You already know you must have bitters to make a proper drink. Even mid-level mixology is impossible without them. However, where most home bartenders go wrong is by choosing one bitters—generally Angostura—and thinking that one size fits all. You wouldn’t make a Manhattan with vodka, so why would you try to make a Sazerac with Angostura?
Making many different cocktails with only one type of bitters is a bit like having a talented band with a bass player who can’t change tempo. Certain cocktails call for specific bitters for a reason.
My first two choices for the three must-have bitters are Angostura and Peychaud’s. Maybe it’s crazy to have two of my three top bitters be gentian-root based aromatic bitters. However, with the sheer number of pre-Prohibition-era cocktails that call for Angostura, that one is a given. Angostura is a classic and hard to replace in many classics, but where it is musky and masculine, Peychaud’s is spiced and feminine. Many of my favorites (Seelbach, Sazerac, Vieux Carre, Old Hickory Cocktail) call for Peychaud’s, so this is a must. While Peychaud’s can often times be substituted for Angostura, it would offensive to substitute Angostura for most cocktails calling specifically for Peychaud’s.
Angostura is the most commonly called for bitters, but not far behind are orange bitters. So many of the classic cocktails—such as a Bijou, Opera, Trilby, and Bronx—require orange bitters, so you simply must have one for a properly stocked bar. I actually have several, but one would suffice. There are many fantastic options out there so, how to pick? I always like to support local, but I love to support local when quality is on par with the best from around the world. My pick for orange bitters is none other than Beehive Spiced Orange Bitters, made here in Utah. Beehive’s Spiced Orange Bitters is, of course, heavy on the spice such as cinnamon, bourbon vanilla, and clove. And when the weather starts to cool down again in a few months, this flavor profile in my cocktails will really hit the spot.
So there I was, happily noshing away at a slice of Adelle in my kitchen. I’m relishing in the funky flavor, fresh texture, and all around amazingness that has been created by Ancient Heritage creamery in Portland, Oregon. The mix of sheep and cow’s milk make this both creamy and flaky in texture, sweet and funky in taste, and has a rind that only adds to the flavor. It may be just a tad too funky for some, and I wanted to find a way to make this a hit for everyone this weekend at a brunch party. I often reach for fruit to make any cheese more approachable, and this was no different. Amour Spreads’ Apricot Rose jam loves cheese as much as I do, and cheese and jam belong together at every brunch. Oh, you want to make it fancier, you say? Wrap it in puff pastry and bake it. Boom. Melty, gooey cheese with sweet, floral jam and baked pastry dough… Mom is going to love you.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll pastry out to about a 10 inch diameter. Slather the top of the wheel of cheese with jame and place jam side down on the puff pastry. Wrap pastry around the wheel of cheese and press to seal seams. Place in the center of a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with beaten egg. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow cheese to rest at least five minutes before serving. Serve with crackers, sliced fruit, or baguette and more jam to spread on top.
“Ask Matt Caputo” is a new, ongoing feature where Matt answers commonly asked questions from the market. This week, he discusses bitters as a cure for a distressed stomach.
Q: I over-ate this Thanksgiving. And with holiday parties and Christmas coming up, I’m wondering if I should look into aromatic bitters to ease my pain. Will they make a difference?
A: Well, I actually have quite a bit of experience with eating too much. If there is one thing I love it is food, and during the holidays, I can’t stand the thought of not having each and every one of my old favorites. On top of that, how could I pass up a new gastronomic experience. Shun a new dish just because I am full? Pah! No chance.
As the years go by, it is slowly but surely getting more difficult to put up with the physical aftermath, though. Over the past year, I have had more opportunities than I am proud to admit to test the curative powers of aromatic cocktail bitters.
As one would learn in our Intro to Bitters class, the history of these elixirs includes wild claims from the producers, purportedly curing everything from flatulence to impotence and absolutely everything in between. Luckily, the FDA cracked down on the “snake oil” side of bitters a long time ago.
However, from my experience, there is certainly truth to bitters ability to aid in digestion. Anytime I have overeaten or I am not feeling tip top in the tummy, I have a nice big glass of sparkling water with a healthy dose of Peychaud’s. Within a few minutes, I feel notably better. It almost never fails. Put 10 to 12 dashes in a small white wine glass, and that ought to do. Yeah, I take it in a wine glass. Why not? It smells incredible.
Obviously, I am no doctor, scientist, or herbalist, so I will leave it to them to tell you exactly which ingredient in these bitters is doing exactly what. But this practice should not seem that strange. Monks, apothecaries, and even grandmas from all around the world have long known the digestive value of things with bitter flavors.
Disclaimer: While Matt Caputo is a Certified Cheese Professional and specialty food fanatic, he is not a medical professional, doctor, or certified nutritionist. Please consult with your doctor or other qualified health care professional before making any healthcare decisions, diagnostics or treatment decisions based on Matt’s answers.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. My name is Adri, and I am the queen of procrastinated gifting. Try as I might, I have yet to finish my to-do list for gifts on time. Each holiday season is the same for me: I realize my gift list is 30% accomplished and 9% wrapped, I run all over the city looking for gifts at picked-over stores and pop-up shops (arms flailing above my head the whole time), and then I go back to home base: Caputo’s.
Here’s what I know: Everyone likes to eat. Call me crazy, but food is the perfect gift, time crunch or not. Everyone has to eat, so why not let your friends and family eat the very best and most delicious treats available? Here’s your guide to the very best last-minute gifts. One gift for each of the 12 days of Christmas, a la Caputo’s: 1. Utah Dark Chocolate Collection – You can never go wrong gifting chocolate, especially in Utah. The Beehive State is internationally recognized as a well known hub for fine chocolate, in both sales and creation. Utah is home to five bean-to-bar chocolate companies that are putting themselves on the fine-chocolate map with their artisan bars and dedication to creating the best chocolate possible. Give your pals a taste of Utah with this perfect collection of fine dark chocolate, all made in Utah.
2. Local Standouts Gift Collection – This is the ideal choice for the locavore in your life. We’ve hand selected seven items that are not only made locally, but they’re world-class artisan products. From bean-to-bar chocolate to smoky and savory chili oil, this is sure to please you local-lovin’ pals.
3. White Truffles – I’m quite sure that I would prefer truffles to diamonds, and I know I’m not the only one. This is it. The most luxurious and ultimately wonderful gift for your foodie friend, or you can use it as the focal point of you holiday meal. Just the aroma knocks you off your feet, so imagine what your finished entree will do.
4. Creminelli Salami – Utah is home to not only some of the best American artisan chocophiles, but also to some of the most die-hard locavores I’ve ever met. Cristiano Creminelli started his small production in the basement of our downtown store in 2007. Now, he and his company are a national example of the Slow Food movement. The flavors are a true delight, and I love sharing a piece of Utah with my friends and family. Creminelli salamis don’t need to be refrigerated until their packaging is opened, so you can rest easy when mailing these as a gift or when you travel on long road trips to see your family this holiday season.
5. OmNom Holiday Chocolate – Time for an ol’ holiday saying: When in doubt, gift chocolate. Here’s your stocking stuffer for 2015, in a sexy little package no less. Hate wrapping? No need here. OmNom is the king of packaging, and you won’t want to hide these bars for anything. Omnom’s seasonal holiday flavor this year combines dark cherries and caramel roasted almonds. This is the stocking stuffer you can give to everyone.
6. Craft Cocktail Collection – There’s something incredibly attractive about shaking a cocktail shaker around like a mad person…or like you know what you’re doing. If your loved ones are getting into the craft-cocktail movement and experimenting at home, this is the perfect gift. We’ve put together some of the most-often used and well-known products to get your home bar started. If these bitters and bar components are good enough for the best mixologists in the world, they’re perfect for your holiday gifting.
7. Cheese Cave Tasting Sampler – Our market was founded on our love of cheese, and that adoration has only grown stronger. We’re one of five retail locations in the entire country with a cheese cave program. One cave just wasn’t cutting it for us. We need more room to to add additional wheels of cheese into their ideal aging environment (it makes them as absolutely delicious as possible). Our second cheese cave is fully stocked since last holiday season with plenty of projects and affinage happening every second. Wanna know what the cave is all about, or want to share your knowledge? This is the perfect choice. Four of our favorite cave-aged cheeses come bundled and ready to eat. Hopefully they share with you!
8. Panettone – I’ve professed my own personal love for panettone from the proverbial rooftops of the world (read it here). This is a classic holiday treat and tradition that’s perfect for giving. No fruitcake here; this is entirely different. Light, sweet, transcendent, and the perfect match for coffee and digestifs alike. We have the very best Italian brands in stock. Just be sure to get yours before they’re all gone!
9. Chocolatier Blue – The ultimate in filled chocolates live right here at Caputo’s. Not only does Chocolatier Blue use locally-made Solstice Chocolate, they make products that are utterly divine. One taste will convince anyone of their superiority. The good news for you is that there are plenty of sizes to choose from. There’s a perfect size for each person depending on how naughty or nice they’ve been this year. 10. Caputo’s Gift Basket – On the go? We’ll have these made and ready to go at our downtown, Holladay, and 15th & 15th locations this month. Take the guessing and legwork out of your food gifting this year. We’ve done it for you. Classic favorites and best sellers are packaged and ready to go for you at a moment’s notice.
11. Balsamico Tradizionale – I become speechless(I know, so weird) when these babies come up in conversation. If the essence of Italy had to be squeezed into one tiny bottle, this is it. It’s the ultimate gift for your foodie pals and loved ones. Talk to your favorite mongers at your nearest Caputo’s location for our their preferred uses, but make sure you save some for summertime vanilla gelato and strawberries. ADDED BONUS: This is on sale for a HUGE discount. We’ve discounted it enough that you could buy a bottle for a gift and one for yourself as a reward for being such a fantastic gifter.
12. Class Certificates – Give the gift of food (or drink!) knowledge. It’s the perfect gift for a couple or a friend who might be new to either cooking or the Salt Lake valley. Pick up a certificate for the amount of the class, plus the optional beverage pairing, and let them choose the best class for their calendar and tastes. We’ll help you give the exact dollar amount or round up so your giftee can pick up a special little treat after the class. Choose from cheese or chocolate tastings, cooking classes, or whiskey classes. You read that right: whiskey classes! Remember that bucket list from SL Mag? Send them to the class!
If my friends have ever been to my house, I’ve likely fed them farro. It’s my go-to for sharing ,and it fits into almost any special dietary need. Plus, it’s delicious.
I may or may not have exhausted the palettes of all my friends with this play on risotto that uses farro instead. This pushed me to find a new way to prepare farro that’s a bit more exciting. And that exciting dash lies in a bottle of Peychaud’s. Adding bitters to my dressings, marinades, and vinaigrettes has opened my eyes to all sorts of new, fun ways to gussy up some old recipes. For this one, I cooked farro like rice rather than risotto, tossed in some pan-roasted zucchini, onion, and eggplant from the farmers market, added some flare with Laziz Toum and artichoke hearts, and then left the whole mess of deliciousness to chill for a few hours.
Once chilled, I added Peychaud’s to my favorite—and incredibly simple—dijon and sherry vinaigrette and drizzled it over the salad. I am so pleased with the results that I made this twice last week for dinner. Sweet and aromatic Peychaud’s adds a floral, almost-feminine component to the dish that matches its lightness and delicate flavors. It can be served hot or cold and loves a fried egg on top for added protein. Go on, you know you want some.
Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl. Drizzle over salads, greens, or roasted veggies.
Farro Salad Serves 6
1 1/2 cups farro
1 eggplant, cut into quarters and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 zucchini, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon Laziz Toum
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, sprinkle a generous amount of salt over sliced eggplants. Toss to coat and let sit at least 20 minutes. Squeeze slices to release any excess moisture and lay out on a paper towel.
Cover farro in 4 cups of water in a small saucepan. Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer 20 minutes.
In a skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil and onions. Cook until onions are browned entirely. Add zucchini and Laziz Toum. Stir occasionally and cook until zucchini is tender. Remove to a bowl. Add eggplant to the skillet and cook until browned. Add eggplant, cooked farro, and any additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or chill at least one hour. Serve with Peychaud’s vinaigrette.
Holy cow, this was such a wet week for us in SLC! I’ve been cozied up in all my favorite sweaters and boots all week, and I’m so surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed the cool weather and rain puddles. I had spent last weekend and the beginning of this week preparing for our Eat Local Cooking Class. Eat Local Week began this past Saturday, and our class was part of the festivities taking place all over the valley in celebration of our fabulous local food farmers and artisans. I had the menu set weeks in advance, local produce purchased, and a hoard of local products from the Caputo’s shelves that I couldn’t wait to share. Then, the rain came, and it changed the whole menu.
One of my favorite recipes comes from one of my favorite women, Marcella Hazan. I don’t think there will ever be another person or collection of recipes that I will admire more than her and hers. Smothered cabbage—it may sound bland or boring, but this is the base to the most comforting soup I’ve ever made. Caramelized onions, browned garlic, shredded cabbage, and light seasoning slowly cook over low heat for hours. This transforms the cabbage into a sweetened, complex, and totally craveable dish. On its own, it is the perfect side for roasted and braised meats. When I’m sick, however, this is the foundation for the soup that has entirely replaced the ol’ standby, chicken noodle.
I make a double batch of smothered cabbage as soon as I begin to feel a cold coming on. The cabbage will last for about two weeks in the refrigerator, and it only takes 25 minutes to make a new bowl of soup to snuggle up to. Cabbage is just beginning to make its fall debut at our local farmers markets, and this is the perfect recipe to add to your wintertime arsenal.
• 2 pounds green, red, or Savoy cabbage
• ½ cup chopped onion
• ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
• Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
• 1 tablespoon wine vinegar, white or red (I use sherry vinegar)
Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage. The remaining head of leaves must be shredded very fine. If you are going to do it by hand, cut the leaves into fine shreds, slicing them off the whole head. Turn the head after you have sliced a section of it until gradually you expose the entire core, which must be discarded. If you want to use the food processor, cut the leaves off from the core in sections, discard the core and process the leaves through a shredding attachment.
Put the onion and olive oil into a large sauté pan, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes colored a deep gold, then add the garlic. When you have cooked the garlic until it becomes colored a very pale gold, add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it is wilted.
Add salt, pepper, and the vinegar. Turn the cabbage over once completely, lower the heat to minimum, and cover the pan tightly. Cook for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until it is very tender, turning it from time to time. If while it is cooking, the liquid in the pan should become insufficient, add 2 tablespoons water as needed. When done, taste and correct for salt and pepper. Allow it to settle off the heat for a few minutes before serving.
Marcella Hazan’s Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup
3 cups homemade meat broth or 1 cup canned beef broth diluted with 2 cups of water, or 1 1/2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 3 cups of water
Put the cabbage and broth into a soup pot, and turn on the heat to medium. When the broth comes to a boil, add the rice. Cook uncovered, adjusting the heat so that the soup bubbles at a slow but steady boil, stirring from time to time until the rice is done. It must be tender, but firm to the bite, and should take around 20 minutes. If while the rice is cooking, you find the soup becoming too thick, dilute it with a ladleful of homemade broth or water. The soup should be on the dense-ish side when finished.
When the rice is done, before turning off the heat, stir in the butter and the grated cheese. Taste and correct for salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual plates and allow it to settle a few minutes before serving.
Note: The smothered cabbage can be prepared 2 or 3 days ahead of the soup, or served as a side dish from here. It also freezes well.
My favorite resurgent food theme from the last few years is what I like to call “grandma chic.” While food writers, bloggers, chefs, and amateur food enthusiasts will claim to march to beat of their own drum, we all love to follow and comment on the latest foodie trends.
The trends of 2014 included: the Great Kale Revolution, healthy lunches for kids, all local everything, gluten-free foods, and upscale comfort food. So far, 2015 moved further away from molecular gastronomy and embraced things like biscuits, waffles, poutine, and more obscure culinary traditions.
For me, it was “grandma chic” above all else. Everyone believes that their grandma or other kitchen matriarch makes at least one dish better than anyone else in the world. We’re all too happy to pit our sweet, shrinking, and wise elderly relatives against each other in hopes of prevailing with the most authentic and tastiest recipe.
Well guess what, both my grandmothers are Kitchen Queens. My paternal grandmother has cornered the market on eggplant parmigiano, lasagna, and peach pie. My maternal grandmother, Nonna, was the authority on fresh pasta, taralli, and seasonal cooking. She left us all too soon, but made a lasting impression on my life and forever changed my perspective in the kitchen.
Rino, of the now-closed Rino’s Italian Ristorante in the Parley’s Canyon area, is my first stop at the Saturday farmers market at Pioneer Park. His produce reminds me of my Nonna’s kitchen table.
A fresh white tablecloth was the base for the summer’s bounty, day in and day out. Tomatoes, peppers, greens, and many other veggies were piled high, tempting us grandchildren with their wafting scents. We’d sneak tomatoes and peppers all summer, but left our favorite veggies alone in hopes they’d be used for our favorite dishes. Mine included fresh orrechiette with veggies from the garden, braised beef with tomato sauce, and fried squash blossoms.
Nonna lightly fried squash blossoms in a big, cast iron pan that filled the kitchen with a sweet scent that tortured me until dinnertime. Our whole family would sit down, and I’d silently pray everyone would help themselves to the main course so I could get my grubby little hands on the blossoms. I loved the crunch at the tip of the blossom that gave way to its tender base filled with deliciousness. Sometimes, she’d fill them with herbed ricotta. Other times, she fried them plain, with no filling. I didn’t care which she chose, so long as there were blossoms to be had.
Rino has had blossoms since the market began this summer. I haven’t missed buying them—not even once. Each one is ready to be used, slightly fragrant, and cut the same way my Nonna cut them from the garden. I fry at least two of the 10 blossoms I buy from him. The others may be fried as well, or sautéed for pasta, added to farro salads, or as a simple topping on fried eggs or a frittata. No matter how they’re used, I silently thank both my Nonna for her delicious, simple way of cooking and Rino for the opportunity to cook her recipes from my childhood.
Make these squash blossoms for the people you love most. Serve them alongside pasta, poultry, or egg dishes, and manipulate this recipe so it becomes your own. Then pass it down as your family grows. Maybe someday, our grandkids will pit our recipes against each other, too.
Add oil to the pan, about 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat on medium-high until oil is fragrant and shimmering. While oil is heating, remove stamens from blossoms. Mix ricotta with fennel pollen and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon or pipe 1-2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture into the center of each blossom. Don’t overfill with ricotta (I know it’s tempting, I still make this mistake. Remember, we want to taste the blossom.) In a medium bowl, whisk beer into flour and salt until only small lumps remain.
Dredge blossoms in batter and shake off any excess before laying them into the oil to fry. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan and fry each side of blossoms for about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate layered with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve immediately.
The Tuesday Farmer’s Market at Pioneer Park is a much anticipated event for many. It signals the beginning of a bountiful harvest and the last weeks of summer. Tuesdays are a smaller, quieter, and food-focused version of the Downtown SLC Farmers Market on Saturdays. I can stroll listlessly through the handful of stalls in the early evening rather than navigating a path, elbows first, through a sea of fellow food lovers in the early hours of Saturday. There’s more time to chat with farmers about different varieties of fruits and vegetables, more time to make a wise choice, and much less traffic or other elbows.
My first Tuesday purchases were huge, heavy heirloom tomatoes, a small basket of cherry tomatoes, a perfectly ripe watermelon, bread, and greens. Greens, bread, and heirloom tomatoes were bought for specific purposes. The cherry tomatoes and watermelon were for halloumi, but I wasn’t quite sure how they’d all come together, or if one would be chosen over the other. Bon Appetit’s recipe inspired me to create an easy, fresh way to incorporate both components with what Evan has dubbed “the cheese that grills.”
As previously mentioned this month, Halloumi has the uncanny ability to grill or brown, without ever melting. It always feels strange to lay pieces of cheese down on a fiery hot cast iron pan and see it sizzle and brown rather than melt into a cheesy, goopy mess. The salty, sheep’s milk cheese mingles perfectly with fresh, sweet watermelon and warm, charred tomatoes. A sprinkling of chopped mint and basil elevate the aroma and fresh factor, while a decent dousing of Viola EVOO is the perfect finish, because duhhhhh, Viola. Note: I finish everything with Viola, because it makes everything infinitely more delicious…and because I can.
This a lovely, plated salad for two to four people, but also a lovely addition to a large barbecue. Lay components in clean lines for a fancy-schmancy buffet-worthy dish. Either way, these ingredients are all in season, and you deserve a delicious salad in your life. Go on, enjoy.
Watermelon and Halloumi Salad
1/2 pound rindless watermelon slices, cut into triangles
Viola olive oil, or another condiment grade olive oil for drizzling
Heat a small cast iron pan over medium heat. Lay watermelon slices on a plate in a whimsical pattern (or in a uniform one if you like that). Season with kosher salt. Add oil and tomatoes to the cast iron; roll tomatoes around the pan every two minutes or so until sides begin to brown and skins burst. Remove to a small bowl to cool slightly. While tomatoes are cooling, lay 4 slices of Halloumi Cheese on the cast iron pan, letting brown for about one minute before flipping. Remove halloumi, and lay over watermelon slices. Scatter cherry tomatoes across the plate, sprinkle with basil and mint. Add more salt if desired, and finish with a good drizzle of condiment oil. Serve immediately.
Last week, we wrapped up our annual Classic Cookbook Cooking Class Series last week as part of our ongoing cooking classes here. I love this series because it gives me a chance to revisit some of my favorite cookbooks from some of the world’s most influential chefs.
This year, we featured Marcella Hazan (because she’s my soulmate), James Beard, Alice Waters, and Thomas Keller. Keller is the only American chef to receive Michelin stars at two unique restaurants, Per Se and The French Laundry. Keller’s exquisite style of cooking is often intimidating and taking the plunge is often a scary endeavor. I don’t blame any of you who may feel this way, my feelings were the same. If I could make one suggestion to everyone embaraking on their first Keller cooking journey, it would be to prepare a mise en place.
mise en place
/miz en plas/
1.(in a restaurant kitchen) the preparation of equipment and food before service begins
Preparing your ingredients and having all necessary kitchen equipment on hand ahead of time makes the experience much less stressful and more enjoyable. Aside from Keller’s fantastic recipes, he’s taught me the very useful habit of preparation. For this, I will be forever grateful, and much less stressed while cooking.
Another restaurant under the Keller umbrella is Ad Hoc, featuing a set menu served family style in a more casual, but equally delicious, environment. Ad Hoc’s broccolini salad is the perfect introduction to Keller’s way of cooking, plus it uses my very favorite summertime cheese, burrata. I love doubling or tripling this recipe and serving at barbeques and summer holiday parties. It has a lovely presentation and the flavors are a perfect compliment to grilled proteins. Go ahead, give this Keller recipe a try and see where you go from there. Enjoy!
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously before adding broccolini. While water is coming to a boil, prepare a large bowl of ice water. When water boils, add the broccolini and blanch until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Submerge broccolini in bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut the mushroom caps into paper-thin slices. I used a sharp paring knife, but the book suggests that a Japanese mandoline also works well. Place in a small bowl.
Cut all four sides of each olive away from the pit in flat slices. Lay the slices flat-side-down and cut into thin slices.
Lay the broccolini in a single layer on a plate and drizzle with about 2 Tbsp. vinaigrette (whisk together 1 part sherry vinegar, 3 parts olive oil, salt, and pepper). Toss with your hands to coat. Sprinkle with additional salt or pepper if desired. Add 1 Tbsp. vinaigrette to the bowl with the mushrooms, and toss to coat, adding a bit more if needed. Move broccolini to serving platter and top with marinated mushrooms, then sliced olives.
Place the burrata in a small serving bowl. Using kitchen shears, cut a small X in the top of the burrata to expose the creamy center. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Add the bowl of burrata to the serving platter. Serve salad with tongs and a spoon for the burrata. Each person can top their own serving with the burrata.
I love to people watch. It’s one of my now-not-so-secret pastimes while I’m sitting in busy places. Airports, restaurants, bars, you name it, I’ve watched people in ’em. While planning the menu for a class in our Classic Cookbook Series, I came upon an exceptional reason and place to put my people-watching skills to work: the grocery store.
Julia Child was the first goddess for our series, and her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, took center stage for the evening. I wanted to provide a glimpse into Julia’s book with only four recipes. Talk about a challenge. Recipes in this book have taken me an average of 2.5 hours to successfully serve, from start to finish, with many taking much, much longer. Putting these recipes on the board for a class that would ideally take 90 minutes was surely difficult—and panic inducing. That considered, I relied on my personal favorite recipes, many hours of prep before the class, and said experiment.
Salt Lake City is afraid of artichokes. Not the frozen hearts, not the dips, not the actual vegetable itself. We are afraid of purchasing a whole artichoke and figuring out how to coax it into a presentable and edible state. I now know this from creeping around local grocery stores and watching people inspect these lovely little globes. I spent about fifteen extra minutes wandering aimlessly around the produce section of two stores, keeping a close eye on the heaping piles of artichokes. Kids were always the first to find the artichokes. They’d pick them up, poke at the leaves, then get poked back by the tips of the leaves. Yelps of pain, surprise, or anger followed. They would march to their mothers, demanding to know what the mean little green thing was. The mother would often put it back with a one word answer, and then tell them they’re not easy to make or good to eat. Younger adults would approach them, inspect them like the younger kids, get on their phones—most likely googling uses for them—and then frantically put them down and move on.
On one of my most recent adventures, I spent time picking a few perfect artichokes for friends. At least three shoppers and two sales clerks asked me what I was planning to do with them. When the word ‘braise’ left my mouth, eyes popped, mouths dropped, eyebrows raised.
Guys, they’re not that bad! These lovely thistle blooms deserve credit for being delicious, unique, and rich with history. Mediterraneans love artichokes for good reason. They are plentiful, delicious, and packed full of folate, vitamins A and K, plus they’re listed as the #7 best source of antioxidants from the USDA.
So, you wanna give it a try? Yes? Excellent! Let us show you how to prep an artichoke for devouring and cook it to perfection, all courtesy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Start by selecting artichokes with their leaves stil tightly closed, we run the risk of them being too tough when beginning to bloom. Give them a quick rinse and then trim off the small leaves at the base. Trim the base or stalk so it is able to stand upright on its own.
Slice about one inch off the top of the artichoke and then trim the points off the rest of the leaves. I often skip trimming all the leaves, don’t tell Julia! Slice the artichokes in half lengthwise and cut out the choke—the small, hairy looking center—with a paring knife. There! Done! You’re ready to cook your artichokes in any way you desire. I’m including Julia’s recipe for braised artichokes with wine, garlic, and fresh herbs below. This is my favorite preparation for the funny little vegetable. Enjoy!
Julia’s Braised Artichokes with Wine, Garlic, and Herbs
6 artichokes, prepared as described above
1 cup yellow onion, diced
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
1 tied herb bundle (4 parsley sprigs, 2 bay leaves, 4 thyme sprigs)
Freshly chopped parsley
Cut artichokes into quarter and blanch in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large cast iron casserole dish over medium heat. Saute onions until soft. Sitr in garlic and arrange artichoke pieces in the casserole. Baste with olive oil, onions, and then season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, being careful not to brown the artichokes.
Add vinegar and wine to the dish. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until reduced by half. Add the herb bundle and lay a piece of parchment paper directly on top of the artichokes. Cover casserole and place in the middle of the oven. Braise for 75-90 minutes, or until liquid has almost entriely evaporated. Discard herb bundle, sprinkle chopped parsley over artichokes, and serve.
I’ve developed a newfound affection for Southern cooking over the last two years. It’s not something I make as often as the Mediterranean fare, but it’s always an anticipated and welcomed evening for myself and my hungry friends. We’ve always begun with staples fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits, then added vegetable sides depending on seasonality. I was craving a spicy component with this last Southern kitchen evening, and it landed in an unlikely place: my biscuits.
Biscuits are one thing I have a firm opinion on and process for. I may be a New Mexican at heart with my roots firmly planted in Utah, and my cooking may be mostly Mediterranean, but I still believe in my biscuit method.
1. Always use buttermilk: you’ll end up with shorter, drier, blander, and definitely sadder biscuits without it.
2. Never over mix: we want big pieces of butter here. Big bits equals big, flaky air pockets
3. Never twist your biscuit cutter: when cutting, you want to use a straight up-and-down method; twisting closes off those butter pockets and makes biscuits less flaky.
With all that out of the way, let’s talk about the biscuit.
They are, of course, perfect as a side for supper; however, my favorite time to consume these is during breakfast. Egg, cheese, biscuit, extra Chili Beak, and a cup of coffee make for my perfect Saturday morning. Enjoy!
Chili Beak Biscuits
Makes 10-16 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scoop 3 heaping tablespoons of Chili Beak into a fine mesh sieve. We’ll use the solids for the biscuits. Save the oil for brines, salad dressings, or to finish roasted veggies.
Whish flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Mix in pieces of butter with a pastry cutter, two knives, or pinch between your fingers until the mixture resembles a very coarse meal (remember, big chunks are your friend). Stir buttermilk and Chili Beak in until mixture forms a raggy dough. Use your hands to finish mixing until the dough just comes together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Roll dough out until about 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut straight through dough. (I use a larger size cutter for breakfast sandwich biscuits, smaller when used for a dinner side). Set biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown, about 12-15 minutes depending on the size of your biscuits. Serve warm with butter and more Chili Beak. We also tried some with raspberry jam, the sweet/spicy combo was delicious.
Our addiction to Chili Beak around Caputo’s is palpable. We douse our eggs, salads, sauces, pizzas, and anything else we’re currently consuming with the stuff.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of hot sauce, in general. But this is a game changer.
In the past, I’ve shied away from hot sauces because the overwhelming acidity overtakes the flavor of whatever it’s added to. Chili Beak is a great way to add some heat and additional flavor, without sacrificing the integrity of your dish.
We’re dedicating this week to Chili Beak, and we’re starting off with breakfast—my favorite meal. Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish that’s said to have originated in Tunisia. Eggs are poached in a tomato-based sauce often made with onions, peppers, and cumin, which is a perfect savory breakfast dish. It’s also something I’m happy to eat for evening meals, as well. Shakshuka makes for a lovely centerpiece at the table, one that epitomizes family-style eating.
Serve Shakshuka with plenty of flatbread or veggies for dipping, and you have a fun, delicious meal. Added bonus: versatility. You can include potatoes, beans, or whatever you have on hand, and make this dish your very own. Of course, you’ll want to have loads of extra Chili Beak as a final garnish and for extra heat.
Here’s to the start of a great, delicious week. Cheers!
3 tablespoons Chili Beak, plus more for garnish and serving
8 eggs (we love using fresh eggs from Clifford Family Farm)
Warm pita, for serving
Freshly chopped parsley
Heat olive oil in a large skillet or cast iron pot over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, and paprika. When garlic has softened, add tomatoes, Chili Beak, and 1/2 – 1 cup of water. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
Crack eggs over tomato sauce and cover until whites are just set, about 5 minutes. Spoon sauce over egg whites and garnish with parsley and more Chili Beak. Serve immediately with pita and veggies.