sous vide hamburgers stir-fried fresh rice noodles with beef sourdough waffles kombucha (plain, ginger, huckleberry ginger)

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the frenzy

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Recipe: wild mushroom pizza

Here it comes. Cooler weather, I’ve been waiting for you since May. We were so used to leaving our windows open overnight to cool the house down that it came as a surprise to us when we woke up Saturday morning and the temperature inside was 52°F. That’s even lower than what we set our heat to overnight in winter (we set it to 55°F). No wonder Neva was all snuggled up between us on the bed after her 6 am breakfast. Outside we could see an impressive frost on the deck. Well alright then! The scrub in the high country has been turning red and gold for a couple of weeks now, but the leaves are finally following suit at higher elevations. My landscape photographer friends are getting itchy for the fall shoot. We’re all waiting to see if the colors will be on time (like usual) or if they’re going to bust out of the gate early.

bright red huckleberry bushes on cottonwood pass (looking west toward taylor reservoir)

dreamy sunset colors

red aspen leaves against bluebird skies

But before I could even think about the fall shoot, I had to research, test, make, and photograph recipes with my foraged chanterelles and porcini from last weekend. Oh, and I had to clean them – a time-consuming process with the chanties when you have several pounds. From the moment I cut the mushrooms off the ground, the clock starts ticking. I store them in brown paper bags in the refrigerator and they last about a week. Brown paper bags populated all of the non-freeze zones of my refrigerator while I shifted everything else around them. The rest will be sautéed in butter and frozen for winter. Any chanterelles that are too far gone to eat get chucked into a separate bag. Those will soak in a combination of water, molasses, and salt for a day or two before pouring the “spore” water out in suitable chanterelle environments.

Generally, I don’t pick the porcini that have been wormed out (the stipe or cap will feel particularly squishy), but sometimes you can pick a firm porcini and the few worms present will make Swiss cheese of the inside while you hike around, drive home, and pop it in the refrigerator. That’s why I try to dress the porcini (cut out any worms) in the field if I have the time. Porcini that are too wormed out (those itty bitty worms, they have voracious appetites) get staked under an appropriate spruce where some spores might take hold in the future.

always delightful to peer into the huckleberry leaves and find a chanterelle or two

porcini like the huckleberry plants, too

The first recipe I wanted to shoot involved both kinds of mushrooms, mostly because I wanted to take care of the porcini before the worms ate anymore of them (or any more worms escaped onto the refrigerator shelf). The reality of foraging porcini is that you will deal with worms. I’ve rarely encountered chanterelles that were wormed out, but it has happened on rare occasion. Even if your porcini have some worms, you can usually cut that section out and salvage the rest. So let’s make some wild mushroom pizza! And as always, you can substitute any combination of edible mushrooms.

chanterelles, porcini, pizza dough, parmesan, fontina, butter, flake sea salt, sea salt, thyme, garlic

melt the butter and mince the garlic

mix the garlic into the butter

**Jump for more butter**

exploding eggplants

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Recipe: baba ganoush

Over the weekend, Neva spent a lot of time smooshing her little puppy body against the double-cell honeycomb blinds that insulate our glass deck door. This is her way of indicating that she’d like to go out on the deck very much please why don’t you just open the door and let me outside. Unfortunately, little Neva doesn’t understand that going out on the deck is risky business when snow is flying horizontally into the next county and the big Ponderosa pines are bending worriedly under the crush of 70 mph wind gusts. When it is this windy, there isn’t a lot of outside anything for her besides (very brief) potty breaks. But she is still a puppy – 10.5 months old and most definitely a puppy. Neva gets to play tug and chase her toys up and down the stairs when the weather is blowing like it is now. Our threshold for suck is usually wind gusts greater than 50 mph.

before the storm

throw the ball! throw the ball! for the love of god, throw the baaaaaaaaaall!!!!

After you experience windstorms like we experience on the Front Range, anything below 50 mph winds is fair game. It requires that you get out and take advantage while the weather isn’t impossibly shitty. Ever wake up to a gorgeous day and think, “I should get out for a run, but I’ll do it tomorrow,” and then tomorrow is a tornado? That’s what I’m talking about. It’s all relative, you know. The old route I used to skate ski was so hard, but my new route REALLY kicks my butt which makes skating the old route feel not so bad at all. Snow conditions were pretty craptastic on our most recent ski tour, but… it was just great to be outside. If we waited to do things until everything was perfect, we’d never do anything. Ever.

snow cover getting sparse near tennessee mountain hut

cute little ski hut

jeremy patiently waits for me to finish taking pictures

We largely ignored Valentine’s Day – working, eating leftover pizza for dinner, playing with the puppy in the house, and watching behind the scenes reels for OK Go’s music videos. Hopefully we’ll catch a break in the weather soon (tomorrow, please) and get the pup and ourselves back out for some exercise. Sometimes the wind will rage all morning and then around noon it will settle down for a couple of hours as if on lunch break and resume again later in the afternoon. Luckily for me, that’s exactly what happened last week while I was making baba ganoush.

eggplant, tahini, kosher salt, garlic, lemon, parsley, olive oil

Whenever I have good baba ganoush (eggplant dip) in a restaurant, I fall in love with it. Then I go home and make a batch, and I fall out of love with it after three bites. What gives? I did a little research and decided to try The Food Lab’s version. Kenji does several things differently, all of which result in a creamy dreamy final baba ganoush. First, you need to roast the eggplant. You can do this either on the grill (preferred for the smoky flavor) or under a broiler. I opted for the broiler because it seemed easier. I’ve always scored my eggplants before roasting them in the oven because it’s supposed to allow the steam to escape during cooking. Kenji determined that more moisture evaporates from the eggplant when you DON’T score the skin because at some point the skin will bust open and bye bye water vapor! So that’s what I did. [I made a half recipe in the photos.]

the eggplant on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet

it exploded

**Jump for more butter**

dinner party fare

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Recipe: bourbon-glazed beef tenderloin

Fall is shaping up to be something good. Except that it’s still sunny and warm. Once the weather turns the corner, I’ll be a truly happy camper. But we are making progress on so many fronts now. Neva is no longer a fountain of drool when she gets in the car (although she makes a few quiet whimpers if we drive for more than 20 minutes). She has also started to curl up at my feet for a nap when I am working on the computer, which is a huge improvement over what she used to do (she used to go under my desk and attack the cardboard recycling). Best of all, we’ve discovered when she makes her little “mmmmm” noises at 5:30 am each day, I can reach over in the dark to open her crate door and she’ll jump up on the bed and cuddle between us for another 30 minutes. That extra 30 minutes makes all the difference to the humans.

With doggy day care once a week, Neva gets lots of playtime and socialization and then the following day is “downtime” for her, a.k.a. a really long nappy loungy day. That’s two days in a row allowing me large blocks of time to get work done, and maybe a trail run, and lunch with friends. I like the dog Neva is becoming. Do I miss the adorable little puppy she was just a few months ago? Yes and no. I miss how cute and itty bitty she was. I don’t miss the feral, high-energy, in-need-of-constant-supervision, sharp-puppy-toothed ball of destruction.

no-stress neva chilling in the back of the car

still a few torch-like aspens on my trail run

i got to have lunch with my friend’s adorable little girl

A few weeks ago when I was in Crested Butte, our good friend and neighbor, Eileen, pulled up next to me while I was walking Neva. We chatted and when she learned Jeremy would be coming out for the weekend before we headed back to Nederland, she said, “How about dinner at my house? We’ll grill steaks.” The last time we had dinner at James’ and Eileen’s house, Jeremy and I took turns running back down the street to check on Neva, who was crying and barking in her crate as she suffered from major FOMO (fear of missing out). This time, months later, she was quiet – alternating between dozing off and chewing quietly on her toys. Good girl.

Dinner was a team effort as I supplied a few appetizers, Eileen took care of the main and sides, and Wendy and Denise brought desserts. And there is always exceptional wine with these good folk. As I loaded my plate and crossed the room, Wyatt, Denise’s giant fur baby, tracked me – or rather the steak – to my seat.

wyatt wants to know if we could maybe share that steak

Wyatt had good reason. That steak was off the hook. James and Eileen often entertain large groups, so they will usually grill at least one hunk of protein to feed the masses. When last they served this steak over the fourth of July, the carving board was picked clean by the time I got back from checking on Neva. Over dinner, Eileen asked for my gougères recipe and I in turn requested the recipe for her steak. It was one of those “oh I just throw together x, y, and z” recipes, which I promptly forgot when Jeremy and I walked home under the sparkling night sky. The next day, Eileen was sweet enough to email me a recipe and I am sharing it with you – because it is TOO GOOD not to share.

One ingredient Eileen mentioned was Montreal steak seasoning, which she said you can find in any grocery store’s spice section. She uses that with salt and pepper as part of the dry rub. I had never heard of it, but I was pretty sure I could make it from scratch. The recipes online vary somewhat, but overall they have many of the same components. I chose the one that uses dill seed because I have a ton of it to use up.

black pepper, paprika, granulated onion, sea salt, dill seed, cayenne, granulated garlic, ground coriander

whisk everything together

now you have montreal steak seasoning

**Jump for more butter**