strawberry brown butter tarts roasted tomato soup chocolate hazelnut sandies baingan bharta (indian mashed eggplant)


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while you can

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate hazelnut sandies

This past weekend was closing weekend for our local ski hill. We considered the mobs of people trying to squeeze in one last ski day of the season and decided to head in the opposite direction. Backcountry skiing is more effort than resort skiing. In essence, you are your own ski lift. But the rewards are many and include fresh tracks, solitude, spectacular views, and a great workout. The snow is skiing the way it typically does in early May, so unless we get some promising storms, our ski days are numbered.


skinning up

pausing to admire our backyard

whoop whoop!

skiing out



I’m actually okay with the ski season coming to an end – I mean, my big toenail is okay with ski season coming to an end. I injured it in late January on a ski tour and it has since turned dark purple, doing those things that tell you it is going to fall off in 6 or 9 months. The plan is to ski as long as there is snow and just ignore any pain. So far, so good!

Now on to the recipe. As a rule, when I blog a recipe, I try to have double the amount of impossible-to-get-in-my-mountain-town ingredients needed in case something tanks. I’m happy to say that the backup ingredients are rarely (but not never!) required, which leaves me with extra ingredients. Sometimes they get incorporated into our meals, sometimes they get bumped to the next recipe. Other times, they spark new ideas – like these chocolate hazelnut sandies. It’s a pecan sandie, but chocolate with a different nut!


toasted hazelnuts, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, butter, flour, vanilla extract, hazelnut liqueur

mix the cocoa powder and flour together

chop the hazelnuts into a coarse grind

ground hazelnuts, flour-cocoa mixture, powdered sugar



**Jump for more butter**

this little piggy

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Recipe: this little piggy pizza

So many wonderful things happened this past weekend, like almost a foot of new snow on the local ski hill Friday morning. Rest assured, I did get my fresh tracks first thing in the morning. The new snow also meant that we could do a full moon ski rather than a full moon hike that evening. Everything seemed to go in our favor that night: fresh snow, no winds (well, a very light breeze), full coverage on the road, clear skies. Almost unheard of for our area.


banjo waits for erin to put his dog booties on before bounding out to romp in the snow

the full moon emerges above a bank of clouds in the east as we ski west

venus (center left) setting over the majestic indian peaks



We got home from the full moon ski around 10:30 pm and ate dinner at 11:00 pm. I was in bed after midnight and set my alarm for a few hours later as there was that total lunar eclipse to catch. When it’s late and I’m tired, I sometimes question if I want to get up in the middle of the night to shoot the eclipse. I figure, if I can and if the conditions are good (they were excellent), then it’s definitely worth seeing. I don’t think I ever tire of watching these phenomena that relay just how small we really are. Besides, I’ve loved watching the moon ever since I was a little girl. Some things never change. Jeremy even got up with my alarm and brought me hot cider while I stood outside following the eclipse’s progress. We watched her set behind the Continental Divide, still eclipsed, as the eastern horizon began to glow warm with orange and gold.

entering totality (blood moon)

blood moon setting over the mountains



The 6 inches of snow around our house melted in no time flat. Warm weather returned and I’ve notice those fuzzy aspen catkins blowing around on our deck. We moved the deck furniture back outside from its hibernation in the basement and our windows have been open every afternoon to let the mountain air cool the house down. Instead of an afternoon ski tour, we’re trail running the local trails to scout out conditions (mostly melted, still some snow) and visit with our local flora and fauna.

pasque flowers are coming up

this hungry moose was chomping away on young aspen trees



Over the weekend, all of our neighbors’ yards or decks were filled with happy dogs wagging their tails with noses in the air sniffing the aromas wafting from smoking grills. We contributed our fair share of grilled deliciousness to the local atmosphere, too. Although we weren’t grilling giant hunks of meat, our pizzas still paid proper homage to the pig. Vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians – look away! I call the pizza This Little Piggy.

pizza dough, pizza sauce, barbecue sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper, mozzarella, caramelized onions, pancetta, prosciutto, italian sausage, bacon, chorizo

mix the barbecue sauce with the pizza sauce

slice the chorizo thin

chop the bacon



**Jump for more butter**

semifreddo, but todo rico

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Recipe: strawberry semifreddo

Easter always sneaks up on me because we don’t celebrate it. My heathen ritual is to buy a bag of Whopper mini eggs when they go on sale the following Monday and then promptly forget about it for another year. But I happen to have a lovely dessert that is good enough for spring holidays, weekend projects, special dinners, or basically any time you can get your hands on sweet sweet strawberries. California and Mexico strawberries have been in our stores lately, but I held off until they were the right color and smelled like candy.


here’s what i made



That’s a strawberry semifreddo – creamy, half-frozen, soft, fruity, slightly tangy, like a frozen mousse. I’ve had the recipe for many years, but never made it until yesterday. Back in the day, I took a terrific 10-week pastry skills course in Boulder as my reward for defending my dissertation. It was fast-paced and fun, but there wasn’t enough time to make all of the recipes. We were split into teams of two and each pair tackled a different pastry (or two) each week. At the end of every class, we divvied up our finished masterpieces and took them home. Except I never took the strawberry semifreddo home because it was summer and I had a 45-minute drive back to the house. But it sure looked good. Seeing the strawberries in the market the other day, I realized I wanted to finally make that semifreddo.

grand marnier, sugar, lemon, strawberries

wash, hull, and halve the strawberries

strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, grand marnier

toss it all together and macerate



I adapted the recipe from my class, which was adapted from Sherry Yard’s recipe. Her version has a pâte sucrée base, but I didn’t want to deal with baking anything, so I went with a vanilla cookie crumb base like you might find on a cheesecake. You can use graham cracker crumbs if you like. I thought vanilla cookies (scavenged from vanilla sandwich cookies) would be fun. You can leave the creme filling in, if you like, but I scrape it off. Or you can use lemon cookies or vanilla wafers.

sugar, butter, cookies (nor pictured: salt)

scraping off the vanilla bean creme

pile the cookies into the food processor

cookie crumbs



**Jump for more butter**