For approval’s sake

[Recipe: Cod Cakes with Raspberry Salsa]

So Quinn ate an artichoke. Really. I swear, I would not joke about something like this. I know, I was every bit as astonished – awestruck, astounded, amazed, pick your own alliterative synonym – as you. See, Quinn eating an artichoke seemed about as likely as an artichoke eating Quinn.

I was not expecting her to eat the artichoke, even though I’d stuffed it with goat cheese; I can’t say I even expected her to so much as poke it. I expected skeptical raising of eyebrows, the way only a five-year-old can do. I expected disdainful sniffs and shakes of the head, but not eating. But dig in she did and – get this – not only did she declare loving feelings toward the artichoke, she even asked if I would make it again! And, as if my head couldn’t have swelled any larger, she thanked me for dinner. That’s right, my little darling, my almost kindergartner, expressed gratitude for a meal (she does say thank you with frequency, just not for dinner).

Now a couple of weeks have passed since my artichoke hurrah, and Quinn has done her job of dashing my hopes with scattered refusals to eat dinner and a generally less effusive manner than that one fine evening.

But last night, she did it again. This time, she ate cod cakes. We eat a lot of fish, and I’ve become more or less well versed in the preparation of it, but rarely – if ever – do I give it a good hacking in a food processor, along with an egg, sautéed onion and cilantro stems and form the mélange into patties. It just isn’t done. Fish is supposed to be simple, light, a swift-to-the-table protein that’s taken a quick turn on the grill or in the poaching liquid or under the broiler. But even though this cod-cake making is tactile stuff, it’s admittedly non-fussy. This go-round, the girls weren’t in on the cooking, but I’ll ask them to join me next time, because what kid doesn’t enjoy smushing raw fish between their palms and fingers, huh? Show me a kid who wouldn’t be all over such a sloppy process.

But even though the kids didn’t make them, they did most certainly consume them. I don’t know how much credit I owe to Lauren Child, but something about incanting, “Fish cakes, fish cakes!” in Lola’s gooey voice made my little deeds of protein perfectly palatable to an often reluctant table of wee diners. Yes, both Quinn and Emmie (who has almost always been the adventurous and good eater) seemed quite accomplished in the practice of fork-to-mouth when it came to these cakes.

Still, I have to wonder: why, oh why, does Quinn continue to tease me this way? Does she know what it does to me? And if she did, would she even care? Knowing her, she’d probably just snicker.

Cod Cakes with Raspberry Salsa

Topped with the raspberry salsa we scored in Portsmouth, NH, at the Stonewall Kitchen shop, these made for the perfect hot weather evening meal. I’ve now vowed to tinker with raspberry salsa recipes of my very own. Stay tuned…

1 medium red onion

½ bunch cilantro

4 tbsp canola oil

1 ½ lbs cod fillet

1 egg

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips (in an effort to bolster the healthfulness, I used Trader’s Joe’s Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips)

1 jar raspberry or other salsa

Finely chop onion, measuring out ¾ cup and reserving the rest. Finely chop enough cilantro stems to measure roughly one tablespoon. Chop cilantro leaves to measure two tablespoons and set aside with reserved onion. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the ¾ cup of onion and cilantro stems and cook until softened. Pulse the cod, egg, salt, pepper and onion mixture in a food processor until combined (but not pureed). Form 8 cod cakes, coating each cake with crushed chips.

Heat a griddle (yes, the one you made pancakes on this morning and haven’t had a chance to wash yet is fine) to 350 degrees (or just use the skillet you sautéed the onion in). Coat with cooking spray or canola oil. Add cakes and cook until golden brown and cooked through,about 5 minutes on each side (break into one gently with a fork — it should be opaque and look “flaky,” which in this context that’s a good thing). Place cod cakes on individual plates and top with chopped cilantro leaves and red onion. Serve with salsa.

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ivy said,

    When I saw the picture of your cod cake I thought this was something deja vu. It took me a minute to remember that I saw them earlier this morning at the Great Cooks Community. They sound delicious and I am sure the children love them.

  2. 2

    Elisa said,

    Cod cakes, hmm? How very nor’easterly of you! They sound (and look! gorgeous pics!)–delish. Love the descriptions of your little one’s refusal, too. You always have my mouth smiling from your writing AND watering to try your recettes!

  3. 3

    Big Fan of Fish Cakes said,

    These sound awsome! I can’t wait to try them.

  4. 4

    Elle said,

    These look fantastic! It’s nice to have different ways to cook fish, and I necver think of doing these!

  5. 5

    cinnamonsugar said,

    I know what you mean about how kids can be picky eaters. Of all the things to try I can’t believe Quinn tried artichoke!


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