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dinner for two… or three

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Recipe: chateaubriand and béarnaise sauce

I think Spring is trying to barge in on our Colorado winter. In fact, it’s practically sitting on our faces. I’ve been wearing shorts in the afternoons and leaving the deck door wide open to cool the house down. We’ve noticed the couple of feet of snowfall from the last storm start to dwindle under the sun and warm temperatures these past several days in the Front Range. If there is a trough sitting over the East Coast (meaning stormy or unsettled weather), there is typically a ridge over Colorado (sunshine and blah blah blah). We aren’t slated to get any storms for at least another week, so it’s skate skiing and backcountry touring for us. Up until now, we’ve taken Neva skiing on wide closed forest service roads which allow her plenty of room to run in front or alongside Jeremy. But this week Neva went on her first ski tour on a narrow trail (in sketchy conditions) and she managed not to pull Jeremy to injury or death (but she did pull – a lot). I’d call that a success!


neva is getting better about sitting when we stop

here’s how our girl does après ski on a bluebird day



To be honest, I don’t mind that the crazy winds have calmed down and that I don’t have to bundle up to the hilt when I go outside for exercise. Spring is a lovely time of year to ski, but… we’re not done with winter yet and if spring continues at this pace, we won’t have any snow to ski when it really is spring. Still, I’ll not stress about it too much just yet. Neva is loving the comfortable temperatures on the deck while I work, and we have been treated to some lovely displays in the evenings.

giant wave cloud at sunset (gold stage)

turning orange

fading to a rosy pink



So Valentine’s Day is coming up. I know people either love it or hate it. I personally think it is a stupid thing with a lot of unnecessary social and commercial pressure, but that’s just me. However, if you were to ask me for a recipe to make for someone special, I’m your girl. I have lots of great recipes to recommend, but this is one I recently tried for the first time and Jeremy made googly eyes at me… or at the steak? Chateaubriand was one of my sister’s favorite dishes to order at fancy restaurants if someone would order it with her – because it is typically served for two people. I may have taken a bite or two in my lifetime from mom’s plate (the other person who went in on it), but it was never something I ordered for myself. I’ve described it to Jeremy ever since we’ve been together, but it wasn’t until this week that he finally tasted it for himself.

Chateaubriand is a pan-seared and roasted center-cut whole beef tenderloin served with a sauce of some sort. It could be a mushroom red wine sauce or what I consider a more traditional pairing – Béarnaise sauce. I happened to have the fat end of a whole tenderloin leftover from the bourbon glazed beef tenderloin (also a fantastic recipe) in my freezer, and decided it was time to learn how to make this classic dish. First, start with the Béarnaise sauce which is rich, buttery, slightly tart, with hints of anise (from the tarragon), pepper, and wine.


butter, eggs (yolks), white wine, black pepper, whole white peppercorns, salt, white vinegar, lemon (juice), shallot, fresh tarragon



Make the Béarnaise sauce first because you want it ready to serve as soon as the steak is carved. I recall trying to make this sauce once in graduate school to accompany beef wellingtons for a dinner party, and it tanked in the most unforgivable way. So now, 15 years later, I think I’ve got the chops to do it right – or perhaps a better recipe. It is in essence an emulsion of acids (vinegar, wine, lemon juice), egg yolks, and melted butter. That’s pretty much it. Don’t let it get too cold – it will solidify. If it’s too warm, it will break (separate) and become oily and sad. In general, I didn’t encounter any problems with the sauce.

chop the tarragon

all of the ingredients measured and prepped

combine the vinegar, white wine, shallots, half of the tarragon, and peppercorns in a small saucepan

simmer down until you have about 2 tablespoons of liquid



**Jump for more butter**

the in-between

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Recipe: carne adovada empanadas

The last week of December – that time between Christmas and the new year – always tends to be one of the busiest at the ski resorts. Lots of people take time off for the holidays and head to the slopes with their families and extended families and friends. After the last good powder day on Christmas, we’ve switched from skiing the mountain to hitting the Nordic trails. The big storm tracks have cleared out and the trails are firming up under bluebird skies for some great skate ski conditions. It’s such a great workout that single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures actually feel pretty good, unless you stop moving… then it gets quite cold quite fast.


jeremy wears two passes: his and neva’s



I’m also using this opportunity to work on some baby quilts. Actually, LOTS of baby quilts – some of which are for babies that aren’t babies anymore, but bona fide kids! I may be years late, but the sentiment is there. Plus, I carried two of my baby blankets around with me until… well, I have them in my bedroom now. These are flannel rag quilts because I don’t have the skill or time to make anything more complicated. Squares are good enough for me.

soft and colorful fabrics



The neat thing about this period before the new year is that parties seem to have an “anything goes” theme. Festive, yet not necessarily Christmas. I rather like that. It’s all about celebrating the end of 2015, looking ahead to 2016, and eating empanadas. Last month I made a big batch of carne adovada and decided to save some out to make empanadas. These are not traditional in any sense, just a New Mexican take on the revered empanada which turned out to be pretty darn delicious.

water, carne adovada, cheddar, paprika, green chiles, salt, vegetable oil, flour, butter, onion



I used the dough recipe from my favorite Argentine empanadas recipe. It’s straightforward to make and has a nice texture when baked. You can, of course, fry the empanadas (they are so so tasty fried), but my pants can only handle the baked version. Plus, it’s less clean up.

melt the butter and water

pace a pinch of paprika in a well with the flour and salt

mix the liquid into the flour

you’ll wind up with a nice oily dough

wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate



**Jump for more butter**

everyone needs an easy morning

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Recipe: green chile bacon egg bake

At last, the cookies are done and gone. If ever I entertain the thought of baking for a living, I need only remember the days of intensive baking in December that make me hate all cookies and chocolate. So why do I keep doing it? Jeremy asked this of me in the car as we drove down the canyon this morning on our way to deliver the cookies. When we started several years ago, it was because buying gifts for his administrative staff wasn’t really in our budget. But each year people loved the homemade cookies and candies so much that it seemed like a cop out to consider buying gifts as opposed to making something from the heart. I suppose I loathe shopping far more than dealing with tempering chocolate. Even now, mere hours after hand delivering the holiday goodies and shipping packages out to some special recipients, the sore back and lack of sleep are but a faded memory. I think as long as I can get outside for a little exercise during the mad frenzy, I can deal with it. After a week with this lingering low-level non-cold, I decided to beat it out of my body by going skate skiing. That felt terrible, but afterward, I felt SO MUCH BETTER.


the start of skate season always hurts so good

don’t forget to shred it on a 9-inch powder day

farewell cookies! go forth and maketh your recipients happy



Now with the cookies out of the way, I can concentrate on what needs to get done in the next couple of weeks. Part of that includes menu planning in Crested Butte because we don’t have access to as many ingredients out there as we do in the Front Range near Boulder/Denver. But honestly, when we are in Crested Butte, I try to avoid involved baking and cooking projects because the whole reason for being in CB is to be outside in all that gorgeousness, not inside in the kitchen. With houseguests coming at the start of the new year, I thought about simple and satisfying things to serve for breakfast. One recipe I settled on was an egg casserole loaded with bacon, green chiles, and cheddar cheese – something quick to whip up before you hit the mountain or the nordic trails!

eggs, milk, salt, roasted green chiles, black pepper, cheddar cheese, bacon

toss the chiles and cheese together

spread the chile-cheese mixture in the bottom of a baking dish



**Jump for more butter**