I made the best meal for dinner one Saturday a few weeks ago. It was one of those “I really want to cook something great tonight. Don’t worry, it won’t take too long” kind of meals. Famous last words. But it was worth it.
My favorite part of the meal was these biscuits. Look at those layers! They’re not quite the pain in the ass I remember them being from the last time I made them. They involve all of the steps required for regular biscuits, plus some extra rolling and folding. Not simple, but not a huge deal either.
The hashed Brussels sprout recipe comes from Orangette’s blog. I love Brussels sprouts, and my favorite way of cooking them is braised in heavy cream. I know, yikes on the health-factor of that, but it’s so good. Too heavy to go with this meal though, so I thought I’d try this recipe, in which they’re sliced, then braised in wine. I used sesame seeds instead of poppy seeds, because it’s what I had. It was good and light. It went with the rest of the meal wonderfully.
These were accompanying salmon cakes, and really, how can you go wrong? Chopped fresh salmon, mayonnaise, a few flavorings, all breaded and pan-fried. As I was breading the cakes, they seemed like they were falling apart, but once I got them into the frying pan, they become more structurally sound. I served them with a lemon-herb dipping sauce, but I think it was overkill – they would have been fine with just a wedge of lemon.
Altogether, one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a while.
Oh…there was one casualty.
Pan-Fried Fresh Salmon Cakes (from Cooks Illustrated January 2000)
CI note: A big wedge of lemon is the simplest accompaniment to salmon cakes, but if you decide to go with dipping sauce, make it before preparing the cakes so the sauce flavors have time to meld. If possible, use panko (Japanese bread crumbs).
Makes eight 2½- by ¾-inch cakes
1¼ pounds salmon fillet
1 slice white sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed and white part chopped very fine (about 5 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ cup grated onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
¾ teaspoon table salt
1½ tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
¾ cup fine, unflavored dried bread crumbs, preferably panko
1. Locate and remove any pin bones from salmon flesh. Using sharp knife, cut flesh off skin, then discard skin. Chop salmon flesh into ¼- to 1/3-inch pieces and mix with chopped bread, mayonnaise, onion, parsley, salt, and lemon juice in medium bowl. Scoop a generous ¼-cup portion salmon mixture from bowl and use hands to form into a patty measuring roughly 2½-inches in diameter and ¾-inch thick; place on parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining salmon mixture until you have 8 patties. Place patties in freezer until surface moisture has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, spread flour in pie plate or shallow baking dish. Beat eggs with 1½ teaspoons vegetable oil and 1½ teaspoons water in second pie plate or shallow baking dish, and spread bread crumbs in a third. Dip chilled salmon patties in flour to cover; shake off excess. Transfer to beaten egg and, using slotted spatula, turn to coat; let excess drip off. Transfer to bread crumbs; shake pan to coat patties completely. Return now-breaded patties to baking sheet.
3. Heat remaining ½ cup vegetable oil in large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 3 minutes; add salmon patties and cook until medium golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip cakes over and continue cooking until medium golden brown on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer cakes to plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil on surface, if desired, about 30 seconds, and then serve immediately, with one of the sauces that follow, if you like.
Creamy Lemon Herb Dipping Sauce (from Cooks Illustrated January 2000)
Makes generous ½ cup
½ cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
2½ tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 large scallion, white and green part minced
½ teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients in small bowl; season to taste with ground black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until flavors blend, at least 30 minutes.
Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits (from Cooks Illustrated January 2006)
CI note: The dough is a bit sticky when it comes together and during the first set of turns. Set aside about 1 cup of extra flour for dusting the work surface, dough, and rolling pin to prevent sticking. Be careful not to incorporate large pockets of flour into the dough when folding it over. When cutting the biscuits, press down with firm, even pressure; do not twist the cutter. The recipe may be prepared through step 2, transferred to a zipper-lock freezer bag, and frozen for several weeks. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before proceeding.
Makes 12 biscuits
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12½ ounces), plus additional flour for work surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into ½-inch chunks
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cold, lightly floured and cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1¼ cups low-fat buttermilk, cold
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.
2. Add shortening to flour mixture; break up chunks with fingertips until only small, pea-sized pieces remain. Working in batches, drop butter slices into flour mixture and toss to coat; pick up each slice of butter and press between floured fingertips into flat, nickel-sized pieces. Repeat until all butter is incorporated; toss to combine. Freeze mixture (in bowl) until chilled, about 15 minutes.
3. Spray 24-inch-square area of work surface with nonstick cooking spray; spread spray evenly across surface with kitchen towel or paper towel. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of extra flour across sprayed area; gently spread flour across work surface with palm to form thin, even coating. Add all but 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to flour mixture; stir briskly with fork until ball forms and no dry bits of flour are visible, adding remaining buttermilk as needed (dough will be sticky and shaggy but should clear sides of bowl). With rubber spatula, transfer dough onto center of prepared work surface, dust surface lightly with flour, and, with floured hands, bring dough together into cohesive ball.
4. Pat dough into approximate 10-inch square; roll into 18 by 14-inch rectangle about ¼ inch thick, dusting dough and rolling pin with flour as needed. Following illustrations below, using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, fold dough into thirds, brushing any excess flour from surface; lift short end of dough and fold in thirds again to form approximate 6 by 4-inch rectangle. Rotate dough 90 degrees, dusting work surface underneath with flour; roll and fold dough again, dusting with flour as needed.
5. Roll dough into 10-inch square about ½ inch thick; flip dough and cut nine 3-inch rounds with floured biscuit cutter, dipping cutter back into flour after each cut. Carefully invert and transfer rounds to ungreased baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart. Gather dough scraps into ball; roll and fold once or twice until scraps form smooth dough. Roll dough into ½-inch-thick round; cut three more 3-inch rounds and transfer to baking sheet. Discard excess dough.
6. Brush biscuit tops with melted butter. Bake, without opening oven door, until tops are golden brown and crisp, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Poppyseed and Lemon (from Orangette)
Makes 4-6 servings
1¼ pounds Brussels sprouts
1½ tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
¼ cup white wine
¼ teaspoon salt
Cut the stems from the Brussels sprouts and remove any blemished leaves. When all the sprouts are trimmed, you should be left with about 1 pound total. Halve each sprout lengthwise, and slice each half into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick; or, alternatively, hash them in a food processor fitted with the slicing disc attachment.
In a large bowl, toss the hashed Brussels sprouts with the lemon juice.
In a large skillet or sauté pan, warm the olive oil over high heat, almost to the smoking point. Stir in the hashed sprouts, garlic, and poppy seeds. Add the wine, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sprouts are bright green and lightly softened but still barely crunchy. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt, and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat, and serve.