Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Carrot Flax Muffins

These are a nice, hearty muffin using Alaska grown carrots-which are some of the best due to our extensive daylight and perfect growing temps throughout the summer. These muffins are not really sweet but pack a lot of flavor in each bite.  They really grow on you - my husband (who doesn't usually eat baked goods) actually bagged them up to take on his most recent hunting trip. I took that as a good sign. ~Patti
1-1/2 cups AP Flour
3/4 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup oat bran
1-1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 cups carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup apple, peeled and shredded
1 cup chopped walnuts

Yield: 12 jumbo muffins

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In separate bowl, place eggs, vanilla, milk and applesauce.

Shred carrots and apple, chop nuts and set aside.

 Whisk eggs, vanilla, milk and apple sauce. Stir in carrots, raisins and apple. By adding these ingredients to the wet mixture, you will stir the batter less. Overworking muffin batter will cause muffins to get tough. No one likes a tough muffin ;)

Whisk dry ingredients together, then add to wet ingredients. Mix just until combined.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until golden and toothpick comes out clean.

Viola! Hearty, healthy muffins.

Pam's carrots - which are grown locally in Palmer, Alaska - are the best. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Alaskan' Kima

Kima, or Keema, means finely chopped and usually refers to a dish with minced meat, potatoes and peas. It's popular in certain cultures, often found in Indian and South Asian cuisine. I love this dish - it's quick and easy and if you like curry, you'll love it! It's simple to make ahead of time and just warm up before serving, making it a perfect meal after a hike on a brisk fall day. I used ground moose meat for this recipe. If you're fortunate enough to live where you can harvest wild game, by all means use it, but of course you can use beef and it tastes just as good...well, almost :) ~Patti
2 tablespoons oil
1 garlic clove
1 cup onion, diced small
1-2 cups peas
3-4 small potatoes
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pound ground moose meat 
2 tablespoons curry (I used a mix of hot and mild)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ginger

Serves: 6

Gather your ingredients. Measure spices, and chop onion and potatoes.

Make sure to dice potatoes small so they cook in a reasonable amount of time.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Saute onions and garlic. 

I left the garlic whole, but smashed. It doesn't burn liked minced garlic and it imparts plenty of garlic essence and flavor.  

Add meat to pan and brown, breaking it up as it cooks. Add spices.

Then add potatoes, peas, and the can of tomatoes (along with the juice). Give it a stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let it cook for about 20-25 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Serve yourself a nice helping and enjoy.

I have used leftovers to fill samosa's (savory little dough pockets). Just put everything in a food processor and pulse gently so you have more of a minced filling. 

These are potatoes from the potato farm behind my house. I love having these beautiful fields as a view. The pink blossoms indicate red potatoes and the white let you know the potatoes are white or yellow - cool!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chocolate Beet Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

"I'd never eat a beet, because I could not stand the taste. I'd rather nibble drinking straws, or fountain pens, or paste. I'd eat a window curtain and perhaps a roller skate, but a beet, you may be certain, would be wasted on my plate..." 
Haha - This about sums up what many people think about beets. But I am here to tell you that beets are not only one of the most nutritious veggies, they are also delicious! Beets grow very well in Alaska, and can be used in so many ways. This recipe is a great way to incorporate beets and some of their goodness into a decadent chocolate cake. While you don't really taste the beets, they add unbelievable moistness and heighten the overall flavor as well as add richness to the color. It's a little time-intensive but completely worth it! ~Patti
3 ounces dark chocolate
3 eggs
1-1/3 cups sugar
1-1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-1/3 cups beet puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate ganache:
9 ounces baking chocolate
 (or milk, semi-sweet - I used dark)
1 cup heavy cream

  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Makes a 10" round delicious cake.

Beets at the farmers market in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Chioggia beet, also known as candy cane beet, has beautiful red and white spiral stripes. For this recipe I used regular red beets.

Clean, peel and chop 3 to 4 large beets into small chunks. Simmer in a covered pot in just enough water to barely cover them. Cook until fork tender. Drain and place beets in blender or Kitchen-aid and puree. Measure out a cup and a half and set aside. 

Cake: Melt the chocolate in pan or double boiler. In separate bowl whisk together eggs, sugar and oil. Slowly add beet puree, melted chocolate and vanilla into the egg mixture. Beat just until combined.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to beet batter. Gently fold in until all is combined. Do not over mix the batter - just enough to blend all ingredients. I don’t recommend a kitchen aid, just a big spoon.

Prepare a 10" cake pan by spreading a teaspoon of melted butter (I prefer this) or oil over surface and then sprinkle flour all over – tap out the extra – then pour batter into pan.

Bake about 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Baking time can vary a bit depending on oven.

Ganache: Right before cake is done, make the ganache frosting. Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl (break it up if necessary). Heat cream in a pan on your stove top, just until is starts to barely boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until a smooth sauce is formed.

When cake is done, cool on wire rack, about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove cake from pan and pour still-warm ganache over the top and spread. I let it run down the sides. This frosting hardens nicely after cooling at room temperature for awhile. You can also refrigerate it to set it faster.

Six beet benefits:

1. Lower blood pressure

2. Increase stamina
3. Fight inflammation
4. Anti-cancer properties
5. Rich in nutrients and fiber
6. Detoxification support

...and as if these weren't reasons enough to get your beet on, the greens also pack tons of nutrients and vitamins and can ward off osteoporosis and strengthen the immune system. Use them in salads.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Potato Leek Soup - Vichyssoise

This elegant soup was originally created by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City in 1917 - although there has always been some dispute as to the origins: American or French...either way, it has stood the test of time and remains a favorite of many (myself included). It has few ingredients, but the fresher they are, the better. I used freshly dug potatoes from the potato field behind my house, leeks from my farmer's market, homemade chicken broth and half and half rather than heavy cream. It fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma as it simmers, and it can be served warm or cold. Pretty nifty. ~Patti
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks (all of the white part, a bit of the green) chopped
2 large potatoes, or about 2-1/2 cups, chopped small
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
salt & pepper to taste
green onion or chives for garnish
a dollop of sour cream (optional)

Serves: 6

This year's haul. Our yard backs up to a commercial potato farm here in the MatSu Valley in Palmer, Alaska. The farmer graciously allows us to 'gleen' the potatoes after he has harvested our neighborhood is pretty lucky!

Leeks love to trap dirt, so be sure to rinse them especially well after chopping.

Melt the butter in a large pot. Sauté leeks until soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add diced potatoes and the chicken broth. Let simmer about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Add half and half, stir, and warm through. 

Transfer soup to kitchen aid or blender (you can blend in batches if necessary). Blend until smooth. Garnish with minced chives or green onions and a dollop of sour cream if you like. Like most soups, it is almost better the next day!

Potato plants in the field near our home. The color of the blossom indicate the skin color. These are white or yellow potatoes...

...and these with pink blossoms are red potatoes!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Coho Salmon with Pistachio + Herbs

Coho, or silver salmon, is not as rich as a sockeye, so this super flavorful topping is a perfect match. The earthy herbs and sweet nuttiness of the pistachios is a winning combination. The butter makes it decadent. Really packs a powerful taste, and our taste-testers were unanimous in saying it was fantastic. This is a quick recipe, and the herb mixture can be made ahead so it's a perfect dish to impress guests! ~Audrey & Patti 
2 Coho salmon fillets
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup butter, room temperature and cubed
1/2 cup fresh herbs, (basil, Italian parsley and dill are nice)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup raw pistachios
Salt and pepper

Serves: 4-6

Gather your ingredients, cut salmon fillets into serving-size portions. 

Place butter, herbs, garlic and pistachios into a food processor. Puree just until a nice pesto-like sauce develops.

Pour white wine in your baking pan. Add salmon, leaving a little space between each piece. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and cover each piece with some of the pistachio-herb mixture and pop back into the oven for about 5 more minutes. Internal temp should read 145 degrees, but remove at 140 degrees or when it flakes easily - there is carry-over cooking and you want it moist.

This goes nice with a rice pilaf.

Note: If you have a bit of the herb mixture left over, blend with some mayo for a quick aioli on side- your taste buds will be in heaven.

At Jim Creek, in the MatSu Valley, Alaska - where the Coho (silver) salmon featured in this recipe was caught. That's the Knik Glacier is behind us!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Our Easy "Grilled Salmon" Stock

This is not an exact science or even the traditional stock method. It is a down and dirty version meant to give you a quick and flavorful stock you can use right away. For more intense flavor, we like to grill our salmon carcasses. Also, feel free to use vegetable scraps - stock is the perfect way to use them up. ~Audrey & Patti

4-5 char-grilled salmon carcasses
4 carrots, rough chop
1/2 onion, rough chop
6-8 celery stalks, chop
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white wine
8 cups water

The 1-2-3's of a quick stock:
1. Put first 8 ingredients in stock pot over low heat. 
2. Cut a piece parchment to your pot size, rub with butter and cover everything in the pot. This acts as a lid that allows air in. Sweating lets flavors release without actually cooking the veggies, it just softens them. Sweat for about 5-10 minutes.
3. Add water and wine and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Skim off any scum. Strain. Discard everything but the liquid. There you go, easy fish stock!

Audrey filleting salmon and saving the carcasses.

Lay out carcasses over a hot grill. If you don't have a grill, just place carcasses on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees in your oven for about 10-15 minutes, turning once.

Salt and Pepper. How beautiful does this look?

Grill 5-10 minutes per side.

Grilling adds the perfect charbroiled flavor to the salmon.

After cooling, simply pull off all the meat and use in Sockeye Salmon Chowder, Salmon Cakes, or even on a salad...the possibilities are only limited by your imagination:) You easily get 2 cups of bonus salmon off of each carcass.

So don't throw those carcasses away any more! Seriously. 

Sockeye Salmon Chowder

This is a lighter, brighter version of fish chowder, not as thick and heavy as usual, but still full of flavor. It is what you could call a 'summer' chowder. It makes use of the root veggies we have coming up now in Alaska, as well as the extremely flavorful meat from the grilled carcasses of sockeye salmon. If you have not taken advantage of this method of utilizing the entire fish, you are missing out. How To Grill Salmon Carcasses ~Audrey & Patti
2 cups cooked salmon, flaked
4-1/2 cups fish or chicken stock
1 cup half & half
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 cup onion, small dice
1 cup celery, small dice
1 cup carrots, small dice
3 medium potatoes, small dice
3 fresh corn cobs, kernels removed
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh or dry dill to taste 

Serves: 4-6

In large stock pot, sauté onion, carrot, celery and garlic in butter, just until softened.

Add 4-1/2 cups chicken or fish stock. Here is our 
Easy Grilled Salmon Stock recipe.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with lid on, about 20 minutes until veg are fork tender.

Add salmon, 1/2 & 1/2, corn kernels, squeeze of lemon and dill.
  (1 Tablespoon dried or 5-6 fresh sprigs) 

Heat through. 

Tip: If you want it thicker, make a roux out of stock and flour. We added about 1/2 cup of roux to this batch. 

Garnish with dill sprigs or chives

A nice piece of french bread on the side is a nice addition as well - enjoy!

We used the salmon from the grilled carcasses to make this chowder.
It gave it a nice, almost smokey flavor. Of course, regular cooked salmon works just as well.

Our day's catch of sockeyes - we limited out :) 

My husband says you have to pose like this if you catch
 on a fly rod...especially
 when you catch a beauty like this!

No cat fights here, just salmon fights - hehe.