Hello. I hope you are enjoying the summer and celebrating all the garden gifts, which include everything from chives to raspberries and flowers. We are also savoring fresh fish as often as we want. The Other Fisherman and our oldest son, who is just as fish crazed as his dad, have delivered all local species of fish for many different and delicious preparations in my kitchen to grace our dinner table. The Homer Farmers Market and farm stands are showcasing beautiful produce, which I’ve been having fun making into pickles, salads and tasty sides to accompany our meals. The summer fun will be over before you know it, so don’t wait to go crazy — relish the summer and each sunny minute of it.
When I find myself with more ripe juicy peaches than I can possibly eat, I bake something delicious with them. This shortcake recipe is served with warm, buttery peaches and boozy whipped cream. The shortcake is delicious on its own warmed and spread with butter and enjoyed with a good cup of coffee.
Warm peach shortcake with brandy whipped cream
For the shortcake
Vegetable spray for the pan
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (4 ounces) cold butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, plus 1 tablespoon butter, melted
¾ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
For the filling
3 tablespoons brandy
¼ cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 firm, ripe peaches—halved, pitted and sliced ½ inch thick
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with vegetable spray. In a small bowl, stir 1 tablespoon of the sugar with the cinnamon. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the remaining ½ cup of sugar, the baking powder, nutmeg, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the cold butter until it is the size of small peas. Make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture and add the buttermilk and the beaten eggs. Stir with a fork until a dough forms. Scrape the dough into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 minutes, until the top is golden. Brush the top of the hot shortcake with the melted butter and sprinkle all over with the cinnamon sugar. Transfer the shortcake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, pour the brandy over the raisins and let stand for 20 minutes. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the peaches, cover and cook over moderately low heat until just softened, about 6 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the brandy. Add the remaining brandy, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and pinch of salt to the skillet. Cook the peaches over moderate heat, stirring often, until glazed and crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whip the cream with the reserved 1 tablespoon of brandy until soft peaks form. Remove the shortcake from the pan and transfer to a plate. Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally; slide the top of the cake onto a plate. Spoon the peaches and sauce over the bottom of the shortcake. Top with the other half. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with a dollop of brandy whipped cream.
This recipe for fresh halibut and salmon cakes incorporates leftover fresh king salmon bits that I had left after cutting up filets for carpaccio. The beautiful king salmon son Rob caught was just too precious to waste any of it, and I also had fresh halibut on hand. I had a big piece of halibut in the fridge a neighbor generously gifted us he caught that weighed 120 pounds. The evening prior I made deep fried halibut and it was just delicious. The meat on a fish that big is a bit grainier. I chopped it up for this preparation, and it tasted great and worked well for making into patties. I don’t like to use the food processor for mincing fresh fish, as it goes from the perfect consistency to mush way too quickly. I chopped the fish with a sharp knife and it came out perfect.
These are an ideal appetizer or main course. You can also make them into a fish sandwich. Pair them with homemade tartar sauce or a bright fruit salsa for a change of pace.
Fresh halibut and salmon cakes with peach salsa
½ pound fresh salmon fillet
½ pound fresh halibut fillet
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
3 dashes hot sauce, such as Frank’s
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Panko breading to coat fish cakes prior to frying
Olive oil and canola or another neutral oil for frying
Cut up fresh fish and chop to small pieces.
In a large bowl, combine minced fish, egg, scallions, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, breadcrumbs, parsley, dill, hot sauce, ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Mix gently until ingredients just hold together.
Gently form mixture into equal-size patties about ¾ inch thick.
Add 1 to 2 cups panko flakes to a shallow dish.
Pat panko onto fish cakes, coating complete. Place on a sheet pan and place in the freezer to firm up while preparing salsa or tartar sauce, approximately 10-20 minutes.
To serve the cakes: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook cakes until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Serve hot.
Dice up a ripe peach or two, depending on size, and add to a medium size bowl. If you have mango or fresh pineapple these are great additions.
Add about 1 tablespoon minced shallot or green onion, 1 tablespoon minced bell pepper if you have it, 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or green part of scallion, 1 tablespoon minced jarred jalapeno, fresh juice of a lime, splash of rice vinegar, generous pinch of salt and pepper, pinch of red pepper flakes, and if needed, a pinch of sugar or honey.
Stir and taste for seasoning and balance. Adjust to your taste.
Peonies brought me a lot of joy this week. A dear friend has a peony farm and it’s the end of the season for them. She invited me to make as many bouquets as I wanted. We sat outdoors on a sunny evening laughing, surrounded by beautiful fragrant colorful peonies. I delivered a few bouquets the next day to friends, sharing that joy and peony love.