April 2012

There’s a reason why shortbread cookies are a classic. Rich, tender, and buttery, with the perfect bite of salt. My kind of cookie. They’re also great for up here because they last a long time (if you don’t eat them all right away). The cookies can be kept in an airtight container for several weeks and still taste delicious. That’s difficult to say about a lot of other baked goods at altitude. These come out best when you roll the softened dough between two sheets of parchment paper. The thicker the better. Place the dough and parchment in the freezer until nearly frozen. Punch out cookies with your choice of cookie cutter and bake right away, while still almost frozen. This makes for easy cookie making and clean-up. Yesterday I [...]

Tucked away on a shelf at my parents home are dozens of “vintage” Taste of Home magazines. They are little time capsules back to a period when people cooked and baked without the use of dry mixes or pre-made ingredients. Particularly because they didn’t even exist yet. Everything was made from scratch and lots of love. Many of our family tradition recipes have come from those magazines. No holiday is complete without them. Sometimes my mom and I will pull out a couple of issues and flip through them for inspiration. Our conversation always flows like this: “Oh do you remember this soup? It was so good.” “Cookie dough brownies! How could we have forgotten about these?!” I love reading the brief descriptions or stories that accompany each recipe. A [...]

Move over Cliff bars! Yesterday brought on my first batch of oatcakes for the season. The grey weather had finally cleared, and I was meeting up with a buddy to go for a long hike in the mountains. The night before, I whipped up a batch of oatcakes to have on hand. Most of my friends who hike with me are familiar with these goodies. Loaded with oats, seeds, dried fruit, and natural sugars, they are perfect for curbing a hunger pang or added a much-needed energy boost mid-hike. There is nothing more disappointing then being out in the mountains and having to turn around early because you are hungry! You will be very angry with yourself. Especially if you are missing out on views like this. The oatcakes are [...]

Last weekend we received a more-than-generous end of season snowfall. Several inches over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; but I didn’t even bother to see the report on how much. Perhaps that gives an indication as to how I feel about the snow this time of year (go away!). The days that followed were grey and full of clouds spitting out snow flurries and rain. It was truly lovely. I had to fish out warm layers and boots from the depths of my closet. Oh mud season! One good thing about bad weather is that it frees up my time for baking. Without being tempted to play outdoors, I turn to my kitchen and bake up my own storm. A hankering for a breakfast sandwich sparked me to make these corn [...]

I take so many photographs out here that sometimes I don’t have room to incorporate them into my food posts. This will be the first post for HAB’s picture gallery feature.

Sometimes I walk into my kitchen and just stand there. How much of a mess do I feel like making? If I have to contemplate my cleaning procedures, then I usually remind myself that sometimes simple is best. However you choose to plate it… Bring on banana pudding. Stovetop custards and puddings are practically instant gratification. Throw your milk, sugar, and vanilla in a pot. Separate your egg yolks in a bowl with a little starch. Heat, temper, and cook until thick. DONE. Now you’re left with spoonfuls of pure comfort. When I used to work at the restaurant, sometimes I would amaze myself at how quickly I could make things happen. Oh, we now have 10 more people added on to this set menu? That starts in 1 hour? [...]

As a chef I respect the ingredients we use to create food with, and along with that I also deeply care about where they come from. You can never overlook that when it is your job to cook and bake with food everyday. I can tell you it is much more satisfying to buy a flat of peaches from the farmer who grew them himself, than it is to select them from a huge display in a grocery store. When I buy from a farmer I can see how much love he puts into his crops by the way he talks about them. How he was up until the early hours of the morning trying to pick those peaches so they would be at peak for the farmer’s market, and [...]

Last weekend, my friend and I were out at a bar in town. A drunk tourist guy beside us started going on and on about how casually dressed everyone was. “What’s with all the flannel?!” he drawled, gesturing around. I flashed back to when I lived in Chicago, and my life before becoming a pastry chef, when I had to wear heels to work everyday. And iron my shirts. I thought about how I had to dress up if I wanted to get good service at certain establishments. And I thought about gray, dreary winter days holed up inside. His comment offended me a little bit. I felt myself growing defensive. There are many things that make the high Rockies lifestyle different, but perhaps that’s why I’ve settled here for [...]

Okay, okay, another carrot recipe, I know. But going with the whole Easter theme and heading into a weekend, why not make up some doughnuts for breakfast? I used to serve a variation of these doughnuts at the restaurant. They were tossed in cinnamon sugar hot out of the fryer, and served with carrot walnut butter and raisin jam. Earthy harvest flavors on a plate. People will always order doughnuts off of a dessert menu, but I think the fact that these are a variation of cake was all the more enticing. They were a hit. I adapted this recipe to include carrot puree and ground walnuts. Doughnuts are fried for such a relatively short period of time (compared to baking a cake), that I opted not to use grated [...]

Easter snuck up on me again this year. I hadn’t even realized how quickly the end of March had flown by. Things are winding down in Vail and at the restaurant as we prepare to head into our ‘off season’. The temperatures are warming up, snow is melting, and less tourists are in town. This weekend was the Taste of Vail and I participated in the Mountaintop Picnic. We dragged all of our prepped food and gear up the gondola to the top of Vail mountain, along with numerous other chefs, restaurants, and liquor venders. Needless to say, everyone has a pretty good time, as we all trade with each other. I made a lemon curd ice cream that I served in little dishes with glazed huckleberries and tiny butter [...]

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