Friday, April 16, 2010

a review of "The Northern Exposure Cookbook" [26]

The Northern Exposure Cookbook: A Community Cookbook from the Heart of the Alaskan Riviera by Ellis Weiner
(Contemporary Books, ISBN 0-8092-3760-1)

A funny thing happen yesterday. I had posted a book review, a review of a rather creepy mystery. But if you look at the comments for that post, you will see that two of them are about this book, a collection of recipes from the wonderful, timeless TV series, Northern Exposure. See, I have that little Library Thing widgit that shows the books in my library on a certain rotation and it seems it was this book's time to shine. So, I thought I would take a look at it, something I admit I have not done in a long time. And that is a shame, because it is a nice book, especially if you are a fan of this show.

The book is set up as a fundraiser for the town of Cicely, to get enough money to raise a monument to the two women that really founded the town as we know it, Cicely and her beloved companion, Roslyn. The book is, of course, edited by Ruth-Ann with Maurice watching over her shoulder.

There are a wide variety of recipes, submitted by all your favorite NE folks, from Chris's Griddle Cakes, to Joel's Jell-o Surprise, with some stops along the way for the serious and not so serious. On the one hand you have Adam's Walnut Toast with Warm Goat Cheese and Pirozhki, Russian Meat Pies...on the other hand, you have Marilyn's Seasoned Potatoes, which consist of boiled potatoes. And salt.
But of course, for fans of the show, the best part may be introductions to each recipe by the 'character' that is submitting it and all the photos and stories and the wonderful indexes that allow you to search recipes by characters. I also loved the episode guide that reminds you, at least those with better memories that me, what episode the dishes came from.

Now I must admit that I have not made any of the least not that I can remember...but the reviews on Amazon and Abe's, all very good reviews, say the recipes are actually very good.
We will have to see about that.
In the meantime, I will share one that sounds easy and tasty, from the memorable and very odd Adam.

Adam's Cumin Noodles

(comments from Ruth Ann) Now this is wonderful. Don't tell Adam, but I went home and made this with just plain old linguine, and it was divine. It might be even better with Chinese water noodles, whatever they are. But it doesn't have to be.

This is the dish I taught that quack Fleischman when he shattered my solitude and dragged me back to this...this obscene riot of mass delusion that we're all agreeing to call contemporary civilization...Yes, I taught him to cook this recipe in my shack, are you deaf? What do you mean "I don't have to?" You see all this, Miller? You note that I'm standing here within reaching distance of this cleaver? How sharp do you think I keep my cutlery?

1/2 pound fresh Chinese water noodles
2 TBS. vegetable oil
1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 TBS. soy sauce
1 TBS. sesame oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
2 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1- Fill a 3 qt. saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add noodles, bring back to a boil, reduce heat top medium and cook for 5 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse under running water.

2- Heat oil in wok or medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add drained and rinsed noodles and all remaining ingredients. Raise heat to high and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings

Whether the recipes are any good, and many do sound good, I just love the comments and conversations! And all the great memories of the show it reminded me of.
I do warn you that this is not by any means a new book. It was published in 1993, but it seems there are a fair numbers of used copies available out there on the internet if you want to grab one. And if you are a Northern Exposure fan, you must..

"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. I'd love to know if the recipes are good since I never saw the show.

  2. Kathy, you never the show, well, first you must rent the dvds...

  3. I never saw the show (sorry, I'm too young!) but I think it's hilarious there's a tv show cookbook!

  4. I absolutely loved, loved that show!! And so perfect to post one of Adam's recipes. I ***must*** track down this book.

  5. these "I am too young to remember..." folks must be dealt with. :-)

  6. I loved that show too. I'm going to find the dvds and the cookbook. Doesn't that sound like a fun movie marathon combination? The recipe looks very simple and easy to do. I like the introduction to the recipe too. Thanks for telling us about the book.

    P.S. I've noticed a large number of fly fishing books on your book shelf - just kidding.

  7. re: the fly fishing, trout recipes will follow.

    I must get my hands on the to check netflix..

  8. I miss this show!

    The recipe looks good and easy. Two of my favorite things!

  9. I love the seasoned potatoes recipe. Sounds like a great book.

  10. I've never seen this show, but I'm intrigued enough by the ingredients of these cumin noodles to give this dish a try!

  11. caite--

    My Google Alerts found this. Thanks for this lovely writeup. When I wrote TNEC I had already written Letters From Cicely and got to know the characters. Two food guys from Chicago went over the scripts and came up with recipes for any dish featured or even mentioned in the series. It was great fun to do and I'm delighted you found it.

    Ellis Weiner

  12. well, thanks for dropping by Ellis! I had to feature the book because of the demand of my readers that saw it in my library and are still great NE fans.

    But I am mean Adam and the rest did not write the recipes themselves?? ;-)

  13. I have owned this cookbook for several years and I will say wholeheartedly that the recipes are splendid just as the book is charming. It is a must have not only for fans of the show, but for anyone like myself who loves the quirky cookbooks.

  14. Ditto on the thanks for the very nice writeup. I am the editor of this book, and I have to say that it was my absolute favorite project in all my years in publishing. Ellis was a joy to work with, as were the recipe creators, Kevin Morrissey and the late Barry Bluestein (a fantastic couple of foodies who wrote several other wonderful cookbooks under their own names). So happy to see that people are still enjoying this book! --Linda Gray


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