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December 5, 2018

Badass Boards: Kaleb’s works of art.

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An end grain cutting board is the Cadillac of cutting boards. Both functionally and aesthetically, they are tough to beat. Let's talk a little bit about why an end grain board is so special. Think of your cutting board like a paint brush with the wood grain being the bristles of the brush. Lay that paint brush horizontally, and you have a long grain cutting board. Your knife is going to rest on top of the bristles. Functional, but quite hard on your knife. Additionally, these are not quite as durable as an end grain board as scratches will add up over time and pieces of wood fiber can even eventually be dislodged.Image result for end grain vs edge grain Now take the paint brush and hold it vertically and you have an end grain cutting board. Your knife can slide easily into the bristles. In fact the bristles actually make a cushion for your knife. And after each cut the bristles or wood fibers can spring back into position. Scratches are less likely and less visible and the board itself much more durable.Image result for end grain vs edge grain So, if an end grain board is so much better, why don't we see them everywhere? The biggest reason is simply due to the additional work that is involved in making an end grain cutting board, which then makes them quite a bit more expensive. For a long grain board, you can simply glue strips of wood together and voila! Image result for edge grain However, to expose the end grain, you have to then take the completed board and cut it into strips, flip them on end and glue the whole thing back together before sanding for hours and hours to achieve a flat smooth board. So, if an end grain board is definitely the way to go...are all end grain boards created equal? Certainly not. The biggest thing to look for in selecting your new board is the type of wood. We don't want a soft wood or a wood that has an open or loose grain structure. We also don't want an overly oily wood. We are after a nice hardwood with a dense, closed grain pattern. But some woods have a VERY dense grain structure. So much so that even the end grain is still quite hard on your knives. Imagine our paint brush standing on end but being squeezed so tightly the knife still can't be cushioned because the bristles are so tight. Pine and cedar are cheap and easy to work with, but just too soft and open grained. Teak, ebony, bubinga, acacia, hickory and others will make a stunningly beautiful board, however they are just too densely grained. Cocobolo, goncalo alves, purpleheart and other tropical hardwoods are some of favorite woods for certain projects, but just too oily for a cutting board. My top choice for an end grain board is hard maple, often referred to as rock maple. This is the perfect balance of dense grain, that is hard and durable and actually still quite affordable. Now, some of the most beautiful boards out there combine different lumbers to create spectacular contrasting patterns, so a great choice for secondary woods could be walnut, oak, cherry, or others. I decided to make these for my holiday gifts. They were a lot of work but totally worth it! Check out what I have been up to all year!  
Tips for care of your end grain board
  • Utah air is awfully dry and cause wood boards to split and crack. Conditioning the wood will prevent cracking and keep it looking beautiful. A good rule of thumb for treating a new board is to oil once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and once a year for life. You should also treat wood after washing with heavy soap or anytime the wood looks dry.
  • There are various conditioning oils, creams, waxes and blends available specifically for wood boards. However, the simplest solution is as good as any: mineral oil. Avoid vegetable oils and any others that aren't perpetually stables since they will eventually go rancid and make your board stink.
  • Keep your cutting board on the counter top where it can breath. Avoid storage in places where airflow is stifled and where moisture can get trapped.
  • Always wash your board by hand with soft materials. Only use soap when necessary. Never wash in the dishwasher, and never leave the board to to soak submerged.

November 29, 2018

Top picks for the kitchen! Holiday gift ideas from our chefs.

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  With the holidays just around the corner, we put together a list of items our chefs just could not live without in their own kitchens. Here are their recommendations:
Ryan Crafts- Burr Coffee Grinder
The single most important step to take to improve your home coffee experience is using freshly roasted and freshly ground beans. I find the best beans are almost always from a local roaster (Publik, D'Bolla, and Pink Elephant are some of my Utah favorites). I weigh out the beans for my cup each morning and grind immediately prior to brewing with burr grinder.
 
Kaleb Crafts- End Grain Cutting Board
End grain boards last longer than edge grain boards. End grain boards are easier on your knives, leaving them sharper longer. They're also one of the most beautiful additions you can make to any kitchen.

Meagan Crafts- Bench Knife and Squeeze Bottle
The 2 items I use most in my home are a bench knife and squeeze bottle. I use my bench knife to cut and divide breads, desserts, and candies. It is the way it fits in your hand as opposed to a chef knife that makes it faster to use. I use squeeze bottles for everything—dressings, chocolate, sauces, etc. It makes plating and designing fun and creative!

Chef Brandon Roddy- Immersion Blender
From soups to vinaigrettes, a stick blender in your home will change a daunting task to the easiest thing to do in the kitchen.

Chef Robert Mendoza- Can Opener
I recommend a good can opener! I can make do with a lot of other things, but there is really only one way to get into a can!
 
Chef David Dexter- Vegetable Peeler
This is simply for ease. Every home has 3 or 4 vegetable peelers, but only 1 good one. Invest in a quality one and throw the other ones out!

Chef James Arnold- Cutting Board
My cutting boards are my most used items in my kitchen. I love having set cutting boards for each type of food I am cooking—poultry, red meat, vegetables, etc.

Chef Utahna Warren- Quality Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Drop the money to buy some quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It will change the way you cook.

Chef Jaden White- Mixing Bowls
Mixing bowls are a great addition to your collection. At Culinary Crafts, we have dozens and dozens of bowls and the varying sizes makes the kitchen experience a breeze.

Chef Libby Rice- Electric Stand Mixer
My KitchenAid is my most precious possession in my kitchen. I don't know how people managed to whip cream and egg whites or hand knead dough endlessly back in the day. A good mixer can change the speed and efficiency with which you cook in the kitchen.

Chef Kayde Dexter- Cast Iron Pan
A 9-11" cast iron skillet is the most versatile pan I own. It adds a cool level to home cooking.

Chef Raquel (Rocky) Ortega- Heat Resistant Spatula
Make sure you find one that can withstand the heat, it will ease your cooking experience.

Chef Lacy Johnson- Instant Read Thermometer
The best way to revolutionize the way you cook is with and instant read thermometer. Getting your proteins to the perfect temperature instead of guessing will change the way you eat.

Chef Danielle Mahoney- Chef Knife
You cannot even begin cooking without a quality chef knife. If I was going to upgrade any item in my kitchen it would be a good knife first!

Chef Madison Oliveira- Rice Cooker
As silly as this may seem, my mother-in-law gave us a rice cooker for our wedding, and I am never going back. It is wonderful.

Chef Megan Gagne- Off-Set Spatula and Piping Bag
As a pastry chef, I love to decorate—especially for the holidays. An off-set spatula and piping bag with tips are key to decorating all those fun desserts and plates for your holiday season.

Chef Cambridge Dockendorf- Kitchen Shears
If you follow our blog, last week we showed you all the glories of spatchcocking a turkey. The magic of kitchen shears doesn't stop there. I use mine every day and I love not having a pair that has to cross over—they are just for cooking.

Chef Jocelyn Gillies- Scale
Cooking is a science, the weight of your ingredients is so important, a volume measurement is never as precise as it should be. A scale will change the quality of all your recipes.

Chef Hunter Ashton- Microplane
A microplane in your home will add a new level to your cooking. Fresh orange zest over your pork loin or fresh nutmeg shaved right into your egg nog is a beautiful addition.

Chef Kyle Castillo- Non-Stick Skillet
A good non-stick skillet is a great addition to any kitchen. You cannot have too many of these!

Chef Dardree McClellan- Serrated Knife
I bake bread in my home all the time and having a great serrated knife makes my life easier.

Chef Calli Kassel- Hallow Ground Santoku Knife
A quality chef knife is important but an Asian chef knife is super cool. Because the blade is ground at a 20 degree angle it is crazy sharp and makes cutting anything like cutting though butter.

Chef Allison Parker- Knife Sharpener
I recommend a knife sharpener, not a honing steel (although that is a great piece as well), so you can keep your blades crazy sharp. Being able to do this at your home instead of taking it to a shop makes keeping your knifes sharp easy and convenient. Having this addition to your kitchen will surprise you by how dull your knives can get.

Chef Megann Brimhall- Bacon Grease
I couldn't think of a tool, but I certainly use bacon grease often! Don't be grossed out—I use it to grease pans, fry pancakes and eggs, and sauté vegetables—yummm. A great Christmas gift for me would be a pound of bacon and a wide mouth mason jar specifically for keeping my grease. Make sure to buy a little strainer specifically to get out the little bits of bacon, though, so it doesn't go rancid.

Chef Adam Park- Large Flake Salt and a Salt Cellar
Most home cooks under season. One of the best ways to finish a dish is with some beautiful seasoning salt. A salt cellar will help you keep your finishing salt separate. Also, salting by hand is more balanced than using a shaker. The salt cellar lets you measure your salt in your palm.

October 1, 2018

Knife Essentials: How to pick your knives for your home.

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Our passion for hospitality isn’t limited to large special events. We love to cook and serve fabulous food at home too. And we love to help others step up their home cooking game!

Does the quality of your knives really matter?

Yes. A lot. Good knives are safer and are more likely to avoid mishaps. They’re faster and will save you time. They are also a key gateway to better overall results in the kitchen. Admittedly, as with most things, there comes a point where extra spend doesn’t buy much more function or longevity. But there is still a big difference between cheap knives (that won’t perform and won’t last) and quality knives (that will). If you’re serious about cooking, it’s worth making an investment in your knives.  

What knives should you own?

If you visit a cutlery shop or start perusing options online, you’ll be quickly overwhelmed with options and could quickly spend a lot of green. Our recommendation is to start with the basics. With just a few select knives, you’ll be ideally prepared for nearly all kitchen tasks (and still completely serviceable for the remainder too).

It’s much better to have 3-5 great quality knives that will see a lot of use, versus a 18 piece block set of mediocre knives (most of which will just take up space). If you cook a lot and want to add more knives to your arsenal, you can add these one by one over time as your desire and budget allow.

 

We recommend making your initial investment on the following key knives. If you can afford to invest in 5 knives at once, excellent. If you can’t, start with the first three listed here and add the others later.

  • Chef’s Knife. Aka Cook’s Knife, this is the most commonly used knife in the kitchen. Features a wide symmetrical blade that tapers to a point. Ideal for a wide array of chores including, chopping, slicing, mincing, etc. Sizes range from 6” -14”. We find that 8” or 10” are most popular / easy to use.

     

  • Serrated Bread Knife. Straight or slightly curved blade, often with a single sided edge. Some bread knives are offset which help avoid knuckles hitting the counter or cutting board. Not limited to bread, these knives are also great for slicing fruits with a hard rind and/or soft interior. Sizes typically range from 6” - 12” and we prefer them 9” or more.

        

  • Paring Knife. Probably second only to the Chef’s Knife in versatility and frequency of use. Perfect for peeling, julienning, garnishing, and other tasks that require delicate precision. For your first and go-to paring knife, opt for a spear point or sheep’s foot style (put off buying a bird’s beak / tourne style until later or never). Sizes will vary, but will be shorter. We prefer 3-4”.

  • Utility Knife. Found with both straight and scalloped edges, utility knives could be considered filling the gaps and overlapping the uses between your chef’s knife, paring knife, and slicing knife. Excellent for slicing soft fruits and vegetables. Sizes typically range from 5-8”, with 6” being very common and our recommendation.

           

  • Carving / Slicing Knife. While perhaps not used as much as the other core knives listed above, when you have a large whole muscle meat (roasts, whole poultry, hams, etc.) to serve, these are invaluable. Blades are typically straight edged and relatively thin. Granton edges (hollow ground sections along the side of blade to create space and reduce drag) are common and popular on carving knives. Sizes vary and shorter lengths (9” - 12”) often have pointed tips while longer lengths (14”+) often have rounded tips.

           

   

Other useful knives.

For many cooks - especially home cooks, the knives already listed will suffice for nearly all applications and needs. That said, there are lots of other styles out there that can be helpful (or just fun to collect). Options include:

  • Boning Knife. Just like sounds - ideally suited for removing meat from bone, skin, and other tissues. Boning knives are generally either classified as flexible (great for staying close to bones and getting into odd shaped areas) or stiff (great for making straight cuts and jointing).

  • Santuko, Nikiri, Gyoto, and other Japanese style knives. Increasingly popular in Western kitchens, these knives are often alternatives to the traditional Chef’s Knife or Utility Knife. Typically these are single edged, and ground to a narrower angle than European style knives. The narrow angle is sharper and slices better with more precision, but requires more maintenance. Unique blade styles offer different ergonomics and function which many chefs prefer for certain tasks - especially very thin slicing and chopping.

  • Cleaver. Not common in home kitchens, since these are thick and heavy knives designed to chop through thick meat and bone when butchering. Also great for opening lobster shells and other similar tasks.

  • Cimeter. The staple knife for professional butchers, but not commonly used in home kitchens.  

What to look for and consider when buying knives.

 
  • Knife Anatomy

 

  • Stamped vs forged construction? Stamped knives are made by cutting the knife shape out of a flat sheet of metal (like a cookie cutter). Forged knives are made by hammering heated bar metal into the knife shape. Once the basic shape is formed, both types of knives will be ground and honed to create the cutting edge. Stamped knives are typically thinner, lighter, lacking a bolster, and are generally less expensive. Forged knives are thicker, heavier, stronger, well balanced, and are usually more expensive to purchase. For most long lasting knives, we prefer forged construction. That said, for some knives (a long granton edge meat slicer or a heavily used and often replaced butcher cimeter, we opt for stamped).

  • Type of steel? Nearly all high quality knives are made from some type of high carbon stainless steel designed to strike a balance between hardness and durability, ease of sharpening and honing, resisting stain and decay, and cost. German steel (often 420 or 440 C stainless) is common for European style knives. It’s excellent at resisting corrosion, and very easy to sharpen. German steel is durable and holds an edge well, though not as well as some harder steels. Japanese steel (often VG-10 or San Mai) is common in Asian style knives and is increasingly seen in European styles as well. This layered laminated steel is exceptionally hard which offers excellent sharpness and edge retention. They can be more difficult to sharpen well and sometimes offer slightly less corrosion resistance compared to the German steel. As noted earlier, these steels are all striking a balance between different factors. The best steel for you depends on your personal preferences and priorities.

  • Handles? Wood handles are not only very comfortable, we think they’re the prettiest options. They can also last longer than the blade of the knife, but require more maintenance than other options. Stainless handles are popular for the seamless styling and the ease of maintenance. The notable drawback is than many stainless handles can become slippery when wet, though many steel knives have textured stainless handles to mitigate this. Synthetic resin and Polyoxyethylene (POM) handles are very common on riveted full tang knives. They’re very durable, easy to clean, and although simple, very nice looking. Plastic, nylon, and rubber handles are popular in commercial kitchens because they are affordable, easy to clean, and fairly durable. We don’t find them nearly as attractive as other options though and many home chefs want something with more aesthetic appeal.

  • Edge type? Straight edge (aka flat ground) is the most common and applicable. Granton edge (see the note on carving knives above) reduce drag and are very nice in certain situations. Serrated edges (aka scalloped) have small “teeth” which help to penetrate a tough exterior without pressure that might harm a soft inside. Hollow ground edges are are concave to create a very thin and narrow cutting edge. They are very sharp and wonderful for delicate tasks, but not recommended for heavy duty chores.

  • Edge angle? European style knives usually have a 20 degree angle which is great for edge retention and durability. Asian style knives have usually have a 15 degree (sometimes even narrower) which is excellent for sharp precision slicing.

  • Full Tang design? Full tang refers to the entire knife being a single piece of metal end to end. The core of the handle is simply an extension of the blade. This can easily be seen on knives where the core of the handle is the same metal as the blade and the handle material is double or triple riveted to the metal. In general we prefer full tang knives because they are sturdier, longer lasting, and more reliable. If you’ve ever had a partial tang knife break apart at the handle during use, you know how frustrating and dangerous it can be. Heavy full tang construction is particularly important for knives that see a lot of heavy use and cutting. For lightweight knives that will be used primarily for delicate tasks, this is less crucial.

 

Caring for your knives.

 
  • Always hand wash with warm soapy water after use, rinse well, and dry thoroughly immediately. Avoid leaving knives dirty for long, machine washing, and extended air drying.

  • Hone your knives regularly - practically with every use.

  • Keep your knives sharpened. Frequency of sharpening will depend on the steel, type of use, and frequency of use. See our separate post about knife sharpening for more info and tips.

  • Store your knives safely and properly. Though popular and convenient, we do not recommend traditional knife blocks. These take up a lot of counter space, tend to dull your knives, can collect hard to remove particles, and often encourage buyers to purchase more knives than they need. We much prefer a magnetic wall strip which saves space, offers easy access, is easy to clean, and when used correctly, doesn’t dull the blade. There are also some great in drawer solutions that can protect your knives. If you need to frequently travel with your knives (like us), a nice bag or roll with a soft interior is great. Individual blade protectors can also be well worth getting depending on how you store your knives.

 

Happy cooking!

 

September 17, 2018

September Recipe of the Month: The Perfect Dipping Caramel

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Candy making can seem daunting especially if you’ve tried and failed in the past. Whether this is your first time making caramel apples or if you’re ready to try again, you’ll love Meagan Crafts-Price’s tips and tricks to making the perfect caramel apple this fall season!
Caramel Apples
INGREDIENTS
2 cups light corn syrup 1/2 cup water 2 cups sugar pinch of baking soda 1/2 cup butter- cut into 1" cubes 1 12oz. can evaporated milk
Directions, Tips & Techniques
Having your thermometer correctly calibrated is more important than the  particular candy thermometer you use because having your caramel at the perfect temperature for dipping is the key to success. 
Calibrating your candy thermometer
Start by boiling a cup of water in a 1 quart sauce pan. Clip your candy thermometer to the side. If your thermometer reads 212ºF when the   water starts to boil, congratulations that was pretty easy! If it doesn’t, don’t despair. The reading could be off because you aren’t at sea level or your thermometer isn’t calibrated - or probably a bit of both. Here are two ways you can compensate for any discrepancy in the  calibration. My favorite way is to slide the glass tube up or down accordingly until it reads 212ºF in boiling water. If you can’t figure out how to move the glass tube, you can make the adjustment mathematically. To account for the discrepancy in your temperature reading when the water started boiling, simply calculate a new goal temperature in your recipe. For example, if you need to cook your candy to 242ºF, and your thermometer read 210ºF when the water boiled, you know your calibration is off by 2 degrees. So lower the goal temperature in the instructions by 2 degrees, from 242º to 240ºF.
 
Now that you have a calibrated thermometer, keep your pot of boiling water on the stove; you will use it later on. 
In a heavy 4 quart sauce pan combine corn syrup, water and sugar over medium heat. Stirring occasionally with a spatula until mixture comes to a boil. Add in the pinch of soda. The mixture will start to bubble rapidly. This will leave bits of  crystalized sugar on the side of the pan. Take a pastry brush and dip it into your pan of boiling water and wash down the sides of the pan so you don’t get gritty caramel. Clip your calibrated thermometer to your pan of caramel, add butter and stir   until incorporated. Then stir constantly while adding the evaporated milk. You will want to keep the mixture moving so the caramel doesn’t scorch. Continue stirring until your mixture reaches 242ºF (or the adjusted temp for your thermometer). 
Remove from heat and cool until the mixture is 220ºF. This is a key step for dipping! If your caramel is too hot it will just slide off your apples. If it is too cold you won’t be able to get your apples completely coated because the caramel is too thick. While the caramel is cooling, wash 8 apples and insert wooden skewer or popsicle stick about 2” into the apple. Tilt the pan to give you a nice pool of caramel to start dipping. Dip apples into your caramel and turn to coat thoroughly. Drag across the lip of your pan to get off excess caramel, then turn upside down and hold it upside down for about 30 seconds. This helps minimize the foot of caramel that appears at the bottom of the apple when cooling. Place on a piece of parchment paper to cool. You can then dip your apples in chocolate and roll in nuts or candy pieces as desired!
Once you have gotten your 8 apples dipped you might notice there is still caramel in your pan sticking to the sides and such. Don't scrap down your pan with a spatula and continue dipping. The caramel that is sticking to the sides of your pan have still been cooking quite a bit as you have dipped and will be a different consistency than the caramel in the mass. This extra caramel is great to scrap right onto your counter and eat as a snack while you are waiting for your delicious apples to be done!!

January 25, 2018

Knife Cutting Skills: A Step-by-Step Adventure

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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!

November 15, 2017

Culinary Crafts Thanksgiving Game Plan!

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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!

November 10, 2017

Friday Instagram of the Week!

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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!

August 4, 2017

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

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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.

August 1, 2017

Mom’s Prize-Winning Pie!

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June 29, 2017

How to Smoke Cheese the Cool Way

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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: 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

19x winner Utah’s Best of State

15x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year