caulilini with bagna cauda fig bread pudding elk chorizo chile rellenos pork chops with chanterelle wine and cream sauce


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archive for vegetables

new and old

Monday, October 14th, 2019

Recipe: caulilini with bagna cauda

It was only a few days after my last post that our autumn sunshine and warmth plunged into the grey and white hues of an early season storm. That first real snowfall of the season takes on magical notes, especially when it catches the fall colors – powdered sugar coating honeyed canopies. Short-lived, but one of life’s many joyful experiences.


getting neva and yuki out to play the evening before the storm

yuki starts the hike out of our neighborhood

felt like winter, but looked like fall

24 hours of overlapping seasons



After the storm, our weather warmed up, the snow melted, and the leaves turned black and fell. Now we ping pong between warm and cold spells. Another storm, then sun, then storm, then sun, all the while the temperatures trend cooler and we build a base in the mountains that will soon be good enough to ski without scraping rocks. In the meantime, I’m cranking the oven up and getting reacquainted with my sourdough starter and resuming the production of homemade dog treats (I use canned pumpkin instead of sweet potato now, but either works fine). Admittedly, I purchase dog treats in summer when the last of the homemade spring batch has been exhausted and it is too bloody hot to run the oven. Neva was particularly happy to stand watch over the treats late into the night.

playing with bâtard scoring

neva stayed up late with me to make sure “her” treats baked properly



We love our vegetables around here and have a nice rotation of several varieties, but sometimes I fall into a rut and feel bored. That’s one of the reasons we like to dine out from time to time – to get inspired by new ideas and new menus. We haven’t gotten out much since we adopted Yuki, but this summer she transformed into a big girl and now behaves pretty well at home when we’re gone. One dish that really stuck with me was the caulilini at Sunflower in Crested Butte. It’s like broccolini, but in cauliflower form except the stalks are sweeter and more tender than cauliflower stalks.

Fast forward a couple of months and I spot caulilini in the produce section of Trader Joe’s! I grabbed two bags and have since returned for several more. Some people have referred to caulilini as baby cauliflower, but it isn’t. A little googling revealed that this version of cauliflower is actually the one most commonly consumed in China. So it’s new to me (us), but old hat for my motherland. Dang! I never even knew. But now that I know, I’m going to make up for lost time. Taking a cue from Sunflower, I decided to sauté the caulilini and serve it with bagna cauda.


caulilini, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, more olive oil, garlic, anchovies



I grew up prepping vegetables and defrosting various meats and tofu and stock for my mom before she got home from work so that she could start cooking dinner the moment she stepped into the house. We ate a lot of broccoli back in the day because that was an easy vegetable to get in American grocery stores that translated well to Chinese cooking. I was taught to peel the fibrous and tough outer skins on the stalks and now I just do it out of habit. I think the caulilini is tender enough that you can skip this step (especially if you are short on time), but I do break them down into bite-size stalks if they are especially bulky.

peeling the outer skins (optional)

breaking down the stalks



**Jump for more butter**

september love

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Recipe: elk chorizo chile rellenos

September is a good month. September birthdays, milder weather, hints of autumn colors, the return of colorful sunsets and sunrises, empty trails. We are loving it.


jeremy’s birthday appetizers

inflating our standup paddleboards lakeside

our home mountains

exploring our neighborhood nature center

yuki presents a recently stained deck (along with the house) and sunset



As for food, September around here means the smell of roasting chiles at the farmer’s markets, the last of the Colorado peaches, tomatoes for canning, wild matsutake mushrooms and wild huckleberries if you’re lucky, and elk. You can always find frozen elk meat around Colorado, but I have neighbors both in Nederland and in Crested Butte who hunt every fall. Last year, we were given lots of elk and some lovely venison (don’t worry – I share porcini, chanterelles, morels, and huckleberries with these wonderful people). A few years ago I had a delicious elk chorizo chile relleno that I had been wanting to recreate at home, so that’s what I did over the weekend.

ground elk



Elk is pretty lean and chorizo needs fat. So I made my chorizo half elk and half pork. You can just as easily make it all pork, or half pork and half venison, or however you want to do it. Just make sure there is a decent amount of fat. Most of the spices in the chorizo recipe aren’t too hard to track down except for achiote paste. That can be found in Mexican markets, a good spice shop (my good spice shop in Boulder is Savory Spice Shop), or online. It’s worth the extra effort to get it.

achiote paste

for the chorizo: elk, pork, ancho chili, chipotle, achiote, cayenne, apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, oregano, cumin, minced garlic



**Jump for more butter**

don’t fritter it away

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Recipe: corn porcini fritters

August is the Sunday of weekends. It’s still summer, but the school year is right around the corner and you realize that Endless Summer is a lie. I begin each August in remembrance of Kris, as her birthday falls on the first of the month. Her personality was the epitome of summer, and so I like to celebrate her with flowers. I took my photo and then drove the flowers down to Mom because she loves flowers, misses Kris, and well – I just thought it would be nice to see my folks on Kris’ birthday.


tulips on kris’ birthday



My parents’ summers in Boulder have become progressively more relaxed over the years. I don’t mean THEY are relaxed, but the way they treat our time together has fallen into a less urgent pattern. In the beginning, I would receive texts for every little thing and they would constantly ask when I was coming down to Boulder next. I think they treated their 2 month stays like a 2-day vacation in that they needed to see me as much as possible. It really stressed me out. With time, Mom and Dad have found a comfortable routine. They make friends easily and now when I ask when we should get together, I am presented with an obstacle course of a social calendar because they have so much going on with other people. I think that’s wonderful.

we went to see “the farewell”, an excellent film

lunch at corrida in boulder



I learned from my neighbor that our public schools start this week. That means the summer crowds will soon thin around the state, and locals – like cooler weather – will creep back into the mountains. Actually, we’ve been in the mountains the whole time, we merely maintain a lower profile during the busy season in true wamp (weird-ass mountain person) fashion. Still, we get the pups out for their exercise and we continue to take in the glorious wildflower sights. I’ve stopped fretting over the fact that our “want to do” summer list is never achievable in a single or even a couple of summers, because we make the most of it and I’m grateful for whatever we can do.

hike, swim, play

exploring our backyard

magenta paintbrush and elephantella

a skittles combo (purple, red, and yellow flowers)



In addition to the stellar wildflower displays in the mountains this summer, our generous snowpack and the return of our southwest monsoon have spurred a rather strange, yet prolific mushroom season. Seasons are crashing into one another as the spring mushrooms are tapering into mid-summer and the late summer mushrooms decided to get the party started a month earlier than usual. It’s mind-blowing and amazing.

the king of the rockies – boletus rubriceps (porcini)

i love the chubsters



Not all mushrooms are interchangeable in recipes. The delicate taste of a fresh porcini can be masked by stronger, bolder ingredients. If I’m hiking all over the mountains to harvest these little beauties, I’ll be damned if I prepare them in a way that masks their buttery, earthy, nutty flavor. The original recipe is for corn and shiitake fritters, but I had a hunch that fresh porcini would elevate this fritter recipe to new levels. And I was right.

vegetable oil (for fry and sauté), kosher salt, pepper, flour, milk, egg, baking powder, sweet onion, fresh porcini, corn



Slice the kernels from the corn cobs and divvy the kernels into two equal halves. Don’t compost those cobs, though! After you’ve sliced the kernels off, use a spoon to scrape the remaining pulp from the cobs. I do suggest scraping with the spoon concave down (it catches stray bits), unlike the way I did it in the photo. I managed to get about 2 tablespoons from three cobs. Aaand, if you don’t want to bother with that step or decided to go with corn that comes without a cob, I think you’ll be fine.

slice the kernels off

scrape any extra pulp from the cobs

ingredients prepped



**Jump for more butter**