mendiants porcini salt strawberry vanilla shortbread cookies roasted kabocha squash


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2018 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

archive for November 2018

out of sync

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Recipe: strawberry vanilla shortbread cookies

I know most of you already have your sights set on the December holidays, so please forgive me for rehashing last week’s Thanksgiving festivities. It was my intention to share this with you then, but a family emergency came up. It’s a good thing I didn’t plan a fancy meal. Well, that’s not entirely true. I planned a special plate for Neva, as always, and for Yuki, because it was her first Thanksgiving! And then it snowed and we enjoyed skiing and playing in the powder.


a plate for each pup

yuki had no idea what was going on

enjoying a proper start to the ski season

yuki chasing neva in the snow

a dazzling sunset



I posted the video of the pups eating their plates on Instagram and there is also a blooper cut. And thankfully the emergency turned out all right. Huge yay!

If you were hanging out in our house of late, you’d think it was spring because we have been engaging in what can only be classified as a giant Spring Cleaning in Autumn. It’s the stuff of nightmares for Jeremy because I say something as innocent as “let’s replace the sofas”. First we assess if we really do need to replace them. Yes, they’re 38 years old and ergonomically terrible for our backs when we sit on them. Then we calculate finances, find a good sale, determine the best model for our needs. Then the avalanche begins. Where are we putting the old sofas? And before you know it, we are moving half the furniture around in the house which makes me reorganize all of our books, gear, and storage and then I’m declaring that we need to donate or recycle a lot of old stuff that we haven’t needed nor unearthed in the last decade. Jeremy will be moving a bookcase and pause as I stare at the pantry. “None of that needs to be moved to make space for the couches,” he’ll mention in passing as Yuki happily shadows his every move.

But spring cleaning isn’t the only out of season activity I’ve been pursuing. Each fall I start getting nervous about the cookies I distribute in December and I feel compelled to add a new recipe to the rotating assortment. I tested a new one this fall. It’s definitely more of a spring or summer cookie, but I think people will like it no matter the season and I want to share the loveliness with everyone now.

What makes it a spring/summer cookie is the inclusion of strawberries. I had a lot of trouble finding chewy dried strawberries that weren’t loaded with sugar and opted to dehydrate my own. That meant I was the lady in all of the grocery stores examining every box of strawberries for the ripest ones I could find in October. There weren’t many, but there were some decent berries. If you are already worried about drying your own strawberries, never fear. I tested these with freeze-dried strawberries (which are pretty much everywhere) and they work. Some of my taste testers even preferred the freeze-dried to the dried strawberries. But I prefer the slight chew of the homemade dried strawberries. So I’ll show you how I dried my strawberries in my food dehydrator and then I’ll get to the cookies.


water, lemons, strawberries



I started with 4 pounds of ripe-ish strawberries which yielded about 3 cups of dried strawberries. The water and lemon juice mixture helps to prevent browning. If you are drying strawberries for snacks, you can cut the berries into 1/4-inch thick slices, but I wanted them chunky for the cookies, so I halved them. This increases the drying time and results in a little chewiness. How dry you want the slices is up to you. If you do leave them slightly soft, then use or consume them right away or store them longer term in the freezer.

hull the berries

combine the lemon and water

halve the strawberries

soak in the lemon-water for 5 minutes



**Jump for more butter**

in with the new

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

Recipe: roasted kabocha squash

The past few days have involved a lot of cleaning and precious little outside time, but we tell ourselves it is all worth it because we finally updated our refrigerator of 16 years and the crappy stove that came with the house (guessing 21 years old). I consider this a major accomplishment because we’ve had these upgrades on our list for about 10 years… we just hate shopping.


made a clear path for the delivery guys while yuki wonders what’s up

new refrigerator, new stove



The old refrigerator went into the basement to increase our cold storage capacity. The old stove was hauled away. Good riddance. But these things never go as smoothly as planned. We planed off 5 millimeters of cabinet siding to get the refrigerator to fit in its cubby and then replaced 20 feet of old copper water line which had been left unused for 13 years. And now that we have a slide-in range rather than a free-standing range, we need a backsplash. I’m going with stainless steel and it will be easily removable so I can scrub the hell out of it. It’s nice to have the kitchen back in place and working better than before! After all of that, we finally got out with the pups for some exercise and fresh air.

little yuki has a new harness because she outgrew her size small harness!



Thanksgiving is this week and I’ll have a lovely little story to share with you later, but for now I must tell you about kabocha squash. It sounds like kombucha, but it is kabocha, and it is my favorite squash. Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash, also called Japanese Pumpkin, and it has a beautiful sweetness. I love it stewed, in soup, tempura fried, and roasted. You can find it at Asian grocery stores with decent produce sections or at places like Whole Foods or farmers markets. Like many squashes, these are quite hard and a little scary to cut when raw, so do be careful as you would with any similar squash.

to roast: olive oil, salt, pepper, kabocha squash(es)



The skin on the kabocha squash is edible, which is great! Simply wash the squash before cutting. I like to remove the stem because it’s nearly impossible to cut through when splitting the kabocha in half. A careful shallow cut around the base of the stem with the tip of a paring knife (don’t twist, keep it flat) makes popping the stem off by hand a cinch. Once that’s done, carefully cut the kabocha squash in half and scoop out the guts. I then cut the halves in half to get four quarters and trim the hard corners off. From there, I like to slice my squash into 1-inch thick pieces.

scoop out the guts

cut into 1-inch thick slices



**Jump for more butter**

back in the saddle

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Recipe: chewy amaretti

I meant to take one week off from blogging as life began to (dog)pile up on me. I liked that week off from the blog so much it became three weeks. It’s a bit of an internal battle for me to give up as much time as I do to blog. Thanks for bearing with me as I reassess the balance of my time in the weeks and months ahead. If you seek the daily ins and outs of my life’s shenanigans, you can find those on my Instagram.

Life with Yuki continues to be mostly wonderful and a tiny bit frustrating. The frustrating aspects are just puppy stuff. And as puppies go, Yuki is pretty damn great. The snow has been falling this autumn, filling our high country with soft, fluffy white stuff. It’s been so good and cold that most of our ski resorts are opening ahead of schedule. The backcountry has been delightful, although there have been plenty of avalanches, so please be careful out there! Yuki went on her first ski tour over the weekend and had a blast. We think she will probably be a great ski dog if we can teach her to run forward instead of jumping on Neva’s head. I suspect much of that is the puppy in her.


yuki and neva on halloween

jeremy grabs some turns in the backcountry

moose passing through!

napping on new dog blankets i made (yuki chewed a hole in hers 2 days later)

yuki’s first ski tour – she’s a colorado mountain dog!



Today’s recipe for Italian amaretti cookies is RIDICULOUSLY simple, but took me forever to make. Why? Because I originally wanted to try a version that called for amaretto extract (not liqueur) and that amaretto extract got lost in the mail and has been touring the country for the past month. Thank you, USPS! Eventually, I settled on this recipe that doesn’t require amaretto extract (but I did add some amaretto liqueur). It packs all of the almond goodness into a tiny little cookie that is gluten-free, crunchy outside, and chewy inside.

almond extract, granulated sugar, powdered sugar (two bowls), salt, almond flour, marcona almonds, egg whites, amaretto liqueur



You don’t have to adorn your cookies with an almond (or a candied cherry) on top, but I love almonds and thought 1) it looks pretty and 2) it lets people with nut allergies know that this has nuts. Blanched almonds work well. I wanted to use marcona almonds for their extra sweetness, but all of the ones I found were flavored with truffle oil, rosemary, or sea salt. I bought some sea salt marcona almonds and rinsed them, then patted them dry with a towel. They worked great.

If you mix the dough by hand, it starts out sandy and unconsolidated, but keep at it and it will eventually turn into a sticky dough with the consistency of almond paste. If you use a stand mixer, the dough comes together in no time. I’ve tried both ways and I prefer using the mixer.


stir the almond flour, granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and salt together

add the egg whites, almond extract, and amaretto liqueur

mix until cohesive

form a 6-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate



**Jump for more butter**