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archive for poultry

wild about you

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Recipe: seared duck breast with huckleberry gastrique

I bet you think I think about winter all the time. Well, it’s true. When I’m running up a trail in summer, I imagine skiing back down if only it were winter (or even just running straight into a snowbank to cool off). But the converse is also true. I think about summer in winter. Just the other day I took Neva for a hike on the local trails when the snow was falling at a good clip, and pointed out places on the white ground where shinleaf, pasque flowers, and other flora bloom in the months of long daylight. For me, it’s all about the place and how it changes so dramatically from season to season, but still remains constant in my heart. I have noted where the best aspen stands reside. I have strong mental associations with those special locales that offer up chanterelles, porcini, wild strawberries, wild raspberries, and most of all – huckleberries. Even more so if I can ski there in winter!


neva digs this weather, and any weather for that matter



Perhaps I’m mistaking my obsession with huckleberries as “thinking about summer” despite the fact that they only make their entrance in the last half of the season. I forage for (and freeze most of) those blessed berries like crazy for a few weeks and research ways to prepare and share them for the rest of the year. This week I finally tested a seared duck and huckleberry gastrique (a sweet and sour sauce) recipe that has been on my brain for a long while and it just so happened to coincide with our wedding anniversary! Truth be told, our anniversary sneaks up on us each year. We rarely plan anything around it. On a whim, I picked Jeremy up from work and took him to The Kitchen for a light snack of oysters and sparkling rosé as a “celebration”. Once home, I realized we had some leftovers from my recipe testing, so I said, “How about that for dinner?” and Jeremy nodded enthusiastically.

happy 19th anniversary!



The biggest obstacle for me to make this recipe was not huckleberries, but duck. I’ve had a lot of trouble tracking down duck breasts in Boulder (go figure – locals, if you have a source, please share the information with me!). As luck would have it, my friends Erin and Jay gave me a couple of frozen wild duck breasts recently. They happen to have friends who like to hunt duck, but don’t care to eat them (what the!??!). While that was happening, I went ahead and ordered some frozen farmed duck breasts online. So now I had two kinds of duck breasts! The farmed duck is White Pekin and the flesh is much lighter in color and milder in flavor than the deep burgundy and more “gamey” wild duck. I was psyched to compare the two. The wild duck breasts didn’t come with skin, which is a bit of a shame because duck skin is the best thing ever.

duck breasts (farmed and wild), huckleberries, roast chicken stock, beef and chicken stock blend, zinfandel, sugar, red wine vinegar, salt (not pictured: black pepper)



Searing the duck is no big deal and pretty straightforward. Making the huckleberry gastrique is what takes up the bulk of the time and effort – mostly babysitting liquids as you reduce them to syrups. I used roast chicken stock instead of duck stock, because I happen to have that on hand at any given time. [I tend to save all roast chicken carcasses and bones in gallon freezer bags and make large batches of stock in my pressure cooker.] I couldn’t find veal stock anywhere and decided to substitute half beef broth and half roast chicken stock instead. The things you can learn from a Google search! If you have access to huckleberries, use them. If you don’t, consider ordering frozen hucks online. I don’t know how well blueberries will work in place of huckleberries – probably fine, but blueberries lack the nice acidity and floral notes that make the huckleberry so special. As for the zinfandel, the original recipe appears on the Dry Creek Vineyard website and calls for the Dry Creek Heritage Zinfandel, obviously. We were really underwhelmed with the 2014, so I think you can perhaps save yourself some coin and buy a fruity, low-tannin zinfandel for the gastrique.

To start the gastrique, you essentially make a caramel syrup from the sugar and the red wine vinegar. This is what gives the gastrique its signature tart-sweet flavor which pairs so perfectly with huckleberries and duck. I reduced the vinegar-sugar mixture down to about a third of the initial volume until it was syrupy, but not too syrupy. It will thicken quite a bit when it cools.


combine the sugar and red wine vinegar

reduce until syrupy

it should be thick, but flowing when cooled



**Jump for more butter**

fido snacks

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Recipe: chicken sweet potato dog treats

Before we brought Neva home, I made a batch of pumpkin peanut butter dog treats and cut them into little squares for her to eat and train on. I guess I was still in Kaweah-mode because the first time I handed a treat to Neva, she mouthed it for ten minutes then eventually spat it out because she couldn’t bite into it. In fact, she was so little and silly, she’d munch on a puppy kibble for a good ten seconds which translated into long dinner times. I was sad because Kaweah loved those treats so much and Neva didn’t seem to care for them at all. Little did I know that she was just too baby to eat them. Eventually, after her big girl teeth came in, she went after them with gusto. It’s been nice to feed her homemade treats because it’s more economical and doesn’t contain additives or artificial junk.


waiting patiently for her release word



I thought Neva could use some variety in her snacks and began to research diffent flavors and recipes. Because she is a labrador retriever, I don’t have to worry about her being picky. She’ll eat anything. I do want to make the recipes simple and keep the ingredients wholesome – organic when possible. The first variation I tried was chicken and sweet potato. These came out a little denser than I wanted, so my second batch had shredded cheddar cheese added to the dough. The cheese has a nice effect of creating rough layers sort of the way butter does in pastry dough. So even though the cheese isn’t in any of the photos, I do recommend adding it to the dough for a better texture that is less likely to break your dog’s teeth. And of course, she loves the flavor. Here is a video I posted on Instagram of her latest trick using one of these treats.

all you need: baked sweet potato, an egg, whole wheat flour, cooked chicken (not pictured: shredded cheddar cheese)

peel the sweet potatoes

mash them up



**Jump for more butter**

ready for snow

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Recipe: roast lemon chicken with chanterelles

You can learn so much from your neighbors. At least, I have this past week. While I tried to restrain Neva from jumping on two friends and apologized for the “craziness”, one of them said her dog used to do it too, but ever since she sent her to doggy day care, she is much better behaved. Now that Neva is 6 months old and spayed, we can start giving her a few days a month at a day care more for socialization than anything else. And another friend recommended letting Neva hang out in the car without driving anywhere to get her over the fear of the car. Each day I’d spend 30 minutes with Neva in the back of the car – back hatch wide open – and we’d watch the world go about its business around us. I gave her a treat (either a greenie or part of a scoop dog treat) to make happy associations. The first day I had to lift her into the car as she struggled to run away. She drooled and foamed at the mouth for the first 15 minutes, letting out sad little cries and wails. By the sixth day, she was leaping into the back on her own, asking politely for the goodies, and feeling pretty darn happy.

The real test was driving her someplace. I waited until after 5 days of car therapy had passed. She hopped in on her own and didn’t drool or foam once! She did let out a few quiet whimpers when she realized what was happening, but then we were at the trailhead and she was able to focus on the hike instead. She did great. At 4 am this morning, we drove home to Nederland and Neva (on dramamine) did pretty well for 5 hours over mountain passes and windy roads – no puke, but a little bit of drooling. We’re working on it and at least she is making progress.


happily chewing her greenie in the back of the subaru



Neva and I were both happy to see Jeremy pull into the driveway Friday evening. He offered to take care of Neva so I could spend the weekend shooting the fall colors, but I said no. Strong winds on Friday stripped many of the leaves off the aspens around town, and I felt the time would be better spent getting some exercise and simply enjoying the last of the fall colors together rather than trying to get those money shots. Besides, I was able to grab a few decent snaps.

getting neva back on the trails saturday (plus a happy swim at the end)

a hike to a view on beckwith pass, sunday

jeremy and i got some time on the stand up paddleboards, too

thursday’s sunset before the winds picked up

even though some stands are past peak, it is still pretty gorgeous



There was a dusting of snow on the high peaks (probably above 13,000 feet) Saturday morning, but the sun made quick work of returning the snow to the atmosphere (I’m pretty sure that snow sublimated off the summits). As Jeremy and I hiked with Neva through carpets of fallen aspen leaves, we caught each other up on news of the week, angry letters we want to write to elected officials, and mushrooms. It’s hard for me to hike a trail and not point out where there was a good flush of chanterelles or porcini from the summer, or where there ought to be a good flush of chanterelles or porcini if *I* were one of those mushrooms and had a say about where I were to fruit. Friends of mine in other parts of the world have to deal with foraging chanterelles while golden leaves are falling on the ground, which makes for far more challenging visual conditions. We have it nice here in Colorado – our beautiful yellow chanties come up when most of the vegetation is green (as do our porcini).

well, how beautiful are you, little chanterelle?

frilly and delicate



Now that I’ve had my fix of fall colors (they’re still going and I still enjoy them, but now I don’t feel compelled to photograph them once peak is over) and it has snowed a few times in the high elevations, I am ready for ski season to start. No really, I am. Sooooo, any day now, Nature! In the meantime, I’ll get some trail running in since Neva no longer requires constant supervision and I’ll start roasting things like chicken and oh hey – chanterelles. Roasting is an easy way to make a dinner packed with flavor. Use any (edible) mushroom, but I happened to have fresh chanterelles when I shot this recipe last month. I don’t have fresh chanties now, but I did sauté several pounds of chanterelles in butter for freezing. If you have frozen cooked chanterelles, they will work just fine in this recipe.

chicken, carrots, parsley, thyme, pepper, olive oil, chanterelles, potatoes, onion, lemon, salt, garlic, bacon

mise en place



**Jump for more butter**