Two days before serving, soak the cod in 1 quart of milk in a covered bowl, refrigerated, for 24 hours. The next day, discard the milk and rinse the cod well under cold water. Replace the cod in a fresh quart of milk and refrigerate for another 24 hours. Remove the cod from the milk and rinse well. Pat the cod dry and flake into small pieces.
Preheat the fryer.
In a saucepan, combine the onions, celery, potatoes, 2 teaspoons garlic, and water. Season the liquid with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.
Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain. Turn the potatoes into a mixing bowl. Add the cod, parsley, remaining tablespoon of garlic, olive oil, 1 egg, and cream. Using a hand-held masher, mash mixture until thoroughly blended. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cool the mixture completely. Form the mixture into a log, 2 inches thick. Cut the logs into 2-inch pieces.
In a small mixing bowl, add the flour and season with Essence. In another small mixing bowl, whisk the remaining 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons of milk together. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. In a third mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs and season with Essence.
Dredge the cakes in the seasoned flour, coating completely. Dip each cake in the egg wash, letting the excess drip off. Dredge the cakes in the seasoned bread crumbs, coating each cake completely. Fry the cakes until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often for over-all browning. Remove the cakes from the oil and drain on paper towels. Season the cakes with Essence.
Serve warm with the Fondue Piquante and garnish with the fried spinach, if using.
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William Morrow, 1993.
Heat 2 tablespoon of the oil in a non-reactive saucepan over high heat. Add the onions, green pepper, jalapenos, garlic, thyme, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, pinch of Essence, pinch of crushed red pepper, and stock. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Pour the mixture into a blender and drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup oil while the motor is running. Pour back in the saucepan and stir in the parsley. Serve warm.
Yield: 1 1/3 cups