Every year, around this time, our father makes his famous Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili.
Even though Dad is officially retired, he can be seen here in the kitchen practically every day making lunches for the team, helping out in a crunch, or sharing the awesome culinary expertise he gained over decades of catering. His Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili is a favorite with the team here at Culinary Crafts: seriously, it is sooo good! It’s like a spicy, warm, welcoming Thanksgiving hug.
One of the key ingredients in Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili—and in a lot of the other delicious, picante dishes Dad makes—is the combination of seasonings we refer to simply as “Ron’s Spice.” When you mix up a batch of the spice (see recipe below), we recommend making plenty of extra to keep on hand. It’s perfect for kicking up the flavor profile of fish, steak, chicken…basically any protein. The fire of the cayenne is balanced beautifully by the other sweet and savory spices. You’ll be amazed how many recipes will benefit from a little of Ron’s Spice.
Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili
(Makes two gallons)
1 cup Ron’s Spice Blend (see directions below)
4 lb chicken tenders
1 large purple onion, diced
4 oz butter
2 chipotles, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can tomato paste
2 (28 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
4 (15 oz) cans pumpkin
4 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups sour cream
Dry brine the chicken tenders by rubbing them in ½ cup of Ron’s Spice and letting them rest for 1-2 hours.
In a large pot, sauté the chicken tenders over medium-high heat. Once browned, remove chicken from pot and dice into bite-size pieces.
Deglaze the pot with a few Tbsp of water or white wine. Add butter and onion to soak up all the flavor from the browned remains (the “fond”) left over in the pot. Add another ½ cup of Ron’s Spice and the diced chipotles. Let it all bloom together until chipotles are tender.
Add garlic and let it brown for 60 seconds. Add tomato paste and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
Add diced tomatoes, pumpkin, black beans, chicken stock, and browned chicken. Bring to simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat. Add 4 cups sour cream.
Ron’s Spice Blend
(Makes 2.5 cups)
8 Tbsp salt (kosher or any other kind without iodine or other chemical additives)
4 Tbsp white pepper
4 Tbsp black pepper
4 Tbsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp oregano
4 Tbsp chili powder
4 Tbsp smoked paprika
4 Tbsp garlic powder
4 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp cayenne
Pro Tips: Any kind of salt will work so long as it has no iodine or other added chemicals. Also, feel free to kick up the heat level with as much cayenne as you and your guests can handle!
If your favorite part of autumn is the return of pumpkin spice, we feel you!
That first chill in the air makes us start salivating for that sweet, fragrant flavor we all love. But rather than waiting for that magical moment when pumpkin spice appears in bakeries and coffee shops, why not make it yourself? Homemade pumpkin spice in less expensive than store-bought, and it tastes way better when you make it fresh. Plus, you can fine-tune the flavors until you reach pumpkin perfection!
This recipe is great on lattes and smoothies, as well as pumpkin pie, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and bread. But it’s also fantastic on roasted vegetables, in warm soups and stews, stirred into oatmeal, or sprinkled over applesauce, ice cream, or gelato. Yum!
Homemade Pumpkin Spice
INGREDIENTS (makes 3 Tbsp)
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cloves
Optional: ¼ tsp ginger
Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
Congratulate yourself on how easy that was!
Like other spices, homemade spice is best when fresh ground. If it doesn’t get gobbled up right away, you can store your spice in an airtight container for up to three years.
HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS
Not only is homemade pumpkin spice amazingly delicious and easy to make, it’s also surprisingly good for you! Nutmeg and cloves are high in antioxidants and have been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial effects. Both nutmeg and allspice have anti-cancer properties, and ginger is strongly anti-inflammatory. Also, some studies indicate that cinnamon is great for balancing blood sugar levels, while allspice has numerous health benefits.
Peanut butter and jelly (or jam) sandwiches are icons of American childhood. In fact, the average American kid eats more than 1,500 PBJs before graduating high school and will consume almost 3,000 over their lifetime. The PBJ is a perennial favorite in school lunches and after-school snacks because it's delicious, quick, simple, and cheap to make. But it can be so much better with homemade brioche bread!
If you were like most kids, the sandwiches you grew up on were made with highly-processed, store-bought bread that was...unremarkable. Let’s be honest; the bread was just there to help get the jelly and the peanut butter into our mouths.
Well, it’s time for the PBJ to get an upgrade. Our Brioche Bread PBJ uses a rich, buttery bread that makes the perfect complement to the sweet and nutty goodness inside. And all of it—the bread, jam, and peanut butter—can be made at home fresh from scratch.
The star of this next-level PBJ sandwich is the brioche bread.
Brioche is made with eggs and butter, which puts it in the family of breads called viennoisseries, along with baguettes, croissants, Danish pastries, and sweet rolls. It’s so delicious that it’s practically a dessert sandwich! (In fact, this brioche dough can also be used to make mouth-watering doughnuts.)
A word of warning: before you tackle brioche, we strongly recommend using a stand mixer. Brioche dough needs to be kneaded a lot. The butter and egg yolk fat that give brioche its rich flavor also interfere with the ability of yeast to make the dough rise, so the dough is too sticky and thick to be kneaded by hand unless you’re looking for a major workout! Don’t even try using an electric hand mixer or you’ll risk burning out the motor.
Ingredients for Brioche (makes 1 loaf)
6 oz. water
1.2 oz. milk
0.5 Tbsp yeast
0.9 oz sugar
1 large egg
10 oz. bread flour
1 oz. all-purpose flour
0.75 tsp salt
1 oz. melted butter
Instructions for Brioche:
Add flours, sugar, yeast, and salt to a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment.
In a separate container, mix the milk, butter, and water. Stir and add the eggs. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl.
Mix on first speed until combined, then continue mixing on 2nd speed for 20 more minutes or until the dough clings to the paddle and the sides of the bowl are clean. Check the consistency of the dough. It should still feel a little bit tacky and have a smooth, glossy surface. You may have to add a little extra bread flour if the dough is too soft.
Flour your hands, then place the dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Shape the dough into a single loaf or, if you want to make bun-style sandwiches, divide the dough into six equal parts, then roll each portion into a ball. If you want to give your brioche loaf a weave or other decorative design, place your covered dough in the fridge and let it chill until it can be handled easily. Then you can shape in into whatever beautiful design strikes your fancy.
Place the dough into a greased loaf pan or, if you want roll-style sandwiches, divide it into six even dough balls and arrange them on a greased cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place as the yeast does its magic! In 1-3 hours, the dough should at least double in size.
To give your brioche a gorgeous golden sheen, beat one egg and brush the egg wash lightly over the top of your dough.
Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue baking for another 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and firm.
The jams we make take advantage of the natural sweetness of fresh fruits that are in season. Practically any berry or fruit will do, so feel free to experiment!
Ingredients for Jam (makes 2-3 cups)
8 cups fresh fruit—cleaned, seeded, and peeled
2 cups granulated sugar (Depending on how fresh and sweet your fruit is, you’ll want to use between 1/4 and 2/3 cup of sugar for each pound of fruit.)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (Fresh lemons vary in acidity, so it’s best to use bottled lemon juice.)
You can add pectin, but fruits already contain pectin naturally and will gel on their own. Add pectin if you like your jam to be thicker. (But if you add pectin, use a higher temperature to cook your jam so that the pectin will activate.)
Instructions for Jam
Place fruit, sugar, and lemon juice into a large pan. Heat on medium low, stirring to prevent scalding.
Continue to reduce jam until desired consistency is reached. At the right consistency, foam will stop forming on the surface of the jam. The best way to make sure your jam is done cooking is the frozen plate test.
Cool before use. Unused jam can be placed in labeled containers and stored in freezer or fridge. If you use glass jars, make sure the jars are heated or the jam is cooled before it’s poured into the jars.
Pro Tips: You can speed up the cooking process by using high heat, but you’ll need to stir constantly. Mashing the fruit in advance will also cut down the cooking time which also preserves more fresh flavor.
For peach jam, add 2 tsp cinnamon. For apple butter, use apple juice and add 1Tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger, and 2 tsp cloves, then simmer and puree.
You probably won’t save any money making your own peanut butter versus buying it at that store, but if you’ve come this far making homemade PBJs, don’t you want to go all the way?
Besides, our peanut butter is simple and delicious. A word of caution though: we recommend using a food processor, not a blender. Grinding peanuts into butter will heat up a machine’s motor, and most blenders aren’t up to the job.
Ingredients for Peanut Butter (makes 2-3 cups)
2-3 cups dry roasted peanuts (Don’t use more than 2 cups of peanuts unless your food processor is 7-cups or bigger)
Instructions for Peanut Butter
Make sure that peanuts are roasted and their skins are completely removed. Also remove the hearts of the peanuts, those tiny nubs between the two halves of the nut. They have a slightly bitter taste.
If you want your peanut butter to be chunky, place 1/3 cup of peanuts in food processor and pulse into small pieces. Set peanut pieces aside.
Place remaining peanuts into processor and run for 1 minutes. Do not add water. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Repeat this process until you reach the desired consistency.
Pay attention to your food processor’s motor. Don’t let it overheat! Give it a break as often as needed to let it cool down.
You’ll see your peanuts turn into a powder, then a dough, and then a paste. Don’t worry. Roasted peanuts will release their own oils, so be patient. Eventually, you’ll end up with smooth, creamy butter!
Once your butter is fully processed, you can add a pinch of salt to taste.
If you want even creamier butter, you can add a little vegetable oil to your processor. If you want your peanut butter chunky, remove your fully-processed butter from your food processor and gently stir in your peanut pieces from step 2.
Pro Tip: Some people love to add 1 ½ tsp honey. Or you might want to experiment with adding a little cocoa powder and powdered sugar. It’s your peanut butter; you’ve earned the right to go wild!
Best wishes for the new school year and all the school lunches ahead.
Whether you’re already an experienced sous vide chef or you’re ready to try out your brand new sous vide superpowers for the first time, here’s a fantastic recipe for you to try: Sous Vide Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce.
On one level, eggs Benedict is a super easy dish. Put Canadian bacon on a toasted English muffin, top it with a poached egg, drizzle it with Hollandaise sauce, and you’re golden! But every chef knows that it’s not that easy. With traditional poaching methods, it’s tricky to get eggs with the right combination of smooth, firm whites and creamy yolks. Hollandaise is even trickier; if you use too little heat, the sauce won’t thicken, but if you use too much, it will “break” and leave you with a goopy mess. Making eggs Benedict may be simple, but making it right has always been notoriously difficult.
With a sous vide immersion circulator, you’re guaranteed perfect eggs and fantastic Hollandaise sauce every time!
Ingredients for Hollandaise Sauce (makes four generous servings)
85 grams egg yolk (approximately 5 large egg yolks)
40 grams champagne vinegar
25 grams shallots, minced
60 grams water
20 grams lemon juice
3 grams salt
150 grams butter
Instructions for Hollandaise Sauce
Fill a pot or other heat-resistant container with at least four inches of water. Attach your immersion blender and set it to preheat your water bath to 167°F.
Heat vinegar and shallots in a small saucepan until you’ve reduced liquid by half.
Strain to remove shallots. Save the remaining liquid reduction.
Brown the butter.
Pro Tip: “Brown butter” is butter that has been heated just enough that its milk solids have turned brown. For a demonstration of how to brown butter, see here. With its nutty flavor and fantastic smell, brown butter is a chef's favorite little secret. You can make countless good recipes even better just be substituting it for regular butter! Try it over pancakes, in chocolate chip cookies, or in just about any recipe that calls for a butter-based sauce.
Pour the brown butter, yolk, water, lemon juice, vinegar reduction, and salt into a ziplock bag. (No need to vacuum seal this bad boy!)
When water bath has reached 167°, lower the bag into the water until the ingredients are submerged but the top of the bag is above water. Attach the top of the bag to the side of the container with a binder clip to hold it in place. Don’t let any water get into the bag. Leave the bag in the sous vide water for 30 minutes.
Pour the contents of the bag into a blender and blend until smooth. This step ensures that the sauce will be silky smooth.
Ingredients for Eggs Benedict (makes four servings)
2 English muffins, halved
4 slices Canadian bacon (you can substitute thick-cut ham, steak, prosciutto, crab, or a protein of your choice)
4 large eggs
2 T chopped chives or parsley
Hollandaise sauce (from recipe above)
Instructions for Eggs Benedict
Pour at least four inches of water into a pot or heat-resistant container. Attach your sous vide immersion circulator to the container and set its temperature to 167°F. (Since the eggs and Hollandaise sauce cook at the same temperature, you can prepare them simultaneously in the same water bath.)
When the water bath is at 167°, carefully place four large eggs into the bath. Leave them for 12 minutes, then remove them carefully with a slotted spoon and place them in a dish of ice water.
Pro Tip: The best method we’ve found for “poaching” eggs is the sous vide method used by America’s Test Kitchen: you can find step-by-step instructions here. It’s not really poaching, of course, because the eggs are cooked inside the shell, but it’s simple, foolproof, and guaranteed to give eggs exactly the texture we want.
This approach cooks the eggs at 167° for 12 minutes, which is much hotter than most eggs Benedict recipes recommend. Trust us, by cooking at a higher temp for a shorter time you’ll give the whites the perfect firmness without overcooking the yolks. Usually when you cook sous vide you set the temperature to exactly what you want and leave it—it’s practically impossible to overcook. But setting your temp to 167° means that you’ll need to pay attention and take the eggs out at 12 minutes or else they will overcook.
Fry your bacon in a pan over medium low heat. Carefully remove the bacon and set it on a paper towel to absorb excess grease. Scrape the pan clean, but leave a little bacon grease in the pan.
Toast the muffins in the pan, allowing them to soak up some of that blessed bacon goodness!
Assemble by placing your bacon on the muffins, carefully cracking your eggs and placing them on the bacon, and topping the whole glorious thing with your Hollandaise sauce and a sprinkle of chives or parsley.
Serve up your sous vide eggs Benedict and amaze your family and friends with your sous vide ninja skills!
A few months ago, Culinary Crafts had the privilege of co-hosting an event with renowned chef Wolfgang Puck and his amazing crew. For our May recipe of the month, we’re going to share one of the appetizers we served at that party, our perfect pizza. When we do pizza for big events, we make it in big applewood fired ovens, but when we bake it in our own ovens at home, this is the recipe we use.
The key to perfect pizza (besides using delicious, fresh ingredients) is the dough. If you prepare and bake the dough correctly, it’s going to taste delicious no matter which of your favorite toppings you put on top.
For perfect pizza—with a light, chewy inside and crispy outside—you’ll want to prepare your dough the day before so it has time to proof overnight.
Dough Ingredients (makes enough for three 12-inch pizzas)
¼ oz yeast (one packet)
¼ oz sugar
2 ⅔ cups water
¼ oz salt
1 pound of flour (half all-purpose flour and half bread flour)
⅓ cup olive oil
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Let them sit while you measure out the other ingredients.
Add the salt, flour, and olive oil to your bowl. Mix slowly for 3 minutes. (If you’re using a KitchenAid, use the speed setting of 4.) Adjust the dough’s consistency as needed by adding a little more water or flour. Then increase the speed and mix for another 4-5 minutes.
Dust your hands lightly with flour before you handle the dough. Divide your dough into three even portions. (Or, if you prefer to make two larger pizzas, simply divide the dough in half.)
Roll the dough portions into round balls and place each of them into an airtight container. You can use regular bowls if you cover them with plastic wrap, pressing it down over the dough. Eliminating air will keep the dough from drying out.
Place the dough in your fridge overnight.
Approximately 15 minutes before you’re ready to work your dough, remove it from the fridge. Turn on your oven to 500 degrees or as high as it will go. Place a pizza stone or metal baking sheet into the oven to pre-heat. Use more than one stone/sheet if you’ll need more surface area to hold your pizzas.
As your oven is heating, dust your hands with seminola, cornmeal, or regular flour. Dust a flat counter surface where you’ll work your dough. Also give each of your dough balls a light dusting.
Work the dough balls using the technique shown in the first three minutes of this video.
Pro Tip: When our chefs are making pizza at an event, they don’t always have a convenient surface to work on, so they stretch the dough in the air. The technique is similar except that you let the dough hang from your thumbs as you turn it, using gravity to help stretch it. Use whatever technique works for you, but don’t use a rolling pin—if you squash the dough flat, it will lose all that wonderful airiness that it gained by proofing overnight!
When your oven is heated, remove the hot pizza stone/cooking sheet and give it a light dusting.
Pro Tip: If you’re using a baking sheet, flip it over and use the bottom side to cook your pizza. That way, when the pizza is done, it will slide off the hot sheet easily.
Place your stretched dough onto your stone or cooking sheet. Use a pizza docker or a fork to score the surface of the dough. Don’t make holes all the way through the dough; just lightly indent it to prevent large air pockets from forming when it cooks. Air pockets will cause bubbles that tend to burn.
Top the pizza with your favorite ingredients. Be careful not to overdo the sauce! Too much sauce will prevent the pizza from cooking properly, and you’ll end up with a soggy underside. If you’re using fresh herbs like basil or spinach, we recommend leaving those off until the last few minutes of cooking. Otherwise they’ll overcook and wilt.
Pro Tip: If you like lots of sauce, consider baking your perfect pizza “Detroit style” by placing your cheese and other ingredients directly onto the dough. Then you can add the sauce on top of the other ingredients so that it doesn’t touch the dough. Or you can even wait until the pizza has finished baking before topping it with all the sauce your heart desires!
Place your pizzas in the oven and keep a close eye on them as they bake. You may have to rotate the pizzas after a few minutes to give them an even bake. Once your crust is bubbling and forms a dark, golden brown, you know it’s done.
Spring is the time to celebrate all things fresh! Our April recipe of the month, arugula salad with asparagus, snap peas, and parmesan, is one of our favorite ways to feature delicious veggies that are in season right now.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
½ pound of arugula, washed and dried
1 cup sugar snap peas, deveined, blanched, and cut on a bias
1 cup avocado, diced
5-10 spears of asparagus, blanched and shaved with potato peeler
1 cup shaved parmesan cheese
¼ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tbsp mayonnaise
½ tbsp Dijon mustard
1⁄6 – ¼ tbsp sugar
¼ lemon zest
7 ½ tbsp canola blend oil
Combine all of dressing ingredients except oil in a blender. Blend until smooth.
While blender is running, slowly add oil until emulsified.
Adjust seasonings to taste.
In a large bowl, toss arugula with dressing.
Plate the arugula (approx. 5 servings).
Top with peas, pistachios, avocado, asparagus, and cheese.
Blanching the veggies takes off their bitter edge and makes them a bright vibrant green color.
When zesting citrus, only zest the outer layer. If you get to the white fibrous part of the citrus (called the pith) you've gone too far. The pith is very bitter.
If your greens and produce start to look limp and wilted, you can give them new life by submerging them in ice water for a few seconds. They’ll perk right up!
To make donuts: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease pan and set aside.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream, melted butter, and sugars until combined. Stir in vanilla and one egg at a time.
Gently fold the flour mixture into wet ingredients and mix by hand just until combined.
Fill a piping bag with batter and fill donut pan 2/3 of the way full.
Bake for 12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes, then remove from pan.
To make the ganache: In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir until smooth. Set aside for 15-20 minutes until ganache has cooled and thickened a bit.
To make the buttercream for decoration: In a mixing bowl, mix together butter and sugar, add milk and vanilla. Mix on high for 3 minutes. Put into a piping bag and cut a very small hole at the end. Set aside.
To assemble chocolate reindeer donuts: Dip donuts into the ganache, then place on a cooling rack until ganache sets.
Place eyes, and cranberry in the center as the nose.
Break/cut pretzels in half, length-wise for antlers.
This recipe is perhaps our most iconic perrenial staple at Culinary Crafts. We use it on thousands of Riverence Ruby Red Trout fillets each summer, though it works equally well on any fish you're planning to grill. The recipe is delibarately simple - the marinade is only intended to subtly support the primary flavors: the fish and the fire.
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper flakes.
Pour mixture over your trout fillets and rub on all sides until evenly coated.
Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours prior to grilling.
Grill your fish over medium high heat to your desired doneness. Garnish as desired.**
*Liquid smoke can be added to the wet rub mixture if you won't be grilling your fish, but still want that note of smoke flavor. Be careful adding this - a little goes a long way.
**Depending on your side dishes and personal tastes, your grilled fish can be perfect just as it comes off the grill. But you may wish to add a sauce or accoutrement as a finishing touch. Strawberry or peach salsas are both wonderful options, stewed and spiced tomatoes are fantastic, and this green apple chutney is our crowd favorite.
If you're new to grilling or otherwise intimiated by cooking with a live fire, check our Ryan's grilling 101 post with lots of helpful info, tips, and tricks .
This delicious Chicken Honfleur Soup this time of year is sure to bring that fall feeling into your home this time! There are so many seasonal flavors we know you’ll love! This seasonal dish is one we enjoy sharing in the fall weather during Thanksgiving or a simple get together with your neighbors. Serve them in mini sugar pumpkins to add extra holiday flair!
Chicken Honfleur in a Miniature Sugar Pumpkin - Yield 10 servings
3 lbs of shredded turkey or chicken thighs
¼ cup unsalted butter
8 oz shallots - finely diced
2 tsp garlic
2 ⅕ lbs mushrooms - sliced. You can use your favorite type of mushroom. We love wild mushroom varieties such hon shimeiji and chanterelles. Button mushrooms and portobellos are also great choices.
2 ½ apples - cored and sliced - you can use your favorite type of apples but Fuji and Green apples work really well
2 cups of brandy - we recommend Calvados apple brandy since it really brings out the apple flavor in this soup
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup fresh thyme
3-6 bay leaves
3 cups chicken stock
In large Saute pan, melt butter. If using chicken thighs, add chicken thighs and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. If using leftover turkey, add as directed later in the recipe.
Add shallots to pan, saute until shallots appear translucent.
Add garlic, mushrooms, and apples. Sautee for 2-4 minutes all ingredients are softened and the apples have started to release some of their juice.
Add brandy. This will deglaze your pan and incorporate all that flavor stuck to the bottom of your pan.
Add thyme, bay leaves, chicken stock, and cream. Bring liquid to a simmer and continue to simmer until liquid is reduced by a third- about 10 minutes.
Add chicken thighs and simmer 5-7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe can be made ahead of time. You can store it in your refrigerator for 2-4 days and in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.
Add that extra touch of fall!
A fun holiday touch we love to add is serving Chicken Honfleur in individual mini sugar pumpkins! To do this, simply remove the top with the stem just as if you were going to carve a jack o’ lantern, clean out the insides of the pumpkin and get the sides as smooth as possible.Once you have the inside clean, bake the whole pumpkin on a sheet pan in your oven at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until the inside is soft and tender. Once pumpkins are roasted they will stay good in the fridge for a week or the freezer for a month. Take care of your pumpkins ahead of time so you’re not stressed getting ready for your dinner party!