chocolate caramel ice cream honey barbecued chicken japanese-style asparagus frites strawberry cinnamon rolls


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grills and thrills

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Recipe: honey barbecued chicken

How awesome is it to ski tour the Rocky Mountain high country one day, trail run in slush and mud the next day, and bike through lush shady trails the day after that? VERY. It is that magical time when you can take your pick of outdoor fun based on elevation and your choices don’t involve five different kinds of skiing (although there’s nothing wrong with that either). Last week was my first real trail run of the season that wasn’t entirely on snow and it felt good… and bad… but mostly good! I guess all of that winter skiing has paid off. MY QUADS ARE TREE TRUNKS, PEOPLE! I hope your weekend was as awesome as mine.


the view from my trail run

a dazzling sunset

bike foraging on the plains with my pal wendy

letting kaweah soak up some sun before her bath

homemade temaki (hand roll) for dinner



I haven’t said much about Kaweah lately because she’s been in a pattern of declining health for a week, then holding steady for 2-3 weeks, then repeating the cycle. We keep thinking her time is near and then she bounces back to a slightly lower level of health, but stable. She wobbles and stumbles and trips over her own feet all the time now. She can’t stand upright for more than a few minutes before her hind legs give out into a tangle under her. We have to hold her up when she potties lest she fall into her own puddles or poopies. But she’s the cutest, sweetest girl in the world and we love her so much. She’s still happy, obsessed with food, keen to sniff all the smells outside. We love on her, sing to her, talk to her, rub her belly and ears, give her massages, scratch the itchy hard-to-reach places, feed her all manner of goodies, and try our best to keep her safe and comfortable. It’s been a good week for her, and that’s all we can ask for at this point.

cuddling with the clean puppy sunday morning



Jeremy and I spend a good deal of time outside throughout the year such that we are tuned into the finer fluctuations in our weather. That means seasonal shifts are enormous changes to our routines. It rained on Saturday for hours and hours – the first substantial non-frozen precipitation we’ve had this year. Ski helmets were swapped for bike helmets and the heavy winter jackets that lined our mudroom walls have been replaced with lighter waterproof spring gear. And even though we grill year round, there is something about warmer weather that makes one crave barbecue. It just puts you in the mood. So let’s get some chicken on the grill!

chicken quarters, olive oil, kosher salt, brown sugar, chili powder, black pepper, paprika, chipotle powder, thyme, garlic

mince the garlic and chop the thyme

pour the olive oil into the spices



**Jump for more butter**

chinese new year recipe round up

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Chinese New Year (or the Lunar New Year) is a week away! It will be the Year of the Horse, which is special because my sister was born in the Year of the Horse and would have been 48 this year. I’m busy cleaning the house, prepping special foods, and doing those things that are supposed to bring luck in the new year. Maybe you are a traditionalist or perhaps the lunar new year doesn’t have any significance to you, but you want to make a celebratory meal or throw a Chinese-themed party. Either way, I’ve got a recipe round up for you!


traditional dishes



These are the dishes I make year after year. They symbolize luck, fortune, health, happiness, promotion.

Cellophane noodle soup: It’s a big pot of goodies – sort of a catchall for lucky things. The cellophane noodles (bean thread noodles or glass noodles) represent long life – so for goodness’ sake, DON’T CUT THE NOODLES. Meatballs and fish balls are round, which the Chinese like and their meaning is reunion.

Chinese dumplings and potstickers: Theoretically you are supposed to make dumplings (boiled or steamed), but I always make potstickers because I’m a crunch-junkie. My mom always told us that eating dumplings meant more money in the new year because they are shaped like gold ingots. Then I found out later that dumplings also symbolize having sons. I’m sticking with the money story.

Chinese egg dumplings: The Chinese have a thing for dumplings, because they are like purses, and purses hold money. These egg dumplings typically go in the cellophane noodle soup, but they are wonderful eaten on their own too.

Lucky ten ingredient vegetables: Lucky lucky lucky! Ten is a lucky number. Don’t make this with nine or eleven ingredients – you’ll screw up the new year! Also, don’t use hollow vegetables (green onions, water spinach – these are hollow and bad luck). Tofu is okay, but no meat is allowed in the dish.

Stir-fried rice cakes: These rice cakes are sticky, chewy disks of rice flour. The name of the rice cake, nian gao, sounds like “higher year”. Eating the rice cakes is good luck for a promotion or toward greater prosperity.

Stir-fried soybean sprouts: These are my favorite and plentiful in most Asian markets this time of year (because everyone wants luck!). Eating soybean sprouts (or bean sprouts in general) ensures a good start to the new year.


appetizers



There’s something you should know about tofu. It’s a big deal. Fu is “luck” in Chinese. So tofu is pretty popular in the new year festivities because everyone wants lots of luck. The thing is, you shouldn’t eat white tofu because white is bad – it’s the color of mourning/death. That’s bad luck. But don’t fret, there are a bazillion ways to eat tofu: fried, dried, marinated, sheets, pressed.

Bean curd rolls: You can find bean curd sheets or tofu skin in Asian grocery stores. They are either dried or frozen. This tofu skin roll is filled with savory pork and vegetables, and then braised til soft. I order it at dim sum all the time.

Chinese tea eggs: Eggs represent fertility, but I just love the subtle flavor of the tea infusion as well as the delicate crackle pattern on the peeled egg.

Fried shrimp wontons: Terrific nibbles with the added bonus that shrimp symbolize happiness and good fortune.

Pickled Chinese cabbage: Served cold, this sweet, salty, sour, spicy, crunchy pickled cabbage wakes your mouth up in the best way possible. I could snack on a bowl of this all by myself. Cabbage means money, prosperity.

Scallion pancakes: One of the best savory snacks, ever. I’m not sure if it has any symbolism, but it’s delicious!

Shrimp toast: More shrimp goodness (happiness and fortune).

**Jump for more butter**

because i like lists

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

I know all of the planners out there pretty much know what they are serving for Thanksgiving by now. We have no idea what we’re doing for Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s by choice (because, skiing…). So no wah wah trombones here! And besides, we are spending the weekend eating fabulous food with family. Because it isn’t the day so much as what you’re eating, what wine(s) you’re pairing with what you’re eating, and with whom you are dining.


for kaweah it’s all about what she would like to eat



In case you are looking for recipes, ideas, or inspiration, I’ve compiled a selection from my archives that are as Thanksgiving as I get. As you well know, I am not a traditionalist. Just remember: variety is the spice of life!

appetizers



Artichoke dip: This is a classic hot and cheesy dip to serve with crackers, crostini, sliced baguette, or even tortilla chips. Total winner.

Bacon-wrapped Boursin-stuffed dates: If you have some oven time and space, these may be some of the lowest effort to wow-factor ratio appetizers on the planet. I mean, we’re talking BACON. Don’t have Boursin cheese? No problem – stuff a little stick of Parmesan in there. Or a sliver of almond. Or don’t stuff the date at all and just wrap it in bacon and bake. If you don’t pit the dates, I do suggest letting your guests know, to perhaps save them some dental work.

Marinated mushrooms: These are best made ahead of time to ensure the mushrooms soak up all of the good flavors. Also super easy.

Sweet onion dip: I first had this dip at a little dinner party that Todd and Diane threw for me. I asked for the recipe right away and have been serving it to guests ever since. It’s called crack dip for a reason.


bready things



Angel biscuits: These are the closest biscuits I could find to the coveted silver dollar biscuits in southern Virginia. They go particularly well with Virginia ham (yes, that salty salty wonderful ham), but are fantastic with honey ham, in place of rolls, as well as straight up into your mouth.

Herbed-garlic knots: From Todd and Diane’s book Bountiful, these nuggets of bread are irresistibly buttery, garlicky, and bright.


salads



Beet, chèvre, hazelnut salad with blood oranges: It seems the only salad mentioned at most Thanksgiving tables is a jello salad, and that makes me sad… and little ill. This is an especially bright and satisfying salad to add some color to the meal. All of the components can be prepped ahead of time.

Roasted cauliflower salad with olives and oranges: My girlfriend Denise served this at a gathering last year and I think I ate half of it (and there were 10 of us). Another great make-ahead dish that has elements of briny, sweet, tangy, and that earthy, almost buttery flavor of roasted cauliflower.

Shredded Brussels sprouts salad: The oft-maligned Brussels sprout is the star of this salad. Crunchy and fresh, it is paired with citrus, cheese, and nuts for a great combination of flavors and textures.

Shredded kale salad: I eat a lot of kale and I like it, but this is perhaps my absolute favorite kale salad and it is crazy simple. I like the version I cobbled together, but the original recipe from Oak is the one I always make. It’s fabulous.


soups



Asparagus soup: Yes, soup! I don’t see it on most Thanksgiving menus, but it can also be tough to serve to large groups of people. Even so, if you have a hankering for soup, a simple asparagus soup purée tastes great and adds some nice green to the meal.

Cream of mushroom soup: There really isn’t anything more heavenly than a creamy mushroom soup and this one is chock full of a variety of mushrooms.

Potato leek soup: Maybe you aren’t a fan of mashed potatoes, but want a potato dish? Or maybe you ARE a fan of everything potato! This soup is easy to make and wholly satisfying without being too heavy.

Pumpkin soup: Everything pumpkin at Thanksgiving… but this sneaks in some additional vegetables, apples, and bacon. BACON.

Roasted butternut squash soup: In keeping with orange soups, here’s another squash turned into soup. It’s easily converted to vegetarian or vegan and includes apples.

Roasted carrot and ginger soup: A recent post and new favorite soup in our house. What makes this one so delightful is the warming ginger along with the sweet roasted carrots. Simple to make and a great recipe to make ahead.


vegetables and sides



Basic cranberry sauce: Sure, you could buy it in a can, but cranberry sauce from scratch is so ridiculously straightforward (and in my opinion, better tasting) that it deserves a little stove top real estate.

Corn pudding with green chiles: A New Mexican twist on corn pudding adds a little zing to your taste buds with chopped green chiles.

Mirin sweet potatoes: So maybe you don’t want sweet potato mash with marshmallow and brown sugar topping, but you still want sweet potatoes. Here’s a sweet Asian fusiony sweet potato recipe that calls for Mirin, honey, and butter.

Parmesan gremolata smasher potatoes: Crisp potatoey outside and fluffy potatoey inside, all mixed with lemon zest, parsley, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Crowd-pleaser.

Potatoes au gratin: Creamy, cheesy, buttery, utterly indulgent classic. Oh, and potatoes.

Roasted Brussels sprouts: I’m not giving up on pushing the Brussels sprouts. They say anything roasted with bacon is fabulous, but Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon (and shallots) is doubly fabulous. This dish has converted a lot of people.

Roasted butternut squash with Moroccan spices: I love this roasted butternut squash from my friend Kalyn. The Moroccan spices really bring out the sweetness of the squash and I find myself snacking on them straight out of the oven.


birds and non-bird critters



Dry-brined roast turkey: I’m not a turkey person, but if I’m going to serve turkey I think brining is the way to go. I prefer dry brines because they involve less mess and are relatively easy. The best part of this recipe is the defatting technique from Fine Cooking.

Miso-butter roast chicken: Let’s say a whole bird isn’t in your plans, but you want some kind of bird. The miso-butter in this recipe is so unbelievably good that you’ll want to save some for bread, or vegetables, or anything else you can think of. The magic is in the miso, butter, AND a head of roasted garlic. This phenomenal recipe comes from my good friend, Kathya.

Roast chicken: Not enough people to justify a turkey? Maybe you’re not a fan of leftovers (for shame!). Think of a roast chicken as a smaller, faster version of the turkey. And you can still get gravy from it.

Crusted roast beef: We all know someone in our lives who is a caveman and who barely tolerates Thanksgiving turkey. I’m always one for bucking tradition. If you have a red meat-lovin’ table, this beautiful crusted roast is sure to please.

Pan-seared scallops: Now that is what I’m talking about. You might be surprised to learn that my fish monger is crazy busy the week of Thanksgiving. This dish literally takes minutes (like, less than 10) to cook and it impresses EVERYONE. More often than not, Jeremy and I enjoy seafood for Thanksgiving.

Rack of lamb: Another non-turkey option that plates beautifully and takes a lot less time to cook than a whole turkey.


cakes and cheesecake



Carrot cake: This one is a low effort cake for a crowd if you want to bake it in a 9×13-inch pan and spread frosting on top. But you get more cream cheese frosting bang per slice if you make it into a layer cake – it just requires a lot more manhandling of the cake and frosting.

Chocolate bourbon cake: Chocolatey and boozy. Plus it looks gorgeous coming right out of the bundt pan. Easy to make.

Chocolate cloud cake: Flourless chocolate cake with a big hint of orange. It is rich with a sort of meringue top when baked. The crater that forms in the middle is the perfect vehicle for a giant pile of whipped cream (the cloud).

Chocolate pistachio cake: This is an awesome dessert that makes everyone say “wow” when you bring it out. Not a simple process, but certainly a delightful end product.

Lime cheesecake with blackberry sauce: Because your Thanksgiving dinner just wasn’t rich enough, you need some cheesecake in your life. This one is deceptively light on the tongue – maybe because of the refreshing lime flavor? People usually go back for seconds.

Pear upside down gingerbread cake: What better way to pair an autumn fruit with a holiday favorite? This one requires oven time, so it’s best to make it ahead to avoid competition with other oveny things.

Pumpkin cake with chocolate ganache and salt caramel cream cheese frosting: There’s that pumpkin again, but it’s the lightweight of the trio of flavors: pumpkin, chocolate, and salt caramel. Baking and cake-making skills are a plus.

White Russian cake: Inspired by The Big Lebowski, I turned the famed White Russian cocktail into a cake. Boozy and amazeballs. Definitely use the stabilized whipped cream (with gelatin) or bad things could happen.


pies and tarts and things baked in pans


Apple cranberry crisp: It’s hard to mess this one up. Prep ahead of time and pop it into the oven while everyone dines on the turkey (just set a timer for yourself, but you knew that). Wonderful when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate bread pudding with hazelnut liqueur crème anglais: A decadent bread pudding made from buttery challah or brioche, soaked in chocolate goodness. Don’t skip the Frangelico crème anglais!

Chocolate espresso pecan pie: Because sometimes you just really need pie in your life, but you don’t want the same old pie. Pecan pie with chocolate and espresso. No dozing at this dinner table.

Cranberry nut dessert: Super simple. Mix everything in a bowl, bake it in a pie dish. This recipe comes from my MIL and we love it. Almond flavors the cake which is dotted with tart cranberries and chunks of nuts (take your pick, but I make it with walnuts).

French silk pie: Silky smooth melt-in-your-mouth deliciously decadent pie. This one should be made the day before, but top with whipped cream just before serving.

Pear frangipane tart: If you love frangipane, this is for you. I’d suggest making this ahead of time (either the day before or the morning of). Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.

Pumpkin bread pudding: Another bread pudding, but this one is pumpkin to keep in step with the seasonal and holiday themes. And just like with the chocolate bread pudding, don’t skip the accompanying crème anglais. This one is bourbon crème anglais, because you can never have enough booze in your desserts.


other sweets



Butterscotch milk chocolate puddings: An alternative to the cakes and pies, this double decker pudding is a treat and a half. Topped with freshly whipped cream and a shave of chocolate, and you have the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving meal.

Chocolate espresso crème brûlée: Crème brûlées ought to be made a day ahead so they have plenty of time to cool and chill in the refrigerator. The fun part is when you bring the torch out to caramelize the sugar. The chocolate espresso crème brûlée is dark, so watch carefully to ensure that you caramelize the sugar without burning it beyond recognition.

Cranberry pâte de fruits: I just posted this recipe, but these wonderful little fruit jellies are a nice sweet and tart bite to finish your meal. Great palate cleanser.

Pumpkin crème brûlée: Pumpkin flavor in crème brûlée form. If you are expecting a super smooth crème brûlée, then make the chocolate espresso version (or the classic). This one incorporates real pumpkin purée and has a bit of a texture to it – but it’s a propos of the season.

Good luck, good cooking and baking, and good eating! May the odds be ever in your favor.