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death and taxes and eggplant

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Recipe: steamed eggplant with sesame and green onions

I’m so glad we’re not the only ones who took some time to warm up to our dog. I loved hearing about your own pets (and for some, even children!) via email or in the comments because it helped us realize that our experience was not out of the norm. Lately, instead of sticking her cold, wet nose in my face at 6 in the morning, Neva will wait until 6:30 or even 6:45 if it means she can curl up on the bed between us. We’ll take it! And she really is becoming quite the cuddler.

The weather for the past week has been sunny and unseasonably warm here in the mountains. A lot of my friends on the flats have been rejoicing in this “warm” weather, but it’s the “unseasonably” that makes me nervous. Sure, I want proper snow (blower powder, please), but the red flag warning for fire danger due to high winds and above average temperatures in February? No, thank you. That’s messed up. But you go with the flow and just pretend it’s Spring instead of Winter while quietly fretting over trends in global warming. We did get out several times to sample snow in the backcountry, at the resorts, and on the trails, only to be met with sketchy conditions. It made it that much easier for me to stay home all weekend working on taxes.


neva sunning herself on the deck

scooby snack in the high country

looking for snow in all the wrong places

brief sunrise colors

weekend activities: taxes (two favorite and most apropos erasers-turned-paperweights)



I am always on the prowl for eggplant recipes. I absolutely love eggplant. I grew up eating it Chinese-style, but discovered that I pretty much enjoy all manner of preparation of these oddly spongy vegetables. When I first flipped through my copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, I placed little sticky tabs on each recipe of interest. There were a lot, but the one that I wanted to eat immediately was the steamed eggplant with sesame and green onion. It’s meaty without being heavy or oily, and the Japanese flavors are clean and bright.

eggplant, sesame seeds (black and white), sesame oil, maple syrup, salt, mirin, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green onions

peel the eggplant

steam for 30 minutes

mince the ginger and crush the garlic



**Jump for more butter**

we got the beet

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Recipe: pickled beets

Happy New Year! It’s January first and I already feel as if we’ve accomplished something wonderful over here in our snowy little corner of the world. As many of you know, Neva is on a leash outside of the house 99% of the time unless she is fetching her orange tennis ball. Most of the dogs we meet are roaming free because the dogs are reliable on voice command or because their owners are irresponsible jerks (this is the truth). Off-leash dogs get lots of exercise because they can run and explore and cover so much more distance than their people do. But our sweet Neva has a nose that overrides all brain functionality and she will bolt after the first thing she smells – which is pretty much anything – and follow it until she is lost, hit by a car or snow mobile, or trampled by a moose. We keep her on leash for her safety, because we love her. And because we love her, we want her to get outside for the exercise she needs and enjoys.

In summer, Jeremy will trail run with Neva in addition to the fetch sessions, swim sessions, and long hikes. In winter, we would take her on short walks, ski tour, or backcountry ski with her. All of those are sloooow for a little rocket like Neva (except when we ski downhill). I mean, she’s all legs! But last week, Jeremy and I gave her a trial run on a skate ski. Skate skiing is fast. It’s like the trail running of winter. Here in Crested Butte, we have groomed Nordic trails right out of our neighborhood that are dog-friendly. Some of the trails in the Crested Butte Nordic trail system are also designated as dog-friendly, allowing ski pups access to miles of running with their ski person, as long as the pup has a Nordic pass. It costs $40 for the season for each dog, but it’s incredibly nice of CB Nordic to accommodate dog owners as our other Nordic center prohibits dogs, period. The reason we test drove Neva on our neighborhood trails was to determine if we wanted to spring for a dog pass. Why waste $40 if she’s a nightmare and can’t have fun?


neva on her first skate ski



First, Neva LOVED it. Second, Jeremy wasn’t dragged to his death. Third, Jeremy worked out a system with her leash, harness, and no poles. Neva can run even faster than on summer trails because Jeremy skate skis faster than he runs. And while she’s full speed ahead for the first few miles, she gets into a nice groove and eventually gallops along happily. We decided to pull the trigger and get her a pass, taking her out to our favorite stretch of trail – Mike’s Mile, up the Slate River Valley – which is simply beautiful and serene and fast!

neva sports her doggy nordic pass



We do try to mix things up for us and for Neva. On New Year’s Eve morning, we took her on an uphill ski on the mountain (yes, we’re trying to train her to do that, too). She basically pulled, cried, and whined at every skier, snow mobile, ski patrol, lift chair, or leaf blowing by. But she had a blast on the way down because Neva likes to run FAST.

at the top of our uphill ski – neva promptly destroyed the headband after this photo

new year’s eve fireworks and torchlight parade on the mountain (neva safely at home)



This morning we lay in bed debating what to do – ski uphill, telemark on the mountain, or skate ski? With snow in the forecast all week, this was probably our last opportunity to skate for several days, so we roped up the little doggy and headed for the Nordic trails. We never thought it would be possible to skate with Neva on leash, but she’s good about not crossing the skis and she isn’t trying to run away from them either (she is scared of our fat skis on the mountain). The other nice thing about skate skiing with Neva is that these skis don’t have metal edges, so there’s far less danger of cutting her. The things we do for our pup… but she’s so worth it.

happy 2017!



New year, fresh starts. I wasn’t going to post some crazy butter-rich dish the first day of the new year. No, I’m sharing something easy, healthy, and delicious because everyone needs to eat their vegetables. Beets are one of those vegetables that I can never get enough of – they taste like corn with the texture of carrots and they are good for you. Save the greens for a nice sauté! Turn your fingers bright pink for days! Pickle the beetroot for a most delightful snack or the starring role in a salad. Yes, please!

beautiful beets

cider vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, dry mustard, beets

roast the beets in foil



**Jump for more butter**

the weather outside is delightful

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle mushroom dip

It’s that time of year again – the end of the year. And that means our Year in Photos greeting card is now live at http://jenyu.net/newyear/. So be sure to drop by and have a gander at some of our favorite photos from 2016!


wishing you all the happiest of holidays and the very best in 2017



My cookie and candy duties are DONE! As of Monday night, all but one bag have been delivered (the last one goes out in the morning). This kind of holiday activity usually involves maximum chaos for a few days before the finished treats get bagged and ready for their recipients. I have trouble working in a messy environment, so you can just imagine how entropy was taking a toll on my OCD. Oh, but it didn’t end there. Once we made our Front Range deliveries, it was time to pack up our things, scrub down the house, and rig the plants on a self-watering system for the duration of our absence. We had an eight-hour window of clear weather to get to Crested Butte before a big storm barreled through. We arrived an hour before the snow began to pummel the town for two straight glorious days!

some of the happy packages of homemade love

jeremy dives into over 2 feet of fresh powder

a lovely sight to behold – snow on the mountains



The storm moved on and left frigid temperatures in its wake. We dropped to -26.5°F last night and the daytime temperatures barely made it out of single digits. That didn’t seem to bother Neva one bit. Sun. Snow. She loves it all. Instead of a run, hike, walk, or ski, she got her beans out climbing 6-foot banks of snow (repeatedly), and jumping around in deep powder. Then she’d come home and rub her face on the rug before passing out in the sun while we hopped out on the Nordic trails.

neva could do this all day

ice crystals formed a beautiful pattern on the inside of our windows overnight

skate skiing in single digits and full on colorado sun



I called my parents over the weekend because it was their 51st wedding anniversary. I asked how they were and Mom reported that they had far too many holiday parties to attend. My parents are ever the social butterflies. I don’t know how they do it because that requires a lot of energy to be a party person. Jeremy and I prefer the more intimate gatherings with a handful of friends and sharing of good food and wine. I’m always on the lookout for recipes well-suited for entertaining – either to serve to guests or to contribute to someone else’s party. This hot chanterelle mushroom dip is the perfect party fare on a cold winter’s night when the snow squeaks underfoot outside and the fireplace is crackling inside.

black pepper, olive oil, chanterelle mushrooms, onion, cream cheese, mayonnaise, white wine, butter, thyme, garlic, salt, parmesan cheese



This recipe was test-driven in the fall after I had foraged chanterelles, but you can use pretty much any variety of fresh, edible mushroom that you like. White button mushrooms are my last choice because almost any other kind of mushroom will have better flavor. The dip does require a little bit of a time investment because it includes caramelized onions, which we all know are totally worth the forty minutes to an hour required to cook them. I sometimes buy a bag of onions and caramelize a large batch so that I can freeze portions for my future self to use without all the fuss. Caramelized onions freeze well and they are a great addition to so many dishes. Or you can easily caramelize the onions the day before and keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the dip.

slice the onions

sauté in butter and oil until soft

cooked for a long time (be patient) until caramelized



**Jump for more butter**