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January 25, 2023

Apple Spice Cake

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by Hattie Sandy

Field Kitchen Manager

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I come from a family of bakers and chefs.

My grandma would never sit down and eat with the rest of us because she was always serving at every meal. She had a china cabinet full of homemade caramels, turtles, pralines, and chocolate-covered cinnamon bears, plus plates of buckeye peanut butter balls and other treats scattered all over her house. My mother was an amazing cook too. People don’t believe me when I tell them, but throughout my whole childhood I never saw Mom make the same meal twice, unless it was to improve on a dish she wasn’t satisfied with.

I started baking at age four or five, and my favorite things to make were mostly desserts. Every Sunday from the age of eight I would make a cake or try a new recipe for brownies, cake pops, truffles, or some other sweet. In college I was known for my s’mores brownies, and my former roommates still ask about them.

For Thanksgiving 2021, a group of my friends agreed to meet at a cabin in Heber and bring something homemade to share. I decided to try a recipe for dense apple spice cake that looked and sounded delicious. The kitchen at the cabin was way too small, and we were missing a lot of tools, but the recipe still worked. In fact, it’s one of the few recipes that I will go back and make again and again. It’s not only delicious and satisfying, but it’s one of those desserts that makes people go “Oh, wow!” when you unveil it.

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APPLE SPICE CAKE

(from thefirstyearblog.com)

INGREDIENTS

Apple Spice Cake

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ stick butter, room temperature (¼ cup)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature (1 cup)
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste, or extract from vanilla bean pods
  • 5-7 cups powdered sugar

Caramel Drizzle

  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 Tbsp water

INSTRUCTIONS

Caramel Drizzle

(Be sure to prepare your caramel drizzle sauce in advance because it needs to cool before adding it to the cake.)

  1. Combine cream, butter, and salt in a medium pan, and warm over low heat until salt crystals are dissolved. When crystals are completely gone, remove from heat, add vanilla, and set aside.
  2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium-large pot over medium-high heat. Swirl occasionally until liquid reaches a golden color.
  3. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream mixture until smooth. Then remove from heat. At first, mixture will seem thin, but it will thicken as it cools.

Apple Spice Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Using butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 6-inch round cake pan or springform pan and line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper. In order to ensure even baking, place a bake even strip around the pan. (If you don't have a bake even strip, then you can make your own by cutting a towel or shirt to fit the size of your pan. Get the fabric really wet, then squeeze out the dripping water. While the fabric is wet but no longer dripping, wrap it around the pan and secure it with a safety pin.)
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Stir until well mixed.
  4. In a larger bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar and beat using an electric mixer until creamy, about 1 minute.
  5. Add in the egg and beat again with mixer. Add in the applesauce and mix by hand with a spatula. Gradually add in the flour mixture, mixing by hand until it’s incorporated.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, then use a spatula to spread it evenly.
  7. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Once the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, carefully remove the cake from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely on a cooling rack, then remove the parchment paper. If you need to level the top of your cake, do so now using either a cake lever or knife. When the cake is completely cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. This cake is good for up to one week like this.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

  1. While cake is cooling, combine the butter and vegetable shortening in a large bowl. Beat using an electric mixer for 2 minutes until fluffy.
  2. Add in the vanilla paste, then beat using electric mixer.
  3. Begin to add the powdered sugar, about 1-2 cups at a time, mixing by hand first, then with the electric mixer. Continue adding powdered sugar until the frosting tastes good to you.

HOW TO ASSEMBLE THE APPLE SPICE CAKE

  1. First, spread a small amount of buttercream on a 6-inch round cardboard cake circle. Then place your first layer of cake on top of the cardboard. Put buttercream on top of the first layer and spread it as even as possible with an offset spatula. (I use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of frosting between each layer, but you can decide how much frosting you want.)
  2. Second, repeat this process for each layer of cake. Once all of the layers are stacked and frosted, spread some frosting on the top of the cake.
  3. Third, go back and fill in any gaps between the cake layers with more frosting. The frosting between the layers does not need to look perfect, so don't overstress. Use a small offset spatula to get the frosting in between the layers and to spread it around the cake. Don’t completely cover the cake layers because they are supposed to still be visible.
  4. Place the entire cake in the freezer or fridge for 20 minutes in order to harden the buttercream.
  5. Once the caramel sauce is cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the caramel around the center and sides of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.
  6. Finally, add cinnamon sticks or another garnish to the top of the cake for decoration.
  7. At last, you're ready to serve and enjoy.

January 11, 2023

Guasacaca

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by Mosiah Guerrero

Production Chef

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Growing up, I loved to watch my mother cook. She came from a generation who believed that cooking was only for women, so she was a little annoyed to have her youngest son following her around the kitchen all the time, getting in the way. She would tell me to go play outside, but all I wanted to do was be in the kitchen with her, watching and learning.

Whenever Mom left the house, I took it as an opportunity to practice cooking. The dish I always tried was arroz con leche, a kind of rice pudding that we make in Venezuela with condensed milk. Unfortunately, I burned the pot EVERY TIME. When my mom came home and found another mess and another burned pot, she would run around the house looking for me. I was forbidden from cooking anymore, but that didn’t stop me. Even when she got frustrated and stopped buying condensed milk, I just figured out how to make condensed milk on my own.

It never occurred to me that cooking could be a career. After high school, I took a job as a dishwasher at Faustina Restaurant in Salt Lake City, but I figured I’d only be there briefly until I figured out what I wanted to do. Soon I became bored of the dishwasher routine and started watching what was going on in the kitchen. The head chef of the restaurant, Billy Sotelo, noticed my interest and asked if I wanted to start working the salad/appetizer station. After a week and a half of that, Chef Sotelo moved me up to the grill station where I finally got to dip my fingers into a whole new side of the kitchen.

Shortly after, the restaurant changed their menu. Chef Sotelo asked for input from all the employees, but he wanted us to make the recipes our own. I quickly thought of guasacaca, a Venezuelan version of guacamole. It’s amazing for empanadas, marinating chicken, fried mozzarella sticks, and hundreds of other uses. I experimented with the recipe until I had it mastered. The chef loved the sauce, but he didn’t love the name: Guasacaca sounds like…something you wouldn’t eat. He called it “Mosiah Sauce” and added it to the menu. It has been a hit with the customers ever since.

That was the first time I was truly able to make a recipe my own, and I’m still very proud of it. I am forever grateful that, at such a young age, I have been able to turn a passion into a career. Now that I’m a chef, I can do what I love and continue to create goals to become an even better chef every day. I know my mother never expected her son to spend his career in the kitchen, but at least now she doesn’t have to worry about me burning her pans.

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Mosiah Sauce Guasacaca

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 peeled garlic clove
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ yellow bell pepper
  • ½ jalapeno pepper (or use ½ Anaheim pepper for a milder taste)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Adjust salt and lime juice to taste. Enjoy!

December 20, 2022

Christmas Bagels

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With all the chocolates, sugar cookies, gingerbread, fudge, candy canes, and other sweets that bombard us around Christmas, wouldn’t it be great to have a more satisfying treat on hand? Something both festive and filling? Something like…Christmas bagels?

I like to make these Noel nibbles every December to celebrate the season while taking a break from all the sugary sweets. Not only are these Christmas bagels delicious and visually stunning, but they’re also a great excuse to recruit a loved one to help you in the kitchen. Your kids can form great memories of rolling the colorful dough and shaping the bagels while you talk and laugh together. What better way to celebrate the holidays?

Christmas Bagels

(makes 1 dozen bagels)

Ingredients for Sponge

  • 10 oz bread flour
  • 10 oz warm water
  • 0.03 oz yeast
  • 5 g malt powder

Instructions for Sponge

  1. The night before you plan to make the bagels, make your sponge by mixing all four ingredients together for four minutes. Scrape bowl and mix for two more minutes.
  2. Place sponge in a container, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temperature for at least 1.5 hours.

Ingredients for Dough

  • 23.5 oz bread flour
  • 9 oz warm water
  • 0.15 oz instant yeast
  • 0.8 oz salt
  • 0.3 oz malt powder
  • green and red food coloring
  • 1 oz molasses

    Instructions for Dough

    1. Place the proofed sponge into a large mixing bowl and add the water, yeast, salt, and malt powder. Mix.
    2. Divide dough into three equal parts. Add green food coloring to one portion and red to another. Leave the third portion uncolored.
    3. Mix the uncolored dough portion at low speed for 4 minutes. The dough should be slightly firm and a tiny bit sticky. If it’s getting too firm or dry, add a little water. (A softer dough will be much easier to mix and shape into bagels.) Turn speed up to medium and mix dough for 5 more minutes. Repeat this step with the other two portions of dough, one at a time. (If you’re using a mixer, mix the portions in the order of white, green, then red. Otherwise, the colors can get messed up.)
    4. Prepare sheet pans with parchment paper that has been sprayed on both sides.
    5. Working with one portion of dough at a time, scale the dough into 4 oz balls. (If you want to make mini bagels instead of regular size bagels, scale into 2 oz balls.)
    6. On a flat surface, stack the dough balls with one red, one green and one uncolored ball on top of each other. Gently roll the stack on the flat surface until the dough portions combine to form a “snake” approximately 1 inch in diameter. bagel recipe, rolling dough, how to roll bagels, bright colored dough, red, blue, yellow, pride week, dough, bagel making
    7. Shape the rolled dough into bagels by wrapping them around to form a ring. Where the two ends come together, gently roll the seal back and forth until the ends fuse.
    8. Place on prepared baking sheet, spray the bagels with cooking oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Retard dough in the fridge overnight or at least 6 hours. (You can also freeze the dough to be used later.)
    9. Remove the bagels from fridge. Dissolve molasses in a pot of boiling water. Boil bagels in the water/molasses mixture. When the dough starts to expand, flip the bagels and boil on the second side. Using chopstick or a slotted spoon, carefully remove the bagels from the boiling water.
    10. Bake bagels at 375°F for 15-20 minutes or until bagels are lightly golden brown. Allow bagels to cool to room temperature and slice clam-shell style.
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    This Christmas bagels recipe can be adapted to other holidays and occasions simply by playing with the color combinations. In the past, I’ve made these bagels for Pride Week every year.

    Happy Holidays, and eat well!

November 17, 2022

The Great Turkey Shortage of 2022

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This year’s massive turkey shortage may leave people scrambling to find their Thanksgiving turkey.

For years, the price of turkeys has been climbing due to inflation and rising costs of labor, fuel, fertilizer, and food for livestock. On top of that, a particularly deadly strain of avian flu hit in 2022, wiping out over 50 million birds across 43 states, including 6 million turkeys. In Utah’s Sanpete County alone, nearly half a million turkeys have died from the disease.

What does that mean for home chefs?

Well, unless you’re willing to pay an arm and a drumstick for your Thanksgiving protein this year, you basically have three alternatives:

1. Buy your turkey now

If you and your family have your hearts set on turkey, then time is of the essence. Already, 2022 turkey prices in the US have nearly doubled over last year, and prices will likely go up even more as Thanksgiving gets closer and supplies dwindle.

2. Look at alternative meats

Maybe this is the year to skip the tom altogether and grace your Thanksgiving table with a totally different kind of meat. Let’s be honest: many of your guests would probably prefer a succulent braised chicken to a traditional turkey. Chicken is still relatively affordable and easier to prepare, especially if you decide to spare yourself the trouble and just buy a rotisserie chicken this year.

Other meats that have been hits at our past Thanksgiving tables include short ribs, ham, and pork roast. If you want to stay true to history, duck, goose, and fish were probably on that first Pilgrim Thanksgiving table. (Passenger pigeon was also on the fare, but orders for passenger pigeon are no longer being filled.) Fish is an especially great choice to replace Thanksgiving turkey. Fall is the perfect time of year to enjoy fresh trout because their meat is at its peak flavor as they fatten up for winter.

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3. Go Vegetarian

Finally, there’s always the option of going vegetarian for your Thanksgiving protein…unless you’re afraid of starting a holiday riot.

Quinoa is a good source of protein, and it's versatile enough to be used in appetizers, salads, entrées, or desserts. Alternatively, you can drive all thoughts of turkey out of your guests’ minds as they dig into a Vegetarian Lasagna Bolognese or a hearty Mac and Cheese.

If you’ve ever longed to replace your Thanksgiving turkey with something more tasty (and less stressful to prepare), this year’s turkey shortage may be just the excuse you need!

Happy holidays from us all at Culinary Crafts. Eat well!

November 10, 2022

Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili

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Every year, around this time, our father makes his famous Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili.

Even though Dad is officially retired, he can be seen here in the kitchen practically every day making lunches for the team, helping out in a crunch, or sharing the awesome culinary expertise he gained over decades of catering. His Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili is a favorite with the team here at Culinary Crafts: seriously, it is sooo good! It’s like a spicy, warm, welcoming Thanksgiving hug.

One of the key ingredients in Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili—and in a lot of the other delicious, picante dishes Dad makes—is the combination of seasonings we refer to simply as “Ron’s Spice.” When you mix up a batch of the spice (see recipe below), we recommend making plenty of extra to keep on hand. It’s perfect for kicking up the flavor profile of fish, steak, chicken…basically any protein. The fire of the cayenne is balanced beautifully by the other sweet and savory spices. You’ll be amazed how many recipes will benefit from a little of Ron’s Spice.

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Pumpkin Chipotle Chicken Chili

(Makes two gallons)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Ron’s Spice Blend (see directions below)
  • 4 lb chicken tenders
  • 1 large purple onion, diced
  • 4 oz butter
  • 2 chipotles, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 (28 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 4 (15 oz) cans pumpkin
  • 4 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups sour cream
Instructions:
  1. Dry brine the chicken tenders by rubbing them in ½ cup of Ron’s Spice and letting them rest for 1-2 hours.
  2. In a large pot, sauté the chicken tenders over medium-high heat. Once browned, remove chicken from pot and dice into bite-size pieces.
  3. Deglaze the pot with a few Tbsp of water or white wine. Add butter and onion to soak up all the flavor from the browned remains (the “fond”) left over in the pot. Add another ½ cup of Ron’s Spice and the diced chipotles. Let it all bloom together until chipotles are tender.
  4. Add garlic and let it brown for 60 seconds. Add tomato paste and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
  5. Add diced tomatoes, pumpkin, black beans, chicken stock, and browned chicken. Bring to simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat. Add 4 cups sour cream.

Ron’s Spice Blend

(Makes 2.5 cups)

Mix together:

  • 8 Tbsp salt (kosher or any other kind without iodine or other chemical additives)
  • 4 Tbsp white pepper
  • 4 Tbsp black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp oregano
  • 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • 4 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne

Pro Tips: Any kind of salt will work so long as it has no iodine or other added chemicals. Also, feel free to kick up the heat level with as much cayenne as you and your guests can handle!

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