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December 5, 2018

Badass Boards: Kaleb’s works of art.

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An end grain cutting board is the Cadillac of cutting boards. Both functionally and aesthetically, they are tough to beat. Let's talk a little bit about why an end grain board is so special. Think of your cutting board like a paint brush with the wood grain being the bristles of the brush. Lay that paint brush horizontally, and you have a long grain cutting board. Your knife is going to rest on top of the bristles. Functional, but quite hard on your knife. Additionally, these are not quite as durable as an end grain board as scratches will add up over time and pieces of wood fiber can even eventually be dislodged.Image result for end grain vs edge grain Now take the paint brush and hold it vertically and you have an end grain cutting board. Your knife can slide easily into the bristles. In fact the bristles actually make a cushion for your knife. And after each cut the bristles or wood fibers can spring back into position. Scratches are less likely and less visible and the board itself much more durable.Image result for end grain vs edge grain So, if an end grain board is so much better, why don't we see them everywhere? The biggest reason is simply due to the additional work that is involved in making an end grain cutting board, which then makes them quite a bit more expensive. For a long grain board, you can simply glue strips of wood together and voila! Image result for edge grain However, to expose the end grain, you have to then take the completed board and cut it into strips, flip them on end and glue the whole thing back together before sanding for hours and hours to achieve a flat smooth board. So, if an end grain board is definitely the way to go...are all end grain boards created equal? Certainly not. The biggest thing to look for in selecting your new board is the type of wood. We don't want a soft wood or a wood that has an open or loose grain structure. We also don't want an overly oily wood. We are after a nice hardwood with a dense, closed grain pattern. But some woods have a VERY dense grain structure. So much so that even the end grain is still quite hard on your knives. Imagine our paint brush standing on end but being squeezed so tightly the knife still can't be cushioned because the bristles are so tight. Pine and cedar are cheap and easy to work with, but just too soft and open grained. Teak, ebony, bubinga, acacia, hickory and others will make a stunningly beautiful board, however they are just too densely grained. Cocobolo, goncalo alves, purpleheart and other tropical hardwoods are some of favorite woods for certain projects, but just too oily for a cutting board. My top choice for an end grain board is hard maple, often referred to as rock maple. This is the perfect balance of dense grain, that is hard and durable and actually still quite affordable. Now, some of the most beautiful boards out there combine different lumbers to create spectacular contrasting patterns, so a great choice for secondary woods could be walnut, oak, cherry, or others. I decided to make these for my holiday gifts. They were a lot of work but totally worth it! Check out what I have been up to all year!  
Tips for care of your end grain board
  • Utah air is awfully dry and cause wood boards to split and crack. Conditioning the wood will prevent cracking and keep it looking beautiful. A good rule of thumb for treating a new board is to oil once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and once a year for life. You should also treat wood after washing with heavy soap or anytime the wood looks dry.
  • There are various conditioning oils, creams, waxes and blends available specifically for wood boards. However, the simplest solution is as good as any: mineral oil. Avoid vegetable oils and any others that aren't perpetually stables since they will eventually go rancid and make your board stink.
  • Keep your cutting board on the counter top where it can breath. Avoid storage in places where airflow is stifled and where moisture can get trapped.
  • Always wash your board by hand with soft materials. Only use soap when necessary. Never wash in the dishwasher, and never leave the board to to soak submerged.

November 29, 2018

Top picks for the kitchen! Holiday gift ideas from our chefs.

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  With the holidays just around the corner, we put together a list of items our chefs just could not live without in their own kitchens. Here are their recommendations:
Ryan Crafts- Burr Coffee Grinder
The single most important step to take to improve your home coffee experience is using freshly roasted and freshly ground beans. I find the best beans are almost always from a local roaster (Publik, D'Bolla, and Pink Elephant are some of my Utah favorites). I weigh out the beans for my cup each morning and grind immediately prior to brewing with burr grinder.
 
Kaleb Crafts- End Grain Cutting Board
End grain boards last longer than edge grain boards. End grain boards are easier on your knives, leaving them sharper longer. They're also one of the most beautiful additions you can make to any kitchen.

Meagan Crafts- Bench Knife and Squeeze Bottle
The 2 items I use most in my home are a bench knife and squeeze bottle. I use my bench knife to cut and divide breads, desserts, and candies. It is the way it fits in your hand as opposed to a chef knife that makes it faster to use. I use squeeze bottles for everything—dressings, chocolate, sauces, etc. It makes plating and designing fun and creative!

Chef Brandon Roddy- Immersion Blender
From soups to vinaigrettes, a stick blender in your home will change a daunting task to the easiest thing to do in the kitchen.

Chef Robert Mendoza- Can Opener
I recommend a good can opener! I can make do with a lot of other things, but there is really only one way to get into a can!
 
Chef David Dexter- Vegetable Peeler
This is simply for ease. Every home has 3 or 4 vegetable peelers, but only 1 good one. Invest in a quality one and throw the other ones out!

Chef James Arnold- Cutting Board
My cutting boards are my most used items in my kitchen. I love having set cutting boards for each type of food I am cooking—poultry, red meat, vegetables, etc.

Chef Utahna Warren- Quality Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Drop the money to buy some quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It will change the way you cook.

Chef Jaden White- Mixing Bowls
Mixing bowls are a great addition to your collection. At Culinary Crafts, we have dozens and dozens of bowls and the varying sizes makes the kitchen experience a breeze.

Chef Libby Rice- Electric Stand Mixer
My KitchenAid is my most precious possession in my kitchen. I don't know how people managed to whip cream and egg whites or hand knead dough endlessly back in the day. A good mixer can change the speed and efficiency with which you cook in the kitchen.

Chef Kayde Dexter- Cast Iron Pan
A 9-11" cast iron skillet is the most versatile pan I own. It adds a cool level to home cooking.

Chef Raquel (Rocky) Ortega- Heat Resistant Spatula
Make sure you find one that can withstand the heat, it will ease your cooking experience.

Chef Lacy Johnson- Instant Read Thermometer
The best way to revolutionize the way you cook is with and instant read thermometer. Getting your proteins to the perfect temperature instead of guessing will change the way you eat.

Chef Danielle Mahoney- Chef Knife
You cannot even begin cooking without a quality chef knife. If I was going to upgrade any item in my kitchen it would be a good knife first!

Chef Madison Oliveira- Rice Cooker
As silly as this may seem, my mother-in-law gave us a rice cooker for our wedding, and I am never going back. It is wonderful.

Chef Megan Gagne- Off-Set Spatula and Piping Bag
As a pastry chef, I love to decorate—especially for the holidays. An off-set spatula and piping bag with tips are key to decorating all those fun desserts and plates for your holiday season.

Chef Cambridge Dockendorf- Kitchen Shears
If you follow our blog, last week we showed you all the glories of spatchcocking a turkey. The magic of kitchen shears doesn't stop there. I use mine every day and I love not having a pair that has to cross over—they are just for cooking.

Chef Jocelyn Gillies- Scale
Cooking is a science, the weight of your ingredients is so important, a volume measurement is never as precise as it should be. A scale will change the quality of all your recipes.

Chef Hunter Ashton- Microplane
A microplane in your home will add a new level to your cooking. Fresh orange zest over your pork loin or fresh nutmeg shaved right into your egg nog is a beautiful addition.

Chef Kyle Castillo- Non-Stick Skillet
A good non-stick skillet is a great addition to any kitchen. You cannot have too many of these!

Chef Dardree McClellan- Serrated Knife
I bake bread in my home all the time and having a great serrated knife makes my life easier.

Chef Calli Kassel- Hallow Ground Santoku Knife
A quality chef knife is important but an Asian chef knife is super cool. Because the blade is ground at a 20 degree angle it is crazy sharp and makes cutting anything like cutting though butter.

Chef Allison Parker- Knife Sharpener
I recommend a knife sharpener, not a honing steel (although that is a great piece as well), so you can keep your blades crazy sharp. Being able to do this at your home instead of taking it to a shop makes keeping your knifes sharp easy and convenient. Having this addition to your kitchen will surprise you by how dull your knives can get.

Chef Megann Brimhall- Bacon Grease
I couldn't think of a tool, but I certainly use bacon grease often! Don't be grossed out—I use it to grease pans, fry pancakes and eggs, and sauté vegetables—yummm. A great Christmas gift for me would be a pound of bacon and a wide mouth mason jar specifically for keeping my grease. Make sure to buy a little strainer specifically to get out the little bits of bacon, though, so it doesn't go rancid.

Chef Adam Park- Large Flake Salt and a Salt Cellar
Most home cooks under season. One of the best ways to finish a dish is with some beautiful seasoning salt. A salt cellar will help you keep your finishing salt separate. Also, salting by hand is more balanced than using a shaker. The salt cellar lets you measure your salt in your palm.

November 15, 2018

The Amazing One Hour Turkey

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posted by KStJohn written by Meagan Crafts Price
When I used to cook turkeys with my mom, it was 20 minutes for every pound of turkey and 6 hours later we would finally have a turkey. It took constant minding and focus and the oven was completely useless for anything else as it was full of a turkey at a ridiculously high heat. This method of cooking your Thanksgiving turkey will change the Thanksgiving Day madness for good.
Ingredients 1 cup of butter 2 bundles of each, fresh sage and thyme 15-20 lbs turkey---neck and giblets removed 10 cups water 6 cups apple cider 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar 2 cups kosher salt To cook your turkey in 2 hours, the key is butterflying your bird. It is quite simple, lie your bird on a large cutting board breast side down. Take a pair of kitchen shears and get a good grip on your bird, then cut down the length of the bird. Start at the tail and slice up to the neck cutting down one side of the backbone. If you get too close to one of the bones, don't try to cut through it. Just adjust your shears and cut around it. Continue until you have completely separated one side from the backbone. Repeat on the second side of the backbone, so you will have the backbone completely separated. Make sure your cuts look clean. If you see any large bits of fat or marrow, use your hands to get those out of the way. Flip your turkey back over so the breast is up. Then open up the back that has your lovely slit in it and straighten out the legs so it almost lies flat on your cutting board. Now the fun part. Place your hands on the breast bone and press down hard until the turkey lies flat. This takes a decent amount of force. You will hear a few cracks in your turkey as you break the bones. Your bird is now ready to brine. Combine water, cider, vinegar, and kosher salt, 1-3 sprigs of thyme and sage. Because you have butterflied your bird your brine will be truly able to cover the whole bird in just your roasting pan. Refrigerate 12 hours or overnight. In the morning, rinse your bird thoroughly and dry completely with paper towels. Using your fingers, separate the skin from the breasts and thighs. Rub the butter over the breasts and thighs, under the skin. Slide a few leaves of sage and sprigs of thyme under the skin. Season all the sides with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place turkey on a wire rack in your roasting pan. Place remaining sage and thyme on the inside of the bird. Roast until the thickest part of the breast is at 145 degrees and the joint between the body and the thigh is 160 degrees (about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of your bird). When temping, keep your thermometer as close as you can to the bone, without touching the bone. Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board on your counter top and allow to rest for 10-20 minutes. This allows all your juices to be reabsorbed by the muscles.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!    Meagan

November 8, 2018

Our Thanksgiving Plan: timeline to help you prepare for Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving at the Crafts’ house is always a production. Everyone is welcome at our house; we invite family, in-laws, co-workers, friends, and even a few strangers, which leaves us with a large guest count to manage. So, we start the planning well in advance. Here is the basic outline of our Thanksgiving game plan showing how we make sure all the pieces come together for the perfect meal. The most important thing to remember is no one can do this alone! From menu planning to furniture moving to enjoying the meal . . . this is a family and friends holiday. Embrace the season and enjoy!

Thanksgiving Game Plan

3 weeks out
Plan menu. Make shopping lists.
Order turkey.
Any new equipment needed? Gravy separator? Roasting pan? Instant read thermometer?
2 weeks out
Do 1st shopping trip for all non-perishable items and items needed for pre-cooking.
Make vinaigrette for salad.
Make cranberry salsa.
Make pie crust (roll, put in pie pans, freeze)
6 days out
Do 2nd shopping trip. Make centerpiece and table runners.
4 days out
Prepare bread for stuffing.
  3 days out
Prepare stuffing and refrigerate.
Peel potatoes, cube, cover with water, and refrigerate.
Make tray with all ingredients needed for mashed potatoes.
Prepare vegetables and goodies and refrigerate.
Prepare sweet potato casserole and refrigerate.
Make greeting beverage such as hot spiced cider.
Place turkey in refrigerator, if using frozen turkey.
2 days out
Set table and press linens.
Last minute cleaning and tidy.
Give assignments for Thanksgiving Day for last minute items.
  1 day out
Brine turkey.
Toss salad, cover, and refrigerate.
Make bread dough, form into rolls, cover, and refrigerate.
Make fillings for pies and refrigerate.
    Thanksgiving Day
Set out stuffing and sweet potatoes.
Bake pies.
Bake rolls.
Put turkey in turkey roaster.
Bake stuffing and sweet potatoes.
Take out turkey 20-30 minutes before serving dinner. Tent with foil and let rest.
  Last 15 minutes
Cook potatoes and mash.
Make gravy.
Set refrigerated items on the table.
Toss salad with vinaigrette.
Pour beverages.
Enjoy this holiday season! - Love the Crafts' Family

October 16, 2018

Recipe of the Month: Mushroom Barley Soup with Pumpkin Shaped Polenta Bread Rolls

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Our Mushroom Barley soup is incredible even without these adorable polenta bread rolls shaped like pumpkins. But making these pumpkin shaped rolls with friends or family turns an ordinary lunch or dinner into a party! We’ve included detailed step-by-step instructions for making the rolls. These rolls can also be used as the soup bowls, just cut off the tops and scoop out the inside.  Have fun and enjoy!
Barley Mushroom Soup
Makes 16 cups
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter
4 cups chopped mushrooms
6 bunches chopped green onion
2 cups celery
2 chopped onions
½ gallon chicken broth
1 cup pearl barley
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoons pepper
4 russet potatoes, diced
2 cups heavy cream
Directions, Tips & Techniques
Melt butter and sauté vegetables until tender.
Add chicken broth, pearl barley, chopped parsley, bay leaf, dried thyme, and pepper to vegetables.  Cover and simmer for 60 minutes.
Add potatoes and heavy cream to soup and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Pumpkin-shaped Polenta Bread
Makes 12 - 5oz. breads
INGREDIENTS
2 cups Warm Water 98-102 degrees
2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
½ cup Sugar
½ cup Vegetable Oil
½ cup Polenta
2 tsp. Salt
2 lb. Bread Flour (just over 7 cups approximately)
2 eggs for egg wash plus green and orange food coloring
Directions, Tips & Techniques
Pour water into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, add yeast and sugar. Wait until yeast begins to bubble - about 10 min.
Add all dry ingredients. Mix on 1st (low) speed for 4 minutes and then second speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides.
Cover with plastic wrap and proof on counter for about an hour until doubled in size.
Divide dough into 12 - 5oz pieces for the body of the pumpkins and 12 - ½ oz. pieces for the stems. Shape 5 oz. pieces into small balls, and pinch the ½ oz. pieces into a tear drop shape. Cover with plastic wrap and proof on counter for about an hour until doubled in size.
Before baking, take a serrated knife and cut 5-7 slits from the top of the bun to the middle - these are what give the roll their pumpkin shape. Don’t cut too deep, just light cuts will be enough.
Whisk together 1½ eggs with 1T. of water and 3-7 drops of orange food coloring depending on how vibrant you want your pumpkins. With a pastry brush paint the 5 oz. pieces with orange egg wash.
Whisk together ½ egg with 1 tsp. of water, add 2-5 drops of green food coloring depending on how vibrant you want the stems. With a pastry brush paint the  ½ oz. pieces with green egg wash.
Using your thumb, make an indent in center of the 5 oz. pieces. You want the indent to be about ½". Place the green stems in the indent.
Bake at 375ºF in convection oven until golden brown- about 20 minutes.
Cool on wire racks.
Enjoy!

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