Good morning, reading friends. Today we have a recipe request from Sylvie Chapoy, for "fish tacos without frying the fish." She continued, "I bought some Riverview Farms stone-ground grits and there were no cooking directions on the package. I would like to know the best and easiest recipe for cooking stone-ground grits." While we're at it, let's add a request for meals to build around the creamy base of grits.
And while we are talking grits, let's talk salmon too. Our morning's first recipe came from a "Sequatchie Valley native." Where we come from is very important, and certainly it is true in the kitchen. Flannery O'Connor, the characterful Southern writer, spoke once of some big-city critics, "You know what's the matter with all that kind of folks? They ain't frum anywhere."
We Southerners are from somewhere, with all the grief and glories of that place. And our mothers often form that foundation. That was the source for the first answer to the salmon croquette question. Marilyn Burnett Garner, the Sequatchie Valley cook, began, "It's hard to find a real recipe around here for salmon croquettes because we all seem to make them like our mother did. You brought up happy memories. My daughter called a few weeks ago to find out how I make them." Hers are general directions, the kind that captures the spirit of the recipe and leave room for creativity and personal taste in an experienced, or experimental, cook.
1 can of salmon
Fine cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon or a little more of lemon juice
Dash of onion powder (optional)
Pick over the salmon, and don't use the bones or skin. Mash fish.
Mix salmon, egg, cracker crumbs, lemon juice and onion powder if using. Make into small patties, not too thick. Fry in a small amount of cooking oil. I like mine thin and crispy.
Margaret McNeil, whose virtual home base is margaretsmorsels.blogspot.com, shared this version on her blog nine years ago. She explained, "Baking the salmon patties is healthier than frying, plus it allows me to be doing other things while the patties are in the oven. My husband loves these, so I always double the recipe to ensure we have some leftovers." Interestingly, she bakes hers in muffin cups.
Baked Salmon Patties
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can pink salmon, drained, skin and bones removed or 2 (5-ounce) cans skinless, boneless salmon, drained
3/4 cup milk
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients; mix well. Spoon into 8 greased muffin cups, using 1/4 cup in each. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until browned. Makes 4 servings.
We continue an earlier discussion of chicken casseroles made with dried beef and wild rice and bacon, basics that make room for all kinds of variety.
Barbara Mann's recipe used chicken breasts and wild rice, but no dried beef or bacon.
1 can celery soup, undiluted
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 soup can white wine
1 box Uncle Ben's wild rice mix (discard seasoning envelope)
3 chicken breasts, or desired pieces
Mix soups, soup mix, wine and rice. Let stand several hours in ovenproof casserole. Arrange chicken on top of mixture. Cover and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove cover, stir gravy and spoon some over chicken, and bake uncovered another hour.
Makes 6 servings.
Gabi Shelton refined her considerable culinary skills while quarantined with her young family. This is one she enjoyed making, and it came from Alison Roman.
Spiced Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric
Spiced chickpeas are crisped in olive oil, then simmered in a garlicky coconut milk for an insanely creamy, basically-good-for-you stew that evokes stews found in South India and parts of the Caribbean. While the chickpeas alone would be good as a side dish, they are further simmered with stock, bolstered with dark, leafy greens of your choosing and finished with a handful of fresh mint. When shopping, be sure to avoid low-fat coconut milk, coconut milk meant for drinking or cream of coconut: All are very different and would not be suitable here.
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup fresh mint leaves, for serving
Yogurt, for serving (optional)
Toasted pita, lavash or other flatbread, for serving (optional)
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to brown a little at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes and the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the spices and oil, until they've started to break down and get a little browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove about a cup of chickpeas, and set aside for garnish.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, further crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides. (This will help thicken the stew.) Add coconut milk and stock, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until stew has thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. (Taste a chickpea or two, not just the liquid, to make sure they have simmered long enough to be as delicious as possible.) If after 30 to 35 minutes, you want the stew a bit thicker, keep simmering until you've reached your desired consistency. Determining perfect stew thickness is a personal journey.
Add greens and stir, making sure they're submerged in the liquid. Cook until they wilt and soften, 3 to 7 minutes, depending on what you're using. (Swiss chard and spinach will wilt and soften much faster than kale or collard greens.) Season again with salt and pepper.
Divide among bowls, and top with mint, reserved chickpeas, a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes and a good drizzle of olive oil. Serve alongside yogurt and toasted pita if using; dust the yogurt with turmeric if you'd like.
That ends today's portion, full of green mint and red pepper and soothing yogurt and healing turmeric. We trust you to add the necessary spice to any column, as always.
* Non-fried fish tacos
* How to cook stone-ground grits
* Grits-based meals
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Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.
Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750