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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

I have never thought of deviled eggs as sexy. A little more girl next door. It turns out that when you dress them up, they are hot. Isn't that how it always turns out in the movies, dress up the girl next door and she becomes a total babe? Well, these deviled eggs are the girl next door all dressed up for a night in New York City. I thought that adding smoked salmon would make them more Alaskan, but was I ever wrong. These girls were ready for a night on the town. I had so much fun with them that I made them twice this week. The first time I didn't get a chance to photograph them, which was probably for the better as I had originally placed the caper and red onion garnish on top of the eggs which made them look like they had little eyeballs staring up at you. Also, the garnish had a tendency to fall off. This time I placed the onions and capers in the egg cavity before piping in the yolk mixture. Either way, they taste amazing.
I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year before the clock strikes midnight on the East Coast. We still have a few hours before we even head over to the neighbors house to celebrate. Our eggs will definitely be more dressed up than we are, but that is the way things are here in Fairbanks. Wishing you all a safe an Happy New Year's Eve wherever you are!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Banana Barley Flour Muffins

It is hard after this past weekend not to appreciate local ingredients. Each Christmas Eve since we have lived here, we have gathered with our neighbors to celebrate. Each person brings enough food to feed all 20 people in the room. Everyone brings a bit of where they came from. Much of the food is either grown or raised right here within a few miles of our house. Yes, people are raising turkeys right here in Fairbanks. I don't know why this always amazes me, people moved here to homestead.  I look forward to the meal all year. I can honestly say there is no meal in any restaurant that I would trade for this one.
It also makes me appreciate the abundance we have here. I spend most of my year complaining about the lack of good food. The truth of the matter is if you can't find good food in Fairbanks, you aren't looking in the right places (hint: if you have to leave a tip, you are in the wrong place). Everyone I know is an amazing cook, sometimes I feel silly that I am the one with the food blog. There is so much to learn.
This morning I was ready to move past the crunching of candy canes and make something a little more simple. I didn't want to get out the food processor or the stand mixer. Just me a bowl, a wooden spoon, and some local ingredients. I was ready to start learning about barley flour. We now have locally grown and milled barley flour here in Alaska. I have never baked with barley flour before and I could hardly wait to give it a try. Whole grain flours get a bad rap for creating dense and dry baked goods. Barley flour isn't like that at all, in fact it turns out a lighter product than all-purpose flour. It is almost comparable to cake flour, with a slightly nutty taste. These muffins were light and moist and best of all quick and easy to make. Although I love most baked goods straight out of the oven, I felt these were even better after they sat for a while. This makes them great for a brunch buffet. I love that they contain local honey and barley flour. This is a good place to start if you are like me and have never tried barley flour before. You see, we all have a lot to learn!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sticky Gingerbread Cake

This recipe is another that I have been wanting to post for a really long time. Not necessarily this recipe, but a recipe for Gingerbread Cake. It has taken me about three years to find the perfect one. For the last two winters I have probably baked at least a dozen gingerbread recipes. Many were good, but none of them "the" gingerbread cake. It had to be spicy, and slightly sticky. This was the kind of cake you eat with a fork, one that holds a nice mound of whip cream. Finally, it had to resemble meatloaf! Ok, don't run away yet. It took me three years to find this recipe, trust me it is a good one, with a good story.
Many years ago my Mom and I went out to eat at a restaurant back home in Michigan. It was a place known for having a wide selection of really good desserts. I don't remember much about the dinner menu, but I do remember their grasshopper and mud pies. I believe it was during the summer when my Mom decided to order warm gingerbread cake with whip cream topping for dessert. I thought it was an odd offering for the summer and wondered how much they were selling during that time of year. Would it even be fresh? The waitress promptly brought my Mom her dessert. It was drowning in whip cream. Then my Mom took a bite and her face turned to a very confused expression. "I think this might be meatloaf", she said. It was the "this might be" part of the sentence that threw me off and I didn't totally believe it. I mean, how could it be meatloaf? Either it is gingerbread, or it is meatloaf, how could it "might be" meatloaf? My mom encouraged me to take a bite, but if it really was meatloaf smothered in whip cream, well I didn't want any part of it. So, we sat and stared at it for a while. The whip cream began to melt, finally I agreed to smell it. One whiff and there was no question that my Mom had been served meatloaf with whip cream for dessert. The waitress was really embarrassed when we told her she served up meatloaf for dessert. Turns out the restaurant kept the meatloaf and the gingerbread cut in similar sized cubes right next to each other in the freezer. She just happened to grab the wrong one, placed it in the microwave and served it up as dessert. So, now anytime someone mentions meatloaf, we have to ask if it was served with whip cream. I don't really remember what happened after the waitress took the meatloaf away. I do know we laughed until we had tears in our eyes, but I don't remember actually ever eating the gingerbread.  So, I went in search of a recipe for what that gingerbread should have been like had it actually been gingerbread. This one from Nigella Lawson is exactly what I imagined warm gingerbread cake with whip cream should taste like...when it is not meatloaf!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Candy Cane Biscotti

I found this recipe the same year I started this blog. That was over three years ago. I have had this on my list of things to make every year and somehow it always gets pushed to the end of the list and finally bumped off. I have never made biscotti before and I got the impression that it was going to be challenging. I guess I never really looked at the recipe very closely because I was surprised about two things. The first is that they are really easy to make, and second these ones are really tiny compared to normal biscotti. They are super cute and pack up nicely on a cookie platter. They are the perfect thing to dunk in a cup of hot cocoa. The original recipe leaves them a little chewier. I prefer my biscotti dry and hard (good for dunking), so I left them in the oven a little longer. Although the recipe calls for finely processed candy canes, I recommend you leave some medium size chunks. This will give your biscotti the nice bursts of color in the actual cookie. If you process the candy canes too much, they will just melt away. They will still taste good though!
I'm so glad I finally made them this year and am sure they will now make it on the annual Christmas cookie list.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Coconut Egg Nog (Non-Dairy)

When I am buying a new cookbook I usually look through the index to see what kind of ingredients the author is using. I do this for many reasons, first of all if I see too many hard to source or worse ingredients I don't recognize I will often skip it. It's not that I am not adventurous, but I while back I grew weary of trying to find specialty ingredients in Fairbanks. I have lived here long enough to know what's available and what is easy to find by mail order, even then I usually only order from places that I can get several things at once. I recently read an interview with Melissa Clark about her new cookbook and one of the things that convinced me to check it out was the fact that she said something to the effect that she wanted this book to be accessible to everyone, even someone buying their food from a basic chain grocery store. That describes me for sure. Although I doubt I'll be finding calamari in Fred Meyer in February, for the most part this book does ring true to that sentiment.
There is another reason I scan the index looking at ingredients. It is to see if the author and I have similar tastes. There are some foods that people either love or hate and I am aware that coconut is one of them. I personally am a coconut lover. When I say that there were no less than seven recipes with coconut in Melissa Clark's new cookbook there was no longer any doubt this was a cookbook I had to have. I played around quite a bit with the technique on this recipe. I wanted an eggnog that had some texture and was served cold, not room temperature as in the original.  If you are used to store bought egg nog, this one is going to be pretty light. It reminds me of a coconut drink I once had in Mexico with rum. Please feel free to adapt this with your favorite kind of alcohol, or none at all if that's what you like. Also, please note this recipe does contain raw eggs, so it's a good idea to know where your eggs are coming from. You can also use pasteurized eggs if you prefer. Happy Holidays and Cheers!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vanilla Bean Tapioca Pudding

I had not anticipated sharing a recipe for tapioca pudding this holiday season. Last week I stopped by the Fred Meyer store on the west end of town. If you live in Fairbanks you know that store has been a remodeling nightmare for months. Even though I live on the east end of town I often visited the west end store as they seem to have a better selection of products. In the last year I have only stopped in a couple of times because of the disaster the store has been. Last weekend I was in that part of town with 30 minutes to burn and my only task was to find an ATM machine. Since my bank isn't in that part of town, I decided to just run into Fred Meyer to check out the selection now that the remodel is near completion. I also figured I could just use the cash back option at the checkout, rather than pay the ATM fees. Well, this didn't end up being such a good deal as I ended up spending over $50 on items that weren't even on my grocery list. One of those items was a bag of small pearl tapioca. I love homemade pudding and started wondering why I have never made my own tapioca pudding. The recipe on the package seemed pretty easy, and turns out it really is super simple. I love the flecks of vanilla bean with the tapioca. You can also dress this pudding up with chopped nuts or dried fruit, maybe add some cinnamon or nutmeg for the holiday season. I prefer mine simple, and I actually like it best served warm or at room temperature. I recommend doubling the recipe as it seemed to disappear pretty quickly at our house.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sparkling Cranberry Cookies

I'm posting a little early this week as I am off to Anchorage for work this week. I have a busy schedule, but I am hoping to sneak in a couple of hours late Thursday afternoon for a little shopping. I purposely scheduled all my meetings downtown and didn't rent a car so I would be forced to walk. I prefer trips without a car actually, I think you see a lot more. When you have a rental car you increase your range and it feels like you spend all your time driving, at least I do anyway. I always want to try and see it all! In addition walking is really good for you, especially during the season of the holiday cookie. I know, more cookies....but these ones are actually somewhat good for you. Ok, maybe good for you is pushing it. I have really been enjoying the flavor of whole-wheat flour lately. I have gradually been incorporating it into more and more foods that I make and now I almost find baked goods made with all-purpose flour a little bit bland. I love the extra flavor the whole wheat flour adds. So, these cookies do come with a bit of a warning...if you are used to some of my usual recipes these might taste a little bit "healthy" to you. The process for making them is very similar to making scones which is probably why I like them so much. I actually thought about calling them itty bitty scone cookies, but that is just a little too cute.
These little cookies would be great packaged up as a holiday gift or hostess treat, a great little bite with a morning cup of coffee. Yes, you can have cookies for breakfast.
I simplified this recipe from the original making the entire dough in the food processor, I just caution you not to go crazy and over mix the dough. This method really cuts down on the number of dishes you use, but if you prefer you can remove the flour and cranberry mixture from the food processor and make the rest of the dough by hand to avoid over mixing. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Candy Cane Snowball Cookies

I actually made these cookies last week, right after Thanksgiving. I couldn't wait to start my holiday baking. Yet, I wanted to give you all some time to enjoy your turkey and give thanks before I moved into holiday baking mode here in this space. It just isn't Christmas to me, unless I have made a dozen different types of cookies during the month of December. I actually started collecting recipes with candy canes back in July.
In their nut form, I have always called these cookies Mexican Wedding Cookies. Last week, Not So Humble Pie posted Peppermint Tea Cookies. What a great idea, and I wondered if I could just adapt my recipe that I already love? Somewhere in the middle of my research I found that another name for these cookies is snowball. Candy Cane Snowballs sounded quite festive. This is another one of those holiday recipes that would be great for a cookie exchange or bakesale. I made them quite large as I didn't have any plans for them, but you could easily make them half the size (baking time will be shorter) and get quite a few more cookies out of each batch. I'm not sure they will replace Mexican Wedding cookies, but they would be a great addition to them on a holiday cookie plate. Also great for those who love delicate tea cookies, but can't have nuts in their diet.
This recipe calls for chopping candy canes in a food processor and then sifting out the powder from the candy cane chunks. Make sure you reserve the powder to sprinkle on top of the cookies. In the past I have purposely made a batch of candy cane powder to stir into hot chocolate during the holiday season. It also makes a great gift layered in a canning jar with hot chocolate. This recipe will leave you with at least 1/2 cup extra candy cane powder. I know you can find other great uses for it during the holidays.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Whole-Wheat Pear and Hazelnut Scones

I told you after my last post that I had pear and hazelnuts on the brain. Please be warned that these scones are unlike any of my previous recipes. I have been on this whole grain, nutty, hearty baked goods kick lately. Not to product drop, but I used the Bob's Red Mill whole wheat flour for these. It doesn't necessarily matter what brand you use, just make sure it is something hearty. These are almost the texture of cornmeal muffins. The bits of diced pear just melt in your mouth and then you get the occasional crunch of hazelnut. Let's just say that I was home alone and ate the entire batch over three days. I liked them, yes I did. 
The dough is much more wet than previous recipes, it needs to be to offset the whole-wheat flour. I used Red Pears, but you could use any kind. I was thinking these would be perfect for Christmas morning if you used both red and green pears. They still feel kind of festive even if you don't. Hope you like them as much as I did.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Morning Glory Muffins

I love the idea of a good hearty muffin for breakfast in the morning. A muffin that will bring you well past lunch, especially if you are someone like me who often looks at the clock to find it is 3:00 p.m. and you still haven't eaten. I always hate that feeling, should I just skip lunch and wait for dinner?
The thing is that a GOOD, hearty muffin is hard to come by. I can't tell you how many terribly dry Morning Glory muffins I have eaten from bakeries across the country. Very rare do you find a place that does them well, or a recipe for that matter. Then there is the whole raisin issue, I'm a bit weird about raisins, for the most part I don't mind them, but some days I really want nothing to do with them. There is nothing worse than biting into a cookie that you thought contained chocolate chips, only to discover it is a raisin cookie.
When I found this recipe for Morning Glory muffins that contained no raisins, but instead apples, I knew I needed to give them a try. They are really great, nice and moist due to the apples. The great thing is that you can trade out ingredients to make them how you like them. You could easily add raisins instead of the nuts, or leave out the coconut. I know there are a lot of coconut haters out there. The apples really are the key, so I wouldn't recommend leaving them out unless you replaced them with something like pears and maybe hazelnuts. Well, that's about enough to send me back to the kitchen. However you make them, I hope they come with a glorious morning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Well, I am starting to think about Thanksgiving. It is officially that time of year where everything starts revolving around food. Ok, maybe that is all year for some of us. The thing is that I have only started thinking about it. Thanksgiving is a mere two weeks away and I don't have any recipes bookmarked and no cookbooks piling up. You see, I am not much for tradition. I like to make something different every year.  It all started a few years ago when I decided to make all Mexican dishes including Turkey Mole for Thanksgiving. It is probably one of the tastiest Thanksgiving meals I have ever eaten. This weekend I started to think about what I should do this year. We really like Indian food, so I was leaning towards a curry spiced turkey. Indian food is great for a lot of side items, so I thought that would work well. Then I remembered these carrots. I made this dish for a potluck at the very end of the summer. The great thing about it is that it tastes great at room temperature. A perfect Thanksgiving side dish when the oven and fridge is packed full. A Moroccan Thanksgiving sounds good to me. Do you have any non-traditional Thanksgiving practices? I'd love to hear about them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apple Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

I have really been into the fall baking this year, in a really traditional way. Apples, pumpkins, spices, and molasses are making very regular appearances in my kitchen. I have even made hot spiced cider. I can't figure out if I am embracing winter or trying to hold on to fall just a little bit longer. It seems that I am moving pretty seamlessly through the seasons this year. These muffins are great for the end of apple season,  or the beginning of pumpkin season, or something in between. These are very durable muffins. I packed a few for David to take on the plane. The rest have been slowly disappearing at breakfast each morning. They seem to be holding up beautifully, still as fresh as the day I made them. You don't need to use walnut oil if you don't have any or just find it to be a bit too pricey. I'm honestly not sure it made a huge difference. I might actually try them with pumpkin seed oil next time as I have some left in the cupboard from another project. In any case, simple vegetable oil will also do just fine. Also, feel free to swap out the nuts with walnuts. The original recipe called for them, but I was out. The pecans great and I like them better than walnuts most of the time, although a combination of the two can be great as well. Nutty or not, these are a great morning treat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cinnamon Honey Butter

Many years ago I had an extended stay at a resort in Lexington, Kentucky. I was there for a wedding and we ate every meal for a week, with the exception of the wedding reception in their facility. I could not tell you a single thing I ate the entire time I was there except bread and butter, primarily butter. Now, I am not just saying this because I assume we ate bread and butter as pretty much every restaurant serves it. No, I am telling you because I actually remember the butter! Some special butter, huh? Every meal came with an assortment of flavored butters. Breakfast was a variety of fruit and sweet butters, then dinner had such things as basil butter and salt and pepper butter. They were always changing, but you always had a choice of three or four different types. They were always served piped onto a white plate. A great little touch that has obviously stuck with me.
This honey butter is the perfect little touch for Saturday morning pancakes or french toast, or maybe even just to smear across toast to make a weekday breakfast special.
You can pipe them out ahead of time on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer, once frozen transfer to a ziploc bag. Then you can take out a few when you start to prepare you meal, as needed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ginger Snaps

I am so ready for winter this year! I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. Winter is all about woodstoves and warm ovens. It's about long leisurely weekend mornings, sleeping in, breakfasts that are baked. Winter is a cold brisk walk followed by a cup of something warm to drink and a spiced cookie; curled up on the couch with my feet tucked under me and a blanket on my lap with the dogs fighting for the little corner that has flowed out onto the floor.
So, as the first few flakes of snow quietly fall on Fairbanks this week I can't help but prepare for winter. These cookies dipped in coffee are the perfect way to get things started. I have made these so many times that I had to check twice that I had not already shared them here before. Sorry it took me so long.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

When I started this blog it was to escape from the reality of living in Fairbanks. It wasn't exactly a secret that I wasn't too happy here. I wanted my old life back. I missed all the things that came so easy living in the Pacific Northwest. This blog was evidence of that. I constantly used hard to obtain ingredients in my recipes. Yes, I was kind and provided links to where I had ordered them from. Most of my recipes were challenging multi-step, expensive ingredient ordeals. For me, spending all that time in the kitchen was a means of escape.
Slowly, something started to click. Although I got a lot of great comments about my photos and how good the food looked, I was also getting a lot of comments to the effect of, “I could never do that”. The more involved I became in the food community, the more I didn’t want food to be difficult. I honestly believe that eating at home is easier, and much cheaper than eating out.
Despite my resistance, Fairbanks has been good to me. In the process, life has become quite a bit busier.  I want recipes that are easier to make. That is not to say that I won’t on occasion be making some more involved meals. You can expect things to be a little more basic around here. This Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake is the perfect example. It is perfect for the season, and makes your house smell great on a cool Saturday morning. It takes a bit of time to bake, but doesn’t use too many dishes, so you can take that time to enjoy a cup of coffee and relax. Isn’t that really what good food is all about?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Highbush Cranberry Jelly

Our first fall in Fairbanks I distinctly remember walking up the hill behind our house and exclaiming, "What is that smell?" This was not in a good way. This smell reminded me of a cross between gym socks and a musty old antique book store. I thought for sure that something had died and was decomposing in the leaves somewhere. Now, I don't know a lot about food writing...but I am pretty sure that you are not supposed to use smelly gym socks, and decomposing in the opening paragraph to describe something you are about to eat. Yup, I am about to go there. You see, I discovered the source of this fine scent was actually the highbush cranberry that was growing like mad along the edge of the trail. Surely they can't be edible? It turns out that they are indeed edible and often I now see highbush cranberry jelly at the Farmer's Market. I myself could never imagine making such a thing. Really, how could I even stand to pick them? I have to hold my breath each time I walk past them.
How was it that I ended up not only picking 4 cups of these berries, but bringing them into my house and cooking them? I blame it on Hank Shaw. That's right that Hank Shaw from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. It is his fault. I have been a fan of Hank's site for a couple of years now. I finally had the opportunity to meet him (only for a brief moment) at Blogher Food in Atlanta last spring. The one piece of advice he had for me was that I needed to try the moose meatballs from his site. He said, "they will blow your mind". So, I patiently waited for moose season to come around in Alaska. We don't hunt ourselves, but someone usually kindly offers us a little moose meat each season. A couple of weeks ago I finally found myself with the moose meat I had been waiting for. This is when I realized that Hank's recipe called for one dreaded ingredient, highbush cranberry jelly. Now, to be fair he did mention I could substitute lowbush cranberry (lingonberry) jelly. I really wanted to try the recipe as it was intended. I suffered through the picking, and jelly making, and even as I took the photos for this post. In the end I was glad I did, the meatballs were amazing, but it was the sauce that really made the dish. The highbush cranberry added a real earthy taste. I don't see myself smearing this jelly on toast anytime soon, but I will be making the meatballs and the highbush cranberry sauce again for sure.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Congo Bars

This time of year it becomes painfully obvious when I have not been keeping up with this site. Especially when I choose to take photos outside. These photos were only taken a few short weeks ago and yet there is still fireweed in our yard and the trees are green. Since then we have gone to bright yellow and sadly this morning with a little wind most of the leaves have fallen leaving a bright yellow blanket on the ground.
Although I made these congo bars a few weeks ago, I think they are actually more appropriate for this time of year. I read somewhere that these were named congo bars in a marketing effort to make them sound exotic. I have always been a fan of chocolate chip pan cookies and honestly these are them, just with a fancier name. I prefer making this type of pan cookies as they are far less work. No endless scooping and swapping out pans. Not to mention they are great if you are feeding a crowd, but very bad if you are home alone! I used a mix of pecan and walnuts because I didn't have enough of one or the other. Feel free to choose one if you have a preference.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eat Your Books

Do you know how many cookbooks you own? Above is what my kitchen bookshelf looked like only a few months ago. The photo at the bottom was taken over a year ago. This is only about 25% of the total cookbooks I own. I rotate the cookbooks on this shelf according to the ones I use the most, so they are the most convenient. The shelf changes depending on what new cookbooks I have and also varies by season. You will see that some have a permanent home on the kitchen shelf. The truth of the matter is that until very recently I rarely used my cookbooks for every day cooking. Sure, when I first purchase them I look through them and cook a few recipes, then they go back on the shelf. The problem is that the internet is so much more handy when it comes to finding a specific recipe. Although I love my cookbooks and would never have given them up, I just didn't find them useful for finding something for dinner. Even though I have a couple of cookbooks specifically for that task.
My internet recipe habit has lead to extreme cookbook guilt. Why have all these cookbooks if you aren't going to use them, I ask myself? Well, thankfully I'm not the only one who must be having this problem. A couple of months ago I signed up for a new service called Eat Your Books, I mentioned them back in July in this post. I initially signed up for the free trial, but after entering only a couple of my books I realized what a valuable tool it was going to be and paid for the full year subscription. You see, you can search all of the cookbooks you own just as you would for a recipe on the internet. You find what you are looking for an then pull the book off your own shelf to get the recipe. Not to mention I can tell you that I own 143 cookbooks that contain 20, 487 recipes!
I am still using the service and my cookbooks regularly. About a week ago I was having a late night craving for chocolate chip cookies. The thing is that it was late and the idea of scooping out endless cookies and cooking several batches did not sound all that fun. Sometimes I want to bake, other times I just want to eat cookies! So, I typed chocolate chips, nuts, and bars into Eat Your Books and came up with a great recipe for Congo Bars, essentially chocolate chip cookies without all the work (don't worry, I'll post this recipe soon). The recipe was in a very small book that would be lost in the shuffle normally. If this had been a few month ago I would have immediately looked for a recipe on the internet.
Ok, so why would I be telling you all of this? Well, I honestly believe it is a great product and wanted you to know about it. Also, the more people that use it, the better it becomes as there are sections to review the recipes you have made with other readers. Plus, I really don't want it to go away.
***The giveaway that was originally associated with this post is now complete. Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to the winner. The winner has been notified and has accepted their prize.
Full Disclosure: The views expressed in this post are all my own. I contacted Eat Your Books to ask them if they would like to offer a giveaway on my site. They in turn offered to provide a lifetime membership to the winner of the giveaway.
In addition I was personally offered a free lifetime membership and they have also offered to link all my recipe posts from cookbooks in the review section of their site. I am thrilled to be accepting both offers.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Moroccan Carrot Hummus

I don't remember being such a big fan of carrots before moving to Fairbanks. In fact I don't really remember getting very excited about vegetables at the market at all. I liked them all well enough, but always took them for granted. The last vegetable I remember getting really excited about was romanesco. I remember the first time I saw it at the Port Townsend Farmer's Market. I didn't know what it was, but I had to have one. Since then I have tried it several ways, but my favorite way to eat it is still raw. It makes a beautiful presentation on a vegetable platter along with a nice dip such as this roast carrot hummus. I like adding harissa when I am serving it with romanesco as I think it pairs nicely with a little spice. If you like things a little more mild, feel free to leave it out.
These days I get excited about all the vegetables. I can't wait to see what is at the market each week. This time of year I especially love roasting all the lovely root vegetables. Not only are they delicious, but roasting them keeps the house a little warmer too.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Caramel Apple Cake

Three years ago today I started this blog. As each year goes by I can hardly believe I am still going at it. They say that blog years are kind of like dog years, each one equals seven. So many people come and go each year, last count it was said there are over 11,000 food bloggers. I honestly thought food blogs were going to be a fad. I figured everyone would have moved on to something else by now. Yet it seems that this community keeps on growing, while becoming closer than ever. This space has always been about community to me. It started with exchanging some jelly very soon after I got my start. It eventually grew into following a few other bloggers and eventually they followed me back. Finally, about a year in I started meeting some of those people in real life. Real friendships have blossomed. The blog has grown, and I have learned so much in the process, and I'm not just talking about cooking.
Every year at this time I get a renewed excitement about this space. Maybe it is the fact that we try not to turn the heat on until October, so I find myself lingering in the kitchen a lot more. Fall is a time when things start slowing down. The leaves are already changing to yellow. As much as I love summer veggies and fresh greens, there is nothing more comforting to me than the foods of the fall season. I find much more inspiration in root vegetables, apples, pears, and cranberries.
So, this week I asked around the office as to what kind of cake the blog might like for its birthday. I initially received a lackluster response. You see, they haven't really caught on yet that the blog can't actually eat cake. There are always leftovers when I make food for the blog. Once I explained the situation it was obvious that everyone was feeling the effects of the cooler and shorter days. All the requests were for fall flavors. What better cake for this fall weather than caramel apple? This recipe is pretty involved, I recommend spreading the work over two days if you are going to tackle this project. I made the cake and caramel sauce the first day. The next I made the frosting and assembled the cake. I also had a little trouble with the frosting separating, but after a lot of mixing on high speed it eventually came back together. I had almost given up on it, I'm glad I didn't.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cajun Halibut

I never really know what to do with fish. The problem is that I really like fish, so I enjoy eating it broiled, or grilled. I like it plain and unadorned. A simple squeeze of lemon sometimes, but thick mayonnaise based things like tarter sauce are strictly prohibited. I often make fun of the food I grew up with in the midwest, the bland flavor. I joke with my mother that ketchup is too spicy for her. When it comes to fish I am still that girl who grew up on Lake Superior. With the exception of Walleye, which was always served breaded, all other fish was simply baked or grilled in the summer. That's the way it should be. Because of this I have always had a hard time with fish as an ingredient, such as fish soup or chowder. It took me a really long time to get used to the idea of fish tacos. Now that we live in Alaska and have a freezer full of fish thanks to David's friends Sarah who gave us a freezer full of salmon last year and Lorna who recently gave us a generous supply of halibut, I feel like I can finally branch out a bit and try fish dressed up a little bit and maybe even add a little spice. This Cajun Halibut is not too spicy, if you like it really hot I recommend a heavy hand with the cayenne.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sugared Raspberries

Despite how things may appear, I actually don't do a lot of canning. That's not to say that I don't put away a lot of our summer bounty. It is mostly berries that I put up, and I freeze them. I use them in baked goods all winter long. There is nothing better than blueberry muffins in January. A sweet taste of summer. That is why I enjoy freezing my berries, they retain that taste of summer flavor you just don't get from jams, syrups, or liquors. I like those things too, but there is nothing better than the bright flavor of summer berries.
That is precisely why I like the sugar method of preserving raspberries. Although it uses a lot of sugar, the berries are not cooked. Using this method they retain their bright summer flavor. You can use these preserved berries as an ice cream topping, a cake or pie filling, or spoon a little over your oatmeal. I have to confess once December rolls around you will most likely catch me with the fridge door open, my spoon in the jar trying to capture just a little bit (or bite) of summer.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beet Hummus

Some people complain about too many zucchini this time of year. Well, we have those too. The one thing I am really trying to figure out what I am going to do with is all the beets we have right now. Yes, I'm sure there will be borscht before all is said and done. Before I tackle that challenge I decided to make this beet hummus that I have had bookmarked since last year. I have never gone out of my way for beets, but it seems like I have been having so many wonderfully prepared versions lately, I just find myself craving them. The color is really hard to resist too.
I find that beets pair amazingly well will orange. I have had a few beet salads that included that flavor combination. So, I decided to try it out with this beet hummus and again the combination was a winner. Use this just as you would regular hummus, either as a dip or a sandwich spread. You could also make some pretty fancy looking appetizers placing a dollop of the beet hummus on sliced cucumbers or crackers and then adding a bit of grated carrot on top. The color combination is quite striking. So, if you too have a few extra beets in your garden this year I recommend giving beet hummus a try. I still have plenty more. If you have any winning beet recipes, I would love to hear about them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Carrot and Blueberry Salad

It is getting close to that time of year again.  The time of year when people stand in line at the opening of the farmers' market, waiting. Waiting for what you ask? Carrots, yes really carrots. Fairbanks is home to the best carrots I have every tasted. Not only are they sweet, but they are plentiful too. I started collecting carrot recipes early last spring for this years harvest.
So, at one point I found myself googling carrots and blueberries and doing a recipe search to see what I might come up with. At the top of the search was this simple carrot and blueberry salad. It reminds me of a salad that was popular in the 1980's that was made with raisins, it seemed like it made an appearance at every potluck. This is a fresher, updated version of that salad.

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