Sunday, June 28, 2009

In the Cloudberry Forest



Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie

*This advertisement has been plagiarized in its entirety from

Wouldn't this be a good time for a piece of Rhubarb pie?

One little thing can revive a guy
And that is a piece of rhubarb pie.
Serve it up, nice and hot,
Maybe things aren't as bad as you thought.
David caught me singing in the kitchen again this weekend. That always brings on much teasing, especially when I sing Kate Nash songs in my fake english accent. This is usually followed by David and the dog finding something productive to do in the garden. In any case this weekend David interrupted me during the chorus of...
Mama's little baby loves rhubarb, rhubarb,
Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.
Mama's little baby loves rhubarb, rhubarb,
Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.
and then as though on queue he said, "You should make a Rhubarb pie". To which I responded, "You can't make a pie with just rhubarb". Well apparently you can according to The Joy of Cooking, and so I did. I'm really glad I did because this Rhubarb Pie was even better than my singing. If any pie was to be the Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie, this would be it. True Rhubarb flavor and nothing else standing in its way. The Rhubarb is out there center stage singing its heart out.
Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie
adapted from The Joy of Cooking
SERVES 8
1 pastry for double-crust pie, sufficient for top and bottom 9 inch crust
5 cups of rhubarb cut into 3/4 inch lengths
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
Combine dry ingredients with rhubarb and let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour rhubarb into bottom crust, dot with butter.
Brush overhang with water, cover with top crust, seal edge and crimp or flute edges.
Cut steam vents into top crust.
Bake for 30 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and slide a baking sheet under pie, bake 25-35 minutes longer, until crust is browned and juices bubble through the vents. Let cool 15-20 minutes before serving or as long as you can stand to wait!
*Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie is a product of Prarie Home Companion and I apologize if this post makes absolutely no sense to some of you reading, or maybe you just assumed I have finally gone off the deep end. In any case, a friend recently pointed out, there is no NPR in Canada, and well the rest of the world. To learn more about Bebopareebop Rhubarb pie go here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Szechuan Noodles with Chicken

As much as I love to cook, sometimes I just don't feel like cooking. Despite the fact that it usually takes longer to eat out than eating at home considering drive time and the terrible service at most area restaurants. Sunday I just didn't want to cook, mainly because we didn't have much in the house to cook with. I had been sick all last week, so groceries were at a minimum. We did have some chicken, but no veggies to speak of, or rice, or potatoes, or pasta. So, I started nudging David towards brewery mode mentioning things like cold beer and pork sandwiches. This usually does the trick on Sunday night. No luck, he wasn't budging. So, I decided to make an honest effort and went through the cupboards one more time. Well, I did have a variety of noodles, chinese egg noodles, soba, and udon. So, off to the computer to find something to do with chicken and soba noodles. I had vaguely remember seeing a recipe for noodles on the Food Network while I was surfing last week. A few keyword searches and I found it Ina Garten's Szechuan Noodles. With a few adaptations and a little jazzing up dinner was on the table in less than 30 minutes...


Szechuan Noodle with Chicken
adapted from Ina Garten's recipe on the Food Network
serves two with sauce to spare for lunch the next day

Ingredients

for chicken:
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (peanut or canola)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sesame oil

for sauce:
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp.fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. dry sherry
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 pound soba or udon noodles
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)
2 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped
lime wedges for garnish

Directions
Place 2 tbsp vegetable oil in large non-stick skillet or wok. Add chicken and fry until cooked thouroughly. Add red pepper flakes and and sesame oil, toss to coat. Remove from heat.
Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, rice wine vinegar, honey, chili oil, sesame oil, and cayenne and black peppers. Puree the sauce.
Add a splash of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook the noodles according to directions on package. Drain the noodles in a colander, place in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with 1/2 of the sauce. Add the scallions and cilantro; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the noodles. Serve with a fresh lime wedge.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rose Water

Last summer with all the rainy weather I felt like I missed out on a lot of the perks of living in Alaska. Mostly the berry harvest. This year the warm sunny weather is bringing the wildflowers out not only much earlier in the season than previous years, but in bountiful numbers as well.

(I didn't pick these ones, they are lining the edge of the trail at Creamer's Field)

Of course I am hoping that all these flowers will bring on a bountiful berry harvest as well. To make up for last year I decided that I am not going to let anything go to waste, so when I saw all of these wild roses in bloom I broke out my book from the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service called Collecting and Using Alaska's Wild Berries and other Wild Products. This book has been my go to for most of the berries I have been finding, it is always a good starting place. The Cooperative Extension also has an extensive collection of free handouts at the Farmer's Market as well. It also appears that they have a pretty useful website that I am ashamed to say that I have not looked at until today. Since it looks like the starting point for any good rose petal recipe is rose water, I decided to start there...


Rose Water

1 cup of rose petals rinsed (if necessary) and dried 
1 tbsp honey
1 cup of waterBoil rose petals, honey, and water for 10 minutes, or until rose petals lose their color. Let steep up to 48 hours. Strain and keep in a covered container for up to two weeks.

I also decided to dry some rose petals in my dehydrator as well. I highly recommend doing this even if you are not going to eat the rose petals. The whole house smelled wonderful the next morning as I left the dehydrator running overnight.
I recommend putting a screen over the exhaust for your dehydrator. The petals are so small that they fall through the grates and eventually get blown out the bottom. I woke to dried rose petals scattered all over my kitchen, the majority of which blew all over the dog and his bed. Luckily, I was able to salvage a few that stayed in the machine.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

This coffee cake was originally call the "Big Crumb" coffee cake. I renamed it the "Big Mess" coffee cake. I swear I used every mixing bowl and measuring cup in my kitchen making this one. I found this recipe late last fall after Rhubarb season had ended. Unlike most good Alaskans I had not put any away in my freezer, I had no space left after I put away the raspberries and cranberries. So, I waited a long time and it was totally worth the wait. This is a really tasty coffee cake that keeps the integrity of the Rhubarb by not drowning it in sugar. I prefer my Rhubarb to taste like Rhubarb, which can be pretty tart. The cake batter actually popped through the crumb layer on top. Next time I will make sure and keep the crumbs more tightly packed together.
Once I finish washing all the dishes from this one, I'll be making another one soon...

Rhubarb Coffee Cake
from Smitten Kitchen
Time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling
Butter for greasing pan
FOR THE RHUBARB FILLING:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
FOR THE CRUMBS:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 3/4 cups cake flour
FOR THE CAKE:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.
2. To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.
3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.
4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.
5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spinach and Ricotta Calzones

Can you imagine what it would be like to go to one of your favorite bakeries in town and load up your car with 100 cinnamon rolls, along with endless brownies, scones, muffins, and two dozen still warm calzones? Can you now imagine that you have to drive this car load of fresh baked goodies across town without eating one of them? That was me this past Saturday. I was picking up all the goodies for the Wild Arts Walk at Creamer's Field. It took everything in me not to "steal" one of those fresh warm calzones from Bun on the Run. Since they were actually closed when I went to pick everything up, I had no choice but to make my own for dinner Saturday night. These are far more involved than our standard Saturday night pizza, but they were worth it because we actually got two meals out of it. I will give you fair warning that there were a lot of complaints (which I did not read until after I made it) online about the dough recipe. The recipe is really similar to my standard pizza dough recipe, which I can attest turns out perfect every time. I didn't have any problem with this one either, but a lot of folks said they had issues with the amount of oil and I must admit it seemed like a lot. The finished product was great and I thought they were even better warmed up for dinner last night. Don't forget to warm up some pizza sauce to serve alongside...
Spinach and Three Cheese Calzones
adapted from Tyler Florence on the Food Network

Dough:
1 package rapid-rising dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast with warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve, then let stand 5 minutes until foam appears. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and add salt. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time. When the dough starts to come together (add more water or flour if necessary), increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. (Prepare filling while dough rises) When ready, knead the dough gently and divide in 4 balls. Sprinkle the rounds lightly with flour, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Spinach and Cheese Filling:
15 oz. fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound baby spinach, washed and dried
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded fontina
1 egg beaten
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Drain the ricotta in a sieve to remove excess moisture. In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add the spinach, salt and pepper, and continue to cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander and squeeze out the excess liquid. Calzone filling should be fairly dry, because it may leak out or make the dough mushy. Combine spinach, cheeses including ricotta, egg, and pepper in a large bowl.

Calzones:
1 egg beaten
Cornmeal, for dusting

Place a pizza stone on middle rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. If you don't have a stone, simply grease a baking pan. Roll or spread the dough rounds into 10-inch circles, leave the dough slightly thick so that the filling will not escape. Spoon a generous amount of the filling onto 1/2 of the dough round
and brush the outer edge with egg wash to help form a seal. Fold dough over to enclose the filling and form a large turnover. Roll up the edges with your fingers to close tightly and prevent leaking. Cut a few slashes in the top to allow steam to escape during baking and brush with egg wash. Repeat with remaining rounds. Sprinkle a pizza peel (or prepared baking pan) with cornmeal and carefully transfer the calzones. Bake directly on pizza stone for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Let the calzones rest 10 minutes before cutting to allow the cheese to set.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

While Nicole was away at Yukon Flats, David took me on a long, hot, dusty hike. We struck up a deal, as long as I didn't eat anything gross he would let me drink from his Camelback (I'll be eating off the dishes in no time!). Still...it was really hot, I would have done anything for some relief from the heat. But, wait could it really be?
Yes! Snow! Oh how I missed you...Dig, Dig, Dig...
and roll...
Whoa, I'm sliding...
Still sliding...
That was fun, let's do it again...
Can't we just stay here? 

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Lemon and Asparagus

It is that time of year when our grocery store has asparagus displays placed on the end of every aisle and it seems like every cooking magazine and food blog has an article about asparagus. Ok, I know this is like a month ago for most of you, but here in Alaska we are just catching up. I originally saw this in Bon Appetit and then Smitten Kitchen posted about it, so I figured it must be pretty good. I made this one at home once and then again in this kitchen...

while visiting the Rusty Blackbird crew out at Yukon Flats. Who says you can't have a Gourmet meal in the wilderness? This recipe feeds a hungry crew of four in less than 15 minutes, or two lazy beer drinkers at home in less than 30 minutes!
I didn't have a grater out in the field, so I just cut off big chunks of lemon zest, squeezed them and threw them in the pot, that way we could see them and pick them out before eating.

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Lemon and Asparagus
adapted from Bon Appetit
INGREDIENTS
1 pound rotini, (or spaghetti if that is all you have!)
1 pound slender asparagus spears, (or hack them up with a dull knife in the field)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel (or large chunks with dull knife)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus sprigs for garnish
1 5- to 5 1/2-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese

PREPARATION
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until pasta is tender but still firm to bite, about 3 minutes longer.
Combine olive oil, lemon peel, and chopped tarragon in large bowl. Coarsely crumble in goat cheese.
Drain pasta and asparagus, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add hot pasta, asparagus, and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid to bowl with cheese mixture. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to shallow platter or a camp plate. Garnish with tarragon sprigs.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Raspberry Chiffon Pie

When I have to wait in line at the grocery store I like to browse through the magazines that I would never buy. I used to read People until I got busted one day by one of those friends who would never dream of picking up a People magazine. They never looked at me the same after that incident, in fact it was one of the primary reasons I moved to Fairbanks. I figured I would never live down the humiliation of shopping at Safeway (rather than the co-op) and reading People magazine in the check-out lane in a small town like Port Townsend, I think I might even have had some Lay's potato chips in my cart (oh, the horrors). In any case...I vowed not to make that mistake here in Fairbanks ( I only read my trash online in the privacy of my home now, although I must admit that I don't know who half those people are anymore). So, what to do while waiting in line at Fred Meyer? I usually pick up the latest Cook's Illustrated in the check out lane (now everyone thinks I am a freak for not reading People, I can't win). I have a subscription to Cook's Illustrated online which gives me access to pretty much every recipe they have ever published. Every recipe except this one that was featured on the cover of their summer entertaining issue. I guess they do not publish their specialty publications online. The great thing about the internet is that with a quick little google search you can usually find someone who has made the recipe you are looking for. I ended up finding this one on a fellow Alaska bloggers page, Batter Splattered. No wonder it looked so familiar, I follow Molly's blog regularly. From there I was able to find it on the Cook's Country site. I must say that mine does not look nearly as lovely as the distinctly three-layered one on the cover of the magazine, but it sure was tasty. It reminded me of an upscale version of Jello Light and Fruity pie that my Mom used to make.

Farewell to Yukon Flats




The Yukon River.

Here are a few parting shots from Yukon Flats. Brody says I am hogging the blog, apparently he and David did some fun things while I was away that they would like to share. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yukon Flats Part VI (How to catch a Rusty Blackbird, or not)

First you get up really early...
Then you look in some willows...
Then you set up a net...
and take some notes while you wait....
and then you catch some Myrtle Warblers! 

Yukon Flats Part V (4:00 a.m. Sunrise)



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