Honey Glazed Polar Bear Claws – Grrrr, Grrrr

bear claw n

A tempting polar bear claw from our Arctic bakery. No bears were harmed in the making of this pastry!

Topping my baking to-do list this winter were bear claws. There is something about the sweet almond filling that makes these a mainstay of bakery shops – or perhaps it’s their cool name. Jack and I usually pass on these confections because most bakeries prepare them with an overload of sweetness. In researching recipes, I found a plethora of styles, from giant grizzly-sized pastries smothered in sliced nuts to tiny paws with a perfectly manicured almond on the end of each claw, and everything in between.

The recipe I settled on took a bit of time and effort. I wanted a medium-sized confection that emphasized not sweetness but almond flavor.The resulting pastry was superb – a little lighter than standard bakeshop fare and with a nicely balanced taste of almond.

Polar Bear Claws

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  1. Place flour and butter in a medium bowl. Mix together using a pastry blender until well blended and butter pieces are no larger than kidney beans.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Stir cream, salt, egg, and sugar into yeast mixture.
  4. Pour flour mixture into cream mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula until ingredients are just moistened.
  5. Place dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Dust dough with flour. Roll out dough to 14 x 18 inch rectangle. Fold into thirds, making three layers. Roll out again. Fold into thirds once more and place back into refrigerator while you make the filling.

Filling:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup almond paste
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Add all filling ingredients to bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are well mixed and filling is smooth.

Assembling the pastries:

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough to a 12 x 16 inch rectangle.
  2. Cut the dough in half, length-wise.
  3. Spread half of the filling down the middle of one piece of dough. Repeat with other piece of dough.
  4. Roll each dough rectangle jelly-roll style from the long side.
  5. Tuck seam under roll.
  6. Cut each long roll into 5 pieces.
  7. Cut three slits into each piece to make the toes.
  8. Place each pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet, curving them slightly (to spread the toes).
  9. Allow pastries to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes. They should puff up.
  10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  11. Brush each pastry with beaten egg.
  12. Generously sprinkle pastries with sliced almonds.
  13. Bake 12 minutes. Pastries should be lightly browned.
  14. Let cool slightly on wire rack. Drizzle with honey glaze.

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp milk
  1. Stir together ingredients until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar if too thin, or add more milk if too thick.  Drizzle over warm pastries.

Pepperonata Breakfast Pizza: Healthy, Tasty, Easy

pepperonata breakfast pizza n

Individual-sized breakfast pizzas are a fun way to start the day. These can be whipped up in a sailboat galley, a mountain cabin, a lakeside camp, or virtually anywhere else. Who says pizza isn’t healthful?

The essence of pepperonata is stewed tomatoes, bell peppers and olive oil. In our Arctic kitchen and on our sailboat, the tomatoes are no problem. Although we occasionally get fresh tomatoes, we more often rely on diced canned tomatoes which, when cooked, are virtually indistinguishable from fresh. Finding good bell peppers at a reasonable price has been another matter. That’s where Penzeys Spices dried red bell pepper flakes shine. Cut into 3/8″ (1 cm) pieces, when hydrated these peppers come alive with aroma and flavor.  A four-ounce bag goes a long way, making them perfect for kitchens where getting to the market isn’t always feasible.

Small pizza crusts are generally available in supermarkets, but we make our own. These days, our favorite dough is a 50/50 blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Crusts made from this balance have an excellent consistency and deliver a hearty flavor. We always keep on hand a few pizza crusts in both 5″ and 12″ size. To do this, we pre-bake our crusts for 10 minutes at 400 °F and then seal them in plastic bags and freeze them. When we’re ready to use the crusts, we pull what we need from the freezer, let them thaw while we’re preparing the topping, top them, and then bake them for the same 10 minutes at 400 °F. Pizza stones make a big difference; we even have a pair of small ones for our sailing vessel, Bandon that fit nicely in the small galley oven or on the boat’s propane grill. While we don’t have refrigeration or a freezer onboard, we’ve found shelf-stable pizza crusts that keep for months.

Pepperonata can be modified to accompany many dishes. Anchovies, olives, capers, herbs, spicy peppers and other vegetables can easily find their way into this versatile, chunky sauce. It’s an excellent topping for white fish and poultry, and is a perfect topping for toasted bread, too.

And the fried egg? We use a Swiss Diamond non-stick pan, low heat, and good olive oil. We like our sunny-side up eggs lightly salted with a grind or two of cracked pepper and a pinch of Italian seasonings, cooked in a covered pan till the whites are just firm.

Pepperonata Breakfast Pizza

Ingredients: (For 2 servings)

  • two, 5″ pizza crusts
  • 16 oz can of diced tomatoes, most of liquid drained (or 1 1/2  cups fresh tomatoes, diced, seeds and pulp removed)
  • 2 tablespoons Penzeys dried pepper flakes (or 1/2 cup diced red, orange or yellow bell pepper)
  • 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • Italian seasonings such as oregano, thyme, basil, etc. to taste
  • Two eggs, fried any style
  • finish with freshly grated parmesan and capers

Directions:

  1. Bake pizza crusts according to directions.
  2.  Hydrate dried bell peppers (if using dried).
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook until tomatoes are tender and stew is thick. (About 10 minutes for canned. About 20 minutes for fresh.)
  4. Add bell peppers. Cook until tender.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare fried egg.
  6. When tomato mixture is cooked to desired consistency, add olives, seasonings and additional salt, if desired. Stir to mix thoroughly.
  7. Spoon mixture onto warm pizza crusts. Add capers. Add egg. Top with grated parmesan. This pizza is easiest to eat with a sharp knife and fork.

Cherry Almond Bagels

Cherry almond bagel_n

Laced with the essence of cherry and the crunch of toasted almonds, these bagels were chewy perfection waiting for a favorite schmear, cheese or creamy nut spread .

Every week or so I make a batch of yogurt for our breakfasts. Usually there’s nothing to it: I a bit of the previously made yogurt as the starter for the next batch, and in this way yogurt begets yogurt. And even though I use powdered milk (a blend of whole and nonfat) the flavor is excellent.

The ability to easily whip up a batch of yogurt from powdered milk is handy since our little Native store in the Arctic bush doesn’t stock plain yogurt and since milk goes for about four times what it does in places connected by roads. But last week, something strange happened. The yogurt came out, for lack of a better word, weird. It separated into yogurt and way too much whey. The yogurt tasted fine, but the consistency was off-putting. Always loathe to toss out food, I strained the entire batch through cheesecloth overnight, hoping for yogurt cheese. The next morning, we had a taste and agreed it had turned out delicious. So, add another culinary feat to the list: homemade yogurt cheese.

At this point, we needed bagels.

This week’s cherry almond bagels were inspired by our desire to spread yogurt cheese onto a bagel leaning slightly more toward sweet than savory. Dried cherries and almond extract seemed like a perfect combination to mix into the bagel dough. A 20 minute baking time is just right to toast the almond slices which added a very satisfying crunch to each bite – and no, the almond slices did not crumble off; they adhered quite well and were there till the last bite. These bagels are the sweet counterpart to savory favorites such as onion bagels or “everything” bagels.

Cherry Almond Bagels

Ingredients

  • 1  1/2 cups water
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp almond extract
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 3 quarts boiling water
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sliced almonds for topping

Directions

  1. Place first 7 ingredients into bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough setting.
  2. When cycle is complete, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and let rest.
  3. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add 3 tbsp of sugar.
  4. While water is coming to a boil, cut dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Flatten balls into discs about 1/2 inch thick. Poke a hole in each disc and twirl the disk around your finger to enlarge the hole. Place bagels back on the lightly floured surface to rest until the water boils.
  5. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. When water is boiling, place bagels in water. Boil for 1 minute, then flip to boil for an additional minute. (I fit 4 bagels at a time in my pot.)
  8. After bagels have boiled, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon or strainer spoon made for frying. Place bagels on a clean, dry towel.
  9. Arrange bagels on baking sheet. Brush tops of bagels with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
  10. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until well browned.

Try bagels 3 ways if you’d rather have a savory version.

Light and Airy Smoked Salmon, Alaska Shrimp and Leek Frittata

frittata smoked salmon shrimp n

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, this frittata this is sure to draw rave reviews.

This past summer in Seward, we had a series of some of the best meals we’ve had in Alaska – or anywhere for that matter – at an inconspicuous little restaurant called The Smoke Shack. In our view, this is hands down Seward’s best restaurant. The head chef smokes all his seafood and meat himself, and combines these with a variety of proprietary sauces to provide an authentic Alaskan dining experience, complete with the kind of consistently good service that is hit and miss at Seward’s two mega-large waterfront tourist restaurants.

One of the meals that most impressed us at The Smoke Shack was the smoked salmon frittata. Light, airy, flavorful and standing over an inch tall, we made a mental note to attempt to replicate this breakfast dish in our own kitchen. There are two keys to this dish: Start with top-notch smoked salmon, and separate the egg whites and whip them before folding in the other ingredients. We added shrimp and leeks and our own blend of seasonings. The beauty of frittatas is that with a little imagination, you can come up with your own specialty. Here’s ours.

frittata ready for oven n

Splashed with Cholula sauce and ready for the oven. It helps to start the frittata by cooking it for a few minutes on the stove before placing it in the oven. A non-stick pan such as the excellent ones made by Swiss Diamond are a good choice, as they are oven safe.

fritatta baked n

Piping hot out of the oven and ready to serve, every piece is generously packed with smoked salmon, sweet Alaska shrimp and leeks.fritatta ingredients n

One pan, eggs, whatever additional ingredients are on hand, and seasoned to taste a frittata will feed a lot of hungry sailors, campers or house guests. 

Smoked Salmon, Alaska Shrimp and Leek Frittata

Ingredients (For an 11 inch pan)

  • non-stick, 11″ oven-safe pan
  • light olive oil or other frying oil
  • eight eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 4 oz smoked salmon (canned or vacuum packed).
  • 4 oz Alaska shrimp, peeled
  • 1 large or 2 small potatoes such as Yukon golds, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese (We chose this variety for its buttery, sweet flavor, but many other types of cheese would work well.)
  • 1 cup leeks, chopped course
  • fine sea salt, to taste
  • Cholula sauce
  • chili spice blend such as Penzeys’ Northwoods Fire, or any blend featuring a combination of black pepper, smoked chipotle, smoked paprika, cayenne or similar peppers and a pinch of oregano

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack at center position.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in 11-inch pan over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook till tender, adding salt to taste. Remove from heat, set aside potatoes in bowl, wipe pan clean if necessary.
  3. Add 1 tbsp olive to pan over medium low heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender. Set aside leeks in bowl. Wipe pan clean if necessary.
  4. Meanwhile, place egg whites in mixing bowl, add 1/2 tsp sea salt and beat or whisk till soft peaks are formed. Do not create stiff peaks.
  5. Add chili spice blend to egg yolks, mix together, and add mixture to whites beating at slow speed until just incorporated. Do not over mix.
  6. Place a scant tablespoon of olive oil in pan over low heat and add cooked potatoes. Pour in egg mixture. Top with smoked salmon, shrimp and leeks. Add cheese. Add a few splashes of Cholula. Allow to cook approximately 5 minutes to firm up bottom.
  7. Place pan in oven and cook for 20 minutes.

This frittata pairs nicely with Champagne.

We use Alaska shrimp because they are uniquely tasty and are sustainably harvested. We harvest our own wild Alaska salmon and encourage readers to look for the “wild” or “wild-caught” label when purchasing salmon, as this is the only sustainable choice for salmon.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones – Yes, Please!

coconut chocolate chip scones_nFry an egg, brew a cup of coffee and serve with these icing-laced coconut scones chock-full of mini chocolate chips. Fuel for a hike on the tundra, a morning downtown or whatever the weekend brings.

Shelf stable items are a staple in our Arctic pantry. Recently we have been experimenting with powdered coconut milk and are finding it to be easily reconstituted and packed with flavor. Friends recommended we add extra virgin coconut oil to our pantry, which ups the coconut flavor.

Armed with the coconut flavors I needed and an intriguing recipe I came across on MyBakingAddiction.com, I was ready to bake.

These scones have the essence of a chocolate dipped macaroon without being overly sweet. Using whole wheat for half the flour makes them more hearty than a traditional scone, while the baking powder helps them rise to epic scone proportions. The recipe is a perfect candidate for making dough the night before and popping in the oven the next morning for an impress-your-friends brunch.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk (to brush on top)

For the drizzle

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix coconut milk, egg, sugar and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flours, baking powder and salt.
  4. Mix butter and coconut oil into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your hands. Do this quickly to avoid melting the butter. Mixture should have pea-sized butter lumps that are evenly distributed in the flour.
  5. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips and coconut flakes.
  7. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times.
  8. Shape dough into a 9-inch disk. Disk should be about 3/4 inch thick.
  9. Place disk on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  10. Slice disk into 12 wedges, pizza-style, leaving the dough in place.
  11. Brush disk with 2 tbsp of coconut milk.
  12. Bake for 18 – 20  minutes, till scones are slightly golden brown on edges.
  13. Cool scones in pan.
  14. While scones are cooling, create drizzle by mixing powdered sugar and coconut milk. Drizzle should be consistency of molasses.
  15. Place drizzle in a Ziploc bag. Snip a tiny bit off of one corner.
  16. With a sweeping motion, squeeze out drizzle over scones until you are satisfied with the amount of coverage.

Country-Style Apple Brioche

Apple Brioche_n

Slices of this apple-filled brioche served with cups of freshly brewed French roast coffee sent our spirits overseas to a sidewalk table at a cafe in France.  

Baking projects tend to be inspired by a single ingredient. Last week, two students gave me the biggest Granny Smith apples I have ever seen. They were a little bumped and bruised and seemed to be begging to be baked into something sweet. I remembered an apple brioche recipe I had wanted to try in one of the cookbooks we have in our library, Beth Hensperger’s Bread. Brioche is an egg-and-butter rich pastry-type bread dough which can be used in both savories and sweets. It produces a soft, moist bread and the dough is easy to make and easy to work with.

Apple Brioche

Ingredients

  • 2 giant Granny Smith apples (or 4 regular-sized apples), peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1  1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 recipe chilled brioche dough (see below)

Topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/6 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Toss apple slices with lemon juice. Let sit for 1 hour, occasionally stirring.
  2. Place apples, sugar, water, and cinnamon in a heavy skillet and sauté until liquid is reduced and sugar is dissolved.
  3. Cool apple mixture to room temperature.
  4. Turn chilled brioche dough out to a lightly floured surface.
  5. Roll dough into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle.
  6. Spread cooled apple mixture down the center third of the dough rectangle.
  7. Cut strips 1.5 to 2 inches apart diagonally, almost touching filling.
  8. Starting at one end, fold strips over filling, alternating each side. You will have somewhat of a braided look when finished.
  9. Transfer bread to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  10. Make topping by combining sugar and flour until blended. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender (or food processor) until coarse crumbs are formed.
  11. Brush dough generously with beaten egg.
  12. Sprinkle topping on egg-washed dough.
  13. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at a cool room temperature until puffy and not quite doubled, about 40 minutes.
  14. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 40 minutes. Bread will be browned and filling will be bubbly.
  15. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Brioche Dough

Ingredients

  • 2  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup hot water (120 degrees F)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened

Directions

  1. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1/2 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
  2. Add hot water and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add 1 cup more flour.
  5. When well-blended, add butter, a few pieces at a time.
  6. Gradually add 3/4 cup flour. Beat until thoroughly blended. Dough will be very soft and have a thick batter-like consistency.
  7. Scrape dough into a greased bowl.
  8. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 3 hours.
  9. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours. Can be refrigerated longer or frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Fresh Roasted Sweet Pecans

Roasted Sweet Pecans_n

Lightly candied and oven roasted, these pecans are perfect for snacking, as a dessert topping, or savored on a fresh garden salad.

Our kitchen is always well stocked with pecans and almonds. They’re great plain, but sometimes it’s fun to gussy ’em up a bit. This easy recipe results in snack that goes as well on morning oatmeal as it does as the finishing touch on a fresh salad.

Sweet Roasted Pecans

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2  1/2 cups pecans
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1  1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine egg whites, water and vanilla in bowl of a stand mixer. Attach wire whip attachment.
  3. Whip egg mixture until really fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Fold pecans into egg mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix sugars and cinnamon.
  6. Fold in sugar mixture to pecan-egg mixture.
  7. Spread nuts evenly on parchment paper.
  8. Sprinkle sea salt over nuts.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 60 – 75 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Nuts should be toasted and fragrant.
  10. Cool in pan. Stored cooled nuts in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.

Alaska Salmon Lox or Gravlax

Lox on onion bagel_n

With a history dating back to the European Middle Ages, a number of methods for preparing lox and gravlax (or gravad lax) have evolved. We’ve settled on a dry-brining method that produces beautifully colored, deliciously flavored salmon fillets ready to be sliced translucently thin as on the above freshly made onion bagel.

Many cultures have a tradition of salting and burying fish, a technique that results in both preservation and fermentation. In fact, the origins of sushi can be traced back to fish prepared in this method. The grav of gravlax derives from the Scandinavian word for grave, and lax, salmon, has cognates in many old European languages. Thus gravlax literally means “buried salmon.”

Although preparing lox is somewhat labor intensive (the fillets are packed in salt under light pressure and liquid must be drained every 24 hours or so over a period of several days), since it isn’t smoked, anyone with a refrigerator can make it. Both sea salt and kosher salt produce good results, and we like to add a little brown sugar and black pepper. The dry brining method we prefer is known as “Scottish-style.” Other styles call for a wet brine. Dill, juniper berries and other seasonings are traditionally used in some recipes, but we prefer to add seasonings, if any, when the lox is being served.

In addition to traditional lox on a bagel with cream cheese, capers and a thin slice of onion, it’s also excellent on scrambled eggs, as a colorful finishing touch to deviled eggs, or as a wrap around any number of vegetables or other seafoods and served as an hors d’oeuvre.

Silver salmon head n

Always look for the freshest fish. Salmon should be bright with clear eyes and a pleasant smell reminiscent of the sea.

While historically lox was made with Atlantic salmon, these days, with Atlantic salmon populations in severe decline almost everywhere, the Atlantic salmon available in stores is farmed in places such as Norway, Scotland, British Columbia and Chile. For reasons rooted in flavor, sustainability and environmental impact, we prefer wild Pacific salmon. The salmon in the above photo is Coho (silver salmon), but any Pacific salmon species works well, as do large char. If you leave the skin on the fillets, it can later be used to create a crispy fried appetizer.

For the best presentation, lox should be sliced very thin. The best tool we’ve found for this job is a yanagiba – a Japanese sashimi knife. Our yanagiba has an extraordinarily sharp, nine-and-a-half inch blade. Both the sharpness and the length are important for slicing – not sawing – ultra thin pieces of salmon.

For a great recipe for smoked salmon, see:

Smoked Salmon with Soy Sauce and Brown Sugar Brine

For excellent homemade bagels, see: Bagels 3 Ways

———————————————————-

Homemade Lox

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh salmon fillets, skin on. The fillets need not be scaled, but do take pains to ensure that all bones are removed.
  • ¼ cup coarse sea salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Rinse fish and dry thoroughly.
  2. Remove any pin bones in fillet with tweezers or needle nose pliers.
  3. Mix together salt, sugar and pepper. (This recipe works well when multiplied. Our last batch was 5 pounds of fish.)
  4. Pack salt mixture around fish. You can do this skin side down.
  5. Sandwich two pieces of fish together, skin side out.
  6. Pack any leftover sugar mixture onto exposed fillet.
  7. Wrap sandwiched pieces tightly with plastic wrap. Leave sides slightly open so liquid can drain while the salmon cures.
  8. I use a poacher with a draining tray for the next step. Another method would be to place a steamer basket at the bottom of a plastic box. The idea is to create a raised place for the fish to set while being pressed from the top. This will allow the juice to drain away from the fish.
  9. Place sandwiched salmon in poacher.
  10. Place weight on top of all salmon pieces. I use large jars of jam or large containers of salt. I have seen pictures of people using bricks.
  11. Place poacher in refrigerator.
  12. For 7 days, every 24 hours pour off liquid from the bottom of the poacher and flip the fillet sandwiches.
  13. At the end of 7 days, take the salmon out of the plastic wrap and thoroughly rinse using really cold tap water.
  14. Thoroughly pat dry.
  15. Slice very thin and enjoy!
  16. Store leftovers in refrigerator or freeze in airtight containers.

The Galangal Experiment: Orange Pecan Galangal Scones

Galangal, Pecan, Orange Scones

Scones are easy to make and always a favorite with a cup of coffee or tea.

Penzeys Spices is one of our grown up toy catalogues. Last spring, we pored over every page as we created a list of the spices and seasonings we thought we might want for the following year. During this perusal, a number of unfamiliar spices piqued our interest. One such item was galangal. Also known as blue ginger, galangal is indeed a member of the ginger family, but has a more intense, flowery taste not much at all like the ginger we’re familiar with. Perhaps cardamom is a closer comparison.

Recently, we came across a lemon-ginger scone recipe that seemed ripe for a makeover. In the following recipe, pecans and orange zest meld with the pleasantly flowery galangal to create a new classic. The yogurt gave the scone a moister texture that traditional recipes.

Orange Pecan Galangal Scones

Ingredients

Scone:

  • 2  1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp galangal
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • healthy pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup orange juice

Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and galangal.
  4. Stir in sugar, salt and zest.
  5. Stir in pecans.
  6. Using wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in orange juice. Then stir in yogurt.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, gently knead dough until it comes together. Do not over-knead.
  8. Press dough into a circle, about one inch thick.
  9. Cut circle into 8 wedges.
  10. Arrange wedges on baking sheet so there is about 1 inch in between each one.
  11. Bake scones for 20 minutes. Scones will be lightly browned on the bottom and pale on the top.
  12. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to continue cooling.
  13. Meanwhile, whisk powdered sugar and orange juice together to make drizzle icing. Consistency should be like honey.
  14. To drizzle icing, fill  a pastry bag with a small tip or a small Ziplock bag with a corner snipped, or simply use a spoon. Drizzle icing evenly over scones.
  15. Serve warm or room temperature.

Pumpkin Pancakes: A Tasty, Healthy Way to Start the Day

Pumpkin Pancakes

Give your pancakes a tasty nutritional boost by stirring in some pumpkin purée left over from baking pies. Hot off the grill, these especially light pancakes are served with chopped pecans and a slice of smoked Alaskan salmon.

Pumpkin pie is practically a staple at our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Easy to make and inexpensive (pumpkins can generally be had for pennies per pound), pumpkin is also one of the more healthful pies. In fact, we sometimes have a slice sans whipped cream along with an egg for breakfast. But what to do with the leftover pumpkin purée, particularly if all you have is a cup or so? One of our favorite solutions is pumpkin pancakes. Use the same spices you would with pumpkin pie, hold the sugar, and you’ve got a great start to your day!

Pumpkin Pancakes 

Ingredients (4 medium-sized pancakes):

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (or use butternut squash)
  • 1 cup your favorite pancake mix (we use Krusteaz buttermilk mix, which we buy in bulk at Costco)
  • approximately 3/4 cup cold water
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 – 2 tbsp butter
  • a healthy dash of nutmeg
  • a healthy dash of ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Place purée and pancake mix in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Add cold water and stir. Mixture should be thick but pourable. Do not overstir. Batter should have lumps. This ensures for better rising pancakes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium heat. Place the olive oil and butter onto the griddle. When oil is hot enough to sizzle when a small drop of batter is added, it’s ready. Pour batter onto the griddle in 4 separate portions and reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. When the surface of the pancakes have formed bubbles and the bottoms are golden brown, turn them over with a spatula.
  4. Reduce heat further, if necessary, and continue cooking pancakes till golden brown.

Once the griddle or pan is hot and the batter has been poured, reducing the heat will allow the pancakes to rise better. A fairly thick, heavy griddle or pan works best.

See also:

Big, Fluffy Blueberry One-Pan Pancakes

Smoked Salmon with Soy Sauce and Brown Sugar Brine

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin and Pecan Pies