March 2012

These muffins could easily be thrown into a category I like to call ‘power muffins’. In the summer months, I find myself to be even more active than I am in the winter. My body recognizes that and naturally craves healthy, energizing fuel. I often forgo the Cliff bars and trail mix packages for homemade snacks. This sturdy muffin, loaded with granola, banana, whole grains, and nuts is a nice reward at the top of a climb. If I wasn’t making these as an afterthought to use up the bananas ripening in my counter top fruit bowl, I probably would have played around with the flour ratios a little more. Perhaps add some oat or quinoa flour, maybe some flax seeds, and a handful of chia seeds. For a sweeter [...]

It’s a common story. Sometimes we forget we live at altitude. Then it’s our friend’s birthday, and we decide to bake him or her a cake. And…it fails. Oh yeah. Stuff doesn’t bake the same up here. And you never want to try baking again. Well it’s time to get birthdays back. In a world of vanilla and chocolate, sometimes yellow falls out of the mix and gets overlooked. One taste and you’ll wonder why you wandered so far. It’s yellow butter cake. Moist and tender, with a nice crumb. The perfect partner for a fudge frosting. Universally appealing. These layers bake up tall and even, thanks to a little extra insurance from whipped egg whites that get folded into the batter at the end. All-purpose flour fills in for [...]

There is such a pastry right now, called Kouing Amman (pronounced “queen”), that is getting a lot of attention. And rightfully so! This particular pastry is made from a laminated dough using salted butter and lots of granulated sugar, which gives it a salty-sweet flavor, very similar to salted caramel. Now I am big caramel fan, as well as a big laminated dough fan. Call me a nerd, I know I am. As a pastry chef, I fully appreciate flavors that are not all sugary-sweet, and caramel is one that allows contrast- so important in balancing any dessert. Laminated dough is a style of pastry arts in which butter is incorporated into the dough during a series of folds. The dough is rolled out, folded, and turned numerous times to [...]

We received a typical spring snowstorm yesterday- wet, heavy snow, and pockets of sunshine. I don’t mind these types of storms this time of year because whatever amount of snow they bring us, the sun usually melts the next day. We’ve had such a mild winter it was kind of odd seeing snow on the ground again. At least I didn’t have to clear snow off of my truck. Not a fan of that. Especially the heavy kind. One thing I have to admit is that when the weather is acting up, it’s always a welcomed excuse to stay in and do cozy things. The type of stuff you would feel guilty about doing during beautiful weather. Watch the Martha Stewart show. Recipe development. Download music. Drink hot tea. Bake [...]

It wasn’t until I was in pastry school that I first learned what a French macaron was. They are delightful, chewy almond cookies that also happen to be extremely addictive. The flavor combinations span from classic vanilla buttercream to foie gras or curry fillings. Sometimes I’ll make carrot powder from dehydrated carrots and add it to the recipe to make ‘carrot cake’ macarons with a cream cheese filling. They are very versatile and a great palette for creativity. In the last two years it’s been fun watching them grow in popularity. I am always in support of products that utilize traditional French pastry techniques because many American pastries and desserts these days are the bi-product of so many artificial ingredients and shortcuts. They are also a bit more involved to [...]

It’s been deliciously warm out here the past week, and after I returned home I sat out back in the sunshine for awhile to soak it all in. I know better than to think that this is it for our snowfall this winter. In the mountains it will snow in June if the temperatures are right. When I returned inside, I decided to put my discount pint of blueberries to use. Sometimes you can find berries at the grocery store for $3.00 or less, and that’s when I snatch them up. They are not the best tasting, but when baked or cooked their flavor dramatically sweetens. The best berries are the kind you find growing wild. A few years ago I was hiking near Asheville, NC, with my brothers and [...]

I. Love. Ice cream. I can’t think of a moment in my life that I have ever turned an offer for it down. As a toddler my mom would feed me small spoonfuls of Dairy Queen blizzards, sending my chubby little legs into a delighted kicking frenzy. My first job was in an ice cream shop. Soft-serve cones, sundaes, hand-dipped milkshakes…a pretty sweet gig. When the boss was gone I would make myself tiny sundaes and other frozen experiments. In college my roommates and I would walk to the nearest gas station for a ‘study break’ and the two scoop special. And I can’t forget my excitement upon producing our own ice creams in pastry school using top of the line equipment. Even now, after a long day of work, [...]

There is something that must be said about making your own bread. All over the world, different forms of bread are a staple to everyday life, and perhaps this is why creating your own it is such a satisfying and rewarding experience. The fact that soda breads do not contain yeast cannot take away this ‘experience’. The dough is still shaped by hand and the bread retains that sustaining quality. It is soft, with a sugar-kissed crunchy crust, and studded throughout with plump raisins. I like to enjoy a thick slice while sitting outside on the patio and listening to the melting snow drip, drip, drip off the roof. I love my yeast breads, but sometimes I don’t have the time necessary to wait for them to rise. Soda breads [...]

My junior year of college, I lived in a house with a bunch of my closest friends. On Sunday mornings, I used to make the original cinnamon version of these sweet buns. They come together quickly, especially since they don’t require any yeast. This skipped step is great because it frees up your time to shape homemade apple sausage patties or fry up some hash browns instead. We’d all sit down to a huge breakfast, family-style, and it was the perfect way to begin a Sunday. An excuse to procrastinate that term paper a little longer, a chance to clarify gaps from the previous night, and a cure-all for a hangover. My Sunday mornings aren’t quite like that anymore, but I still appreciate a chance to slow down and taste, [...]

Earlier this week, my parents and little brother arrived. Cam was on his spring break from college. I was so flattered they decided to use his week off by coming out to visit me! We had a really lovely time. The weather was typical March weather in the mountains- blue skies, sunshine, warm temps, and of course, a few flurries. There was quite a bit of cooking and baking. The evening they arrived, I wanted to make dinner since they had been traveling all day. I ended up making elk flatbread pizzas- homemade dough, balsamic pomegranate syrup, fresh arugula, smoked fontina cheese, and grilled elk. I could go on and on about how much I love elk meat. It is so delicious! This was the first time Cam and dad [...]

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