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archive for February 2013

warming trends

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Recipe: italian-style beef and porcini stew

We check the weather forecasts and the weather outside of our windows all the time. Is it snowing? Is it going to snow? How much? Will it be warm and then cold? What direction is the wind coming from? What are the road conditions? We have to pay attention to these things, not just for our own recreational purposes, but because travel in Boulder Canyon can get downright dangerous when it snows heavily (this can happen during upslope events when the wind blows up the mountains from the flats) or when the snow hits a warm ground and then the temperature drops resulting in powdery snow on top of a slick of ice. The latter happened on Thursday. It took us 90 minutes instead of the nominal 30 minutes to get to Boulder because there were two accidents in the canyon.

which is why we prefer to stay in the mountains when it snows (iphone)

The same weather that can cause so much stress on the road or in town can bring a lot of joy to those of us who love it in the mountains. But it was short-lived as the weekend was warm and windy. They say the snow will be back soon. I hope so. I plan to be ready for it with this heady, hearty stew full of beef, porcini mushrooms, vegetables, herbs, and wine.

basil, tomato paste, pearl onions, bay leaf, rosemary, carrot, celery, garlic, grapeseed oil, red wine, dried porcini mushrooms, salt, pepper, onion, pancetta, beef chuck, diced tomatoes

soak the porcinis in hot water (save the liquid!)

That’s a long list of ingredients, but the prep is what takes the most effort. Once the prep is completed, the cooking is pretty straightforward and then the oven time is just you doing other things while the oven does its job. As with most recipes, but especially for the ones with a lot of ingredients, I think mise en place is essential for avoiding mistakes and reducing any heavy swearing in the kitchen. When you drain your porcinis, make sure to save the liquid and give it a pass through a fine-meshed sieve to catch any non-mushroom particles. Also, peeling pearl onions is pretty time-consuming. That was the first thing that made me think they weren’t worth the trouble.

porcini liquid, cubed beef, porcini mushrooms, onion, garlic, celery, pancetta, carrot, pearl onions

fry the pancetta

season the beef with salt and pepper

sear the beef on all sides

**Jump for more butter**

homemade lovin’

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Recipe: mandarin pancakes (mushu shells)

The stars aligned and we were able to tear ourselves away from our computers and hit Vail this week while there was moderately decent snow. It’s all relative. When you’re looking at another crappy season (two in a row well below average) you get a little desperate to ski anything. It wasn’t bad at all. I mean it wasn’t hip-deep powder, but I realize I sound like a completely spoiled local when I say that… and I am.

smiles, everybody! smiles! (iphone)

bumps (iphone)

and trees (iphone)

I’ve got nothing planned for Valentine’s Day and I know for a fact that Jeremy doesn’t have anything planned either. Unless it snows, and then the plan is to ski it. The interwebs are exploding with sweets and chocolate and things that make my teeth hurt just to look at them. I was getting groceries in town and noticed that everywhere I went, the floral displays had grown 500% and the people selecting flowers were all (confused-looking) men. It was funny and then it was a little sad because I wished people (and not just men!) would bestow little gifts or be extra-nice to everyone all the time. That’s how it should be.

So I have a little gift for you here. I know that it can be a super pain in the hoohoo to find mushu wrappers for some folks and over the many years, readers have asked if I had a recipe for making them at home. And I didn’t. But I did. I just didn’t know it. I was asking my mom about making them when she said (almost shouted), “JenJen! Don’t you remember that I made those when you were little?!” Uh oh…

flour, water, and a little oil

stir in boiling hot water

make a dough

Mom did, in fact, make mushu wrappers or mandarin pancakes from scratch when I was a kid and I totally blanked on it. I think this is evidence that I tried to cram too many things into my finite brain-space and a few things got shoved out. Sorry, Mom! A recipe off my cookbook shelf confirmed just how simple they are to make.

knead the dough on a lightly oiled surface

smooth and elastic (but not sticky)

roll it out into a log

cut the log into 20 even pieces

**Jump for more butter**

cauliflower power

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Recipe: roasted cauliflower salad

Happy Year of the Snake, everyone! Gong xi fa tsai! I hope you had a good weekend, if not a festive one. Up until dinner Saturday night, it was non-stop cooking and cleaning over here. Even Kaweah got her nails trimmed and filed, ears cleaned, and coat brushed. Boy, was she happy when her “spa day” was over as she kept trying to slink away. It snowed on and off all weekend. It was nothing like what the East Coast got (color me a little jeals), but enough to paint our world white. Once Jeremy and I sat down to dinner and all of the special foods for the New Year’s Eve feast, we could finally relax. Sunday is merely a continuation of the feast, but thankfully, we don’t celebrate for the full two weeks. Two days are plenty for me! I’m ready for quick and simple fare again.

I have every intention of revisiting a wonderful recipe that my friend, Denise, served at a gathering she hosted last month. I had three helpings. It was a roasted cauliflower salad. Per my request, she emailed me the recipe (which she modified from Whole Living’s January 2013 issue) and I immediately made it and proceeded to consume most of it.

cauliflower, parsley, oranges, kalamata olives, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil

Cauliflower and I go way back. Waaaay back. I grew up loving vegetables because my family prepared them well. Cauliflower and broccoli were two of my favorites because they looked like trees. They’re beautiful as well as earthy with a hint of bitter. When roasted, cauliflower takes on a delightful nuttiness that I can’t get enough of.

cut the head into 1/2-inch thick slices

arrange on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil

season with salt and pepper

**Jump for more butter**