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season shift

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry brown butter tarts

Shouldn’t we have had a good old snow storm by now? Nederland has received some rain, some morning frost, and snow in the high peaks, but the aspens in our front yard are still mostly green. What the whut? Because the weather continues to coast through Indian Summer, I keep putting off things like trimming back the yard or waxing my skis. Thankfully, the nights are cooler – almost chilly. It won’t be long before we make the switch to flannel sheets. Unfortunately, Neva’s internal puppy clock has not shifted with the sun and she still wakes up around 5:30 am which is a dark, lonely, and groggy time of day for humans.

i love the mix of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens against the blue colorado sky


fresh snow

the bed hog

Neva’s routine used to be: wake up, whimper in her crate, go out to potty, eat breakfast, go crazy. Now as an older pup, she wakes up, chews her toy in her crate until someone wakes up (usually me), goes out to potty, eats breakfast, and then hops on the bed for an after-breakfast nap. It makes for a more coherent existence, not to mention she’s a real snuggle bunny – that is until she wants you to wake up and puts her paw on your face. But we are liking the earlier starts to our days as long as we aren’t up too late working the night before.

After four months with Neva, she’s getting the hang of being a Colorado dog which includes eating wild raspberries, wild strawberries, and mountain huckleberries. Neva, like Kaweah, picks up all manner of things off the trails in her mouth. Unlike Kaweah, she spits them out rather than eating them. So when I gave her a huckleberry to eat for the first time, she was uncertain of what to do. I squished it so she’d taste the juices right away and she was eager for another. Sometimes she’d sniff them out and eat them off the huckleberry plants (which is why I leave her at home when I’m harvesting hucks). And because huckleberries have an incredible smell (sometimes I open a ziploc bag of hucks, stick my nose in and inhale deeply), Neva comes running when I make anything with huckleberries – like these huckleberry brown butter tarts.

start with the dough: butter, sugar, flour, lemon juice, salt, ice water

pulse the flour, salt, sugar, and butter together (to the little peas stage)

add the lemon and ice water

pulse until it just comes together

divvy the dough in half and refrigerate

**Jump for more butter**

six months

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Recipe: peach pie cinnamon rolls

Little Neva turned six months old today (the 27th) in Crested Butte. Despite what the vet instructed – no walks for 10-14 days – we’ve begun taking her on short easy walks after 5 days. She’s recovering well and quite active INSIDE the house, so we figured mellow activity would be good for her, especially since our neighborhood in Crested Butte has so many nice paths. We expected her to be completely stir-crazy and in turn, make US crazy, but she has been a really good pup this past week. Just three more days and I’ll be able to take her swimming. To celebrate her 6 months on this planet, we gave her a Scoop Dog (peanut butter, maple, bacon frozen yogurt pupsicle) from the local ice cream shop, Third Bowl.

the life of a colorado dog is rough

AND there was a total lunar eclipse of the supermoon this evening! We walked down the road from our house and stood upon a hilltop to watch (and shoot) the moon in eclipse as it rose above the mountains in the east. Pretty spectacular stuff. And I’m glad I was here in Crested Butte, because the radar showed clouds over Nederland. As the moon rose higher, we headed back to the house since we would be able to watch the rest of the ascent from our deck. When the moon entered totality we heard several neighborhoods erupt in howls across the valley – both people and their dogs. How does one NOT love Crested Butte?! Minutes later, a big cloud (like, the ONLY one in the entire sky!) sat directly in the path of the moon and blotted it out. “Damn,” I muttered and Neva wagged her tail in the darkness at the howlers calling across the night air. She seemed happy enough when I let her back into the warmth of the house.

partial lunar eclipse supermoon rising

there’s the navel (tycho crater)!

blood moon before the cloud broke up the party

We had a lovely weekend here in Crested Butte. Jeremy and I drove out in tandem because he had to get back to Boulder to teach this week, but I’m staying put with Neva girl because 1) she can recuperate more easily in Crested Butte 2) we can spare her the back and forth in the car 3) I’m prepping the house for winter and 4) I have to get my fall colors fix. The colors are pretty good. Not as good as last year, but exhilarating where they are vibrant and healthy. A fungal disease seems to have creamed some of the stands, which is unfortunate. Still, I just love being here during the peak colors. Once they’re done, I’m 100% ready for winter.

jeremy hoofs it up with my camera gear into the aspens

a beautiful pine grosbeak chilling in a cathedral of golden light

gothic mountain behind the flanks of crested butte

jeremy stand-up paddleboards on lake irwin

I’m gonna have to hit you today with yet another roll recipe because it’s the end of peach season, and if you can get your hands on some fresh peaches, YOU NEED TO MAKE THESE. Peach pie cinnamon rolls. You will not regret it (I hope). I love cinnamon rolls as much as, or more than, the next guy, but add peaches and I’m going to start throwing elbows. The last time I acquired my 25 pounds of San Marzano tomatoes for canning from the farm store, I snatched up some beautiful organic Colorado peaches as well. I didn’t know what I was going to do with them, but I’d figure something out. That’s how I roll with fruit: pick some up and if I can’t make anything with it, I eat the fruit. Either way, I win!

the dough: milk, sugar, vanilla, yeast, eggs, salt, butter, flour

sprinkle yeast over warm milk

add sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, and salt

stir in the flour

knead the dough by hook or hand

let the dough rise

**Jump for more butter**

how sweet it is

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry lemon sweet rolls

Does everyone love their birth month or did I just luck out with September? While the flats remain relatively warm by my standards, the overnight temperatures dipped below freezing over the weekend here in the mountains. Morning walks with Neva have been pleasantly chilly for the past few days and the gold aspens light up like torches in the autumn sun. Jeremy noted that fall is our shortest season. I reminded him that technically all of the seasons are about the same length, but I knew what he meant. Winter is the longest season for us – basically from October to May – as long as there is snow. Summer is the next longest from June or July to September (when there isn’t much snow). Spring in the mountains is just plain weird because it’s all melty and muddy, usually from May to June or June to July. It’s the season of trashing your gear. True fall is cooler weather, golden aspen, and clear ground. As soon as there is enough snow to ski, it’s “winter”. Sometimes fall is as short as 3 weeks if summer and winter get a little greedy on each end. But I love it, because it’s so perfect for high country hikes, long trail runs, and mountain bike rides without the crowds. I think of autumn as that sweet spot.

Neva is getting spayed this week, just before she turns 6 months old. I was told to restrict her activities, as in – very short walks – for the two weeks after the surgery. I’m just a little nervous because after Kaweah was spayed, the Cornell Veterinary Hospital instructed us not to let her jump and of course, the first thing she did when we picked her up was to try jumping into the car. She cried, then tried to jump into the car again. Mainly, I don’t want Neva to be scared or to hate Doc Newton after the procedure is done. In anticipation of her upcoming convalescence period, we decided to take her up our favorite local trail in the Indian Peaks this weekend – to Pawnee Pass. We both had headaches thanks to lack of sleep and chilly gusts of wind slapping us around. Summer makes you soft because winds like that are considered “breezy” around these parts in winter. But Neva was happy and so we forged ahead. The winds were particularly nasty and cold at the pass (this happened a year ago on our backpack, too), so we took a quick snap for posterity and booked it on outta there.

on the way up

at the pass with our little hiker pup

almost to the trailhead it was warm enough for a swim

The good news is that Neva has taken two 30-minute car rides on windy roads with dramamine and hasn’t puked! She wasn’t happy about the rides, but we suspect once she’s had enough car rides without puking, she’ll start to associate the car with happier times. Also, she was VERY good on the hike wearing her chest harness despite wanting to chase after ALL of the marmots and pikas above treeline (60% of the hike is above treeline). Neva is still very much a puppy, but I think she just might become a good dog some day.

colorful sunset over our local mountains

mammata lit just before sunrise

This seasonal cool down means I’m able to turn the oven on to bake, roast, and feel normal again. Of course, all I could think about for the past several weeks were ways to use huckleberries and many of those recipes involved baking. While there are a handful of huckleberry recipes out there on the interwebs, you’ll find a hundred blueberry recipes for every huckleberry recipe. Something that had been on my radar for a while was blueberry lemon sweet rolls, but then I thought – HUCKLEBERRY lemon sweet rolls is where it’s at. First, start by making the dough.

for the dough: milk, water, egg, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, butter, more butter, yeast

warm the milk and water to 115°f (close enough)

sprinkle the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar over the liquid

mix the sugar, salt, and flour

mix the egg, vanilla extract, and melted butter into the liquid

combine the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients

knead until smooth

cover in an oiled bowl and let rise

**Jump for more butter**