While I didn’t make any resolutions this year (new or otherwise) , I did make a big change. I took a break from hosting a much anticipated, annual event at my home.
For the past ten years my sister Roxanne, brothers Montie and Ricky (who passed away in 2013) and my cousin Fred, gathered in my little kitchen to celebrate King Day,a national holiday to mark the accomplishments of civil rights leader and activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We watched the King Day parade that rolls down Crenshaw Boulevard here in Los Angeles on my tiny analog television, which actually belonged to my sister. From two cans of Pink Alaskan salmon I found in my pantry, Cousin Fred made salmon croquettes that were reminiscent of our Southern roots. With a trusty box of Krusteaz mix I had on hand, I made oversized, fluffy pancakes. Since it was a celebration, my brother Montie went to the store and bought a few bottles of Korbel and orange juice to make mimosas. It was a memorable and spontaneously wonderful get together.
The gathering grew
Well, that initial small gathering of family members later increased to include an eclectic group (about 40 at each event) fun loving, socially conscious and progressive people who were influencers in their respective circles. Over those ten years at what I called “Casa Veronique” (my little Spanish style home), we celebrated King Day. Many guest speakers attended during that time including political hopefuls, authors, historians and rhetoricians. We engaged in substantive discussions on race, politics and social reform. We often read passages from Dr. King’s writings, sang anthems and shared intentions for the new year along with personal stories of hopefulness, advocacy and social justice. Last year we coordinated a Google Hangout with a former participant who now lives in Ghana. It was magical and very cool.
You gotta have great food
You can’t have a celebration without great food. And we had plenty of it with each guest bringing their favorite dish (purchased or homemade) along with their favorite bottle of bubbly (champagne, sparking water or 7-up). The spread was always the most amazing cornucopia of foods and desserts from ethnic selections to gourmet delights. To be honest, annually it was a dizzying display of food, but we managed to power through it without succumbing to food lethargy.
The centerpiece of the day was always the salmon croquettes. For most of my guests, it was that one offering they looked forward to year after year. Cousin Fred was always stalwart in mixing up 8 cans of Alaska Salmon and toiling over a hot skillet until the final batch was done.
Salmon and crab croquettes anyone?
While I decided to take a hiatus from hosting the event this year to reflect, reset and recalibrate, I just couldn’t get through the day without having salmon croquettes to honor the tradition we started ten years ago. So I took to the kitchen and updated our traditional recipe by adding crab meat and a few other ingredients. The results? A deliciously moist croquette with a delightfully, delicate flavor that even the most discriminating Southern cook would love. You will be amazed how you can easily transform canned salmon and crab meat into a quick and delicious meal.
The recipe follows. I hope you enjoy it for lunch, dinner, breakfast or during your very own King Day celebration. Oh, and don’t forget the mimosas – I didn’t!
Casa Veronique Salmon and Crab Croquettes
2 – 14.75 ounce cans Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon
1 – 6 ounce can crab meat
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
½ cup red onion, chopped
Juice of ½ lemon (Meyer lemons are amazing)
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon Mustard (more if you like)
1 teaspoon Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Freshly ground cracked black pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons yellow corn meal
Oil for frying (I prefer Grapeseed Oil)
Open salmon and drain off all liquid. Empty contents into a mixing bowl. Remove larger bones and discard.Open crab meat and also drain off all liquid. Add contents to the mixing bowl. With a fork, break apart salmon and mix to incorporate crab meat. All ingredients except flour and corn meal, and mix well. Then add flour and corn meal and mix well.
Over medium heat, heat about of cup oil in a non-stick skillet. Scoop up mixture using a ¼ cup measuring cup and slowly lower mixture into a heated skillet. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Fry about four ¼ cup portions at a time to avoid overcrowding, as this will lower the temperature of the oil.
Drain on paper towels. Makes about 10 tasty croquettes.
Tip: If mixture is not easy to scoop, cover and chill for 30-40 minutes.