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April 30, 2018

Tips From the Professional: Should you be concerned about special dietary needs at your event?

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Today on the blog, we thought it would be fun to ask one of our Culinary Crafts Event Pros some of the top questions our clients always ask!  One of the questions we are seeing more and more of is the question of 'special diets' and guests: should you ask about special diets or restrictions?  And, if so, how should I handle that?  Well, we are in luck!  One of our senior corporate event experts, Ashley Veenendaal, is giving us AAAALLL the answers! So, should you be concerned about special dietary needs at your event  The answer is a resounding yes! When you host an event, making your guests feel welcome is part of the deal. Ensuring that each person attending has something they can eat will be a central part of achieving that. However, navigating allergies and dietary restrictions doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Here are a some ways to accommodate your guests to the best of your ability. ~Ask your guests to inform you of any dietary needs as early on as possible. These days people will often let you know right away if they need specialized food. Especially if they have a severe allergy. But not always...:) It is much easier to plan ahead for this than to be scrambling at the time of the event to provide food for them. ~A lot of food preferences can be combined. For example, there are limitless delicious recipes that are gluten free, vegan, paleo, and keto friendly across the board. Adding side dishes to a menu that meet those requirements will help keep labor, cost and stress levels to a minimum! ~If your guest has a religious restriction be sure to ask them more about the extent to which they practice. Guests that follow strict Kosher or Halal guidelines may require you to bring in special food from a certified kitchen. Or they it may be as simple as not serving certain menu items. A quick look online will help you educate yourself as you get ready to design a menu. ~ Be very upfront with ingredients. Labeling foods on the menu will make your guests feel at ease about what they are eating. ~If a guest neglects to tell you about a dietary restriction or allergy until the event is happening, it's okay! Graciously explain why you are not prepared for that and then find a means of making a special plate for them. It could be as simple as providing them with extra salad and a lemon. The gesture will be appreciated. ~If you are going through a catering company, be sure and let your event planner know about any food needs that need to be met, While they will often have some foods available to cover everyone the amount sent will be more accurate if they know what to plan for. Thank you, Ashley!  I hope that helps all you feel more at ease (and even excited) to offer special dietary items to your guests!  It's definitely a great way to be creative with the menu, but also show your guests that you are keeping them in mind, and they will appreciate it so very much!  Happy planning, everyone! Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

April 19, 2018

An Elegant, Unique Utah Valley Wedding

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Today on the blog, have I got an AMAZING wedding for you!  It is full of personal touches, gorgeous florals, and FABULOUS food (of course)!  We were honored to be a part of Beth and Jeff's stunning, and totally unique, wedding day!  This post is a long one, but I promise, you won't be disappointed!  Check it out!   From our very own Jocelyn Gillies: "The location of the wedding is what meant the very most for the couple. The private residence (where the dinner was held) is the home they were living in when they got engaged. They then began building their home together on the property next door which is where the wedding ceremony took place, in the framed structure of their new home."  Isn't that so beautiful?  I love that they incorporated so much of their story into their wedding! This wedding's palette was clean and crisp, and all shades of white.  The feel was a Bohemian respite nestled in the mountains - and boy did these florals and the design deliver!  So pretty! If you are looking for another fun element to add to your cocktail hour, We smoked oranges as part of our cocktail hour offerings.You eat them rind and all.  So delicious and a total crowd-pleaser. Talk about delicious!  The couple, who both work in the health food industry and also own a health food company, were very particular about the menu - as were many of their guests!  This just goes to show that healthy does not have to be boring. Most of this deliciously health-conscious menu was paleo centered, including these bites.  House-Made Duck Ham in a Basil Boat, Roasted Bone Marrow with Baked Root Vegetables and Thinly Sliced Sourdough, and Roasted Jersey Pepper and Strawberry Shooters topped with a Sweet Pepper Sliver and Sous Vide Strawberries. This Jersey pepper was a nod to the Groom's East Coast roots. Culinary Crafts loves custom charcuterie and getting to feature our local artisan vendors!  We served assorted smoke, salt, and air cured Creminelli salumi and proscuitto, all hand carved at the station. The most unique part of this event was the seating. Guests were seated at one long table. So this simple and impactful chart as guests entered helped everyone find their seats without hassle. There was SOOOO much more food.  A couple of the butler-passed hors d'oeuvres to start the evening, Lamb Shoulder in a Belgian Enive Leaf with Mint Chiffonade, Smoked Rocky Mountain Trout on a Watermelon Radish with Salacia Micro Greens, and Salmon Sashimi with Fingerling Lime 'Caviar' on a Utah Sea Salted Kettle Chip. This Bison Carpaccio with Citrus Glaze and Brined Caperberry was so pretty and unique  Also, inside scoop, it was pretty darn tasty. The last of the amazing cocktail hour nuggets- Compressed Local Watermelon with Arugula and Balsamic and Crispy Pork Belly with Garlic Greens and Balsamic Sultanas on Crostini.  What a way to round out the start of this fantastic menu, wouldn't you say? We LOVED the textural diversity that the table length floral runner added to the design!  I know many people think that an all-white palette can get monotonous, but add texture and different floral variations and you got something engagingly enticing.  This is one of those trends that I think we will be seeing for a long time. This day was HOT.  Really, really hot.  The way only a Utah day in July can be and so we were constantly spraying down the florals to keep them pretty AND offering all of the guests ice cold drink offerings to keep them cool.  One way Culinary Crafts loves to do this is by offering infused waters like Citrus Mint and Orange Strawberry - and for those guests who wanted something a little sassier than water, we offered His and Hers cocktails! His Rocky Mountain Manhattan and Her Hummingbird. Another trend we loved from this tablescape, the mixed metals with the simple menus.  Rose gold flat ware, mercury glass votives, and the all white palette.   Heavenly. To welcome the guests to dinner, our house made ciabatta loaves were was pre-set along the tables and were served along with Pink Himalayan Salt compound butters. And, let me just go back to this table, because, man it is gorgeous!  Creating this stunning and intimate experience for the bride, groom, and their guests was definitely the highlight of the evening. To kick off this incredible culinary journey, we served Snuck Farm Rainbow Chard, Whipped Ricotta, Barbequed Beets, Finely Chopped Granola, Toasted Quinoa, and Slide Ridge Honey Vinaigrette.  Not to be outdone, the second course was an equally amazing plate of Pan Seared and Butter Poached Sea Scallops with Micro Amaranth, Hand-Cut Zoodles with Cashew Avocado Cream, and Shaved Parmesan.  Mmmm...   Let's take a minute and recognize the incredible Culinary Crafts staff who always keeps it classy, even in the most unique of serving situations and extreme temperatures. They are truly an amazing group. Since this event was in the middle of a field, our kitchen options were limited. So Culinary Crafts did what we do best. Created our own kitchen. The team brought in grills, ovens, burners, tables and more to create this lovely meal. To round out the dinner we served Summer Vegetable Terrine and Lemon Caper Rubbed Red Bird Chicken and Snuck Farm Sorrel Picatta with waiter poured velouté.  Added a elegant ending to this family style meal. It isn't quite sunset yet, but you can see the light starting to fade and I have to say,​ the most dramatic note of the evening came by way of the candlelit dining table running through the open mountain escape.  Truly breathtaking in every way. After dinner the guests were invited to enjoy coffee and a selection of scrumptious desserts.  Our 'Coffee Nerd' coffee bar is one of our favorite action stations - and the guests are always big fans! On to the desserts (my favorite!) The Bride and Groom both hail from the east coast and when Jocelyn met them for the first time she let them know that our assistant pastry chef (who happens to be Sicilian) made the BEST cannolis Jocelyn had ever had! To say they were hesitant was an understatement, but once they had one for themselves, the totally agreed and added it to their menu!   Love all of the special details that made this a unique, tailored experience for the couple and their guests! We didn't stop there! Homemade Mountainland Apple Pie with Culinary Crafts' house made Caramel Gelato topped with Warm Whiskey Raisin Caramel Sauce as well as Zabaglione Shooters topped with Fresh Berries, Micro Basil, and Candied Pistachio Biscotti.  I'll take one of each, please! Last, but certainly not least, we served Grilled Stone Fruit over Culinary Crafts' Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Gelato.  So simple and so delicious! The couple planned for the party to go into the wee hours, and of course, they made sure that their guests were well fed the entire time!  They asked us to serve a selection of late-night noshes, including a Pho After Dark Bar!  We loved this idea!!! Truly catering for those who give a Pho. Thank you to Beth and Jeff for letting Culinary Crafts be a part of your epic wedding day!  We absolutely loved every minute of this event and hope you did too!  Happy planning all! Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com! Photos by Angela Howard Photography

April 12, 2018

What’s Peaking Now? So Glad You Asked!

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Because we as consumers see such a huge variety of produce available in our markets all year long, it’s hard to remember exactly what’s in season in our area. Culinary Crafts loves sourcing as much of its produce as possible from local growers. And, we fine tune our menus seasonally to feature local items at their absolute best flavor peak. Here’s our list of spring delicacies to be enjoyed now.
Asparagus Rhubarb Peas Strawberries Carrots Garlic Butter lettuce Parsley Chives Arugula Swiss Chard Pea greens
Next week we’ll be sharing one of our favorite spring salad recipes. MEET ONE OF OUR FAVORITE GROWERS Snuck Farm We’re happy to give a shout out to our neighbor and one of our favorite growers, Snuck Farm, in Pleasant Grove. They have an awesome hydroponic greenhouse and supply local grocers with their herbs, greens and other produce year round. And, you’re in luck! They’re having a plant sale on May 12th, from 8am to 1pm… here’s the info below Save the date for the Snuck Farm Annual Community Plant Sale!
May 12th  at 8am to 1pm.
You’ll find a large variety of vegetables and flowers all ready for your garden including over 30 heirloom tomato varieties, peppers, cucumbers, squash, herbs, zinnias, petunias, hanging baskets and, well of course more! All plant starts are grown right here in our own greenhouse, using non-GMO seeds which means your plants are grown in our climate, with tons of love so you won’t find wilted or distressed plants. This is a great way to spend some time on the farm, bring Mom for an early Mother’s Day. Listen to live music, enjoy food, fresh flowers from Local Roots Flower Farm and some of our favorite new gardening tools, linens, books, and kitchen must-haves. Hope to see you there!

March 29, 2018

April: Recipe of the Month Easter Orange Roll Nest

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Orange Roll Dough 2 C water- lukewarm 1 TBSP active dry yeast 1/2 c Orange Juice 2 oranges zested 1/2 c sugar 1/4 lbs butter- melted 1/4 lbs sour cream 2 large eggs 2.5 lbs flour 1/2 TBSP salt Decoration 1 c coconut food coloring 1/4 c milk 2 c powder sugar Equipment: Mixer with Dough Hook 10" round pan- preferably a spring form pan cooling rack Dough: In your mixer bowl, attach your dough hook, then add lukewarm water- 99-102 degrees- add yeast, sugar and orange zest. Let rest until bubbles appear. Meanwhile melt butter, add sour cream and Orange Juice. stir till mixed completely. Add eggs to butter mixture, then slowly pour butter mixture to your yeast mixture. Add flour and salt to mixing bowl and beat until mixture comes together and begins to pull away from the walls of your bowl. Shaping and Baking: Remove from bowl and divide into 5 equal pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for an hour or till doubled in size. Lightly flour your surface, Using a rolling pin and keeping the dough as round as possible, roll the first piece of dough to be about 12" in diameter. Spray your 10" round cake pan and place the the 12" piece of dough in the bottom of your pan. Should come ups the sides a bit. Take the next piece of dough and using your hands roll into a snake like strand that is about 36" long. This will be very skinny. Repeat with 2 more pieces of dough. Once you have your 3 pieces of dough all to 36" in length you are going to braid them together. Just like braiding hair. Pinch the ends together, then lay the braid into your 10" round pan around the edge of the pan. This will be your nest. Cover your 10" pan with plastic wrap and let rest for an hour or until doubled in size. Place in oven at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on the top.  Meanwhile, What about that last piece of dough?? take the last piece of dough and cut it into 8-10 pieces. These will be your eggs for the center of the nest. Each piece should be about 2oz. Roll them on the counter to smooth out the top and place them on a sheet pan and back at 325 for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool.  Assembly and decoration: take your 1 cups of coconut and add green food coloring to it- 3-10 drops depending on how dark you want it. Mix until evenly coated.  In 3 small bowls mix 1/2c of powdered sugar and 1TBSP of milk. This should be very runny, like a glaze. Add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve this. Dye each bowl a different color- your favorite easter colors! I usually do pink, yellow and blue, using 3-5 drops of dye for each bowl. Once your eggs have cooled, place on cooling rack and drip the colored glaze over the top and let it evenly coat the eggs. Let dry while you finish your nest. Once your nest is out of the oven, let cool for about 10 minutes and the pop it out of its pan. Place on cake stand or serving platter. then use about 1/2c of green coconut in the bottom of the ring, then take your eggs and nestle them in to your ring. You will be able to fit about 3 in the nest at a time. Take your remaining coconut and sprinkle over the top of the whole nest to make it look really festive! 

March 22, 2018

Knife Sharpening Skills with Chef Warren

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Properly sharpened knives are a must have tool for professional chefs and home cooks alike. Learning how to sharpen your own knives can save you time and money. It can also prolong the life of your knives. Indeed, if you do this right, you should have to buy new stones before you ever have to buy a new knife! I sharpen my knife about once a month, but if I'm really going crazy and using it a ton I might sharpen it once a week! You don't need to own and use expensive, custom, handmade knives to make sharpening worthwhile. Even standard / basic (but still well made) knives can be excellent tools and will last a lifetime with proper care. Now, let's get started. I personally use what's called a Japanese Wet Stone for sharpening my own knives. The one I use currently is a Norton Water Stone (these are around $100, I've had mine for 3-4 years). With a 4000/8000 grit, this stone is meant to maintain the sharpness of your knife. If my knife were to get significantly dull, I would need to use a stone with a lower grit in order to bring the sharpness back up. The lower the grit the more metal the stone will take off in order to create an edge again. However with a maintenance stone like mine, I don't worry about it taking too much metal off. About a half hour before you plan to sharpen you'll need to start soaking your stone. Soaking makes the stone more pliable and loosens the grit! Submerge the stone completely in cold water for 20-30 minutes. There shouldn't be any air bubbles coming out of the side, you'll want it to be nice and wet! (NOTE: My stone has not been soaked in these photos, yours will be much wetter!) When using a wet stone, you are sanding off little pieces of metal to make the knife sharper. You can also control the angle of sharpness your knife is. A flatter angle - typically 15° to 16° (common on Asian style knives) will create a really fine, sharp edge. But, because the flatter edges are more brittle, they will also dull faster. A broader angle around 20° (common on European style knives) is not quite as sharp, but you can get more wear out of it. The angle to sharpen a knife all depends on the the type of knife, the intended use, and the user preferences / needs. For example with my fish knife, I do about a awfully flat at  a 12° angle (very very sharp), most of my knives I sharpen around a 16° angle, and a couple classic chef knives I keep at 20°. How to set the angle of the bevel? Many experienced chefs do this simply by experienced eye and feel. You can learn this skill by gauging the angle one step at a time. A knife perpendicular to the stone will be at 90°. Half of that angle will be 45°. Half of that is about 22°. From there you can get pretty close. However if you are learning to sharpening on a stone,  you may wish to purchase a honing angle guide. This will assist you in getting the correct angle consistently while you practice.

45° angle

12° angle

I would recommend that you lay out your stone on a table over a towel to keep the water from getting everywhere. There are multiple ways to sharpen your knife on a wet stone. I do a simple side to side motion, and I do the same angle on both sides of my knife. What ever you do you're going to want to apply 4-6 lbs. of pressure evenly distributed across the knife. Some chefs want one side to be more angled than the other, that's all up to you and how you actually want to handle your knife.

Side 1

Side 2

You'll want to take care of your stone so that it can take care of your knives. If your stone starts to bow you're not going to create an even edge on your knife! To do this, you'll need a flattening stone.

 

When your stone is wet, make some hash marks with a pencil across the entire the top of the stone. Rub the flattening stone along your wet stone until the surface is nice and flat and all the pencil marks disappear . This will ensure that your stone and your knives are kept in great condition!

Once you're done with your stone you'll want to make sure it's nice and clean (it will look black from the metal), dry it off (soak up any residual water), and keep it in a ventilated container or a nice dry area. Although this is our preferred method to sharpen knives, for the home cook who's intimidated by investing in and learning to use wet stones, there exist other very serviceable knife sharpening alternatives. We've achieved excellent results using an Apex Edge Pro device. This contraption  helps to set the proper angle and encourage the proper motions without as much practice required as traditional stones.  The end result can be effectively the same as a sharpening on a traditional stone. Highly recommended. Another option is a Diamond Hone knife sharpener. These offer preset angles. Some units will sharpen all knives to 20 degrees. Others will sharpen to 15. Some units allow you to switch and back and forth between multiple angles. These are very intuitive to use and will do a good job at making most knives plenty sharp for most applications. However, these don't get your knives quite as sharp as a true stone and in applications you may be left wishing your knife was even sharper. Something that most home chefs don't know is that many knife manufacturers offer a life time sharpening policy. You typically only have to pay for the shipping. Just mail your knives in and receive them back later with a fresh factory edge! If you use your knives daily, the waiting game may be unreasonable. But for many home cooks, this can be a great option. There are also some bad sharpening options to avoid. For example, devices like the one below can help you get through a project in a pinch when your knife is dull and not cutting effectively. However, these are not a long term solution and are certainly not recommended for regular repeated use. Instead of the sanding / polishing effect of a stone, these tend to shred the metal on the edge of the blade, which both removes the proper bevel and shortens the lifespan of the knife. What about honing steels? Many of you will have a honing steel already. These are often sold as part of a knife set. These are a must have tool and very helpful in the kitchen. However, it's important to understand that these do NOT sharpen your knives. Sharpening is the act of creating an angled bevel on the blade edge. Honing, on the other hand, is simply ensuring that the bevel is straight along the edge of the blade. If you've ever seen a barber strop a straight razor on a leather strap prior to a shave, you can understand the difference here. That razor gets sharpened on a stone whenever it's dull. But it is stropped (honed) on the leather before every use. Your knives should be sharpened as needed depending on when your knives are dull. Your knives should be honed before most every use. Your honing steel is the kitchen equivalent of the barber's leather strap. It should be used regularly, but it takes just a few passes to ensure that the edge is straight. Happy cooking! Chef Warren
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