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How To

What is in season now? Our 10 favorite flavors of summer!

By | A Kitchen Like No Other, Culinary Crafts Marketing Foodies, Event Tips and Planning, Farmers Market, Food, Food Theory Thursday, How To, News, Recipe of the Month, Recipes, Tips

Summer is the best season for eating fresh local produce. It is also the time you can buy local produce almost everywhere! With all the neighborhood farmer’s markets and produce stands you can cook with the freshest ingredients and add a whole new level to your summer cooking! Here’s our list of 10 favorite summer flavors you can find fresh right now.

Apricots
Peaches
Berries of all kinds- Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries
Beets
Carrots
Cherries
Cucumbers
Melons of all kinds- Watermelon, Honeydew, cantaloupes
Summer Squash
Tomatoes

Next week we’ll be sharing one of our favorite summer recipes for you to try featuring some of these great flavors.

MEET ONE OF OUR FAVORITE GROWERS

Strong Vertical Farms

We would love to introduce you to Strong Vertical Farms! Debbie and Grant Strong started SVG out of their home in Park City, Utah in November 2012. It was their vision to provide locally grown fresh produce to chefs and grocery stores 365 days a year by growing indoors.

Five years later, they are in their new 11,000 square foot growing facility located in Charleston UT.  They utilize state of the art systems to accomplish the climate controlled environment needed to grow indoors. The facility has the most updated water treatment, LED lighting & nutrient injection systems available in the market today. Since they grow their greens hydroponically (no soil) the water and nutrients are key to delivering safe quality produce. The water is recaptured and reused then sent through an ozonating system that kills pathogens and bacteria insuring a safe product. The byproduct of this system is oxygen that enriches the plants flavor, longevity and appearance. The produce is grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides and is NON-GMO.  The produce is sustainable, consistent and protected from weather and pests.

You can find their fabulous microgreens and lettuces at select Smiths, Harmons in Holiday and Taylorsville, and Wholefoods. And, happily, they also sell edible flowers!

Hoping you can find time to enjoy all the vibrant flavors of this beautiful season.

Grilling 101: Ryan’s favorite tips and tricks

By | A Kitchen Like No Other, Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Food, Food Theory Thursday, How To, Recipes, Tips

Grillmaster Lessons

My love for the grill runs deep. In our family catering business, there were an array of tasks I was assigned at early ages. Most were forgettable (or unpleasantly memorable). Grilling was the first job that I actually enjoyed and felt I excelled at. I remember being 15 years old, carting around our rusty old barrel drum grills, breathing in dangerous amounts of mesquite smoke, singeing off all the hair on my hands and arms (and sometimes eyebrows), blistering my fingertips, shoveling out bucket after bucket of ashes every night….and loving every minute of it.

For me, lighting a row of 18 chimneys full of lump charcoal is as much a means to an end, as it is an end in itself. Searing 5000 fillets of trout is as much a duty, as it is a pleasure. Grilling dinner requires a long list of sometimes tedious steps. Yet rather than a chore, these feel like an indulgence. I grill to eat – I love the flavors. I grill to feed others – it’s my favorite role as a host. I also grill just to get right – you could say it’s how I ponder and pray.

Mastering the grill is long and arduous process. It’s also a fun and exciting process. I invite everyone to learn to grill. There’s something inexplicably rewarding about cooking dinner for yourself and your guests – especially outdoors over a live fire. Whether you already have an elaborate outdoor kitchen with many cooks under your belt, or whether you have never so much as roasted a hot dog over the campfire, I’d invite you to grill more. And start today.

 

What Is and Isn’t Grilling

 

I’m a stickler for proper and consistent use of language around the grill. Many outdoor cooking terms are confused, conflated, and otherwise misused. My first piece of advice is to learn the basic jargon and use it properly.

Grilling refers to a very specific type of cooking: cooking directly over an open fire, usually with a grill / grate / gridiron, and usually at a relatively high heat. Hence, a grill is a device that allows you to cook directly over a high heat open fire. These three elements are necessary conditions of grilling. Direct heat. Open fire. Potential for high heat.

Smoking ribs in your pellet cooker (like the very popular Traeger models)? Delicious, but NOT grilling. Brisket for 18 hours in your offset barrel cooker? Wonderful, but NOT grilling. Using a torch to sear a filet done sous vide to a perfect and precise medium-rare? Excellent, but NOT grilling. Pan searing a skin-on chicken breast in duck fat and herbs? My mouth is watering, but still NOT grilling.

What about cooking burgers over briquettes in your Weber kettle? That’s grilling! Cooking chicken over your built-in stainless steel natural gas grill? That’s grilling! Tossing vegetables in a wire mesh basket over a log fire? That’s grilling! Tri-tip in two stages on a Santa Maria cooker? That’s grilling! Reverse searing a garlic and chocolate rubbed dry-aged Wagyu ribeye over mesquite charcoal? That’s grilling (and btw one of my personal favorites)!

Choosing Your Grill(s)

There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a grill. Size? Lid? Portable, free standing, or built in? Able to BBQ / smoke using indirect heat in addition to grilling with direct heat? Adjustable fire trays? Adjustable cooking grates? Access to the fire? Available accessories? Quality of construction? Cost?

But the first question you need to answer is: gas / propane or charcoal / wood? Yes, there are some electric “grills” out there. But in general these blur the lines on whether they even meet muster for the strict criteria we outlined above. And although there are some hybrid gas and charcoal grills, you still need to be clear about what your primary and preferred fuel source will be, since different hybrids will have more or less appeal depending on your answer.

Pros and Cons of Gas / Propane:

  • Easy startup. Turn on the gas, hit the igniter. Even if your ignition system is broken, a stick lighter gets you going quick and easy. No lighter fluid, no chimneys, no heating coils, very little forethought and waiting required.
  • Easy heat management. Need it hotter? Turn the dial up. Cooler? Turn it back down. Very little practice and finesse is required to adjust and control your heat.
  • Easy cool down / cleanup. Tur
    n the gas off. Done.
  • Clean burning. Less smoke and fumes for you to breath and to float off into your local environment.
  • Limited temperature. Admittedly gas grills can get hot. And certain features (infrared burners) can ramp up the heat. But even the hottest gas grill can’t reach the temps you can achieve with a hardwood charcoal fire.
  • Limited flavor. True, gas grills create a wonderful maillard reaction with your food. And juices that drip below generally burn off into tasty vapors. Wood chips can be easily burned in a smoker box to create flavor. Nonetheless, even the best gas grills employing all these measures can’t match the wood flavor of a charcoal or wood burning grill.

As you might have guessed, the pros and cons of a gas grill are in comparison and relative to the alternative. Hence, the pros and cons of charcoal grills are generally the inverse:

  • Demanding startup. I use a chimney starter(s) for nearly all my fires. These are basically a fool proof method that require only a little newspaper and a match. Lighter fluid can also get a fire going quickly and easily. Nonetheless, these are more work and require more forethought than simply starting up a gas burner.
  • Demanding heat management. Need it hotter? You might need to add fuel. You might need to increase the airflow. You might need to sweep the ashes. Or some combination of these. Need it cooler? You might need to reduce the airflow. Or possibly remove some of the fire, or even spritz your fire with a little water. Eventually, the finesse to manage your fire will become second nature, but it requires significant practice.
  • Demanding cool down / cleanup. In general I prefer to let the fire burn itself out. This takes patience. Sometimes I need to actively extinguish the fire using suffocation or even ice / water. This can make for a big cloud of steam and soot. Either way, after the fire’s died, there will be ashes to deal with.
  • Dirty. More smoke and fumes for you to breath and to float off into your local environment. Although I’m a huge proponent of charcoal and wood fire cooking, I also support measures to protect our environment, especially improving air quality here in Utah. I think grilling on bad air days should be legally prohibited. Until we get there, I strongly encourage local readers to only grill with charcoal on clear days with no inversion.
  • Very high temperature. This is where charcoal grills really shine. Searing is a joy and at its best on a grill that is crazy hot. Gas grills just can’t compare.
  • Very rich flavor. Once you’ve had a burger cooked over mesquite coals, you can’t go back to one cooked over a gas grill or in a cast iron skillet. It just tastes better. A lot better.

As you read these lists, you might get the impression that gas grills win out. After all, they seem to best their charcoal counterparts in 4 of the 6 key factors considered here. However, it’s important to note that those lists simply outline, and do not weigh those factors. When I fire up the grill on the patio (as opposed to sauteing on the kitchen stove), it’s because I’m after the highest heat and deepest wood flavor I can get. So for me, the two areas where charcoal grills win are the ultimate trump cards.

Perhaps the best way to put my recommendation is this: I do not own a gas grill. At my house, I have 3 grills (also 2 smokers and 1 wood oven) and they all use charcoal or wood.

When shopping for a charcoal grill, the key features you want to look for are:

  • Airflow. The ability to control the flow of air to speed up or slow down your fire is crucial. You want vents below the fire and a lid above the fire that allows you to play with different variables.
  • Charcoal grate. Elevating the fire off the floor of the grill container allows the fire to burn efficiently, allows ashes to fall away. Some grills have adjustable charcoal grates which allow you to move the fire closer to or further away from the food.
  • Food grate. Cast iron grates are wonderful to cook on – just like your grandmother’s cast iron skillet, these season in, become naturally nonstick, retain heat wonderfully, and with care can last a lifetime. That said, other grate materials can also cook wonderfully. Most important is a gridiron pattern than prevents small and delicate foods from slipping through. And thick gauge materials that can take the high heat without warping and wearing through.
  • Ash removal. This is important, but doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, often times the simpler the better – a tray or bucket that ashes fall into that is easily removed and dumped is great. You just don’t want to have to shovel or vacuum out ashes after every cook.
  • Quality of materials. You want all the grill components to be thick gauge and heavy duty enough to last for years with reasonable wear and tear. Powder coat is better than paint and enamel coating is even better than powder. It’s awfully frustrating to buy a grill with fancy bells and whistles that looks great in the store, but is dented, rusted, and falling apart a year or two later.

A wonderful charcoal grill does not need to be fancy or elaborate. The kettle grill (a bowl with domed lid sitting on a trio of metal pipe legs) has become an iconic grill image precisely because it has remained basically unchanged for so long, and because the design works so well. Indeed, if I could only have one grill and it needed to be at a moderate cost, my choice would be easy: a Weber Original charcoal grill.

Tools of the Trade

Walk into the outdoor cooking section of your local hardware store and you’ll likely be inundated with an array of grilling tools, gadgets, and assorted accessories. It can be overwhelming to decide which ones are necessary, which ones are a luxury, and which ones are a waste. Listed below are how I like to break out and consider these items.

I set out these must have tools every time I grill:

  • Chimney starter – the best way to start charcoal. Avoid all the fumes, mess, and volatility of lighter fluid.
  • Gloves and apron – You want a 100% cotton, heavy canvas, or leather apron (any poly or poly blend will melt onto your clothes when you get your grill really rolling). And thick lined leather or cotton gloves. Tip – buying welding gear in the tool section is often cheaper than the nearly functionally identical gear in the cooking section.
  • Oil & onion – Don’t use cooking spray on your grill. Don’t use a paper or cloth towel. Dip the onion in the oil, and use this to lubricate and season your grates.
  • Tongs – I like tongs that are springy enough to release quickly, but not so springy that my hand gets tired using them. I like enough teeth on the ends to firmly grasp the food, but not so sharp that they bite into and shred the food. Most important, I like thick metal tongs that won’t go soft and flexy when they get hot.
  • Spatula – Just like the tongs, you want a thick metal spatula. Thin metal will flex, bend, and break if it gets too hot while cooking.
  • Fork – Again, thick and sturdy. Built to take the heat. I use this primarily for the oil and onion listed above.
  • Rake – A tool dedicated to breaking up, moving around, and sweeping the fire. I used to use my spatula, a rake is so much better. I use it all the time.
  • Basting brush – I prefer a silicone brush and/or a cotton mop. Natural hair brushes don’t last, especially when used over heat, and start to fall apart shedding hair into the food.
  • Thermometer – You want something digital with a fast / instant read. You’ll see units ranging from $10 – $100, but you should target the $20 – $50 range for solid quality and good value. My Lavatools thermometer is my favorite I’ve tried.

Although not necessary, these convenient accessories see a lot of use on my patio:

  • Grill basket – simply an alternative to your grate. This allows you cook smaller items that don’t work on a flat open grate, while still exposing them to the open fire and smoke.
  • Wood chip soaker – this keeps your chips under the water while soaking, so you don’t have dry chips floating on top.
  • Meat hook – I use this as an alternative to tongs when I’m grilling large amounts of meat and/or large cuts of meat. This allows me to quickly move food on, off, and around the grill without the constant squeezing of the tongs. Very handy in certain situations.
  • Meat claws – great for shredding pork butt or beef brisket. Also really great for moving very large cuts. Since these don’t have a long handle, you just have to be aware that your hands and arms will be close to the fire if you use these over the grill.
  • Dedicated grilling knives and scissors – you can certainly use the knives from your kitchen. But I love having a simple set (only includes a carver / slicer knife, a flexible boning knife, a small utility knife, and a pair of meat shears) that I keep in my grilling table always at the ready.
  • Spray bottle – using water on your coals is a last resort and short term fix for flare ups and other mishaps. But sometimes a quick fix is all you need and super handy to have ready.
  • Wood grill scraper – after grilling, I use this to scrape large bits of food off the grates, and let the fire burn everything else off. I try to avoid using wire brushes and cleaning chemicals on my grills.
  • Wood planks – a great way to infuse extra flavor and/or keep delicate food (like a whole salmon) intact while moving on and off the grill.
  • Kerchief – soaking this down and tying around your neck or over your face can be a lifesaver when the heat and smoke get too intense.

Additional tools that I only use occasionally / rarely:

  • Grilling stones – fun to use, but easy to crack if you’re not careful. Also, since these create a barrier between the open fire and the food, they limit the flavor impact you get from a great wood fire.
  • Silicon mat – similar to the grilling stones. Handy for certain situations, but I rarely use these.
  • Extra lighting – great if you travel with a grill and/or don’t have enough light in your yard.
  • Grill Brush – like I said earlier, I try to avoid using these (I prefer a wood scraper and the fire itself to clean the grill). That said, there are a few occasions where a little extra grit is required.
  • Skewers – I prefer flat and wide skewers to the round style. This way, the food doesn’t roll around on the wire.
  • Cast iron pan and wok – Can open options for you over your grill, but like the stones, they create a barrier between the open fire and the food, which kind of misses the point.
  • Smoker box – especially handy for gas grills that don’t have the flavors of wood and charcoal. Also useful in a lot of indirect cooking recipes.

 

Finally some of my favorite grilling (and BBQ) cookbook references include:

  • Weber’s Charcoal Grilling, The Art of Cooking with Live Fire by Jamie Purviance (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If you only buy one grilling book, feel confident about making it this one).
  • The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine Editors (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. In depth and exceptionally reliable information that helps you understand why certain techniques succeed, which helps you expand your own skill set and personal innovation.)
  • Charred and Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang
  • Essentials of Grilling by Williams-Sonoma
  • Feeding the Fire by Joe Carroll
  • Franklin Barbecue by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay
  • Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

 

Hopefully there’s enough here to get a new griller started. And hopefully even the seasoned griller learned something new. In both cases, stay tuned, I’ll be back very soon with more Grillmaster Lessons!

Ryan

 

 

 

What’s Peaking Now? So Glad You Asked!

By | A Kitchen Like No Other, Event Tips and Planning, Farmers Market, Favorite Find Friday, Food, Food Theory Thursday, How To, Sharing the Love -Vendor and Client Relationships, Tips, Vendor Love!, Vendor Spotlight

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!

Knife Cutting Skills: A Step-by-Step Adventure

By | Culinary Crafts Events, How To

Knife skills are something that every home chef could benefit from. Sometimes the thing that takes a dish from good to great is simply the presentation! I’m going to show you some tricks of the trade and help you to easily take your dishes to the next level. We’ll be working with an onion, an apple, a squash, and an orange!  Before we begin, make sure you are using a sharp knife. Dull knives are actually more dangerous than a sharp knife because of the amount of pressure that is needed in order to use a dull knife! This can cause more frequent and more severe accidents. So be safe, use a sharp knife!

Alright, now from this point forward I want you to trust yourself and trust your knife!

I used a standard issue chef’s knife for everything. Nothing fancy, this is just a good quality knife!

When it comes to knives, one of the most important things is to hold it at the hilt (where the blade meets the handle). You’re going to want to get a good grip without getting white knuckles. Firm but not the grip of death!

Another important part of correct knife holding involves your other hand. When chopping, you want to curve your fingers inward and rest the middle of your fingers on the blade. Make sure that your fingers are curving inward, or else you risk cutting the tips of your fingers off!

Right:

Wrong:

When you’re not doing a close dice, chop or slice, your hand should be resting on your cutting board like so:

Let’s start with the onion. First, we dice! Slice the onion in half through the end bulb, like so. Remove any unwanted layers, but keep the bulb in tact.

Next, you’ll slice the onion perpendicular to the bulb without slicing all the way through the onion near the top portion. You should be left with an onion fan of sorts.

You’ll also want to slice the onion once in half parallel to the cutting board. Again, do not cut all the way through!

Now rotate the onion and chop perpendicular to your first slices. You will be left with the perfect diced onion!

Next is the julienne cut–also known as the french or straw cut. This is good for salads, soups, caramelizing, etc. This time, the first thing you’ll want to do is cut off the bulb at the end. Cut far enough in so that your onion slices will be a uniform length. 

Start chopping!

And you’re done!

*IMPORTANT* In between every use you should wipe down your knife with a clean rag. You always want to work with a nice, clean knife. Additionally, when you’re done using your knife it should be hand washed and put away. Never put a knife in the dishwasher as it will cause the blade to rust and deteriorate, the handle to break down, and will eventually ruin your knife. 

Next I’m going to show you how to cut a butternut squash! These can be a pain to cut if you don’t do it the right way. But, once you know how to do it they are a quick and delicious addition to soups, salads, or any dish!

For easier handling, we’re going to start off by cutting the squash in half. The best way to do this is to make sure you’ve got a sharp knife and simply break the flesh of the squash with the tip of it. Then, work your knife back and forth with a good amount of pressure until you make it all the way through.

Next, we’re going to get rid of all the skin. Start from the top and make a downward cut along the squash. Rotate the squash and repeat until all the skin is removed.

After you have your squash completely removed of the skin, trim off the curved edge of one side of the squash. You will be left with a flat surface. Now cut a few slices off at your desired thickness, mine were about 1/2 inch thick.

Place a couple slices on top of each other, flat on the cutting board. We’re now going to do what chef’s call “squaring off.” You don’t have to do this, but it makes a more uniform dice and a prettier presentation!

To square off, simply trim off any edges that aren’t straight. You will be left with a “square,” although with a squash it’s more like a rectangle. 

Now we slice!

*TIP ALERT* To keep your squash stable while you’re slicing and dicing, place your pointer finger over the knife so that it rests on the squash and holds it in place while you slide your knife through the squash.

Begin the slice

Place finger over the knife to hold the squash down

Slide your knife through while your fingers are in place. Repeat!

Now for the dice we’re going to turn our sticks the other way and do the same thing. For a good, square dice you’ll want to chop at the same thickness of your sticks! 

Okay, now for the apple. I’m going to show you how a professional would slice an apple. First, cut your apple in half through the core.

When slicing an apple, I like to hold my knife a little more on the blade than I would usually. I also hold it at a higher angle than normal (maybe a 60° angle). I begin the slice and then drag the knife through the apple, never leaving the board with my knife.

The reason it is so important to slice and drag instead of chop, is because when chopping an apple the slice gets stuck to the blade. Like this:

When I use the slice and drag technique, the slice simply falls to its side. Like so:

It the end I am left with some BEAUTIFUL slices. Perfect for salads, desserts, garnish, or whatever else you might use them for!

Next up I’m going to grab an orange. First, I cut off the ends and peel the orange using my chef’s knife. 

Once I have the orange peel completely off (including all of the white pith). I switch to my pairing knife to do a cut called a supreme! If you’re not familiar with this, basically what we’re going to make this orange look like is like those little bare slices of fruit in a can of Mandarin oranges!

For this cut, I’m going to cut between the little membrane segments and only get the flesh of the orange.

This can be done with any citrus fruit and can be used in a variety of ways, or just for a fancy snack.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Sincerely,

Chef Warren

Check our more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

Culinary Crafts Thanksgiving Game Plan!

By | Cooking Classes, Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Food, Holiday Parties, How To, Parties, Tips

As promised, here is the tried-and-true Culinary Crafts’s Thankgiving Game Plan!  Our very own Mary Crafts-Homer wrote this awesome timeline for those who are looking for a well planned, less stressful, and fabulous Thanksgiving – and don’t we ALLLL want that?!  Yes, yes we do!

We LOVE this plan because it really does make planning SOOO easy – but let’s be honest too…  It’s no fun for just one person to do this all by themselves!  You need your family (or friends) to join together to help make this a perfect holiday.  So, being the super smart woman Mary is, she wrote this plan with different tasks in mind to delegate out.  And believe me, when everyone lends a hand, that’s when the best memories are made.  Happy planning everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

Friday Instagram of the Week!

By | Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Food, Holiday Parties, How To, Instagram of the Week, Parties, Recipes, Tips

Today’s Instagram of the Week comes from our friends at Studio 5 who we had the pleasure of joining this week to share our tips and tricks to a perfect Thanksgiving holiday!  (Don’t worry for all of you who missed it, we are putting it ALLLL together in a post next week or you can see the video here!)  We absolutely LOVE this holiday and were so thankful to be able to share our love for Thanksgiving on the show!  Thank you for sharing, Studio 5!  Also, remember, for your chance to be next week’s pick, tag us at @culinarycrafts or add the hashtag #culinarycrafts to your post and see who is chosen next!  Happy weekend, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

Step-by-Step with Mary Crafts: Mom’s Perfect Pie Crust

By | Ask Mary, Food, How To, Recipes, Tips

Pie is the truly iconic American dessert, but very few people know how to do it well. The novice baker may spend most of their time perfecting the pie filling and spend little time and attention on the crust. However, a true pie maker and connoisseur knows the greatest pie joys lie within a well-made crust. Remember, there is no such thing as a good frozen pie crust from the grocers freezer. But, practice makes perfect and soon you can become an excellent pie maker!

For a single pie crust (for 8 or 9 inch pie) you will need the following:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp lard* (room temperature)
2 tbsp butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup ice water (approximately)

Click here for a printable version.

*IN PRAISE OF LARD: No other fat can compare to real lard in a pie crust. If you need to substitute Crisco for the lard, don’t add the butter, just use straight Crisco. The crust will still be flaky but without the buttery flavor.

If you plan on making a two crust pie (crust on top and on bottom) simply double the above recipe. Or, if you’d prefer, my mother always made a “French Apple” pie which replaces the top crust with a crumb mixture of 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/3 cup butter mixed until crumbly. Increase baking time 10 minutes.

Okay, let’s get started!

Blend the lard and butter together to create the perfect fat. Chill until cold (you’ll want to chill your butter and lard mixture between every step. Your flaky and delicious crust depends on your fats staying cold.)

Cut the lard/butter mixture into small pieces. In mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.

Using your fingers, pastry blender, or two knives, work quickly to cut the butter into the flour until it resembles small grains of rice. You can use a food processor but you have to be super careful to not over mix. Chill until cold.

Once your mixture is cold, sprinkle the cold (ice cold) water over the flour mixture, one tablespoon at at time, and lightly toss with a fork after each addition. The dough should come together as dough but it should NOT be wet. Just make sure there isn’t any loose flour at the bottom of your bowl. Do not over mix.

Form the dough into a flat disc (if you’ve doubled the recipe for a two crust pie, split the dough in half and make two flat discs). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the dough from the refrigerator 30 minutes before rolling.

Flour your surface. I like to use a pastry cloth for my floured surfaces, this decreases the amount of flour needed to ensure my dough doesn’t stick. Roll dough into a circle approximately 2 inches larger than your pie plate. Crust should be approximately 1/8 inch thick.


Place the upside down pie pan in the center of the dough. Cut out the circle with a knife or pizza wheel to be an inch larger around the pan. (If you’ve made a second crust, repeat this process and set your rolled and sized dough aside.)

Fold circle into fourths and place in pie pan, unfold to cover pan.  Lightly press crust into pan. Fold excess dough under on the rim of the pie plate. Crimp edges with fork or pinch between thumb and forefinger to form an edge that is higher then the plate to catch any juices that begin to bubble. Chill until cold.

Your crust is now ready for filling and either a double crust or crumb topping. Fill your cold crust with you filling and top with your choice topping.

If you chose the crumb topping, skip the next two steps. For the double crust pie, you will want to tuck the top crust between the bottom crust and your pie dish. Place some pressure on the two crusts to secure.

After your crust is tucked and secured, pinch or crimp the edges of your crust to seal completely. With a pastry or pairing knife cut a large “S” in the middle of the pie along with a few other slits around the top for steam to escape. Sprinkle generously with sugar.

 

Place pie on the lowest rack and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking 35 more minutes or until juice is bubbling out of the center vent which indicates the juice has thickened. Five minutes before it is finished baking, brush the top crust with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Tip for a crisp bottom crust: bake on a pie stone and always cool on a rack and not the counter.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream, or cheese! For printable instructions, click here. I’ve included the filling recipe for my mom’s prize-winning apple pie!

Love, Mary.

How to Smoke Cheese the Cool Way

By | Culinary Crafts Events, Food, How To, Tips

When most people think of smoked foods they think of barbecue — brisket, ribs, etc. However, limiting smoky flavors to barbecue is like limiting the use of lemons to lemonade. Can you imagine a world without lox and bagels? We can’t. Smoked salmon, chicken, tofu, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, nuts, even ice can be cold smoked!

Hot Smoke v. Cold Smoke
The secret that unlocks the ability to smoke almost anything is cold smoking. Unlike traditional hot smoke, cold smoke does not always intend to cook the food as it’s smoking it. Cold smoke can be used to cure foods that need to be cooked, but it also can simply add a gentle, smoky flavor to the surface of your ingredient.

Cold smoking must keep the food cold during the smoking process. This can be achieved by distance from the heat source and an insulating barrier between the ingredient and the heat, a cold layer for the smoke to pass through before it gets to the food for example, or, by keeping a very, very low heat.

“You want your smoke to be a very thin, grey (almost bluish), wispy kind of smoke.
If your smoke is thick and heavy, the combustion levels
of your fire may be too cold.”
-Ryan Crafts, Grill Master

Options for Cold Smoking
If you don’t have a traditional smoker, and even if you do, you may not know your options as far as cold smoking. Here are a few easy ones:

Smoking Gun
A smoking gun sounds a little suspicious, but it’s actually the simplest, quickest, and cleanest way to smoke foods at home. All you do is insert the tube into a sealed space with your food, put wood chips in your gun, turn it on, and start smokin’. In a matter of minutes you can add that smoky flavor to almost anything.

Here’s one we recommend:

Here’s how we use a similar smoking gun and a glass chamber to flavor a beverage:

Here we’re using them at a Smoke themed station at our YouTube Channel launch party:

Smoking Maze or Cylinder
This would probably be your most versatile option for cold smoking. Simply fill the chamber with sawdust or pellets and light it from one end. All you need is an enclosed, outdoor container. A gas or kettle grill would work just fine! Our favorite is the A-MAZE-N Smoker, it comes in a maze or cylinder form!

Kettle or Gas Grill
When cold smoking in a kettle or gas grill one must utilize space and temperature to create enough heat to smoke, but not enough to cook. For easily melting foods like cheese, you might want to place your food on top of a container filled with ice. Keep the heat very low and off to one side to ensure for the lowest heat possible. Wood chips can be put directly on top of the charcoal or, in a gas grill, the wood chip drawer or box. Here’s a graphic of what that would look like in a charcoal grill:

Infographic from Fix.com

Traditional Smoker
Much like the kettle grill, in order to cold smoke in a traditional smoker you must create a barrier between the heat source and your food. Ice in a tin could work (above), or filling up your drip tray with ice every 20 minutes or so will also do the trick. Many traditional smokers also have attachments for cold smoking, like this one for a Bradley Smoker:Yes, that’s right, you can smoke pretty much anything, and we do!
Have a Happy Forth of July weekend, and this year enjoy smokin’ as well as grillin’ —

Warm wishes,

Ryan and the Culinary Crafts Team