Salmon Fish-Cakes

Last weekend’s cheer-up-Tuesy charm offensive delivered its grand finale on Sunday evening. Stop me if I sound too boastful, but I was very happy with how this turned out – for an amateur cook, it’s always exciting when a recipe really works, and there are few cooks more amateur than me…

Prepare your fish-cake mixture 2-3 hours before you plan to cook them (they take a little under half an hour to bake). To make enough fish-cakes for four people you will need:
900g maris piper potatoes
900f salmon fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
4tbsp mayonnaise
pinch of cayenne pepper
large pinch of chilli powder (more if you like spiciness)
2 tbsp of chopped herbs (I used flat flat-leaf parsley, but tarragon or basil will work just as well
2 tbsp chilli oil.
Peel the potatoes, chop them into quarters and boil them. Once boiled to softness, drain away the water, and return to heat for a couple of minutes to dry them out. Then mash ’em. With a masher.
While the spuds are boiling, put your salmon and half the lemon juice into a pan with a pint of cold water. Bring it just to the boil and leave to stand in the water for a few minutes. It’ll cook just enough in the remaining heat. Then drain the salmon, peel off the skin and flake it. It’s good not to mash it up too much – the fish-cakes are delicious if you can still feel the “meatiness” of the fish (you don’t want them to be too smooth).

Mix the salmon with the mashed potatoes and add the spices and herbs, the lemon juice and the mayonnaise. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
Now make your fish-cakes on a non-stick baking tray. I lined my tray with non-stick baking paper, which worked a treat. If you’re good with your hands, you can pat the mixture into eight thick cakes (maybe 2cm deep). If you have a large round biscuit/cookie cutter, you can use that to get them into a nice shape. I used a non-stick heart-shaped fried egg shaper, meaning that my cakes looked like this:
Not too shabby. Put your tray of fish-cakes in the fridge for a couple of hours. This will firm them up ready to be baked. Once they’re ready, drizzle the chilli oil on top and bake at 200 degrees centigrade or until they go brown and a bit crispy on the outside. I served these with mangetout and baby corn and a little rocket. You can serve them with whatever you like. Nobody’s checking.
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Spiced Tuna Steak


This weekend, since Tuesy needed cheering up I thought I’d be extra-organised and prepare a couple of seafood dishes. Since she doesn’t eat meat but will happily indulge in piscicide, tuna is an excellent middle ground between veggie and carnivore. I’ll save the other recipe, which I think was even better, for another day. I need to pace myself…

Get yourself some big, thick tuna steaks. As much as you can eat/afford. You’re going to marinade them. To make the marinade, mix the following:
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated fresh root ginger. You might want a bit more if you’re a ginger fan.
1 peeled, crushed garlic clove
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder. Again, if you like at spicy, double this. It’s quite safe.
Salt and pepper as desired.

Mix this lot up, and smear it all over your tuna steaks, which you’ve already patted dry with kitchen roll, right? Leave this to marinate for a couple of hours.
(A quick aside. I’m listening to the US Open tennis semi-final. Andy Murray might be about to beat Nadal. Please, please, please…)
OK, here’s the master-stroke. You’re going to make some raita. This is easy, and it’s delicious. You need about 150g greek yoghurt (standard-sized tub), which you mix with some chopped mint and about 50g of chopped cucumber. Chop it fine. Mix this up and it will be a great taste to dollop on your spicy tuna and offset its kick.

Grab your favourite frying pan or griddle. Heat a little oil. Heat it a lot. Cook the tuna steaks for a couple of minutes and then turn and cook for a little more. I like mine scorched on the outside and still pink in the middle. Tuesy likes hers well done. The choice is yours, but the marinade will blacken it a little if you fry it for a long time. That’s still delicious, though.
Serve your tuna with the raita and a green salad. I made it this time with boiled potatoes and broccoli because we were really hungry, but the salad really prioritises the fleshy goodness of your steak. If you cooked it, bask in the appreciation. If it was served to you, feel lucky.
(Murray might be throwing the match away in the time it took me to write this. Dammit. But there’s still a chance…)

Bean Fajitas

This is a delicious dish whether you’re a vegetarian or not. Obviously, you can put chicken or beef into fajitas if you prefer, but since the best bits are the spicy tomato, guacamole and sour cream, you may as well save that meaty goodness for something where you can really taste it. But I have to be honest, although this stuff is delicious, it really doesn’t photograph well, which is why I don’t have a mouth-watering image of the finished product to tempt you with. the above picture is not a full body shot, just a detail, but it gives you an idea. Just go with it and remember that even ugly messy food needs love sometimes.
Heat 2 tbsp sunflower oil in a big pan. Fry a sliced, medium sized onion for 5 mins. While that’s going on you can chop two garlic cloves, or crush them. You will need:
Half tsp hot chilli powder (I also like to throw in some freshly chopped chillis to make it extra spicy. It’s your call, though. This time, I also chucked in some red peppers that needed eating)
1tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
Add these to the onion with the garlic and fry for a couple more minutes. Then add:
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g can chopped tomatoes
Quarter pint of hot vegetable stock
Lots of beans. These should ideally consist of 220g tin of red kidney beans, 300g tin of borlotti beans, 300g tin flageolet beans. All these should be drained and rinsed. Actually, it’s just as good if you use red kidney beans and make up the rest with chickpeas. Still delicious.
Season all this with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, you can either:
b) Open a tub of shop-bought guacamole and spend the next 15 minutes getting in some quality time with your brand new Nintendo Wii.
You should also warm up a bunch of flour tortillas in the oven or microwave. Then, when the beans and sauce are ready, spread some down the middle of each tortilla, then dollop on some sour cream and guacamole according to your taste. Fold at one side and then fold in two other sides to form a fajita-shaped parcel. If yours are anything like mine, your fajita filling will dribble out all over the place and mess up your shirt, so take care. Grated cheddar cheese will also make your fajitas extra tasty if you can stand any more deliciousness. Serve with cold lager, preferably in a bottle with a slice of lime jammed down its neck.