passion fruit meringues salmon poke handmade pappardelle soft-shell crab spider roll


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spring, is that you?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Recipe: passion fruit meringues

I knew it would snow again. How awesome for us that we could backcountry ski fresh snow in our local mountains one day, then go for a trail run in these same mountains the next day. The weather is a spring mix bouquet – it’s got a little bit of everything going on right now. We are rolling with it, because staying indoors is not an option.


sunrise clouds revealing new snow

a fast-moving thunderstorm at sunset



Jeremy and I have been waiting for a window of good weather all month when the snow is still decent in the high country. Active storms, cooler weather, and work obligations finally cleared this weekend. We pounced on the opportunity to get Neva out for her first ski backpack. It was an overnight trip into our local backcountry and we kept it simple for our own sanity as well as Neva’s safety. Unlike summer backpacking, early season backpacking involves more bulk and weight to account for cold nights, camping on snow, potential storms, and ski equipment. Although the forecast thunderstorms never materialized, we camped below treeline to be safe. Of course, Neva had the time of her life romping in the snow, getting extra food and snacks (she burned a lot of calories), catching the scent of a bazillion wild animals, and hogging our sleeping bags all night.

neva cools off in the snow – it was a scorching 70°f

skinning uphill with a heavy pack and a dog that likes to pull every which way is hard work

clouds building on the divide

home for the night



When Jeremy first introduced me to backpacking in March of 1993, he explained that it is “the endeavor of a thousand little discomforts”. But with experience, we learned to minimize, ignore, or accept those discomforts in exchange for the freedom of the hills. Ski backpacking with a one-year old crazy dog definitely adds more complexity and even pain. An outsider might regard this activity as recreation, but Jeremy and I definitely classify it as fun #2. Worth it? Absolutely. Will we take Neva again? We’ll see.

pre-dawn colors in the east

breaking down camp at 6:30 am

hiking the last couple of miles out



As the sun lingers in the sky for a few more minutes each day, my mind turns to tropical flavors. If anything tastes like sunshine, it is passion fruit. I’ve gone to great lengths in the past to procure fresh passion fruit, but sometimes I have to suck it up and buy some at outrageous prices here in Colorado for a shoot. Never let it be said that I have ever allowed a passion fruit to go to waste. Actually, I hate waste in general, which is why I wound up making these passion fruit meringues – because I always have an excess of egg whites in my refrigerator!

eggs, sugar, passion fruit

precious pulp and juice



**Jump for more butter**

a bear walks into a (sushi) bar

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Recipe: salmon poke

We rounded a corner this past week – hiking and running more days than skiing. I washed the late season mud off our nordic ski boots and packed up all but our backcountry telemark boots to store in the basement until October. Instead of four ski bins in the great room, we now have four bins for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, plus one holdout for backcountry skiing – at least for another week! Spring is dawdling. Rain and snow flirt in the high country and we expect another week of cool, wet weather around here, which means a few more days before I can swap out our flannel sheets for something cooler. Chilly mornings still require snuggy sheets.


morning reflections

scoping out the trails without skis *sniffle*

dashing through icy cold snowmelt streams



I used to regard shoulder season as a time of outdoor exercise limbo, but this season I’m embracing the coolish weather, squishy mud, and sporadic snow patches on the trails. It’s a good time for me to build up to higher mileage in what I consider comfortable temperatures. This way, I also scope out plants in bloom around my neck of the woods. To start trail running for the season when it’s already hot means there are two hurdles to deal with: the heat and trail running.

sunny and cool trail runs are just fine by me

so many pasque flowers in bloom!

neva perfects her jump-catch



Winter is good for me, I think, because it allows me to focus on snow and being a somewhat normal person. Summer is officially Crazy Time because so many wonderful mushrooms grow where I run or hike or bike – one can’t help but notice them and maybe forage a few and probably obsess over finding more because that’s the addictive property of wild mushrooms. But you all know that my true love is the tiny purple huckleberry. Erin and I have spent a few lazy winter days pondering where a good patch might be based on satellite imagery and our knowledge of the mountain trails and what our local huckleberries like. As the mountains shed their snowy mantles, we make note of healthy huckleberry plants and when they flower and when those flowers become green peas that will hopefully emerge as ripe huckleberries.

I make tons of sweet recipes with huckleberries – that’s easy to do as they play nicely with sugar, butter, flour, cream, and eggs. I’m exploring more savory recipes now that I have enough huckleberries in my freezer and I’m feeling comfortable with what the berry can and cannot do in a dish. Earlier this month I decided to make salmon poke, the salmon version of the more popular and ubiquitous tuna poke, but I didn’t want it to taste like tuna poke with salmon swapped in for the tuna. What I eventually came up with blends a little bit of Japanese cuisine with Hawaiian cuisine with the Pacific Northwest: salmon poke with huckleberries.


avocado, green onions, soy sauce, furikake, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, huckleberries, tempura crunch, salmon, sesame seeds, lemons



Think the combination of salmon and huckleberries will taste odd? Let me point out that salmon run where the huckleberries grow in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and that both foods are favorites of the locals – the bears. (If I were a bear, I would eat salmon and huckleberries and huckleberries and salmon all dang day.) When choosing a dressing for my poke recipe, I didn’t want the typical sesame oil in the mix because I feel it can and does overpower both the salmon and the huckleberries. Instead, I opted for ponzu sauce – a combination of soy sauce, lemon juice, and rice vinegar. I like that the lemon works especially well with the salmon and the hucks. You can purchase ponzu sauce from an Asian grocery store, but I find it’s pretty easy and tastier to make your own at home. If you are gluten-free, then definitely make your own ponzu sauce at home – just use tamari instead of soy sauce.

pouring rice vinegar and lemon juice into the soy sauce



A note about the salmon. You really do need to use sashimi-grade salmon in this recipe. Sashimi-grade means that the fish has been frozen down to -20°C/-4°F for at least seven days to kill off any parasites that might exist in the fish flesh. Salmon is particularly prone to parasites. While I always purchase wild salmon, in this instance my fish monger only had farmed Norwegian sashimi-grade salmon, so that’s what I bought. Creamy avocado is a no brainer for salmon poke, but I keep it separate from the actual poke because it puts a green film on everything when mixed in with the other ingredients. If you don’t care, then by all means, mix it in. My preference is to serve the poke on a bed of the avocado to preserve the aesthetics.

dice the salmon

avocado at the ready



**Jump for more butter**

april doings

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Recipe: huckleberry brioche

When I left the house Tuesday morning, we still had a couple feet of snow blanketing the yard. Several hours later I stepped off my plane into the sticky, warm embrace of Charlotte, North Carolina to catch my connection to Virginia. April is about as late as I am willing to visit the southeast because it’s usually after my local ski resorts close, but before Virginia weather becomes unbearably and oppressively hot and humid. Jeremy and I spent a few days with my parents – a belated celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. Really though, any opportunity for us to spend time together is a celebration of sorts. We dined out, we dined in, we drank many fine bottles of wine, everyone had a lovely time. It’s also a chance for me to observe how my parents live their lives when we are apart. Obviously, they don’t indulge in the wine and food the way they do when we visit, but I like knowing that they are surrounded by caring friends and neighbors, that they get regular exercise, and that they are generally happy and in good health.


sunset from my parents’ backyard

breakfast out at a local diner

dad pours a 24 year old dom pérignon

the view of the front yard



As you can see, spring has full on sprung in Williamsburg and I imagine it is that way around most parts of the country. Jeremy and I did a quick 5-mile run that didn’t involve clambering over snow or scrambling up rocky trails (crazy, I know) and gave us green-out because everything is so leafy and springy. Dad took us night-fishing and we caught and released a couple of channel cats (catfish). We met with neighbors over cocktails and shared a dinner with a longtime family friend. I cooked red wine braised short ribs for my parents. And we watched The Revenant, which made me homesick for the American West. Also, I couldn’t wait to get back to my little pup pup who was living it up at doggy camp with all of her pals.

post bath, pre-treats



Around this time last year, we were prepping our house and our lives to welcome little Neva. We knew full well that our freedom was limited, so we got our last spring backcountry ski trips and trail runs in, we enjoyed some meals out, and I shot a lot of recipes. But one recipe in particular was begging to be made. If you know anything about me, you know that I am crazy for huckleberries. [The thought had occurred to me to change this blog to Use Real Huckleberries, but I am still quite devoted to butter.] One day, a search for “huckleberry brioche” brought me to a million blueberry brioche recipes. How is that? The blueberry brioche recipe came from a cookbook by the name of Huckleberry, which was written by the owner of a Santa Monica bakery, Huckleberry. Well, I didn’t want to make blueberry brioche, but blueberries are often substituted for huckleberries, which are harder to come by (but so much better than blueberries), so why not substitute hucks for blues? Why not! Of course, if you don’t have hucks – you can always make the recipe as it was originally intended.

huckleberries, lemon, yeast, sugar, bread flour, all-purpose flour, butter, eggs, salt, milk, cream, egg yolks



There was a major snafu from the beginning and that was because there is an error in the original recipe. The flours were listed by weight and volume. The volumes were correct, but the weights were not. Unfortunately, I mostly go by weight when possible, so my dough looked really dry and wrong. I stopped before adding the butter and looked online for clues. Apparently, the cookbook has a number of errors that people were (rightfully) upset about. The weights for the flours were doubled in the blueberry brioche recipe. Luckily, I caught it in time to double the rest of the ingredients. I wound up with two loaves instead of wasting my precious ingredients. Still, I would have liked to dope slap the editor.

Fresh berries are going to give you the best results. In April, my only choice was to use frozen huckleberries, but my reasoning went like this: the fresh berries are placed in the freezer while the dough is being prepared, so the berries are partially frozen when you use them. My berries were just MORE frozen. See? I’ll tell you why it makes a difference and how to counter the effects a few paragraphs down. If you can use fresh, use fresh – but frozen will work in a pinch.


whisk the yeast into the warm milk

add the eggs, yolk, flours, sugar, salt

the dough should start to pull away from the sides



**Jump for more butter**