buttermilk biscuits and sausage cream gravy chinese orange beef toasted coconut custard tart cottage pie with beef and carrots


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with gravy on top

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Recipe: buttermilk biscuits and sausage cream gravy

Up until a few days ago, Thanksgiving was nowhere on my radar. There was just so much going on for the past several weeks that I told myself if I could make it to Thanksgiving week in one piece, I’d be golden. It came down to the wire waiting for the final items on my checklist to come via post before we piled into the car. Two out of three isn’t bad considering it was the USPS (I keep my expectations low). Once on the road, the stress began to peel away with each additional mile. There were bighorn sheep sightings on Interstate 70, discussion of time-sensitive deadlines to address before 2015, much needed coffee to fuel the driver (Jeremy), and the question of what to eat for Thanksgiving. We agreed that we would keep Thanksgiving dinner simple: grilled rib eye steak with loads of vegetables. This week is dedicated to catching up on work and… skiing.


picking up our passes from the crested butte nordic center



The snow in Crested Butte is quite nice for shoulder season. Yes, it’s still shoulder season – many of the local businesses are closed until 2 weeks before Christmas. Town slumbers quietly before the mad rush of the holiday ski season, but I like this lull. The big mountain opens Wednesday. In the meantime, we’ve been getting our nordic muscles back in shape on fresh snowfall.

test driving my low light lenses

big snow totals make for early season avy danger

jeremy skis with mount crested butte in the distance

rejoicing in glorious winter (technically autumn, but it is totally winter)



Colorado’s high country changes so dramatically from summer to autumn to winter – green to gold to white. Winter is a bit of a hog as it eats up most of autumn and spring, but I don’t complain because I love it. It’s hard to believe that just last month I was back here in Crested Butte shooting the fall colors.

Over the years I’ve learned that I feel physically and mentally better on the fall shoot if I eat my own food rather than dining out for the duration of the shoot. It’s healthier and more economical. But there are those times after shooting sunrise in the freezing cold when you get a text from fellow photogs relaying their intention to head into town for breakfast, and it sounds like the best idea ever. One of my favorite stops in the little mountain town of Ridgway, Colorado, is Kate’s Place, which serves up quality breakfast and lunch. My friend, Jimmy, always orders the biscuits and gravy. I’d never had it before, but Jimmy always has this blissful smile on his face when he gets biscuits and gravy. This year, I decided to give it a try.

“Good, isn’t it?” Jimmy smiled, nodding at my plate of biscuits and gravy. Yes, it was damn good. Something warm and satisfying to fill my empty and cold tummy – energy enough for my drive back to Crested Butte. It wasn’t more than four weeks later when I began thinking about that breakfast. I blame Jimmy… and Brent – those two are always mooning over biscuits and gravy. Jimmy even texted me a photo of (another) plate of biscuits and gravy from elsewhere on the road. Well, let’s do this.


the biscuits: buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour, butter

whisk the dry ingredients together

toss cubed butter with flour mixture and freeze

cut the butter into the flour



**Jump for more butter**

the winter routine

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Recipe: chinese orange beef

Each fall I return to the slopes and wonder if I will remember how to telemark ski. The first run brings painful aching to the arches and a burning in the quads, but I know that it will get better on the second run, and the third, and… Curiously, the pain seemed to be shorter lived this time. Trail running has a lot to do with that. Usually our first day on the mountain (resorts) involves a lot of crappy snow, but this year’s first day was sweet. Our mountains have received a good bit of natural snow and cold temperatures for snow-making. I’m getting jazzed for ski season and all the different kinds of skiing to be done.


powder at copper mountain



The news is aflutter with the lake effect snow storms in western New York dumping several feet in some areas, bringing back memories of my graduate school days in Ithaca. We only got the occasional big dump snow day at Cornell and there’s something about East Coast snow that is so very different from Rocky Mountain powder. Walking to and from campus through the snow, we’d have to carry Kaweah when we crossed the roads because her paws would get wet in the salted slush and then freeze. On nights when we worked late and I was too tired to cook, we’d sometimes order takeout from Ling Ling’s which required slipping and sliding up and down snowy hills in a car that wasn’t suited for winter. Whenever anyone in my department discussed ordering from Ling Ling’s, we grad students always laughed and held an imaginary phone up to our ear, “HelloLingLing!” No matter what you ordered, the restaurant always said, “OkayTenMinute.” I was a fan of the orange beef – a Americanized Chinese food guilty pleasure.

green onions, sake, soy sauce, sesame oil, white vinegar, flank steak, oranges, egg whites, cornstarch, sugar, salt, baking soda, chili garlic sauce

slice the orange zest in strips

slice the flank steak across the grain

prepped ingredients



**Jump for more butter**

my kind of pie

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Recipe: cottage pie with beef and carrots

Well wow. Winter arrived this week like a dinner guest who shows up drunk in time for dessert. There was some snow, which I’m grateful for, but we plunged from above freezing to single-digit (that is fahrenheit) temperatures within an hour or two. All hell broke loose as the roads glazed over with black ice. It’s been snowing and below zero at our house for a few days now.


snowy ridges and frigid cold

sushi dinner with my folks before they flew home



My parents made it safely home to Virginia and I think they were relieved to not have to deal with snow and ice. We never got above zero today (Wednesday) at our house, but it should start warming up soon. I’m ready for more snow, I tell ya. It’s time to get the ski pants out. I’ve also been looking for reasons to cook things in the oven now that we have finally entered cold weather season. Can you believe I’ve never made cottage pie before? I wasn’t even sure what it was. But once I read through the recipe, it was clear to me that THIS is my kind of pie – a savory pie with mashie top!

flatiron steaks, white wine, fresh thyme, olive oil, black pepper, onions, dried porcini, salt, celery, carrots, beef broth base, flour, tomato paste

heat the broth and porcini

let the mushrooms steep

chop the porcini (save the liquid)



**Jump for more butter**