Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Laura Lippman & Aunt Effie's Salmon Ball

It's the 70th Anniversary of Mysery Writers of America (MWA) and one of the many things they are doing to celebrate is publishing a fun cookbook filled with recipes from many of your favorite authors, including Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark & Sue Grafton, just to name few. 

To help MWA celebrate we are running a recipe from the new book today, tomorrow and Wednesday, so get ready for some murderously good recipes. In the coming weeks we'll also be featuring an interview with MWA Vice President and bestselling author, Donna Andrews, plus a feature on some of the nominees for the upcoming Edgar Awards. 

Today we're starting with a recipe from Laura Lippman, Aunt Effie's Salmon Ball. If you'd like to see a review of Laura Lippman's latest book, and recipe for a matching drink, we can take care of that too. 

Aunt Effie’s Salmon Ball

My Aunt Effie—actually my great aunt—was a Capital-C Character, an old-fashioned steel magnolia with a hearty laugh and the first person who ever assured me I was funny. Also, maybe the last. Aunt Effie was the middle of three girls, brought up in an all-female household in Smalltown, Georgia, my great-grandmother having been widowed at a relatively young age. Aunt Effie herself was widowed twice and she learned to take care of herself, ending up in another all-female household with her daughter and granddaughter. Well, there was a poodle name John, but they painted his toenails, poor thing.
On top of everything else, she was a terrific hostess, and two of my favorite recipes come from her: cheese straws and a so-called Salmon Ball, although I despaired years ago of ever learning how to roll this concoction in slivered almonds, so I just mix it up and put it in a small dish. In fact, it makes a great hostess gift. It’s really simple and everyone loves it. Not quite a health food, but you can substitute low- fat cream cheese for the hardcore stuff.
Because my household is peripatetic, I often find myself in a different city than the one where I keep all my family recipes. But my Aunt Effie’s salmon ball is very forgiving, which is one reason I like to make it.

YIELD: 8–10 SERVINGS1 teaspoon dried minced onions (available in the spice aisle)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large can salmon, around 15 ounces
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon liquid smoke— if you can find it
Slivered almonds (optional)
Chopped parsley (optional)
1. Soak dried minced onions in lemon juice for 5 minutes. 
2. Meanwhile, drain salmon and mix thoroughly with cream cheese. 
3. Add lemon juice and onions to salmon mixture, along with Worcester- shire, horseradish, and liquid smoke. You can add more or less according to your taste. 
4. If you are nimble and wildly ambitious, you can form the mixture into a ball and roll it in slivered almonds and parsley. Frankly, I started omitting that step years ago because I could never get it to look right, although I suspect it might work better if you slightly chill the salmon mixture first. Me, I just put it in a nice piece of crockery and refrigerate for several hours. Serve with crackers; it also pairs well with a dry martini or the cocktail of your choice. Eat the leftovers on bagels.

Laura Lippman is an award-winning crime writer who has written ninenteen books, the most recent of which is the New York Times best seller After I’m Gone. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans.

Excerpted from The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook edited by Kate White. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.

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