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November 19, 2020

November Recipe of the Month: How to Build A Killer Cheese & Charcuterie board

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A beautiful charcuterie or cheese board is one of our favorite pre-dinner offerings. At some cocktail parties, it can even take over as the centerpiece of the evening's fare. We of course love all the visuals, textures and tastes. But we also love the sophisticated old world charm it brings. And since most of the items have a good shelf life and are best served cool / room temp, it's easy to shop and assemble it advance. It's the perfect party food!

You can easily assemble you own fabulous cheese and charcuterie boards at home to entice your guests. Here are some steps to follow that can make the process easy.

Step #1 - Start with the meats and cheeses.

Meat and cheese are the stars and they should get the lion's share of your attention, budget, and space on the board.

Quantities should vary depending on your unique situation. E.g. what else is being served? How long is the happy hour? Is a full dinner to follow? As a general rule , 1-2 ounces of charcuterie and 2-3 ounces of cheese per person is a good starting point for a charcuterie board that plays as appetizer to a meal. If the charcuterie is the only food, you can double or triple those quantities depending on the time of day and your unique crowd's tastes.

With both the meat and cheese, try to create an array of flavors, textures, and visuals. You may opt for 2-6 varieties of each depending on the size of your group.

When selecting meats, look to mix in different styles: sliced and whole, cured and cooked, whole muscle and stuffed ground, etc. Creminelli Fine Meats is one of our favorite local vendors and we'll often create some variety by selecting some of their sliced prosciutto, whole capicola, and soppressata, and wild boar - just to name a few!

When selecting cheeses take the same approach. It's nice to offer something soft like a brie or young goat cheese, something blue like a gorgonzola or Maytag, something aged like a manchego or cheddar.

Indeed, cheddars are always highlighted on the cheese boards you'll see at our events. Aged cheddar is practically universally loved. And our fantastic Utah artisans are producing some of the world's best cheddar selections. You might consider the Barely Buzzed from Beehive Cheese (a perennial favorite of ours), or the Vanilla Bean from Heber Valley. And may we brag a bit here and suggest our own Culinary Crafts Exclusive Cheese Flight. You can read in more depth about Utah's fabulous cheese scene here.

Step #2 - Add sweet accoutrements.

The strong and pungent flavors of your cheeses are often best balanced against something fresh and sweet. Fresh berries, apples, pears, grapes, figs, etc. are always a fit. In the off seasons, dried fruits are a perfect fit.

You can also also bring in some sweetness via spreadable elements like honey and jams. There's lots of great local cottage made jams at your farmer's markets. Raw local honey abounds as well. Slide Ridge Honey is one of our favorites.

Step #3 - Add salty accoutrements.

Olives, nuts (may we suggest some fabulous Red Rock Pistachios), and savory tapenades are perfect for this piece.

Step#4 - Add tangy accoutrements.

Pickles of any and all varieties are the go-to option here. But whole grain mustard, chimichurri, or citrusy hummus can fill this role wonderfully too.

Step#5 - Don't forget the vehicles.

Bread, crostini, lavosh, crackers, etc. are important because they're delivery devices. They facilitate getting that cheese and honey to your mouth!

Step #6 - Add something just for looks.

Take a look at the board you've assembled thus far. How does it look? Does it need some color? Does it need a touch of something fresh? Edible flowers, fresh herbs, etc. can be the extra touch that takes your board to the next level.

Step #7 - Think about the beverage pairings.

The good news is that so many different drinks pair wonderfully with charcuterie and cheese:

  • Something bubbly. Crisp acidic sparkling wines are the obvious choice.  Dry sparkling cider is a nice non-alcoholic option. Club soda with citrus is also very pleasant. Avoid the overly sweet mainstream soda options.
  • Beers - especially well balanced ales cut the fat and make the charcuterie taste rich and flavorful.
  • Wine - it's hard to go wrong pairing wine with meat and cheese. The richness of the meat and cheese will stand up to a full bold red if you prefer. But light and acidic whites are wonderful palate cleansers that play very well. If you have spicy elements on your board, avoid high tannin wines. Slightly sweet and off-dry wines can be wonderful, but don't go as sweet as you would with a dessert wine. May we suggest our own private label wines or any of the fabulous blends from our favorite local winery Old Town Cellars.

Join us on our Instagram later this week for a shopping trip with Kaleb Crafts to see how we shop for and assemble the perfect charcuterie board. Or, for a limited time during the holidays, you can skip the work and buy the a killer charcuterie board already assembled for you in our online shop.

Eat Well!

October 30, 2020

October Recipe of the month: Bacon Bourbon Caramel Corn

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This Bacon Bourbon Caramel Corn holds wonderfully and can be made in advance, so setting out a delicious homemade treat for friends and family is quick and easy.

Ingredients

  • ~8 cups of popped popcorn
  • 3-5 strips of cooked bacon diced
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 F (optional see note below).*
  2. In a large bowl combine popcorn and bacon. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  4. Reduce to medium-low heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes stirring regularly to avoid any scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir add vanilla and baking soda. Caramel will be foamy - this is normal.
  6. Pour caramel over popcorn and bacon. Stir together until completely and evenly coated.
  7. Spread popcorn onto greased baking sheet pans. Bake for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.*
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool. Break up any large chunks and enjoy!
*Instead of baking in the oven, you can accomplish this step in the microwave for a faster result. In a microwave-safe bowl, cook in the microwave for 60-90 seconds (depending on the power of your microwave). Remove and stir. Repeat 2 more times. Finally spread on a greased baking sheet to cool.  
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September 14, 2020

September Recipe of the Month: Our favorite Salad Dressing

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This vinaigrette is a staple in the Culinary Crafts kitchen, as well as the home kitchens of many on our team. This dressing is simple and easy to make, and works wonderfully with so many different salads - especially those highlighting the fruits during Utah's harvest season. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Vanilla Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar (or substitute Slide Ridge Honey vinegar, or lemon juice)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (homemade extract is highly preferred and if you have whole vanilla beans, the seeds can be used instead or in addition to extract here)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • optional fresh ground pepper to taste
  • optional 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Directions

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey, vanilla, and salt. Mix well with an immersion blender or whisk. With your immersion blender running (or while whisking vigorously), slowly add the oil until the mixture is emulsified. Add pepper to taste if desired. Mayonnaise is an optional ingredient and will help the dressing stay emulsified - especially if you're making a large batch and/or intend to keep the dressing in the fridge for several days. Simply whisk in the mayo prior to blending in the oil. Note the ratios of oil to vinegar to honey are not rigid. If you want a richer, less tangy dressing, bump up the olive oil amount. If you prefer a sweeter dressing, just add more honey. This recipe gives you the basics, but the fun part is playing around and making it fit your liking or application. As a serving suggestion, may we recommend some fabulous fresh greens from Snuck Farm, with fresh or grilled peaches, goat cheese from Drake Family Farms, and toasted walnuts. Eat well!

August 25, 2020

August Recipe of the Month: The perfect summer steak

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It is grilling season! This recipe is for people who love steak, who love to grill, and want to splurge on something truly special. And once you’ve grilled this special treat, make sure the wine and sides are equally indulgent! The perfect summer steak recipe has very few ingredients - it’s really about letting the beef shine. It also has very few steps - just rub, grill, rest, serve. Nonetheless, this recipe requires practice, attention, and finesse. Please read all the extra notes as they serve to clarify the goal and how to reach it.

Ingredients:

Dry-aged (42-63 days is a typical crowd favorite) Prime or Wagyu Ribeye Steaks, min 20 oz* Fresh minced garlic Chocolate, Chili, Cayenne, and Cardamom dry rub** Extra virgin olive oil Large flake sea salt  

Instructions:

Approximately 8-12 hours prior to service, rub all sides of the steak with a healthy amount of minced garlic. Loosely cover and keep in the cooler until ready for firing and service.

When the service time approaches, lightly pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Rub all sides of the steak with a healthy amount of the dry rub.

Cook the steaks to your desired temperature***. Allow to rest. Carve into slices. Lightly top with extra virgin olive oil and flake sea salt. Serve and enjoy!  

*Notes on the steak selection. Dry-aged is best. However, if you cannot acquire dry-aged steaks, this recipe can be done with wet-aged beef. In which case, I recommend dry brining the steaks as an advance step.

Simply pack the steaks well with extra coarse salt on all sides and leave uncovered in the cooler. After 2-3 hours, return, drain, rinse well, pat dry, and continue with the recipe. This will remove some of the excess water from the steak, enriching the beef flavor and preparing it for a better sear and more even cook.

**Notes on the dry rub. This dry rub is equal parts brown sugar and dark cocoa powder, with cardamom, cayenne, and fresh ground black pepper as desired. Note there is deliberately no salt. You can use any steak rub you prefer, but look for one with very little or no salt. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. When ready to use, prep your steak (read here on our tips for preparing steak) apply to steak and grill. You can also see more tips on grilling from our grill master Ryan Crafts here. In general, I avoid introducing salt to the dry-aged steak until a finishing salt is used immediately prior to service. This will maintain an ideal texture, allow the rich dry-aged beef flavors to take center stage, and unique salts can also be selected for a precise pairing. For the perfect summer steak remember, when using salt as a finishing accouterment, you’re not looking for salty meat. Rather, you want seemingly competing peaks and valleys in the waves of the beef and salt flavor.

***Notes on cooking the tomahawks. The steak can be wonderfully cooked using various methods and techniques. Most important for a successful outcome worthy of this deserving cut, is to start with a clear understanding of the goal and the challenges this cut poses to the goal.

When grilling large steaks, I always completely separate the processes of searing and cooking. I treat these individually as very distinct elements. When searing, you want a very very high heat (practically as high as you can achieve), preferably from a nice hardwood fire. The goal is to create a wonderfully browned crust as quickly and directly as possible so as not to overcook the inside of the steak. When cooking, you want a nice low heat to gently cook while you slowly approach the target temperature.

The order of the searing and cooking can be interchanged. Sometimes we will cook the steak sous vide first, then sear them on an extremely high temp grill. Sometimes we will sear the raw steaks over a roaring fire, and then move them to a low temp zone to finish. Sometimes we’ll start with the steaks on the highest grate over our Santa Maria grill, and once their nicely warmed, drop them straight into the hot coals for a reverse sear (guests love to see searing right in the coals, btw!).

Again, the method and the order of the steps can be manipulated. Most important is to sear and cook separately, so you end up with a very rich sear and crust while still being a medium-rare-plus edge to edge.   Savor and enjoy these last days of summer with the perfect summer steak! Eat well

August 19, 2020

Tips on how to stay safe and still host events: Culinary Crafts safety measures

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2020 has been a rollercoaster for all of us. As the community begins to recover, the hospitality industry hopes to begin to start celebrating again. Our primary responsibility as we begin to host events again is to ensure the safety of our team and your guests. Here are some tips on how to stay safe and still host events to help you stay safe and make your guests comfortable so they can join the festivities.

Choose a venue that has an outdoor space:

Many of your guests will feel more comfortable if they are able to be outside with fresh air. If your space doesn't have an outdoor option or weather doesn't permit an outdoor reception, consider investing in some air purifiers. Consult your venue and vendors as many may already have these for you to rent and use.

Have help to enforce social distancing:

One of the best tips on how to stay safe and still host events we recommend hiring a Social Coordinator. Many of our event planners and day of coordinators are perfect to help with this. This professional will be able to assist all guests in reminding them to social distance and throughout the event prevent congregating. They can also oversee all other protocols are being followed by supporting staff and vendors. Here are some of our recommendations for professionals to ask.

Proper signage:

Have signage to designate distancing, social procedures, and directions. This is a piece of events that often gets overlooked but signage can be a great place to create something fun for your event, from floor stickers to lawn signs, there are so many options on how to embrace this new social norm and make it beautiful!


Masks: 

This is another opportunity to embrace this new normal. Custom masks are the new thing! Add your logo or monogram. Make them something special people will keep and reuse. Also, this is a great place for signage reminding people to be kind and mask up.  

Washing and Sanitation Stations: 

Help your guests stay healthy by setting up sanitation stations to clean their hands. These ones are for rent from our friends Utah Live Bands.


Wellness check for your guests:

have a check-in station for your guests. Where they are reminded of the health concerns and have their temperatures taken. This is a great place to hand out masks and have some great signage or sanitation station.


Consider hosting micro-parties!

Forget the 300 person event host small events by department or family! You can create an incredible experience for a smaller group and reuse rentals and florals and decor for each seating.


Use Eventbrite to create tickets for specific times to have guests join the party!

This can also be a great place to have your guests sign a contract to agree to abide by health guidelines and not join if feeling ill. You can also include a Contact Tracing form for your guests to download. Such as this one.


Have an arrival plan.

Guests tend to mingle at any entrance. Speak with your planner or social coordinator about an arrival plan. How to funnel people in safely and get them checked in. This can even go as far as staggering start times for groups of guests. If you are transporting your guests on buses or vans ask your transportation company to stagger the leaving and arrival of vans and buses to allow time for everyone to maintain proper distancing.


Use vendors that will be supportive in keeping everyone healthy.

Salt Lake Chamber started the program Stay Safe, Stay Open , statewide campaign to meet the critical imperatives of helping Utah address the health-related objectives to prevent and recover from the coronavirus while at the same time assisting the business community in an effort to appropriately strengthen our state’s economy. Businesses participating in this campaign are clearly identified their participation by colorful signage displayed in their windows and throughout their establishments, demonstrating that they have taken a pledge to follow the state’s guidelines. You can also find a list of these companies on their website. 


Your vendors: It takes a team to put together a great event. make sure your vendors on their teams are being safe.

    • Ensure they are strictly observing all state guidelines and protocols from the Governor’s Office as well as the local health department.
    • Ask all vendors and their teams to complete a wellness check prior to arriving at your venue. It should include logging their temperatures and filling out a basic health questionnaire.
    • Confirm that teams will strictly adhere to all health department guidelines for frequent hand washing and proper glove use.
    • Request to see their contact tracing protocol for their team.
    • Assign one of your vendors to be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing high-frequency touch surfaces (door handles, elevator buttons, etc.) every 30 minutes during use. Your caterers are usually the largest team onsite and should be equipped to do this. They probably already have this on their radar but confirm with them.
    • Explore a variety of service styles. Many can be implemented to service the unique needs of your event while maintaining health and safety for all in attendance.
Thanks for reading these tips on how to stay safe and still host events. Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!
Eat well!
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20x winner Utah’s Best of State

16x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

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