fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette baked huckleberry doughnuts matsutake soup slow-roasted tomatoes


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trying to be zen

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Recipe: fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette

I don’t do well with hot weather, and it has been stupidly hot here this last week. Thankfully the smoke from Western wildfires has been on leave for much of this heat wave so we can at least do things outside (although it returned just yesterday). We’ve been waiting all summer for an evening that was smoke-free enough to camp on our deck with the pups. Neva is fairly comfortable with the tent, but Yuki was a newbie. At first she wouldn’t get in, but Jeremy called Neva over and as soon as Neva set foot in the tent, Yuki dove in after her. They loved it – woofing at things in the night, sniffing all of the smells on the air, walking on us in the darkness, and curling up on our puffy down sleeping bags. The humans got very little sleep, but that was to be expected. The jury is out if we think we can take this show into the backcountry. I mean, I’m sure the pups will be delighted and we will be exhausted – I guess that’s how it goes when you have dogs (or children from what I hear)!


wingus and dingus in the tent on the deck

swimming in alpine lakes to cool off in the late summer heat

finally, some clouds and a lovely sunset



Friday was Jeremy’s birthday and we spent the evening sharing a nice home-cooked meal and homemade birthday cake. My parents have taken to keeping their birthday celebrations low-key because they think big celebrations attract too much attention and bad luck (i.e. death or no more birthdays). We keep it low-key because that’s how we roll. No big birthday celebration. No birthday month. No birthday gifts or cards. No pressure or stress. Just us and the pups. It’s nice like that.

a 6-inch 3-layer chocolate hazelnut raspberry cake

chocolate hazelnut chiffon alternating with chocolate mousse and raspberries

finished in a chocolate mirror glaze



Over the past several years, I’ve had the pleasure of ordering Brussels sprouts at various dining establishments. They’re almost always delicious and the question among the diners usually comes down to “Are they fried or are they roasted?” I’ve roasted my fair share of Brussels sprouts because it’s one of our favorite vegetable dishes in winter, so I was pretty certain they were fried and not roasted. The question was finally put to rest this past week when I set about frying a batch of Brussels sprouts à la Momofuku (David Chang) tossed with a fish sauce vinaigrette. It’s simple, addictively good, and it might be the thing that converts the Brussels sprouts haters in the world.

fish sauce, rice vinegar, shallots, lime, thai chili, glaric, water, sugar, brussels sprouts, togarashi



I changed David’s recipe a bit by omitting the mint and cilantro, and adding fried shallots. If we’ve got hot oil for frying the Brussels sprouts, we may as well fry some shallots. When prepping the sprouts, peel away the outer leaves if they’re discolored or if they are bugged out. I worried that peeling too many leaves wouldn’t result in the fluffy delicate layers I’ve experienced in restaurants. Not to worry. When the sprouts go into the hot oil, they will fluff and puff into crisp delectable airy vegetable goodness.

minced garlic, sliced chili, sliced shallots, juiced lime

peel and slice the brussels sprouts



**Jump for more butter**

gimme the tomatoes

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Recipe: slow-roasted tomatoes

The time has come to move on. Hope can only fuel you for so long and so far before you accept the raw and naked truth – the mushrooms were not to be this summer. I actually love the time before the mushrooms are expected and the time after I decide to no longer look for them. It’s nice to be free of this sickness that is likely the fungal mushroom spores that have taken control of my cerebral functions to constantly look for mushrooms. I joke it’s like a precursor to the zombie apocalypse… If there’s an outbreak in the mountains of Colorado, I very well may be patient zero.

Classes have begun and the yellow school buses go about their routines at specific times each morning and afternoon. The CU Boulder campus is to be avoided at all costs during class changes, as are the Target and Trader Joe’s stores during move-in weekend. We have enjoyed a couple of smoke-free days and the arrival of some unsettled weather that has delivered cherished rains to the mountains. When you wake up to those crystal clear blue Colorado skies and can see the local peaks in sharp focus, you remember why you live here in Vacationland.


yuki is now 80% of neva’s weight and size

my last huckleberry session for the season

autumn is tapping on our shoulder

rainbows mean rain – sweet sweet rain

loving the cooldown

miss yuki sits atop kaweah rock (kaweah’s favorite rock)



On the days when it’s too smokey to safely exercise outside, I keep busy indoors with work and projects and the squirreling away of precious summer bounties. I’ve roasted and froze my fill of green chiles, made plenty of peachy desserts and pastries for my parents and friends, sorted and froze my huge haul of excellent huckleberries, made fig jams and strawberry jams for Jeremy to enjoy in the cold winter months. It is time to get the late summer tomatoes for canning and then it will be cool enough to take my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator to bake some bread.

Two years ago I was overly ambitious about canning tomatoes and after processing over 100 pounds, I could not bring myself to finish the last 8 pounds. It was around that time I remembered a recipe I had bookmarked for roasted tomatoes from my friend Rebecca. These tomatoes are slow roasted for several hours with aromatics and herbs until caramelized, then blendered into a sauce.


tomatoes, olive oil, salt, garlic, pepper, oregano, onions, thyme

peel the garlic, slice the onions

core the tomatoes

quartered



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over the hump

Monday, August 6th, 2018

Recipe: grilled marinated chicken salad

Today we cross over the hump where we are closer to autumn than we are to spring. As good as summer is, I very much look forward to shorter days and cooler weather as the season winds down (relax, we have another 45 days of summer to go). Good things come with the second half of summer, like (more) mushrooms and huckleberries and watching our sweet little Yuki grow up. I know what life was like before we got her, but I can’t imagine life without her now. When she first came home, we noticed faint little spots all over her coat and wondered if they would fade or come in. Well, they’re coming in! She looks like an adorable walking pint of chocolate chip ice cream.

We recently taught Yuki how to catch. When we first started, the treat would bounce off her nose and she would blink in confusion. We realized that Neva could show her what we meant and from there it went rather quickly as the puppy honed her coordination. It’s times like these that I’m so glad we put the effort and energy into training Neva. She makes a great big sister because she’s never jealous, she always lets the puppy have first dibs, she likes to play, and she executes her tricks on command. We have begun to decipher Yuki’s subtle body language when she wants to go out to potty, when she’s hungry, or when she wants to play. I say subtle because her facial expression rarely changes. Erin calls it Resting Yuki Face and it is the same when she’s tired, when she’s bored, when she’s excited, and when she’s about to jump up and lick your face. It’s ridiculous, really. She brings us all so much joy.


weekend morning snuggles

neva, yuki, and jeremy on kaweah’s rock



I’ve spent nearly every morning of the past week picking huckleberries among the early morning local wildlife. Last year was a good year for hucks, but this year is better. I’ve already foraged as much as I did in all of 2017 and the big huck patches are still coming online. Anything else this season will be icing on the cake… or pie. It takes a lot of huckleberries – and hence, time – to make a pie.

loaded and snurple

about a half gallon of precious huckleberries



With everything that’s been going on this summer, I am keeping our menu simple and easy. One of the best meals we’ve added last month is a grilled chicken salad. I marinate the chicken, grill it, then keep it in the refrigerator to use as needed over the next 3-4 days. The original recipe included an assortment of dried herbs, but I omitted them because they tasted a little too medicinal for my liking.

dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, worcestershire sauce, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, garlic, lemon, parsley, chicken

prep the ingredients

combine the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag

add the chicken and marinate for 8-24 hours in the refrigerator

grill until the fat end of each breast registers 160°f



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