jalapeno popper dip korean jajangmyeon (black bean noodles) caulilini with bagna cauda fig bread pudding


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2019 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

archive for appetizers

rethinking

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Recipe: jalapeno popper dip

I’ve been absent a while. It was originally unintentional, but then it became very intentional. There was a lot going on in the past month. Instead of stressing over everything that needed to get done, I reassessed my priorities and let the blog sink to the bottom of that pile. My plan was to resume posting as soon as I could. Then the thought of using that time to focus on health and well… my life, sounded like a better plan. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Here are highlights from the past month:


dim sum with my folks who were back in town for a few weeks

they came prepared for colorado’s arctic welcome

baking gluten-free sourdough for my neighbor (from this amazing book)

enjoying the return of autumn sunsets



Waiting for snow is hard on those of us who love skiing and riding. We waited for three long and dry weeks for the snow train to return. Big dump snow days are always welcome here, but we have learned that ANY snow is good as we wind down toward the shortest days of the year. As you probably know, we are huge proponents of outdoor exercise in the cold months. It’s good for you and it vastly improves your outlook on life.

catching laps above the fog bank

lovely hoar frost from the lift

getting our crazy girls out for a hike in the snow



Thanksgiving in the US is a day away and I really couldn’t bring myself to make a Thanksgiving-appropriate recipe to shoot and blog. While I am all for the giving of thanks, it is the traditional food of Thanksgiving that I have come to roundly reject – a bland carbfest that upon deeper reflection, ranks rather low on my deliciousness scale. I can separate the food from the memories. I still cherish the memories.

If there is one thing I do love about Thanksgiving food, it is The Grazing before dinner. My parents always had some mishmash of tasty Chinese and American appetizers and snacks laid out on the coffee table in front of the television, or on the kitchen table (while Mom prepared the dining table for dinner) for larger gatherings. This was where young children and introverts could look occupied and avoid unwanted engagement with boring adults. If you’re still looking for a last minute grazing idea or want to add another dip to your party quiver, here’s an easy jalapeño popper dip.


jalapeños (fresh and pickled), cheddar cheese, cream cheese, jack cheese, mayonnaise, panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, bacon

chopped, crumbled, diced



**Jump for more butter**

new and old

Monday, October 14th, 2019

Recipe: caulilini with bagna cauda

It was only a few days after my last post that our autumn sunshine and warmth plunged into the grey and white hues of an early season storm. That first real snowfall of the season takes on magical notes, especially when it catches the fall colors – powdered sugar coating honeyed canopies. Short-lived, but one of life’s many joyful experiences.


getting neva and yuki out to play the evening before the storm

yuki starts the hike out of our neighborhood

felt like winter, but looked like fall

24 hours of overlapping seasons



After the storm, our weather warmed up, the snow melted, and the leaves turned black and fell. Now we ping pong between warm and cold spells. Another storm, then sun, then storm, then sun, all the while the temperatures trend cooler and we build a base in the mountains that will soon be good enough to ski without scraping rocks. In the meantime, I’m cranking the oven up and getting reacquainted with my sourdough starter and resuming the production of homemade dog treats (I use canned pumpkin instead of sweet potato now, but either works fine). Admittedly, I purchase dog treats in summer when the last of the homemade spring batch has been exhausted and it is too bloody hot to run the oven. Neva was particularly happy to stand watch over the treats late into the night.

playing with bâtard scoring

neva stayed up late with me to make sure “her” treats baked properly



We love our vegetables around here and have a nice rotation of several varieties, but sometimes I fall into a rut and feel bored. That’s one of the reasons we like to dine out from time to time – to get inspired by new ideas and new menus. We haven’t gotten out much since we adopted Yuki, but this summer she transformed into a big girl and now behaves pretty well at home when we’re gone. One dish that really stuck with me was the caulilini at Sunflower in Crested Butte. It’s like broccolini, but in cauliflower form except the stalks are sweeter and more tender than cauliflower stalks.

Fast forward a couple of months and I spot caulilini in the produce section of Trader Joe’s! I grabbed two bags and have since returned for several more. Some people have referred to caulilini as baby cauliflower, but it isn’t. A little googling revealed that this version of cauliflower is actually the one most commonly consumed in China. So it’s new to me (us), but old hat for my motherland. Dang! I never even knew. But now that I know, I’m going to make up for lost time. Taking a cue from Sunflower, I decided to sauté the caulilini and serve it with bagna cauda.


caulilini, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, more olive oil, garlic, anchovies



I grew up prepping vegetables and defrosting various meats and tofu and stock for my mom before she got home from work so that she could start cooking dinner the moment she stepped into the house. We ate a lot of broccoli back in the day because that was an easy vegetable to get in American grocery stores that translated well to Chinese cooking. I was taught to peel the fibrous and tough outer skins on the stalks and now I just do it out of habit. I think the caulilini is tender enough that you can skip this step (especially if you are short on time), but I do break them down into bite-size stalks if they are especially bulky.

peeling the outer skins (optional)

breaking down the stalks



**Jump for more butter**

don’t fritter it away

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Recipe: corn porcini fritters

August is the Sunday of weekends. It’s still summer, but the school year is right around the corner and you realize that Endless Summer is a lie. I begin each August in remembrance of Kris, as her birthday falls on the first of the month. Her personality was the epitome of summer, and so I like to celebrate her with flowers. I took my photo and then drove the flowers down to Mom because she loves flowers, misses Kris, and well – I just thought it would be nice to see my folks on Kris’ birthday.


tulips on kris’ birthday



My parents’ summers in Boulder have become progressively more relaxed over the years. I don’t mean THEY are relaxed, but the way they treat our time together has fallen into a less urgent pattern. In the beginning, I would receive texts for every little thing and they would constantly ask when I was coming down to Boulder next. I think they treated their 2 month stays like a 2-day vacation in that they needed to see me as much as possible. It really stressed me out. With time, Mom and Dad have found a comfortable routine. They make friends easily and now when I ask when we should get together, I am presented with an obstacle course of a social calendar because they have so much going on with other people. I think that’s wonderful.

we went to see “the farewell”, an excellent film

lunch at corrida in boulder



I learned from my neighbor that our public schools start this week. That means the summer crowds will soon thin around the state, and locals – like cooler weather – will creep back into the mountains. Actually, we’ve been in the mountains the whole time, we merely maintain a lower profile during the busy season in true wamp (weird-ass mountain person) fashion. Still, we get the pups out for their exercise and we continue to take in the glorious wildflower sights. I’ve stopped fretting over the fact that our “want to do” summer list is never achievable in a single or even a couple of summers, because we make the most of it and I’m grateful for whatever we can do.

hike, swim, play

exploring our backyard

magenta paintbrush and elephantella

a skittles combo (purple, red, and yellow flowers)



In addition to the stellar wildflower displays in the mountains this summer, our generous snowpack and the return of our southwest monsoon have spurred a rather strange, yet prolific mushroom season. Seasons are crashing into one another as the spring mushrooms are tapering into mid-summer and the late summer mushrooms decided to get the party started a month earlier than usual. It’s mind-blowing and amazing.

the king of the rockies – boletus rubriceps (porcini)

i love the chubsters



Not all mushrooms are interchangeable in recipes. The delicate taste of a fresh porcini can be masked by stronger, bolder ingredients. If I’m hiking all over the mountains to harvest these little beauties, I’ll be damned if I prepare them in a way that masks their buttery, earthy, nutty flavor. The original recipe is for corn and shiitake fritters, but I had a hunch that fresh porcini would elevate this fritter recipe to new levels. And I was right.

vegetable oil (for fry and sauté), kosher salt, pepper, flour, milk, egg, baking powder, sweet onion, fresh porcini, corn



Slice the kernels from the corn cobs and divvy the kernels into two equal halves. Don’t compost those cobs, though! After you’ve sliced the kernels off, use a spoon to scrape the remaining pulp from the cobs. I do suggest scraping with the spoon concave down (it catches stray bits), unlike the way I did it in the photo. I managed to get about 2 tablespoons from three cobs. Aaand, if you don’t want to bother with that step or decided to go with corn that comes without a cob, I think you’ll be fine.

slice the kernels off

scrape any extra pulp from the cobs

ingredients prepped



**Jump for more butter**