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 [...]

My liquor of choice: bourbon. My chocolate fix of choice: brownies. I think you can see where this is going. This brownie adaptation comes from the brilliant guys at “Baked”, with locations both in Brooklyn, NY and Charleston, SC. I have a couple of different brownie recipes I reach for depending on the need. This particular recipe is an all-around good pick because the brownies have an intense chocolate flavor that is perfectly complimented with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, due to a generous proportion of butter and eggs. Most brownie recipes call for (or benefit from) a little bit of pure vanilla extract. In this case, I decided to use bourbon instead. Like vanilla extract, it’s very subtle in this recipe, but it rounds out the chocolate flavor nicely. Rum or [...]

These muffins could easily be thrown into a category I like to call ‘power muffins’. In the summer months, I find myself to be even more active than I am in the winter. My body recognizes that and naturally craves healthy, energizing fuel. I often forgo the Cliff bars and trail mix packages for homemade snacks. This sturdy muffin, loaded with granola, banana, whole grains, and nuts is a nice reward at the top of a climb. If I wasn’t making these as an afterthought to use up the bananas ripening in my counter top fruit bowl, I probably would have played around with the flour ratios a little more. Perhaps add some oat or quinoa flour, maybe some flax seeds, and a handful of chia seeds. For a sweeter [...]

It’s a common story. Sometimes we forget we live at altitude. Then it’s our friend’s birthday, and we decide to bake him or her a cake. And…it fails. Oh yeah. Stuff doesn’t bake the same up here. And you never want to try baking again. Well it’s time to get birthdays back. In a world of vanilla and chocolate, sometimes yellow falls out of the mix and gets overlooked. One taste and you’ll wonder why you wandered so far. It’s yellow butter cake. Moist and tender, with a nice crumb. The perfect partner for a fudge frosting. Universally appealing. These layers bake up tall and even, thanks to a little extra insurance from whipped egg whites that get folded into the batter at the end. All-purpose flour fills in for [...]

There is such a pastry right now, called Kouing Amman (pronounced “queen”), that is getting a lot of attention. And rightfully so! This particular pastry is made from a laminated dough using salted butter and lots of granulated sugar, which gives it a salty-sweet flavor, very similar to salted caramel. Now I am big caramel fan, as well as a big laminated dough fan. Call me a nerd, I know I am. As a pastry chef, I fully appreciate flavors that are not all sugary-sweet, and caramel is one that allows contrast- so important in balancing any dessert. Laminated dough is a style of pastry arts in which butter is incorporated into the dough during a series of folds. The dough is rolled out, folded, and turned numerous times to [...]

We received a typical spring snowstorm yesterday- wet, heavy snow, and pockets of sunshine. I don’t mind these types of storms this time of year because whatever amount of snow they bring us, the sun usually melts the next day. We’ve had such a mild winter it was kind of odd seeing snow on the ground again. At least I didn’t have to clear snow off of my truck. Not a fan of that. Especially the heavy kind. One thing I have to admit is that when the weather is acting up, it’s always a welcomed excuse to stay in and do cozy things. The type of stuff you would feel guilty about doing during beautiful weather. Watch the Martha Stewart show. Recipe development. Download music. Drink hot tea. Bake [...]

It wasn’t until I was in pastry school that I first learned what a French macaron was. They are delightful, chewy almond cookies that also happen to be extremely addictive. The flavor combinations span from classic vanilla buttercream to foie gras or curry fillings. Sometimes I’ll make carrot powder from dehydrated carrots and add it to the recipe to make ‘carrot cake’ macarons with a cream cheese filling. They are very versatile and a great palette for creativity. In the last two years it’s been fun watching them grow in popularity. I am always in support of products that utilize traditional French pastry techniques because many American pastries and desserts these days are the bi-product of so many artificial ingredients and shortcuts. They are also a bit more involved to [...]

It’s been deliciously warm out here the past week, and after I returned home I sat out back in the sunshine for awhile to soak it all in. I know better than to think that this is it for our snowfall this winter. In the mountains it will snow in June if the temperatures are right. When I returned inside, I decided to put my discount pint of blueberries to use. Sometimes you can find berries at the grocery store for $3.00 or less, and that’s when I snatch them up. They are not the best tasting, but when baked or cooked their flavor dramatically sweetens. The best berries are the kind you find growing wild. A few years ago I was hiking near Asheville, NC, with my brothers and [...]

I. Love. Ice cream. I can’t think of a moment in my life that I have ever turned an offer for it down. As a toddler my mom would feed me small spoonfuls of Dairy Queen blizzards, sending my chubby little legs into a delighted kicking frenzy. My first job was in an ice cream shop. Soft-serve cones, sundaes, hand-dipped milkshakes…a pretty sweet gig. When the boss was gone I would make myself tiny sundaes and other frozen experiments. In college my roommates and I would walk to the nearest gas station for a ‘study break’ and the two scoop special. And I can’t forget my excitement upon producing our own ice creams in pastry school using top of the line equipment. Even now, after a long day of work, [...]

There is something that must be said about making your own bread. All over the world, different forms of bread are a staple to everyday life, and perhaps this is why creating your own it is such a satisfying and rewarding experience. The fact that soda breads do not contain yeast cannot take away this ‘experience’. The dough is still shaped by hand and the bread retains that sustaining quality. It is soft, with a sugar-kissed crunchy crust, and studded throughout with plump raisins. I like to enjoy a thick slice while sitting outside on the patio and listening to the melting snow drip, drip, drip off the roof. I love my yeast breads, but sometimes I don’t have the time necessary to wait for them to rise. Soda breads [...]

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