Monday, March 16, 2015

Irish Moose Stew & Soda Bread

There are different variations for making Irish Stew but one of the common denominators is a nice helping of stout beer, usually Guinness! While spring is on the horizon in many parts of the world when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, it's still pretty chilly up here in Alaska. So a nice bowl of hot stew and a few pints is a great way to celebrate. Gorgeous lean moose meat is used in this recipe, as well as the usual Palmer, Alaska produce: carrots, potatoes and onions. Serve with a nice Irish soda bread: dense, moist and hearty! ~Patti O'Massey
Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds moose roast, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups beef stock
2 cups water
1 cup dry red wine (like Cabernet or Burgundy)
1 cup Guinness Extra Stout beer
1 tablespoon Worceshire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
2-3 fresh (or dried) bay leaves
1 tablespoons butter
3-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2-1/2 cups carrots, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Ingredients for Soda Bread:
2-1/2 cups AP Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup raisins and/or currants
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk


"May your Troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door." - Irish Blessing

Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in large pot over medium high heat. Season meat with salt. Brown meat in batches until gorgeous and brown - and don't crowd that pan. This is fast, only a few minutes per side. You don't want to cook it all the way, you just want to sear in all the juices and seal in the flavor. 

Tip: Pat meat dry before adding to pan. 

Once it's all browned, remove and set aside. Add carrots, onion and garlic to pot and saute for a few minutes to soften, scrapping up all the brown bits.  

Stir in wine, beer and beef stock. Add tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Add meat and all juices. Stir gently, then cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Remove lid, add potatoes and simmer uncovered about 45-60 minutes. Liquid will reduce and thicken slightly. 

If you want a thicker stew, make a 'roux' out of a few tablespoons of cornstarch and a cup of the hot liquid in the pot. Mix well and add a little at a time, stirring as you go. Add as much as you need to make it the desired consistency. 

While your stew is simmering (and filling the house with a wonderful aroma) make the soda bread. This is one of the easiest, quickest breads to make. Measure all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cube the butter and work it into the dry ingredients with your fingers (like making pie dough). Add raisins and buttermilk and mix until dough forms. Put dough on lightly floured surface and knead about 2 minutes until smooth. Shape into a circle, flatten slightly and score the top with a knife.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden and done. Brush a little melted butter on top and serve with dinner. Yum!


If you plan to drink wine with dinner, by all means, use a cup of the good stuff, but if not, I love these inexpensive but nice quality little Bota Boxes for cooking...

This is an area west of Fairbanks that my husband likes to hunt...this past fall he lucked out. He got a 65 inch moose!

This is a secluded spot, so it's nice to have friends with planes :) Quite an experience to fly in and set up camp. Alaska offers such bounty, in so many ways.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Italian Moose Sausage with Pasta, Beans & Arugula


If you hunt for wild game, you know how important it is to find a quality processor. My husband and I have a favorite one we use near Girdwood for our moose and caribou. They make a wicked good Italian moose sausage which is what I used in this hearty pasta dish. Beans and arugula add taste and texture, while the homemade garlic breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil finish off this healthy meal. You can easily double this recipe, which is great, since you'll probably want seconds. ~Patti

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups dried navy beans
2 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup walnuts
3-4 slices hearty white bread
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 pound hot Italian moose sausage
8 ounces campanelle (or similar short) pasta
several handfuls of arugula and/or spinach 
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for finishing

Serves: 4

Place dried beans, bay leaves, and 2 crushed garlic cloves in a pot. Cover with about 4 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for about an hour and a half or until beans are tender but still hold their shape. When done, drain and reserve 1-1/2 cups of the liquid. You'll need it later.

Next, make your bread crumbs by putting the bread, walnuts, and one garlic clove into a food processor. Pulse until you have fine breadcrumbs. Then, heat 2 tablespoons of olive in a skillet and toast crumbs until golden brown. Set aside.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet and cook moose sausage until browned and cooked thoroughly, breaking it up into small pieces as you go. When done, remove from skillet and set aside; leave any remaining drippings in pan. Add your diced onions and remaining 3 cloves of garlic (minced)to pan and sauté gently until soft, about 6 minutes. Return sausage to skillet and cover to keep warm.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions, making sure it is al dente. Drain pasta and salt and pepper lightly. Then, combine beans, pasta, sausage & onion mixture in one large bowl. Toss gently and add the reserved liquid from the beans. I found I needed a bit over a cup so it wasn't dry.  

Lastly, gently toss in your arugula and/or spinach. The heat will wilt the greens slightly, which is what you want. Transfer to a large serving platter and sprinkle with your homemade breadcrumbs.  

 
The magic ingredient, as with so many things, is olive oil! After plating, drizzle with some good olive oil. It's amazing how it brings all the flavors together. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Moose Tenderloin with Mushroom Cream Sauce

February in Alaska doesn't present much in the way of fresh foods, which is why many of us spend part of our summers and fall canning and freezing our fresh veggies, berries, etc., as well as preserving our fish, seafood and wild game. Moose meat takes center stage in this recipe. It's naturally lean, delicious and organic. It can be prepared in the same way as most cuts of other domestic meats - the main difference is that it needs to be cooked to an internal temp of 155 degrees. This recipe is a delicious way to use moose tenderloin paired with a rich mushroom cream sauce. I roasted up some root veggies I harvested last fall and made a side of Israeli couscous which made a nice, hearty meal. You'll need to use an oven-safe skillet for this recipe...cast iron is perfect. ~Patti
Ingredients:
2 pounds moose tenderloin 
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper

Mushroom Cream Sauce:
1 pound assorted mushrooms
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 small shallot,finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste

First things first, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season your gorgeous tenderloin generously with salt and pepper. In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil until is shimmers - very hot (the pan must be super hot to get the nice sear). Add butter and gently mix in until it melts. Add tenderloin and sear on each side, about 3 minutes per side. 
Place pan into oven and cook until the tenderloin is almost 155 degrees. I took mine out at about 153 degrees. It will continue to cook a bit after removed from the oven. Set tenderloin on cutting board and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Tent with foil to keep warm.
While the tenderloin is cooking, make the sauce. Slice mushrooms into quarters after cleaning. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and cook over medium high heat. Let mushrooms cook without stirring until they start to brown, then flip them over. Add more butter if the pan is too dry. Total cook time is about 5 minutes until nicely browned. Add shallot, salt and pepper and cook a few more minutes till shallots soften. Add thyme. Remove from heat and add wine. Return pan to heat and scrape pan to loosen the yummy browned bits on the bottom. Add cream and  bring to a gentle boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and set aside. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Roasted root veggies! So easy, and so good with this dish. I have a winters-worth of potatoes and carrots that I harvested this past fall. I added a sweet potato and onion to the mix - perfect. Chop veggies to similar size, put in plastic bag and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Put on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for abut 20 minutes, turning once.

When everything is ready, slice tenderloin and arrange on plate, drizzle with creamy mushroom sauce and serve with roasted veggies and couscous...a perfect winter meal!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grouse Cordon Bleu


If you've ever gone grouse hunting you know how fun it is. And if you've ever eaten grouse you know how good it is. I'm primarily a vegetarian but when it comes to wild fish and game I'm suddenly transported back to my native roots and become a carnivore. Three species of grouse are found in the interior of Alaska where I live: ruffed, sharp-tailed, and spruce. I prefer the taste of ruffed grouse because they have a nice mild tasting white meat as opposed to say a spruce grouse which has dark red meat and a gamier taste. For this recipe, ruffed grouse is the way to go. Happy hunting! ~Audrey  
Ingredients:
4 grouse breasts
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, scrambled for egg wash
4 slices prosciutto
4 slices Swiss cheese
stone ground mustard
paprika

Cream Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Serves: 2

First you need to get your grouse. I shot this one with my .22 on a crisp morning in October just south of Fairbanks in an area known as the Tanana Valley State Forest Nenana Ridge Ruffed Grouse Habitat Management Area. Basically, it's an area with miles and miles of logging roads. Ruffed grouse are found in forested areas like this where dense young stands of aspen predominate as a result of forest management activities. Along with a variety of other plants such as wild rose shrubs and cranberries this area is the perfect habitat for these tasty birds. 



I always like to open the crop to see what my grouse ate. As you can see the one on the left had a crop full of highbush cranberries and the one on the right was full of aspen buds.     

The breast meat is really the only edible part of a grouse. You can save the thighs and legs for stock later on. Start by placing the bird on it's back, carefully slice the delicate skin covering the breast and tear it away with your with your fingers.


Then, using a sharp knife, carefully cut down the center and around the breastbone. The idea is to get as much of the meat off the breastbone without mutilating your dinner. Here's the official way to do it according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website:

To remove the breast meat from game birds such as ptarmigan and ruffed grouse, slit or tear the skin down the middle of the breast. Tear the skin loose from the entire breast. The two breasts are separated by the keel of the breastbone. Slip the blade of a sharp knife under the breast meat and work it forward. When you hit the front, the wishbone, follow the it right on down and peel the meat off. It’s also possible to simply pry the breast meat out with your thumbs. There is no need to gut the bird. To take the drumsticks, peel the skin and feathers off the legs. Cut the feet off, then cut the legs off at the hips. Rinse the meat off.


Place your breasts between plastic wrap and gently pound them flat with either a mallet or rolling pin.

Once flattened, rub with a little mustard and top with Swiss cheese and prosciutto. 

Gently roll them up, brush with an egg wash and cover in bread crumbs. I used toothpicks to hold them together while they baked. Sprinkle a little paprika on them. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. Grouse breasts are small so keep an eye on them so they don't over cook. If you feel they are getting too brown, you can cover with foil. To check for doneness, place a thermometer in the center. If it reads 165 degrees, it's done.  

While they are cooking, make your cream sauce. Heat your butter over medium-low heat until it melts. Wisk in flour and heat for a couple minutes. Then add your cream and wine along with the stone ground mustard, salt and pepper. Let simmer on low, stirring every few minutes until your grouse is finished cooking.

Serve with your favorite veggies. I think sauteed mushrooms and steamed brussel sprouts pair perfectly with wild grouse.

Grouse can pretty much be found anywhere in Alaska. These two were in my mom's driveway and they quickly became dinner.  

My dog, Roxy enjoys grouse hunting and is quite the little 
helper :)






Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Alaska Halibut & Spot Shrimp with Fennel & Quinoa

 
This is a compilation of trying to use the seafood I had on hand, as well as the veggies I have a lot of right now, namely zucchini. Fennel can seem overpowering sometimes, but it goes so nicely with seafood and when it's cooked, it has a nice sweetness. I based the broth on the fumet I learned to make in culinary school and this seems to be our year for spot shrimp - we have caught tons of it! This recipe is a bit time-consuming, so I would start with the stock or fumet, then get all your other ingredients ready to make things easier. Best to be organized so you can focus on not overcooking the seafood - that way your dish will be perfect! ~Patti
Ingredients:
Shrimp Stock/Fumet
1/2 onion, chopped
6 parsley stems
2 cloves garlic, quartered 
shells from spot shrimp being used
olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
handful of mushroom trimmings
6 lemon slices
1oz lemon juice
cold water
1/4 cup wine

Ingredients:
4 (6oz) halibut fillets
1/2 pound Spot shrimp, cleaned, shells reserved for fumet
1 zucchini, sliced thin (julienne)
3 small potatoes, sliced thin, then halved or quartered
1 small fennel bulb, sliced thin (julienne) fronds reserved
1/2 onion, slice thin (julienne)
olive oil for sauté
2 cups cooked quinoa

Serves: 4


Shrimp Fumet: Coat a large pot with olive oil. Add onion, then parsley and shells. Salt lightly. Cover with parchment circle and sweat until onions are soft. Remove parchment, sprinkle with wine and lemon juice and toss in mushrooms and thyme. Add cold water (enough to cover everything) and bring to a boil and then simmer. Let it simmer for at least half an hour - taste periodically to make sure it's yummy. The aroma should be wonderful, not 'shrimpy', just heavenly. 
Once the fumet tastes like you want, strain out all the solids and discard. Reserve the broth. 

In a clean pan, sauté onion and fennel slices in a bit of olive oil. Add the broth and let it simmer on low - you'll need it pretty soon.

Next, rinse and pat the halibut dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Coat a pan with olive oil and and when it is nice and really hot, add the fish and cook till a bit crisp and golden on each side. Cook it till it's about 3/4 done, so maybe 2-4 minutes per side depending on thickness. Set aside. In the same hot pan, toss in the shrimp and quickly sauté (these cook wicked fast, so just barely cook them so they don't dry out). Set aside.
 In the same pan again, add the potato rounds, salt and pepper, and brown them up nicely. When done set them aside with the fish and shrimp. Lastly, toss the zucchini into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté quickly.
Last step - put all reserved fish, shrimp, zucchini and potatoes into the pot of broth, cover with a lid and turn off heat. This will let the fish finish cooking. Should only take 2-3 minutes.

To serve, place equal amounts of fish, shrimp and veggies in a shallow bowl on top of a serving of quinoa. Then pour broth (a little or a lot, your choice) into each bowl.
Garnish with the fennel fronds.
I think the quinoa rounds out this dish very nicely - soaks up the broth and the veggies can lay across it - looks pretty.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Potluck Cake

The zucchini in this cake is not really what you notice due to the decadent cocoa and chocolate frosting, but it is a crucial part of this yummy dessert as it provides the cake with so much moistness and the perfect texture. Even non-zucchini lovers will love this! I call it a potluck cake, because it bakes up perfectly in a 9x13 and can stay in the pan until it's served, making it good for transporting...to potlucks :) ~Patti
Ingredients:
for the cake:
2 cups AP flour
1 cup dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
1-1/4 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 cups shredded zucchini*

Ingredients:
for the frosting:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/3 cup milk
3 to 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

After you shred the zucchini, squeeze as much of the excess moisture out of it as you can. Give it a squeeze between paper towels or a clean tea towel.

Using the paddle attachment to your kitchen mixer, add eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla and beat well. If no kitchen mixer, a hand-held electric mixer works just fine. Add the shredded zucchini.

Then combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl, and add to the moist ingredients. Mix it all vigorously for about 30 seconds.

Pour batter into a 9 x 13 pan (greased) and bake for about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the center and the cake starts to crack on top when it is done.

While the cake is cooling, you can make this easy frosting. I like the very dark cocoa, but you can use regular dark,
 just make sure it's unsweetened.
1. Place butter, cocoa and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. 
2. Reduce heat to low and add vanilla and powdered sugar,
 one cup at a time. 
3. Beat well and add that extra 1/2 cup powdered sugar if needed. If you add too much, a drop of water or two should fix it. Beat by hand until smooth. 





Let the cake cool about 20 minutes before frosting. As you can see, the finished cake is cracked - that's good for this cake.  The frosting pours over nice and smooth, but starts setting up quickly: you can see the 'wrinkles' forming as it sets up mid-pour. Kinda cool :)

Easiest cake ever to frost - after you pour frosting on top, spread to even it out and sprinkle with chopped nuts if you like.  I used walnuts - or you can add the nuts to the frosting if you prefer.  Transport to your nearest potluck and enjoy!

Supporting locally grown - a little stand down the road
 from me that has the best zucchini's!


Friday, August 22, 2014

Zip-lining in Talkeetna

I've wanted to try zip-lining for quite awhile. As luck would have it, there is a very good zip-lining experience to be had just a few hours away from my house in the charming little town of Talkeetna. Talkeetna is the "Gateway to Denali" as it's where the climbers take off to get to the largest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley. My husband, daughter, and I took the scenic drive from Palmer to Talkeetna (about an hour and a half)and then the staff at Denali Zipline Tours took it from there. It was a perfect first experience and the instructors were amazing! ~Patti
Snapshot:
What: Zipline experience
Where: Talkeetna, Alaska
Duration: 3 hours
How Many Zip Rides: 9, + 2 aerial suspension bridges, 1 rappel  
 Difficulty Level: Not recommended for people with back or knee issues or who can't lift their arms above their head.
What to Wear: Comfortable clothing, closed-toe shoes. No special attire required but wear layers appropriate for the weather. You go rain or shine, so a lightweight rain jacket is good. You are in a harness, so don't wear bulky clothes.
What to Bring: Nothing but your camera/phone(if it can be safely zipped into your clothing)
Cost: $149 adult, $119 ages 10-14. Tip if you like to zip! 
Best time to go: Year round, but summer, spring, fall are best
Children: Yes, but must weigh at least 90 pounds
What they provide: All the gear you need which is a harness, helmet and gloves. 
Pet Friendly: um, no… :)
Other Restrictions: Participants must not weigh more than 270 pounds. Must not be pregnant. Also must sign a waiver. 

Directions on how to get there from Anchorage at the end of this post. 


When you arrive into Talkeetna, you will see this little cabin on your left before you hit the center of town. Pull in here to check in and catch the shuttle bus. The bus ride is about 3 miles down a very bumpy, but scenic, dirt road. 

When you get to the zip base, the guides make sure you are in your harness correctly and explain what the different parts of the gear are for. Very organized. The harnesses were surprisingly comfortable (relatively speaking) and you soon forgot you even had one on. 

Groups are small, we had 7 in ours, which was nice. Prior to starting the zip, there is a short ground school so everyone gets a chance to ask questions, get instructions, and try out the gear on a small zipline ...and it is only about 3 feet off the ground :) The tallest platform is 53 feet off the ground!

Ready for my first zip. I have to say I was not scared at all since AJ, one our guides, had us so well harnessed. After practicing at ground school and having my concerns addressed, I was just excited to go! 

When you climb up to the platform, you are hooked securely to a tethering zip. Then one at a time, you take off! There are 2 instructors - one to send you off the platform, and the other to guide you to the platform you are zipping to. Only one person at a time zips. It takes no effort to 'fly' through the air, you just let gravity do the work and use your breaking glove to slow down. The zips get progressively longer and higher as you go.

The first of two aerial bridges (120 ft.) we crossed. They sway a bit, so you need to pay attention and hold on, but it's not dangerous - you are still hooked up to a safety cable. Beautiful views of the boreal forest!

From this platform we did a 17 foot rappel. I have to say that this was the only thing I was (unnecessarily) nervous about. You are harnessed and under complete control of the guides, but stepping off backward into thin air made my stomach flop :) Once I took that first step, though, I felt silly for having worried - it's all about trust.

My daughter Spencer and husband, Scott - just hangin' around...

The last zip goes over Reflection Pond...about 600 feet of flying!

A shot of downtown Talkeetna. The West Rib restaurant is known for monster burgers, prompting the Travel Channel's Man v. Food to film an episode there! This is a charming town - be sure to leave some time to explore!

Stopped here for a post-zip coffee and yummy black bean brownie - trust me, they are delicious! The rosemary shortbread cookies were scrumptious as well. This gem of a bakery is several miles before you get to Talkeetna, after you take the turn off from the Glenn Highway. On the right, cannot miss it!

View of the great one, Denali.

To book your reservation for a really cool Alaska zipline experience go to their website: Denali Zipline Tours

Note: The guides take pics throughout the zip, so you have the option to purchase them at the end for $8 per person. They are emailed to you and are very high quality. The photos in this post with their logo in the lower right corner are the pics I purchased of our zip-lining experience.

DirectionsFrom Anchorage - Travel north toward Wasilla on the Glenn Hwy. (AK-3). Continue through Wasilla to milepost 98.7 on the George Parks Highway and turn right on the Talkeetna Spur Road - there are signs. Talkeetna is at the end of this long, straight and might I say very well-maintained road (about 14 miles). The Denali Zipline Tour office is on your left, in a small cabin, across from the Talkeetna airport. There is plenty of signage.  Allow 2.5 to 3 hours drive time from Anchorage.