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Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Recipe: gougères

For some reason, I had this naive notion in my head that there was plenty of time to get all of the holiday, work, house, and social tasks done before leaving town. I hadn’t counted on losing three of those days to back pain which turned my three remaining days into an all out assault on my to-do list. Do you bakers ever think to yourself in the middle of mixing a batch of cookie dough, “Maybe I’ll just give them three kinds of cookies instead of four…”? Because I think that quite a bit – especially when I reach up to scratch my forehead and wind up leaving a smear of creamed butter and brown sugar where the itch was. Still, I stuck with four types of cookies and tossed in a batch of brittle at the last minute to boot! At some point around midnight, I looked up from the hundreds of cookies on cooling racks covering every known inch of counter space and said, “I hate cookies.” Jeremy, who was in the final stretch of his exam-grading marathon held his hand up, his gaze still fixed upon the exam, muttering, “I’ll commiserate with you in just a moment.”

Truth is, I love giving cookies to people and watching their faces light up with smiles. Cookies are miniature edible gifts. Kids love cookies, adults love cookies, strangers love cookies. Most are hand-delivered although a few get shipped. If I happen to see you in that 48-hour window of time between The End of Baking and when I leave town, you should probably expect cookies. Wednesday was the day to wrap up all business, clean the house (because it sucks to come back home to a dirty house), deliver cookies, pack for Crested Butte, and meet up with people I don’t get to see very often.


ramen lunch at oak with erin

happy hour selfie with my baby cousin!



My aunt, cousins, and cousin-in-law made a detour to Boulder en route to Vail for a happy hour get together. When Mom learned that her younger sister was going to be seeing us in Colorado, she instructed me to gift them a bunch of food stuffs because… well, because Chinese mothers always think you will starve. I tucked four kinds of cookies in the bag, too. My aunt was recovering from the flu and she apologized for not making some cookies to give us. I reassured her that cookies were the last things I wanted to see for a while. The hope is that my immediate future involves three flavors of skiing, savory snacks, and time spent with my guy. Now, if you are knee-deep in party season, I have a nice savory appetizer to share. It’s cheesy, elegant, and has a French name.

gougères: water, white pepper, flour, gruyère, eggs, salt, sugar, butter



Gougères are savory little baked puffs of choux pastry. It’s similar to the puffs in cream puffs, but these are baked with cheese. You can use all sorts of cheeses, but Gruyère is my favorite in gougères. They even rhyme!

combine the butter, sugar, salt, and water in a pan

add the flour all at once

quickly stir the flour into the liquid



**Jump for more butter**

not a snob

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Recipe: chinese fried pork meatballs

After enjoying superb snow conditions in Crested Butte last week, the atmosphere has gone on holiday here on the Front Range. I complained to my mom on the phone that it has been warm and sunny and windy. She laughed because she finds my obsession with snow amusing. Even though there hasn’t been any new snow this week, I haven’t allowed myself to fall into the snob trap – where you tell yourself that it isn’t worth getting out unless conditions are perfect. No, I’m getting out every day for the fresh air, the exercise, the scenery, the joy of gliding over snow.


hoping this little storm front brings some snow



Keeping active is important to me or else I start to feel down and get the blahs. It also allows me to indulge around the holidays without feeling debauched. I mean, the end of the year is when all of the yummy morsels get marched out at the parties! Among my favorite little foods are meatballs. I pretty much love them all, but I have a soft spot in my heart for these Chinese-style pork meatballs because my mom makes them and they’re delicious.

the filling: soy sauce, sesame oil, bamboo shoots, ground pork, cornstarch, dried black mushrooms, fresh ginger, green onions, napa cabbage (not pictured: salt)

mince the vegetables

mix the ingredients in a bowl



**Jump for more butter**

waiting for ski season

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Recipe: salmon rillettes

This will have to be relatively quick, because I’m in a lot of pain thanks to that shoulder/neck problem that is aggravated when I am on the computer or doing just about anything. We had a nice little snowstorm early this week, but now it’s sunny again – dang it!


taking advantage of the cold to go for a nice trail run in the snow

pretty pink sunset



Actually, the sunny weather is good, because my parents are in town and they don’t do so well with snow and cold. My parents and I have extremely different interests. They’re probably more mainstream because they enjoy things like shopping and television and luxury travel. That’s not really me. That’s not me at all. It’s okay though, I accept the differences and just try to focus on quality time together.

tutorial session for their first iphone

lunch in boulder before an afternoon of shopping



After picking up several nice bottles of wine, Dad wanted to have a little tasting party with appetizers. So he said, “I’m going to serve X, Y, Z wines, and you plan a menu around it.” I usually do it the other way – plan the menu and pick the wine – but I could work with it. Dad loves having a plan and he loves it even more when I make the plan and he gives it his executive approval. One of the items I made for the party was salmon rillettes. It’s something I’ve had on my “to make” list for years. Plus, my mom loves salmon and it makes me happy when I can cook something she will enjoy.

white wine, butter, lemon, paprika, olive oil, salt, peppercorns, coho salmon, smoked salmon, bay leaf, shallot, celery, chives, leek

place the celery, leek, peppercorns, bay leaf, wine, and water in a saucepan

salt the salmon

slice the smoked salmon



**Jump for more butter**