gnocchi with morels and sage shrimp tatsuta-age sweet and sour beef short ribs almond cake with blood oranges (gluten-free)


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homebody

March 5th, 2019

Recipe: futomaki

Last week we went on a vacation. Of sorts. We brought Neva and Yuki along with us to Steamboat Springs for a ski trip. Sadly, most of what we previously loved about Steamboat were absent: 1) fresh powder and 2) our favorite sushi bar in town (Yama has closed indefinitely). We did ski the mountain and took the pups skijoring on dog-friendly trails at a couple of the Nordic centers near town. Yuki’s endurance continues to improve and Neva is really becoming a well-behaved pup on the trails as long as she can run her brains out.


jeremy with neva and yuki at haymaker nordic center

this is what yuki does when she doesn’t want to go



Steamboat is great and all, but after our third day we were over it. A big winter storm was about to blast its way through the state (big winter storm = powder) and we were slated to check out and drive home in the thick of it. Instead, we left a day early before the storm and drove home – not east to Nederland – but south to Crested Butte. It was the right decision. We arrived just as the snow began to fall, and proceeded to ski amazing powder, celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary, and meet our friend’s new puppy, Moke (Moe-kee).

the road south

the snow piles up in crested butte

jeremy drops into a foot of fresh powder and free refills

enjoying our anniversary dinner

yuki playing with her new pal, moke



On our drive from Steamboat Springs to Crested Butte, we stopped at the Whole Foods in Frisco to grab salads for lunch and ran into my friend who lives in Breckenridge. We chatted and at some point in the conversation I apologized that we hadn’t seen one another in a while. He dismissed it with a wave, “Oh, you don’t have to explain it. You know me,” he chuckled, “I’m a homebody.” Back on the road, I mentioned to Jeremy that I didn’t think of Graham as a homebody – he spends a good deal of time outside running, biking, hiking, skiing. Jeremy was silent for a moment, then, “Most people think of homebodies as people who stay indoors, but I think Graham meant he doesn’t want to be away from home. Sort of like what we’re doing now by going to Crested Butte.”

It’s true. I am becoming more of a Graham homebody every day. Jeremy has always been one. This might also explain why I try to replicate my favorite restaurant dishes at home, to avoid the headache of driving into town and interacting with people. The futomaki sushi roll has eluded me for over a decade because I didn’t know that the sweet pink powdery ingredient, which is dried shredded sweetened cod, was called sakura denbu. Once I learned the proper name, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Last year, I ventured into Denver’s Pacific Mercantile Company on a little Japanese grocery safari with my pal, Ellen, and there it was in the refrigerated section. It was the final piece to my futomaki puzzle!


some of the less common ingredients for a home cook: unagi (grilled eel), sakura denbu, makizushi no moto (seasoned gourd strips with mushrooms)



I had always assumed there was a set recipe for making futomaki because most of the sushi bars I frequented made it the same way. It turns out you can make futomaki with whatever ingredients float your boat, so please feel free to customize! The version I make here follows the recipe from Just One Cookbook because this is how I like it AND I could either purchase or make the ingredients myself. I can easily find the unagi (grilled eel) and seasoned gourd and mushrooms at most Asian grocers, but I have only ever seen the sakura denbu in a Japanese grocery store. You can also purchase the tamago (egg omelette) at an Asian grocery store, but I find making tamagoyaki at home to be far tastier.

fillings: spinach, cucumber, tamago, unagi, kanpyo (gourd strips), mushrooms, sakura denbu



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mindshift

February 19th, 2019

Recipe: lentil beet salad

This winter has been deeply satisfying compared to last winter. First off, we are getting snow. Although the Colorado snowpack currently registers slightly above average, we find this exhilarating and refreshing. Second, Yuki is learning the ways of the Colorado Mountain Dog. Not only has she been our easiest dog to train, but she is loving her little snow adventures on the Nordic trails, the mountain, and in the backcountry. Third, Jeremy and I have been exploring new-to-us trails and scoping out potential mushroom spots for this spring/summer.


skinning up through bright and happy aspen forests

yuki’s first time on our favorite stretch of (dog-friendly) nordic trail

sunshine after the storm: grabbing powder on a bluebird morning

the winds sending prayers and mantras across the mountains

a colorful and stormy sunrise



You might think with all of the great snow this season that we would never want winter to end. Not so. I do love my winters very much, but I find joy in every season. The extra daylight as we inch closer to spring has my brain spinning in anticipation of crust cruising, the sound of snow melt trickling past newly sprouted blades of grass, hunting morels, the return of birds and their songs. Don’t even get me started on summer. We have high hopes for some big hikes and backpacking trips with Neva and Yuki. Of course, I am certain come July I will be pining for the cold starry nights, fluffy snow, and long-simmered stews of January. I love it all.

After the celebratory dishes for Chinese New Year, a chocolate shoot for a client, and recipe testing sweets, I just want to eat salad. These days my salads take on the hearty form of a meal in contrast to the delicate summer counterparts loaded with seasonal greens and presented as side-dishes. I like sweet, sour, crunchy, nutty, earthy components in my bowl. The beauty of the salad is that you include or omit ingredients according to your tastes. Here are some of my favorites.


beets, romaine lettuce, croutons, red cabbage, lentils, edamame, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, garbanzo beans



I find the easiest way for me to regularly eat salads is to prep the ingredients at the start of the week so that I essentially have a “salad bar” from which to pack or assemble my lunch. If you use dried lentils and beans, that means cooking them ahead of time. Of course, to save time, you can purchase cooked lentils (I’ve seen them pre-packaged at Trader Joe’s) and canned beans. Same applies to beets – you can cook them (roast or boil) or purchase them already cooked or pickled.

a half cup of dry lentils will yield about 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils

toasting pumpkin seeds

shredding cabbage



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something shiny

February 10th, 2019

Recipe: chocolate mirror glaze

This past week in Crested Butte has seen a good bit of progress for Yuki. She improved her length of sustained running during our skate ski compared to the last few times when she would slow down, fall behind, and then STOP abruptly. We also took her on the mountain at the ski resort for her first uphill ski and she was pretty good despite so many new and loud distractions like ski patrol, snow mobiles, and large grooming machines. Yuki was a trooper through it all and it helped tremendously to have Neva present to show her there was nothing to be afraid of, but rather everything to be excited about. Crested Butte provides an excellent environment for dog activities with its consistent snow, designated dog-friendly Nordic trails, dog-friendly uphill policies at the ski resort, and good backcountry coverage.


when it is -25°F outside, we stay home and snuggle until it warms up

enjoying the nordic trails on a bluebird day

frost flowers form on the river when it is really cold and calm

skiing out after skinning up the mountain with the pups

plenty of snow down in town



I see Valentine’s Day on the calendar this week and have absolutely zero plans except to possibly ski a powder day. Oh wait, I *do* have something for you all. Last September, I made a random chocolate raspberry mousse cake for Jeremy’s birthday and a few people had asked if I would post the recipe. I didn’t feel there was a recipe to post since most of the cake was made from components that have already been published on the blog. However, the chocolate mirror glaze was new, and that’s what I will discuss in this post. A glossy dark chocolate mirror glaze lends a nice wow factor to a dessert and is pretty easy to whip up. I’ll also go through the steps of my cake assembly, but the cake under the glaze can be (almost) anything you like.

The chocolate chiffon cake and the chocolate mousse recipes come from my chocolate mousse bombes recipe. If you plan to make the chocolate chiffon cake, I blogged the recipe for the hazelnut praline paste last week. In this example, I baked two 6×2-inch rounds of the chocolate chiffon cake and leveled the tops to give me two 1-inch layers of cake. This uses half of the chocolate chiffon cake recipe which can yield three 6×2-inch cakes (I had extra batter left over). I doubled the mousse recipe because I wanted enough mousse to form a half-inch layer around the cake and a thin layer on top of the cake. For raspberries, I had 3 cups of fresh raspberries for filling the mousse layer as well as garnishing the cake.


trimmed cake layers, raspberries, and chocolate mousse



I couldn’t find a 7-inch ring mold anywhere in town, but managed to improvise one using an 8-inch (point-to-point) hexagonal ring mold whose side-to-side measurement was 7 inches. I taped a strip of 4-inch acetate in a circle around the inside of the mold and set it on parchment inside of a larger (9-inch) baking pan. I set the first cake layer down in the center (base to bottom), then piped mousse on top of it (piping makes it easier). I pressed the raspberries into the mousse, not worrying too much about mousse spilling over the edge since I was surrounding the cake with a mousse layer. Next, I filled the gaps between the cake and the acetate strip with mousse. In hindsight, I should have used a smaller piping tip because it is difficult to fill the tight spots, but it mostly worked.

center the cake in the mold

top with mousse

arrange the raspberries in the mousse

fill the sides with mousse to the raspberry level



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