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--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Salmon Burgers with Spinach and Ginger; Potato and Thyme Salad

The whole time I was making the Salmon Burgers with Spinach and Ginger I was thinking, "there has to be a better way".

The salmon was tricky to dice, and I thought about steak tartare, how it's easier to cube up if it's slightly frozen. I couldn't get a small enough dice to please me, and the recipe says no food processor--you'll turn it to mush. All right, all right.

The chopped spinach was a pain in the ass--it stuck to my hands (but not to the salmon) and it made the mix too loose to really form into patties. The recipe says to "coarsely chop" the spinach--I would say mince the heck out of it

The other problems were my fault--I didn't buy enough fresh ginger, and so wasn't completely happy with that note (or lack of it) and added a little powdered. I had (for some reason) low sodium soy sauce and so felt it was underseasoned and added a little salt.

Cooking the patties is tricky because as I said they don't really hold together so you have to pat them back in to shape once they've fallen apart--but I see on Epicurious some readers just spooned the mix into the pan and that seems much more sensible--I suggest you do the same should you give this recipe a try.

And how did they taste? Well, I thought they tasted great, and so did my diners, for the most part. I was worried that they might be overcooked but I have no way of knowing that unless I make a whole one for myself sometime. It's hard to tell with patties, how things are going in the middle.

Epicurious does not have the recipe for Potato and Thyme Salad, but it's about as simple as you can get so here goes: boil new potatoes, cut into quarters, toss with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. This is a recipe from the famous Darina Allen of the equally famous Ballymaloe Cooking School.

Darina is big into fresh, locally grown/caught food, and I find her cookbook annoying because it says things like, "go down to the shoreline and buy whatever fish the fisherman have brought in today", or "when you slaughter lambs in the spring..." or, "go out into the garden and pick the smallest sprigs of purslane for this salad." You get the idea. It makes me cranky.

So here's the thing about this salad: it's so simple, you want to make sure all the components are perfect, because any small thing will throw it off. For me, it was the XVOO, which I thought was too bitter once I tasted it on the salad. Some olive oils do go in that direction, and this particular olive oil was an expensive import, but it's been ok in vinaigrettes etc. There's no hiding it here though, and I found it distasteful. Not disgusting, just a little off-putting. So taste your olive oil before you commit.

The other thing was the darn potatoes. They were all the same large marble size, and most were cooked perfectly but a few were just slightly underdone. That's a stupid, amateur mistake, and there was no fixing it by the time I caught it, which was after it was thrown together. I find under-cooked potatoes unpleasant so I was particularly vexed with myself.

Having said all this, I think this is a worthy summer salad because a) it's super easy and b) there's no mayo so it can sit out all day and night if it lasts that long--perfect to take to the beach or on the boat or wherever. Just pay attention to the details and you'll be fine.

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