gnocchi with morels and sage shrimp tatsuta-age sweet and sour beef short ribs almond cake with blood oranges (gluten-free)


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archive for February 2019

mindshift

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Recipe: lentil beet salad

This winter has been deeply satisfying compared to last winter. First off, we are getting snow. Although the Colorado snowpack currently registers slightly above average, we find this exhilarating and refreshing. Second, Yuki is learning the ways of the Colorado Mountain Dog. Not only has she been our easiest dog to train, but she is loving her little snow adventures on the Nordic trails, the mountain, and in the backcountry. Third, Jeremy and I have been exploring new-to-us trails and scoping out potential mushroom spots for this spring/summer.


skinning up through bright and happy aspen forests

yuki’s first time on our favorite stretch of (dog-friendly) nordic trail

sunshine after the storm: grabbing powder on a bluebird morning

the winds sending prayers and mantras across the mountains

a colorful and stormy sunrise



You might think with all of the great snow this season that we would never want winter to end. Not so. I do love my winters very much, but I find joy in every season. The extra daylight as we inch closer to spring has my brain spinning in anticipation of crust cruising, the sound of snow melt trickling past newly sprouted blades of grass, hunting morels, the return of birds and their songs. Don’t even get me started on summer. We have high hopes for some big hikes and backpacking trips with Neva and Yuki. Of course, I am certain come July I will be pining for the cold starry nights, fluffy snow, and long-simmered stews of January. I love it all.

After the celebratory dishes for Chinese New Year, a chocolate shoot for a client, and recipe testing sweets, I just want to eat salad. These days my salads take on the hearty form of a meal in contrast to the delicate summer counterparts loaded with seasonal greens and presented as side-dishes. I like sweet, sour, crunchy, nutty, earthy components in my bowl. The beauty of the salad is that you include or omit ingredients according to your tastes. Here are some of my favorites.


beets, romaine lettuce, croutons, red cabbage, lentils, edamame, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, garbanzo beans



I find the easiest way for me to regularly eat salads is to prep the ingredients at the start of the week so that I essentially have a “salad bar” from which to pack or assemble my lunch. If you use dried lentils and beans, that means cooking them ahead of time. Of course, to save time, you can purchase cooked lentils (I’ve seen them pre-packaged at Trader Joe’s) and canned beans. Same applies to beets – you can cook them (roast or boil) or purchase them already cooked or pickled.

a half cup of dry lentils will yield about 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils

toasting pumpkin seeds

shredding cabbage



**Jump for more butter**

something shiny

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Recipe: chocolate mirror glaze

This past week in Crested Butte has seen a good bit of progress for Yuki. She improved her length of sustained running during our skate ski compared to the last few times when she would slow down, fall behind, and then STOP abruptly. We also took her on the mountain at the ski resort for her first uphill ski and she was pretty good despite so many new and loud distractions like ski patrol, snow mobiles, and large grooming machines. Yuki was a trooper through it all and it helped tremendously to have Neva present to show her there was nothing to be afraid of, but rather everything to be excited about. Crested Butte provides an excellent environment for dog activities with its consistent snow, designated dog-friendly Nordic trails, dog-friendly uphill policies at the ski resort, and good backcountry coverage.


when it is -25°F outside, we stay home and snuggle until it warms up

enjoying the nordic trails on a bluebird day

frost flowers form on the river when it is really cold and calm

skiing out after skinning up the mountain with the pups

plenty of snow down in town



I see Valentine’s Day on the calendar this week and have absolutely zero plans except to possibly ski a powder day. Oh wait, I *do* have something for you all. Last September, I made a random chocolate raspberry mousse cake for Jeremy’s birthday and a few people had asked if I would post the recipe. I didn’t feel there was a recipe to post since most of the cake was made from components that have already been published on the blog. However, the chocolate mirror glaze was new, and that’s what I will discuss in this post. A glossy dark chocolate mirror glaze lends a nice wow factor to a dessert and is pretty easy to whip up. I’ll also go through the steps of my cake assembly, but the cake under the glaze can be (almost) anything you like.

The chocolate chiffon cake and the chocolate mousse recipes come from my chocolate mousse bombes recipe. If you plan to make the chocolate chiffon cake, I blogged the recipe for the hazelnut praline paste last week. In this example, I baked two 6×2-inch rounds of the chocolate chiffon cake and leveled the tops to give me two 1-inch layers of cake. This uses half of the chocolate chiffon cake recipe which can yield three 6×2-inch cakes (I had extra batter left over). I doubled the mousse recipe because I wanted enough mousse to form a half-inch layer around the cake and a thin layer on top of the cake. For raspberries, I had 3 cups of fresh raspberries for filling the mousse layer as well as garnishing the cake.


trimmed cake layers, raspberries, and chocolate mousse



I couldn’t find a 7-inch ring mold anywhere in town, but managed to improvise one using an 8-inch (point-to-point) hexagonal ring mold whose side-to-side measurement was 7 inches. I taped a strip of 4-inch acetate in a circle around the inside of the mold and set it on parchment inside of a larger (9-inch) baking pan. I set the first cake layer down in the center (base to bottom), then piped mousse on top of it (piping makes it easier). I pressed the raspberries into the mousse, not worrying too much about mousse spilling over the edge since I was surrounding the cake with a mousse layer. Next, I filled the gaps between the cake and the acetate strip with mousse. In hindsight, I should have used a smaller piping tip because it is difficult to fill the tight spots, but it mostly worked.

center the cake in the mold

top with mousse

arrange the raspberries in the mousse

fill the sides with mousse to the raspberry level



**Jump for more butter**

nuts for hazelnuts!

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Recipe: hazelnut pralines and hazelnut praline paste

I love the feeling of getting over the hump! My cold last month put me behind schedule on a few things that made the past couple of weeks a crush of work and deadlines that pushed up against Chinese New Year preparations. I managed to get it all done while sacrificing some sleep and exercise so we could leave for Crested Butte on the first day of the Chinese New Year. At least I did the “lucky” things for the Year of the Pig, which happens to be my year. Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Now I can resume a normal pace of productivity and enjoy some time with my pack in the snow.


our spoiled pups enjoying their window benches in nederland

i kept the lunar new year celebration simple

taking advantage of a quiet powder day in crested butte

fluffy little stashes everywhere

yuki and neva as wind indicators



The recipe I’m sharing today came about through necessity. My first introduction to hazelnut praline paste occurred in my pastry skills program over a decade ago. It’s the kind of product you’ll find in the kitchens of professional bakers, candy makers, pastry chefs, pastry schools, and serious baking enthusiasts. Think of it as a rustic version of Nutella without any of the junk ingredients. Unable to find it in any local stores, my online search revealed hazelnut praline paste to be rather pricey unless I was willing to buy 11 pounds of it (I am not). I wondered aloud how hard could it possibly be to make my own? Apparently, not hard at all.

lemon juice, sugar, raw hazelnuts, water



Most people would probably substitute Nutella or skip the praline paste altogether, but I have a deep love of the stuff. I’d spoon it straight into my mouth if my adult brain didn’t override my 1970s child instincts. Hazelnut praline paste has a rich, smooth texture and a buttery, toasted nutty, burnt sugar flavor. To make it requires caramelizing sugar, coating the hazelnuts in the hot caramelized sugar, cooling the pralines, and then blitzing it to a paste in a food processor. While the process steps are simple, the technique requires some competency with caramelizing sugar. I even managed to brick a batch of hot sugar before remembering that a touch of acid (in this case, lemon juice) can help prevent seed formation during caramelization, especially at high altitude. One thing to note is that I usually use organic cane sugar, which is light brown, but I used white sugar in the photographs because I wanted to show it turning amber in color.

combine sugar, lemon juice, and water in a small saucepan

let it boil undisturbed until it turns deep amber



**Jump for more butter**