At our house salmon croquettes and macaroni and cheese are nostalgia food. That's because both our mothers' made them. How they achieved their results is lost in the mists of time, but we agree that the salmon croquettes and macaroni and cheese served Chez Wohl is the best comfort food to be had.
There are two tricks to this recipe. Don't improve it with fresh salmon -- we've tried that route and it isn't better -- and don't use any bread crumbs or flour -- they spoil the delicate texture.
There are five steps:
(1) Empty a one-pound can of pink salmon into a bowl, draining and discarding the liquid. Remove all the skin and bone. Flake what's left into small flakes.
(2) In a blender, combine one egg, one small onion, peeled and cut in half, a large handful of parsley, and four or five dashes of Tabasco Sauce. Blend until smooth.
(30 Combine fish and onion-egg mixture, mixing well and make into four cakes, placing on a flat platter. This is enough for two hungry eaters. If you need more, double the recipe.
(4) Now, put the plate in the freezer for 30 minutes. These cakes are very fragile and you want them to set up (even get a little frozen) before you try to handle them.
(5) Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, ease the croquettes into the oil (I use a skillet to gently place each one into the pan). Don't touch them until each has had a chance to form a firm, very crisp and well browned bottom. Turn and equally brown the other side.
Serve with lemon wedges and catsup. (It's the only thing I eat catsup on; trust me, it's a requirement.)
MACARONI AND CHEESE
It's easy -- well not as easy as Kraft in the Blue Box, but you didn't want to eat that, anyway.
Bring a large (four quarts or more) pot of water to the boil. Add 2 cups of elbow macaroni (it could be anything but elbows are traditional) and cook until just tender. Drain
In the meantime, melt two tablespoons of butter in a 2-quart saucepan. Blend in two tablespoons of flour (I use a whisk). Add two cups of whole milk, gradually. (The point is to blend a little of the milk into the flour at a time so there will be no lumps.) When it starts to thicken, whisk in 8 ounces of grated sharp Cheddar cheese (yes, you can cheat and buy the pre-grated kind.) If I'm feeling fancy, I add a handful of crumbled blue cheese, too. Add a few dashes of Tabasco and four or five grinds of nutmeg.
Add the drained macaroni to the pot of sauce and mix together. Put the whole thing into a buttered (or sprayed) casserole (5x8 works well here) and put into a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes until firm and golden brown. If you like, you can sprinkle it with buttered bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, or a mixture of both before it goes into the oven.
This is enough for four -- or one very hungry teenager.