Blueberries bring brown betty to summer’s table

Since I blogged last May about my younger son’s de facto chocolate birthday cake, his tastes have emerged more clearly.

Berries, particularly blueberries, are a serious contender for his favorite food. And the kid will reduce a slice of fresh lemon to just a half-masticated chunk of pith. His needlelike, 2-year-old teeth prize both zest and pulp from the fruit more efficiently than any microplane.

So lemon was an obvious answer when my mother-in-law asked what the boy would prefer in his birthday dessert. Because pies tend to showcase berries better than cakes, we had almost settled on lemon-blueberry pie. But a change in plans disqualifies her as this year’s baker, and my homemade pie crust isn’t quite up to snuff.

This brown betty could be the answer. Baked in a 9-inch round pan, it almost mimics a single-layer cake. Layers of sugar, fruit and buttered bread crumbs define this preparation, which has graced American tables since Colonial times.

Although the brown betty tends to show up in fall as a backdrop for apples and pears, the Kansas City Star recently reinvented it for late spring and early summer enjoyment. I likely wouldn’t bother to purchase lemon-flavored yogurt and instead use Nancy’s plain whole-milk yogurt, which has staple status in my fridge. A bit more lemon zest, juice or even lemon extract would keep this dessert slightly tangy.

Tribune News Service photo

Lemon-Blueberry Brown Betty

1 slice whole-wheat bread

2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut in fourths

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dash salt

1 (6-ounce) carton low-fat lemon yogurt

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray.

Tear the bread into quarters and place in thework bowl of a food processor. Pulse until bread forms even crumbs. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until evenly cut into crumb mixture. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the 1/3 cup sugar, the soda and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour yogurt mixture into flour mixture and stir until combined. Spoon into prepared pan and spread to coat bottom of pan evenly.

Arrange blueberries evenly over batter in pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe developed for The Star by Kansas City-based professional home economists Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss.

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Refry beans in just a bit of fat for loads of flavor

A last-minute change in dinner plans last week saddled me with a husband craving nachos and a shortage of toppings.

Typically, I would load the chips and cheese with bits of whichever meat — chicken, turkey, pork or even lamb — that we’d roasted or smoked for the week. But I hadn’t managed to pull off that kind of advance meal-planning. So that left beans as our protein component.

Yet I couldn’t conscience black beans straight out of the can. I decided to add loads of flavor with just a tiny amount of meat. Spicy chorizo — the Spanish cured sausage, not the freshly ground mixture more common in Mexico — has been one of my recent addictions. A line of all-natural meats added to Food 4 Less’ inventory has tempted me enjoy a slice or two as a late-night snack for the past few months.

The ounce or so of chorizo, diced, that I had left on hand exuded a hefty dose of flavorful fat with just a few minutes in a medium-temperature pan. I skimmed out and reserved the crispy morsels of meat and mashed my black beans into the pork fat. And because the sausage was so well-seasoned with cumin and smoked paprika, I needed just a teaspoon each of Mexican oregano and smoked chilies to achieve the desired flavor.

After the beans cooked for 10 minutes and then cooled, they were firm enough to practically crumble over my nachos, topped with sliced jalapeno, scallions and the crisp sausage. Those results worth repeating, chorizo found its way into my shopping cart again this week.

Even lacking meat entirely, beans can soak up plenty of flavor from onion, garlic and spices. Here’s a vegetarian version that the Miami Herald touted last football season. With outdoor cooking season heating up, these would be delicious alongside grilled taco fillings or on crowd-pleasing nachos.

Tribune News Service photo

‘Nacho’ Average Refried Beans

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1/2 jalapeño, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

Pinch cayenne pepper or chipotle powder, if desired

2 cups cooked pinto or black beans

1/2 cup bean-cooking liquid, reserved

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until onion is fragrant and translucent.

Add the minced garlic and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until fragrant, for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the cumin, coriander, optional cayenne or chipotle and the beans. Cook, stirring together, then pour in the reserved bean liquid. Stir everything together gently then reduce heat to medium.

Mixture will seem soupy at first, then thicken as it heats through and bean mashing commences. Mash by hand, using a large wooden spoon or potato masher for about 10 minutes or until you’ve broken up beans and mixture comes together with a consistency slightly thicker than hummus. You can also mash using an immersion blender, but aim for a rustic texture, rather than a fluffy, uniform puree.

Season generously with the sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Top with the chopped cilantro. Serve with chips, stuff them into a tortilla or add to nachos or seven-layer dips.

Makes about 2 cups, or 4 servings.

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Kitchen hack: peanut sauce from poaching liquid

The “hack,” as we’ve come to know it, implies that life is a series of chores to tackle inelegantly but effectively, eliminating yet another stumbling block in our way.

I never used to view cooking as a hurdle or pitfall, that is until I had kids. Four years in, the relentless cycle of maximizing the calories filling little tummies while minimizing food spilled or thrown on the floor has managed to suck the joy out of preparing a meal. And don’t get any parent started on the task of preparing wholesome foods that won’t be wholly rejected on the merits of their bright colors and flavors.

So beige food shows up on the plate more often than I could have ever anticipated. Recently, the plate was so monochromatic that I doubted even my skeptical kids would go for it. But the poached chicken, brown rice and peanut sauce was one of our biggest hits to date that didn’t incorporate now ubiquitous cheese.

A previous post mentioned poaching boneless, skinless chicken breasts for my kids’ inexperienced palates. But I didn’t share my latest kitchen hack: whipping up a quick peanut sauce right in the skillet from the poaching liquid. Who needs broth, after all, when you’ve just infused ½ cup water with chicken, lemon and garlic?

After removing all but the liquid from the pan, I simply stirred in about 2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter with 1 tablespoon brown sugar, a teaspoon each tamari sauce and rice-wine vinegar and a dash of fish sauce. This was a perfect accent to slices of the poached chicken. I enjoyed mine with a bit of chili-garlic paste on the side.

Indeed, simple sauces, featured in last week’s A la Carte, can take any lightly seasoned meat, essentially a blank canvas, in myriad directions, while breathing life into leftovers. Here’s another variation that brings to mind my skillet-poached chicken and almost instant sauce.

Tribune News Service photo

Hacked Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 whole clove garlic

1 chunk (1 inch long) fresh ginger, plus 1/4 cup fresh ginger matchsticks

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

2 teaspoons sesame oil

4 scallions, white and green portions sliced into very thin, 4-inch lengths

1/4 cup peanut oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sherry

2 teaspoons sugar

Settle the chicken into a pot in a single layer. Fill with cold water to cover chicken by 1 inch. Add the garlic, ginger chunk, salt and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer; simmer for 5 minutes. Cover pot, pull off heat and let rest until warm, for about 1 hour.

Pull chicken out of poaching liquid, rinse and pat dry. Hack or shred into fine strips. Toss with the sesame oil. Heap chicken onto a serving platter.

Set a strainer over a small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and ginger matchsticks. Cook, stirring, until bright and fragrant, for 30 seconds. Pour through strainer. Scatter ginger and scallions over chicken.

Return oil to saucepan. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Pour this sauce over chicken. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Chicago Tribune from “The Chinese Cookbook,” by Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee.

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Morels and asparagus are spring’s dynamic duo

Thick or thin, springtime asparagus has no better complement than spring’s most coveted mushroom.

Morels bring their distinctive, buttery earthiness to the season’s newly sprung herbs and vegetables. After a winter of heavier cooking, tender fungus and produce remind us that it’s time for a lighter hand. Pasta dishes are reliable repositories for just-cooked ingredients.

This one, courtesy of the Detroit Free Press, infuses the noodles with the essence of morels, captured in the water for reconstituting dried mushrooms. If you only have fresh morels — or conversely just dried —either could be used solo. But the duo leave no question of the morel’s singular status among mushrooms.

Tribune News Service photo

Pasta With Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus

1/2 ounce package dried morel mushrooms (about 5 to 6 mushrooms)

3 ounces (or more as desired) fresh morels

1 pound dry spaghetti

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

3 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1 pound asparagus, rinsed, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

3/4 cup vegetable stock

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Chopped parsley, for garnish

In a large bowl, cover the dried morels with 8 cups boiling water, set aside until morels are tender, for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, clean the fresh morels, placing them in another bowl of water and swishing them around to remove any dirt. Remove, pat dry and cut them in half (if some morels are small, leave them whole.)

Using a slotted spoon, remove reconstituted mushrooms (reserving liquid) to a cutting board and slice in half lengthwise.

Using a fine-mesh strainer, pour reserved soaking liquid into a large stockpot. Add additional water sufficient to cook pasta, bring to a boil. Season water with kosher salt, add the spaghetti; cook, stirring, until al dente, for about 10 minutes or according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter in the oil. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute; do not let it brown. Add the shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes. Add reserved morels and fresh morels, plus the asparagus and stock, bring to a boil. Cook, covered, until asparagus is tender, for about 2 minutes. Uncover, stir in the cream, cook until slightly reduced, for about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and add cooked pasta, the lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper and cheese. Toss until evenly combined. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

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Sink your teeth into spring’s stout asparagus

Slender spears seek the sun’s rays shyly at first — twirling and curling from mulched garden beds.

As welcome as asparagus of any size is in a largely barren garden, I watch with barely concealed excitement for the thick, toothsome ones to thrust through the soil. Tender and juicy, these also come later to grocery stores after less-enthusiastic asparagus eaters have had their fill of thin, fibrous spears.

Perfect for grilling, stout asparagus spears make the season’s first cookouts feel almost decadent. Along with grilled chicken and potato wedges, asparagus was a natural vehicle recently for my husband’s favorite aioli, actually Best Foods mayonnaise enhanced with fresh garlic, lemon juice and seasonings. We always say this simple sauce makes anything taste good.

Similarly, crème fraiche is a sauce shortcut that embraces lemon, herbs and mustard, another household favorite. This version from the Chicago Tribune is inspired by Julia Child’s classic sauce moutarde and plays up the luxury of abundant asparagus.

Tribune News Service photo

Luxury Spears

2 pounds fresh fat asparagus

Kosher salt, as needed

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup creme fraiche

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh chives

Lay asparagus, 1 at a time, on a cutting board. Using a vegetable peeler, strip away skin from just below tip to bottom. Break off woody bottom. Rinse. Repeat.

Choose a skillet wide enough to accommodate asparagus. Fill half-full with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil; add asparagus. Reduce to a simmer. Cook, rolling spears once, until they turn brilliant green at tips and offer a tender bite, for about 4 minutes.

Use tongs to pull out asparagus, reserving cooking water. Drain asparagus briefly in a colander. Spread spears onto a clean kitchen towel (or 2) and roll up, keeping asparagus dry and warm.

Measure the mustard into a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of hot asparagus-cooking water. Whisk in the creme fraiche. Season this sauce with salt and pepper, a squeeze of the lemon and the chives.

Heap asparagus on a platter. Either pour on sauce (leaving points and an inch or two of bottom bare), or serve sauce in a bowl alongside, for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.

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Fresh mint is springtime’s swap in classic pesto

When it comes to condiments, I don’t keep many on hand beyond the basics. But one, at least, confers instant meal status to almost any food.

Pesto stocks my freezer all winter before summer’s abundant basil challenges us to use it all. The end-of-season effort, of course, secures our pesto supply for months to come.

A couple of those jars accompanied a few pantry staples for my family’s recent vacation in a mountain cabin. Tossed with rotini, cannellini beans and canned albacore, fresh-from-the-freezer pesto made us feel like we were dining well, rather than making do.

A reasonably well-stocked kitchen, however, makes pesto easy to concoct at mealtime. More concept than recipe, pesto can combine almost any leafy herb or vegetable with the gamut of nuts or seeds and cheeses. Lemon juice is fairly indispensable but can give way to lime. Oil, likewise, can impart a distinctive note depending on the type. Think Asian pesto with cilantro, almonds, lime and sesame oil. A previous post to this blog furnishes more ideas for personalizing pesto.

Mint is an obvious swap for basil this early in the growing season. And there are few meats that benefit like lamb, long considered a springtime food. Augment this recipe from the Chicago Tribune with quick-cooking couscous or quinoa for an elegant dinner that comes together in a flash.

Tribune News Service photo

Mint Pesto Lamb Chops

1 lemon

1 garlic clove

2 cups fresh mint leaves

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1/3 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

8 single-cut lamb rib chops, about 1 pound

Zest the lemon and squeeze its juice. Peel the garlic clove.

To make pesto, in bowl of a food processor, with motor running, chop garlic. Add the mint leaves, lemon zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper; pulse a few times. With machine running, drizzle in the 1/3 cup olive oil, making a thick pesto. Add the almonds and feta cheese. Pulse a few times.

Divide half of pesto among the lamb rib chops, smoothing it to cover both sides of each chop. In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat the 2 teaspoons olive oil. Cook chops until crisp outside and just done inside, for about 3 minutes per side. Serve with remaining pesto.

Make 2 servings.

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Cooked or raw, broccoli stems are worth saving

Purchased as a contingency plan, broccoli was the saving grace of a recent family meal.

The crown of broccoli was the last green vegetable remaining in our fridge after a long weekend away and the postponement of grocery shopping. With some brown rice and a few frozen and oven-baked eggrolls, it constituted something of a meal.

Little did I know that an entire head of broccoli was just enough to sate the appetite of my younger son, who clamored for more “bokkkeee, bokkkeee!” How lucky are we, my husband and I joked, that our kid is begging for more brown rice and broccoli.

Fortunately, I also had seen fit to roast the broccoli stems, along with the florets, or there wouldn’t have been a bite to spare for me and my husband. It’s just too bad, I mused, that many stores, the one where I shop included, remove most of the stem before sale. It’s a measure, no doubt, aimed at the consumer who simply discards the stem. Organic broccoli, it’s worth noting, usually is sold with stems intact.

I’ve learned to love the stem over the past few years. Peeled and then sautéed or roasted, it’s actually more tender and mild-flavored than the more showy florets. Most of us have seen it preshredded and packaged as slaw, a budget-savvy way to use it without cooking.

And there’s also this recipe, essentially a quick pickle, that repurposes broccoli stems, according to a recent Tribune News Service story about reducing waste in the kitchen.

Tribune News Service photo

Marinated Broccoli Stems

3 or 4 broccoli stems

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped or pressed

1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or use equal parts oil and vinegar)

Peel the broccoli stems and cut them into 1/8-inch-thick slices. In a jar, combine stems with the salt; refrigerate overnight. In the morning, pour off water that has accumulated in jar.

Add the garlic, vinegar and oil to jar, stir well and refrigerate for several hours. These keep for a week or more, but color will fade.

Makes 4 servings.

— Recipe from Martha Rose Shulman via Los Angeles Times.

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Bulk up this basic pasta with roasted mushrooms

Aside from the absence of spring morels, mushrooms have been only more prominent lately in my kitchen.

Formerly quite the carnivore, my 2-year-old son seems to have renounced a meat-heavy diet for vegetarianism. And as every vegetarian knows, mushrooms make a savory, hearty stand-in for meat, both taste- and texture-wise. They soak up any flavor a cook can devise, ensuring their adaptability to virtually any cuisine or penchant of the palate.

Just saute them in melted butter and sprinkle them with a bit of salt, and my son will eat a good half-pound in a sitting. Because his brother won’t touch them, I often separate the mushrooms from our main dish, depositing the lion’s share on the little guy’s high-chair tray, followed by pasta, rice, cheese, fruit or whatever else is on the menu.

This recipe’s instructions for roasting mushrooms, then mounding them onto classic cacio e pepe is perfect for my purposes. It would be a delectable preparation for those morels or the oyster mushrooms that Food 4 Less in Medford recently has started stocking.

As the Detroit Free press emphasized, use plenty of salt in the pasta-cooking water, a measure that becomes even more critical for a pasta with so few ingredients. Use at least 2 tablespoons salt in the cooking water, an essential part of the sauce for this dish. Pepper and cheese are its primary components, so use at least a tablespoon of freshly ground pepper and good-quality cheese. Pecorino Romano is traditional.

Tribune News Service photo

Cacio e Pepe With Roasted Mushrooms

1 pound maitake (hen-of-the-woods) mushrooms or cremini mushrooms

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

13 to 16 ounces tagliatelle pasta

8 ounces Parmesan, finely grated

2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

To prepare the mushrooms, preheat oven to 400 F.

Line a sided baking sheet with parchment paper. Break the maitake mushroom bunches in half and arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. If using cremini mushrooms, quarter them. Sprinkle the garlic, red-pepper flakes, salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper over mushrooms.

Roast in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are slightly crispy on edges and cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.

Finely grate the Parmesan cheese into a large mixing bowl. Add the pepper and butter to bowl.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Add cooked pasta to bowl and drizzle with water until sauce reaches your desired thickness.

Top pasta with roasted mushrooms and additional Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Detroit Free Press from

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Slice some lemons for smoky pizza’s centerpiece

A lean produce bin in my kitchen sent a friend scurrying in search of the centerpiece for his own birthday feast.

If we could only track down some morels, I reasoned, that would make a fine pizza topping, along with a few slender spears of garden-fresh asparagus and some succulent, springtime chives. Because neither of us could make it to the area’s farmers markets in time, I waved him off and took a different direction, inspired by the fennel bulbs finally sizing up in the garden.

Had I wanted to venture way out on a limb, I could have composed our celebratory pizza with the one produce item I had aplenty: lemons. This pizza recipe caught my eye a few weeks back for the simple reason that lemons are one of the few ingredients that I’ve never tossed onto pizza dough. Despite the rhapsodies of Chicago Tribune writer Leah Eskin, I probably would have discounted it had I not just discovered the wonder of roasted lemons for myself a few weeks prior.

Planning to cook a whole, bone-in, skin-on turkey breast in my pellet smoker, I dry-brined the meat earlier that day and left it to repose under some thinly sliced lemons. Rather than discarding the fruit, I transferred it to the smoker, set at 250 F.

After a couple of hours in the smoker, the meat — and the lemons — were done to perfection. The former was tender and juicy with just-crisped skin. The lemons were deeply caramelized and dried to a consistency of gourmet fruit leather. I ate them all before the turkey was even carved.

With smoked mozzarella, this pizza also hits that deeply savory note. It’s a fitting use for homemade pesto, which I’m fortunate enough to still have in my freezer.

Tribune News Service photo

Smoky Lemon Pizza

1 pound prepared pizza dough

Cornmeal, as needed

1/4 cup prepared pesto

6 ounces shredded smoked mozzarella

1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed

Kosher salt, to taste

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

Heat: Set a pizza stone (or upside-down baking sheet) on lowest oven rack. Heat oven to 500 F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough to an 11-inch circle. Let rest for 15 minutes. Generously dust a pizza peel (or backside of a baking sheet) with the cornmeal. Gently set dough round on cornmeal.

Spread the pesto over dough, leaving bare about ½ inch at perimeter. Sprinkle with the cheese. Scatter on the lemon slices. Season lightly with the salt. Drizzle with the honey. Sprinkle with the red-pepper flakes.

It’s not hard to slide pizza off peel (or pan) and onto heated baking stone, but it takes determination. Open oven door. Lower peel to about level with stone, at a slight downward angle. Forcefully shove peel toward stone, then quickly retract it, letting pizza slide onto stone.

Let pizza bake until cheese has melted and begun to turn golden, for about 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Makes 1 (11-inch) pizza.

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Canned salmon can be a smart seafood choice

Conducting grocery-store tours, mentioned in this blog’s previous post, I always look for those light-bulb moments among participants.

But some foods remain a tough sell, particularly ones with decades of negative associations to overcome. Fish, in the Rogue Valley is one of those.

We’re not talking about chinook or steelhead fresh from the Rogue River or rainbow and brown trout plucked from local mountain lakes. Most of the fish available to most local residents in in grocery stores: flash-frozen or previously frozen and ammoniating in the grocer’s cooler with every passing hour. Either way, seafood comes with a hefty price tag, and the quality is unpredictable.

That’s why good-quality, locally caught fish from sustainable fisheries is a staple in my pantry. And if the government had its way (check its MyPlate dietary guidelines), we’d all eat more canned fish. It’s generally speaking, a high-quality protein source that’s fairly budget-friendly and, if you’re vigilant about avoiding brands with excess sodium, can contain vital nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, that many Americans are lacking.

The tiny, pliable bones in canned salmon factor heavily into its calcium content. Canned salmon, however, still plays second fiddle in most consumers’ homes to tuna. The former, more costly fish probably seems like a luxury to cooks short on ideas for serving it outside of sandwiches.

I, too, consider milder tuna a bit more versatile, which is why I purchase it by the case from Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston, mentioned in previous posts. But when I’m picking up my season’s stock of olive oil-packed albacore, I always tack on a half-dozen cans or so of coho salmon.

The species, compared with pink and chinook, is relatively obscure as a canned commodity. With a more delicate texture and milder flavor than chinook, it’s also slightly less expensive. My family loves it in salmon burgers with homemade coleslaw.

Try canned salmon in the following recipe, which goes great inside a bun or solo on the plate. While this version, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, calls for cooked salmon, canned works just fine. I added an egg to the mixture and used panko, rather than fresh, breadcrumbs.

Tribune News Service photo

Salmon Cakes

Mix together 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill, 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add 1 3/4 pounds cooked salmon, skin, bones and gray strip of flesh discarded. Mix gently.

Pat into 8 cakes, each about 1 inch thick. Roll cakes in 1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs. Heat a thin film of oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Cook salmon cakes in batches until crisp outside and hot inside, for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Makes 8 cakes.

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  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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