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true winter

Monday, January 28th, 2019

Recipe: dynamo shrimp

We have had a snowy couple of weeks around here. You know what I think of when I see the snow in my yard, in the surrounding mountains, and pretty much all over town? Well yes, I think of skiing, but I also think of mushrooms and berries come summer. It’s all about water in the American West. And snowpack. I can’t stress the importance of a healthy snowpack. Snowpack is everything in the mountains.


sunny morning in crested butte after a storm

a few inches of super fluffy snow in nederland

neva loves window benches



The pups have gotten out to ski a number of times. In Crested Butte it is mostly uphill skiing on the mountain or skijoring on the Nordic trails. In Nederland we take them backcountry touring which is far more dependent on weather conditions. You have to catch recently fallen snow before the winds reshape it into a series of giant drifts and bare ground.

ski touring with yuki and neva

yuki’s way of telling me she’s cold (she warmed up when we skied down)



When I’m not skiing or working, I’m slowly chipping away at the long term task of tidying up the house. This activity wasn’t inspired by Marie Kondo – I have neither read her book nor watched her show. I simply like things to be organized. That included baking pies to finish off a few leftover fillings from the depths of the chest freezer: Palisade peach and sour cherry, and a handful of tired apples from the refrigerator.

pre-baked apple huckleberry pie (6-inch)

baked and stained with huckleberry juice



A reader recently emailed asking for recommendations and mentioned that they couldn’t wait to see what Chinese New Year recipe I would blog this year. Um, I hadn’t planned to share one and suddenly I wondered if I should try to shoot a recipe in time for the New Year (February 5th). But I only wondered for a second because the realist in me dope slapped myself and said, “You don’t have time to be shooting a recipe for free when you have a client shoot that pays ACTUAL MONEY.” So no, there is no Chinese New Year recipe. I’m not sure today’s recipe even counts as Chinese.

You can find Dynamo Shrimp on the appetizer menu at Lil’s in Crested Butte. It’s delicious and we’ve ordered it several times over the years. My friend replicated the recipe and shared it with me last year. When I began researching the recipe, I discovered that it is a variation of Dynamite Shrimp from PF Chang’s – a restaurant I’ve only set foot in once, by accident. It seems more Americanized Japanese than Americanized Chinese. It’s Asian-y.


shrimp, cornstarch, potato starch, panko crumbs, salt, pepper, eggs

the sauce: soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, mayonnaise, lime, garlic, green onions, sesame seeds (these are white seeds, but i used black sesame in the photos)



**Jump for more butter**

trying to be zen

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Recipe: fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette

I don’t do well with hot weather, and it has been stupidly hot here this last week. Thankfully the smoke from Western wildfires has been on leave for much of this heat wave so we can at least do things outside (although it returned just yesterday). We’ve been waiting all summer for an evening that was smoke-free enough to camp on our deck with the pups. Neva is fairly comfortable with the tent, but Yuki was a newbie. At first she wouldn’t get in, but Jeremy called Neva over and as soon as Neva set foot in the tent, Yuki dove in after her. They loved it – woofing at things in the night, sniffing all of the smells on the air, walking on us in the darkness, and curling up on our puffy down sleeping bags. The humans got very little sleep, but that was to be expected. The jury is out if we think we can take this show into the backcountry. I mean, I’m sure the pups will be delighted and we will be exhausted – I guess that’s how it goes when you have dogs (or children from what I hear)!


wingus and dingus in the tent on the deck

swimming in alpine lakes to cool off in the late summer heat

finally, some clouds and a lovely sunset



Friday was Jeremy’s birthday and we spent the evening sharing a nice home-cooked meal and homemade birthday cake. My parents have taken to keeping their birthday celebrations low-key because they think big celebrations attract too much attention and bad luck (i.e. death or no more birthdays). We keep it low-key because that’s how we roll. No big birthday celebration. No birthday month. No birthday gifts or cards. No pressure or stress. Just us and the pups. It’s nice like that.

a 6-inch 3-layer chocolate hazelnut raspberry cake

chocolate hazelnut chiffon alternating with chocolate mousse and raspberries

finished in a chocolate mirror glaze



Over the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure of ordering Brussels sprouts at various dining establishments. They’re almost always delicious and the question among the diners usually comes down to “Are they fried or are they roasted?” I’ve roasted my fair share of Brussels sprouts because it’s one of our favorite vegetable dishes in winter, so I was pretty certain they were fried and not roasted. The question was finally put to rest this past week when I set about frying a batch of Brussels sprouts à la Momofuku (David Chang) tossed with a fish sauce vinaigrette. It’s simple, addictively good, and it might be the thing that converts the Brussels sprouts haters in the world.

fish sauce, rice vinegar, shallots, lime, thai chili, glaric, water, sugar, brussels sprouts, togarashi



I changed David’s recipe a bit by omitting the mint and cilantro, and adding fried shallots. If we’ve got hot oil for frying the Brussels sprouts, we may as well fry some shallots. When prepping the sprouts, peel away the outer leaves if they’re discolored or if they are bugged out. I worried that peeling too many leaves wouldn’t result in the fluffy delicate layers I’ve experienced in restaurants. Not to worry. When the sprouts go into the hot oil, they will fluff and puff into crisp delectable airy vegetable goodness.

minced garlic, sliced chili, sliced shallots, juiced lime

peel and slice the brussels sprouts



**Jump for more butter**

gimme the tomatoes

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Recipe: slow-roasted tomatoes

The time has come to move on. Hope can only fuel you for so long and so far before you accept the raw and naked truth – the mushrooms were not to be this summer. I actually love the time before the mushrooms are expected and the time after I decide to no longer look for them. It’s nice to be free of this sickness that is likely the fungal mushroom spores that have taken control of my cerebral functions to constantly look for mushrooms. I joke it’s like a precursor to the zombie apocalypse… If there’s an outbreak in the mountains of Colorado, I very well may be patient zero.

Classes have begun and the yellow school buses go about their routines at specific times each morning and afternoon. The CU Boulder campus is to be avoided at all costs during class changes, as are the Target and Trader Joe’s stores during move-in weekend. We have enjoyed a couple of smoke-free days and the arrival of some unsettled weather that has delivered cherished rains to the mountains. When you wake up to those crystal clear blue Colorado skies and can see the local peaks in sharp focus, you remember why you live here in Vacationland.


yuki is now 80% of neva’s weight and size

my last huckleberry session for the season

autumn is tapping on our shoulder

rainbows mean rain – sweet sweet rain

loving the cooldown

miss yuki sits atop kaweah rock (kaweah’s favorite rock)



On the days when it’s too smokey to safely exercise outside, I keep busy indoors with work and projects and the squirreling away of precious summer bounties. I’ve roasted and froze my fill of green chiles, made plenty of peachy desserts and pastries for my parents and friends, sorted and froze my huge haul of excellent huckleberries, made fig jams and strawberry jams for Jeremy to enjoy in the cold winter months. It is time to get the late summer tomatoes for canning and then it will be cool enough to take my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator to bake some bread.

Two years ago I was overly ambitious about canning tomatoes and after processing over 100 pounds, I could not bring myself to finish the last 8 pounds. It was around that time I remembered a recipe I had bookmarked for roasted tomatoes from my friend Rebecca. These tomatoes are slow roasted for several hours with aromatics and herbs until caramelized, then blendered into a sauce.


tomatoes, olive oil, salt, garlic, pepper, oregano, onions, thyme

peel the garlic, slice the onions

core the tomatoes

quartered



**Jump for more butter**