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Thursday, 12 February 2009 by Irene Hoofs

Salmon Cakes and Chocolate Plates by Jenny Stegall from ApronStrings

I hope you all are having fun with your little ones in preparation for Valentine’s Day! It provides such fun opportunities for cooking with kids! We often, as adults, use food to celebrate: special dinners with friends, all holidays, birthdays, TGIF days, brunches, etc. It is a way to celebrate life and the people we love and to whom we want to show that love.  When it comes to kids, however, it is often little piles of peas, potatoes, and cut up meat- not exactly a celebration. I am as guilty as the next person. I did this many evenings until one night, my daughter, Annie, was up while I was preparing our dinner. She had previously eaten little piles of fish, couscous, and a little pile of veggies on her pre-sectioned child plate. Our plates had much more attention to detail with a mound of couscous topped with pan-fried fish with lemon and capers beside a nice green salad with fruits, nuts, and cheese. She matter-of-factly asked, “When does my dinner get to look like that?” She is exactly right. After we have painstakingly made sure that our children are not allergic to things by introducing them one at a time, children should then be able to graduate to beautiful dinners. This will teach them multiple things: to learn to eat multiple flavors that complement each other and to celebrate life in the simplest of ways. It might mean all sitting together for a dinner or it might mean shifts of children and parents as we often do at our home while our kids are so young and early to bed. Either way - celebrate! Annie makes life fun. She is constantly planning occasions....

...She and William are pictured here at their “restaurant”. I was their waitress and we all had a ball! I know what you are thinking: “I don’t have time for that”. The good news is, it doesn’t take much time. Add a little sprinkle of fresh herbs or arrange the plates in a beautiful way. Let them use “special” glasses that won’t crush you if they break. Your kids will see meals as a fun event and will most likely be more willing to eat those sneaky veggies that keep ending up on their plates. Valentine’s Day is the perfect way to celebrate with two of our favorite ingredients- salmon and chocolate (not together!). Salmon is often considered a strong flavor, but when fresh, it is quite mild and very versatile. We love these salmon cakes and will often make mini burgers with them for the kids. They are delicious with mango chutney on top for adults over a rice pilaf and as burgers for the kids with sweet potato fries (recipe coming soon). They have great fresh flavors, but if you know one of them is a hard sell, omit it on the first try or halve the amount of some of the flavors if they are used to more bland foods.

What you will need for the Salmon Cakes:
1 lb of salmon, poached or roasted and flaked
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp soy sauce
cup mayonnaise
tsp salt
sweet red pepper, chopped
purple onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
2 Tbsp fresh basil
2 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning or other seafood seasoning
1 egg

To do:
Combine first twelve ingredients in a large bowl.
Form mixture into 6 small cakes.
Brown in hot oil for two minutes/side or until golden brown.

The second ingredient is not a hard sell- chocolate! I love small amounts of chocolate for a treat for my kids. We often dip fruit in melted chocolate. This trick below requires very little work, but is a huge hit and lots of fun. It will definitely have them licking their plates clean!

Chocolate Painted Plates!

What you will need:
Melt 6 oz of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I like to do this in a double boiler on the stovetop. It is much smoother this way.
To do:
Funnel chocolate into a squirt bottle (you can find these easily at a drugstore or kitchen supply store). Give each child their own squirt bottle and let them decorate with chocolate all over the plates.
Place in the refrigerator to set if serving later.

*They will be very proud of their décor!

..contact Jenny for questions..

..Jenny's personal blog..

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