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mutual inspiration

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Recipe: california roll poke

Ski resort seasons are coming to an end, but it seems that the atmosphere is not ready to call it quits just yet. We had a nice 9-inch dump of snow late last week which made for some excellent early turns Thursday, and some fine backcountry skiing Friday. Spring skiing is not like winter skiing. The snow is heavy and wet, rather than light as a feather and powdery. But… I’m not bundled to the hilt either because it’s spring and warm(er). You really do work up a sweat. I actually love that!


upslope event meant clouds and snow on the plains

snow blanketing the mountains – that’s what i like



Friends of mine who live just 3000 feet below us are starting to post photos of mountain bike rides, trail runs, and other sunny and warm endeavors. My heart keeps telling me, “Get more turns before the snow melts!” while my brain is thinking, “We need to get riding and running!” Really though, as long as I can be active and outside then I’m happy. Meanwhile, I’m flipping through Facebook the other day and see my friend, Allison (who runs Fridgg), has posted a photo of her latest dining exploits in Southern California. California roll poke. I had to have it. HAD TO HAVE IT.

Allison says that I inspire her with my recipes, yet she inspires me with all of the awesome food she enjoys (and posts photos of)! If I lived near her, we’d eat out together all the time because I absolutely love her taste in food. And I love Allison.


crab legs, maguro (sashimi-grade tuna), green onions, avocado, cucumber, black and white sesame seeds, flake sea salt, masago (flying fish roe), soy sauce, sesame oil



Poke is a Hawai’ian raw fish salad. When Jeremy and I were last on the Big Island, we visited the local Foodland grocery store in Hilo. There was an entire fish counter dedicated to over a dozen types of gorgeous, fresh poke. So when I went looking for a California roll poke recipe, the one from Foodland’s site by Chef Keoni Chang was what I used as a template. There is a good deal of flexibility on the ingredients, so use what you like best and what is available to you. Just be sure the fish is sashimi-grade. I used maguro instead of ahi tuna, and I didn’t sear my fish because I like it completely raw. For the crab, you don’t have to go for King crab legs as it can be prohibitively expensive and hard to source. Lump crab meat works or even surimi, imitation crab meat (aka Krab). And the best cucumbers are the crisp, less seedy kind like Japanese, Persian, or English cucumbers.

slice cucumbers

dice the tuna

peel the crab



**Jump for more butter**

winter’s end

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Recipe: korean barbecue pork lettuce wraps

Spring is just around the corner. In fact, I can see it from where I stand. The R-word is even in the forecast… RAIN. That kinda kills the snowpack, but then it is supposed to turn to snow. Whatever form of water falls from the sky, we have promised ourselves to enjoy this time – the end of winter. It’s been such a lovely season that we thought it fitting to say farewell to winter from Crested Butte.


mount whetstone

paradise divide and the slate river

blowing snow on mount emmons at sunset



The last time I was about to leave the Front Range for Crested Butte, I had a grocery date with Wendy at the new HMart in Westminster. It’s a Korean/Asian grocery store that is closer to me than its Aurora branch in southeast Denver. We wandered around checking out all of the products on offer, catching up on all manner of gossip and cooking and life stuff. As we passed into the meat department, a little Korean woman was grilling marinated pork samples. We each tried it and smiled at one another. Good stuff. The woman placed her hand on a stack of packaged marinated pork and said, “For sale!” Since I was leaving town soon, I declined. Walking toward the fish tanks, Wendy and I leaned into one another and whispered, “I could totally make that at home!” And so I eventually did.

pork shoulder, black pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, pear, onion, green onions, garlic, ginger, sugar (not pictured: gochuchang)

chopping the pear

pear, onion, garlic, ginger

puréed



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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).

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