape the shrimp from the processor into the mayonnaise mixture and gently fold with a spatula until just combined.
  7. Divide the mixture into four portions and shape into burgers.
  8. Place the panko on a plate or in a shallow bowl.
  9. Gently place the burgers into panko and sprinkle crumbs over to coat, pressing them to adhere very gently. (If you prefer a softer burger, you can omit the panko).
  10. Put the burgers on a plate or tray covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (although they can be refrigerated for several hours).
  11. To cook, place olive oil in a non-stick skillet and heat to very hot (but not smoking). Add the burgers and cook for 5-6 minutes on the first side, allowing a crust to develop, and then turn and cook for 4 minutes or so on the other side until cooked through.
  12. Serve on hamburger buns with spicy mayo or other condiment of your choosing.

Goan Style Fish Curry

This recipe is an adaptation of one from Diane Kennedy in her book Simple. It is definitely worth getting the best fish you can for this dish. Halibut is a wonderful choice if it is available. The dish goes beautifully with basmati rice.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 T. canola or other neutral oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 t. ground coriander

½ t. ground cumin

1 T. hot paprika or medium chili powder

⅛ t. cayenne (more to taste depending on the spice level you prefer)

3-4 garlic cloves, minced (depends on size of cloves)

1 t. turmeric

2 t. grated or finely minced fresh ginger

½ c. crushed tomatoes

14 oz. can of unsweetened coconut milk (mixed to homogenize before adding)

1 T. brown sugar

2 t. lime juice (if you have tamarind paste, fel free to sue it in place of the lime juice)

1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced (you can dice if you prefer)

1 lb. firm white fish, preferably halibut, cut into 2 inch chunks

cilantro or parsley, chopped, or scallions, sliced, for serving (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep fry or sauté pan that has a cover over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent and begins to turn a bit golden.
  3. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika/chili, cayenne, garlic, turmeric and ginger and sauté until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).
  4. Add the crushed tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  5. Add the coconut milk, brown sugar lime juice (or tamarind paste) and the jalapeno and stir and simmer until mixture is thoroughly combined.
  6. Gently add the fish piece to the curry, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook until the fish is just cooked (this can take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes depending on the heat level). Check often; it is cooked when each piece of halibut just turns opaque throughout.
  7. Serve the curry over, or alongside, basmati rice, and top with cilantro, parsley, or scallions, if you wish.

Black Lentil Soup – Punjab-Style

Ingredients:

1 T. neutral oil (canola, etc.)

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1″ piece of ginger, grated or very finely chopped

1 ½ t. cumin seeds (substitute cumin powder if you don’t have seeds – but if using powder add it to the soup with the coriander, turmeric, and garam masala)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 t. ground coriander

1 t. garam masala, divided into two ½ t. to use in soup and in topping

¼ t. tumeric powder

½ t. smoked paparika or medium spicy chile powder

¾ cup crushed tomatoes

½ t. kosher salt (make this 1 t. if using water or your stock is very low sodium)

1 cup black lentils, (preferably Rancho Gordo caviar lentils, if you can get them, but any black or small green French lentils will work), rinsed and picked over. NOTE: brown lentils will become mushy in this soup and so are not a good choice.

4 cups low sodium chicken stock (you can use water if you prefer)

1 cup water (hold in reserve)

3 T. greek yogurt

3 T. sour cream

2 scallions white and part of green thinly slices

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onion and cumin seed and stir occasionally until the onion is soft and beginning to turn golden.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Cook for another minute or so.
  4. Add the coriander, ½ t. garam masala, tumeric, and chili powder or smoked paprika and mix to distribute.
  5. Add the chicken stock and salt, than add the lentils. Stir. Bring the soup to a simmer then cover and reduce heat to low.
  6. Cook until lentils are tender (about 30 minutes). If, at any point, the soup looks too dry, add some of the reserved water. The soup should be thick, but not as thick as a stew or sauce.
  7. While the soup is simmering, mix together the yogurt, sour cream, and ½ t. garam masala.
  8. When serving the soup, top with a generous tablespoon of the yogurt-sour cream mixture and sprinkle with slices scallions.

Beef and Bean Chili

This is a complex chili based on many of the components traditional Texas chili, but with the apostasy of bean added (sorry! but I really like beans both for flavor and texture and as a way to make this more economical). This is a chili that can come together very quickly on a weeknight if you use the short cuts/substitutions (ground beef and canned beans). If you have the time, however, it is worth doing the extra work of chopping meat and soaking beans because they add a real richness to the final product.

Making this as written will result in a medium spicy chili. If you like less spice reduce the jalapenos and/or the spicier chili powder. If you like more spice, just add more of either or both of these ingredients.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound steak tips/flap steak OR 1 lb. of lean ground beef

3T. canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 large or 2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut into small dice

1 t. cumin powder

1 T. medium spicy chili powder (my favorite is Oaxacan Adobo from the Teeny Tiny Spice Company)

1 t. chocolate chili (again Teeny Tiny Spice has a wonderful Chocolate Chili powder) OR ½ ounce unsweetened chocolate finely chopped AND 1 t. Ancho or other spicy chili powder (if you have no ancho powder, substitute ¼ or ½ t. cayenne, to taste)

1 t. oregano

2 T. masa harina OR ½ corn tortilla ripped into small pieces OR 2 T. fine cornmeal (polenta or medium or coarse cornmeal will not work)

½ can of beer (almost any ale will work well, but use whatever you have on hand)

1 (14.5 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes (my favorite are San Marzano, but any good brand will work)

½ cup water

2-3 whole dried guajillo or ancho chiles, depending on size

2-3 cups soaked and cooked pinto beans OR 1-2 cans of pinto or kidney beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed (amount depends on how much you like beans). I am a huge fan of Rancho Gordo’s dried beans and of taking the time to soak, cook, and freeze (if not using right away) beans. They make a real difference in a recipe, but they do add time and hassle so feel free to use your favorite canned beans.

Salt to taste.

PREPARATION:

2
  1. If using sirloin tips/flap steak, using a very sharp knife, cut the meat into small pieces (the tip of your pinky or even a bit smaller).
  2. Add 1 T. of the oil to a dutch oven/heavy soup pot or large, heavy fry pan (it needs to be big enough to simmer the finished chili). Heat over medium heat until the oil shimmers.
  3. Add the chopped or ground beef in batches to brown quickly, without overcrowding. Remove the meat to a paper-towel lined bowl to drain. Add more oil if pan is dry but do not scrape up any browned bits that cling to the pan. Continue until all the meat is cooked. There should be a good amount of browned and crusty bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped jalapenos, cumin, masa/torn tortilla/cornmeal, oregano, and whichever chili powders you are using to the pot. Lower the heat to medium low and cook for 5-8 minutes stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the mixture is very fragrant. (If the bottom of the pot seems to be burning you can add a small amount of oil and stir to prevent scorching.)
  5. Add the meat, beer, tomatoes, finely chopped chocolate (if using), the water, and salt to taste and stir well to combine. Add the dried guajillo or ancho chiles and push down into the mixture without breaking up the chile.
  6. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour or so. You will know the chili is done when the onions begin to lose a little bit of their definition and the sauce appears a thick dark orange brown. If it starts to seem too dry, add a bit more water.
  7. Remove the whole chiles and discard.
  8. Add the beans and stir gently to combine. Leave on low heat, stirring occasionally and gently, until the mixture is heated through.
  9. Serve over rice or with tortillas chips on the side.

Glazed Pinole Azul Cake (Blue Cornmeal Cake)

I don’t include many recipes that call for a very specialized ingredient, but a gift of Pinole Azul (the basis for a sweet corn drink in Mexico) led to this cake and it is worth seeking out Pinole Azul in order to make it. (It can be ordered directly from Rancho Gordo online). The cake can be served with or without a sauce (in the picture I topped it with a blueberry sauce, but a dark chocolate sauce, or fresh fruit, or even a dollop of lemon curd would also be good).

This makes a moist, slightly dense, single layer cake.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of all purpose flour

½ cup pinole azul

⅔ cup sugar

3 ½ t. baking powder

½ t. salt

1 cup buttermilk

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 large eggs

¾ t. vanilla extract

1 lemon, zested and juice saved (at least 1 t. of zest and 2 T. of juice needed)

1 to 1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.
  3. Melt the stick of butter in a small pan or bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine flour, pinole azul, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring to make certain they are thoroughly combined.
  5. In a separate bowl or large measuring pitcher, combine the buttermilk, eggs, 1 t. lemon zest, and vanilla and whisk to mix.
  6. Pour the melted butter and the buttermilk-egg mixture into the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently fold together until just combined (do not stir or whisk).
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the sides begin to firm up and pull away from the pan just a little, about 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and run the blade of a table knife around the outside to make sure the cake has released from the pan.
  9. Place a baking rack or plate on top of the cake and with a towel or oven mitts for protection flip the cake over onto to rack and life to pan away. 
  10. Gently peel the parchment from the bottom (now top of the cake).
  11. Place a rack on top of the cake and flip once more so that it is now cooling right side up.
  12. Allow the cake to fully cool to room temperature.
  13. Combine the powdered sugar with 1 T. of the lemon juice and stir vigorously with a small whisk or a fork to a smooth paste. Add as much of the second T. of lemon juice as needed to get a glaze that will ooze (but not run) over the cake.
  14. When the cake is at room temperature, spoon/scrape the glaze into the center of the cake and with a spatula or large spoon swirl to push it outward toward the edge. Some should drip over onto the side at various points.
  15. Cut into wedges. Serve with or without a sauce.

Parmesan Pepper Drop Biscuits

This  recipe is adapted from one on the Serious Eats site that they then, in turn, attribute to Cook’s illustrated. Some of the best recipes come from tinkering with those that went before!

These biscuits are great with dinner or can replace scones for breakfast. The beauty is they come together much quicker than scones and don’t require the chilling time before baking, so they are perfect for a weeknight meal. The cheese and pepper add some character to the biscuits. They also make for a great ham sandwich!

This recipe makes 12 2-3 inch biscuits.

Ingredients:

2 c. all purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. sugar

1 scant t. kosher salt

3 T. grated parmesan cheese (make sure it is a good parmesan, like regianno, as the taste will come through)

1/2 t. ground black pepper (or more to taste)

1 c. cold buttermilk (keep in the refrigerator right up until you need to use it)

1 stick of unsalted butter (8 T.) melted and then cooled to close to room temp (but still liquid)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  2. Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat and then set aside to cool.
  3. Line a cookie sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper or Silpat mat.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, parmesan and pepper with a fork until very thoroughly blended.
  5. Pour the cold buttermilk into a bowl or glass measuring cup (at least 2 cups in size, preferably larger) and add 6 T.  (or 3/4) of the melter butter to the buttermilk, reserving the remaining 2 T. (You can eyeball this part rather than measure). Stir with a fork until the butter begins to form clumps or curds.
  6. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined and the dough is beginning to come away from the sides of the bowl.
  7. Grease a 1/4 cup measure (or small scoop or large dinner spoon) with Pam spray or a neutral cooking oil (like canola).
  8. Scoop the biscuit mixture up and drop it onto the prepared pan (you may have to shake a bit to get it to release). The dough should form a mound about 2 inches across and 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall.  You can nudge the edges with your finger if they seem a bit raggedy.
  9. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the remaining melted butter (you may not need it all).
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until tops (and bottoms) are golden.
  11. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

Meatloaf

A very similar recipe appears in the Spaghetti and Meatballs post, but this is recipe stands on its own just a bit better, making a very moist and flavorful meatloaf with any leftovers have a great texture for sandwiches.  The key trick is to use both panko bread crumbs and warm water.  The panko keeps the moisture in the meatballs. Please note: this recipe is very forgiving so if you are missing a dried herb or don’t have mustard, either leave it out or substitute something that appeals (oregano for thyme, for example, and sriracha or hot sauce for mustard). Also, the image above is oven ready (not cooked!)

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 lb. lean ground beef

1/3 lb. ground pork

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

3/4 T. dried basil

1/4 t. dried thyme

1/2 t. kosher salt

black pepper to taste

1 t. French mustard (grey poupon style)

1/2 T. fresh lemon juice

2 – 4 T. warm water

2-3 strips of bacon (preferably applewood smoked), if you do not like bacon or eat pork, you can substitute a favorite barbecue sauce or a mixture of ketchup, mustard and brown sugar painted on as a glaze to keep the meatloaf from drying out.

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  2. Dice the onion and the garlic finely and place, along with all the other ingredients EXCEPT the water and the bacon, in a large bowl.
  3. The best way to mix this is with your (clean) hands. If you hate sticking your fingers into raw meat, however, a wooden spoon also works.
  4. Mix the ingredients gently and just until fully combined.
  5. Add water starting with 2 T. and mix, adding more if needed, until you can sense that the mixture has become lighter. Trust me, it goes from feeling quite dense to much easier to mix quite quickly and with just this small amount of water.
  6. Form the mixture into a loaf and place in a baking pan (preferable glass but enamel or aluminum will do). If you want to limit the fat somewhat, you can place the loaf on a rack inside the pan.
  7. Bake the meatloaf for about 1 hour in total. After 30 or so minutes, check that there is not an excess of rendered fat around the meatloaf.  If there is ,carefully spoon as much out as you can.  Do not try to tip the pan to drain it–that is a good way to splatter grease, send the meatloaf flying, and/or burn yourself.
  8. Remove from oven when bacon appears cooked and meatloaf is firm.
  9. Tent with foil and rest for at least 10 and up to 30 minutes.
  10. Slice with a large serrated knife if you have one.

 

 

Smoked Fish Cakes

These fish cakes are lighter than many and taste distinctly of smoked fish and potato.  They can be served with tartar sauce, aioli, or with just a wedge of lemon.  I strongly recommend using smoked haddock from the Boston Smoked Fish Company if you can find it (locally available at the Boston Public Market and often at the twice weekly farmer’s market in Dewey Square, also can be ordered on-line).  If not you can substitute any smoked white flaky fish that you like or smoked salmon or you can use half smoked salmon and half regularly cooked salmon. You can also substitute any cooked flaky white fish that is not smoked but, if you want the smoky taste, you would need to add 2 pieces of well cooked and crumbled bacon.

Makes 8-9 cakes, serving 3-4 people

Ingredients:

3 large Russet potatoes (or 3-4 ups of leftover homemade mashed potatoes–don’t use those made in a store, they are always too salty for this recipe)

2 T. heavy cream or whole milk or melted butter (or in a pinch olive oil)

4 oz. of smoked haddock (or other smoked fish without skin or bones)

1/2 small to medium onion, finely diced

4 T. olive oil (divided into 1 T. and 3 T.)

1/2 t. dried thyme

1/4 c. dry white wine

salt and pepper to taste

1 c. plain panko (Japanese bread crumbs) for dredging

Preparation:

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1″ chunks and place into a large pot of lightly salted boiling water.  Cook until the potatoes are very tender. Drain and allow to sit in the strainer until quite dry (the drier the potatoes the easier to make the fish cakes hold together).
  2. Mash the potatoes until quite smooth (chunks make the cakes more likely to all apart).
  3. Add the 2 T. of cream/milk/melted butter until stir together. [TO THIS STEP, THE RECIPE CAN BE DONE A DAY OR TWO AHEAD]
  4. In a small fry or saute pan, add 1 T. of olive oil and put over medium heat, stirring often until the onion is softened and translucent.  Add the thyme and white wine and bring to a gentle boil.  Boil until the wine is reduced to just 1 T. or so and remove from the heat an allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. To make the cakes, place 3/4 of the mashed potatoes into a large bowl (keep the remainder in reserve in case needed).
  6. Flake or chop the smoked fish into pieces the size of the end of your pinky and mix into the mashed potatoes.
  7. When the wine/onion mixture is cool, add to the mashed potato/fish mixture and stir until well combined.
  8. Place the panko on a large plate or pie pan. Add salt and pepper and mix well.
  9. Form the fish/potato mixture into patties that are about 2 1/2 inches across and 1 inch high. Gently place each patty on the panko and pat a bit.  Sprinkle panko over the top and turn.  Finally, gently roll the patty sides in the panko.  (If the patty falls apart just reform and re-roll, the panko that will have been absorbed will give it a bit more structure.
  10. Place the fish cakes in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes (and up to 4 hours) to firm up.
  11. Heat 2 T. (of the remaining 3) olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat.  When the oil is very hot, gently add the patties but do not crowd. You can really only cook 3-4 at a time. Do not disturb the cakes until you see browning on the bottom edges. Gently flip the cakes and cook until deep golden on both sides. Cook in batches adding oil  as needed to keep the cakes from sticking.