Alaskan Cuisine


This lemon-herb concoction is easy to whip up in a food processor and is great on fish or chicken.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 lbs fresh wild Alaska halibut, cut into 8 fillets
the peel of one lemon
6 sprigs of fresh organic thyme
1 handful of Italian parsley
1 tbs Land o’ Lakes light butter with canola oil, melted

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line a large baking dish with aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick spray.  Arrange the halibut in the dish.

Because you’re going to use the food processor, you can just peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler.  Combine the lemon peel, thyme, and parsley in the food processor and pulse until it starts to come together in a paste.  Slowly add the melted butter as you continue to process the lemon and herbs.  When you have a lovely fragrant paste, you’re done.

With a silicon pastry brush, cover the halibut with the lemon-herb concoction.  Bake the halibut covered for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until the halibut is cooked through.

How It Turned Out:

The fish was firm and flavorful, and paired well with a spring vegetable pasta.

Halibut

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I love simple recipes that result in something surprising and elegant. So I love that taking a basic salmon recipe and wrapping it in puff pastry makes it fancy.

Ingredients:

4 sheets of Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry dough, thawed
4 wild Alaskan sockeye salmon fillets (never ever ever eat farmed fish — ever!)
2 tbs Land of Lakes Light Butter with Canola Oil
the juice of one lemon
1 egg, beaten
black pepper

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with non-stick aluminum foil (or regular foil coated with cooking spray).

Combine the butter and lemon juice in a bowl.

Roll out the pastry dough and cut each sheet in half.  Place a salmon fillet on one half of a piece of pastry dough.  Brush the salmon with the butter and lemon juice, and then sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper.  Brush the three exterior edges with the beaten egg. Fold the pastry over the salmon and press the edges to seal.  If there is any excess dough at the edges or corners, cut it off.  Brush the top of the pastry pocket with egg and then transfer it to the cookie sheet.  Repeat with the remaining fillets.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry has puffed up and baked to a golden brown.  (I always cut into one to be sure the fish is done — 23 minutes seems to be the perfect time for pastry and salmon). Serve immediately.

How It Turned Out:

It got rave reviews.  I was eating ham, so I can’t say, but the plates were licked clean, so I think it was a hit.

Salmon in Pastry

My friend Jorden has a new cooking blog, The Rainy Kitchen. Jorden has a true appreciation for the soul of creating good food — and enjoying it. Her first post, fresh out today, is a smoked salmon and orzo salad with kale. Check it out!

Alaskan Brewing Company, Juneau’s own brewery, periodically releases these amazing limited edition and rough draft beers.  Just released on September 1st is an inspiring creation from the Pilot Series: Alaskan Perseverance Ale. It is a Russian Imperial Stout made with birch syrup and fireweed honey. It is a complex brew, wonderful to sip on a cold autumn evening.  And, while you’re sipping, plotting ways to incorporate it in all sorts of culinary creations.

Ingredients:

2.5-3 lb beef roast
1 bottle Perseverance Ale
4 shallots
6 organic carrots
1 1/4 cups organic beef broth
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 tbs butter
1 can organic tomato paste
3 cans italian green beans
Salt and pepper

How I made it:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Clean and peel the carrots and shallots.  Cut the carrots in half and place in the bottom of a dutch oven or covered roaster. Cut the shallots into quarters, except for one, which is diced.

Salt and pepper both sides of the roast, and then brown the roast on all sides in a nonstick skillet. Transfer the roast to the dutch oven, placing on top of the carrots. Scatter the quartered shallots around the roast and cover.

Deglaze the skillet with 1 cup beef broth and 1 cup Perseverance Ale. Add the garlic, diced shallots, and worcestershire sauce and stir as it comes to a low boil.  Pour over the roast.  Cover and put in the oven for 1 hour.

After the first hour, begin to prepare the mushrooms.  Clean and slice the mushrooms, then sweat them in the tablespoon of butter until tender.  (Remember not to crowd them in the pan. If your pan is too small, add them in batches.)

Take the roast out of the oven and place on a heat proof surface.  Add the mushrooms and replace the lid, but don’t put it back in the oven just yet. In the pan you used to cook the mushrooms, combine the tomato paste, 1/4 cup of beef broth and 1/2 cup of Perseverance Ale.  Stir as it heats, until it’s combined and smooth.

Pour the tomato mixture over the roast and spoon the rest of the “pot liquor” over it until it’s nicely combined. (Be very careful, your roasting pan will be hot.)  Continue to cook in the oven for 90 minutes.

Add the italian beans and return to the oven. Let sit in the oven, turned off, until ready to serve. Pairs wonderfully with mashed potatoes, which soak up all the gravy.

How it turned out:

Amazing!  The meat was tender, the gravy luscious. Potentially BETTER than Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon.

Special thanks to the best friends, one who gave me the immersion blender used in this recipe and the other who was willing to be the guinea pig for this easy bisque.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
16 ounces fresh wild crab (claw meat, not imitation)
1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes
1 box Pomi strained tomatoes
3 tbs basil (dried)
1 tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cup low-sodium V8 juice
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Gourmet Garden chili blend (in the tube in the produce section)

How I made it:

Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the crabmeat, the chopped tomato, and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the strained tomatoes and stir until thoroughly blended.  Stir in the flour, then the tomato juice.  Add the cream, ketchup, Old Bay and chili blend.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened.  Stir in the basil. 

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it’s smooth. Be careful — if you splatter it will be hot (I speak from experience).

Turn the heat down to low until you are ready to serve.  Makes 8 servings.

How it turned out:

Perfect!  Everyone at dinner tonight had seconds.  With a big salad and fresh whole wheat bread, it was a lovely winter Sunday supper.  A dollop of sour cream or a splash of hot sauce can add a bit more pizzazz, but it’s perfect as is. 

This is an easy supper, though it can take an hour or so.

Ingredients:

1 lb halibut, cut into three steaks
1 lemon
1 tbs herbes d’provence
olive oil

How I made it:

Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice of one half into a bowl.  Mix the herbes d’provence in with the lemon juice.  Spread the herb mixture on each side of the halibut steaks. 

Heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium to medium high heat in a non-stick pan.  Place the halibut steaks in the pan and cook until done through.  *I had trouble doing this in the pan, because the steaks were pretty thick.  I put them in the oven in a greased baking dish covered with foil for about 20 minutes to finish cooking. 

The result:

Flavorful and healthy, the halibut was great paired with a big salad and roast asparagus and sweet onion relish.  Next time, I’ll get halibut fillets instead of steaks, to make cooking a little easier.

Inspired by the July edition of Bon Appetit, I decided to adapt a couple of recipes for our Independence Day celebration.  Both turned out so yummy that they disappeared before I got pictures.

Grilled White Salmon with Thai Sauce

This is a spicy coconut sauce that was great with fresh Alaska salmon.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (regular, not lite)
the juice of one lime
5 tsp ginger paste (in the chilled section of the produce aisle)
3 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp diced serrano chili (no seeds or pith)
1 lb salmon fillet

How I made it:

Heat the coconut over medium-high heat.  Add each of the other ingredients one at a time, gently whisking to combine them all.  Let cook 3-4 minutes, until it becomes a little thicker.  Remove from heat.

Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce over the fillet and let sit for an hour (in a glass dish, preferably) before putting on the grill.  Reserve the remaining sauce in the refrigerator for later. 

Grill on a medium-hot grill until cooked through, flaking easily and no longer translucent in the center.  Reheat the remaining sauce in a glass bowl in the microwave.

Serve the fish with 2-3 tbs of sauce spooned over the top.

How it turned out:

Given how little was left over, I think it was a hit.  Very moist, with just the right amount of spice.

Soda Jerk Beans

These are a lighter version of the traditional baked beans.

Ingredients:

1 vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups root beer (use a rich artisanal one, not A & W)
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
3 tbs light or mild molasses
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs dijon mustard
2 tsp chili spice blend (available in the chilled section of the produce aisle)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

How I made it:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In an ovenproof pot or skillet, saute the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, until the onion just begin to turn brown.  Add the ingredients one at a time, saving the beans for last.  Stir until well combined.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

How they turned out:

A light and tasty version of baked beans.  They won’t be the thick or sticky kind associated with traditional baked beans, but they are full of flavor and a great side dish for food off the grill.

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