Food for the spirit

The skate was a dream Image by Christopher Hornaday PhotograpgyThe beginning of Lent earlier this week is for many a season of devotion and abstinence. It’s funny that in our modern world, many of us still observe old traditions, such as fish on Fridays. Yet their origins have often been forgotten.

Many cultures and religions have traditions of dietary restriction and feasting. One of my dear friends is a Hindu. She fasts once a week for the health of her husband. I think it is a lovely and loving custom.
I think it is enriching to focus and celebrate on our spiritual similarities and how they make life richer.
I was reminded of this recently while visiting the chic C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar in Atlanta to try their new menu. I couldn’t help but think what great timing it was to have so many great new seafood choices for those who are observant and for those who are not.
The food that night was inspiring, even to a confirmed seafood-lover like me. The hot cod fish cakes were crunchy on the outside, and light and buttery inside. They are addictive. The skate wing in browned butter and capers is a dream. If you live in Atlanta you have to go, it is wonderful experience — take friends.
Less exotically, try this for a quick dinner for two or more chez nous. If you think anything cooked with canned food is depressing, you are so wrong. This delicious recipe is fast, easy, heart-smart, figure-friendly, and economical. It is a real winner. Try it once and it will become a favourite. Leftovers are perfect for lunch too.
Crunchy and healthful salmon cakesSalmon cakes
1 can of wild salmon, drained well
1 small diced onion
1 diced rib of celery
½ red pepper, diced
1 tbsp. of drained or rinsed capers. If you use salted, chop them roughly
½ tsp. each of salt, pepper, and dry mustard (you may use Dijon)
Add a dash of Worcester Sauce or Tabasco (use whatever you have, even soy)
Mix with a fork
Add ½ cup dry good quality bread crumbs
1 scant tbsp. regular mayo or low-fat mayo
Mix and form four patties
Roll the patties in prepared, seasoned bread crumbs or Panko (add salt and pepper or paprika to unseasoned crumbs). I love Panko; it makes this taste just like fancy gourmet food and adds few calories.
Chill 15 minutes – do not skip this step
Fry in ½-inch of hot peanut or corn oil, or in a pan with Pam if you are watching your weight. Brown. Use hot oil and the cakes will not absorb fat! Drain well on kitchen towels.  Place the cakes in a medium-hot oven (350F/180C) for 10 to 15 minutes.
Dressing for the salmon cakes:
1 tsp of Dijon
1 finely-chopped clove of garlic
1 tbsp basil chiffonaded (finely shredded)
1/3 cup good wine vinegar plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, dissolved
½ cup plus1 tbsp. good olive oil
Whisk or shake