Alaska salmon make it on an episode of Top Chef. Check out the video clip!
Andee Stepp switched on the torch and leaned away from the flame as fire heated up a silver ladle full of rum.
It caught fire.
“Pretty,” Stepp said as she poured the fiery liquid over a small dome of meringue.
I recently met with the Stepp, who’s an advanced baking student at the University of Alaska Anchorage to learn the history of baked Alaska, and to watch her make her version of the old fashioned dessert.
It’s one of her favorites.
There are many variations of baked Alaska, but it’s traditionally a sponge cake base, topped with a scope of ice cream and then covered with meringue.
Stepp told me that a French chef, Charles Ranhofer, who worked in New York City at Delmonico’s Restaurant created the dessert to celebrate the purchase of Alaska. But how did he come up with the idea? Ice cream seemed obvious, you know, because it’s cold in Alaska. But, why did he use meringue?
“Because it kind of reminded him of the igloos in the snow,” Stepp said.
It also helped slow the ice cream from melting before it was served. Stepp said during the 1800′s chefs would get an oven as hot as possible before putting the dessert in, to brown the meringue. Once it was at your table rum would be set on fire before it was poured over top. It’s a pretty stunning presentation.
Stepp told me baked Alaska’s making a comeback in restaurants.
Fresh Copper River Salmon will be available this week. Let me repeat:Fresh Copper River Salmon is coming! Opening day is this Thursday at 7 am. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute forecasts 1.4 million sockeye and 27 thousand chinooks this year, which is about the same as last year. Chefs across the country are already working on new menus and, of course, there will be a big production as the fish is flown into Seattle for dinners either Thursday or Friday night. I spoke with executive chef Dan Enos from The Oceanaire in Boston, he said he plans serve it with just a little bit of salt and pepper, lemon and olive oil. “When the Alaska salmon comes in it’s a no brainer, it flies off the menu.”
Copper River is the 10th largest river in the United States. The salmon have to travel 300 miles to get to their spawning grounds, which requires extra stores of of omega-3 fatty acids. The journey adds to it’s richness.
I stopped by Glacier BrewHouse and was told they’re expecting fresh salmon by next week. “It’s a good time to be a chef in Alaska.” Jay Edades a sous chef at BrewHouse said.
My parents always come back to Alaska for Easter. It’s become an annual tradition that I really, really, really, look forward to. This year we decided to head to Homer for a few days with them to relax. I’ve always loved Homer, it’s got this great artsy-vibe, there are always animals nearby, it’s a coastal community– Homer is perfection. And, it’s also the home of Two Sisters Bakery, with a reputation known across the country. We ordered cinnamon rolls, which you won’t see because I ate them before anyone could pull out a camera, sourdough baguettes, ciabatta and the White Trash Loaves, (we couldn’t resist the name!). Next time you’re there, you have to stop by. And pick-up some cinnamon rolls for me!
Have you met Chef Rob Kinneen, or seen his website? If you haven’t you must. He’s the brains behind fresh49.com. Besides this blog, of course, it’s one of the coolest blogs in the state. Rob travels across Alaska and makes webisodes that show how to use local ingredients in contemporary dishes. It’s shoot beautifully and I ended up wanting to try, and go everywhere, Rob did. Did you realize you could make fresh rolls from herbs and seaweed found in the state? Want to try Kaladi Bros coffee in your gravy? If it’s local, Rob’s got a recipe. I’m working on a profile about him for Channel 2. You can check it out Wednesday morning and on the 6 o’clock newscast that same day. If you make anything off Rob’s website let me know what you think!
Have you ever tried a King Cake? Mike Ross, who moved from New Orleans to Alaska to anchor our newscasts, is our resident King Cake supplier. We’re so addicted he may never be allowed to take another job. So a little history, the cake gets its name from the biblical three kings. It’s super pretty, covered with purple, green and yellow sprinkles and inside is a tiny, plastic baby that represents baby Jesus. You can only eat a little slice, and the taste kind of reminds me of Cinnabon, (Mike’s son sent the cake with cream cheese inside it). This year one of our web guys found the baby in his slice, so, if tradition dictates, it seems like KTUU.com will be providing the cake next year.
I took the tour of Olive Garden today. It was interesting to watch a new restaurant getting ready for an opening. The staff, 165 people, were still training. The bartenders were learning about the wines, (I’m told 80% come from Italy) and the wait staff was getting lessons on the computer system. The managers were even inspecting uniforms to make sure everyone’s sleeves had the proper creases.
The restaurant, in the Tikahtnu Commons, opens Monday at 4 p.m. The GM, Dawn Bellerose, has her name craved into stone outside of Alaska’s first Olive Garden.
“We are just so excited at this point to be here to be part of the Anchorage community to be reaching out.” Bellerose said. “It’s a great feeling, and its an honor, its an honor to be the first one here.”
Olive Garden seats 262 people and has 75 servers and four managers.
A second location will open at the Dimond Center in the fall.
So are you going and do you think there will be a long wait?
Check out some of the photos I took on our tour this morning.
I’m working on a story about where, and what is the best local present. Of course I was focused on what types of foods people are buying. It seems to come down to this: crab legs, chocolates and dog treats. I stopped by Alaska Wild Berry Products, 10th and M Seafoods and Yummy Chummies. It was really cool to see chocolates being hand dipped and cut. Chocolate is always so beautiful. It was also fascinated watching the factory-like work it takes to make dog treats, (it is kinda stinky though). Owner Brett Gibson said he’s got his crew working almost round the clock to keep up with demand. Seems there are A LOT of people buying dog treats this Christmas. And King Crab legs. What can you really say about them besides, wow?! Here are a few of your suggestions for Christmas food presents:
Summer might be over soon, but not yet. I say it’s still ice cream weather.
When Alice asked for a treat, (I usually don’t like sweets), I couldn’t resist a classic Ice Cream Sundae at Spenard Roadhouse. It can be topped with either a berry compote or chocolate. If you stop by on a sunny day, sit on the deck.
I live with fruit-addicts.
We are the type of people who will buy the sad looking fruit on the stands in January– in Alaska.
When there is no fruit-hope.
Now that it’s summer we’ve been living the good life.
But, (and isn’t there always a but?!), sometimes we can’t eat all the fruit I’ve bought.
I hate waste, which is why when I saw this dessert I knew I had to try it.
I modified it a bit and added honey and Greek yogurt.
I also couldn’t find my pie tin so I used a deep dish, which I typically use to make cobbler.
If a dessert can be described as precious, this is it.
Serve it at breakfast and start the day off right.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for baking dish
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A drizzling of honey
2 teaspoons Greek yogurt
1 pound strawberries, halved
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter deep-dish pie pan.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until combined, about 10 minutes.
Mix in egg, milk, Greek Yogurt, honey and vanilla until combined.
Add dry mixture and beat until smooth.
Pour into prepared deep dish, it will be kind of thick.
Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter (make it look pretty!).
Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 60 minutes.