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June 30, 2022

Ryan’s Grilling Tips: Fuel and Fire

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tomahawk steaks, grilling, fire, summer grilling, steaks on the grill Summer is the time for grilling tips and fantastic food!

In an earlier blog, I suggested several ways you can up your grilling game. We discussed the pros and cons of using a gas grill versus wood or charcoal, and I mentioned that all the grills I personally own are charcoal. Why? Even though there are some advantages to a gas grill (such as ease of start-up and cleanup), it will never match the taste and temperatures you can reach with a charcoal grill. For me, it's worth dealing with the downsides of charcoal in exchange for those deep, smoky flavors!

But how do you get the incredible taste that only a charcoal grill can achieve? It all starts with mastering two things, Fuel and Fire. Oktoberfest, grilling, Culinary Crafts, sausages on grill, lederhosen, smiling chef, German, German hat, tongs, charcoal grill,

FUEL

At Culinary Crafts we always say that great food starts with great ingredients, and when it comes to grilling, charcoal isn’t just a heat source; it’s an ingredient. Unlike cooking in a microwave or oven (or even on a gas grill), the fuel you use in a charcoal grill will flavor your food dramatically, so it’s important to choose your fuel carefully.

Lump charcoal

My favorite fuel—at least for grilling steaks—is lump charcoal.

Lump charcoal is made by burning away all the sap and other volatile impurities in the wood, leaving thick black chunks of carbon. The water and gasses in the wood are also burned off, but not completely, which is why lump charcoal sometimes sparks and pops when you heat it, as little gas pockets expand and explode. It’s not dangerous, but it can get pretty exciting! lump charcoal, grilling, fire, coals, flame, burning fuel The main advantages to lump charcoal are
  • it gets hot quickly (in 10 to 15 minutes).
  • it reaches very high temperatures (up to 1400°F) which allows you to give food a wonderful char.
  • it burns more completely, leaving behind less ash.
  • it gives a clean, flavorful smokiness to your food.
The downsides to lump charcoal are that it’s a bit more expensive and it burns quickly, so you’ll need to keep adding charcoal for longer grills.

Briquettes

The most popular type of charcoal—the kind I use for barbequing or for lower-temp grills—is briquettes. Briquettes are basically crushed charcoal held together with starch. If they have no other additives, they’re called “natural” or “hardwood” briquettes. Briquettes can be made from many kinds of wood, but I mostly use mesquite for its strong, flavorful smoke. Hickory is also great. The bags you buy in the store don’t always list what wood it’s made from, but if the briquettes are dense (i.e. the bag feels heavy for its size), it’s probably good wood. briquettes, coal shovel, grill, grilling with charcoal, grilling demonstration, Culinary Crafts, catering in Utah The main advantages of briquette charcoal are
  • it’s readily available.
  • it’s less expensive than lump charcoal.
  • it’s easy to fit onto your grill and move around to control your fire.
  • it gives a more consistent grilling temperature.
  • it burns longer (100 briquettes ought to let you grill for up to an hour).
The biggest disadvantage to briquettes is that they won’t burn nearly as hot as lump charcoal (briquettes max out around 800°F), but for barbequing and for grilling some foods that’s okay.

Briquettes can also be a little more difficult to light, but using a chimney starter will solve that problem. (See below.) If you want to give your charcoal some help by dousing it with lighter fluid, that’s okay too, so long as you leave plenty of time—at least 30 minutes—for the lighter fluid chemicals to burn away before you start to grill. Don’t ever add lighter fluid after the fuel is hot! Some brands of briquettes are pre-soaked in lighter fluid, but I don’t recommend ever using those types of briquettes. The chemicals will not completely burn away, and they will give your food a nasty flavor.

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Wood

Unless you’re out in the wild and grilling over a campfire, using raw wood for your sole fuel is not ideal. Wood is full of tar and other contaminants that will produce a thick, dirty smoke when burned. Most people don’t like the flavors it adds to food. Scraps of construction lumber make even worse fuel for grilling because they’re treated with chemicals.

That said, there are ways that raw wood can be used in your grill to add great flavor. Pure wood chips, soaked in water, can be dropped directly on top of your charcoal to add aromatic flavors of your choice. I love the strong smoke from mesquite, hickory, or oak wood chips. Woods like cherry, apple, or plum add a nice fruity flavor, but stay away from soft woods like pine, cedar, or fir. Their smoke tastes terrible.

PRO GRILLING TIP: If you’re using a gas grill, you can still add smoky flavor to your food by burning woodchips in a smoker box or in a tinfoil packet with holes punch in it. Just place the foil packet over a heat source where it will slowly smoke and burn. You can also add dried rosemary or basil for another level of flavor. (Leave the stems on.) For a rich, fruity flavor, save and dry your grapevine cuttings and add them to your fuel.

 

FIRE

wood grill, grilling, flames, barbeque, outdoors, grilling in the backyard Once you know what you’re going to be burning, it’s time to talk about how. The first concern, of course, is safety.

Set Up Safety

  • Set up your grill safely far away from potential fire hazards like structures or low- hanging trees. (Anticipate possibilities like things falling or being blown around by wind.)
  • Position your grill where pets, children, or foot traffic won’t accidentally bump into it.
  • Think about the mess. I’m not just talking about the ash; I’m also talking about the mess from the food itself. For example, if you’re grilling meat, you’re always going to have drippings, so don’t set up your grill on any decorative or porous surface. Stay away from concrete, nice flooring, or patio wood if you can. Grass is good.
  • Arrange your tools and space ahead of time. When you’re holding a scorching-hot chimney in one hand and tending to a sudden flare-up with the other, it’s too late to be thinking about where you’re going to safely put things down.

grilling tools, grilling demonstration, cookbooks, tools for grilling, barbeque toolsFire Safety

  • Don’t wear anything loose like a tie or dangling, long hair while you’re grilling.
  • Keep “helpful” neighbors and everyone else at a safe distance from your fire.
  • If you ignore our advice and use self-igniting briquettes, at least don’t use them in a chimney or with an electric coil starter.
  • Once your fire is going, never leave the grill unattended.
  • Be careful when opening the lid of your grill. When you turn or move meat, be especially alert for flareups from melting fat falling onto your coals.
  • Wear proper protective gear and don’t set hot items near flammables, where someone can accidentally touch them, or where they can be knocked over by the wind.
  • Have a functioning fire extinguisher and/or a water hose nearby, just in case.

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Food Safety

When you’re grilling, you also need to be careful about the way you handle your food.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food, especially raw meat.
  • Keep your plates and platters clean. Don’t put cooked foods onto the same plate with raw foods or where raw meat has been.
  • Keep your tools clean too. If you use a fork or tongs on raw meat, wash it thoroughly before you let it touch any cooked food.
  • Especially for less experienced grillers, it’s a good idea to use a meat thermometer to check your food and make sure it reaches the recommended internal temperature.
  • Don’t leave uncooked, perishable food sitting out (even to thaw) for more than 2 hours. In hot weather, don’t leave it out for 1 hour.
  • Don’t put grilled food into your fridge until it’s had time to cool off. Putting hot food into your fridge can change the temperature enough to make your other food spoil.

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Planning Your Fire

Once you’ve set up your space to grill safely, it’s time to think about how you’re going to arrange your fuel and build your fire.

A good fire takes planning. Think about what items you’ll be cooking and what temperatures each of them will need. You may also choose to leave room on your grill for wood chips and/or an aluminum pan to catch meat drippings. Personally, I like to let fat drip right onto the charcoal. I love the added flavor from the smoke of the burning fat, and I don’t mind dealing with the flames of an occasional flare-up by temporarily shifting my meat to a cooler zone.

Good Grub sign, signage, barbeque, grilling outdoors, Culinary Crafts, catering event in Utah, outdoor grilling You also need to plan out your grilling schedule. Charcoal takes time to heat, and after you put your hot coals onto the grill, you’ll need another 10-15 minutes to let the grill itself get hot before you start cooking. Coordinate your schedule so that your meats will be well-rested and your other food will be coming off hot and juicy right when everyone’s ready to eat.

Light It Up!

If you’re using briquettes, the best way to light them is to use a charcoal chimney. Open the air vents of your grill, remove the cooking grate, and set the chimney on the charcoal grate. Fill your chimney with charcoal. (One chimney full of briquettes should be enough to grill four thick steaks.) Use lighter fluid if you want, but as I said, a chimney makes lighter fluid unnecessary. Pile a wad of newspaper under the chimney and light the paper. The bottom briquettes will heat up and light the briquettes above them.

When the top coals in the chimney are lightly glowing or are flickering with flames, they’re ready. Using thick gloves and following the manufacturer’s instructions, carefully turn the chimney over to dump the briquettes onto your charcoal grate. Use a charcoal rake to arrange them according to your plan to create your temperature zones.

Replace your cooking grate and wait for it to heat up. By the time your briquettes finish turning ashy white, you shouldn’t have any more tall, yellow flames. You want your flames to be low and blue or red; that means that your fire is burning hotter and more efficiently. You should be seeing only a small amount of clear-ish colored smoke from your briquettes. The hotter your fire burns, the cleaner the smoke will be. Remember, thick, black smoke is dirty smoke, and no one wants that in their food.

grill flare-up, grilling hamburgers, outdoor grill, outdoor cooking, campfire cooking, summer catered event in Utah, orange flame, smoke, charcoal grill After 10-15 minutes, check the temperature. To do the popular “hand test,” place your hand about four inches above your coals, approximately at the height where your food will be placed. (Don’t touch the grate, obviously.) See how long you can comfortably keep your hand there. If you can hold it there only 1 or 3 seconds, your grill is at a high cooking temp. 4 to 7 second means you’re at a medium heat, and 10 seconds or longer means you have a low temperature.

For grilling steaks, pork chops, burgers, or thin veggies you’ll want a high temperature. Medium heat is great for chicken, fish, or thickly-sliced veggies. For larger or tougher cuts like ribs or brisket, you’ll want to grill them at low heat for longer times.

If you need to decrease your heat, try cutting off some of the oxygen to your fire by partially or fully closing the grill’s air vents.

To turn up the heat, try increasing the airflow by opening the vents. Raking the coals or breaking your charcoal into smaller pieces will increase the surface area that can burn, which will also raise the heat. Just be careful not to knock ash onto your food. If those methods don’t work to increase the heat, you probably just need to add more fuel.

grill, trout, santa maria grill, outdoor event, summer party, catering in Utah, SLC caterers Don’t worry if you encounter some difficulties building your fire, creating your grill zones, and keeping their temperatures constant. Learning to master fuel and fire takes practice. But now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to turn our attention to the food.

That, my friends, is the subject of our next grilling lesson! Stay tuned.

June 1, 2022

10 Tips for How to Make Any Space a Wedding Venue

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forest kiss, outdoor wedding, bride in the forest, Utah outdoor wedding, unique wedding venues, Culinary Crafts wedding, trees, gorgeous wedding photo, picturesque wedding, ivy covered trees As traditional wedding venues book up, many couples are converting ordinary spaces into exciting, unique places to get married. We’re seeing beautiful weddings staged beside a forest stream, in a rustic horse stable, or on top of a mountain! If you like the idea of doing something original, here are 10 tips for how to make practically any space into a magical, one-of-a-kind wedding venue.

1. Think Big

A museum or art gallery. The beach. An aquarium, aviary, or greenhouse. Any place that has special meaning to you as a couple may be a fantastic stage for a celebration that’s both personal and poignant. A favorite camp site or national park. A nightclub, ski resort, or skating rink. Even the gym where you met. Or maybe what represents you best is a Beatles-like concert on a rooftop or skeet shooting at your favorite hunting club. What we’re saying is, free your imagination. mountain wedding rocky mountain bride, lake, secluded, luxury, picturesque wedding, high end unique, waterfall, photos, pristine, outdoor wedding, unique Utah wedding destinations

2. Be Practical

As you dream big, bear in mind that when you create your own wedding venue, you’ll need to supply everything that a traditional venue would generally provide. That includes water, electricity, restrooms, transportation, parking, accessibility, permits…the list is longer than you think. But if you’re willing to work with your planner and address each aspect of the event thoughtfully, creating your own wedding venue can be pure magic! Salt Flat light, wedding on Utah Salt Flats, microwedding, micro-wedding, Utah outdoor wedding, wedding party on Salt Flats, white lights, night, draped lights, curtain of lights, special catering, catering events in Utah, outstanding events in Utah, picturesque wedding, Utah catered events

3. Prioritize

Assuming that you and your chosen one have agreed on your wedding priorities and budget (you have had that talk, right?), think about how well those priorities line up with the venue you have in mind. Are stunning photos at the top of your list of must-haves? Is your priority to make sure the whole clan can be there? To treat your guests to an amazing sit-down dinner and then party and dance the night away? Whatever your top priorities are, make sure the space you’ve chosen lends itself to those things. You may not be able to afford everything you dream, but you’ll get what’s most important to you if you prioritize. flower swing, the Hallows, wedding venue at Sundance Utah, couple in swing, swing of flowers, wedding in forest, bride on groom's lap, Culinary Crafts wedding, specialty wedding, unique wedding venue, married in the forest, trees, Utah outdoor weddings

4. Size Matters

If the space you’re considering is huge (like, say, a horse pasture, or the Bonneville Salt Flats), there are tricks to make a venue feel smaller and more intimate. However, if a space is too small to handle your guest count, there’s no way to fix that except to trim your list.

As a rough rule of thumb, for a seated dinner you’ll need about 12-14 square feet per guest, or 8-9 feet if you’re serving cocktail style with some people sitting and some standing. Add another 4-5 feet per guest if you want dancing. You’ll also need room for your caterer, a head table, cake table, bar, gift table, etc., but the measurements really depend on the particular venue. That’s why the eye of an experienced planner is crucial. Do a walkthrough together and make sure your space can handle everything you have in mind. forest table, wedding in the woods, forest wedding in Utah, table setting in forest, outdoors wedding venue in Utah, Utah County catered wedding, beautiful outdoor wedding, intimate outdoor event, candles, plates, glasses, trees, chairs, canopy, forest canopy

5. Amenities

At a minimum, you’ll need to provide the basics: food, water, electricity, and restrooms. (Nothing can turn a dream wedding into a nightmare faster than a problem with restrooms.) If the space you’ve chosen doesn’t already have restroom access—and enough access to avoid long lines—it’s worth hiring professionals. Electricity can be supplied by a generator, but remember that ordinary generators are way too loud; you’ll need a whisper generator or two. If your site doesn’t have clean water, you’ll have to pack in enough for drinking, washing, and on-site food prep. Consult your caterer about water, food, and beverage issues. grilling outdoors, flames at night, catering event in Utah, Utah outdoor wedding, Culinary Crafts chefs, cooking over open flame, bbq, barbeque cooking, firing a grill, wedding catering in Utah

6. Protect Your Guests from the Elements

If some of the festivities will be outside, you’ll need to protect your guests from too much sun, wind, rain, or other inclement weather—not to mention bugs. A tent, kata, yurt, or marquee are all good options, but make sure you know how they’ll be transported to the site, set up, and taken down.

In hot months, start dinner around 7:30 to avoid the heat of the day. But if you’re going to be in the mountains, move that start time up to around 4:30. Trees will provide enough shade, and the sun sets much sooner in the mountains, so temperatures drop quickly. couches, tent, lounge in the woods, sofas in the forest, comfortable wedding guests, wedding venues, outside wedding, forest wedding, children's tent, play camping, play campfire, relax at wedding, relaxing outdoor weddings, wedding guests relax, Culinary Crafts, catered weddings in Utah

7. View the Space Through Your Guests' Eyes

This is where creating your own wedding venue really starts to get fun!

Think of the celebration as distinct stages that move your guests from one event to the next throughout the night. What do you want them to feel and experience in each stage? Maybe as they arrive and mingle during cocktail hour, you want them to feel welcomed and relaxed. If so, what elements of your venue can contribute to that experience? A lounge vignette with comfortable sofas and a murmuring brook in the background? A fun display of memorabilia that shares your personal connection to the place? Whatever it is that you love about your chosen venue, find ways to weave it into your guests’ experience.

For each stage of the celebration, you want to provide your guests with at least one “WOW!” factor. A breathtaking view of a waterfall. The divine smells of a gorgeous floral setting. Mouthwatering BBQ. The heart-pumping beats of your favorite band. Engage all the senses! fairy lights, event tent, gauze tent, outdoor wedding in Utah, catering event tables, view of Utah mountains, outdoors wedding, unique wedding venue, beautiful outdoor wedding, outdoor catering in Utah

8. Lighting

There’s no better way to add beauty and mood to your venue than with the creative use of lighting. Uplights placed near walls or drapery can create a muted, open feel that makes a space seem larger. On the other hand, a canopy of bistro lights can make a space feel more intimate and enclosed. Candlelight is a sure-fire way to heighten the romantic mood, while fairy lights incorporated into your tablescape add a playful whimsy. Inexpensive and easy to transport, lights are a great way to create the right mood. dancing smile, wedding dancing, antlers chandelier, bride and groom dance, first dance, blue night sky, fairy lights, bistro lights, wedding in Utah, outdoor wedding venue in Utah, Wasatch Front wedding, catered wedding in Utah

9. Permits, Licenses, and Insurance

Before you finalize plans, ask yourself, “Do I need a permit for my wedding venue?” Depending on where you want to create your venue, there may be parking permits, fire permits, fireworks permits, or noise ordinances to deal with. A fire marshal may even need to do a walk-through prior to the event. Some cities require a special use permit for a wedding, and state parks generally do too. (Those park permits take time, so get started early!) If you’re planning to set up a tent or other temporary structure, some municipalities require a temporary building permit. An alcohol license may also be required if you’ll be serving any kind of alcohol.

Contact the city or county where you’re planning to host your event and find out what legal hoops you’ll have to jump through. It may also be worth looking into insurance for your event, especially if you are holding it in a museum or some other setting with a threat of significant property damage. outdoor wedding in Utah, Utah summer wedding, married outdoors, wedding by a river, trees, river, mountains, Utah mountain wedding, white sky, bride and groom walking by a river, hand in hand, love, picturesque, beautiful wedding moment, Utah catered events, bridal gown outdoors, bride in dress in Nature

10. Work with a Planner and Vendors

Creating a wedding venue of your own opens up all kinds of beautiful possibilities, but also lots of challenges. You probably don’t want to deal with every one of those issues on your own, so look at your budget and decide which worries are worth passing off to the pros. Here are a few vendors we recommend in the Wasatch Front area:

Our main advice here is that you work with an experienced wedding planner. A planner’s expertise can save you time, money, and trouble. Plus, your planner may have recommendation of local vendors who can greatly reduce the headaches of converting any space into a wedding venue.

March 29, 2019

The Top 15 places to eat lunch in Utah County

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Culinary Crafts headquarters is located in Pleasant Grove, so we are always looking for great places for lunch in Utah County. We polled Ryan, Kaleb, and our chefs to come up with this list of our 15 favorite lunch spots.
  • Pizzeria 712 - 320 State St #185, Orem, UT - This has been a Crafts family favorite since it opened. 712's approach shares many of our own philosophies and values regarding food - simple yet creative, ingredient driven, and house-made. Always delicious!
  • Asahi - 1470 N State St, Orem, UT - Great sushi at a great price. Conveniently located. We go here a lot!Image result for asahi orem
  • Tsunami Restaurant & Sushi Bar - 1616 W Traverse Parkway, Lehi, UT - Not only is the sushi fabulous, there are lots of delicious options to satisfy even the sushi averse, including an impressive sake list.Image result for tsunami sushi
  • Oteo - 139 S State St, Lindon, UT - Tacos, sopes, and empanadas after our own hearts! Innovative and trendy, yet still simple and without fuss. Don't miss the avocado tacos.
  • Black Sheep Cafe - 19 N University Ave, Provo, UT - Southwestern Native American cooking with full bar selections. Upscale and full service, but still casual. Ryan recommends the hog jowl tacos!
  • Image result for black sheep provo
  • Cravings Bistro - 25 W Center St, Pleasant Grove, UT - A modern take on classic comfort dishes (grilled cheese and soup). It's impossible to pick the wrong sandwich, but if you're undecided opt for the ABC (apples, bacon, and cheddar). And it's just a few blocks away from our own office!Image result for cravings bistro
  • The Foundry Grill - 8841 N Alpine Loop Rd, Sundance, UT - Ryan spends a lot of time skiing the slopes at Sundance, and drops in here often for an elegant dinner of modern American cuisine. The Tree Room, and Owl Bar are excellent too!Image result for foundry grill
  • Peace On Earth - 35 N 300 W #200, Provo, UT - Let's be honest, it's not easy to find a great cup of Joe of Utah County. We're so happy to see more places like this coming to town. Great sandwiches and beautiful digs as well!DSC08314.jpeg
  • Taqueria 27 - 1688 W Traverse Pkwy, Lehi, UT - Great food at great prices. Fun for groups. Also featuring an array of specials updated daily.Image result for taqueria 27
  • 180 Tacos - 3368 N University Ave, Provo, UT - Too many taco places you say? There's no such thing! Great to dine in or take. The daily specials are always fun!Image result for 180 tacos
  • Bam Bams BBQ - 1708 State St, Orem, UT - Delicious Texas-style BBQ. And just like in Texas, the best thing is the brisket! Image result for bam bam's restaurant
  • Yamato - 1074 State St, Orem, UT - As much as we like to see new comers in our local restaurant scene, we're also ecstatic that places like Yamato stand the test of time. Excellent sushi as well as other classic Japanese dishes.Related image
  • CHOM Burger - 45 300 N, Provo, UT - Just because you've ditched fast food for good, doesn't mean you can't find a tasty burger out there. We love CHOM. And the milkshakes are killer too (especially the rotating seasonal selection)!
  • Sidecar Cafe - 1715 W 500 S, Springville, UT - In addition to the great breakfast and lunch menus, you can check out the Legend's Motorcycle Museum while you're there.
  • Straptank - 1750 West 596 South, Springville, UT - Across the parking lot from Sidecar, this brewery (yep, you read that right) features pub grub to satisfy all comers.
 

February 13, 2019

Ryan’s Valentine’s Day Menu

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Ryan is at it again, making a special night for his stunning wife. Perhaps this will offer some inspiration for your meal.  Apertif & Appetizer 14 Day Rose & Cherry Infused Valentine 75 Rose & Cherry cupcake Amuse American Ossetra caviar, french toast, creme fraiche, and buttermilk syrup Soup wild mushroom bisque with black garlic crouton and mascarpone Entree tuna, gooseberries, and shaved foie gras Entree chili pepper fried chicken with radish, kumquat and ginger salad Salad winter squash and citrus salad with shaved fennel, local greens, and sorrel rhubarb dressing Intermezzo pomegranate, grapefruit, and herb granita Dessert olive oil cake with poached pear, zabaglione, and warm granola Cheese and Honey local raw unfiltered honey and artisan cheese selections Chocolate flourless chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache, and chocolate cookie crumble, finished with edible gold flake Wishing you a romantic and delicious Valentine's Day!

December 5, 2018

Badass Boards: Kaleb’s end grain cutting board

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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.
Update: You can now purchase one of these amazing boards here!

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. You can buy one of Kaleb's custom made ones here!  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. Culinary Crafts put together a box of our favorites here!  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. Check out our favorite custom cellars here.

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!

September 21, 2017

Simply Gorgeous Fall Red Cliff Ranch Wedding!

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Everyone here at Culinary Crafts is getting excited for fall!  I mean, how could you not?  Believe me, we love summer, but there's always a welcome feeling for the change of season and we are loving it!  This gorgeous wedding is a perfect fall showstopper at one of our favorite venues, Red Cliff Ranch - and it happens to be the couple's wedding anniversary this weekend too!  Pretty perfect, right?  We also love this wedding because this bride was on a pretty tight budget, but it was still a STUNNING wedding with delicious Culinary Crafts food!  Now, check out this beautiful fall Red Cliff Ranch wedding! Oh, Red Cliff Ranch, even your entrance is beautiful.  And isn't that fall color amazing?! I love all of the horses on the property and they are so friendly!  It's such a great part of getting married at Red Cliff Ranch! How pretty is this bouquet?  Great inspiration for a beautiful bouquet that is perfect for a fall wedding without getting too crazy.  Simple and gorgeous! The beautiful bride and groom.  We love the bride's fun cowboy boots and the groom's snazzy vest was perfect for this fall fete! This meadow at Red Cliff Ranch is easily one of our FAVORITE ceremony spots.  The couple kept their casual, rustic vibe by having guests sit on hay bales and the addition of a simple wooden ceremony arch decorated with more pretty sunflowers was so beautiful! Who says simple can't be stunning?  The tablescape was so pretty, but kept the decor minimal.  We absolutely LOVED how it turned out! For cocktail hour we offered these beautiful Artisan Cheese Platters with local cheese and honey and a variety of fruits and crackers.  Such an easy way to add a special touch to cocktail hour! The guests loved this light snack that allowed them to mix and mingle.  Plus, how cute are those little Bamboo bowls! We made sure the guests had something fabulous to drink and we loved offering our infused waters in these rustic water vessels.  So fun! To keep with the rustic, laid back vibe of this wedding, we served a delicious buffet with all the fixin's to make yummy Pulled Pork Sandwiches!  Easily, one of my favorite low-key offerings! Of course, we made sure to add amazing sides to the buffet like our Roasted Vegetable Salad and our Coleslaw!  So good! The couple gave their guests these cute favors with a sweet treat and we loved how fun these little boxes were. Another gorgeous pic of this couple!  Love! For the reception party, we loved this lounge area and it was perfect for the style of the day! How fun are these Polaroids?  A perfect way to end this post for this amazing wedding day.  And happy anniversary to Ari and Derek!  We loved this wedding day and love how it can inspire any couple on any budget to make their wedding day amazingly gorgeous!  Happy planning, everyone! Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com! Photos by Trevor Hooper Photography

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.

20x winner Utah’s Best of State

16x Best of State Caterer

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