Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Literary Meal with William Faulkner

One of my kids is reading As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. With thoughts of the Bundrens, the Tulls, and Mississippi, I was reminded of Faulkner's favorite dish: salmon croquettes (aka. salmon cakes). While I know he preferred canned pink salmon, as well as the recipe on the can, I find canned salmon absolutely nauseating. Instead, when I find myself with two cups of leftover salmon, I make these fantastic "Salmon Cakes with Chipotle Cream and Arugula." 

You may be surprised that a measly two cups of flaked salmon can feed four; however, these salmon cakes are loaded with fresh veggies and yummy, buttery Ritz crackers. The spicy chipotle cream adds an appealing contrast, while the peppery arugula dressed lightly with a squirt of lemon and drizzle of olive oil reincarnates leftovers into a welcoming new meal. I like to serve them with asparagus and a warm baguette. And if you really want to channel Faulkner, a mint julep would be the perfect addition.

Salmon Cakes with Chipotle Cream and Arugula

Serves 4

For the Salmon Cakes
2 cups flaked, cooked salmon
1/2 cup fine Ritz cracker crumbs
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying

For the Chipotle Cream
1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1 tablespoon milk
1 chipotle chile in adobo
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Arugula
4 handfuls baby arugula
Squirt of lemon and drizzle of olive oil

For the Chipotle Cream
Mix the sour cream or crema, milk, and the chipotle chile with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Salmon Cakes
Mix all the ingredients together, except for the butter and olive oil for frying, and shape into 8 equal portions. 

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter is melted and the oil is hot, cook four of the salmon cakes until each side is browned, approximately 5 minutes per side. Set aside to a paper towel lined plate. Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining four salmon cakes.

While the last salmon cakes are cooking, dress the arugula with the lemon and olive oil.

To plate, place a handful of arugula on each plate, then top with 2 salmon cakes and a dollop of chipotle cream on each cake.

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