Category Archives: Cooking

Salmon Quiche

It’s summer in Alaska and that means fresh, wild, delicious salmon. It also means fresh, wild, delicious salmon leftovers (just once in a while). I’m not a huge fan of leftover salmon and the typical recipes that use cooked salmon such as salmon burgers, but here I was last night, with a tasty leftover grilled salmon steak. What was I to do?

Make a quiche, that’s what I did!

Leftover Salmon Quiche - a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

I’ve made about three quiches in my life and they haven’t been great. They turn out tasting more like scrambled eggs, and I’m not a fan of that texture. I want a more solid quiche that’s salty and tastes better than a scrambled egg.

So I found a recipe for smoked salmon quiche and then found these helpful tips from Saveur.  After a few tweaks I felt confident and equipped to make a delicious, creamy quiche. It worked!

Leftover Salmon Quiche - a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Leftover Salmon Quiche

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry (I found it in the refrigerated aisle by the pie crusts but if you only find it frozen make sure it’s thawed)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • dash liquid smoke (optional)
  • a couple of dashes of Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • leftover cooked salmon, about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche (sour cream or cream cheese would probably work instead)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Leftover Salmon Quiche - a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Unfurl the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to smooth it out. Place the sheet in a pie pan and push the dough down so it gets into the corners and up the sides of the pan. Use kitchen shears to trim away the excess so the dough is flush with the top edge of the pan. Prick it several times with a fork and completely cover with foil. Weigh it down with pie weights, uncooked beans, or in my case, a smaller pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and turn oven down to 300 F.

In a large liquid measuring cup, gently whisk together the eggs, whipping cream, salt, pepper, liquid smoke, Tabasco Sauce and flour. Pour the mixture into the pie pan. Sprinkle the salmon so it’s evenly distributed. Add dollops of crème fraîche all around then sprinkle the green onions all over.

Place in oven and bake uncovered for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit 10-20 minutes before serving.

Delight in the fact that you made a quiche that didn’t suck (hopefully).

Leftover Salmon Quiche - a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Cucumber Sandwiches

It’s been a record-shattering summer here in Anchorage with temps in the high 80s and even hitting 90 degrees. We Alaskans are coping, but for me it’s hard to figure out how to live like a regular person – how do I sleep? How do I keep my car cool? How do I make dinner without turning my house into a hellish oven?

Bring on the cold sandwiches! When I was in college I became close friends with a woman from Connecticut. She was a little more proper than my Alaska friends and whenever she threw a party she would serve cucumber tea sandwiches on soft white bread with the crusts cut off. No one seemed to understand these sandwiches, but I would inhale them.

This morning at the farmer’s market I got an English cucumber and some Italian parsley and decided to pack a picnic for our beachside excursion.

These tasted just like how I remember. Tangy and most importantly, chilled. They were the perfect snack for this oppressively hot weather.

Cucumber sandwiches || A delightful recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Cucumber tea sandwiches

Makes 6 sandwiches

Ingredients:

Cucumber sandwiches || A delightful recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
  • salt
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 slices soft white bread, crusts removed
  • softened butter

Directions:

Place diced cucumber in a mesh strainer and sprinkle with salt. Let sit over a bowl for 30 minutes to draw out some of the moisture from the cucumbers. Pat with paper towels and set aside.

Cucumber sandwiches || A delightful recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

In a mixing bowl add the lemon zest and juice along with the cream cheese, olive oil, parsley, onion powder, Dijon, and salt and pepper. Beat with an electric mixer until well combined.

Cucumber sandwiches || A delightful recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Use a rubber spatula to mix in the cucumbers.

Cucumber sandwiches || A delightful recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Spread softened butter on one side of each slice of bread. Then make sandwiches using the cucumber mixture. Slice each sandwich on the diagonal. Enjoy!

Cucumber sandwiches || A delightful recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Totally Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s been a really busy summer. My floral endeavors have pretty much taken over my creative life and I have very little room for blogging.

After four weddings this weekend and barely cooking for my family, I finally had time to prepare a home-cooked meal.

I started by making a really rich chicken stock. After simmering it for about six hours I strained it and then decided to make chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles.

It was a hit!

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup | The Best Chicken Soup Ever from Alaskaknitnat.com

Here’s how I made it from start to finish.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 6 or so

I’ve divided up this recipe into to parts: the stock and then the soup. You can of course start with store-bought chicken stock, but there is something so satisfying about creating your own opaque chicken stock. Plus it’s way more flavorful than anything found at the store.

Ingredients for the stock:

  • 2-3 chicken carcasses
  • 1-2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions for the stock:

Using pliers, crack the bones of your chicken carcasses. I actually do this after eating a chicken and freeze it until I have two or three. I also had some frozen skin-on chicken thighs that I added as well just to use them up.

Add the carcass – bones, skin and all – to a large stock pot. Add the onions, celery, carrots, parsley, peppercorns and bay leaves. Fill the pot with water. You don’t need to be exact here at all. Just fill the pot, whatever size it is.

Cover and set over high flame. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, and simmer for several hours. I think I let mine simmer for six hours while I cleaned the house and made flowers for an elopement tomorrow.

Turn off the heat and let cool for 30 minutes or so.

Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large liquid measuring cup and start ladling the stock into the sieve. Use the back of the ladle to mash up the solids so as much liquid as possible comes out.

Toss the solids and pour the stock into jars. Repeat until you’ve strained all the stock. Store the stock in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze for several months.

Ingredients for the noodle soup:

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 pound chicken – if you have leftover chicken that works, but raw chicken is good too
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen green beans, thawed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the noodles: (this is enough for two batches. Save the remaining dough and make some fresh pasta the following day. Or halve the recipe)

  • 300 g all-purpose flour (or 2 cups)
  • 100 g semolina flour (or 2/3 cup)
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

For the noodles, mix the flours together in the bowl of a standing mixer. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Whisk up the eggs with a fork until they are combined. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium-low until a dough is formed. Turn onto a table sprinkled with flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and not sticky.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a heavy soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. I had three skin-on chicken thighs so I fried those up to render the fat instead of adding oil.

Add the onions and celery. Sprinkle on some salt. Sauté until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and add the chicken. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to simmer while you make the noodles.

After the dough has rested for 30 minutes or so, cut it into two pieces. Place one piece in the fridge for fresh pasta tomorrow.

Cut the remaining dough into three equal pieces. Cover two with plastic wrap while you roll out the first ball.

Add the pasta rolling adaptor to your Kitchen Aid (or use the old-fashioned version). Flatten the piece of dough with your hands and flour on both sides. Run it through the largest setting. Fold the dough in half and run it through again. Repeat about six times and flour again on both sides if it’s feeling tacky. It should feel smooth.

Run the pasta sheet through the next setting just once. Repeat until setting 6 or until the desired thickness. I typically go to setting 8 on my Kitchen Aid but that’s for delicate pasta like vermicelli. For this dish I wanted something sturdier.

Hang the sheet of dough on a pasta rack (I find a laundry drying rack to be super useful for this). Repeat with other two balls of dough. Let the dough air dry for about 15 minutes. This makes it easier to cut.

In the meantime, remove the chicken from the pot and break it up with the whisk adaptor of your Kitchen Aid (or a fork would do). Place it back in the pot along with the green beans. Bring the soup back to a simmer.

Flour each sheet of dough and cut it into your desired noodle shape. You could run it through the fettuccini roller but I prefer hand-cut wide noodles.

Add your noodles to the pot and cover to bring it back to a boil. Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until noodles are cooked through. Typically I prefer al dente, but for soup I let them cook a little longer.

Serve in bowls with freshly grated pepper.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup | The Best Chicken Soup Ever from Alaskaknitnat.com

Broccoli Rice Chicken Pesto Casserole

Sundays are usually a day where I take my time in the kitchen, but with the arrival of not-winter (as it’s not really spring here in Anchorage yet but the snow is mostly melted), we spent most of our day playing outside. I left very little time to prepare dinner.

This recipe was a clean-out-the-fridge type of meal. I had pesto, broccoli, chicken and pre-cooked rice hanging out in my fridge so I put them all together and it was delicious and comforting. It’s a one-stop shop for flavor and nutrients.

Broccoli Rice Chicken Pesto Casserole | A weeknight meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

I used my spinach pesto recipe but feel free to use the regular kind instead.

Broccoli rice chicken pesto casserole

Serves 6

For the marinade:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 7 chicken tenderloins or 2 small chicken breasts

For the casserole:

  • 3.5 cups warmed cooked rice (white, brown, farro, whatever grain you want really)
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1.5-2 cups pesto
  • zest of one lemon
  • shredded mozzarella and pecorino Romano (or Parmesan)

Broccoli Rice Chicken Pesto Casserole | A weeknight meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Mix the marinade together in a zip top bag. Pound the chicken breasts lightly and place in bag. Marinate for 15-30 minutes.

Place the rice in a large casserole dish and set aside. Steam the broccoli until tender, about 5 minutes, and add to the rice along with the lemon zest.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high flame and add a little drizzle of cooking oil. When pan is hot add the chicken with the marinade. Cook chicken until caramelizes and deep brown on both sides, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the casserole dish.

Add in the pesto and stir until everything is well combined. Smooth out the mixture with the back of a spoon and sprinkle lightly with cheeses. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Broccoli Rice Chicken Pesto Casserole | A weeknight meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Skillet Enchiladas

I love ooey, gooey enchiladas, but I dislike how messy they are to make. All that soaking tortillas in sauce, filling them and rolling them up – I don’t want to dirty up my clean kitchen!

Here’s a recipe I adapted from Epicurious for the easiest way EVER to make enchiladas. It’s all the same basic ingredients, but without the hassle of dipping and rolling tortillas.

This recipe is really adaptable. Use a leftover rotisserie chicken or ground pork instead of beef. Sub the black beans for pinto. Use what you have in the pantry.

Easy one skillet enchiladas | a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

It’s so quick to put together and get to the table, this may become part of our regular dinner rotation!

Skillet Beef Enchiladas – the easiest way to make enchiladas

Serves 4-6

Easy one skillet enchiladas | a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef (sub ground pork or shredded cooked chicken)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • about 2 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • Sprinkle of shredded smoked gouda (optional)
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped (optional)
  • Pickled jalapeño slices (optional)
  • Sour cream and chopped cilantro, for serving

Easy one skillet enchiladas | a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500F. Heat a 10-inch cast iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high flame. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Drain excess fat if necessary, but leave a little in the pan for the onions.

Add the onions and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.

Add the beans and corn. Pour the enchilada sauce over the contents of the pan and mix together. Add the tortilla pieces and gently stir to incorporate them into the mix, folding the mix over the tortillas now and then.

Evenly distribute the contents of the pan and top with shredded cheese. Turn off heat when contents is heated through and starts to bubble. Dot with olives and jalapeño slices if desired.

Bake 5-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with dollops of sour cream and sprinkle with cilantro.

Easy one skillet enchiladas | a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Poor Man’s Pesto

Pesto was a staple in our household growing up. I had a love for garlic at an early age and there was no better dinner than linguine with pesto.

My dad is a pesto purist, as you can read on his verbose website entry on the matter. I followed in my dad’s footsteps – basil and pine nuts was the ONLY way – until I started paying my own bills and realizing how expensive pine nuts and real Parmesan cheese are.

Years ago I started using pistachios instead of pine nuts for my basil-only pesto recipe, which I had adapted from Marcella Hazan’s blender pesto. I really can’t tell the difference. I realized last year that I’m not alone with this thought. Maya Wilson of Alaska From Scratch also uses pistachios instead of pine nuts for her pesto recipe.

Then last summer, Julia O’Malley invited me over to test out an Alaska greens super pesto. It was then that I realized you don’t have to stick to only fresh basil to achieve that delicious pesto-y flavor.

Enter the giant Costco bag of spinach. You know the one – it’s like $4 and you tell yourself you’re totally going to get through the whole thing before it gets slimy? My husband fell for it again this week and bought the gigantic bag of greens and it’s my mission to get through it before it goes bad.

Last night I decided to try pesto using what I had on hand: a giant bag of spinach, pistachios, pecorino Romano cheese, lemon and the other usual pesto cast of characters. What I discovered is basil doesn’t matter a bit to me when it comes to pesto. It’s the garlic, cheese and olive oil that my tastebuds crave.

Spinach and pistachio pesto - a less expensive recipe with the same great flavor | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

This recipe was everything I wanted and so much cheaper than the recipe I grew up with. Adding melted butter makes up for the oils in the pine nuts that the pistachios lack. And including fresh lemon juice brightens up the pesto in a similar way the basil does.

I eyeballed all the ingredients, but this is a good place to start. Follow your tastebuds. If the mixture is too thick, add more olive oil. If it doesn’t have enough bite, add some more lemon juice or salt. If it’s too thin, add more cheese. You could also reserve some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce.

Spinach and pistachio pesto - a less expensive recipe with the same great flavor | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Spinach and Pistachio Pesto – a less expensive way to enjoy pesto bliss

Enough sauce for 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil (plus more if needed)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 big handfuls fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (about 3.5-4 oz.)
  • 3/4 cups pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter, cooled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Spinach and pistachio pesto - a less expensive recipe with the same great flavor | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

In a small food processor or blender, purée the pistachios, olive oil and garlic until smooth. Add in the spinach and blend until everything is evenly blended – about 20-30 seconds.

Place contents into a medium mixing bowl and add the cheese, lemon juice and butter. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. If pesto is too thin, add more cheese. If it’s too thick, add more olive oil. Serve with long thin pasta cooked al dente.

Spinach and pistachio pesto - a less expensive recipe with the same great flavor | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Pasta and shrimp in a paprika chili sauce

A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for a Spanish-style shrimp appetizer. I am pretty sure I’ve eaten my weight in shrimp since posting it.  One of my favorite parts of the dish is sopping up the flavorful garlic paprika oil with a piece of rustic bread.

The other day I didn’t have any crusty bread, so I decided to toss some linguine in the leftover oil. It was fantastic.

So I turned my tasty app into an entree. This is a wonderful way to impress your guests with a colorful, flavorful dish that takes very little time to make. It’s really easy! I eyeballed the oil and the pasta so these are approximate measurements. Feel free to play around with it!

Pasta and shrimp in a paprika chili sauce | A simple dinner recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Pasta with shrimp in a paprika chili sauce

Serves 3-4

Pasta and shrimp in a paprika chili sauce | A simple dinner recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 dried guajillo or New Mexico chilis
  • 16 raw shrimp, deveined and peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika (Hungarian will do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Splash of white wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 pound pasta

Pasta and shrimp in a paprika chili sauce | A simple dinner recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the dried pepper into rings and place in a small bowl. When water is boiling, remove 1/2 cup and pour over the dried peppers. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Drain and set aside. While pasta is boiling, toss the shrimp with the paprika and set aside.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium. Add the garlic and softened chili and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Add the shrimp and any remaining paprika. Turn down heat if needs be to avoid burning the garlic. Cook until shrimp is pink, turning halfway, about 4 minutes.

Salt to taste. Add a glug of white wine and let it bubble away for a few seconds. Add the pasta and toss until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle in the parsley.

Pasta and shrimp in a paprika chili sauce | A simple dinner recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com