morel prosciutto asparagus pizza thai sticky rice and mango pheasant and morel vols au vent strawberry butter


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Monday, June 5th, 2017

Recipe: pheasant and morel vol au vent

It seems that everyone is checking out for the summer. People are on vacation and no one is reading blog posts. I get it. I get that. If I didn’t feel the compulsion to document my summer activities and my summer recipes (because OCD), I’d go dark over here until Octoberish. I’ll admit I often wonder if I stopped blogging throughout the summer, would I ever pick it up again in the fall? But hey, I probably use my recipe archives more than anyone, so I keep growing it for me and hence, for you. Besides, how else could you experience Neva’s progression from a crazy bad dog to a crazy good dog?


neva enjoying her first paddle of the season (and staying on the board)

a storm cell lets loose over fourteeners in the distance



After spending the past several weeks witnessing reports of spring morel flushes starting in the southern US and spreading north along the East Coast and into the Midwest, and the West Coast reports chiming in throughout, we in the Rocky Mountains have begun to see our flushes. Of course, our morels are going gangbusters after the harvest is nothing more than a memory for the rest of the country, but our time is NOW. I only started foraging black morels (the kind that grow in the Colorado high country) last spring when I found them near Crested Butte by accident. Searching similar environments back home on the Colorado Front Range yielded two very separate and very lonely specimens in 2016.

When you are just starting out on your own, it’s hard to know if you aren’t finding mushrooms because it’s a bad year or they don’t grow there or you’re looking in the wrong environment or because you suck at foraging that kind of mushroom. But now I am into my second season, so I can add the dimension of time to my morel data. Yes, they came up again in Crested Butte, but better than that – Jeremy and I found a motherlode on the Front Range based on what we know about morel environments and what we scoped out last fall. Countless hours and miles of reconnaissance, tracking snowpack and precipitation history, studying satellite imagery and topographic maps have paid off because SCIENCE WORKS!


a little party of morels (4 in the picture, but 12 total)

a pretty nice haul



My foraging buddy, Erin, has also been on the prowl for black morels on the Front Range since last spring with an even worse record than my two mushrooms. She found one. We email one another about mushroom hunting in the dead of winter, contemplating places to check when the snows finally recede. We research, document, study, archive, search for, and have lengthy discussions about mushrooms. Erin and I had a foraging date set for the morning after Jeremy and I found the motherlode, but we hadn’t decided on where to go because we didn’t know where the morels were at the time. I don’t give away my mushroom spots to anyone except for Jeremy (natch) and Erin. Erin is my partner in foraging crime. We are both afflicted with this extremely nerdy obsession/sickness and we happen to be damn good hawkeye foragers. It was time for a Righteous and Proper Mountain Girls’ Foray, so I took her to the magical kingdom of morels. Biggest haul ever! [We left our pups at home because the environment would have made Banjo unhappy and I’m pretty sure high-energy Neva would have crushed every single morel underfoot, twice over, before we could even get eyes on them.]

erin harvests a morel

twofer!

and that’s just her share – what a happy girl



When you spend seven hours crawling through the woods giving yourselves eyestrain headaches and experiencing highs and lows (finding and not finding morels) like a drug addict, it’s inevitable to talk about a whole host of topics, including your plans for the morels. My early haul morels are almost always slated for recipes that I want to test and shoot for the blog. Once I meet that quota, the rest will be sautéed in butter and stored in the freezer for winter or dried for various projects. Today’s recipe came about because my neighbors’ teenage son gave me two whole pheasant breasts from a hunting trip last fall as a thank you for a career brainstorming session with me and Jeremy. Game birds pair nicely with wild mushrooms, and now I had both!

morels, bacon, salt, pepper, brandy, egg, puff pastry, shallots, water, cream, butter, pheasant breasts



I decided the recipe would have to involve diced pheasant meat because all but one of the breasts had been torn through with pellets. Pheasant and morels served in puff pastry? Yes! How about some bacon? Yes! And some cream and a splash of brandy? Aw, hell yes! After several hours of walking cross country through the mountains in a Tai Chi-esque semi-lunge looking for morels, I don’t feel like making puff pastry from scratch when I get home. These morels don’t clean themselves and these recipes most certainly don’t make and photograph themselves. It’s okay to use store-bought puff pastry, as long as it is good puff pastry. Vols au vent are basically little baskets of buttery, flaky puff pastry deliciousness with space to hold even more deliciousness of your choice. It’s like an edible cup with all the calories you’ll need for the week.

cut out the bases and rings of the vols au vent

dock the bases

brush with egg wash

layer the rings and brush the tops with egg wash



**Jump for more butter**

happy weekend to you

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Recipe: this battle station is fully operational (coffee whiskey amaro cocktail)

Memorial Day weekend is here and that means the whole country is kicking off official SUMMER. Even though I am already starting to miss those powder days of winter, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t actually dislike summer at all. I just can’t stand summer in places where it’s hot and humid… but mostly hot. Mountain summers are magical and we’re starting to see it slowly unfold about now.


neva gets lots of walks to wear down her nails (and work on leash training)

i met an 8-week old golden retriever puppy on my trail run

colorful sunsets



Before I sign off for the weekend, I wanted to share a cocktail for which Jeremy recently fell head over heels. It all started when I was at Costco last year and spied a special on a six-pack of cold brew coffee. Jeremy never drinks ice coffee – he likes his coffee hot. Now, despite not drinking coffee at all, I’ve learned quite a bit about it because Jeremy and some of my friends are total coffee snobs. I’d heard about cold brew coffee and thought I’d get some for Jeremy. Why buy one to try when you can buy six to potentially hate? Oh Costco…

Turned out, Jeremy loved the cold brew coffee despite his misgivings. I started to see articles that served it in sparkling beverages, so we mixed a couple. Jeremy determined that was a waste of good cold brew. But then he began playing around with cocktails. The first one was awful, but the second was quite good.


rye whiskey, amaro, cold brew coffee, bitters, simple syrup, lemon



The Lucky Jack cold brew coffee has instructions on the bottle to pour hard. What the heck does “pour hard” mean? Apparently, it means to invert the bottle completely and let gravity and air displacement work to agitate the coffee and form a nice crema on top. It also makes the cold brew ever so slightly effervescent.

pour hard to activate bubbles

inverting the contents into a measuring cup

crema



**Jump for more butter**

drive this: pink cadillac

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Recipe: raspberry syrup & raspberry pink cadillac margaritas

It’s rare that I plan ahead to shoot a relevant recipe and have a post ready before some holiday with an associated food theme. Honestly, I hadn’t planned this one at all because I don’t usually care. But it just so happens that Jeremy and I had been testing cocktail recipes (I made them, he drank them) and one was a margarita. That wouldn’t have meant anything except I heard mention of Cinco de Mayo on NPR and realized this would be a good and timely recipe to share with folks. Regardless of Cinco de Mayo, it’s a perfect cocktail for the summer season – a raspberry pink Cadillac margarita. The pink part comes from a raspberry syrup, which is straightforward to make and doesn’t have to break the bank. I like using frozen organic raspberries for the syrup because they’re much cheaper than fresh and the flavor is top notch because they are frozen when they are ripe and in season.


frozen raspberries, lemon, sugar, sugar, water

combine the raspberries, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a cup of water

when the raspberries have broken down, add the rest of the water and the lemon juice

simmer for a few minutes



When you strain the seeds out, you can press on the fruit pulp to get as much out of it as you can, but doing so makes the syrup a little cloudy as opposed to clear. I’m okay with slightly cloudy because no one notices these things when you say the words “raspberry syrup”.

strain the solids out

about 2 cups of raspberry liquid

add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and boil

now you have raspberry syrup



**Jump for more butter**