Fish Cakes

I did not eat a lot of fish when I was growing up. Partly it was because my mom isn't a fish fan and partly (well, mostly) it was due to fish being expensive and not easy to buy back in Soviet Union. I remember occasions when my grandma was able to procure (yes, procure, not buy) a whole Carp, she then pan-fried it whole with lots of salt and onion, the skin would crisp up and soak up all the onion flavour and in turn the onions would half caramelize, half deep fry in oil and be absolutely tasty. The fish was white and soft and delicious, but my favourite part was actually fins, which were so crispy and addictive.

My mom's fish specialty was Fish Cakes, she didn't bake them like I did for this recipe, she pan fried them and we ate them with lots of squeezed lemon juice on top. I loved them hot and cold out of the fridge too. She'd make a really big batch of the little morsels and we'd enjoy them for a few days. This is not my mom's recipe, but it's reminiscent of it. I used similar flavours if I remember correctly. One of those days I'll ask her for her version and share it here.

Fish Cakes are a healthy and different alternative to traditional burgers. These are made in a food processor and then baked in the oven, so they are easy to prepare

I've been wanting to make fish cakes for a few months now, but every time I went to my local grocery store I came home with some other source of protein because fish was so expensive. Until it finally hit me - if I'm processing the fish into almost a paste and then baking it, why do I need fresh filets? Why did it take me almost six months to come up with that? I don't know! Anyway, I finally realized that frozen fish is the way to go and oh, am I happy! 

I made them into hamburger shapes and baked them to save up a little bit on the calories and time. These can be made into smaller patties to serve as an appetizer. Alternatively, the fish mixture can be baked in a loaf pan, just like a meatloaf. The resulting fish loaf can be eaten sliced, the texture would be a little bit different, but flavour would still be great. You can eat these cold as well, just squeeze some lemon juice over them and dip in a little bit of horseradish.

Fish Cakes are a healthy and different alternative to traditional burgers. These are made in a food processor and then baked in the oven, so they are easy to prepare

Fish Cakes

~9 medium sized cakes

Cod filets - 2 pounds
Egg - 1 extra-large or large
Panko bread crumbs - 1/2 cup
Dill - 10 g (handful)
Lemon zest - 1/2 lemon
Lemon juice - 1/2 lemon
Lemon pepper - 1 teaspoon
Lemon salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Onion powder - 1 teaspoon
Mustard powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Oil spray (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a bowl of a food processor combine dill, lemon zest and all the spices. Process until dill is chopped.
  • If using frozen fish, squeeze excess liquid out of defrosted filets. Add fish to the food processor and pulse until everything is incorporated and the fish is finely chopped.
  • Add lemon juice, egg and process again to mix everything together.
  • Add Panko breadcrumbs and pulse a few more times until mixture is uniform.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and form medium sized patties similar to the shape of a medium size hamburger.
  • If using, spray with a little bit of oil, it'll help the cakes to brown.
  • Bake for 50 min.

Comments
If my mom ate these, she'd say that there's not enough dill. If you love dill like I do, add more than the recipe calls for!

- As I mentioned many times, I don't use a lot of salt, so this may not be enough here, adjust accordingly.

Posted on July 6, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Strawberry Meringue Cake

It's Canada Day here and since it's Wednesday, we don't get a long weekend, but instead a nice break in the middle of the week. I often go strawberry picking on July 1st, but it's gloomy outside, so I decided to skip it this year. Besides, I've been baking so much lately that I can't (or better shouldn't) have more fruit at home as I'll be tempted to bake something something else with it.

However, I still have an amazing Strawberry recipe to share. I've made this cake many times before and I am always amazed at the flavours and textures of this dessert. Original Russian recipe is called "Dream Cake" and I can totally understand why. After I made this cake for the first time I couldn't wait to make it again. Then when strawberry season came a year later, I kept dreaming about this cake over and over again. 

It's not an overly difficult cake to make and the recipe is pretty forgiving, but it is not really simple. The bottom layer is a cross between shortbread and cake. It's sweet and light and a perfect vehicle for juicy strawberries. Bright fruit is then covered by a layer of light meringue which gets dry and crispy over the edges, but is still soft and marshmallow-y inside. And to make this cake different from the other kinds of meringue cakes, the same dough that is used for the bottom layer is grated over the meringue; when baked, the topping contrasts so well with the softness of the marshmallow and baked strawberries. 

Delicious Strawberry Meringue Cake - perfect summer dessert

I have made a few tweaks over the years to the original recipe. Most notably I reduced the amount of butter used for the pastry, I added cream cheese to sub some of the butter since I like the slight sourness that it brings to the dough and I added some greek yogurt as well. These substitutions made the pastry more cakey. You can use all butter to get a crumblier shortbread texture of the bottom layer if you'd like. I also think that the amount of sugar could be reduced a little bit, but I have not experimented with it yet. 

Strawberry Meringue Cake

adapted from Sonulya

Eggs - 3 large or extra-large
Butter, room temperature - 56 g (half a stick, 4 tablespoons)
Cream cheese, room temperature - 62 g (quarter of 250g brick package)
Greek yogurt, unflavoured - 60 g
Sugar - 3/4 cup + 1/2 cup
Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
Vanilla - 1/2 teaspoon (or more if you like more vanilla taste)
Salt - a pinch
Strawberries - about 15 large strawberries (~500 g)
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Butter and flour a 10 inch cake plate.
  • Separate eggs.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs yolks with 3/4 cups of sugar until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add softened butter, cream cheese, yogurt, vanilla and mix well.
  • Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until soft dough forms.
  • Separate the dough into two parts. One should be about 3/4 of the dough and the other is 1/4.
  • Wrap the smaller portion of the dough in plastic wrap and put in the freezer.
  • Cover the bottom of the pie plate with the remaining dough, spreading it evenly. No need to refrigerate.
  • Slice the strawberries. Better to slice them at this step rather than in advance as it gives time for the dough to chill in the freezer.
  • In another large clean bowl whip the egg whites with the left over 1/2 cup sugar until hard peaks form.
  • Spread strawberries over the bottom layer of the dough.
  • Cover strawberries with meringue.
  • Hopefully by this time the smaller portion of the dough chilled enough and it can be grated over meringue.
  • Bake for about an hour until meringue is crispy. Start checking after 50 minutes to make sure that it's not burned.

Comments
As mentioned earlier, you can use all butter instead of the combination of butter, cream cheese and yogurt, just take about 180 grams of butter.

- Make sure that the smaller portion of the dough is chilled really well. This time I forgot to chill it for long, so it was really (I mean really really) difficult to great. Like ridiculously difficult since it was so soft!

- Meringue layer gets soft the next day. It's still very good. I actually even like it more, but it's different in terms of texture the next day.

- Apparently it can be made with apples too. I have never tried it with anything other than strawberries because it's so good and I feel like I'd be cheating on one of my favourite cakes if I made it with some other fruit.

- Original recipe was for 9x13 pan, I've never made it in anything other than my pie plate, so I can't guarantee that the proportions would work.

Strawberry Meringue Cake - delicious summer dessert
Posted on July 1, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Easy Chickpea Patties

Remember how I was saying that most of my recipes have some kind of story behind them? Well, the story behind this particular recipe is my vain. Not something to brag about really, but it is what it is. How can vain be responsible for my dinner, you ask? Well, it's my shoes... Obviously!

A few days before making this dinner I wore my really comfortable shoes to work. I then changed into more appropriate and less comfortable heels in the office and forgot to switch my footwear when I went home. Follow me so far? Then the next day I went back to work with intention of getting my comfy shoes back. I remembered to make the switch before the end of the workday and happily was on my way home when I happened to glance at myself in the elevator. And this is where my vain comes into play. These really comfortable wedges really (and I mean really) did not go with the dress I was wearing. I could not (I repeat, could not) go to my local supermarket looking like this. But I had nothing substantial in my fridge, so I spent the next half an hour on the subway thinking of what I could cook for dinner that would be satisfying and, most importantly, easy.

I could do pasta, that's always something that we have on hand, but I just finished the last piece of cheese and I love cheese with pasta. I could do simple eggs, which I love, but I had no meat or potatoes to go with them. I could do my Sweet and Spicy French Toast, but I somehow wasn't really into breakfast for dinner. And this is when my mind wondered about what I had in my pantry and I remembered about a whole case of cans of chickpeas that I bought from Costco.

So, I came home and quickly made these little patties. They took only a few minutes to mix together using my trusty food processor. I didn't go crazy adding various flavours, I just wanted something quick and easy. I had them with plain greek yogurt and some avocado and lemon juice. It was light and satisfying. My husband had them with salsa and we both liked these morsels. 

Easy Chickpea Patties can be a great snack, appetizer or a fast and healthy dinner

Easy Chickpea Patties

makes about 12-15 depending on their size

Canned chickpeas - 1 can (540 ml)
Parsley - 4 or 5 sprigs (or more)
Egg - 1 large
Mrs Dash No Salt Original Blend - 1 teaspoon (or any other seasoning of your choice)
Cayenne pepper - 1/2 teaspoon (optional
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Drain the chickpeas really well.
  • Place drained chickpeas and all other ingredients into a food processor and process until uniform in texture.
  • Shape patties and place on a baking sheet catered with parchment paper.
  • Bake for about 30 min or until patties are firm.
  • You may want to broil for 2-3 minutes to give the patties a tiny bit of colour.
  • Sprinkle with some lemon juice and serve with yogurt.
Posted on June 29, 2015 and filed under Recipe.