Readers loved most the recipes that used local Alaska ingredients like carrots, rhubarb, fish, potatoes and kale; made use of pantry staples; and had a nostalgic feel. They also favored sweet a little over savory, but who could blame them? Unsurprisingly, Maya Wilson’s glorious chocolate-zucchini brownies carried 2018.
1. Rich, gooey zucchini brownies
“Zucchini naturally hold water, which releases as it bakes, giving the brownies that fudgy texture that many say is essential to a good brownie. You top these brownies with a quick saucepan chocolate frosting, similar to the kind used on Texas sheet cake. Fair warning: you may need to eat these with a fork,” writes Wilson.
2. To-die-for rhubarb-almond coffee cake
“The batter alone was to die for, with intoxicating streaks of orange zest and just the right amount of cardamom. It was so gorgeous when it came out of the oven, steam rising up from where it had been sliced. My wife and I both devoured a piece with an audible chorus of ‘mmmms,’ ” Wilson wrote.
3. Historic recipe-inspired salmon pie with Parmesan-thyme crust
This dish, inspired by pirok or Russian fish pie recipes from historic cookbooks, is kind of a showstopper and a great way to stretch salmon to feed a crowd. (Also a good use for spoon meat, canned salmon or spring freezer salmon.) Oh, and the secret to great flavor: bacon fat. That comes straight from a 100-year-old cookbook. If you don’t have any on hand, try a couple slices of bacon.
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This recipe, made with sour cream, mayonnaise and shelf-stable, Alaska staple Ritz crackers, hits on the notes of many historic recipes and is influenced heavily by the dish I ate as a kid. I like to think, though, that it’s just a little better?
Wilson writes: “This is one of those simple recipes that will have you standing over the pan, eating carrots with your fingers and grabbing the garlicky cheese bits that are stuck to the pan (my favorite part).”
“To lovers of candied yams with marshmallow topping, I’m not going to hate on you. That dish, a retro classic that has graced many a Thanksgiving table throughout the decades, has gotten a bad rap over the years. I know what a powerful thing food nostalgia can be. I’ve made a pie in your honor, a show-stopping sweet potato pie with marshmallow meringue,” says Wilson.
7. Farmer’s market kale and potato frittata
“A go-to dish that can easily satisfy as a mid-morning snack, lunch or quick supper,” says Kim Sunée.
8. Decadent, easy caramel pie
Sunée says this is “an old-school pantry pie that turns cookie crumbs and shelf-stable condensed milk into something luxurious.”
Sunée came up with this cake while gathering crabapples. “You can peel the apples or not (sometimes I only peel half the amount so the cake has flecks of color),” she writes. Dress it up with ice cream, sweetened whipped cream or vanilla custard sauce., she says.
The best crisp makers don’t use recipes. They use what they happen to have and do it by feel. They are crisp MacGyvers. You can be one too. (With hacks for camp and cabin crisp-making.)