Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Oat and Buckwheat Crêpes

I love crêpes, and this particular version was initially a bit experimental, partially meant as a way to help use up buttermilk.
Am I the only one who buys a quart- since most of the time that's all I can find- only to use 1/2 cup or so? I'm thinking not...
The rest was using some of the things on hand.
Buckwheat, one thing I have but not something that I happen to use religiously, is somewhat earthy and a crêpe (galette) classic.
Oat flour (a favorite flour of mine, actually) add slightly sweet nuttiness.
The overall flavor seems especially nice when paired with strawberries

The results aren't bad at all, I think, so here you go.
(And basically, yes, it has so far assisted in reducing buttermilk supply, and will continue to do so when I have an excess of buttermilk. Then again, maybe I'll be purchasing buttermilk solely for this purpose.)

Crêpes are initially delicate while they're cooking- so a well seasoned pan is paramount.
And a steel crêpe pan is certainly nice, but not entirely necessary.
Note for a crêpe pan: don't let anyone scrub the finish (seasoning) off your pan that you worked to put there in the first place- it's what keeps the pan nonstick and is so much more convenient than dealing with the alternative.

If you're not used to pan swirling, you'll get a little practice here. It's a timing thing, you'll be using both hands, and you have to keep moving. But once you get into the swing of things it'll be fine.
And remember, the first crêpe or two can often be duds. No big deal. They're still edible.

My  favorite is eating the crêpes right off the heat, "failed" and torn or not, tender with crispy edges.

Folded with fresh berries and topped with whipped cream is always a good option, rolled into cigars with a bit of cinnamon sugar or a very thin layer of jam, chocolate, or lemon curd is another possibility.
The sliced banana and Nutella combination is pretty classic, too.

Crêpes Suzette is a bit more involved than the more basic crêpe I'm offering today, but also very nice.
A high-stacked crêpe cake layered with chocolate or a cream between crêpes would also be an idea.

OR, maybe omit the sugar, add a pinch more salt, and fill with cheese, sauteed mushrooms (or maybe this version instead), ham, eggs, ham and eggs... or whatever other savory things you might like.

Oat and Buckwheat Crêpes
(makes 15-20, 6 inch crepes)

1/2 c (55 g) oat flour
3/4 c (115 g) buckwheat flour
1/4 t (2 g) salt
1 T (16 g) sugar
3 large eggs
2 T (30 g) butter, melted
1/2 c (125 ml) buttermilk
3/4 c (180 ml) whole milk
1/2 c (125 ml) water, plus extra as necessary
Butter, to cook the crepes

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and butter, and whisk, breaking up any lumps, until a smooth paste forms. Add the buttermilk and whisk the mixture together until incorporated. Finish by adding the milk and water into the mixture, and carefully blend to a nice pour-able batter. 
Cover and refrigerate to rest and let the flours absorb the liquid at least an hour and up to a day.

When ready to cook the cr
êpes, remove the batter from the fridge and place a well-seasoned pan over medium heat to warm.
While the pan heats, check the consistency of your batter, stir and then pour a bit back into the bowl. You want it to be about like a nice heavy cream- NOT glue. Add water, maybe 1 T (15 ml) at a time or so until you reach the correct consistency.

To the now-hot pan, add a bit of butter. After the butter melts and foams, swirl the pan to coat the bottom with a thin layer.

Remove the pan from the heat with your non-dominant hand and pour batter into the pan using your dominant hand, aiming for somewhere between 3 T and 1/4 c range (45-60 ml). Quickly swirl the pan to evenly distribute the batter. Place the pan back on the heat and cook a couple minutes. The top of the cr
êpe will appear more matte and tacky, while the edges will crisp a little and possibly pull away from the sides. Carefully slide a rubber spatula around the edge and under the center, pick the crêpe up off the pan, and flip it so the cooked side is up. Cook a further minute or two until the second side is slightly browned and the crêpe slides around on the pan easily.
(If you've found that the batter is a bit thick and doesn't flow and "swirl" properly, you'll likely need to thin the batter with a bit of water- or potentially add a bit more flour if it's too thin so it behaves appropriately.)

Slide the cr
êpe out of the pan and onto a plate, stack the crêpes as you go, or serving them as they are made.
Continue in the same manner to cook the remaining cr
êpe batter, adding a little butter to the pan, etc., and stirring the batter a bit between crêpes to make sure the batter remains fairly uniform throughout.
Serve as desired. 

I've found they work out quite well lactose-free too, if replacing both the milk and buttermilk measurements with an alternative milk. I've used unsweetened "milk" made with peas (Ripple) and had great results. Ghee can replace the melted butter- I've not tried other oils, but at some point I'd try coconut oil to make the cr
êpes completely dairy-free.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Salmon Cakes

I wanted a more "fresh" salmon cake, something somewhat simple in flavor, a version that also didn't require a garden's worth of vegetable dicing.
So, this recipe ends up working for me, and I think the flavors are quite nice.
You'll get some freshness from the lemon and parsley. The cooked shallot adds one type of allium note, while the more raw green onion adds a greener, more delicate tone.

Sure, I bet you could use canned salmon if you like, and reduce the steps and time a bit. But most of the time I prefer to do things ALL the way myself- in some ways it can be a skill and practice thing, and in others it's the fact that I know as much as possible about how things are accomplished and cooked- and that's why I start from as scratch as possible. Plus, I have the idea that your salmon cakes will be a bit more tender when you start with raw salmon. Then again, I can't say I've tried it with canned salmon.

If you're cooking salmon anyway, great. Maybe make a little extra and extend that meal a bit into salmon cakes the next day.
And if you'll just be cooking the salmon to flake for salmon cakes, know that the cut doesn't have to be the center- the initial shape certainly won't be there for presentation.

The nice thing is that it's not much extra work to double the recipe, and really, the cakes don't take awfully long to cook. And perhaps to speed the process (if you can handle it for a larger batch), you could have two pans going at once.

The type of salmon is up to you. For example, Sockeye, King, and Coho vary among themselves, but would all have a stonger flavor and deeper color than the more neutral Keta salmon (Sockeye is especially red). Strength of flavor, oil content, and color of salmon vary. All salmon are not the same. If you have a choice and are unsure, talk to the fishmonger before making a decision and then go with what you like.
If I'm making a larger batch, I prefer mix a couple different types to keep things interesting.

I like to serve these with greens alongside, with lemon wedges and sriracha (*please note the ever-important life skill of writing with condiments), though the "unadorned" version certainly works, too.

Salmon Cakes
makes 5

1 lb. (500 g will work) fresh salmon
1/2 c (55 g) shallot, minced
1 T (15 ml) olive oil, plus extra if needed
zest of 1/2 lemon
3 green onions, 4 if small, thinly sliced
2 T (7 g) fresh minced parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c (50 g- though weight may vary by type/brand) breadcrumbs (gluten free if preferred)

To cook the salmon cakes:
1 T (14 g) butter
1 T (15 ml) olive oil

Cook the salmon: Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C) Place the salmon skin side down on a foil covered pan and season it with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Bake the salmon 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and let the salmon rest 10 minutes. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate the salmon until cold- at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile saute the salmon in a pan with the tablespoon of olive oil, just until translucent. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Flake the salmon into a large bowl. Add the cooked and cooled shallot, lemon zest, green onion, parsley, eggs, breadcrumbs, and 1 t (5 g) salt and 1/2 t (1.3 g on a sensitive scale- or add to taste) freshly ground black pepper. Mix gently until everything is fully incorporated, cover, and refrigerate 1 hour (the chilled/rested mixture is easier to form).

At this point you can divide the salmon mixture into 5 portions (a generous 1/2 cup each) and shape into cakes. Place on a tray, cover, and refrigerate if not cooking immediately.

Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil. When melted, swirl the pan to distribute evenly. Depending on your pan size and comfort level, carefully add the salmon cakes one at a time, cooking 2 or 3 to begin with (or all 5). Cook about 4 minutes on each side or until deep golden brown.
Keep the cooked salmon cakes warm on a paper towel lined sheetpan in a 250 F (120 C) oven- especially important if you're doubling the recipe.
(And if doubling, you will likely want to remove the oil/butter mixture from the pan and replenish it after a round or two of cooking)