Friday, July 12, 2013

Amaretto Raspberry Granita

I saw a picture in the newspaper yesterday how there's wild blueberries ripe for picking already even though it's still the first half on July! Because of my hectic winter, I still have a bunch of raspberries in my freezer from last summer that I never got around to using, so I thought it was time to use them up.

My friends Casey and Andy came over to play my board game Mooseopoly last night.  I created this board game as an informal education outreach tool for the Yukon Flats region of Alaska to teach the students there about moose ecology.  Basically, it's more like the board game The Game of Life than Monopoly, but the name seemed more fitting.  Casey is a ungulate ecologist focusing her PhD research on moose dynamics in Interior Alaska, so she's been curious to try her hand at Mooseopoly for awhile.

To use up some of my frozen raspberries, I made this Amaretto Raspberry Granita for dessert.  I thought about making a sorbet, but this seemed easier since I don't have an ice cream maker-- the granita is just stuck the freezer for freezing.

Amaretto Raspberry Granita


1 cup water
3/4 c sugar
3 c (frozen) raspberries
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Amaretto liqueur


Place the water and sugar in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and dissolve all of the sugar.

Pour the lime juice over the berries.

Pour the sugar syrup over the berries.  (If using fresh berries, cool the syrup first before pouring over the berries.

Muddle the berries in the sugar syrup to release the juice from the berries.

Strain the berry sugar mixture into a shallow container.

Stir in the Amaretto liqueur.

Place the container in the freezer.  Stir periodically as it freezes (~6-8 hours).


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Celebrating Holi the Indian Festival of Color with Chai and Sabudana

This spring I was pretty busy, so I'm totally late in posting these recipes.  But even a busy spring requires some respite from work and a little play time.  In Alaska, I'm always looking for ways to celebrate and welcome springtime.

Last March when I was back in NYC for my brother & Janejai's wedding celebration, I picked up some Holi colors.

So this past March I invited a bunch of friends over for an Indian food potluck brunch to celebrate Holi.  All sorts of good food!  I made sabudana and chai for the brunch.

I had celebrated Holi with my friend Archana in the past, but this year she's been in NYC.  It sounds like she'll be back in Fairbanks at the end of the summer, so we'll have to have another celebration when she gets back!

Archana taught me how to make sabudana, a savory tapioca dish.  Well, it's not exactly a recipe since there are no set measurements.  It's more like guidelines for making sabudana.  I never seem to get the texture quite right-- my tapioca pearls always seem to clump, but it still tastes delish!  I also might be need to try larger-sized tapioca pearls to solve that problem.


tapioca pearls (~2 cups)
potatoes (5-6 small potatoes)
olive oil
cumin seeds (~2 tbsp)
roasted peanuts (handful)
cilantro (small bunch)

Place the tapioca pearls in a bowl and add enough cold water to barely cover them.  Soak for ~ 4 hours.  Drain off the excess water.

Boil the potatoes until soft.  Remove the peels of the potatoes.

Dice the jalapeño (I remove the seeds to reduce the heat of it).

In a frying pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and cumin seed.  Once the cumin seeds begin to brown, add the jalapeño.  Once that is cooked, add in the potatoes, crushing them with your hands.  Fry the potatoes with the jalapeño and cumin seeds (you might need to add more oil at this point).  When the potatoes are a bit browned, add in the tapioca pearls to the mixture.

Continue to stir as the tapioca cooks. Don't cover the pan since trapping the steam will make the tapioca sticky.

When the tapioca is cooked (and looks translucent),  remove from the heat and place in a bowl.

Stir in chopped cilantro and roasted peanuts.


5 cups of water
1.5 tbsp cardamom
1 tbsp whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 freshly ground nutmeg seed
cut up chunk of crystallized ginger
1/4 cups of dark brown sugar (more or less depending on how sweet you want it)
2 tbsp loose black tea


In a large pot, simmer water and spices for 15 minutes.

Add brown sugar and dissolve.

Remove from heat and add tea leaves.  Steep for 5 minutes and then strain through a cheese cloth.

Add vanilla extra.

When ready to serve, heat equal parts of chai mix and milk together.  Alternatively, you can make a chai latte by adding warmed chai mix to steamed milk.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Super easy chocolate-banana cream pie in a walnut crust

Visiting my friend Tristan, we made this fantastic pie!

When you live in Alaska and travel down to the Lower 48, you try to cram as much as possible into every trip.  I just attended a conference in Estes Park, Colorado.  Since I was in the neighborhood I decided to take a road trip around the Four Corners region, visiting friends in the area.  

Tristan, one of my best friends from high school, lives in Farmington, NM, and she said that she would bake a pie if I came to visit her.  I would have totally visited her without the promise of a pie, but that made it a totally sweet deal!

Tristan, me, Heidi, and Stacey hanging out at the Village Inn parking lot circa 1993

When I arrived, we discussed what type of pie we should make, and this is what we came up with: a chocolate pudding pie with bananas and whipped cream in a walnut crust.  

Chocolate-banana cream pie in a walnut crust
1.5 cups walnuts
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter

1 package Jell-chocolate pudding
2.5 cups milk
2-3 bananas
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 tbps sugar

Preheat the oven to 325˚.

In a food processor, add the crust ingredients and mix together.  Press into a 9 inch pie plate and bake for 10 minutes.  Let it cool completely.  We stuck the crust in the freeze to help it cool since it was about 95˚ degrees outside.

Add the chocolate Jell-O pudding mix to 2.5 cups of milk and mix with an electric mixer for 3 minutes until the pudding is firm.

Slice the bananas into 1/8th to 1/4 inch slices.

Whip the whipping cream with an electric mixer until you have firm peaks; mix in ~ 2 tbsp of sugar after the whipping cream is able to form firm peaks.

Once you have the crust, banana slice, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream ready to, start assembling the pie.

Begin by placing a layer banana slices over the bottom of the crust.

Pour the chocolate pudding over the banana slices; add a second layer of banana slices over the chocolate pudding.

Spread the whipped cream over the banana slices and top with any leftover banana.

 I'm not sure how well or long this cream pie will keep in the refrigerator; it was devoured fairly quickly!