porcini mushroom lasagne fig and brandy jam fried vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio) brie fig apple prosciutto sandwich


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2014 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

little piggies

August 28th, 2014

Recipe: porcini mushroom lasagne

We have somehow worm-holed into autumn this week because the weather turned cool, windy, and stormy in the mountains. I rather like it. I mean, I LOVE IT! But I know summer will return this weekend just in time for the Labor Day holiday. I suppose that is a good thing. Actually, it has all been very good. Rains this late in summer mean that our wildflowers at the highest elevations continue to crank out their colors. Combined with good sun exposure, it also brings the huckleberries! Erin and I discovered the MOTHERLODE on a hike and picked beautiful, fat, dark purple, ripe huckleberries for hours through rain, sun, more rain, and more sun. The mountain streams look healthy and full (as opposed to dangerously full or sadly low) and the risk for wildfires reduces with all of this lovely moisture. Most of all, we get some beautiful moments from the volatile weather.


sunrise double rainbow from my deck!

bull moose chillaxing in the willows (he’s lying down – he’s huge when standing up!)

two of my favorite hiking buddies: erin and banjo

my favoritest hiking pal: jeremy (and stormy weather on the divide)

star gentian in full bloom streamside



In addition to all of this mountain goodness, we recently found porcini. Typically I would expect them to be wormed out and mushy this late in the season, but porcini like the rain. Actually, they like a combination of different things: rain, humidity, the right soil, sun… Given a choice, I choose huckleberries over porcini. But if the porcini (porcino means piglet in Italian) are recently flushed and solid, the worms are less likely to have begun their buffet and the stipes will be solid and crisp like a raw potato. In my mind, those are perfect little piggy jems.

many perfect piggy jems



I absolutely love finding porcini. It is such a thrill and a rush akin to an adult Easter egg hunt – but way the hell better! Yet I am not unlike the way Kaweah was with squirrels. Once she caught one (she caught plenty in her youth) she didn’t know what to do with it. For me, the hunt is the best part. I don’t particularly love cleaning them, which is why I always seem to give some away. But this time I only gave a few away. The rest I kept for making some new recipes to share. I always thought a porcini lasagne would be a lovely dish to try. This pretty much works with any mushroom you can get at the store, but the porcini are especially meaty with a beautifully delicate earthy flavor.

lasagne noodles, parsley, sage, thyme, prosciutto, parmesan, asiago, olive oil, flour, onion, garlic, white pepper, salt, butter, black pepper, milk, porcini (not pictured: nutmeg)

clean the porcini with a mushroom brush or damp paper towel – don’t wash them in water!

slice about 3/8-inch thick



**Jump for more butter**

the place to be

August 24th, 2014

Recipe: fig brandy jam

People love to visit the mountains. I know this because I live here and see them flocking to the trails and campgrounds on summer weekends or flocking to the ski slopes on winter weekends. Then there is the unavoidable leaf-peeping which involves more flocking to our grand aspen stands in autumn. It’s the place to visit. It takes a little something different to want to live in the mountains. Life is a lot less “convenient” here compared to life in suburbia or the city, but I dare say it is a splendid life and it does right by me.


glowing sunset after a storm clears

trail running beautiful mountain forests

so many streams

meadows

mushroom (porcini)

jeremy cradles the precious finds



Of course, what the mountains really lack is access to good food, and by good food, I mean good ingredients. I drive down the canyon to Boulder and surrounds at least twice a week to gather groceries for cooking, blogging, and client projects. Last week, my friend, Garrett, of Vanilla Garlic, posted a recipe for fig and brandy jam. It sounded incredible and looked super easy. I was all over it when I saw that organic figs were on sale in town. [Believe me when I say it isn't lost of me that we live in such a paradise with access to a great town like Boulder, Colorado.]

sweet black mission figs

for the jam: sugar, lemon (juice), brandy, and figs



**Jump for more butter**

it’s a feeling

August 20th, 2014

Recipe: vietnamese fried spring rolls (cha gio)

All signs point to “Back to School”. Crested Butte seemed to be emptying out this past weekend and our trail run Monday morning was particularly devoid of the usual summer gamut of hikers, runners, and bikers. We are now back home in the Front Range, navigating around freshmen and their parents as they arrive at the university. Folks are wrapping up their summer vacations and the commuter buses will be running at capacity once again. We spied a single aspen that had gone gold amidst a sea of green on our drive from Crested Butte to Nederland. Someone always jumps the gun, but fall is not far off for the mountains where splashes of red and yellow are already dotting the understory like little jewels. Speaking of little jewels, we’re seeing many wild berries ripening in the high country, too!


raspberries

my favorites: huckleberries

wild strawberries



The berries I find in the mountains are precious to me. No one tends to these plants. No one waters them. No one protects them from pests. No one throws blankets over them when there is an overnight freeze. And yet these wild and hardy plants produce the most intensely flavored little fruits. Treasures. When you explore the mountains year-round, you gain an appreciation for the struggles that all mountain life endures – especially when you pop a perfectly sweet and tart sun-warmed berry into your mouth. It is a short-lived berry season. The approach of fall looms large as my mind turns back to the kitchen, where it is starting to feel comfortable enough to cook. Let’s make some Vietnamese spring rolls or cha gio.

ground pork, shrimp, carrot, bean thread (cellophane) noodles, salt, pepper, egg, garlic, shallot, fish sauce, rice paper



While I love fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, I am a huge sucker for crisp fried things. That’s probably part of my motivation to keep active! The first time I had the fried Vietnamese spring rolls, was when our Vietnamese server misunderstood my order for grilled pork bun (rice noodle vermicelli) and brought me the grilled pork and egg roll combo bun instead. SO GOOD! I didn’t know such a thing existed.

chop the cellophane noodles with scissors

the filling: chopped cellophane noodles, minced shallots, shredded carrot, ground pork, chopped shrimp, fish sauce, beaten egg, salt, pepper, minced garlic

place all of the filling ingredients in a bowl

mix it together



**Jump for more butter**