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archive for April 2012

go find it

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Recipe: almond jello dessert

There is snow out there. Oh yes, there is. I can find snow any time of year if I’m willing to climb high enough to get to it. Right now, you don’t have to go very far, but it helps to hop on a bike as some (not all) of the roads leading to the backcountry are clear (but not open to cars yet or ever). It’s the season for the bike-ski or bike-hike or bike-bike and I’m getting better at not crashing into things which is always a desirable skill.

lock (the bikes) and go (hiking)

marsh marigolds coming up streamside

plenty of snow and lots of windfall

I’m spending considerably more time on my bikes of late – both my mountain bike and my indoor trainer (also mountain bike – my engagement mountain bike). With local trails clearing up, we’re trail running in the mornings or evenings when it is a comfortable 45°F. It’s a matter of weeks before the high country trails clear out for hiking and backpacking. It must be spring! Of course it is. The Ass Reduction Plan (ARP) is in full speed. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been consuming fruit like nobody’s business. Well, that and the fact that I just got a Vitamix blender a few weeks ago. While I love my daily smoothie (strawberries, mango, orange, apple, blueberries, grapes, kale, and a little Good Belly and almond milk) I still thoroughly enjoy chewing actual fruit.

lychees, raspberries, oranges, kiwis, pears, grapes

When I was a kid, my dad would make the occasional Chinese dessert. I think my favorite was almond jello, which everyone served cubed with canned fruit cocktail and canned mandarin oranges. I’ve made almond jello from the packets you can purchase at Asian grocery stores, but like almost everything else you can buy in a convenient package, it’s pretty straightforward to make your own from scratch.

almond extract, sugar, agar agar, almond milk

stir agar agar into boiling water until dissolved

stir in sugar until dissolved

You can make almond jello with gelatin or agar agar (particularly if you are vegan). Gelatin gives an elastic result – like the jello with which most people are familiar. I found powdered agar agar at my local Whole Foods in the bulk section and the resulting jello was more brittle in that it yields more easily to the teeth and breaks apart with less effort. Agar agar is derived from red algae and commonly used in Asian desserts. My first introduction to it was a refreshing lemony version chilled on ice that my aunt served to me on a sweltering summer day in Pennsylvania.

add almond milk or regular milk

pour in the almond extract

**Jump for more butter**

sandwich chronicles: cured’s spicy frenchman

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Last weekend I took you to visit Cured, a favorite gourmet cheese, salumi, wine, and nomnom shop of mine in Boulder on East Pearl Street.


Each day (except Mondays, because they are closed), Cured lists two to three sandwiches on their chalkboard above the salumi and cheese counter. If you subscribe to their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @curedboulder, you’ll get the daily notice. It’s not a sandwich shop where you walk up and order what you feel like, but the choices are quite good and sometimes there are salads, soups, and even breakfast options. Check the board.

the daily sandos

Of course, you’re not going to get the standard sandwich around here. For example, one version of their grilled cheese is seahive cheddar with bacon and tomato chutney (hello!!). Or how about the creamy pear which is Délice de Bourgogne, ham, and pears. I have been itching to catch the allstar as well: prosciutto, manchego, and membrillo. It used to be that you could saunter in and there would be sandwiches to order, but after some great reviews, Cured was no longer Boulder’s best kept secret. By noon it was not uncommon to stand at the counter and watch the staff cross offerings off the board as they sold out. I think it has mellowed out a little bit, but if there is a sandwich you want, go earlier rather than later so as to avoid the risk of deep disappointment. When I went in for a sandwich, there was only one kind left (again, a huge rush on their sandwiches that day).

the spicy frenchman

To the sandwich: The Spicy Frenchman was my introduction to Cured’s sandwiches. They start with their ridiculously good bread (I think the same guy who makes their crowns and other artisan loaves also makes the baguettes) – a French baguette that is buttery soft on the inside with a nice and crusty outside that yields easily under your finger. Layers of thinly sliced ham and generous slices of brie are topped with a perfectly sweet and spicy raspberry-jalapeño jam. The combination of ham and cheese usually makes me drowsy, but the kick from the jam livens up the entire ensemble. Because it happened to be a weirdly rainy and cold day in Boulder (which is rare), I relished my sandwich with a nice pot of hot tea from Boxcar Coffee. I checked the shelves and found that Cured sells jars of that raspberry-jalapeño jam. That’s good stuff. I may just have to try and make some myself.

Where: Cured is located at 1825 B. Pearl Street (Boulder, Colorado 80302), east of the Pearl Street pedestrian mall.

When: walk in and order a sandwich from their board (your best bet is likely before noon) 10:30am – 7pm Tuesday – Friday, 9am – 6pm Saturday, 11am – 5pm Sunday. Cured is CLOSED ON MONDAYS. I know, even I forget sometimes and it can be a huge bummer. They post the menu each day (except Mondays) on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact: Call Cured at 720.389.8096. Visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @curedboulder.

Full Disclosure: My opinions. No comps for the chomps.

Previous sandwich research:

1) The Pinyon’s fried chicken sandwich (sadly, now closed)
2) Cafe Blue’s blackened tuna sandwich
3) Frasca Caffè’s Italiano panini caldi
4) Snarf’s pastrami and Swiss sandwich

it’s taco time

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Recipe: tequila-lime halibut tacos

Afternoon thunderstorm cycles, the buzz of hummingbirds zooming through the neighborhood, and near-record heat for this time of year… You’d think it was summer. Wasn’t I just griping about spring? I think all of the seasons are over-achievers. At this rate, I’ll be skiing again by next week (which would be absolutely fine by me). It is what it is.

okay, tulips are spring

we’ve traded skiing for mountain biking

cooling off with thai iced tea and taro boba tea slush

kaweah walks in the morning or the evening to avoid the heat

either way, there is always plenty of sniffing (i.e. reading pee-mail)

Good things are coming into the markets now: asparagus, strawberries, English peas, ramps, fiddleheads, and halibut (to name a few). [Hey FTC disclosure:] I received a comped shipment of frozen wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, wild Alaskan halibut, and wild Alaskan cod fillets from Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) a few weeks ago. They describe the fish as wild, natural, and completely sustainable. My preparation of fish relies heavily upon my experiences with various types of fish. It’s based on if I have had it prepared a certain way in a restaurant, saw a recipe for a specific type of fish, or grew up eating that species of fish. I puzzled over how to prepare the halibut when I recalled a book I had purchased last year that would surely give me guidance.

good fish (it sure is)

I bought a copy of this book for myself because I was sending one as a gift to my friends in Seattle (Becky Selengut, the author, is also based in Seattle). It’s just so easy to change that 1 to a 2 under the quantity field. I like fish and seafood very much, but my knowledge of how to prepare it well is just enough to be dangerous and not enough to be confident. I know people go through life all the time like that in far more important arenas, but it makes me uncomfortable. So Good Fish was going to fix that. Lo and behold, there was a recipe for tequila-lime halibut tacos with red cabbage slaw. Get out! It sounded dreamy.

first the slaw: red cabbage, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, apple, mustard seeds, salt

shred the cabbage

toss the cabbage with kosher salt

Make the red cabbage slaw first, because that is the step that takes the most time. It’s all easy and straightforward, but squeezing the liquid out of cabbage is the rate-limiting step. At least it is for me. Becky explains that minimizing the liquid content of the cabbage concentrates the flavor. She sprinkles great tips and tidbits of information throughout this educational and highly entertaining book. The rest of the slaw is easy peasy. Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss together.

squeezing the liquid out

pour in the olive oil

add the cabbage

season to taste

**Jump for more butter**