caulilini with bagna cauda fig bread pudding elk chorizo chile rellenos pork chops with chanterelle wine and cream sauce


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Monday, October 14th, 2019

Recipe: caulilini with bagna cauda

It was only a few days after my last post that our autumn sunshine and warmth plunged into the grey and white hues of an early season storm. That first real snowfall of the season takes on magical notes, especially when it catches the fall colors – powdered sugar coating honeyed canopies. Short-lived, but one of life’s many joyful experiences.


getting neva and yuki out to play the evening before the storm

yuki starts the hike out of our neighborhood

felt like winter, but looked like fall

24 hours of overlapping seasons



After the storm, our weather warmed up, the snow melted, and the leaves turned black and fell. Now we ping pong between warm and cold spells. Another storm, then sun, then storm, then sun, all the while the temperatures trend cooler and we build a base in the mountains that will soon be good enough to ski without scraping rocks. In the meantime, I’m cranking the oven up and getting reacquainted with my sourdough starter and resuming the production of homemade dog treats (I use canned pumpkin instead of sweet potato now, but either works fine). Admittedly, I purchase dog treats in summer when the last of the homemade spring batch has been exhausted and it is too bloody hot to run the oven. Neva was particularly happy to stand watch over the treats late into the night.

playing with bâtard scoring

neva stayed up late with me to make sure “her” treats baked properly



We love our vegetables around here and have a nice rotation of several varieties, but sometimes I fall into a rut and feel bored. That’s one of the reasons we like to dine out from time to time – to get inspired by new ideas and new menus. We haven’t gotten out much since we adopted Yuki, but this summer she transformed into a big girl and now behaves pretty well at home when we’re gone. One dish that really stuck with me was the caulilini at Sunflower in Crested Butte. It’s like broccolini, but in cauliflower form except the stalks are sweeter and more tender than cauliflower stalks.

Fast forward a couple of months and I spot caulilini in the produce section of Trader Joe’s! I grabbed two bags and have since returned for several more. Some people have referred to caulilini as baby cauliflower, but it isn’t. A little googling revealed that this version of cauliflower is actually the one most commonly consumed in China. So it’s new to me (us), but old hat for my motherland. Dang! I never even knew. But now that I know, I’m going to make up for lost time. Taking a cue from Sunflower, I decided to sauté the caulilini and serve it with bagna cauda.


caulilini, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, more olive oil, garlic, anchovies



I grew up prepping vegetables and defrosting various meats and tofu and stock for my mom before she got home from work so that she could start cooking dinner the moment she stepped into the house. We ate a lot of broccoli back in the day because that was an easy vegetable to get in American grocery stores that translated well to Chinese cooking. I was taught to peel the fibrous and tough outer skins on the stalks and now I just do it out of habit. I think the caulilini is tender enough that you can skip this step (especially if you are short on time), but I do break them down into bite-size stalks if they are especially bulky.

peeling the outer skins (optional)

breaking down the stalks



**Jump for more butter**

i give a fig

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Recipe: fig bread pudding

We waited impatiently for the flip from green to yellow in the aspen stands, but summer seemed to hold on a few weeks longer than usual. The hints dotted trails and shores on our hikes and paddles. Eventually that golden wave appeared and led the way to impressive bursts of color. We refer to this time of year as pure magic. The smell of sweet leafy fermentation lingers in the air when the aspen forests glow gold and red. It’s not rotten… rather a little funky in the way a well-aged red wine can become.


enter autumn

the pups are digging it

glowing

hiking for the views and the fresh air

crested butte mountain dons her fall colors

mountain passes at their finest

yuki and neva loving any season



I did not intend to be absent for this long, but mountain homes require pre-winter maintenance, fall colors demand to be seen, puppy dogs need exercise, and it was time for me to address some nagging injuries before they progressed and negated any chance of winter activities. Don’t think I haven’t been cooking! We finally kicked that awful hot weather to the curb and now have flannel sheets on the bed. The dog blankets are out of summer storage and our heat ran for the first time yesterday morning. It’s lovely baking weather in the mountains and a perfect time for fig bread pudding.

figs, butter, brandy, vanilla extract, cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, lemon (juice and zest), cinnamon bread



My initial plan was to use challah or brioche for the bread, but I thought I could use up some cinnamon bread that was hanging around the house. You can use pretty much any bread you fancy. Bread pudding is quite forgiving that way. The original recipe includes raisins, but I live with an individual who is adamantly against raisins, so they got the boot (the raisins, not Jeremy). Since I didn’t have enough figs (because I doubled the figs), I halved the recipe, but doubled the brandy because that always sounds like a good idea. Sometimes you just wing it.

chop the figs and soak in brandy

butter the bread (i did both sides, but you don’t have to)

cut the bread into cubes



**Jump for more butter**

september love

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Recipe: elk chorizo chile rellenos

September is a good month. September birthdays, milder weather, hints of autumn colors, the return of colorful sunsets and sunrises, empty trails. We are loving it.


jeremy’s birthday appetizers

inflating our standup paddleboards lakeside

our home mountains

exploring our neighborhood nature center

yuki presents a recently stained deck (along with the house) and sunset



As for food, September around here means the smell of roasting chiles at the farmer’s markets, the last of the Colorado peaches, tomatoes for canning, wild matsutake mushrooms and wild huckleberries if you’re lucky, and elk. You can always find frozen elk meat around Colorado, but I have neighbors both in Nederland and in Crested Butte who hunt every fall. Last year, we were given lots of elk and some lovely venison (don’t worry – I share porcini, chanterelles, morels, and huckleberries with these wonderful people). A few years ago I had a delicious elk chorizo chile relleno that I had been wanting to recreate at home, so that’s what I did over the weekend.

ground elk



Elk is pretty lean and chorizo needs fat. So I made my chorizo half elk and half pork. You can just as easily make it all pork, or half pork and half venison, or however you want to do it. Just make sure there is a decent amount of fat. Most of the spices in the chorizo recipe aren’t too hard to track down except for achiote paste. That can be found in Mexican markets, a good spice shop (my good spice shop in Boulder is Savory Spice Shop), or online. It’s worth the extra effort to get it.

achiote paste

for the chorizo: elk, pork, ancho chili, chipotle, achiote, cayenne, apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, oregano, cumin, minced garlic



**Jump for more butter**