Blog

Tag

Ella Bella Floral

June 6, 2023

Macarons

By

by Jocelyn Gillies

Director of Sales

Jocelyn Gillies, Director of Sales, ice cream cone, Culinary Crafts, Catering, Utah cater, Utah best caterer, Utah Best of State, Best of State caterer, black lace sleeves, ice cream

When Culinary Crafts opened the Tasting Room in Salt Lake, Mary asked me to make French macarons that we could give as favors to our guests.

I’d made macarons plenty of times before; in fact, I’d taught macaron classes when I was a young pastry chef. Still, they are notoriously tricky to make. Macarons are both the pride and bane of pastry chefs because they are so easy to mess up.

I baked a batch for Mary, and they turned out good, but not great. Mary took one look at them and said, “These are not acceptable.” It was quite a punch in the gut, but I knew she was right. I had to start over. I worked and worked, trying dozens of recipes and fine-tuning details right up until the day of the event. Mary looked at my macarons and announced that they were acceptable, but still not the quality she really wanted.

Now it was personal!

The Quest for the Holy Macaron

I decided I was going to learn to make perfect macarons—and do it consistently—even if it killed me. I tried countless variations and techniques, looking for the secret. My breakthrough finally came when my assistant pastry chef Rebecca showed me a recipe she had brought from the New York pastry school where she’d taught. After a few small alterations to her recipe, I finally hit on a way to make flawless macarons. I practiced and practiced until I could hit the mark every time, and then I went to Mary, Ryan, and Kaleb to show them what I’d found. Ever since then, Culinary Crafts has used that recipe, and macarons have been a staple for our clients.

The best thing about this recipe is that I’ve taught it to people of all ages and skill levels, and it works for all of them. Their macarons may not be absolutely perfect without a lot of practice, but they’re very, very good…maybe even good enough for Mary Crafts. And that’s saying a lot!

pink cookies, macarons, pink macarons, Culinary Crafts, Utah catering, perfect macarons, macaron recipe

Macarons

(makes 32 cookies)

Note: the measurements must be exact, so I'm listing them in grams.

Ingredients:

  • 165 grams sifted almond flour
  • 165 grams powdered sugar
  • 58 grams egg whites (for whipping)
  • 58 grams egg whites (stay liquid)
  • 38 grams water
  • 125 grams granulated sugar
  • 10 grams powdered egg white
  • 4-6 drops gel food coloring

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 305° F.
  2. Sift together powdered sugar and almond flour. Add egg white powder and sift with whisk until combined.
  3. Rinse a small, deep metal pot with hot water. Dry completely. (Make sure there are no fuzzies or debris from the towel left in the pot.) Pour granulated sugar into pot and add water. Gently stir with clean spatula or hand.
  4. Cook sugar on medium/high heat. DO NOT STIR.
  5. When the sugar reaches about 220°, pour the liquid egg whites for whipping into the clean bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on medium/high until your egg whites are at medium peaks.
  6. Cook the sugar to 234°. Remove from heat and pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl. Finish the meringue by continuing to whip 2-3 minutes, until medium-firm peaks have formed.
  7. Pour remaining liquid egg whites into almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. Add food coloring.
  8. Add the whipped meringue one third at a time into the flour mixture. Gently fold until the mix lightens and makes a smooth batter.

    Pro Tip:

    It’s important to fold the different components just enough, but not too much, or the macarons will crack or fall. To be sure you are at the right point, once the ingredients appear to be combined, run the spatula through the mixture. It should slowly come back together, looking like lava.
  9. Using a piping bag fitted with a tip, pipe the macarons 1½”-2” apart on a silicon or parchment-lined baking sheet. Smack the baking sheet sharply on the table a few times, evenly, to remove excess air and help smooth the macarons’ surface.
  10. Let dry at room temperature 45 minutes to 1 hour until a skin/crust forms.
  11. Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate pan 90 degrees and bake another 6 minutes. Check macarons for doneness by pressing slightly on the center. The feet should move slightly and be mostly set.
  12. Cool completely before removing and filling. Fill with desired buttercream, ganache or jam. ENJOY!

Note:

Macarons can be made up to two weeks ahead and frozen with or without filling. If you’re making them a day ahead, you can refrigerate or leave them at room temperature, wrapped tightly in an airtight container. Before you freeze them, wrap them tightly in an airtight container with multiple layers of plastic wrap.

May 30, 2023

Basil Pesto Salmon

By

by Danielle Mahoney

Director of Staff Development

basil pesto salmon, danielle mahoney, lettuce, pesto, fish, salmon, pink chicken, cilantro, beets, Culinary Crafts, black chef uniform, white plate, Salt Lake City catering, Utah top caterer

Ever since my children could stand, they’ve been next to me at the stove as I cooked. When they were very young, they would join me at the cutting board and put their hands on mine as they “helped” me slice, dice, and chop. I’m a firm believer that the more opportunities children have to help in the kitchen, the less picky of eaters they will be and the healthier attitudes they will have about food and about themselves.

I wanted my daughters to be adventurous eaters, so I liked to introduce new foods and make sure they always tried everything. As they got a little older, they would express their likes and dislikes, which was also something I encouraged.

“Pink Chicken”

One day when my oldest was two or three, she came in from playing and asked what we were having for dinner. I told her we were having Basil Pesto Salmon, and she told me, “I don’t like salmon.” I knew that she had eaten salmon many times and had always enjoyed it, but I didn’t say anything. She went off to play some more, and her young memory forgot the interaction.

When we sat down to dinner that night, I thought I would try to fool her into eating, so when she asked what was on her plate I said, “Pink chicken.” Pink was her favorite color at the time, so it worked out well that the salmon was a sort of pink color. She ate every bite and said it was her favorite dinner and thanked me so much for making it. For years we continued to call salmon “pink chicken,” and even when she was old enough to know the difference, we continued the nickname. To this day, Basil Pesto Salmon is one of her favorite meals to eat and to cook herself. It’s super easy, nutritious, and delicious, and a great way for kids to flex their cooking skills.

To turn this dish into an extra-fancy affair, serve it as bite-size hors d’oeuvres on an appetizer buffet! And if you’re short on time, just buy some quality pesto instead of making your own.

basil pesto salmon, pesto, lettuce, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, fork, food plate, best caterer in Utah, best caterer in Salt Lake City, family recipe, kids in the kitchen

Basil Pesto Salmon

Salmon

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 salmon fillets, 5 oz each
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place salmon in lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper and allow to marinate while you prepare the pesto. (See Pesto recipe below.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Place 4 piles of parmesan (about 2 Tbsp in each pile) on a baking sheet, gently pat down to form into approx. 3-inch circles. Bake 4-5 min. until cheese starts to bubble and turn golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool and become crisp.
  4. Remove salmon from marinade, generously coated.
  5. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in sauté pan over med heat. When oil is hot, carefully place salmon in pan, and cook 4 min. Turn salmon over and coat with heaping Tbsp of pesto sauce. Cook additional 2-3 min. just until the fish flakes with fork.
  6. Serve topped with cheese crisp.

Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (I like to substitute ½ cup fresh spinach leaves for half of the basil. It’s a great way to sneak in some greens)
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a food processor or high-powered blender, place the spinach, basil, and pine nuts. Pulse a few times to chop roughly.
  2. Add the cheese and garlic, and pulse several more times to combine.
  3. While blending, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream to keep the mixture emulsified.
  4. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides so all the ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Consistency should be similar to mashed potatoes with small, uniform chunks.

Enjoy!

May 16, 2023

Rice Atole

By

By Jenna Winger

Event Manager

rice atole, Jenna Winger, girl with flowers, bowl of atole, cinnamon, milk, orange mug

When we were trying to decide what recipe I should share, someone asked my son, Jaxon, “What’s the best thing your mom cooks?” Without even thinking about it, he instantly said, “Atole!”

Rice atole (pronounced “uh-toe-lee”) is a Mexican dessert—kind of like a pudding. Jaxon’s grandparents made it for him when he was a baby, and he looooves it. In fact, it was one of his first words! And since he loves it so much, I realized I’d better learn how to make it.

My one bit of advice is to be careful that you add both condensed milk and evaporated milk. I’ve tried to leave one out and double the other, but it doesn’t work!

white rice, spilled rice, white bowl, rice

Rice Atole

(makes 8 servings)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. In a rice cooker, combine rice, water, and cinnamon sticks. Cook for 10 minutes, longer if needed. Rice should be soft but not mushy.
  2. Remove cinnamon sticks. Add in butter, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla.
  3. If needed, cool the atole by adding a splash of milk.

May 2, 2023

Kids in the Kitchen: Tips for Helping Youngsters Learn to Cook

By

Ryan Crafts, Tristan, cooking with uncle, Kids in the Kitchen, peanut butter cookies, cookie sheet, glass of milk, Eat Good Food, tasting, laughing in kitchen

This summer when you start hearing the whines of “We’re bored,” what are you going to do? Put your kids to work in the kitchen, of course!

Wait, wait! Hear me out.

Cooking is a life skill that everyone needs sooner or later, so when you give your kids opportunities to learn in the kitchen, you’re preparing them for the day when they’ll move out on their own. (And they will eventually move out on their own, right? Right?)

But teaching kids to cook is about more than their independence. It also gives them confidence, teaches focus, fosters creativity, and reinforces fine motor skills and basic math skills. Children who learn to cook become more aware of what goes into their food, which generally means that they’ll be more open to trying new foods and more likely to make healthy food choices throughout their lives. Not only that, but the time you spend with your kids in the kitchen will be some of their most delicious memories.

So without further ado, here are our Top 10 Tips for Helping Youngsters Learn to Cook.

1. SAFETY FIRST

Kids + knives + raw ingredients + hot surfaces = why you need a plan to keep your kids (and everyone else) safe in the kitchen.

  • Show your kids how to hold and use a knife. If they’re younger, do it with them. (Danielle, one of our amazing Event Managers, had her very young daughters stand next to her and put their hand on hers as she cut, so they could get a feel for how it’s done correctly, They learned to respect—but not fear—knives.)
  • Don’t just warn your kids that stoves and ovens and pots and pans are hot; show them how to handle hot things safely.
  • Model the habits of food safety. Make sure they know which foods need to be refrigerated, how often we wash hands and surfaces, how we prevent cross-contaminating raw and cooked food, etc.
Kids in the kitchen, mom and daughter, cutting vegetables, learn to cook, red bell peppers, curly black hair. hold hands

2. MAKE IT FUN

Whether your kids learn to love or hate cooking starts with their earliest experiences in the kitchen. Think about how to make it special and fun for your youngsters. Turn on some music. Light a fragrant candle. Keep a few snacks on hand so that they don’t get hangry as they work. Make it a special privilege to wear Mom’s apron or use Dad’s chef knife. Work side by side. Tell stories. Let them talk about themselves. Give them small challenges or make it a game.

If you have the time and want to bond in the kitchen, challenge your child to a competition of Iron Chef: Family Edition. (Chocolate makes a great “secret ingredient” that must be included in every dish.) Invite their friends to be judges, but be prepared for a totally biased decision!

3. SHOW, DON’T TELL

Most kids (and adults) learn better when they’re shown what to do rather than just being told. Watching you peel the first carrot or measure the first cup of flour can help them complete the rest of the job with confidence. YouTube videos can be a great visual teaching tool.

4. GIVE PRAISE

When kids do something highly creative like cooking or writing poetry, they can be very vulnerable. They can easily feel criticized for their efforts, or they can feel proud and encouraged by the feedback they get. Be sure to give them sincere compliments for their successes and don’t make a big deal of their mistakes. Learning to fix errors and roll with setbacks is how kids learn resilience and gain the confidence to keep trying.

Kids in the Kitchen, mother and son, cracking egg, learn to cook, fun in kitchen, encouragement, focus, egg yolk, mixing bowl, making meal

5. GIVE AGE-APPROPRIATE TASKS

For kids to have fun and succeed in the kitchen, they have to be tasked with things they can actually do.

Very Young Kids

Children under 5 will struggle with fine motor skills. Still, there are plenty of things they can do like gathering ingredients from the fridge, wiping down a counter, or mixing things in a bowl. Meagan’s and Clayton's son, Tristan, (age 4) loves pouring ingredients and, of course, licking beaters.

Elementary Age Kids

Elementary age kids may enjoy the challenge of fine motor tasks like cracking eggs, juicing citrus, or peeling and cutting vegetables. They might be excited to use their developing skills to read recipes or perform tasks all on their own. Others, like Caleb’s daughter Hazel (age 8), will enjoy cooking most when they can do it with someone else.

Kids in kitchen, baking cookies, friends, cookie sheet, yellow shirts, summer adventure, braids, pigtail, dough, mixing bowl

Preteens

Preteens still need some degree of supervision, but when they’ve shown that they understand and follow the safety rules, they’re ready to start using ovens, microwaves, and knives without someone standing over them. Don’t underestimate what kids this age can do in the kitchen! Caleb’s daughter Brina (age 13) decided she wanted to “cook around the world,” so she made a list of recipes from about twenty different countries and prepared them one at a time for the family, entirely on her own. She made everything from British Yorkshire pudding to Tongan lupulu to Danish pandekager. It’s amazing what kids with confidence and basic cooking skills can do!

Teens

Cooking skills become even more important as older kids get ready to leave home. Before they’re on their own, make sure your teens have had chances to learn the essentials like planning and shopping for healthy, affordable meals; keeping a clean kitchen; and using appliances like crockpots, toaster ovens, or air fryers. Independent life will be so much easier for kids if they’ve mastered a few go-to recipes and are comfortable in the kitchen.

6. INCLUDE KIDS IN THE WHOLE PROCESS

As you know, making a meal entails more than just cooking. As they gain experience, involve your kids in each stage of the process: meal planning, shopping, prepping ingredients, setting a table, managing their time in the kitchen, cooking, plating, serving, and cleaning up.

mom and daughter on laptop, planning together, looking at computer, white bathrobes, family time, Apple laptop

7. GIVE KIDS OWNERSHIP

As kids grow comfortable in the kitchen, they can take on more and more autonomy. From an early age, children can be presented with choices. (“Should we have this vegetable or that one?” “Do you want to slice them this way or that way?”) Involving them in meal planning and shopping can further build their sense of ownership. So can giving them opportunities to present the food and talk about how they helped make it.

Older children can be given responsibility for making a specific dish or even for planning and executing an entire meal. Ryan’s daughter, Cayelle, (age 15) likes using her skills to plan and host parties for her friends without Mom’s or Dad’s help. The more initiative and ownership kids are allowed in the kitchen, the more likely they will become confident cooks (and hosts) for life.

8. ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY

As they gain confidence, kids tend to become more creative and curious in the kitchen. If they want to experiment with recipes and try to make improvements, let them! Not every experiment is going to make the recipe better, but it will always be a success if your kids learn something in the process. And sooner or later they’re going to have a win! Matt’s daughter, Ginny, (age 18) refuses to share the secret of the World’s Best Fry Sauce that she perfected as a kid, but she’s always happy to make it for the family. It’s a chance for her to shine.

kids in the kitchen, electric beaters, stirring in glass bowl, dad and daughter, eggs, striped shirt, salt and pepper beard

9. TAKE TIME FOR REWARDS

Even for professional chefs who have been in the kitchen our whole lives, cooking is still work, and it deserves to be rewarded. Maybe keep a supply of Reese’s Pieces or some other favorite treat on hand to reward yourselves for a job well done!

10. TEACHING IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN

A fantastic way to reinforce lessons and skills your kids learn in the kitchen is by letting them teach their younger siblings. Or, if they don’t have willing younger subjects, let them flex their skills by teaching you a new recipe or technique they’ve learned.

Happy summer, Eat well!

April 25, 2023

Not Yo’ Mama’s Peach Cheesecake

By

by Clayton Price

Director of Event Operations

Clayton Price, Culinary Crafts, pasta, eating noodles, cheese wheel, Director of Event Operations, bald, chef, funny eating picture, chopsticks, slurp, black and white,  Utah caterer, top catering, Utah events

It’s hard to explain how important Jell-O was in my childhood. My mother had an entire section of her pantry dedicated to that relic of the 1950s. Jell-O was a staple at our table, and more than once, after she’d set out a delicious Sunday dinner of homemade rolls, homegrown veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy, and homemade pies, I heard Mom apologize, “I’m so sorry; I didn’t make Jell-O.”

My wife sees it a little differently.

As a member of the Crafts family (as in Culinary Crafts), my wife grew up with a very different culinary childhood and a different attitude about Jell-O. In our first year of marriage, my mom happened to tell Meagan that my absolute favorite dessert was a no-bake peach cheesecake topped with Jell-O. Always excited about a new recipe, Meagan decided to surprise me with it one day when I came home from school.

Well, Meagan is experimental when she bakes, discarding and substituting ingredients when it suits her, which consistently leads to tremendous results that are 1000% better than the originals. However, this is not one of those recipes.

Sometimes, there’s no substitute for Jell-O.

Meagan spent months working on this recipe, making dozens of edits and substitutions. She replaced the Jell-O with a homemade peach gelée, and she substituted fresh vanilla whipped cream for the Cool Whip. She tried using Culinary Crafts' famous cheesecake base instead of this no-baked version. Meagan experimented with fresh peaches, frozen peaches, diced peaches, sliced peaches, pureed peaches, compotes, marmalades, and curds. She tried a myriad of different ingredients, combinations, and setting methods, but nothing seemed to work the same way as the Jell-O original.

After one of these attempts, I finally asked Meagan, “Why not just follow the recipe?” She admitted that she had—several times—but she had to throw them out because she couldn't make the Jell-O set.

I had to laugh. Of all the millions of things my wife, the Queen of the Kitchen, does expertly, making Jell-O is not one of them. And in this recipe, there really is no substitute for these classic ingredients.

We still make this peach cheesecake with Jell-O whenever we visit my parents, but Meagan reminds me every time that once my mother passes away, she’s never making this recipe again. She says I’d better enjoy it while I can.

And I do!

peach cheesecake, Jell-O, cheesecake recipe, mint, white display stand, gelatin, no-bake cheesecake, favorite recipe, favorite dessert, easy dessert, fresh peaches, Utah catering company

NO-BAKE PEACH CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 12 oz Cool Whip, defrosted large bowl of popcorn

Jell-O Filling

  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 oz peach Jell-O
  • 6 cups of peeled & diced fruit of your choice (Frozen fruit works great, but I love using fresh peaches in season. Match the fruit to the flavor of Jell-O.)

Crust

  • 16 graham crackers, crushed in a blender
  • ½ cup butter

    Directions

    1. 1Melt butter and stir together with graham crackers. Gently press the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9X13 pan. Place in fridge to chill.
    2. Combine water, cornstarch, and sugar in a saucepan. Boil until thick, then add peach Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Set Jell-O filling aside until it has cooled, then add peeled & diced fruit.
    3. In separate bowl, stir cream cheese filling ingredients until fluffy and well blended.
    4. Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the crust. Spoon the Jell-O filling over top of the cream mixture.
    5. Chill until set. ENJOY!
  • 27x winner Utah’s Best of State

    24x Best of State Caterer

    3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

    1x Entrepreneur of the Year