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I like radishes–the fresher the better and we had them coming out of our ears after everyone bought them at the market on Saturday–about five bunches of munchies.

However there is a limit to how many sharp little explosions in the mouth one can take–even if, as it’s said, they are good for the digestion.

Our guests took a fortifying bunch with them on their travels on Sunday morning, but there was still a pile left in the fridge yesterday.

What to do with them..?

I consulted  Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ book–The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook (a gift from our friend Helen in Tuscany, after we’d helped with the olive harvest last November )

and found the perfect lunch for a sunny Bank Holiday (May 1st):

Radish, spring onion and tuna salad

1lb of radishes–washed, trimmed and sliced any-which-way that suits (grating some into the bowl makes for a pretty picture)

juice of 1/2 a lemon 

1 teaspoon of salt

2/3 tablespoons parsley–chopped fine

2 sticks of celery–diced fine

2/3 spring onions/scallions, mainly the white part–chopped fine

4oz jar of good tuna in olive oil–forked into flakes

10/12 juicy black olives–stoned and halved

3 tablespoons of the best olive oil you have

salt

  • Mix the radishes with the lemon juice and salt in a bowl.
  • Add the parsley, diced celery and spring onions.
  • Add the tuna flakes.
  • Sprinkle over the olives and the olive oil.
  • Admire it’s beauty for a moment-
  • before turning it over carefully but thoroughly.

A  green salad,  some soft local goats cheese and a spoonful of the tapinade I’d made on Saturday, went well with it at lunch.

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The book event in Washington was held in this Georgetown home.

Signing books in advance of the evening

A brief talk to the assembled group

Wonderful book event in Georgetown last night!

Thanks to author, nutritionist and all-around whirlwind, Katherine Tallmadge for organizing the event; Nancy Taylor Bubes for opening her beautiful home to more than 80 guests, the American Institute of Wine and Food  for co-sponsoring, and Executive Chef, Janis McLean of Bistrot Le Zinc for demonstrating the potato-less salmon fishcakes recipe–and thanks to all who turned out, many bringing dishes prepared from recipes in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

The Washington Post’s Food Editor Bonnie Benwick was present the entire evening and wrote a wonderful account today: http://wapo.st/xGHO30/.

We leave balmy Washington D.C. where the magnolia blossoms are opening for the Windy City  tomorrow!

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Below I reprise two favourite fishcake recipes that have proved popular. I think it’s worth tying them together because they are closely related–and worth sharing again for newcomers to the site.

They each have an ingredient that nicely replaces the potato normally associated with fishcakes: Smoked haddock for the first,  fresh dill for the second.

The first recipe, with smoked haddock, I once did as a starter on Christmas day–so I associate with winter.

The second recipe, with dill–reprinted from my cookbook,  Delicious Dishes for Diabetics–makes a for a tasty lunch outdoors in summer.

Dill is not always easy to find–even in summer–so I sometimes substitute chopped parsley (but dill is better!).

In truth, I’d willingly gobble either down, no matter the season!

Version 1 (Winter)

Salmon and smoked haddock

I used to love fishcakes–but the usual addition of mashed potato made them ‘off limits’ for me, once I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  Then I found an alternative–no-potato fish cakes–and no longer felt deprived!

My American wife tells me most Americans will find smoked haddock unfamiliar and maybe even daunting and hard to find–but from starting as a sceptic, she is a complete convert now.

This is adapted from a Gordon Ramsay concept….

for 4/6

1 lb/450 gms salmon fillet–with the skin and little bones removed
1 lb/450 gms smoked haddock–undyed, if possible and skin removed
1 large shallot–grated

egg–whisked

1 tablespoon parsley–chopped

salt and pepper
olive oil for sautéing

yogurt–I use no-fat organic, drained in a sieve for half an hour to thicken it.

  • Cut the fish into chunks and place into a food processor.
  • Pulse to a coarse mince–not too much or it will become a slurry.
  • In a bowl, mix the fish with the grated shallot, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Check the seasoning–raw salmon tastes good!
  • Add the whisked egg and mix in thoroughly.
  • Chill in the fridge for an hour if you’ve time.
  • Mold into little flat patties.
  • Heat the oil in large frying pan.
  • When it’s hot sauté the little cakes for 2 to 3 mins each side.
  • Serve with a small dollop of yogurt sauce (see recipe below); for this version of fishcakes, I’d omit the dill.

Version 2 (Summer)

Salmon Fishcakes with dill and grainy mustard

The dill and the grain mustard make the fishcakes special. They can serve as a tasty starter too depending on the size.

If you keep them small and cook them quickly, they’ll be crisp and brown on the outside and still succulent inside.

This version is adapted from one of my favourite British cooks, Nigel Slater.

400 g/1 lb salmon fillet – skinless and checked for bones

white of an egg

1 tbsp chickpea flour – of course, plain flour works as well

1 tsp grain mustard

juice of ½ lemon

bunch of dill – chopped fine

salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

  • Mix all the yogurt sauce ingredients and refrigerate until you are ready to eat.
  • Cut up the salmon fillets in roughly equal-size pieces.
  • Put these in a mixer and pulse three or four times. 
  • Avoid working them too much and producing slush at the end.
  • Put the salmon in a bowl.
  • Turn in the egg white and the flour, then the mustard, lemon juice and dill.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • It’s a good idea to taste the mix for seasoning at this point–the dill and the salt should come through.
  • Refrigerate if not using immediately.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and using a dessertspoon scoop out a dollop and make a ball.
  • Put this in the pan and flatten it gently.

  • Cook on a medium-high flame, crisping and browning the outside while making sure the interior cooks through.

Yogurt sauce

2 x 125 ml pots low-fat yogurt

1 tsp grain mustard

good pinch of chopped dill

salt

Serve with lemon wedges.

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Renown vegetarian cookbook writer, Rose Elliott found this in Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Vegetarian Cookery and adapted it and I have tweaked it a bit.

It’s a quick excursion to the East.

There was a small cabbage in the fridge and some fenugreek seeds on the shelf in the larder, which I whizzed into powder in a converted coffee grinder!

The fenugreek is optional, but interesting… (as its name implies this herb is found in the mediterranean region and has healing qualities as well as culinary uses.)

Our friend Myriam called in this morning and said it was minus ten last night and would not get warmer until Wednesday, so a bowl of something gently spicy and soupy for lunch might be just the ticket.

for 4

250gms/8oz red lentils

2 1/4 pints/1300ml stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes

1/3 teaspoon turmeric

375gms/12oz tinned tomatoes–chopped

  • Rinse the lentils thoroughly.
  • Put them in a saucepan with the stock and the turmeric and bring up to the boil.
  • Cook at a gentle simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes then set aside.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder (optional)

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 onion–chopped

a small cabbage–outer leaves removed, quartered, cored and shredded

Juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper

Parsley or better still fresh coriander–chopped to sprinkle over

  • Heat the oil in a new pan.
  • Add the mustard seeds and cook them until they start to pop–a couple of minutes; they look brown in the photo but in fact stay black.
  • Mix in the curry powder and the fenugreek (if using) and let them  cook for a few seconds.
  • Add the onion and the cabbage and mix everything together well.
  • Cover the pan and cook  for 5 minutes.
  • Add the wilted cabbage mix to the lentils.
  • Bring the mixture up to the simmer.
  • Leave it to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle over the parsley or coriander when you serve.

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