July 2011 Archives

Recipe Flash: Old Bay Cod Cakes with Pickled Radishes

Trust me, after nearly three years of doing this, we know how to win your heart. Whether it’s pancakes, beer and beef, or lotus blondies, we’ve found a way to appeal to the people in our lives with the creations of our kitchens.

But if you want to win my heart, here is what you do: drive up to Ipswich, Mass, buy me the largest basket of fried clams they sell, and instantaneously transport them back to Brooklyn, where they’ll arrive briny and still crunchy and perfect. Fried seafood, in other words, is one of my head-over-heels food loves.

If you are slightly more practical, but you still want to worm your way into my affections via food, then the answer lies in seafood croquettes. Pan-fried rather than deep-fried, croquettes and cakes still combine that mild fishy sweetness and crisp crunchy exterior that I can not resist. I like crabcakes so much that going to steakhouses is sometimes an anxiety-producing experience: do I order the cakes? Or get a filet, as the menu intended me to?

When, after a recent trip to Fish Tales, my favorite Brooklyn fish market, I came home with a lovely filet of cod, I decided to make a perhaps unnecessary attempt to win my own affections and turned the filets into crab cake-like patties. Post-frying, I enjoyed every single bite, falling in love with the chef (that’d be me) more and more with each savory morsel. Fortunately, the cakes had a similar effect on Alex.

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,



Old Bay Cod Cakes with Pickled Radishes
Makes 6 cakes; Serves 3 for dinner or 6 as appetizers

Serve these sweet and delicious little cakes alongside Warm Blue Potato & Green Onion Salad.

1/3 cup white wine
2 large sprigs parsley
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 pound cod
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon old bay
1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup panko
1/4 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup Spicy Quick-Pickled Radishes (recipe follows)

In the bottom of a pot with a steamer attachment (or just the bottom of a pot if you don’t have a steamer), combine 1 1/2 cups water, the wine, the sprigs of parsley, and the peppercorns. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

Sprinkle both sides of the cod with salt and pepper and rub them with olive oil. Place in the steamer basket and set it over the boiling water-wine mixture. Turn the heat down slightly, cover and poach for 8-12 minutes, until the cod flakes easily. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, use a little less water and simply set the cod right into the boiling water.)

Transfer the cod to a large mixing bowl and set aside until it’s cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the red onion and cook until beginning to become translucent. Add the garlic and half of the parsley, and cook another 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, some freshly ground pepper, the Old Bay seasoning, and the smoked paprika. Cook another minute, then remove from the heat.

Shred the cod into small pieces and remove any bones. Add the onion mixture, the panko, the mayonaise, and the remaining chopped parsley. Stir to combine, then taste for salt, adding more as needed.

Form the mixture into 6 even patties. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8.

On a shallow plate, combine the flour with a good pinch of salt and a couple grinds of hot pepper.

Film a large frying pan with about 2 tablespoons of oil and place it over medium heat. Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in; when it sizzles, you’re ready to go.

Gently place each cod cake in the flour, flipping to coat, then put it in the pan, taking care not to crowd. (if your pan is small, do two batches). Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes, then carefully flip each cake with a thin metal spatula and cook another 3-4 minutes until the second side is golden brown. Transfer to a plate and top with the pickled radishes and extra parsley. Serve immediately, topped with a forkful of pickled radishes.

Spicy, Quick-Pickled Radishes
adapted from Healthy Green Kitchen
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup trimmed, thinly sliced radishes
1 scallion, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 dried red chile pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot and heat to boiling. Stir so the sugar dissolves. Add the radishes, scallion, and garlic, and optional chile pepper, then remove from heat.

Pour into a glass bowl or jar, and let come to room temperature. Then, place in the refrigerator. These are delicious right away, but their flavor will develop over time. Eat within a week or two.

Big Girls, Test Kitchen: Spicy Cucumber Salad

OTHER CUCUMBER RECIPES: Vegetable Mint Salsa; Sweet and Sour Cabbage Salad; Grandpa Caprese Salad

As any of my high school friends will tell you (especially Cara and Jordana), I have a freakish love of garnish. You know, the random lettuce cup in the corner of your spring roll plate that contains nothing but a slice of cucumber and a carrot shaved to look like a rose? Most people who claim membership to the clean plate club will devour these flourishes before their server has a chance to clear the dish. But I eat them before even touching the spring rolls.

I have a few textural issues to work out—mainly, my fruit apathy, which stems from a deep shivering hatred of anything mealy and mushy. Vegetables on the other hand, I’ve happily devoured since birth. I can’t get enough of anything crunchy and full of refreshing moisture. Raw radishes, snap peas, carrots, and, most of all, cucumbers. (Garnish anyone?)

I think I first fell in love with the texture of cucumbers in my mother’s friend Vivian’s garden. She plucked a small slicing cuke from the vine, and handed it to me. I wiped it on my shirt like an apple, and chowed down like someone had just given me the most delicious candy bar in the world.

Most of us quarter-lifers aren’t lucky enough to have a garden to pluck cucumbers from and eat them like apples. But still, summer is the season for cukes, and if you can’t indulge yourself on a whim, then you might as well pick up a couple from the farmers market with the intention of making a big cucumber salad like this one. The inspiration for this salad’s flavors (pan-Asian) come from the restaurants that give me the most generous portions of garnish. The vinegar mellows the flavor of the shallots, while the chiles finish off the whole cool, refreshing mouthful with a big punch of heat.

When I was in Thailand, they encouraged us to eat as much spicy food as possible to help us cool down. I’m not sure of the biological science behind this, but if you take the Thais’ word for it, and summer persists as it has, I suggest you eat a lot of spicy cucumber salad–and not just as garnish, but as the main event.

From my kitchen, kicking up my cucumber habit by adding a notch of heat, to yours,



Spicy Cucumber Salad with Ginger, Shallots, and Mint over Crispy Pan-Fried Flounder
Makes 4 side servings

If you can’t find Thai chiles, you can use jalapeno or just substitute 1 teaspoon siracha for the heat. If you have a food processor, you can mince the ginger, shallot, and chile in that along with the vinegar and oil.

3 slicing cucumbers (or 1 large English cucumber), peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced shallot (from 1 small shallot)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (from 1-inch knob ginger)
1 thai chile pepper, minced
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon thinly julienned mint leaves

Combine all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and toss to combine. Allow to sit for 20 minutes or so at room temperature. Taste for seasoning, and serve with fish, grilled meat, or on top of a bowl of rice.

**Summer Fest**

This post is part of Food Network’s Summer Fest! Check out the other great cucumber dishes below.

Summer Fest is a season long, bi-weekly event where Food Network editors team up with blogs to share tips and recipes about what’s available at the market.

Pinch My Salt: Chilled Cucumber, Kefir and Avocado Soup

What’s Gaby Cooking: Cucumber-Basil Gimlet

In Jennie’s Kitchen: Radish-Cucumber Crostini

Big Girl Small Kitchen: Spicy Cucumber Salad with Shallot, Ginger and Mint

Grecian Kitchen: Summer Cucumber Salad

And Love It Too: Cucumber, Mint and Watermelon Salad

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumbers Coolers with Agave Simple Syrup

Cooking With My Kid: Cucumber Limeade

FN Dish: Summer Fest: Cucumber Recipes

CIA Dropout: Relishing Cucumbers

Healthy Eats: Cool Cucumber Soup

Food for 7 Stages of Life: Cucumber Cherry Salsa

Cooking With Elise: Green Tea Cucumber Pops

Glory Foods: Cucumber and Shrimp Boat

Virtually Vegan Mama: Fire-Roasted Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho

Food2: When Life Gives You Cucumbers, Make a Cucumber Cocktail

Cooking Channel: Cucumbers Stuffed with Crab-Mango Salad

Recipe Girl: Bread and Butter Pickles

Taste With the Eyes: Spicy Pickled Cucumbers with Wakame and Garlic Blossoms

Virtually Homemade: Cold Thai Cucumber-Mint Soup

Add a Pinch: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

The Cultural Dish: Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Sauce and Salad

Daily*Dishin: Cool n’ Zesty Cukes: 7 Minute Summer in a Jar

Daydreamer Desserts: Cubanita Margarita

Purple Cook: Cucumber Gazpacho with Indian Flavored Shrimp Relish

Indian Simmer: Cucumber at its Best with Chaat Masala

Big Apple Nosh: Quick and Easy Homemade Pickles

Sweet Life Bake: Agua de Pepino

The Sensitive Epicure: Tzatziki with Grilled Gluten-Free Pitas and Fresh Cucumbers and Peppers

Zaika Zabardast: Cucumber Gazpacho

A Way to Garden: Cucumber-Growing Q&A and the Best Pickles

Cooking with Books: Summer Fest: Cucumbers

Real Simple: Coconut Caramel Ice Cream

As part of ice cream month, we designed a special flavor to share with Real Simple’s blog Simply Stated. Check out the delicious recipe for Dairy-Free Coconut Caramel Ice Cream here!

Meatless Monday: Ali’s Southwestern Artichoke Dip

Check out some of these other delicious dips!

My friend Ali was one of my only housemates senior year who didn’t violate the “do your own dishes” rule, and contribute to a perpetually full sink of dirty plates. But that’s not because she was a neat freak. Rather, she didn’t have any dishes to speak of. If the only route to the garage wasn’t through the kitchen, Ali probably wouldn’t have realized we had one.

As one of the people who used the kitchen the most (duh), I certainly didn’t mind Ali’s lack of cooking. It was preferred to Salima‘s late-night pancake-making habits, which usually left the stove (and walls) covered in batter. But I was thrilled a year or so after we’d graduated when Ali emailed me to say that not only did she cook now, but she cooked ALL THE TIME(!!!!!!). I thought this might be a slight exaggeration of her newfound eating habits, which probably warranted an email, but maybe not one in all CAPS.

When we were down in DC a few weeks ago for our book party, Ali let me stay with her. I felt right at home in her room–a literal carbon copy of the one in our Providence off-campus house, albeit with a better paint job. The kitchen did indeed show signs off use. But sensing my skepticism, Ali insisted that she cook for me one night. And cook for me she did.

Our casual meal for three people featured over six dishes, including an outrageous artichoke dip that, like the rest of Ali’s cooking, actually did warrant a response in all CAPS. Apparently the dip is an old secret family recipe, but Ali, displaying what she herself deems the sign of a REAL cook, made it without glancing at the page.

Mag Club fell shortly after we returned from DC, and I was craving dip. I asked Ali for the recipe, and she reluctantly conceded, but SWORE me to secrecy. In keeping with my promise, the dip I made that night, and the one written below, is a bastardized version that evokes Southwestern flavors (cayenne and corn), while maintaining the gooey, awesomeness off Ali’s secret family version (PARM*!!).With my version, as with the original, the casserole dish was licked clean by the end of the night, so prepare to have your dip, no matter how much you mess with the recipe below, happily inhaled.

From my kitchen, keepin’ secrets, sharin’ dips, to yours,


*It should be noted  that the local pizza place, Antonio’s, used to recognize Ali and call her the Crazy Chicken Parm Lady.


Southwestern Artichoke Dip with Sweet Corn and Cayenne
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

Two 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 cup corn kernels (fresh from two ears, or canned/frozen)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the dip into an 8 x 8-inch casserole dish, or one to two large ramekins. (If you have any extra filling, it will keep for a while in the fridge; you can make the mix up to three 3 days in advance).

Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

NOTE: if you casserole or ramekin is filled to the top, make sure to put a cookie sheet underneath it in the oven to catch any grease that might otherwise bubble over and onto your oven floor.

The 8 Best Calorie-Burning Food Activities

Ditch those free weights, and grab a cast iron skillet instead!

When we fear we might have gained a couple pounds—whether or not it’s bikini season, some of us get a little bit less worried about what toppings we’re going to put on our pasta, and more concerned with how we’ll look in our bikini afterwards. The good news is, when it’s warm outside, we begin to crave the foods that are fresher, healthier, and better for our beach bods. If you don’t have time to round out that kind of healthy lifestyle with a trip to the gym, or a jog outside, here are a few ways you can get in shape for summer, while still centering your activities all around food.

**Tips and Tricks**

1. Carry Groceries. We were never in better shape than when we were catering. Why? Because we carried pounds upon pounds of groceries all over the city. While large loads can tempt you to hail a cab, if you’re looking to get some exercise before you start cooking dinner, there is no better way than to lug all of those bags (we recommend backpacks in addition to canvas totes), all those blocks home. Be sure to pack all the food well so you don’t smush or spill anything as you have the bags along.

2. Mash Potatoes. Any way you choose to pulverize your potatoes—via a food mill, with a fork, or just using a masher—you’re likely to have to use a bit of elbow grease to get the job done. Mash away, and make yourself work hard for your carbs.

3. Pound Meat. If you have a meat mallet, transforming chicken breasts into cutlets can be a breeze. Luckily, we don’t own this tool, which leaves us a few calorie-burning options: frying pan, or fists. Sometimes we’ll simply cover our meat with plastic wrap and whack it good with a skillet (see #6). Other times, we’ll really man up and just pound those puppies with our fist. Who needs Tae Bo when you have some meat to beat the &$%# out of?

4. Whip Cream. There’s no kitchen activity that’s better for your biceps than whipping cream without electricity. Add this summer Lemon Mousse to your menu, give the egg beaters a break, and use your whisk instead. Your toned arms will thank you later.

5. Nix the Mixer. Like whipping cream, any baking activity that requires a stand mixer can be easily executed by using nothing but your super strong arm. Try making a couple batches of Raspberry Cupcakes, Coconut Layer Cake, or Dark Chocolate Cookies, and you’ll see what we mean.

6. Wield a Cast Iron Skillet. Just picking up a large 15-inch cast iron skillet can substitute for your free-weight regimen. Now, try picking it up on the stove with one hand. If your grandmother could do it, so can you. If you’re sore the next day, give props to your kitchen skillet work out.

7. Create a Kitchen Sauna. People who want to shave off a few more pounds after a good workout always hit the steam room or sauna. In small apartments like ours, especially during summertime, recreating that environment at home is not so tough. Simply disregard this advice, and turn on the oven!

8. Pair a Picnic with Lawn Games. We are huge fans of picnics during summertime. But no one says that your buns have to be glued to the blanket for the whole evening. Try bringing some lawn games—bocce balls, a Frisbee or football—and encourage your friends to run around with you before or after the meal. Better yet, organize a game of capture the flag! Or, take on the responsibility of playing with your friends’ puppies–nothing like a strenuous game of fetch!

Fab Fit Fun: Small Kitchen, Big Recipes

We’re thrilled to be featured in this week’s Fab Fit Fun newsletter. Check out the post on their site!