Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Night Before Thanksgiving...

I spent much of today cooking for Thanksgiving, so I needed to think of something simple and comforting to make for dinner.  I have a cold I can't seem to kick and I feel chilled to the bone, as my mother would say.  (No complaints from people who live in REAL cold weather.  I'm sick.  Cut me some slack.)  Not feeling very ambitious, I opened the freezer to see what might be lurking there.  Lo and behold, I discovered a frosty container of white beans and country ham.  My mother, who made this batch when she visited in September, calls it "Senate Bean Soup".  I don't understand why it's called "soup".  I know there is such a thing, but this recipe makes what I'd call a "mess of beans" laced with large chunks of my dad's home-cured country ham.  And it's just what I needed tonight.  I even managed to dig up a photo from my mother's visit so you can see what the beans looked like as they cooked.
A pot of white beans and ham, Sept. 22, 2010.


I'll be the first to admit that the beans just aren't the same after they're frozen, but even in their degraded condition, they're still pretty good.  To go with the beans, I made salmon cakes, which always remind me of my Grandma Willie, especially when I fry them in her cast iron skillet.  Here's my recipe, modified from the verbal instructions given to me by my Grandma Willie.
The last remaining salmon cake in my cast iron skillet on Thanksgiving Eve, 2010.

Grandma Willie's Salmon Cakes


In a small bowl, mix:

  • 1 large (14.75 oz.) can salmon, picked to remove skin and large bones
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (if you have it)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs or 3 saltine crackers, crumbled into small bits
Mix well and form into 5 salmon cakes (patties).  

Put approximately 3/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs onto a plate.  Coat both sides of each salmon cake with panko breadcrumbs.  (At this point you can put salmon cakes into the refrigerator until you're ready to cook them.)

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron skillet at medium heat for a few minutes.  When skillet is hot, add salmon cakes and cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  You may need to add another tablespoon of oil when you flip them.  Salmon cakes should be heated through and crusty brown on each side.