Where did it go? Bourbon Pecan Mini Skillet Brownie

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


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease 6” cast iron skillet.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
  3. Add in oil, egg, and bourbon.
  4. Stir until well mixed.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Fold in pecans.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  8. 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.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes and then dig in!


Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

chocolate pistachio biscotti n

Crunchy chocolate biscotti speckled with delightfully tasty green pistachios. Where’s my latte?

I am a huge fan of the soft cookie with the slightly crunchy exterior. You know, that perfect chocolate chip cookie with an almost melty interior and an exterior that holds it perfectly together? This biscotti recipe is worth momentarily turning away from my favorite cookie texture. One thing I like about this biscotti recipe is the expected crispy biscotti-like texture without the hard crunch. You can have this biscotti with tea and still hear your conversation. Then there’s the flavor. There is the bang of chocolately cocoa followed by zips of salty toasted pistachios. Yum! The intent with the smaller batch is that we would have a few cookies around to enjoy at the end of the day with tea. The reality is… I’ve already made a second batch.

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup shelled, roasted and salted pistachios


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the sugar and the egg until light and creamy.
  4. Add melted butter to egg mixture. Whisk.
  5. Add flour mixture to egg mixture. Stir until until stiff dough forms.
  6. Shape into a flattened log, about 2 inches wide.
  7. Cut the log in half so you can sprinkle the pistachios in the middle, like a sandwich. Put the log back together and smooth out the cut with your hands. This will ensure each biscotti has an even amount of nuts.
  8. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. Cookie should be slightly firm. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  9. Using a serrated knife, cut log into pieces about 1 inch thick. Place each cookie on the cut side. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F (145 degrees C). Bake cut cookies for an additional 8 minutes.
  10. Flip cookies over and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Can You Really Make These From Scratch? Honey-Cinnamon Graham Crackers

I’ll bet even your grandmother didn’t bake like this…

I found a cheesecake recipe I wanted to experiment with, and, off course, I needed a graham cracker crust. Since we hadn’t sent up any graham crackers, my choices were to buy some at our local store, order them through Amazon.com, or forget the whole idea. Prices at the Native Store are too high, so I ruled that out, and with only five weeks remaining till we head south, it seemed late to be ordering food. The next obvious step was to give up. Ha! That’s not me! I searched around and found a couple of recipes for graham crackers from scratch. Fantastic! My crackers came out looking a little rough around the edges, but they tasted perfect. Actually, in our opinion, they taste better than store-bought. These homemade beauties have a crisp cracker crunch and a sweet honey-cinnamon taste. Now, I’ll tackle the cheesecake recipe.

Honey Graham Crackers


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp and 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Optional cinnamon sugar topping – 3 tsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Mix together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Blend butter, sugar, honey and corn syrup until well mixed and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix.
  3. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir in milk. You should have a nice ball of dough at the end of this step.
  4. Cover dough and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface. It is easiest to do this working with only a quarter section of the dough at a time. Roll until the dough is about 1/8″ thick. Cut the dough into rectangles using a knife. Place rectangles on ungreased cookie sheets. Prick decorative holes with toothpick. If desired, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar topping on crackers.
  7. Bake for 13 minutes. Finished crackers will be browned and will become more crisp as they cool. Cool on wire racks.

One Cup of Mayo, and Hold the Preservatives!

Whip up this tasty, fast, easy mayonnaise recipe once, and you may never go back to store-bought.

The first time I realized that mayonnaise could be made at home I was reading Chapter I, De Gustibus (regarding taste) in Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. His recipe called for an egg yolk, salt, freshly ground pepper, Dijon mustard, vinegar or lemon juice, one cup of peanut oil and a whisk. I tried it and to my amazement, it worked! The chemistry in forming this emulsion is visually fascinating. But what a lot of effort. I was happy enough with my jar of Hellmann’s. It would be 27 years before I’d have another go at the homemade version.

In fact it was Barbra who encouraged me to revisit mayonnaise. Taking up her challenge, I made a cup of it, this time in a blender. Better than getting mayonnaise elbow with a whisk, but still… the old-school blender I used was a bother to clean. So the next time we needed mayonnaise, we went to Point Hope’s Native Store. $$$ for a six-ounce jar.

That was when we decided, finally, to invest in a good immersion blender – aka a stick blender. And now, I doubt we’ll ever buy a jar of mayonnaise again. The recipe below is quick, easy to clean up after, and results in a tasty, preservative-free, all-natural mayonnaise ready to be spread on a turkey sandwich, to serve as a base for anchovy-mayonnaise salad dressing, or to blend into deviled eggs.

1 cup Homemade Mayonnaise


  • 1 large egg, as fresh as possible
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white vinegar (we like rice vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • healthy pinch or two (1/8 teaspoon) salt
  • dash of white pepper or freshly ground black pepper, or both
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (or other vegetable oil)


You will need a stick blender and a fairly narrow container such as a small canning jar, one just wide enough so that the stick blender fits.

  1. Place egg in a narrow jar or other container.
  2. Add lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.
  3. Add olive oil.
  4. Push stick blender to the bottom of the container. Blend on high speed. (This depends on the blender. Ours gets the job done at a lower setting.) Within seconds, mayonnaise will start to form. As soon as you see this, gradually raise the blender to create more mayonnaise. Mix through top to bottom one more time thoroughly. The entire mixing process will take about 10 seconds.

This mayonnaise will keep in your refrigerator for about two weeks. The extra virgin olive oil and the Dijon give it a distinctive taste. For mayonnaise more like commercial brands, use canola or peanut oil and half the Dijon or a milder mustard.

Chocolate Almond Spread (or Homemade Bush-Alaska Nutella)

Creamy-smooth chocolate almond spread ready for toast, dolloping inside crêpes, or drizzling on pancakes or waffles. 

Being hundreds of miles from roads or specialty stores and becoming more curious about how foods we take for granted are actually created drives me to experiment. Today’s challenge? Nutella.

In high school, a German friend introduced me to this chocolate-hazelnut spread that looks a little like peanut butter. But sister, it’s not peanut butter! Nutella is sweet, creamy, and chocolately and is great spread on fruits and breads and a whole lot of other things, or scooped out of the jar and eaten off the spoon!

I found a recipe, but of course I modified it to fit the items in my pantry. Substituting almonds for hazelnuts, and armed with my new stick blender (with nut chopping attachment), I set to work. As I processed the nuts from a grain to coarse  flour and finally into a butter, I was amazed. It really worked! Mixed with chocolate, the result tasted like an almond version of Nutella. Fabulous! (Incidentally, the earliest versions of Nutella, created in Italy, used either almonds or hazelnuts.)

Now I’m ready to make those macarons I keep seeing. Or maybe I can convince Jack to make chocolate-almond crêpes for breakfast!

Chocolate Almond Spread 

Yield: about 8 ounces (1 cup)


  • 1 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • up to 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Skin almonds by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl and letting them sit for 2 minutes. Drain off hot water and replace with cold water. Almond skins should pop off when you squeeze the individual almonds. I’ve read rubbing the almonds in a clean towel at this point will also remove skins, but that didn’t work for me.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place almonds in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast for 10 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.
  3. Process nuts in a food processor, or use a stick blender. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary until the nuts have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils from the nuts, and you will get almond butter!
  4. When the nuts have liquified, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
  5. Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for up to  1 to 2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-almond spread before using.

Adapted from http://www.sugoodsweets.com/blog/2005/12/nutella/

Apple Cinnamon Walnut Bread

Walnut, cinnamon, and freshly grated Fuji apples make peanut butter sandwiches something to look forward to.

I love variety in my meals. I love sampling new foods and new food combinations. So it might seem paradoxical that I could happily eat a peanut butter sandwich every day for lunch. Jack… not so much. After a few consecutive days of peanut butter sandwiches, he diplomatically asks if we could change up the lunch menu. This year, I vowed to make lunches more interesting. Chili on rice, calzones, stew on baked potatoes, and salmon sandwiches have satisfied Jack’s need for variety. And so, with time ticking away toward the end of another year in the bush, I looked in the cupboard at the last third of our 80-ounce jar of Adam’s peanut butter. An idea! What if I made peanut butter sandwiches on fruit bread? Let me tell you how well this went over… When I asked Jack if he wanted salmon pizza or a peanut butter sandwich for lunch tomorrow, he chose a peanut butter sandwich! I’m not planning on going back to peanut butter every day, but we are both happy it is still in the rotation.

Apple Cinnamon Walnut Bread


  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (we love cinnamon)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 grated Fuji apple (a little more than a cup)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped coarse


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In another mixing bowl, combine sugar and applesauce. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just moistened.
  4. Stir in grated apple.
  5. Stir in walnuts.
  6. Pour into a greased bread pan (8 in. x 4 in. x 2 in.)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 55 – 65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

We enjoy fruit breads and use the above recipe as a base. It’s easy to substitute different types of fruit and spices. Pear bread with ginger and banana bread with cinnamon and nutmeg are two other favorite fruit breads that make excellent peanut butter sandwiches or breakfast toast.

Marvelous Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

Fudge-like brownie batter swirled with chocolate chip cheesecake make this decadent dessert irresistible. 
As we go through our annual shopping list, I have to wonder why I thought I needed twenty pounds of chocolate chips! It is a challenge to shop for a whole year in one fell swoop. In most regards, we were really accurate, but I must have been suffering from a chocolate craving while we were in Costco! I did make it through about five pounds so far. With 15 pounds remaining and big chocolate lovers around, I am inspired to keep baking wickedly chocolate confections.
Marvelous Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, separated
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 8-inch square baking pan or baking dish.
  2. Combine cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, and vanilla in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir 1 cup chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture. Set aside.
  3. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Set a heatproof mixing bowl over the water. In the mixing bowl, combine butter with the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips; stir until just melted and blended together.
  4. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 2 eggs in a bowl. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mixture into sugar and egg mixture. Mix in chocolate-butter mixture into flour mixture so that it is evenly blended.
  5. Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate layer. Top with remaining chocolate mixture (this doesn’t need to completely cover the cream cheese layer). Using a knife, swirl the top chocolate layer into the cream cheese to make a marble pattern by cutting the blade through the mixtures in a swirling pattern.
  6. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is cracked and edges pull away from sides of the pan. Cool thoroughly. Cut into 12 to 16 squares. Store in refrigerator or freeze.
We tried the brownies cooled on the counter and chilled in the refrigerator. We preferred them chilled in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chunky-cheesecake-brownies/Detail.aspx.

Rustic Moose Pot Pie

Lean wild game, roasted to perfection, sliced into bite-sized cubes and baked in a pie topped with a hearty whole wheat crust is the kind of meal that can fend off consecutive days of negative 20 degree cold.

When a friend recently presented us with a two-pound moose roast, we were thrilled. But we were also a bit perplexed. Looking over the meat, I couldn’t find even a trace of fat. Add that to the fact that neither one of us cooks roasts, and I was at something of a loss as to what to do. “Stew,” was the suggestion I most frequently came across. “Stew or stir fry,” was a friend’s suggestion.

We love good stew. In fact, we have enough caribou stew in the freezer to see us through the end of the school year. So that was out. Stir fry, too, is a regular dinner item. I wanted to do something traditional but new for us.

In the end, I did roast the moose. Inspired by a recipe for lamb from the cookbook Nobu West by Nobu Matsuhisa, I marinated the roast in miso seasoned with garlic and ginger before putting it in the oven. Despite my best efforts it came out a bit drier than I had hoped, although the miso marinade helped to caramelize the roast when I pan-seared it prior to roasting. I served the finished roast sliced thin with a tosa-zu dipping sauce along with carrots and parsnips cut into long, thin strips and sautéed in a combination of olive oil, butter, garlic and soy sauce.

Dinner that night started with scallop, shrimp and smoked quail egg chawan mushi, segued to roasted beats with pan-crisped pine nuts, was followed by cedar planked shrimp on mushrooms and culminated with the moose roast. For dessert, Barbra brought out individual baked apples capped with pastry. Inside each apple was apple pie filling. The dessert was delicious – and fun, and the whole-wheat pie crust topping the apple gave us the idea of making a large pot pie stuffed with leftover moose, vegetables and gravy.

Regarding the recipe below, a note about bouillon: We’ve become fans of Better Than Bouillon products. In our opinion, the flavor is superior to other soup bases we’ve tried.

Rustic Moose Pot Pie


  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons “Better Than Bouillon Beef Base” (or other bouillon, or use beef broth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 2/3 cups potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes, skin on
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 pound roasted moose meat, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn
  • 1/3 cup celery, diced coarse
  • 1/2 cup carrots, sliced into discs or chopped coarse
  • 1/3 cup broccoli florets, cut coarse
  • (Optional) 1/3 cup mushrooms, chopped coarse
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • several generous grinds freshly cracked black pepper
  • salt, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F. **Baking time and temperature may vary depending on type of crust used.**
  2. Place the water in a pot and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in enough beef bouillon for a strongly flavored base. Add bay leaf and rosemary. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add potatoes. You will simmer potatoes till just tender, but do not overcook. When potatoes still have about 5 minutes of cooking to go, add the carrots. When there is about 1 minute, add all the remaining vegetables. Continue simmering until potatoes are just tender and remove from heat. (They will continue cooking in the pie.)
  4. Use a strainer to separate potatoes and vegetables from the beef stock. Remove bay leaf and place potatoes and vegetables in a large bowl. Return beef stock to original pot.
  5. Place approximately 4 tablespoons olive oil in small frying pan and heat over low to medium-low heat. When oil is heated, slowly stir in flour. Continue stirring until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
  6. Heating beef broth over medium heat, stir in oil and flour mixture. Combine thoroughly. This will result in a thick gravy.
  7. To the bowl that already has the potatoes and vegetables, add the meat, gravy and the remaining seasonings and mix together.
  8. Pour meat and vegetable mixture directly into a deep pie dish. Cover with a crust. Be sure to make holes in the crust to allow steam to escape. Brushing on a beaten egg will help create a golden brown crust.
  9. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 °F for 25 – 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Serve piping hot with big glasses of Old Vine Zinfandel.

Bison Joes with Roasted Bell Peppers

Roasted bell peppers and ground bison combined with freshly baked buns for a memorable version of an America Classic.

One of the challenges of living hundreds of miles beyond the road system is that we frequently can’t get the ingredients we want for cooking. With the school year rapidly drawing to a close (fewer than eight weeks remain now) and an abundance of ground bison in our freezer, Barbra had been requesting Sloppy Joes. “I’ll make the buns!” she promised. Problem is, the village store hasn’t had onions since early January. The last shipment was frozen solid and had to be tossed out. We’re out as well, and I couldn’t quite imagine Sloppy Joes without diced sweet onions mixed in with the meat and sauce.

And then, out of the blue, a friend gave us two green bell peppers. Roasted and skin peeled, these would provide the tangy sweetness I was looking for. I had a large carrot in the fridge that needed to be used, so I diced and sautéed it and added it to the ingredients as well.

Mixed together with an off-the-cuff sauce, our Bison Joe’s came out great – more savory than sloppy, and sweet enough to please the kid in us.

Bison Joes with Roasted Bell Peppers


  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 bell peppers, cut in half, stems and seeds removed
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped carrots
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 1/2 cup Sloppy Joe sauce (below)
Directions for roasting bell peppers:
  1. Place a baking sheet (a good, thick one is best) into oven and preheat to 500 °F.
  2. Using a brush, spray bottle or fingers, thoroughly cover bell pepper halves with light olive oil, canola oil or other oil that will withstand high temperatures.
  3. When oven is preheated, place bell peppers open side down on baking sheet. Roast until peppers soften, skin begins to loosen, and outside begins to brown. Turn the peppers over and continue to roast until desired color is achieved. (You will see at least some spots burned black. How much of this you want is up to you. I go for just a little black.)
  4. Remove peppers from baking sheet, place in paper bag and close. This will help steam the skins loose.
  5. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin.
  6. Dice the peppers (about 1/4″ pieces) and set aside.
Directions for bison, carrots and garlic:
  1. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add ground bison. Breaking up the meat and stirring, cook until evenly browned. Pour out on paper towels to drain off oil and fat and set aside.
  2. Add about 1 tablespoon olive oil to a medium frying pan and heat over medium to medium-low heat. Add carrots, stirring frequently. Just before done, add the garlic and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Place in a small bowl and set aside to cool.
Sloppy Joe Sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Cholula sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • couple dashes powdered cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • several grinds freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Add all ingredients to a non-reactive bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the garlic and carrots (above). Add the bell peppers. Add additional chili powder, cumin or Cholula for more of a kick.
  2. Place the browned bison in a large skillet. Heat on medium heat and add enough sauce to coat the meat. Beyond that, how much sauce to add is a matter of cook’s choice. Mix thoroughly, cooking and stirring till everything is hot.

Serve on toasted buns or toasted bread with a frosty mug of root beer.

Cedar Planked Sweet Alaskan Shrimp on Mushrooms

Cedar planks add fire-cooked aroma and rustic class to seafood. The planks work in ovens as well as on the grill. In making this dish, I supplemented a few Crimini caps given to me by a friend with pieces of dried oyster mushrooms.

We are convinced that one of Alaska’s best kept secrets is that it is a food-lover’s paradise. Many Alaskans harvest wild game such as moose, Sitka deer, caribou, mountain sheep and ptarmigan. Ranched reindeer, bison and elk are available as well.

The growing season may be short, but with long hours of sunshine, markets in central and southeast Alaska are typically full of locally grown produce. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cloudberries, currents and more can be found growing wild or purchased at local markets, making Alaska one of the best places on earth to get a slice of pie or a jar of jam. Meanwhile, foraging for mushrooms and edible plants, including seaweed, remains an important part of the culture up here. Not long ago, we were treated to a salad featuring young fireweed shoots, and the seaweed salads we’ve had have been delicious. While the wines we pour with this bounty are shipped up, we don’t have to go far at all to enjoy superbly crafted local beers.

But the centerpiece of Alaskan food is without a doubt seafood, starting with salmon. All five Pacific species are abundant, and they all have their place in the kitchen. Fresh halibut is a revelation on the palate, not to mention one of the most versatile fishes one can cook with. People who eat a lot of fish often find that they end up preferring various species of delicately flavored rockfish. Our own top choice is sea-run Dolly Varden – a char with pale orange flesh, a delicate flavor, and just enough fat to be self-basting. Aside from these fin fish, there are oysters, sea scallops, clams and several species of crabs, all of which benefit from Alaska’s clean, cold seas.

And, of course, there are shrimp. Known as amaebi in Japan, the shrimp of Alaska’s waters are prized for their natural sweetness. The recipe offered below has many possible variations. For example, try a shiso leaf instead of the tarragon, freshly picked chanterelles or Portabellos instead of Crimini mushrooms, or, for a lighter flavor, sea salt instead of soy sauce. Ginger, lime zest, sherry or a sprinkling of sake would add yet another dimension.

Cedar Planked Sweet Alaskan Shrimp on Mushrooms


  • cedar or alder plank, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 12 Alaskan shrimp, peeled, deveined, butterflied, tail on, and if large enough, lightly scored
  • 12 fresh mushroom caps or 12 appropriately sized pieces of any good mushroom
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • freshly cracked pepper
  1. Preheat oven broiler to hot (500 °F).
  2. Heat clarified butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and mushrooms. Add soy sauce, sprinkling on mushrooms and in butter, and move mushrooms around to coat with butter and soy sauce. Cook till mushrooms are just cooked, turning once.
  3. Remove mushrooms from pan and place on plank. Sprinkle each piece with dried tarragon, or add leaves of fresh tarragon. Place shrimp on mushrooms, fixing in place with toothpicks. Add freshly cracked pepper.
  4. Place plank in oven and broil for 3 – 5 minutes.

If you make more than a few of these, your guests will not have room for dinner. They are addicting. They’d be terrific prepared on a grill, too, and would pair beautifully with hot sake.