Elk roasts liberally rolled in freshly cracked pepper and slow cooked with sweet onions, baby Yukon Gold potatoes and the chef’s choice of additional vegetables is an appealing meal that can be prepared virtually anywhere. Recipe below.
Over the years we’ve become big fans of Swiss Diamond cookware. Covered eggs cooked over very low heat in their non-stick frying pans are a revelation. Nothing sticks, and as long as the manufacturer’s instructions regarding overly high heat are followed, the surface on this cookware remains in excellent condition through years of regular use.
My favorite Swiss Diamond pan is their big, 12.5 inch frying pan. We call it The Wagon Wheel and it’s perfect for everything from baking a pizza to frying fish to slow cooking a roast in in the oven. The challenge with a pan this large is fitting it into some ovens – such as the one on our Lance truck camper. In fact, even storing a pan of this size in a camper is no mean feat.
So I removed the handle. Permanently. It’s around somewhere, safely tucked away along with the hardware used to attach it. On the camper, we don’t need the handle. Oven mitts suffice.
The elk roasts were a gift from a friend. The recipe is uncomplicated. The finished meal is hearty and has great eye appeal – the perfect meal with a glass of old vine Zinfandel on a rainy evening in Seward, Alaska.
Braised Elk Roast
- 1 pound elk rump roast or similar cut from wild game or beef
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped coarse
- whole small potatoes
- other vegetables as desired: parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, garlic cloves, mushrooms and even chunks of pumpkin or squash are all good candidates
- olive oil
- freshly cracked pepper
- sea salt
- sherry or red wine
- additional seasonings such as rosemary, sage or thyme, if desired
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. (Our camper oven only turns down to 300 degrees F – a little hotter than perfect, but still fine.)
- Heat light olive oil or similar frying oil over sufficiently high heat to create a sizzle when the meat hits the pan. Sear the meat on all sides. Use tongs to hold the meat if necessary. About 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove meat and set aside.
- Lower heat on pan to medium low. Deglaze pan by adding sherry or wine and use a spatula to gently scrape the brown fond created during searing. Slightly reduce liquid over medium to medium-low heat.
- Meanwhile place seared roast in a bowl. Roll the roast in olive oil, salt and freshly cracked pepper to give the roast a coating.
- Add additional olive oil to the pan as necessary. Add onions and other vegetables along with salt and pepper, stirring briefly to thoroughly coat with oil. Add the meat, cover the pan with a lid, and place in oven.
- Cook covered for an hour for a small roast, longer for a larger roast. Add additional wine or a little water to maintain a broth on bottom of pan, if necessary.
Bowhead whale mother and child: Walrus tusk ivory with bowhead whale baleen eyes set on bowhead whale baleen. The baleen is scrimshawed with marine animals commonly hunted for subsistence by the Inupiat people of Point Hope, Alaska.
As we’re preparing to leave Point Hope, we wanted a piece of local art to take with us – something that captures the spirit of Tikigaq (the traditional name of this village). Henry Koonook is both an outstanding carver and a friend, and so we commissioned this piece.
Detail, scrimshaw on baleen of ringed seal and walrus.
Henry still does most of his work with hand tools, using local natural media.
The entire piece measures about 11″ x 3″. Henry Koonook’s signature and the year the piece was created are visible in the lower right corner.
Bowhead whales constitute a vital part of the subsistence-based hunting and gathering culture in Point Hope. (Their numbers, which plummeted during the days when whaling boats from the world over pillaged the Chukchi Sea, are growing at a steady pace in recent years.) Seals and walruses are also culturally important. We are happy to take with us to our new home this piece of art that represent this beauty of this Arctic village by the sea.
How to improve the creamy texture and flavor of lemon cheesecake bars baked atop a sugar cookie crust? Sprinkle with sugar and torch it to add a crunchy layer of caramel!
After creating a delectable two-toned crème brûlée and a chai crème brûlée, we became hopelessly smitten with our kitchen torch and the multi-sensory delight it produces when applied to sugar crystals. We applied the technique to a different dessert with a creamy texture, cheesecake, and ended up with very satisfying results. We baked the cheesecakes in a rectangular pan so they could be cut into squares about two bites each, which is the perfect size – a miniature feast for the senses.
In recipes that call for sweetened condensed milk, we make our own. In addition to being less expensive and more natural, our homemade version has none of the tin-can aftertaste common to many canned products, and none of the harmful BPA manufacturers use to line cans. With the help of a stick blender, it’s easy to whip together 1 cup of powdered milk, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of boiling water, and 3 tablespoons of butter to create 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk. This homemade version keeps well covered in the refrigerator.
Lemon Brûlée Cheesecake Bars
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 oz. softened cream cheese
- 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp fine granulated sugar for brulee-ing, approximately
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8.5″ x 4.5″ glass loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour and vanilla until dough forms.
- Press evenly into the bottom of prepared dish. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whip cream cheese.
- Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Scrape sides and mix again.
- Pour in egg, lemon zest and juice.
- Mix until mixture starts to thicken, 20-30 seconds. Scrape sides and mix again briefly.
- Pour overtop cookie bottom and smooth the top.
- Bake 20 minutes or until cheesecake is completely set.
- Cool, then refrigerate.
- Cut into 16 squares and separate.
- Sprinkle the tops of each square with 1 teaspoon of sugar and spread around with finger to evenly distribute sugar. Torch the tops until the sugar melts and turns an amber color. (If you don’t have a torch, place under the broiler.)
Let the top cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.
Cloudberry jam swirled into these buttery scones creates an attractive twist on a breakfast, brunch or snack-time favorite.
With our date for departing Point Hope set for less than four weeks from now, we still have several jars of cloudberry jam on hand. I went to bed last contemplating creative ways to use this luscious pantry item and woke this morning inspired: Why not roll the scone dough jelly roll-style?
Since traditional scones dough is not very sweet, it lends itself to the savory or the sweet depending on what is mixed into it. This recipe would work nicely with any type of jam or savory spread.
Swirled Cloudberry Jam Scones
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- pinch salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) frozen unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
- cold water
- 3/4 cup cloudberry jam
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Grate frozen butter into flour mixture. Stir well.
- Whisk together eggs and yogurt.
- Pour yogurt mixture into flour mixture and knead together. Mixture will be sticky.
- Add cold water to mixture while kneading, a tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.
- Roll dough into a rectangle. Dough should be about 1/2 inch thick.
- Spread jam onto rectangle, avoiding edges.
- Roll dough up jelly roll-style.
- Cut log into 3/4 inch pieces.
- Place cut scones onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
- Let cool a few minutes before serving.
- Serve with lemon curd and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
This moist, flavorful cake topped with crunchy pecan streusel is ready for a hot cup of joe. Four bananas per loaf make for a fairly nutritious slice, as cakes go, and a good excuse for seconds!
If you read about our banana mochi bread, you’ll know we are experimenting with the bounty of black bananas recently bestowed upon us! After sampling the banana mochi bread, Jack “requested” the next creation contain nuts. (He made me strike the phrase “petulantly demanded.” Editors… sigh.) To satisfy his request, this recipe for banana coffee cake included pecans in the batter and also as part of the topping. Jack said, “Mmmmm.” Guess that was the best compliment he could muster with his mouth full. One loaf went in the freezer, and one remains out for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Banana Coffee Cake
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 bananas, mashed
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup soy milk (regular milk would work, too)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- generous tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together until well blended.
- Using a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until combined.
- Add eggs and vanilla, beat until combined.
- Add bananas and milk, beat until combined.
- Add flour mixture to banana mixture and mix until just combined.
- Pour half the batter in each loaf pan.
- In a small bowl, mix together topping ingredients.
- Crumble half of topping mixture on top of batter in each loaf pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Let cool on wire racks.
- Enjoy while still warm with a fresh cup of joe.
A delicious way to use the unusable, banana mochi bread has the moistness and flavor of banana and the dense, rich texture of mochi cake. Slathered with cream cheese this is a delicious afternoon snack.
Guided by a philosophy of not wanting to waste anything, we are sometimes the recipients of fruit past its prime. This week boxes of bananas arrived for snacks for our students at Tikigaq School in Point Hope, Alaska. Unfortunately, many had frozen on the plane on the way up. Most people will not eat thawed-out, blackened bananas. And then there are people like us.
The obvious response to these bananas was banana bread. I have a tried and true fruit bread recipe which I’ve used for bananas, blueberries, cloudberries, and pears. But this is the time of year to be a bit more creative in order to use up pantry items. With this in mind, I give you mochi banana bread. Mochi is a Japanese creation which uses sweet rice flour to make a dense, rich, but not-too-sweet dessert. With previous success baking a chocolate mochi cake, I wanted to give bananas a try.
The results of this experiment were a sugary-crisp crust enclosing the nicely dense banana bread I was going for. Blog worth! (Of course, we only publish the good stuff!)
Banana Mochi Bread
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup mochiko (sweet rice flour)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 cups smashed overripe bananas (about 6)
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (substituting applesauce will lighten the bread)
- 1 tsp Penzeys double strength vanilla extract (or 2 tsp regular vanilla extract)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix dry ingredients.
- In bowl of stand mixer, mix together all wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
- Stir dry ingredients into wet. Mix until just incorporated.
- Pour batter into loaf pan.
- Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
- Cool loaf pan on wire rack until it can be handled. Then remove loaf from pan and continue cooling on wire rack.