soft-shell crab spider roll huckleberry brioche pan-seared pork chops spicy tuna inari


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archive for sweet

the year of the monkey

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Recipe: chocolate soufflé

I wrote a short piece for Lands of Plenty on Chinese dumplings if you’d like to hop over and read it. The illustration was created by the talented Melanie Kwan.

Happy Chinese New Year! While everyone was getting ready for their big game parties on Sunday, we were busily cleaning the house and prepping food all weekend for our New Year’s Eve feast. It was just as well since the winds were horrible here, so we didn’t feel as if we were missing out on anything outside. I figured the lunar new year could mean something new for Neva, too! It’s her first Chinese New Year, after all.


a pretty new collar for her to encase in mud…

high winds can sometimes deliver dramatic cloudscapes



For some reason, this year’s cooking went more smoothly than previous years and I had the bulk of it done by Saturday night. I also think as I get older I’m okay with letting some things slide. For instance, I usually try to make stir-fried Chinese rice cakes, but instead of making yet another dish and having even more food to finish before it spoils, I just tossed a few of the rice cakes into the cellophane noodle soup and called it good. I’m slowly learning to let go of ridiculous expectations that are only in my mind and trying to focus more on reducing stress. Also? I have a terrible habit of making too much food, so I made a concerted effort to make the dishes in smaller quantities and I sent Jeremy with some of the scallion pancakes and potstickers to our favorite neighbors. It’s good all around.

fragrant pears, satsuma mandarin oranges, and a red envelope

lucky ten ingredient vegetable before mixing

making scallion pancakes

frying up some pork potstickers

our small feast

so good to finally sit down and enjoy



Now with Chinese New Year cleaning and cooking done, I can sit back and take a load off my feet… sort of. What’s that you say? Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up. We don’t really do that around here. There are no gifts, no surprises, no unauthorized expenses, no nothing other than our typical hugs and giggles and I-love-yous. But for those of you who like to cook or bake for those people you love dearly, I can get behind that. This gluten-free chocolate soufflé has been sitting in my archives for several months and it seems appropriate right about now. We start with a chocolate pastry cream.

egg whites, egg yolks, vanilla extract, unsweetened chocolate, sugar (twice), butter (twice), powdered sugar, cornstarch, cream of tartar, cocoa powder, salt, and milk

whisk the yolks, milk, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt together over medium heat

stir the chocolate, butter, and vanilla into the mixture

chocolate pastry cream



**Jump for more butter**

like apples and monkeys

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Recipe: apple cinnamon caramel monkey bread

After 48 hours of a funtastic trip (more on that in a later post), I am back in the saddle – or rather, I am sitting in front of my computer. Neva is curled up in her doggy bed, exhausted from 48 hours of non-stop playtime with several other puppies (dog camp). She wanted to go straight to bed the moment we brought her home, but she had enough of a stink on her that we insisted on giving her a bath. Since the sun was already down and the winds were blowing, we put her in the tub for a rub-a-dub-dub. Neva jumped out of the tub, twice. But after a few minutes under the warm water, she resigned herself to her fate, quietly whining as streams of dirty brown water swirled at her feet and on down toward the drain. Now she’s a fluffy fuzzball, all clean and cuddly and cute.


neva feels a treat is the least she deserves after the indignity of her bath



This recipe is a longish one, so it’s best to dive into it now. A (complimentary) box of beautiful Piñata apples from Stemilt Growers arrived on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago. The last time they sent me a shipment of fruit (pears), we ate them straight up because they were so sweet and juicy. This time, I actually held out and saved some of the apples for baking. Piñatas are excellent for snacking as they deliver a nice balance of tang and sweetness, but they are also great for baking. You can easily substitute Granny Smith or Fuji apples for this monkey bread – anything with a little tartness to it.

Let’s start with the filling. The recipe I followed called for three apples. My Piñata apples were on the large side, so I suspect I had a lot more apple than the recipe anticipated. The good news is that the end result is great despite the extra wrangling of apple pieces in the dough. Make your apple filling first. It will need time to cool after you sauté it because it gets added to the bread dough.


apples, sugar, butter, cinnamon, lemon (juice)

peel, core, and dice the apples

toss the apples, cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice together

add the apples to melted butter in a sauté pan

when the liquid has simmered away, let the apples cool



**Jump for more butter**

there’s a surprise

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Recipe: pistachio surprise truffles

Someday, I will catch up on sleep. Jeremy and I have both had several nights in a row of staying up late to work and getting up early to work (or ski). Of course, we both recognize the importance of getting enough sleep, so one night we made a concerted effort to get to bed before midnight in the hopes we’d be able to sleep in until 7 am. Except we have been experimenting with Neva’s sleeping arrangements where we leave her crate door open overnight and have a regular doggy bed in another corner of the bedroom. Neva had other ideas, as Neva usually does. She decided to leap up onto the bed at 2 am – scaring the hell out of both of us since she doesn’t really worry about where she’s landing. After gradually pushing us to our respective edges of the bed, Jeremy put her back in jail (her crate) and shut the door. By 5:30 am she was rattling the door, clamoring to be let out. Puppy training has morphed into a quasi roommate training.


inner peace… inner peace… inner peace…



Back in December, I discovered some frozen homemade pistachio paste while counting my bags of huckleberries in the chest freezer (I do this periodically – it makes me feel better). Pistachio paste is like almond paste, but made with… pistachios. And it’s green. I kinda love the stuff. Since it was the holidays, I took the pistachio paste out to make some truffles to give to friends. I’m not much of a truffle person because of all that chocolate, but I’ll make an exception for these.

pistachios, cream, chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, corn syrup, almond extract, water



Pistachio paste can be hard to find, although Love’n Bake makes a nice one if you can get your hands on some. I’ve resigned myself to making my own pistachio paste as it is pretty straightforward with the exception of peeling the pistachios. If you can find unsalted, raw, shelled, and peeled pistachios, or you don’t care about peeling your pistachios, then the paste is as simple as placing four ingredients in a food processor and pushing the ON button. If you are compelled to peel your pistachios, this is the method that has worked best for me: boil the pistachios, dunk them in ice cold water, pat them dry, peel the skins off. The skinning is the tedious part that takes an hour or more depending on how meticulous you are about the peeling. Play your favorite podcast, radio show, music, whatever. It helps to take your mind off of the crazy.

boil the nuts for a minute or two

submerge the nuts in ice water

pat them dry on a dish towel

the skins should peel off easily



**Jump for more butter**