Everyone gets in a cooking rut, and I'm no exception. I'm always on the lookout for simple yet delicious everyday recipes to answer the question, "What's for dinner?" But many cookbooks are too demanding of either my time or my wallet. So when I opened Irish chef Rachel Allen's new book, Favorite Food at Home: Delicious Comfort Food from Ireland's Most Famous Chef, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find dozens of recipe that would make a fantastic dinner for my family and friends.
The chapters are set out in an unusual way – instead of soup, salads, meats, etc. the recipes are arranged by theme: Easy Family Food, Picnics and Days Out, Food for Children, Extended Family, and so on. It's a nice change from the standard format, and the recipes are unique as well. From Chicken, Ginger, and Cashew Stir-fry with Coconut Noodles, Parmesan Chicken Fingers, and Warm Pasta Salad with Herbs, Garlic and Arugula to Asparagus and Scallion Tart, Lemon Cookies, and Chocolate and Hazelnut Toffee Tart, there's something for everyone in here. One of the most unexpected chapters – and one of my favorites – was Edible Gifts, with 14 different recipes that make excellent hostess or holiday gifts. Written in a seamless, breezy style and with beautiful color photographs throughout, you'll be running to the kitchen to try out these recipes.
Here's one of my favorite recipes in the book – a wonderfully simple yet satisfying one-dish meal.
See the recipe.
SPICY SALMON CAKES (Serves 4-6)
- 3/4 lb filleted and skinned salmon, roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 4 oz. fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1 egg, whisked
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (you can chop the small stalks, too)
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 tsp Tabasco sauce or 1 deseeded and chopped chile (optional for children)
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil, for cooking
Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor and whiz to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice or Tabasco, if necessary. If you do not have a food processor, chop up the salmon as finely as possible and mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Shape into 3-inch patties or 1 1/2-inch in diameter for mini salmon cakes. Pan-fry in 3-4 tablespoons olive oil on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side (2-3 minutes for mini cakes), or until golden. Serve on warm plates.
Recipe courtesy Rachel Allen/William Morrow