It's funny, one day there's five inches of snow and only the spears of a few snowdrops, the next day most of the snow has gone and the wood is strewn with snowdrops. This tea glass is full of the false promise of spring: those catkins have been hanging in the hedge since December, the witch hazel is almost over, and the snowdrops - well, they're a winter flower.
But there's more and more light, so I'm spring cleaning. It's amazing how the cobwebs show up at this time of year, although I leave as many as possible, because I'd rather have spiders than flies in my house, and because it's a losing battle here - the spiders come in when the nights start to get cold in the autumn, and none of them seems inclined to go back into the garden as the weather gets warmer. Luckily, I'm not afraid of them, although I don't much like it when they drop onto my pillow. Which they do (no rude remarks about cobwebs in our bedroom, please Eleanor!).
There's a culinary side to the spring cleaning: we're eating up the larder and the deep freeze. We've been eating fish cakes, using up various tins and packets, and using my usual recipe. When I used up all the Matzo meal, I forgot to buy more, but I found that fresh breadcrumbs worked just as well.
Mostly I use this method for making crab cakes, but it works well with other fish, and saves a lot of palaver with potatoes - although if there's leftover mash in the fridge, I'll happily use that. I've used this basic recipe with both fresh crab & tinned crab, as well as with a mixture of the two, also with salmon or tuna. I've replaced the Matzo with fresh breadcrumbs. I don't bother weighing anything any more - I find that a mixture made with one egg and one lemon will support enough fish for two or three people, and that if there isn't enough fish, then a little more Matzo or a few more crumbs will eke it out, especially if there are plenty of herbs in the mix. I'm not sure I've ever used the full specification of fish.
2 tsp Dijon mustard
the juice of one lemon
450g cooked fish - although I rarely use anything like this much
50g Matzo meal
chopped herbs (optional)
Mix the egg with two teaspoons of Dijon mustard and the lemon juice (zest, too, if you like). Add the salmon and Matzo meal and, using a fork, stir together until it's all amalgamated. When you're ready to cook, you can chop in some herbs - dill would be good with salmon, or parsley, chives, perhaps coriander. Shape into patties - these days, I use a ring, because these are a little flaky, but you really don't have to. If you want to freeze them, now's the moment, interleaved with greaseproof paper. I'd thaw them all day in the fridge before cooking them, but I dare say you could cook them from frozen (as if you'd bought the cardboard sort in Tesco). They need about five minutes on each side.
Labour of love - Mr. C. - doing sterling work in the borders, as I write - recommends Weeds, Weeding (& Darwin): The Gardener's Guide by William Edmonds. 'Know your enemy' is...
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