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archive for sandwiches

you bet your buns

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Recipe: brioche

Brioche is my absolute favorite bread. It’s not just because of all that buttery, fluffy deliciousness. The first time I tried a brioche was on my very first “date” with Jeremy. I had asked him if he was free and he said he was. He lied. He skipped math recitation. Jeremy never skips class. Never. We went to the bakery in Old Town Pasadena on a Friday afternoon and shared a brioche. It tasted so heavenly. Or maybe my memories are biased because I was really fond of this shy, polite fellow with a sweet smile. Fast forward to now – in Colorado. It’s hard to find good brioche (one could say the same for finding a good fellow). Sure, they sell it here and there, but it tastes like sawdust and crumbles apart before it reaches your mouth. The only way I could find that butter-rich, delicate brioche was to order it in some restaurants or cafés. It’s about time I remedied the problem. All I really want is the perfect hamburger bun.

The ingredient list is short, but the process is on the long side. It’s worth it, people. We swears it on The Precious. So let’s get to work.


eggs, flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter, milk – that’s it!

mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together

add eggs and milk

mix with the paddle until clumpy, then switch to the dough hook



Honestly, I don’t know how people made brioche before stand mixers existed. Maybe they just had enormous arms from all of the kneading. A stand mixer will make this process so much less painful for you, but you can’t walk away from the mixer while it’s running. Mine had a tendency to walk itself around and I’m sure it would have walked itself off the counter only to bash its brains in if I hadn’t held it in place. There is a lot of mixing and scraping and the motor will get hot. When the dough comes together, start adding the softened butter a little at a time. At first it looks like the butter just spins around and around the dough, but eventually it will smear out and become incorporated into the dough. Have patience and wait to add the next pat of butter only after the previous one has disappeared.

scrape down the sides of the bowl and the dough hook

add butter one pat at a time

half of the butter has been mixed in

knead the dough a few times by hand



**Jump for more butter**

what sustains us

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Recipe: ham, swiss, and egg brioche sandwich

Returning home to Nederland over the weekend, we discovered that the house and its surrounds had gone ahead and marched straight into spring. Little green grasses and baby dandelion leaves are beginning to sprout up through our walkway gravel. The aspens have fuzzed out with catkins. And a bathmat-sized patch of snow lingers behind our garage in eternal shade, hoping to withstand 60°F air temperatures until it can replenish with another storm. We also received our REI dividend in the mail. You know, they used to issue those at the end of the calendar year, which meant we spent it all on winter gear. Since they’ve shifted the dividends to late March, we now spend the dividend on summer gear – like new Hokas (trail runners) and a steri pen. Jeremy loves his Hokas so much, he recommended I make the switch this season. I guess it’s time to face reality that I’ll be doing less skiing and more trail running as the days get longer.


nice color over gothic mountain (bottom center) and crested butte (right)

still getting out for a ski tour in the indian peaks

warm orange clouds over the divide from our deck (nederland)

venus to the left and a contrail lit pink by the setting sun



We are experiencing a shift in our exercise schedules with the change in seasons. We like to ski first thing in the morning in winter – because you typically catch first tracks or newly groomed nordic trails. Now that it’s warmer, we go later in the day to give the snow time to soften up from its overnight freeze. Even in the high country, the snow gets wet in the afternoons. Then it freezes overnight into a hard crust or icy slick. So first thing in the morning isn’t such a great thing anymore. Come summer, we’ll be starting our hikes and trail runs in the dark to avoid as much sun and heat as possible. But all of these things require fuel.

They say not to skip breakfast and I find this to be especially true when you plan to burn calories for several hours. I just have a lot of trouble eating something sweet for my first meal. The sugar leaves my mouth sour and dry, and I don’t feel it gives me the proper boost for my activity level. A few weeks ago, we stopped by Salto Coffee Works on our way to ski The Jane (Winter Park/Mary Jane), because Jeremy needed some proper caffeine for the drive. I ordered a breakfast sandwich to put something in my empty stomach. It was so good that I insisted Jeremy eat half of it. Since then, I’ve made it a couple of times for a good energy booster before a ski tour or a morning of bump runs.


swiss cheese, black forest ham, brioche buns, eggs, butter, honey dijon mustard

butter the buttery brioche buns

grill them on a skillet until golden



**Jump for more butter**

before the freeze

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Recipe: grilled brie porcini and caramelized onion sandwich

There is the possibility of a freeze and light snow down on the flats Thursday night. Everyone down there is freaking out at the potential for snow. That’s what they do. They freak out. I’m kind of excited about the snow. You knew that. But I also realize that up high in the mountains where my the huckleberries grow, it’s not only going to snow, but it’s going to be a hard freeze. Those little guys are tough, but everyone has their kryptonite. Ever since I got home this week, I’ve been squeezing hikes in to look for more huckleberries. The season wanes, but the high country still calls regardless of heavy rains, angry winds, and cold numb fingers that pluck at precious purple berries.


sun in the east and rain overhead

hiking into the wall of clouds

visiting with my high country neighbors (marmots)



Cool weather and loads of late summer rains have kept the mountain mushrooms chugging along well past their usual bedtime. I don’t go out of my way to find porcini these days because huckleberries are my priority. As my friend, Jay, said to Erin (regarding our obsession with huckleberries), “You two have a sickness.” But porcini and hucks tend to like some of the same environments and they even hang out together. When I find porcini cozily nestled among the lush huckleberry plants, it fries my brain – because there’s a porcini! But wait, are there huckleberries? But, a porcini! And I have to do a quick mental calculation as to how much time it takes to harvest and clean a porcini and then convert that to potential huckleberry volume. However, if the porcini are particularly perfect or the huckleberries are particularly absent, then I’ll pick the mushroom.

i love that signature color of our rocky mountain porcini



If I pick the mushroom, I have to be absolutely sure that I’m going to do something with it or give it to someone who is going to do something with it and who will also appreciate what they have received. So I did something with a few of the porcini – I made a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a grilled brie, buttery pan-seared porcini, and caramelized onion sandwich. I think I went momentarily blind when I took a bite of it. Jeremy, who burns a thousand calories just checking his email, ate the rest of the sandwich with a glass of chardonnay and a big honking smile on his face. This is DECADENT comfort food.

fresh porcini, olive oil, butter, brie, bread, onions (not pictured: sea salt)

slice the onions

start sautéing the onions



**Jump for more butter**