Go ahead, wrinkle your nose in disgust. I had the same reaction the first time someone mentioned a recipe that called for canned salmon. Isn’t that akin to 9Lives or Friskies, but for people? The thought of salmon in a can might get Morris the cat excited, but not a foodie like me.
This particular recipe, for Ginger Cilantro Salmon Cakes, ended up being served at an event here in D.C., where a number of chefs in attendance apparently tasted the salmon cakes and gave them rave reviews. Now THAT got my attention. Surely all these accomplished chefs, with palates more refined than mine, couldn’t all be wrong, or could they? To satisfy my curiosity, and to disprove the preposterous idea that canned salmon could actually be edible, I decided to put the recipe to the test at home.
When you move five times within a four-year period, it becomes achingly clear just how much “stuff” you own. And I mean that literally, having done the packing and schlepping myself for most of those moves. As you can see in these photos, my stuff tends to be of the culinary variety. Although my collection of kitchen wares doesn’t qualify me for the Hoarding Hall-of-Fame like a Collyer brother or Bouvier Beale sister, it has nonetheless gotten a bit out of control.
Perhaps having a plethora of kitchen tools is the home cook’s equivalent of Linus’s blanket – we feel more secure in our culinary endeavors, knowing these tools are by our side. Sounds plausible, but nah, that’s just denial talking. Lately, I’ve been feeling the urge to downsize, which got me thinking about which tools are most essential in the kitchen.
You’ve heard of the blue-plate special, right? In the early half of the 20th century, restaurants and diners across the country often advertised a daily blue-plate special – a bargain-priced meal or daily selection that promised a full belly for a song. My own leaner times have compelled me to create what I’ve come to refer to as “the pantry special.” It’s all about making do with what you have on hand. Creating a pantry special goes something like this: open pantry, scan shelves, grab a few ingredients, and whip them into something edible. This resourceful kind of cooking was second nature for our penny-pinching, Depression-era grandparents or parents, but if you know the secret, delicious pantry specials are within anyone’s reach.
What? Brussels sprouts for dinner?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Brussels sprouts? If your early experiences with them were anything like mine, you might shudder to recall a dull green, mushy, stinky excuse for a vegetable—something to be assiduously avoided at all costs.
As I noted in an earlier post, finding those unappetizing-looking orbs on my plate was cause for subterfuge…namely, stuffing them in my pockets when my parents weren’t looking, so they could be properly disposed of in the toilet. Others find them disagreeable because of their propensity to cause potential “embarrassment,” so you might want to stay away from them if you’re on a hot dinner date.