meatless meatballs roasted porcini with gremolata gluten-free chocolate chip cookies venison with morel sauce

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archive for October 2012

what a coinkydink

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Recipe: shiso spicy tuna tempura (dragon scales)

It was getting a little ridiculous. My friends had moved into their new house in Boulder several months ago and I still hadn’t been by to pay them a visit. Summer was pretty cray cray and fall is even more so. If not now, then when? It’s not like I’m the only person who is busy – they are busy too. Everyone is busy. I guess what makes friends so special is that an hour spent together in the midst of all the busy recharges you and leaves you with a warm fuzzy glow for several days.

beautiful family in their wonderful new home

Their adorable baby is no longer a baby but an adorable little boy. Nichole and Luke have put so much work into their house on their own (like laying new plumbing to rearrange their kitchen – whoa!). It was really exciting for me, a DIY-wannabe, to see what two resourceful and creative DIY people can do! Then Nichole said, “Wanna see the garden?” How she finds the time to work, raise Mr. Cutiepie (my nickname for him), remodel the house, AND garden, I just do not know. All that while remaining her hysterically funny and sassy self to boot.

nichole picks red shiso for me

When Nichole said she had red shiso, I did a blink-blink and then a double take. Shiso? Ever since Jeremy and I went to The Lobar in Crested Butte for my birthday, I’ve been wanting to recreate the dragon scales appetizer we enjoyed. It was made with shiso leaves, and the only place I knew of to purchase shiso leaves is on the far side of Denver in Aurora (H-Mart). That’s a drive in sucky traffic that I didn’t want to make. And here was my friend asking me if I would like some red shiso from her garden! Love that girl.

lovely shiso without driving to denver

I’ve only ever had shiso in or with sushi. My favorite sushi chef, Fumito, in South Pasadena would tell us that it is good for your health. When I’ve purchased shiso leaves at H-Mart in the past, they were labeled as sesame leaves or Perilla and they were huge, like as big as my extended hand. These shiso leaves were smaller and a gorgeous purple color, and talk about local sourcing. Now we’re cooking with gas! Here’s what you’ll need to make dragon scales:

shiso leaves, maguro (sashimi grade tuna), mayonnaise, sriracha (not pictured: masago and togarashi)

tempura batter: flour, egg, ice water, baking soda

tempura dipping sauce: mirin, soy sauce, dashi, sugar

The reason the masago (capelin roe) and togarashi (Japanese chili seasoning) aren’t in the picture is because I forgot to buy them. I wasn’t expecting to make this and scrambled at the last minute to get what I needed based on memory. But I do recommend including those in your recipe should you decide to make this (and really, you should).

mixing the tempura batter

make the spicy tuna

stir in the sriracha

**Jump for more butter**

the time i needed

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Recipe: pumpkin cake with chocolate ganache and salted caramel cream cheese frosting

Last Friday, I cleared everything off the calendar to spend the day with my good friend, Kat. We don’t get to see one another very often, but when we do, it’s always special. Special, not because we have a lot in common (which we do and we don’t), but because we cherish many of the same things in life. And when I say things, I mean non-things like time, relationships, qualities, experiences, moments. Whenever I spend time with Kat, I learn something about her which in turn makes me learn about myself. Sometimes it’s an “ah-ha!” moment and other times it’s an idea that has been simmering in my head when she comes along and moves it to the front burner.

obligatory shoe shot at ya ya farm & orchard

two very sweet donkeys

and there was lunch at pizzeria locale

nom nom pizzas

It was a lovely start to the weekend, which was spent mostly working rather than going out to a number of social events. Social is fine. Social can be good. But sometimes I need to shut all of that down and have a weekend with no obligations to anyone but Jeremy and Kaweah. We are catching up with fall and preparing for winter in the mountains.

kaweah under freshly laundered dog towels just out of the dryer

Jeremy trimmed dead and mistletoe-infested branches around the property while I dragged them away to the slash pile. Kaweah watched us work from the front porch until I took the last bunch of dead branches down. She came bounding after me, gently closing her teeth on a nice branch. She wanted to play. It’s been a while since Kaweah has been frisky enough to play, so I let her have the branch. She followed me to the slash pile, parading with her branch in her mouth. I said “drop” and she put the stick down. I chucked it into the pile. She dove in after it. Repeat. Kaweah will be 14 years old in two months, so I tend to let her do whatever she wants these days. I let her keep the stick. But she wanted more than that. So I took the stick and threw it a short distance into the yard. And she ran after it, her stiff hind legs stumbling a little, but she didn’t seem to mind at all she was having so much fun. She brought it back to me. We did this a dozen times – more than she has EVER fetched (usually she would run to the object, pick it up and continue running away) until the sun went down behind the Continental Divide.

I guess I too am feeling recharged and energized. Energized and enthusiastic enough to attempt a cake. There are cakes and then there are cakes. I personally prefer easy cakes which you serve immediately after turning it out of a pan with minimal futzing. That is a level 1 cake in my book. This is not that kind of cake. This is considered a level 2 cake which involves layers of cake and other components and some sort of decoration. [Level 3 cakes are works of art with multiple tiers and I refuse to even think about them.]

yes, now we can do pumpkin (eggs, milk, spices, brown sugar, vegetable oil, pumpkin purée, flour, leavenings)

butter and flour the pans

mix the dry ingredients

The idea of a pumpkin layer cake has floated every autumn, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I finally implemented it. Making any new cake recipe always runs the risk of a major failure around here because I never know how stable the cake will be at my altitude. This pumpkin cake turned out well for me with a slight reduction in the leavenings (baking soda and baking powder).

mixing the wet ingredients

alternate adding dry ingredients with the milk

pour the batter into your prepared pans

**Jump for more butter**

waiting for snow

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Recipe: lamb burgers

It’s that time of year when the weather becomes volatile with raging windstorms, except it has been pretty calm as autumn goes for the past few weeks. That’s why Colorado’s fiery gold aspen leaves remained on the trees for so long. It was really pleasant (because windstorms around here can be so unpleasant). It’s taken me several days, but I’ve finally culled and processed my photos from the fall shoot. It was a long trip for me, even with Jeremy’s weekend visit. Clothes started to smell bad and then they smelled worse. There was mud and dirt everywhere (kinda like when you get peanut butter on your sleeve without knowing it and then suddenly there is peanut butter all over the place). I talked to myself a lot.

self-portrait, because it’s just me, the trees, and the camera

I met some great people toward the end of my trip though – other Colorado (and out-of-state) photogs chasing the fall colors, sharing stories, talking gear, making plans. I appreciate how lucky I am to live in a place with access to so much wilderness and beauty and I feel like these guys get that too. Once home, I forced myself to slog through the images, because if I don’t then it just spirals out of control. So here’s what the rest of the trip was like.

You can find more photos on the photo blog: Crested Butte Sampler, southwest Colorado, more Crested Butte, and the San Juans. This mellow weather couldn’t hold out forever though, and our winds kicked up something fierce earlier this week sending showers of yellow aspen leaves flying sideways. The winds always rage ahead of a front – and this one is going to bring snow! Ah, but autumn also means the elk are in rut and Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to view them. So my shooting partner, Jason, and I grabbed some big glass from Pro Photo Rental to see what was what yesterday morning.

that’s what


You can see the rest of the set on the photo blog.

It’s good to be back in my kitchen and cooking, even if it’s only for a couple of weeks. I easily tire of road food and it’s not uncommon for me to start obsessing about recipes while I’m driving or hiking or standing around waiting for sunrise or sunset or clouds to move in or move out. For the last 300 miles, these juicy lamb burgers at The Kitchen kept dancing about in my noggin. So it was the first thing I made when I got home.

simple: roasted red peppers, ground lamb, fresh rosemary

chop it up, and don’t forget the salt and pepper

**Jump for more butter**