fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette baked huckleberry doughnuts matsutake soup slow-roasted tomatoes


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archive for December 2017

happy merry to you

Monday, December 25th, 2017

To those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas!

Our Year in Photos is now live at http://jenyu.net/newyear/

The snow is finally falling here in Colorado as we partake in holiday festivities, skiing, and goofing off with Neva.


naughty or nice?



Peace to you all, on this day and every day.

xo
-jen

silly things we say and do

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Recipe: italian rainbow cookies

This was the scene Wednesday night: an assembly line of gift bags, gift boxes, tissue paper, cards, ribbons, cookies, candies, labels, and a checklist scribbled four times over with crossouts, notes, tick marks, and arrows. Maybe I was tired or maybe I am getting smarter, but as the clock spun ahead into the night, I began to unload cookies from my “to make” list like ballast from a sinking ship. French macarons? No. Peppermint kisses? Nope. Mini sour cream coffee cakes? Jettisoned from the list. I like people, but I like them more when I’ve had more than 4 hours of sleep.


holiday cookies and candies



After we had prettied up the packages and set them on the table to ship or deliver the next day, I let out a big sigh (more like an agonized primal scream) and said, “I’m not making anymore EXPLETIVE cookies! And I’m going EXPLETIVE skiing tomorrow!” We actually got four inches of snow overnight, so the logical next step was…

the lovely new high-speed lift that brings us to the powder 8 minutes faster

it was good while it lasted



And can you believe less than 48 hours after declaring NO MORE COOKIES, I was in the kitchen making… cookies? It’s true. I kinda blame Jennie Perillo for that. She posted a photo of her Italian rainbow cookies on Instagram last weekend, which prompted me to finally research the recipe and buy the ingredients – except I had all of those holiday cookies to crank out. I put the project on indefinite hold until Jennie posted ANOTHER photo of those gorgeous cookies on Thursday and I waved the white flag.

italian rainbow cookies



All my life, I had zero interest in Italian rainbow cookies and here’s why: I assumed they were the same as Neapolitan coconut candies – little sweet tricolor rectangles which I thought were disgusting when I was a kid. No one in my Chinese immigrant family set me straight on the distinction between the two, most likely because they had no idea either one existed. Then a couple of months ago we stopped at Whole Foods to grab a salad and their cookie bar was 50% off. For some reason, I decided to give an Italian rainbow cookie a try and to my delight, it tasted of almonds.

almond extract, almond paste, flour, sugar, chocolate, eggs, salt, apricot preserves, butter, red and green food coloring



There are a lot of recipes for Italian rainbow cookies on the web. They’re also called seven layer cookies or three layer cookies or Italian flag cookies, and they more or less follow the same process and list of ingredients. I found Deb‘s discussion to be quite helpful regarding the chocolate layers and the slicing, but decided on a smaller quantity for my first batch because you never quite know what you’re getting into when you decide to bake something at high altitude. Jennie’s recipe amounted to about 75% of Deb’s quantity and I liked the way she baked all three colors in one pan. So I reduced Deb’s recipe by a quarter and baked it up Jennie’s way. Either way, these are not quick cookies, so set aside a full day or parts of two days.

Most people whip the egg whites first and then make the batter, but I like to reverse that order because no good can come of letting whipped egg whites sit around and deflate while you make the cookie batter. Also, the recipe calls for almond paste, which is not the same as marzipan. Marzipan has a higher ratio of sugar to almond than almond paste. Some of you already know this, some of you do not. Remember what Gandalf said, “I’m trying to help you.”


beat the sugar and almond paste together

add butter

mix in the egg yolks and the almond extract

add salt and flour



**Jump for more butter**

the sprint marathon

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Recipe: roasted potatoes

It’s coming down to the wire over here. I have three days to finish (well, start) my holiday baking. You might think that I should have a lot of extra time since there’s very very very little snow to ski in these parts, but there were these flannel rag quilts I was sewing… nine flannel rag quilts. That took a big chunk of the last two weeks. I should clarify that while I haven’t begun my holiday baking, I have most of my holiday candymaking completed. Variety is the spice of life and all that good stuff.

Life is a bit of a frenzy right now, but I did take a few hours off recently to see a rare visitor to Colorado. Deb, of Smitten Kitchen (my favorite food blog), came through Boulder last week on her book tour. While I couldn’t make the actual event, we were able to finally meet in person over some noshes before her book signing.


such a lovely woman

flannel rag quilts in progress

candied orange peels and chocolate caramels



Despite being up to my armpits in chocolate, butter, sugar, cream, and flour, my mind has actually been puzzling over our upcoming holiday menu. Typically we ski our brains out on Christmas morning and I’m too wiped out to prepare anything more than a simple (but delicious) meal. Looking at the short-term forecast, our brains may very well remain securely in our heads due to the lack of snow. Even so, I still don’t want to spend a ton of time cooking. I know Jeremy would be delighted with a sous vide steak, some potatoes, and lots of greens. We have a new favorite way to enjoy roasted potatoes, too.

yukon gold potatoes, duck fat, baking soda, salt, garlic, parsley, black pepper



It’s unclear to me how I found Kenji’s recipe or who turned me on to it (it may have been Kenji’s Instagram), but when I see the words “Best Roast Potatoes” coming from a trusted source, the logical next step is to try it out. I’ve made the potatoes a couple of times now – the first time with olive oil and the second time with duck fat. The olive oil version was good, but holy moly the duck fat version is the stuff of dreams. Kenji’s technique basically parboils potatoes in an alkaline environment to create a roughed starchy exterior, tosses them with fat, and roasts the potatoes to yield crisp outer crusts with fluffy interiors.

quartering peeled potatoes

adding salt, baking soda, and potatoes to the hot water



**Jump for more butter**