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I came up with this recipe without any particular reference to the work of someone I know. I made the fish cakes and celery dressing the day before but was not happy with the way the flavors worked. The next day I was sharing food with a friend: it had ripened overnight and was really quite interesting. I chose white fish because I wanted the right platform for the celery dressing to sit right on. Mayonnaise, which can be purchased at the gourmet store, should be creamy and thick (I make most of it myself). When making the dressing I found that the celery was a bit strong so I added the balsamic vinegar and turned the dish over overnight. All components can be prepared the day before consumption and will only need to be assembled before being served to guests with the obligatory Bollinger champagne flute. I grow thyme, chervil and wild celery in my garden: I owe a great debt to Kate Hill of Camont because it was her wild celery in her garden and her kitchen that wowed me last September. —Krusher

  • fish cakes
  • 500 g white fish fillets, boneless, cut into 3-inch pieces

  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped young celery stalks

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon of celery salt

  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil such as canola

  • stalks from 1 bunch celery, cut 2 inches long

  • 1 leek, washed without outer leaves, cut 2 inches long

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 sprigs of thyme

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 handful of chervil

  • 1 cup of chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

  1. fish cakes
  2. Add fish, egg white, lemon zest, garlic to food processor and mix no more than 6 times. You need texture, not mush. Carefully combine the fish mixture by hand with the parsley, lovage stalks, cornmeal, spring onions, celery salt, and white pepper.

  3. Form small (bite-sized) fish cakes into flat, round shapes (like a small hamburger patty) and place on a tray to rest for half an hour in the refrigerator.

  4. Heat oil (canola) in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place half of the fish cakes and cook about a minute or two on each side, making sure they are cooked through. They should be slightly colored. Be careful not to overcook them for a long time because they will dry out easily.

  5. Place the cooked ones on absorbent paper while the second batch browns quickly on each side. If you plan to serve them shortly after cooking, place the first batch in a hot oven. If you serve them at another time, put them all in the fridge in an airtight container when they have cooled. You will need to heat them in a medium oven for 4 minutes just before you plan to serve them.

  2. Melt olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan. Add leek, celery, and thyme and cook over relatively low heat until leek and celery begin to soften. Pour in the chicken broth and bring the heat up to a boil. As soon as it boils, lower the heat so that the mixture simmers,

  3. Add the chervil, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer until the celery is soft enough. The liquid should thicken and stick to the celery by the time the celery has finally given way and softened. If it’s still too runny, remove the lid from the pan and cook. When ready, remove the thyme sprigs.

  4. Blend the mixture briefly to a coarse consistency in a small food processor. Taste to make sure there is enough salt for your taste. Add if you think you need it. Put the dressing in a fine mesh strainer and let it sit in a bowl to make sure any excess moisture drains. This condiment improves dramatically by staying in the fridge at least overnight.

  5. ASSEMBLY: You will need 1/2 cup cold, high-quality mayonnaise and a small container of celery microgreens. The fish cake should be served hot, the dressing at room temperature and the mayonnaise cold. Take each fish cake warm, garnish with a reasonable amount of celery dressing. Gently and artfully spoon 1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise over dressing and garnish with a single bright green celery leaf.

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