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June Recipe of the Month: Homemade Ricotta

By | Recipe of the Month, Recipes

We love ricotta, and making your own from scratch is worth the effort! It tastes richer and creamier than most ready made brands. Making your own gives you control over how salty and thick it will be. You can custom make your ricotta to suit however you’ll be using it.

Homemade ricotta can be served in so many ways. All summer long it can replace the usual vegetable dips, add a great addition to your cheese platters and salads , spread it on toast, add it to pizza, or serve on grilled peaches drizzled with honey for a special treat!

Homemade Ricotta

Ingredients

4 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp kosher salt

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

cheese cloth

Directions

Combine milk, cream and salt in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add vinegar, and allow to stand for a minute until it curdles.

Set a sieve into a deep bowl, line the sieve with cheese cloth. Pour your milk mixture into the cheese cloth. Allow to drain into your bowl. Should take about 20 minutes or longer if you would like thicker ricotta. Once it is the consistency you want transfer the ricotta into a small bowl and discard the liquid in the deep bowl and the cheese cloth.

Voila! Ricotta! Cover with plastic wrap and it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

NEW VENUE ALERT: River Bottoms Ranch

By | Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Sharing the Love -Vendor and Client Relationships, Vendor Love!, Venues We Love, Wedding Trends

We are spoiled here in Utah because we are literally surrounded by natural beauty!  With that, we also have some of THE BEST venues nestled right there admist all of that gorgeous natural landscape.  Well, today I have news for you!  There is a BRAND NEW venue that you are DEFINITELY going to want to check out!  River Bottoms Ranch is currently being built in the stunning Heber Valley and is opening in fall of this year – AND they are currently booking starting September 2018 for this year and for all of 2019!  So start thinking about your holiday parties for this year and if you have any Sundance events for 2019, this is the place!!!  Stay tuned, you are going to want to see this. 🙂

Isn’t this setting just a dream?  We LOVE it and River Bottoms Ranch fits in just perfectly.

Not only are the surroundings breathtaking, but the inspiration for the interior design is AMAZING.  I mean, just look at this design board.  I would like to take 2 of each of all of that please.  😉

I couldn’t help but share this cute pic of the owners on the venue, Jared and Janica!  They are two of the nicest people and make it their priority to make sure that your event is unforgettable (in the best way!)

What a greeting!  This is the view as you pull into the venue and we are sure your guests are going to be pleasantly surprised!

Another pic of the beautiful surroundings at the venue!  It was a bit cloudy the day we visited, but you can just make out a perfect vantage of Mt. Timp!

Imagine how lush and green this will be for summer/fall ceremonies!  This meadow is one of the outdoor options for hosting an outdoor ceremony or cocktail hour.  SOOOO pretty!

Now to the fun stuff!  Although they still ‘under construction’ I thought it would be fun to put a side by side of the rendering of the finished product with the progress photos!  First up, this is the driveway that pulls up right to the beautiful front door of the venue and right above is the fantastic Juliet balcony in the bride’s room!  You should see the view from there!!!

Next up, the main room which will boast amazing chandeliers, whitewashed wood, gorgeous sconces, and sliding barn doors to open up to the mountain views outside!

And, lastly, this view of River Bottoms Ranch which shows ALLLLL of the windows that are going to let in so much beautiful natural light!  Plus, doesn’t it just look like the perfect venue for any event! We think so!

We are so excited to see the finishing touches being put on to River Bottoms Ranch and can’t wait to check it out when it officially opens this fall.  We are also so excited to be a part of the amazing events we are sure will be hosted there!  (Special note, our very own Ryan Crafts help them design the kitchen in this stunning place, so you know we are SO ready to get to creating some delicious bites there!!!)  But, remember, if you think this is PERFECT for your wedding, holiday party, Sundance fête, or any other event, they are booking now from September 2018 on for this year and for all of 2019 and dates are filling up fast!  Happy planning, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

‘In Progress’ photos of River Bottoms Ranch by Angela Howard Photography

Trend Report: Extend Your Cocktail Hour!

By | Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Food, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Venues We Love, Wedding Trends

Today on the blog, we have a GORGEOUS wedding we had the pleasure of being a part of recently that was held at one of our favorite venues, the Natural History Museum of Utah!  Generally speaking, this venue doesn’t need much decor to make an impact because it’s designed so beautifully inside, so it’s perfect for couples looking for a modern, clean design – and even more perfect for those who want to treat their guests to gorgeous views while enjoying delicious food!  Speaking of which, one of the trends we are seeing a lot of lately is the idea of hosting an extended cocktail hour for guests to mix and mingle at and offering an elaborate variety of hors d’ouevres to keep them happy too!  Without further ado, let’s see this stunning fȇte!

© Heather Nan Photography

Firstly, one of the more unique parts of this wedding was that the couple chose to host their wedding ceremony at Red Butte Garden’s Rose House, which is actually next door to the Natural History Museum of Utah.  We LOVED this idea to host the celebration at 2 different venues!  Also, we hosted a little pre-ceremony cocktail hour (even on top of the extended cocktail hour during the reception) and of course, we had beautiful signature cocktails for the guests.  LOVE!

What an entrance!  The guests were treated to the gorgeous natural surrounds as they made their way to the wedding reception.  Simply gorgeous!

Simple, clean, modern design was in full force here – and what a gorgeous impact it made!  FUSE Weddings and Events and Orchid Dynasty put together an AMAZING design that really fit in perfectly with the existing space.  And how cool are those branches as centerpieces?  They complimented the green glass accents beautifully!

Another look at this beautiful table, because, why not?!  Simply perfect.

We love putting a simple, beautiful menu on each plate.  Not only is it informative, but it gets the guests excited for what’s to come!  And, boy, were they in for a treat!

As I mentioned before, we are seeing longer, more elaborate cocktail hours more and more often.  This wedding was a perfect example of this trend!  Kendall (the bride) wanted a longer cocktail hour as this was her favorite part of every wedding she has ever attended, so, we planned a lot of wonderful passed hors d’oeuvres to keep everyone happy!  These Petite Quesadillas with Avocado, Brie, Kalamata, & Roasted Red Pepper and Lamb Lollipops with Mint Pesto were only the tip of the menu ‘iceberg’!

We also served Watermelon Cube Skewers with Balsamic Reduction & Mint Chiffonade and Sweet Pea Mash with Roasted Tomato & Focaccia Crisp.  Yum!  And doesn’t our amazing staff look awesome passing these delicious bites to the guests?  We think so!

Last, but certainly not least, we rounded out this fantastic offering of hors d’ouevres with Smoked Salmon, Capers, Olive Oil on Frozen Slice of Lemon; Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Cold-Smoked Goat Cheese; and Lump Crab with Key Lime Juice, Jalapeno, Sea Salt on House Potato Crisps.  Seriously delectable!

What a view!  The guests not only were treated to amazing eats, but these stunning views and a bluebird sky!  This is certainly one of the most unique elements that NHMU boasts.

When the guests were welcomed inside for dinner, they still were treated to those signature views while they dined!  The floor to ceiling windows are STUNNING!

Another view of the guests getting ready to enjoy a fantastic plated dinner!  Plus, doesn’t NHMU just look AMAZING?!

First up, the guests were served Snuck Farms Baby Butter Lettuce Head with Parmesan and Lemon Zest, with Honey Citrus Vinaigrette, and finished with Sea Salt.  We also pre-set a Mini Herb Sourdough Bagette with Compound Herb Butter Paddle at each guests seat, which looked amazing!  A perfect summer menu first course!

Even with the variety of hors d’ouevres, the guests still happily dug into this first course.  The guests LOVED it!

We also served a selection of 3 entrees so guests could choose what they’d like!  (Always such a nice touch to make your guests feel special.)  They had the choice of Mesquite-Grilled Trout Filet with Sweet Tomato Jam, Hand Torched Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Chauseur Sauce, or Vegetable Napoleon with Sweet Tomato Jam.  Each entree was served with Marscapone & Asiago Grilled Polenta Cake with Micro Greens and a Fresh Green Bean Bundle Tied with Chive.  So good!

© Heather Nan Photography

Such a BEAUTIFUL wedding for Kendall! After the guests ate their fill, they danced the night away…  All while enjoying watching the city lights appear which provided the perfect finishing touch to a romantic day.  So amazing!  And, if you are the kind of couple who wants to really offer a lot of mingling with your guests, we’d definitely suggest an extended cocktail hour as an option!  Such a great idea and lets you really get to visit with all of your special people.  Happy planning, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

May: Recipe of the Month Pineapple Salsa and Black Bean Dip

By | Recipe of the Month, Recipes

CC Salsa-41 sharing these summery recipes this week because Kaleb’s birthday is on Cinco de Mayo, and he loves salsa! This Pineapple Salsa is one of his all time favorite’s and is wonderful served as a garnish with grilled fish or chicken. Another Craft family favorite is our Black Bean dip. Its creamy richness makes for a delicious dip and also is a great topping for nachos.

If you’ve got a favorite salsa recipe, we’d love to see it! Email your recipe to Meagan@CulinaryCrafts.com. Our chefs will prepare the recipes we receive and we’ll have Kaleb do a taste test and pick his favorites on a Live Facebook video in the coming weeks! Results will also be shared on our Instagram.

Wishing you all good times and great food this summer!CC Salsa-1

Pineapple Salsa

3 cups pineapple- diced into 1/4-1/2″ pieces

1 cup red pepper-diced into 1/4″ pieces

1 cup red onion diced into 1/4″ pieces

3-4 TBSP jalapeno- finely chopped

2 TBSP cilantro

2 TBSP Lime Juice

Salt to tasteCC Salsa-13

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, Adjust seasonings as desired, store in airtight container. Good for up to 3 weeks.

** Variation: Grill pineapple before dicing.CC Salsa-20

 

Black Bean Dip

2/3 cups raw black beans

2 cloves minced garlic

3 oz cream cheese

1/3 cup lemon juice

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp Chili Powder

Salt to Taste

Garnish

2/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 bunches of diced green onions

1 diced tomatoes

1/3 cup black olivesCC Salsa-4

Rinse black beans in a colander. Place beans in a large pot with lid and cover with water about 2 inches above the beans. Let beans soak for and hour. Place pot over medium heat on stove, cover with lid and cook beans until soft about 1 hour. Drain beans and transfer to a food processor.

Add garlic, cream cream cheese, lemon juice, cilantro, and seasonings. Puree until combined. dish into your favorite serving bowl and then add your garnishes to the top. May be refrigerated for 3 days!

Tips From the Professional: Should you be concerned about special dietary needs at your event?

By | Ask Mary, Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Tips, Top 10 Tips, Top 5 Tips

Today on the blog, we thought it would be fun to ask one of our Culinary Crafts Event Pros some of the top questions our clients always ask!  One of the questions we are seeing more and more of is the question of ‘special diets’ and guests: should you ask about special diets or restrictions?  And, if so, how should I handle that?  Well, we are in luck!  One of our senior corporate event experts, Ashley Veenendaal, is giving us AAAALLL the answers!

So, should you be concerned about special dietary needs at your event  The answer is a resounding yes! When you host an event, making your guests feel welcome is part of
the deal. Ensuring that each person attending has something they can eat will be a central part of achieving that. However, navigating allergies and dietary restrictions doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Here are a some ways to accommodate your guests to the best of your ability.

~Ask your guests to inform you of any dietary needs as early on as possible. These days people will often let you know right away if they need specialized food. Especially if they have a severe allergy. But not always…:) It is much easier to plan ahead for this than to be scrambling at the time of the event to provide food for them.

~A lot of food preferences can be combined. For example, there are limitless delicious recipes that are gluten free, vegan, paleo, and keto friendly across the board. Adding side dishes to a menu that meet those requirements will help keep labor, cost and stress levels to a minimum!

~If your guest has a religious restriction be sure to ask them more about the extent to which they practice. Guests that follow strict Kosher or Halal guidelines may require you to bring in special food from a certified kitchen. Or they it may be as simple as not serving certain menu items. A quick look online will help you educate yourself as you get ready to design a menu.

~ Be very upfront with ingredients. Labeling foods on the menu will make your guests feel at ease about what they are eating.

~If a guest neglects to tell you about a dietary restriction or allergy until the event is happening, it’s okay! Graciously explain why you are not prepared for that and then find a means of making a special plate for them. It could be as simple as providing them with extra salad and a lemon. The gesture will be appreciated.

~If you are going through a catering company, be sure and let your event planner know about any food needs that need to be met, While they will often have some foods available to cover everyone the amount sent will be more accurate if they know what to plan for.

Thank you, Ashley!  I hope that helps all you feel more at ease (and even excited) to offer special dietary items to your guests!  It’s definitely a great way to be creative with the menu, but also show your guests that you are keeping them in mind, and they will appreciate it so very much!  Happy planning, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

An Elegant, Unique Utah Valley Wedding

By | Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Food, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Wedding Trends

 

Today on the blog, have I got an AMAZING wedding for you!  It is full of personal touches, gorgeous florals, and FABULOUS food (of course)!  We were honored to be a part of Beth and Jeff’s stunning, and totally unique, wedding day!  This post is a long one, but I promise, you won’t be disappointed!  Check it out!

 

From our very own Jocelyn Gillies: “The location of the wedding is what meant the very most for the couple. The private residence (where the dinner was held) is the home they were living in when they got engaged. They then began building their home together on the property next door which is where the wedding ceremony took place, in the framed structure of their new home.”  Isn’t that so beautiful?  I love that they incorporated so much of their story into their wedding!

This wedding’s palette was clean and crisp, and all shades of white.  The feel was a Bohemian respite nestled in the mountains – and boy did these florals and the design deliver!  So pretty!

If you are looking for another fun element to add to your cocktail hour, We smoked oranges as part of our cocktail hour offerings.You eat them rind and all.  So delicious and a total crowd-pleaser.

Talk about delicious!  The couple, who both work in the health food industry and also own a health food company, were very particular about the menu – as were many of their guests!  This just goes to show that healthy does not have to be boring.

Most of this deliciously health-conscious menu was paleo centered, including these bites.  House-Made Duck Ham in a Basil Boat, Roasted Bone Marrow with Baked Root Vegetables and Thinly Sliced Sourdough, and Roasted Jersey Pepper and Strawberry Shooters topped with a Sweet Pepper Sliver and Sous Vide Strawberries. This Jersey pepper was a nod to the Groom’s East Coast roots.

Culinary Crafts loves custom charcuterie and getting to feature our local artisan vendors!  We served assorted smoke, salt, and air cured Creminelli salumi and proscuitto, all hand carved at the station.

The most unique part of this event was the seating. Guests were seated at one long table. So this simple and impactful chart as guests entered helped everyone find their seats without hassle.

There was SOOOO much more food.  A couple of the butler-passed hors d’oeuvres to start the evening, Lamb Shoulder in a Belgian Enive Leaf with Mint Chiffonade, Smoked Rocky Mountain Trout on a Watermelon Radish with Salacia Micro Greens, and Salmon Sashimi with Fingerling Lime ‘Caviar’ on a Utah Sea Salted Kettle Chip.

This Bison Carpaccio with Citrus Glaze and Brined Caperberry was so pretty and unique  Also, inside scoop, it was pretty darn tasty.

The last of the amazing cocktail hour nuggets- Compressed Local Watermelon with Arugula and Balsamic and Crispy Pork Belly with Garlic Greens and Balsamic Sultanas on Crostini.  What a way to round out the start of this fantastic menu, wouldn’t you say?

We LOVED the textural diversity that the table length floral runner added to the design!  I know many people think that an all-white palette can get monotonous, but add texture and different floral variations and you got something engagingly enticing.  This is one of those trends that I think we will be seeing for a long time.

This day was HOT.  Really, really hot.  The way only a Utah day in July can be and so we were constantly spraying down the florals to keep them pretty AND offering all of the guests ice cold drink offerings to keep them cool.  One way Culinary Crafts loves to do this is by offering infused waters like Citrus Mint and Orange Strawberry – and for those guests who wanted something a little sassier than water, we offered His and Hers cocktails! His Rocky Mountain Manhattan and Her Hummingbird.

Another trend we loved from this tablescape, the mixed metals with the simple menus.  Rose gold flat ware, mercury glass votives, and the all white palette.   Heavenly.

To welcome the guests to dinner, our house made ciabatta loaves were was pre-set along the tables and were served along with Pink Himalayan Salt compound butters.

And, let me just go back to this table, because, man it is gorgeous!  Creating this stunning and intimate experience for the bride, groom, and their guests was definitely the highlight of the evening.

To kick off this incredible culinary journey, we served Snuck Farm Rainbow Chard, Whipped Ricotta, Barbequed Beets, Finely Chopped Granola, Toasted Quinoa, and Slide Ridge Honey Vinaigrette.  Not to be outdone, the second course was an equally amazing plate of Pan Seared and Butter Poached Sea Scallops with Micro Amaranth, Hand-Cut Zoodles with Cashew Avocado Cream, and Shaved Parmesan.  Mmmm…

 

Let’s take a minute and recognize the incredible Culinary Crafts staff who always keeps it classy, even in the most unique of serving situations and extreme temperatures. They are truly an amazing group. Since this event was in the middle of a field, our kitchen options were limited. So Culinary Crafts did what we do best. Created our own kitchen. The team brought in grills, ovens, burners, tables and more to create this lovely meal.

To round out the dinner we served Summer Vegetable Terrine and Lemon Caper Rubbed Red Bird Chicken and Snuck Farm Sorrel Picatta with waiter poured velouté.  Added a elegant ending to this family style meal.

It isn’t quite sunset yet, but you can see the light starting to fade and I have to say,​ the most dramatic note of the evening came by way of the candlelit dining table running through the open mountain escape.  Truly breathtaking in every way.

After dinner the guests were invited to enjoy coffee and a selection of scrumptious desserts.  Our ‘Coffee Nerd’ coffee bar is one of our favorite action stations – and the guests are always big fans!

On to the desserts (my favorite!) The Bride and Groom both hail from the east coast and when Jocelyn met them for the first time she let them know that our assistant pastry chef (who happens to be Sicilian) made the BEST cannolis Jocelyn had ever had! To say they were hesitant was an understatement, but once they had one for themselves, the totally agreed and added it to their menu!   Love all of the special details that made this a unique, tailored experience for the couple and their guests!

We didn’t stop there! Homemade Mountainland Apple Pie with Culinary Crafts’ house made Caramel Gelato topped with Warm Whiskey Raisin Caramel Sauce as well as Zabaglione Shooters topped with Fresh Berries, Micro Basil, and Candied Pistachio Biscotti.  I’ll take one of each, please!

Last, but certainly not least, we served Grilled Stone Fruit over Culinary Crafts’ Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Gelato.  So simple and so delicious!

The couple planned for the party to go into the wee hours, and of course, they made sure that their guests were well fed the entire time!  They asked us to serve a selection of late-night noshes, including a Pho After Dark Bar!  We loved this idea!!! Truly catering for those who give a Pho.

Thank you to Beth and Jeff for letting Culinary Crafts be a part of your epic wedding day!  We absolutely loved every minute of this event and hope you did too!  Happy planning all!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

Photos by Angela Howard Photography

What’s Peaking Now? So Glad You Asked!

By | A Kitchen Like No Other, Event Tips and Planning, Farmers Market, Favorite Find Friday, Food, Food Theory Thursday, How To, Sharing the Love -Vendor and Client Relationships, Tips, Vendor Love!, Vendor Spotlight

Because we as consumers see such a huge variety of produce available in our markets all year long, it’s hard to remember exactly what’s in season in our area. Culinary Crafts loves sourcing as much of its produce as possible from local growers. And, we fine tune our menus seasonally to feature local items at their absolute best flavor peak. Here’s our list of spring delicacies to be enjoyed now.

Asparagus
Rhubarb
Peas
Strawberries
Carrots
Garlic
Butter lettuce
Parsley
Chives
Arugula
Swiss Chard
Pea greens

Next week we’ll be sharing one of our favorite spring salad recipes.

MEET ONE OF OUR FAVORITE GROWERS

Snuck Farm

We’re happy to give a shout out to our neighbor and one of our favorite growers, Snuck Farm, in Pleasant Grove. They have an awesome hydroponic greenhouse and supply local grocers with their herbs, greens and other produce year round. And, you’re in luck! They’re having a plant sale on May 12th, from 8am to 1pm… here’s the info below
Save the date for the Snuck Farm Annual Community Plant Sale!

May 12th  at 8am to 1pm.
You’ll find a large variety of vegetables and flowers all ready for your garden including over 30 heirloom tomato varieties, peppers, cucumbers, squash, herbs, zinnias, petunias, hanging baskets and, well of course more! All plant starts are grown right here in our own greenhouse, using non-GMO seeds which means your plants are grown in our climate, with tons of love so you won’t find wilted or distressed plants.
This is a great way to spend some time on the farm, bring Mom for an early Mother’s Day. Listen to live music, enjoy food, fresh flowers from Local Roots Flower Farm and some of our favorite new gardening tools, linens, books, and kitchen must-haves.
Hope to see you there!

April: Recipe of the Month Easter Orange Roll Nest

By | Recipe of the Month, Recipes

Orange Roll Dough

2 C water- lukewarm

1 TBSP active dry yeast

1/2 c Orange Juice

2 oranges zested

1/2 c sugar

1/4 lbs butter- melted

1/4 lbs sour cream

2 large eggs

2.5 lbs flour

1/2 TBSP salt

Decoration

1 c coconut

food coloring

1/4 c milk

2 c powder sugar

Equipment:

Mixer with Dough Hook

10″ round pan- preferably a spring form pan

cooling rack

Dough: In your mixer bowl, attach your dough hook, then add lukewarm water- 99-102 degrees- add yeast, sugar and orange zest. Let rest until bubbles appear. Meanwhile melt butter, add sour cream and Orange Juice. stir till mixed completely. Add eggs to butter mixture, then slowly pour butter mixture to your yeast mixture. Add flour and salt to mixing bowl and beat until mixture comes together and begins to pull away from the walls of your bowl.

Shaping and Baking: Remove from bowl and divide into 5 equal pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for an hour or till doubled in size.

Lightly flour your surface, Using a rolling pin and keeping the dough as round as possible, roll the first piece of dough to be about 12″ in diameter. Spray your 10″ round cake pan and place the the 12″ piece of dough in the bottom of your pan. Should come ups the sides a bit.

Take the next piece of dough and using your hands roll into a snake like strand that is about 36″ long. This will be very skinny. Repeat with 2 more pieces of dough.

Once you have your 3 pieces of dough all to 36″ in length you are going to braid them together. Just like braiding hair. Pinch the ends together, then lay the braid into your 10″ round pan around the edge of the pan. This will be your nest. Cover your 10″ pan with plastic wrap and let rest for an hour or until doubled in size. Place in oven at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on the top. 

Meanwhile, What about that last piece of dough?? take the last piece of dough and cut it into 8-10 pieces. These will be your eggs for the center of the nest. Each piece should be about 2oz. Roll them on the counter to smooth out the top and place them on a sheet pan and back at 325 for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool. 

Assembly and decoration: take your 1 cups of coconut and add green food coloring to it- 3-10 drops depending on how dark you want it. Mix until evenly coated. 

In 3 small bowls mix 1/2c of powdered sugar and 1TBSP of milk. This should be very runny, like a glaze. Add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve this. Dye each bowl a different color- your favorite easter colors! I usually do pink, yellow and blue, using 3-5 drops of dye for each bowl.

Once your eggs have cooled, place on cooling rack and drip the colored glaze over the top and let it evenly coat the eggs. Let dry while you finish your nest.

Once your nest is out of the oven, let cool for about 10 minutes and the pop it out of its pan. Place on cake stand or serving platter. then use about 1/2c of green coconut in the bottom of the ring, then take your eggs and nestle them in to your ring. You will be able to fit about 3 in the nest at a time. Take your remaining coconut and sprinkle over the top of the whole nest to make it look really festive! 

Knife Sharpening Skills with Chef Warren

By | Culinary Crafts Events

Properly sharpened knives are a must have tool for professional chefs and home cooks alike. Learning how to sharpen your own knives can save you time and money. It can also prolong the life of your knives. Indeed, if you do this right, you should have to buy new stones before you ever have to buy a new knife! I sharpen my knife about once a month, but if I’m really going crazy and using it a ton I might sharpen it once a week! You don’t need to own and use expensive, custom, handmade knives to make sharpening worthwhile. Even standard / basic (but still well made) knives can be excellent tools and will last a lifetime with proper care.

Now, let’s get started.

I personally use what’s called a Japanese Wet Stone for sharpening my own knives. The one I use currently is a Norton Water Stone (these are around $100, I’ve had mine for 3-4 years). With a 4000/8000 grit, this stone is meant to maintain the sharpness of your knife. If my knife were to get significantly dull, I would need to use a stone with a lower grit in order to bring the sharpness back up. The lower the grit the more metal the stone will take off in order to create an edge again. However with a maintenance stone like mine, I don’t worry about it taking too much metal off.

About a half hour before you plan to sharpen you’ll need to start soaking your stone. Soaking makes the stone more pliable and loosens the grit! Submerge the stone completely in cold water for 20-30 minutes. There shouldn’t be any air bubbles coming out of the side, you’ll want it to be nice and wet! (NOTE: My stone has not been soaked in these photos, yours will be much wetter!)

When using a wet stone, you are sanding off little pieces of metal to make the knife sharper. You can also control the angle of sharpness your knife is. A flatter angle – typically 15° to 16° (common on Asian style knives) will create a really fine, sharp edge. But, because the flatter edges are more brittle, they will also dull faster. A broader angle around 20° (common on European style knives) is not quite as sharp, but you can get more wear out of it. The angle to sharpen a knife all depends on the the type of knife, the intended use, and the user preferences / needs. For example with my fish knife, I do about a awfully flat at  a 12° angle (very very sharp), most of my knives I sharpen around a 16° angle, and a couple classic chef knives I keep at 20°.

How to set the angle of the bevel? Many experienced chefs do this simply by experienced eye and feel. You can learn this skill by gauging the angle one step at a time. A knife perpendicular to the stone will be at 90°. Half of that angle will be 45°. Half of that is about 22°. From there you can get pretty close. However if you are learning to sharpening on a stone,  you may wish to purchase a honing angle guide. This will assist you in getting the correct angle consistently while you practice.

45° angle

12° angle

I would recommend that you lay out your stone on a table over a towel to keep the water from getting everywhere.

There are multiple ways to sharpen your knife on a wet stone. I do a simple side to side motion, and I do the same angle on both sides of my knife. What ever you do you’re going to want to apply 4-6 lbs. of pressure evenly distributed across the knife. Some chefs want one side to be more angled than the other, that’s all up to you and how you actually want to handle your knife.

Side 1

Side 2

You’ll want to take care of your stone so that it can take care of your knives. If your stone starts to bow you’re not going to create an even edge on your knife! To do this, you’ll need a flattening stone.

 

When your stone is wet, make some hash marks with a pencil across the entire the top of the stone. Rub the flattening stone along your wet stone until the surface is nice and flat and all the pencil marks disappear . This will ensure that your stone and your knives are kept in great condition!

Once you’re done with your stone you’ll want to make sure it’s nice and clean (it will look black from the metal), dry it off (soak up any residual water), and keep it in a ventilated container or a nice dry area.

Although this is our preferred method to sharpen knives, for the home cook who’s intimidated by investing in and learning to use wet stones, there exist other very serviceable knife sharpening alternatives.

We’ve achieved excellent results using an Apex Edge Pro device. This contraption  helps to set the proper angle and encourage the proper motions without as much practice required as traditional stones.  The end result can be effectively the same as a sharpening on a traditional stone. Highly recommended.

Another option is a Diamond Hone knife sharpener. These offer preset angles. Some units will sharpen all knives to 20 degrees. Others will sharpen to 15. Some units allow you to switch and back and forth between multiple angles. These are very intuitive to use and will do a good job at making most knives plenty sharp for most applications. However, these don’t get your knives quite as sharp as a true stone and in applications you may be left wishing your knife was even sharper.

Something that most home chefs don’t know is that many knife manufacturers offer a life time sharpening policy. You typically only have to pay for the shipping. Just mail your knives in and receive them back later with a fresh factory edge! If you use your knives daily, the waiting game may be unreasonable. But for many home cooks, this can be a great option.

There are also some bad sharpening options to avoid. For example, devices like the one below can help you get through a project in a pinch when your knife is dull and not cutting effectively. However, these are not a long term solution and are certainly not recommended for regular repeated use. Instead of the sanding / polishing effect of a stone, these tend to shred the metal on the edge of the blade, which both removes the proper bevel and shortens the lifespan of the knife.

What about honing steels?

Many of you will have a honing steel already. These are often sold as part of a knife set. These are a must have tool and very helpful in the kitchen. However, it’s important to understand that these do NOT sharpen your knives.

Sharpening is the act of creating an angled bevel on the blade edge. Honing, on the other hand, is simply ensuring that the bevel is straight along the edge of the blade. If you’ve ever seen a barber strop a straight razor on a leather strap prior to a shave, you can understand the difference here. That razor gets sharpened on a stone whenever it’s dull. But it is stropped (honed) on the leather before every use.

Your knives should be sharpened as needed depending on when your knives are dull. Your knives should be honed before most every use. Your honing steel is the kitchen equivalent of the barber’s leather strap. It should be used regularly, but it takes just a few passes to ensure that the edge is straight.

Happy cooking!

Chef Warren

March Recipe of the Month: Guinness Braised Short Ribs

By | A Kitchen Like No Other, Food, Recipe of the Month, Recipes
Guinness Braised Short Ribs

Serves 4 to 6 people depending on the number of ribs you make.

Ingredients
4 to 6 bone-in short ribs (about an 8 ounce piece, trimming fat if necessary)
Salt (kosher) and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 bottle Guinness Extra Stout (or your own favorite dark & malty Irish Beer)
1 1/2 cup beef stock (or 1 cup beef stock and ½ cup brewed coffee)
Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
2. Season all sides of the short rib with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a heavy, oven safe pan over high heat. Add olive oil to pan and let it heat for a moment. Sear all sides of the short rib about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. Add onion and carrot, saute 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1-2  minutes more.
5. Deglaze with beer, scraping up bits from bottom of pan. Bring to boil.
6. Return short ribs to pan. Add beef stock, thyme and rosemary.
7. Cover pan and bake for 2.5 to 3 hours, until meat is tender.
8. Separate the fat from the drippings, and use the remaining drippings (thickening with a roux or by reduction if desired) as a sauce at service.