I made myself a delicious dinner tonight. I love cooking so much and tonight, I played around with 4 different new dishes. I adapted a couple of WW recipes for salmon cakes and "French" baked beans, made Green Goddess dressing from scratch for the first time and had it with hearts of romaine (it was good on the salmon cakes, too) and threw together an Eton mess, having tracked down meringues at Trader Joe's. Thursday, I went to 6 different stores looking for meringues. 1 person knew what I was talking about. At no less than 3 of the stores, I was pointed in the direction of the lemon meringue & chocolate meringue pies when I asked for meringues. At Dorothy Lane Market, the bakery clerk looked at me as though I was speaking in a foreign tongue and had three heads. Another person there knew what they were but told me they are a seasonal item and that I could find them at Christmas. Christmas??? If meringues are, indeed, seasonal, it would seem that now is the season, for pity's sake! I was also asked by no less than three people if "meringue" was the brand-name of the cookie I was looking for..."Um, no, it's actually a type of cookie. Made with egg white? Kind of like a chocolate chip cookie? Or oatmeal raisin? You know, it's the sort of cookie?" Is asking for meringues in a 2011 grocery like walking into Rave Motion Pictures and asking if they have an Ingrid Bergman film playing or something? And really? Everyone should not only know what a meringue is but also who Ingrid Bergman was. And you know, it's alarming that saying, "You know, Isabella Rossellini's mom" is not remotely helpful. But enough creaky old lady griping. I didn't have to attempt meringues in this humidity, thanks to good ol' Trader Joe. I even got a good giggle this morning when Brian walked into my office and said, "Ah, merengue...goes well with flamenco guitar!" He had seen my Facebook meringue rant, I expect.
Salmon & Corn Cakes
6 oz. can salmon
1 c. corn
1/4 c. dry breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. minced onion
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. oil
Mix everything but the oil together and chill 10 minutes. Heat oil in skillet and form 4 patties. Brown on either side. Serve with salsa & sour cream or, as I did, Green Goddess dressing. Serves 2.
French Baked Beans
15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
3 minced cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. (heaping) fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 c. dry breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8" square baking pan or casserole with cooking spray. Mix together everything but breadcrumbs & oil. Put in pan. Top with breadcrumbs and drizzle with oil. Cover with foil and bake 10 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 minutes. (honestly, I think you're better off skipping the foil and just popping it in the oven half an hour) Serves 2.
Green Goddess Dressing
3 crushed cloves garlic
1/2 large bunch parsley, chopped (about a cup, well-packed)
1 bunch basil, chopped (about half a cup, well-packed)
About 3 tbsp. chopped dill
About 3 tbsp. chopped chives
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp. anchovy paste (please, for the love of all that is delicious, do not skip this ingredient)
1 c. mayonnaise (I suspect light mayo would be just fine)
A good grinding of pepper
Toss all of this into a food pocessor or blender and pulse until smooth. Chill until ready to use. This would be equally lovely used as a veggie dip or sandwich spread if you're not in a leafy mood. Or, really, just off a spoon. Call it a chilled soup and have done with it. Hee hee! After tasting this, I ended up with rather a lot more dressing on my salad (and my salmon cakes) than I generally tend toward. I am of the "don't drown your food" school but this is seriously one of the best dressings I've ever had.
This is less of a recipe and more of a toss-together. A mess, you know. Take a bunch of strawberries, perhaps a boxful, and quarter them. Macerate them while you enjoy your supper. That means let them sit and stew with some sugar...maybe 3 tbsp to the pound? Whip some heavy cream with some powdered sugar (perhaps a 4:1 ratio) to soft peaks. Gently fold berries into the cream. Crumble a couple-few meringues on top. Gently stir and eat. This is not something that will keep nicely, so if everyone in your house eats at different times, as we seem to here at my auntie's, then make your portion and leave the elements available separately for others to do same. Lush summer sweet tooth satisfier! And you get to feel like Nigella Lawson or someone else all posh and British.