Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Almond Cod Cakes with Roasted Garlic Spread

This dish looks very sophisticated, if I do say so myself, but it's very simple. So simple, in fact, that my 15-month-old kept asking for more fish! It's even fairly simple to make, and is perfect for anyone who is not a big fan of chopping. The food processor does all the chopping for you.

Because my little one is allergic to half of the food web, I find myself making many adjustments that I wouldn't normally make, and sometimes the dish turns out better than it would have with traditional ingredients. In this case, instead of using bread crumbs (or wheat-free bread crumbs) in the fish cakes, I decided to use almonds (almond meal). The almonds give the cakes a much more interesting flavor, and because the cakes are pan-fried, the almonds were very aromatic, too. The downside to accommodating my son is that I could not use an egg to bind the cakes, and they would have benefited from some binding. Leaving the egg out leaves the fish cakes a bit crumbly. Fortuitously, the crumbliness was the perfect texture for my son, and the rest of us did fine. Even so, if you can have eggs, I would add one to the mix.

I served these fish cakes with forbidden rice with chopped cilantro and a simple green salad.

Almond Cod Cakes with Roasted Garlic Spread
1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds (or almond meal)
12 oz. cod fillets, cubed
2 Tbsps. fresh cilantro
2 Tbsps. fresh Italian parsley or celery greens
3 scallions, cut into 2" lengths
1 1/2 tsps. salt
pepper, to taste
1 egg (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
Roasted garlic spread (recipe below)

Process almonds in a food processor until they resemble coarse bread crumbs. Remove and set aside in a large bowl. Into the food processor, add the cod, cilantro, parsley, and scallions. Pulse to combine. Do not overprocess. Some small chunks of fish should remain. Add the fish mixture to the almonds, along with salt, pepper, and egg. Mix thoroughly, and form into patties.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Once hot, add half the olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Allow the oil to heat for a moment, then place the cakes in the hot pan. Turn the heat down to medium-high, and allow the cakes to cook 5-6 minutes on each side. Add additional oil, if necessary, when it's time to turn the cakes. Put the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking through.

Makes 4-5 large cod cakes.

Roasted Garlic Spread
1 head garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

Pre -heat oven to 425F. Slice off the top of the garlic so that the top tips of the cloves are just showing. Wrap the whole head of garlic in foil and place on a cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes (can be done a couple days in advance, whenever you have the oven on). Allow to cool. Squeeze the garlic out of the papery skin. The roasted garlic should be very soft and fragrant.

In a small bowl, combine the roasted garlic with the olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Whip the ingredients together with a fork until they become smooth and creamy. Stir in the cilantro. Top each of the cod cakes with a small dollop of the garlic spread.

Serves 4-5

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