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archive for November 2013

a very cranberry time of year

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Recipe: cranberry pâte de fruits

A few weeks ago, I was picking up product from Robin Chocolates for a shoot. Whenever I go into the production room, Robin offers me samples of her latest masterpiece confections and I usually decline or ask to cut a tiny corner to taste. She always gives me this grin and announces to everyone, “Oh yeah, Jen doesn’t like chocolate!” I’m pretty sure Robin finds this both confounding and mildly amusing, but then she’ll grab a little bag and fill it with goodies for me to take to Jeremy (who is a chocolate fiend). This time, I tried the cranberry pâte de fruit with vodka-and-lime-soaked cranberry ganache, because I’m a sucker for fruit. “Robin, this is amazing,” I muttered into the air while I tried to spread all of the flavors out in my mouth to taste each and every one. I made a mental note that I needed to get in on that cranberry pâte de fruit action.

sugar, cranberries, water, lemon, liquid pectin

line a square pan with parchment paper

then line with another piece of parchment perpendicular to the first to cover the edges

The recipe I used looked so easy… too easy. A short list of ingredients and a few minutes of bubble time on the stove was most of the work. Sadly, my first batch never set and wound up becoming a sort of cranberry spread to distribute among willing recipients. It tasted great, but it was too runny to hold a shape. I really hate when a recipe doesn’t work – especially when I drop a pretty penny on something like organic cranberries. A little research on other pâte de fruits recipes identified the problem.

slice lemon and remove seeds

place cranberries and lemon in a food processor

add water

**Jump for more butter**

oh deer

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Recipe: bacon-wrapped venison and garlic-herb butter

Last week it was unseasonably warm and sunny, so Kaweah spent a good bit of time on the deck as I worked inside. While I love spending time with my pup, she can really get underfoot when I’m shooting or cooking anything involving meat, or vegetables, or fruit, or cheese or peanut butter… Basically, anytime I work with food (which is all the time) she is my little shadow.

perfect weather for a kaweah

And I needed to get a lot done without constantly dodging the dog or worrying about tripping over her while carrying camera equipment, sharp knives, or fragile dishware. I was trying to get a jump on my work schedule which seemed to have blown up in the span of two days. That, and my folks arrived in Boulder last week. Even though I see them a lot more than I used to, it’s important to me to spend time with them. We just have to agree on things that we all enjoy because I loathe shopping (they are avid shoppers) and they don’t do the outdoor stuff that Jeremy and I like to do – especially anything in the cold.

picking them up at the bus station with roses for mom (because i’m a good chinese daughter!)

we took my folks to try some awesome korean barbecue at dae gee in westminster

One evening when I took rolled pistachio baklava to my neighbors, Ann went into the kitchen to retrieve a plate to return to me. She set a little package wrapped in butcher’s paper on top and told me Herb had returned from his hunting trip in the Midwest (he’s a bow hunter). It was venison. She asked if I’ve prepared venison before and I said only once – when I had no clue what I was doing and Google didn’t exist yet. I assured her that I would find a good recipe. The next day, I was chatting with Herb and Ann in the driveway when Herb rattled off a quick and simple recipe for the venison. It sounded amazing.

let’s start with the garlic-herb butter: butter, parsley, garlic

chop the parsley

grate the garlic

**Jump for more butter**

tribute to the queen of all daring bakers, lis

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Recipe: hot buttered pretzels (db)

I started blogging in 2004 – it was an outlet for my thoughts after my sister had died. There was no theme, no goal, just me unloading a lot of tangled emotions, working through my feelings. Only a handful of friends read it at the time and it was virtually unknown to the world. In 2007, I noticed a group of food bloggers – The Daring Bakers – who baked a challenge each month and posted their results on their blogs on an agreed upon day. I wanted to join, but I needed a blog. I mean, I HAD a blog, but I needed a public blog. And that was what prompted me to split off use real butter and start a food blog.

old school: we knead to bake

When I joined The Daring Bakers (now The Daring Kitchen) in late 2007, we were 80 strong. When I left in 2010, there were thousands of Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks across the globe. So much had changed during my stint, but there were always two constants: Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice – our founders. I learned from Kelly earlier this week that Lis had died suddenly and unexpectedly. Old timer DBs reconnected at hearing the news and it was decided (thanks to Kelly) that Friday, November 15th would be our day of tribute to this witty, energetic, supportive, and wonderful woman. Lis was every Daring Baker’s biggest cheerleader and we cannot believe she is gone.

It was only fitting that I post a Daring Bakers recipe. The first one – the one that started it all – was hot buttered pretzels. Lis and Ivonne made them back in 2006 and it has been on my list of “must bake” recipes for years. So this one is for you, Lis – and for all of my beloved Daring Bakers.

start with: water, butter, yeast, sugar, kosher salt, flour, sugar and salt

mix warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast

add flour

You can find old Daring Baker challenges (the recipes) in The Daring Kitchen archives, but there was a slight discrepancy between that one and the recipe on Ivonne’s site so I went with Ivonne’s version. I remember how I used to feel either elation or dread when I would get the next Daring Baker challenge. But here’s the thing – I learned so much and gained confidence and skill in the realm of baking with each monthly challenge. It helped me grow as a food blogger, a baker, and a person.

knead the dough

dust with flour

place in a ziploc bag to rise for 30 minutes (or a bowl – i’d go with the bowl next time)

**Jump for more butter**