Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » Alaskan Test Nest
Alaskan Test Nest

While on vacation in Alaska, my family wanted me to do a Test Nest, and I was happy to do it. A Test Nest in Alaska must include Salmon, while locals eat a lot of it, I don’t eat Salmon unless I’m in Alaska. From the short time I lived there however, and caught a few of these beauties myself, I experienced the taste difference between the varieties of Salmon. I knew my brother would have plenty of the best Salmon in their freezer so I was pretty excited to try this recipe. I had Mary teach me how to make bread (video how to to be posted soon). We invited a few of the Kendall’s to join us and we had a great Sunday evening together. My nephews were great and tried everything and even liked a few things, they also helped set the table and made the place cards (1st picture).

Mocktail: Lemon Verbena Drop with Thyme (3 Stars)

I often take cocktail recipes and try to change them up to make flavorful non-alcoholic mocktails – some are more successful that others. This drink has a lot of potential, but as a replacement for Lemon Verbena infused Vodka muttled with thyme, I created a simple syrup (as this has preparation step has proven to be the most successful mocktails in the past), infused with thyme, a little mint and lemon peal, as we couldn’t find lemon verbena. It was too strong on the thyme, but had good bite and cleansed the palette. It needed some sparkling water to thin it out a little and add some crispness. It did go well with the fish and the 1st course so that was a win. I will definitely try this again to better perfect the recipe and get it to a 5 star.

1st Course: Kale and Potato Soup (5 Stars)

My 8 year old nephew gave this a 5 star…so it must be a definitely keeper! This recipe from Alice Water’s “The Art of Simple Food” really was divine; I wished I had leftovers in my fridge when I got back to NYC. As I write about it now I wish I was eating it for lunch, a definite 5 Star! We added some sausage the following day to add more substance to the leftovers, and that was awesome as well and fulfilled Mike and Jeff’s desire for the soup to be heavier. As a 1st course it was perfect but alone it definitely would need the sausage or some white beans and yummy bread.

This simple soup starts with sautéing onions and garlic, then adding the kale and Yukon potatoes until fragrant. Add 6 cups chicken broth and simmer 30 minutes. Sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan.


2nd Course: Crunchy Wasabi Salmon with Lime & Jasmine Rice (4.5 Stars)

Now, I was very nervous about this, here I was making Salmon for locals, who definitely know how to prepare it better than I, but the Kendall’s loved it. The crunchy wasabi topping was unique and they had never tasted anything like it before, they said, “In Alaska this would be popular at a restaurant.” Yeah! I also learned that tales are better to buy/prepare as they are boneless.

This recipe is a great option for variety if you eat a lot of Salmon, it also gives the Salmon great flavor. It needed a bit more sea salt and Mike like the sweetness from the lime, and wanted more. The side of rice and suggested cabbage and snap peas was less desirable. I really struggled to think of what would pair best with this fish for the 1st course and dessert as I’d never had anything like it before. Next time I’d have a soy wasabi sauce available to guests to poor on the rice. Not sure I’d make the cabbage and pea side. It was pretty and mysterious, but lacking. Maybe serve this with a garlic-mashed potato. I think Asparagus could pair well, or even keep the snap peas and add lime and mint to them. A wilted spinach or swiss chard could also be a nice contrast lightly sautéed with oil and garlic.


Dessert: Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake (4.5 Stars)

This was definitely a fan favorite, especially for the kids. I used dark chocolate chips and dark chocolate cocoa for a stronger flavor and it was mmmm-yummy. Guests wanted more frosting in the middle and top. Jeff wanted more of a buttercream frosting. As always the buttermilk gave way to a moist and flaky cake.

4 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Mary (April 11, 2011)

    Amber, We had so much fun, thanks for doing it. Having you in my kitchen was too much of a treat for me. I could get used to cracking up with you on a regular basis over measuring diameters and making crazy bread videos that u can’t post until you edit! Come back soon! Or maybe I should take another little trip out there to the big apple again.

  2. ann henrie (April 20, 2011)

    Amber it was so much fun with you and Mary in the kitchen. I do have to admit that I really liked the crunchy salmon. The chocolate cake was good but after your raspberry cake I would pick anytime it is hard to choose another cake recipe. I really enjopyed the cool company of the Kendalls. Bro. Kendall was a fun test nester to sit by at dinner. I really enjoyed everything he had to say about the food. I think your test nest idea is wonderful. I can’t wait for you to come and do one for me in Charlotte.

  3. Mike (April 21, 2011)

    Wow – you make it look so good.

  4. JEFF (April 21, 2011)

    Just reading this makes me want the soup and salmon again (with wasabi & soy sauce for the rice, of course)! Now I’ve got to try the Raspberry Cake… That sounds awesome. :)

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