This zesty, robust soup will take the chill off even the coldest weather.
We’d been thinking about creating our own salmon sausage for quite some time, but it took the beautiful recipes in our recently acquired copy of The Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook to get off the stick. Turns out, there’s nothing to it. Use a food processor (or a stick blender with a nut chopper) to grind up salmon (or just chop it up fine with a sharp knife), mix in your favorite seasonings, and bind with egg whites. Tightly roll up this mixture to the thickness desired in plastic wrap, put a twist in the middle to separate the sausages, twist and tie off the ends, boil for 10 minutes, and voila! Salmon Sausage. Although we used Coho Salmon fillets from one of our summer catches, this same method would work beautifully with canned salmon. And there’s no reason to confine yourself to salmon. Chopped clams, halibut, rockfish, crab, scallops or some of Alaska’s spectacular deep water prawns could go into this sausage as well. We can’t wait to try this recipe again with some of our smoked salmon.
As to the soup… We created a minestrone-type broth using canned tomatoes. To that we added white beans, oven-roasted carrots, salmon sausage, reindeer sausage and Swiss chard. We also added sweet onions, colorful Swiss chard stems and garlic that had been sautéed in olive oil. Seasonings included oregano, marjoram, a little thyme and a splash of white wine. We finished the soup with smoked sea salt. Served with toasted sourdough bread and a homemade hefeweizen, this is a bowl that takes the chill off!
This delicious little dessert was supposed to be for two. Fudgy, chocolatey, with a nutty crunch and a hint of caramely bourbon. Maybe it wasn’t enough!
We had just finished dinner – bowls brimming with homemade clam chowder served with a hunk of toasted garlic sourdough on the side. The forecast was for snow, but instead Chignik’s famously howling winds were slamming our house with torrents of icy rain blown sideways. Soup alone was not enough in the face of such weather.
We had a stash of chocolate squares to nibble for dessert, but even those didn’t sound satisfying. Something quick and freshly baked might do the trick, I thought. Armed with a six-inch cast iron skillet, a few tablespoons of this and a dollop that, 25 minutes later all that was left was the two bites you see above. Well, that’s not true. We paused for a photographic intermission and then devoured the last two bites. Now that was satisfying!
Bourbon Pecan Mini Skillet Brownie for Two
- 5 tbsp all purpose flour
- 6 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 ½ tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
- pinch salt
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil, we use canola
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp bourbon
- 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup pecans, chopped coarse
- Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease 6” cast iron skillet.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
- Add in oil, egg, and bourbon.
- Stir until well mixed.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Fold in pecans.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Center should look done. Cook a little longer for a more well-done brownie. We like ours nice and fudgy, so 20 minutes was perfect.
- Let cool for 10 minutes and then dig in!
Rain, rain and more rain here at The Lake – but any day that begins with a hot mug of joe, pumpkin waffles and tasty wild salmon sausages has gotta be great!
I first made these sausages when a wintery-cold weekend had us craving bean and sausage soup. With ample quantities of three types of beans in our larder, the bean part of the soup was no problem. But alas, the last of our store-bought meat sausages had long ago disappeared. Although I’d heard about salmon sausage, I wasn’t sure how to go about making them. Barbra came to the rescue. She recalled having come across a recipe while leafing through our copy of Kirsten and Mandy Dixon’s The Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook.
The Dixons’ recipe is simple and lends itself to countless modifications. Any reasonably fatty fish works well, and scallops, shrimp, crab or other ingredients (think wild blueberries or lingonberries) can be feathered in to create unique and tasty variations. As for seasonings, we enjoy combinations of fennel or tarragon coupled with smokey chipotle pepper. Sautéing these sausages in soy sauce just prior to serving them or using them in other dishes adds a smack of umami.
Wild Salmon Sausages
- 2 tbsp shallots, chopped fine
- olive oil
- 1 pound wild-caught salmon fillet, skin removed, or use canned salmon
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp ground fennel
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp powdered chili mix – a mix that features chipotle, smoked paprika and mesquite works well. See here for a terrific DIY mix.
- a pot of simmering water
- soy sauce
- Heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Add shallots. Sauté briefly, just till shallots are cooked through. Place shallots in a large mixing bowl.
- Use a sharp knife to finely chop salmon fillet. Add to mixing bowl.
- Add egg, seasonings and spices to mixing bowl. Stir all ingredients together thoroughly.
- Arrange some of the salmon mixture lengthwise a couple of inches from the edge along a sheet of plastic wrap about 14 inches long. Leave a couple of inches of space at both ends of the plastic sheet. Roll/wrap the salmon mixture in the plastic, creating a sausage shape. At one third of the length of the sausage roll, gently twist the plastic wrap to separate the salmon into separate sausages. Repeat to create a total of three separate sausages.
- Twist the ends of the plastic to close. Rubber bands can be used to ensure the plastic stays closed.
- Repeat with additional plastic wrap sheets until all the salmon mixture has been formed into sausages.
- Place enough water in a large pot to cover the plastic-wrapped sausages and bring to a light boil. (A sauterne works perfectly for this.) Gently place the wrapped salmon sausages into the water and simmer for 10 minutes. Occasionally move the sausages to ensure that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove sausages from water. Let cool and then unwrap them. (Left wrapped, they can be placed in a zipped plastic bag and stored in the freezer.)
- To serve: In a frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Arrange sausages in the pan – they should sizzle. Drizzle each sausage with soy sauce. This will add an agreeable amount of salt and brown them up. Since they are already cooked, simply heat the sausages through.
The crème de la crème of frozen desserts – creamy spiced pumpkin ice cream on a layer of caramel sandwiched between the chewy perfection of oatmeal cookies. The whole creation is dipped in a rich, crunchy chocolate coating.
December may not be the time that most people think of ice cream. But in our home, this is the time of the year when camping and fishing gear are stowed away and the stormy weather outdoors has us working on projects inside. One of my favorite winter hobbies is creating with baked goods.
I’m not sure what caused me to think of It’s Its, but somehow they overtook my thoughts last weekend. It’s Its are a San Francisco frozen creation that I was introduced to during a visit to the great city while in high school. It is really a simple dessert – vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies and dipped in chocolate that instantly hardens. Simple but a perfect balance of flavors and textures – the ingredients have so much flavor and the cookies have the best texture. The sandwich is messy enough that you have to pay attention to the potential loss of ice cream, chocolate bits and cookie, but it manages to stay together long enough so you never lose one little bit.
This time of the year, I’m drawn to pumpkin-flavored creations. This being the case, I have a quart of homemade spiced pumpkin ice cream tucked away in our freezer. I also had a jar of caramel topping in the fridge. An It’s It-type dessert made with this ice cream and topping seemed like a winning combination. All I needed was a chewy oatmeal cookie and a chocolate dip that hardens and then cracks just right to turn this memory into a reality with a pumpkin-caramel twist.
Let the experiment begin!
Would the caramel be too hard? Would the frozen cookies remain chewy? Would the coating have that wonderful crunch? The answer, as you’ve probably guessed, is a resounding Yes! They are a bit time consuming to make because of having to wait in between steps for freezing. It’s totally worth it. After all the time put in to making these at home, we have eight delicious ice cream sandwiches to enjoy and to share with friends.
Pumpkin Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches
- 8 scoops pumpkin ice cream (click here for recipe)
- 16 oatmeal cookies (see below)
- caramel ice cream topping
- chocolate dipping sauce (see below)
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pair up oatmeal cookies so that cookies are of equal sizes.
- Spread caramel topping on one side one of the pair of oatmeal cookies.
- Place one scoop of ice cream atop caramel topping.
- Sandwich second cookie atop ice cream.
- Place sandwiches on prepared baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.
- While sandwiches are freezing, prepare chocolate dipping sauce.
- Use a pair of forks to maneuver sandwiches. Place one sandwich at a time into dipping sauce. Flip sandwich. Remove from dipping sauce and place back on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Repeat with all sandwiches.
- Freeze for one hour.
- Enjoy right away or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep in the freezer until you are ready to eat.
Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ cup rolled oats (instant or regular)
- Combine butter and sugars. Mix well.
- Add vanilla. Mix well.
- Add egg. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
- Mix flour mixture into butter mixture.
- Stir in oats.
- Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375° F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scoop out dough and roll it into 1-inch balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheet.
- Flatten cookies with fingers, or base of a flat glass. Use a small amount of water on your fingers or on the bottom of the glass to prevent sticking.
- Bake cookies for 8 minutes.
- Allow to cool in pan for a couple of minutes. Finish cooling on a wire rack.
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
- Place chips and coconut oil in top of double boiler.
- Melt mixture over simmering water.
- Stir thoroughly.
- Use coating immediately in above recipe.
Moist chocolate cake infused with orange topped with super creamy rich chocolate buttercream frosting…. happy birthday to me!
Another stellar recipe from my Williams-Sonoma Baking book. I can’t say enough good things about this cookbook. Every recipe is great. In addition to being great recipes, they are also great bases to build from or tinker with. For my birthday, I had narrowed down my celebratory dessert to three chocolate wonders from this cookbook. The combination of chocolate and orange is my all-time favorite, so the chocolate orange cupcakes won. The picture says it all – these delicious little cakes will start a party just by showing up.
Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
- 3 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ unsalted butter, melted, at room temperature
- 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
- In a small bowl, stir cocoa with hot water until it is dissolved. Set aside.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl.
- Mix orange zest into flour mixture. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs and granulated sugar together.
- Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla.
- Whisk in cocoa.
- Whisk in melted butter.
- Stir in flour mixture.
- Spoon batter into each muffin cup. Fill each cup about ½ full.
- Bake cupcakes until puffed and a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Let cool completely on wire rack. Remove cupcakes when pan is cool.
- Make frosting. Put chocolate chips in top of double boiler. Melt chocolate over simmering water. Let cool to room temperature.
- Beat butter and confectioner’s sugar until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Beat in melted chocolate until well-mixed.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 12mm star tip (1/2 inch) with frosting.
- Pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake.
- Refrigerate the cupcakes until 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting.
Tis the season for decadent desserts! Imagine a bite of smooth, sweet almond swathed in fresh raspberry jam atop flaky layers of buttery piecrust. Oh yeah!
Sure, our Thanksgiving always ends with Jack’s pumpkin pie. It’s a delicious tradition we don’t skip. When we plan the big feast, one dessert never seems to be enough. Some years, the second dessert has been a caramel apple pie, a lemon meringue pie or even a chocolate layer cake. This year, I really wanted to use almond paste that I sent out in our annual shopping. It’s an ingredient I rarely use, but love so much. Many years ago, when I first discovered bakeries and baked goods, I would always go for almond croissants. The combination of the sweet, smooth almond paste and the buttery, flakey croissant were irresistible. This tart has the same elements along with an added bonus – homemade raspberry jam. Some of the jam I made this year was a freezer jam. In other words, it wasn’t cooked. The fresh berries are stirred with some sugar and pectin and put straight into the freezer. This method of making jam preserves the fresh bright flavor of the raspberries straight from the vine.
The tart starts with a buttery, flaky piecrust that is partially blind baked to keep it light and airy. The crust is brushed with jam and then covered with an almond paste mixture, which is the main event. The whole tart is sprinkled with almond slices which provide the finishing touch. What a delicious combination! We all enjoyed the beautiful and delicious addition to this year’s table. Sadly, it is now just a fond memory.
Raspberry Almond Tart
- pie dough for one crust
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 oz. almond paste, cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup good quality raspberry jam
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- Roll out dough to a 12-inch disk. Cover a 9 ½ inch tart pan or a 9 inch springform pan.
- Trim off excess if using a tart pan. If using a springform pan, trim off dough 1 ½ inches up the side of the pan. The dough will shrink when baked, so make sure to extend the dough higher than you want your end product.
- Freeze the shell for 30 minutes or until firm.
- Place oven rack in lower third of oven. Preheat to 375° F.
- Partially blind bake shell for 20 minutes. Shell will be done when it is pale gold and dry looking.
- Remove pan from oven and cool on a wire rack.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.
- In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth.
- Add almond paste, a couple pieces at a time. Continue beating until smooth. Add more pieces and repeat beating. Continue with remaining almond paste pieces.
- Add sugar to almond paste mixture and beat until smooth.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
- Stir in flour.
- Spread jam evenly on base of tart shell.
- Spoon almond mixture atop jam. Smooth the top.
- Sprinkle almond slices evenly over tart.
- Bake until filling is golden and the middle is firm, 35-45 minutes.
- Cool on wire rack.
Serve at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book
Warm from the oven or cooled and ready for a party, these crispy little wafers with a hint of sweet, a hint of wheat and a touch of salt are sure to please.
A Thanksgiving gathering at our house prompted me to come up with an appetizer that I could conjure out of our bush kitchen. In other words, I couldn’t pop over to the nearest grocery store to pick up phyllo dough or other fun ingredients that I might have available back when I lived in a city.
A great ingredient we do always have on hand is salmon – in this case I had in mind a jar of smoked salmon. We also happened to have a block of cream cheese in our freezer. Mix those two and you have a show-stopping spread. Yummy appetizers with smoked salmon spread can be served on many tasty items – mini bagels, crepes, crostini, and of course, crackers.
I love making homemade crackers. They have a satisfying crunch and flavors of their store-bought siblings. But the homemade versions lack the stabilizers and other mystical, less than healthful ingredients. These thin wheat crackers are no different.
You can simply roll out the dough with a rolling pin, but in this case I ran the dough through my pasta roller. The pasta roller not only produces thinner dough than I can achieve with a rolling pin, it also creates more uniformly even dough resulting in more evenly baked crackers.
By the time Jack’s perfectly roasted chickens came out of the oven, three dozen crackers and a bowl of smoked salmon spread were gone!
Homemade Thin Wheat Crackers
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, frozen
- 1/4 cup ice cold water
- Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and paprika in a medium bowl.
- Grate frozen butter into flour mixture using a cheese grater.
- Cut butter into flour mixture using two knives to form smaller bits of butter. Mixture is ready when butter bits are the size of small peas and the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal.
- Add water, stir with fork until dough comes together. If dough seems too dry, add additional cold water by tablespoons until dough comes together. Knead once or twice. Don’t over knead.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Divide dough in half. Lightly flour work area. Roll out dough into a very thin rectangle.
- Cut dough into cracker shapes. I used a pastry wheel to cut one batch and a knife to cut the other. Both worked well.
- Use a fork to prick crackers several times.
- Place crackers on prepared baking sheet. They can be close together as they won’t spread.
- Optional: I sprinkled the crackers with more salt before I baked them to add to the look and to provide additional flavor.
- Bake crackers until crisp, about 7 minutes. Flip crackers and bake an additional 7 minutes. If your crackers are thicker, you may need to bake a bit longer.
- Cool on wire racks. Repeat process with second half of dough.
- Enjoy crackers right away. Store extras in an airtight container to keep them crisp.