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April 5, 2022

Culinary Crafts Hosts Team USA Olympic Party

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Team USA sign at Kimball Terrace Park City When China banned foreign spectators from attending the 2022 Winter Olympics events, Team USA swung into action. They set up Olympic houses in major cities all over the US where team members’ families, donors, and other important guests could gather to watch and cheer for our Olympians. For their flagship event, Team USA staged an extravagant party in Park City, and they asked Culinary Crafts to host. Team USA balloons We loved entertaining this extraordinary gathering at our Kimball Terrace facility on Park City’s historic Main Street. We converted part of our indoor area into watch spaces and dining areas. The rest became a temporary store featuring Team USA merchandise. Team USA store in Kimball Terrace Team USA dining area Our outdoor terrace made a perfect place for us to set up a huge hospitality tent with a gorgeous view of the slopes. Culinary Crafts tent   view from tent Park City graciously gave us special permission to construct the hospitality tent. They also helped us by blocking off Heber Avenue for an afternoon while we set up. We had to bring in a crane to lift the huge components into place. These were unusual concessions from the city, but when Team USA comes to town, exceptions are made! Kimball Terrace Team USA logos on door Tomatoes craft soda gelato float Roast beef flowers Olympic rings display A huge “Thank You” to Team USA for asking Culinary Crafts to host this fabulous event, and to Park City for helping make it happen!

March 27, 2022

Ryan’s Top Tips for Brewing Incredible Coffee at Home

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Ryan pours coffee at Culinary Crafts catering event Ten years ago, I set out to learn everything I could about making a perfect cup of coffee. I experimented with roasts, blends, and brewing styles from all over the world. I bought grinders, tampers, boilers, steamers…all the paraphernalia you can imagine. Most of that equipment is just décor in my home now, but a few of the lessons I learned, I still use. In this article, I want to boil down everything I learned into a few simple, affordable tips for brewing incredible coffee at home. Unground coffee beans spilled on table

Use fresh beans.

How important is it to use fresh coffee beans? Let me put it this way: I’d rather have coffee improvised with a sock, an old pot, and a campfire if I get to grind my favorite beans fresh each morning, versus coffee from the latest expensive brewing machine using pre-ground, stale beans. As with all food, the ingredients matter much more than the tools.

Short science lesson: When beans are roasted, they go through a chemical change called the Malliard reaction. Not only does it turn the beans dark brown, it also creates aromatic compounds in the beans that give coffee its distinct taste and smell. But here’s the catch. The moment beans are roasted, those aromatic compounds start to fade away. After a few weeks the beans simply won’t smell or taste as good. Once beans have lost those compounds, there’s only one way to save the coffee: dump out that hot mess and start over with some fresh beans.

Have you noticed that beans off the grocery store shelf don’t print the date of when they were roasted? That’s because grocery store coffee is almost always past its freshness window. Sure, they can vacuum pack the beans and keep them fresh a little longer, but you can’t count on grocery store beans to be in their prime. Your best bet is to buy fresh-roasted whole beans from a local roaster. Or you can try one of the subscription services that will send you fresh-roasted beans every few weeks. If you’re feeling ambitious you can roast your own, but that’s the subject for another blog.

If beans are past their fresh date, they can still be used to make pretty good coffee if you cold brew them! But don’t waste your really good beans on cold brew. The best a cold brew will ever give you is pretty good coffee.

Pro Tip:
For the absolute freshest beans, buy local. We have some fantastic roasters along the Wasatch Front including Publik, Pink Elephant, Blue Copper, and La Barba (which is sold at Harmons).

If you want an extraordinary experience with a coffee genius, visit John Piquet at Caffe D’Bolla. You’ll quickly see why I treasure all the time I’ve spent there! His regular menu on the wall only offers espresso drinks, but ask for the siphon menu.  John roasts all his coffee in house.  The nuanced flavors you'll experience in both the the espresso and the siphon coffee at Caffe D'bolla are because of the roasting. As John says, "It's the single most important aspect of my craft."   kinu grinder for brewing incredible coffee at home

Grind your beans just before you brew.

Grinding beans greatly increases the amount of surface area that’s exposed. Exposing more surface area means you'll get a lot more flavor out of the ground beans when you brew them. Unfortunately, as soon as beans are ground, they’ll start losing their aromatic compounds at a much faster rate. So if you’re trying to get the best-tasting cup of coffee, it makes sense to grind them only when you’re ready to brew.

One piece of equipment that’s worth investing in is a burr grinder. Unlike regular blade grinders that just bash the beans into random-sized pieces, a burr grinder mills the beans between two grinding plates until the pieces are all a uniform size. With a regular grinder, you’ll have tiny bits of bean that get overexposed during the brew, giving the coffee a bitter, sludgy taste. At the same time you’ll also have larger pieces that won’t be exposed enough, adding a sour, acidic taste. If you use a burr grinder, all the bits will be the same size, so you can get a consistent flavor. You may have to try some practice runs to find the perfect grind for your machine, but whatever size of grounds you’re aiming for, a burr grinder will help you hit it precisely and consistently.

Pro Tip:
You can spend thousands of dollars on a burr grinder, but the Kinu hand grinder, at around $200, is my favorite. 1Zpresso and Helor make comparably great grinders. For lower budgets, the Hario Skerton Pro is a good ceramic grinder. It’s not the greatest, but at around $60, it may be the best value for the price. steaming cup of coffee in white mug on saucer

Use the right water temperature.

To extract the best flavors out of your coffee, you should brew with water between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Below 195 degrees, you won’t get enough flavor from the coffee. Above 205 you’ll scorch the beans and get bitter chemicals that should have been left in the beans. Perfect brewing involves finding that temperature “sweet” spot.

If you’re boiling your own water, you may need to let it cool a bit before you start your brew. Remember, water naturally boils at 212 degrees at sea level, and the boiling point gradually decreases as you go up in elevation. If you live above 4,000 feet in elevation (as we do here in Utah), you can pour boiling water straight over your beans, since our water boils at 204 degrees. The lower your elevation is below 4,000 feet, the longer you’ll need to let your water cool before you brew.

Pro Tip:
One thing I learned from John Piquet is that the taste of coffee changes at different temperatures. If you drink your coffee too hot, it may smell great but it won’t taste its best. John encourages his customers to begin sipping their coffee when it cools to around 155 degrees, which is the first point the flavors can truly dominate the heat. Then enjoy the changing range of flavors as the coffee gradually cools. Chef Ryan Crafts teaches a class on how to make a perfect cup of coffee

Find the right ratio of coffee to water.

In addition to temperature, the amount of water you use also affects the brewing process. The more water you use, the weaker the coffee will be. Finding the right balance of coffee and water (a.k.a. the “brew ratio”) is key to making a perfect cup of coffee.

Personally, I use 240 grams of water for every 15 grams of coffee, a ratio of 16:1. You’ll want to experiment with that ratio depending on how rich you want your coffee to be. As you’re experimenting, try to be as consistent as possible in your measurements. This brings us to the second piece of equipment that’s worth investing in, a digital scale. It’s impossible to control exactly how much ground coffee fits into a scoop, but a digital scale will allow you to measure by weight, giving you a precise and accurate measurement every time.

Pro Tip:
There’s an ongoing debate about what kind of water (tap, bottled, filtered, etc.) makes the best coffee. My two cents: unless you’re doing espresso, the type of water usually doesn’t make much difference. But I don’t recommend using distilled water. Just like food is enhanced by a little salt, a perfect brew needs a small amount of minerals in the water, ideally around 150 parts per million. Distilled water is too pure and will make your coffee taste bland. Coffee makers and equipment at Culinary Crafts coffee class

Bloom your coffee.

If you grind fresh beans just before you brew, you might notice that the coffee grounds appear to bubble when they first touch water. What you’re seeing is CO2 gas escaping from the beans, a phenomenon called “the bloom.” If you don't get rid of that gas before you start your brew, the CO2 can form a kind of blanket around the coffee grounds, preventing them from brewing properly. To bloom your beans, pour a little water over the grounds. Then give them a gentle stir so that all the grounds get wet, and wait for about 30 seconds for the gas to leave. Use about twice as much water as there is coffee grounds. In other words, if you’re starting with 40 grams of grounds, use about 80 grams of water in your bloom.

Over the years, I tried a lot of techniques and technologies in my quest to brew the perfect cup. Most of them turned out to be more time-consuming or expensive than they’re worth. But these five tips I’ve discussed are simple, tried, and true, and I guarantee that if you give them a try, you’ll taste a dramatic difference. I should warn you that once you’ve tasted how good your home-brewed coffee can be, it may spoil you. You’ll have a hard time forking over $6 at Starbucks when, for 50 cents, you can brew something much better at home.

Enjoy!

January 20, 2022

Getting Married in the Middle of a Pandemic? Innovative Ways to Make Your 2022 Wedding Spectacular and Safe

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Outdoor, micro-wedding, vows, safe and sensational wedding celebration Planning a wedding in the midst of a pandemic presents unique challenges but also incredible opportunities. If you hear wedding bells in the near future, here are some hints for how to create a safe and sensational celebration.

Think big by thinking small

outdoor, micro-wedding, white lights, create a safe wedding celebration.You may have to get innovative. Hot tip: Micro-weddings are the new posh. By trimming the guest list you can reduce crowding while relaxing your budget at the same time. Brides are starting to realize what mind-blowing experiences they can create for 20 guests instead of 200. In the last year we’ve seen small weddings in the middle of the Salt Flats and light tunnels created in the middle of a forest. We've served 10 course meals and even catered a dinner under a waterfall. With a smaller number of intimate friends and family, you’re free to open your imagination and entertain your most elusive dreams.  

Weigh and minimize risks in advance

Kimble Terrace, bubble, event, Culinary Drafts You owe it to your guests to identify risk factors and take reasonable precautions to minimize them.  If asking Grandma to fly in from out of state poses too much risk, consider setting up a Zoom or Google hangout for guests who can’t attend in person. For those who do come, think about ways to encourage social distancing and reduce traffic congestion. A lot of couples are finding incredible outdoor venues.  But if you need to be inside, implement a crowd-control design that prevents “clumping.” Consider providing private dining areas for your guests such as bubble tents, igloos, or simple separate table-spaces. Traditional self-service buffets can be replaced by safer options like boxed meals or a dessert drive-thru. Recently, a charcuterie served in pre-portioned bamboo cones was a huge hit.

Communicate expectations

pandemic, micro wedding, lesbian indian couple, lgbt, henna, brides Whatever safety plan you choose for your celebration, as the host it’s up to you to communicate your expectations to your guests. A classy insert with your invitation can let people know in advance whether they’ll need to do a temperature check on arrival, show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, wear a mask, or whatever precautions you decide are appropriate. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone: you can’t. Everyone’s situation is different. If you communicate clearly and let people know what to expect, they’ll be able to make their own choices about how to celebrate your day with you.  

Customize

pandemic, public health, signage, wedding, customized, masks Invitations, favors, and place cards are all pretty standard for a wedding. But the pandemic blew open a door for creating new items to customize! Masks, sanitizer, soap, towels, water, or even social distancing/selfie sticks can be practical and personal. Our favorite customized gifts are fun “in sickness and health packages” which sometimes include a hangover kit.             

Get help

Caterer, event planner, River Bottoms Ranch, mask, Covid The best way to enjoy your big day while staying safe is to hire a social coordinator. Your event planner or day-of coordinator may be perfect for the job. Along with a trained catering team, your social coordinator will direct traffic, answer questions, and make sure that everyone has a safe and spectacular experience. Meanwhile, you'll be free to relax and enjoy the day you've planned and waited for so long.

December 22, 2021

December Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Reindeer Donuts

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chocolate donuts, doughnuts, cake donuts, baked donuts, christmas, holiday, reindeer, cranberry, pretzel, pinecone, winter, cinnamonThese chocolate reindeer donuts are as delicious as they are adorable. Be sure to save one for yourself before they fly away "like the down of a thistle!"

Ingredients

Donuts

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  •  1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ganache

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces local dark chocolate: our favorites are Ritual's Mid Mountain Blend, Amano's Dos Rios, or Solstice's Madagascar. You can pick these up from your local Harmons.

Decorations

  • 12 cranberries
  • 12 pretzels
  • 24 candy eyes

Equipment

  • donut pan
  • 2 piping bags
  • cooling rack

Directions

  1. To make donuts: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease pan and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream, melted butter, and sugars until combined. Stir in vanilla and one egg at a time.
  4. Gently fold the flour mixture into wet ingredients and mix by hand just until combined.
  5. Fill a piping bag with batter and fill donut pan 2/3 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes, then remove from pan.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. To assemble chocolate reindeer donuts: Dip donuts into the ganache, then place on a cooling rack until ganache sets.
  10. Place eyes, and cranberry in the center as the nose.
  11. Break/cut pretzels in half, length-wise for antlers.
Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

December 17, 2021

De-stress Your Christmas Cooking

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Christmas dinner, place setting catering, christmas table, table setting, christmas decor, holiday dinner, beef, meat, carved, centerpieceWith all the isolation and stress of the last year, 2021 may be a more important time than ever to sit down with loved ones and share a Christmas meal. Unfortunately, the pressure of making a memorable holiday meal can kick a cook’s stress level up several more notches. If planning and preparing your Christmas feast is feeling like one burden too many, don’t worry: we’ve got you! Here are our favorite tips to de-stress your Christmas cooking.

1. Think ahead.
mis en place, christmas cooking, holiday cooking, christmas dinner, meal, grean beans, fried onions, preparations, stress free, easy
Do as much as you can in advance so that when the day comes, you can spend most of your focus on the people you’re doing it all for.

• Shop early. Don’t plan on going to the store after December 20; it’s a zoo! Plan in advance and avoid the crush.
• "Mis en place" all your recipes. Mis en place is a French term meaning “everything in place.” It is the practice of measuring out all the ingredients for a recipe and doing any other preparation that you can do in advance. For example, mix your drinks and dressings beforehand. Peel potatoes and leave them in water in the fridge. Prepare vegetables on sheet pans so they are ready for the oven, wrapped in plastic wrap and stacked in the fridge, etc.
• Make your centerpiece, move the furniture, wrap the presents, and set the table as soon as you can. Actually, now! Don't wait.

2. Simplify what can be simplified.
gingerbread decorating man station kids holiday party
As foodies dedicated to our craft, we have a hard time telling others (or even ourselves) to use the shortcuts that modern society has created for meal production because the longer, scenic route of cooking and creating a dining experience is a beautiful labor of love that you can taste with every bite. However, that labor can be a bit much on Christmas morning with a family of kids hyped up on sugar and presents, rampaging with their loud new toys while you’re trying to clean up before guests arrive. One of the best ways to de-stress your Christmas cooking is to simplify where you can.

• Dice the onions: This is one of the most time-consuming steps, especially because so many recipes start with sautéed onions. You can do this in advance. Put them in a bowl and keep them in the refrigerator or freeze them. Or simplify even more by just buying onions already frozen and diced.
• Buy the ham. Seriously. They come spiral cut and glazed, and they are delicious. Don't kill yourself making one from scratch; there are better things to do with your time. Just remember to order and pick it up early.
• If bread-making is your forte and you are not tapped from holiday baking by the time you get to December 25th, spectacular! Try making, shaping, and freezing your bread dough in advance. Then, day of, just remove from freezer and bake. But if you don’t have that kind of time and energy, take advantage of local artisan bread options that can make your Christmas meal-prep much easier. Eva’s Bakery, Mims Bakery, Flourish Bakery, and Harmon’s artisan bread section are all great go-tos.
• Desserts are a similar situation. It’s beautiful to share any of your homemade sweets, but you can also simplify by trying out one of your excellent local artisans who make delicious desserts. A few of our favorites are Grapefruit & Thyme, Cache Toffee, Les Madeleines, Gourmandise, Flour & Flourish, Cake by Alessandra, and Tulie Bakery.

3. Give yourself a gift.
Ceramic Olive Oil Cruet and Salt Cellar
We’re not speaking metaphorically about being kind to yourself and not expecting the impossible (although, yes, you should give yourself a break). We’re talking about literally gifting yourself something this year, one labor-saving piece of equipment that will make life easier for you in the kitchen. If you need ideas, we have a few suggestions.

4. Delegate (or, better yet, share).
family black cooking for christmas dinner holiday meal sharing, experience, kitchen
Some cooks want to do it all by themselves. Believe us, we get that. But as tempting at it is to take the burden on yourself and be the Christmas kitchen god, it can be important for kids, spouses, and guests to have a hand in making the meal.

Remember: It’s not about the food; it’s about the experience. You’re not just feeding bellies; you’re helping create meaningful memories. We all know that turning part of the meal over to someone else can often create as much work and stress for you as it relieves, but don’t lose sight of the big picture. That grandson who messes up half the napkins he folds may not be saving you much time, but think about what he’s learning, the confidence he’s gaining, and the memories he’s making. We guarantee that the feelings and experience he gets from making a meaningful contribution will stay with him a lot longer than the mashed potatoes and gravy.

But how can you delegate part of the Christmas meal tasks without creating more headache for yourself?

• Have someone else bring dessert, salad, entrée, sides, or whatever parts of the meal you choose. If any of your guests have a specialty dish, consider giving them a chance to shine.
• Prepare a list of helpful things people could do when they arrive. Most people welcome a chance to be helpful if they know how to do it without getting in the way. Instead of waiting for them to ask and then scrambling to think of something for them to do, have it written down. The list could include things like
-- filling waters and pitchers on tables
--pouring cocktails
--adding crackers/chocolate/room temp things to your charcuterie board or appetizers
--pouring cocktails
--mixing mashed potatoes
--watching the turkey/ham, rolls, etc. in the oven
--mixing salad
--whipping cream
--doing dishes
• Have all your platters and serving utensils picked out and labeled so when people are helping they aren't scrambling to see what platter is for what item.
• If people are arriving early to help, leave a recipe with your mis en placed plates and have them follow the directions.

cookie making, christmas, holiday, rolling, cutting, sugar cookies

Realistically, there may not be any such thing as a stress-free Christmas meal (unless you follow the Japanese Christmas custom and just order a bucket of chicken from KFC). But if you do what you can to de-stress your Christmas cooking, you'll minimize the anxiety and maximize the meaning of the experience.

We hope your Christmas is joyous and delicious.

Happy eating!

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20x winner Utah’s Best of State

16x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year