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May 7, 2024

Banana Crumb Muffins

By

by Amber King

Wedding and Event Specialist

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I’ve always loved making birthdays and holidays special for my family and friends, often by preparing one of their favorite treats.

One year, in high school, I thought I would surprise my best friend and make her some Banana Crumb Muffins for her birthday. I got up early and followed the recipe that I had made many times before. The dough started to look a little odd—I didn’t remember it looking this chunky before—but it had always turned out fine, so I figured it was probably okay. When I took the muffins out of the oven, they still looked a little funny. Before I packed them up and took them to my friend, I decided to test one, and thank goodness I did!

As any experienced (or, honestly, inexperienced) baker will tell you, there is a big difference between “¾ cup of sugar” versus “¾ cup of salt”! The muffins tasted TERRIBLE! I was so disappointed that my birthday surprise was ruined. But my friend seemed okay with skipping out on a little school to go celebrate with a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin.

Lesson Learned

To this day, I double check myself whenever I’m about to add salt or sugar to a recipe. It’s a mistake you only have to make once.

This is still one of my go-to recipes that I have perfected. When made properly, these muffins are MUCH better than any egg McMuffin. The one tip I would add is to make sure the butter for your topping (not for your muffins) is at room temperature instead of melted. You want the topping to crumble rather than spread.

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Banana Crumb Muffins

(makes 10-12)

Ingredients for Muffins

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted

Ingredients for Topping

  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened to room temp

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease 10-12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, beat together bananas, white sugar, egg, and melted butter.
  4. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon softened butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until centers are cooked through.
  8. Enjoy!

April 23, 2024

Falafel Cucumber Hors D’oeuvres

By

by Chris Riding

Sous Chef

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When I was younger, I always wanted to be one of two things, either a general contractor or a chef. Plenty of people in my family had worked in construction, but no one had ever been a professional chef before. I wasn’t ever told that I couldn’t be a chef, but it just seemed kind of impossible. So I took the more familiar route and decided to go into construction.

The Long Road to the Kitchen

As I earned my construction certificates, I took a job as a meat clerk at a grocery store to pay my way through school. The longer I worked in that job, the more I learned about food, and the more I wanted to keep learning. After a few years, it occurred to me that I could just stop school and become a butcher instead, so that’s what I decided to do.

Before long, I’d become assistant manager in the meat department and was training new people who came to work for us. One day, a crazy thought came into my head. What if I did that thing that had always seemed impossible ever since I was a kid? What if I became a chef?

Of course, becoming a chef meant going back to school, so I moved to Utah and enrolled in the Culinary Arts Institute at UVU. I learned from some amazing chefs who had dedicated their lives to the art, but I also learned that there’s a lot more to the job than just making great food. I had to learn how to work in front of house, how to function as part of a team in back of house, and how to handle all the logistics of the warehouse. It wasn’t easy, and I had some pretty embarrassing moments like on my first event when I broke a glass wall box and the head chef yelled, “Anyone need a job? We’ve got an opening.” I wasn’t sure if he was joking.

Coming to Culinary Crafts

I was lucky to get a working internship at Culinary Crafts, and after I graduated in May 2022, I went to work there full time. Learning from Brandon, Hunter, Robert, and so many people who are masters in their field has been the best part of my education so far. Even though it took me a long time to decide on my career, I feel lucky to be doing what I love.

For my recipe, I’ve chosen the falafel cucumber hors d'oeuvres we were serving that night I broke the glass wall. They’re delicious, but I also love that they remind me of how far I’ve come.

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FALAFEL CUCUMBER HORS D’OEUVRES

(serves about 40)

Falafels

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Add first nine ingredients to a food processor and pulse a little bit at a time until coarsely ground. Be careful not to grind too much. It should have a nice gritty consistency.
  2. Squeeze the falafel into firm 1.5” balls, then flatten them into patties about ½” thick. Place falafel patties in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat vegetable oil over medium high (around 375° F) in a pot that is deep enough for falafel patties to be completely submerged in the oil. The oil is hot enough when a drop of water dropped into the oil will sizzle and pop.
  4. Carefully lower several falafel patties into the oil and let them fry 1.5 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pot.
  5. Use slotted spoon to remove falafels from oil and let them cool on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1½ teaspoon fresh dill chopped (save some dill sprigs for garnish)

Instructions

Whisk ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembly

  1. Make 40 slices of cucumber cut ¼ inch thick on a bias.
  2. Arrange cucumber slices artfully on serving tray. Top with falafel balls and a dallop of sauce.
  3. Enjoy!

April 16, 2024

How to Find Fresh Ingredients

By

by Brandon Roddy

Culinary Director

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As a chef, I have had the privilege of cooking in some wonderful restaurants and working alongside amazing chefs (including the inimitable Wolfgang Puck and Melissa King). I have enjoyed delicious haute cuisine from all around the world, but the best meal I ever had was about as far from fancy cooking as you can get.

My Best Meal

A few years ago, I was invited to the Cayman Islands to spend a week working as a private chef. An old culinary friend joined me in the adventure, and we spent the week cooking lunches and dinners for a family of about 30 people. After working 12-14 hours per day all week, my buddy and I were delighted to finally get a day off. We spent the morning laying in hammocks at the beach, relaxing and drinking rum.

For lunch, we’d been invited to join a local gentleman who took care of the family's property where we were working. He led us to an old tumble-down shack behind a dilapidated gas station. The shack stood on an outcropping overlooking the Caribbean Sea and all its countless shades of blue. Just below the shack, a small fishing boat lay anchored to a rock. Our new friend told us that the boat belonged to the owner of the shack, and that he went out every morning to catch the fish he cooked and served.

My friend and I let our guide order for us. We enjoyed fresh-caught roasted snapper, fried plantains, cassava (yuca), and pickled vegetables, all served in simple Styrofoam clamshells with plastic utensils. Before eating, our host told to squeeze fresh lemon onto everything. To wash it all down, our guide brought out some Black Rum. I don’t know if it was the flavorful ingredients bought at the local market that morning, the fresh fish, the scenery, the delightful conversation, or just the rum, but I realized that I was enjoying the best meal of my life!

Keeping It Fresh

I’ve never forgotten that experience. It always reminds me that the essence of making great food is keeping it simple and fresh. As much as I love sophisticated culinary innovations and techniques, nothing will ever replace plain, fresh, local ingredients.

And if you can enjoy them on a Caribbean beach with friends…well, that’s just the best.

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Brandon’s Tips for Finding Fresh Ingredients

THINK LOCAL

The simplest way to find fresh ingredients is to buy them locally. When your food comes directly from the farm rather than being packaged, preserved, and shipped halfway around the world, it’s generally fresher and more flavorful. Plus, you can support your local food producers while also reducing your carbon footprint. Sourcing locally is delicious, nutritious, and judicious.

VISIT FARMERS’ MARKETS

Besides offering the freshest possible ingredients, farmers’ markets are also the ideal place to meet local producers and get a foot into that community. Talk to the merchants there. Ask them about how their goods are produced and what they recommend. Even if they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, chances are they can point you in the right direction.

Utah has some great farmer’s markets. Salt Lake City has regular markets at Pioneer Park and Liberty Park through the summer and fall. Also, the Gateway hosts an indoor market from November to April. You can learn more here.

For info on farmer’s markets all over the state, check out the Utah’s Own website.

MEET YOUR GROCER AND BUTCHER

It pays to get to know the butcher and grocer at your local grocery store. Ask them when they make fresh bread and what days their fresh produce arrives. If they get to know you and see your enthusiasm for fresh ingredients, they can often help you with insider tips.

DON’T OVERLOOK PRODUCE STANDS

At certain times of the year, stands start popping up all over Utah. They offer watermelons, peaches, corn, apples, cherries, and a whole range of fresh produce. If you haven’t been brave enough to stop and check them out, give it a try. Don’t feel like you’re obligated to buy if you’re not impressed with what you see, but sometimes produce stands are where I have found the very best deals.

GET TO KNOW “FRESH” VENDORS

Some vendors in Utah go out of their way to offer the best in fresh. Caputo’s in SLC is a great place to be introduced to Utah meats, cheeses, honey, chocolate, and other local ingredients. Aquarius Fish Co. is doing a fantastic job bringing fresh seafood to our desert state. Snuck Farm is great for their greens. The Utah’s Own website can give you information on Utah growers and producers, recipes that use local ingredients, and ideas for how to support Utah’s agricultural community.

March 26, 2024

Savory Sixteen: The Tournament of Cheeses

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Last week we bragged on one of our favorite Utah partners, Beehive Cheese. Every year, they help us create some delicious new flavors of cheese to share at our events. The talented folks at Beehive are amazing!

Now we want to introduce you to a few of our favorite cheese flavors over the years. In honor of March Madness, we’ve whittled it down to sixteen of the best, going head to head to determine the champion. We've been been introducing the cheeses two at a time on our Instagram and Facebook stories. You can vote for your favorites in each round by clicking on the social icons at the bottom of this page. While you're there, feel free to follow us for all the delicious goings-on at Culinary Crafts.

Rosemary Cracked Pepper

Start with our classic Irish white cheddar. Then add fresh rosemary from the volunteer bushes growing outside our kitchen. Add cracked pepper and voila! A spicy kick with herbal notes, all nestled in creamy goodness.

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Al Pastor

Don’t let the plain look fool you; this cheese is anything but ordinary. Drawing from Lebanese-Mexican traditions for marinading meats, this unique cheese has a taste profile that’s both savory and sweet.

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Black Truffle Sea Salt

Coming into the competition as a top-ranked contender, Black Truffle Sea Salt is riding high on the team chemistry between truffles and cheese. Black truffles aren’t really black; they’re a very dark purple that turns to blue as they diffuse throughout the cheese, giving it a lovely marbled look. Truffles taste amazing with just about any cheese (including mac and cheese), and some say this match is unbeatable. But Black Truffle Sea Salt faces stiff competition in the first round.

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Chocolate Chipotle

If you’re familiar with Mexican mole (MOH-lay) sauce, you’ll understand why this Chocolate Chipotle cheese is always a crowd favorite.

We started with a classic mole dry rub with brown sugar, chilis, spices, and Mexican chocolate. Then we tweaked it to have just enough heat to get your attention but not overpower the creaminess of the cheese. Imagine this on nachos, tacos, refried beans…anything that needs a shot of smoky, savory sweetness. Some say this is the dark horse of the cheese tournament. We say, “Get in my mouth!”

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Curry On

Ever find yourself feening for a bite of spicy, succulent red curry? Well, now you are, aren’t you?

Added to any cheese spread or grazing table, our Curry On cheese will generate excitement on its own. But melted on a grilled cheese sandwich with mayo and a slice of very ripe heirloom tomato, this cheese may change your life!

The Irish cheddar we use is milder and more buttery than American cheddar, so Curry On makes a perfect complement between the creamy smoothness of the cheese and the zippy spiciness of the curry.

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Big Dill

Fans of dill won’t be surprised to see Big Dill making an appearance in the competition; it’s a perennial contender. Dill enhances an incredibly wide profile of other flavors, which makes it a safe bet for any charcuterie board, table, or spread. It may not have the flash of more exotic cheeses, but sometimes it’s the tried and true that wins.

If you are the kind of diner who likes a great pickle but thinks that most pickles overwhelm the taste of your burger, try skipping the pickle and melting a slice of this on your burger instead. Or try warming (not boiling) a kosher dog in a malty beer, char it on the grill, and add shavings of Big Dill and maybe some raspberry chipotle sauce. Heaven!

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Bye, Son

No, it’s not bison-flavored cheese. (Although we’d be up for trying that!) Bye, Son is our take on a cheesy version of Buffalo wings. The creamy white cheddar is just what’s needed to smooth out the heat of the buffalo seasoning. bye son cheese, buffalo wing cheese, spicy hot cheddar

Figgin’ Amazing

Probably the sweetest entrant in our “Savory Sixteen,” Figgin’ Amazing is for those of us who love our fruit and cheese all rolled up in one.

This was one of our most difficult cheeses to develop. First, the water content of fruits make them tricky ingredients to use in cheeses, even after they’re dried. Second, the natural sugars in fruit can throw the cheese off. It took a lot of adjusting and the addition of chives to bring a savory balance to the figs, but once we hit that perfect balance, “Figgin’ Amazing” seemed like the only right name.

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Good Thyme

Milder and more easy-going than most of the cheeses in this contest, Good Thyme is the kind of cheese you’d love to hang out with, just as its name implies.

With a subtle but complex flavor profile, it’s great to savor on its own. But Ryan says, “If I were pan-roasting chicken or pork with pasta and a light creamy sauce, I wouldn’t use the big Italian or French cheeses that typically go into pasta. I’d use Good Thyme. It’s a great cheese, either in a sauce with a roux or just grated over the pasta with olive oil and black pepper.”

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Chili crisp

Chili crisp has been a part of Chinese cuisine for centuries, but it only became popular in America during the pandemic. We use crunchy bits of fried peppers, garlic, and onions, similar in texture to Rice Crispies. One reporter describes the flavor of chili crisp as “the salty, crackly pleasure of potato chips with a just-right amount of tingling chili heat.” Throw in the creamy goodness of white cheddar and that makes a pretty good summary of this cheese.

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Smoked Pepper

Of all the cheeses we’ve made over the years, this was our mother’s favorite. We really wanted to make a cheese that brought in the wonderful flavors of smoke, but smoke just doesn’t penetrate well as a rub. Should we age the cheese and then smoke it? Smoke it first? Maybe slice it up and cold-smoke it? The answer turned out to be simple: smoke the peppers instead of the cheese. That way you get all the wonderful smokiness plus a little kick of pepper too.

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Tarragon Dijon

We’ve featured this unique cheese in charcuteries and cheese spreads, and it never fails to cause a stir. It’s delicious on its own, but our favorite way to use it is in a homemade sandwich. Try it with arugula and prosciutto (or just about any kind of salted pork), some homemade mayo, and maybe a little truffle aioli if you want to splurge. Un-be-lievable!

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Chive wasabi

Before you bite into this cheese, you need to understand that wasabi is not horseradish.

Yes, they’re related, but what passes for “wasabi” in America is usually just horseradish dyed green, and it tastes very different. Real wasabi doesn’t have that burn-your-face-off bite. It’s fresher and sweeter, and it enhances other flavors rather than overpowering them. That’s why this cheese plays so nicely with prosciutto, beef, seafood, cucumber and other vegetables, figs, citrus, even a beer.

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Cranberry Cinnamon

If you set out a cheese spread or a tasting table for the holidays, this cheese is an automatic must-include. The sweet/tart combination of cranberries and cinnamon, backed by the creamy smoothness of the cheesy, will have guests clustered around the snacks reaching for more. Gingerbread crackers can make it even more festive.

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Apricot habanero

When we started making this cheese, it was quite a battle. Our mother was worried that people wouldn’t like a spicy cheese, but Ryan kept trying to sneak more and more peppers into each batch. One year, mom didn’t come with us to Beehive to make the cheese, so Ryan was free to put in as much as he wanted. He overdid it a little, but ever since then we’ve made it with a good kick to offset the sweetness of the dried apricots and the honey rubbed on the outside. It’s always a guest favorite.

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Porcini and morels

When we make our annual trip to Ogden to make cheeses with Beehive, it’s usually in the late winter, which is the only time to get fresh morel mushrooms in Utah. We chop them up, dehydrate them, add salt and sugar, and combine them with another of our favorite mushrooms, porcini. Morels and porcini have a much fuller, meatier flavor than the button mushrooms you typically see at the store.

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So which cheeses would make it to your charcuterie finals? Let us know your votes.

Eat well!

March 6, 2024

Texas Sheet Cake

By

by Kira Rasmussen

Baker and Proud Texas Woman

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A friend of mine asked me the secret to making a great Texas sheet cake.

“Ask a Texas woman to make it,” I said. "Just kidding."

(I was not kidding.)

I grew up in El Paso where my mom (also a Texas girl) taught us how to bake. Every Sunday afternoon we made cookies, brownies, pastries, or cakes, including one of my favorites, Texas sheet cake. When I took a job at Target Bakery, it was a huge step down from my mom’s kitchen; Target didn’t make anything fresh, and it was honestly pretty boring. I was glad to move to The Chocolate in Orem where I got to make way more fun recipes, including their awesome pretzel cake. Now I’m at Culinary Crafts, which is about as far from Target Bakery as you can get!

But of all the great pastries and desserts I’ve tried, nothing beats the old classic Texas sheet cake.

The recipe below is my mom’s tried and true cake. However, I have found that in Utah the consistency and fluff are a bit different. I find you need to reduce the baking soda by ⅛ teaspoon. This helps the rise.

But it’s no surprise that sheet cakes made in Texas taste better. Everything from Texas is a little better! (Kidding, not kidding.) 😊

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Texas Sheet Cake

Ingredients


Cake

  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda (reduce by ⅛ tsp at high altitude)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 6 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 cup water

Frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 6 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lb powdered sugar

Instructions


Cake

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda. Whisk until smooth and then set aside.
  2. In another mixing bowl, combine and sift flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Bring butter, vegetable shortening, cocoa, and water to boil in saucepan.
  4. Pour hot mixture over flour mixture and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add buttermilk mixture and stir to thoroughly incorporate.
  5. Pour batter into buttered and floured half-sheet-cake pan (about 15 in. x 10 in.) and bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until edges of cake pull away from the pan and the cake springs back when you touch it.

Frosting

  1. About 10 minutes before the cake is done baking, start the frosting. Bring buttermilk, butter, and cocoa to a boil.
  2. Quickly remove from heat (it will not be pretty) and add vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  3. Once you’ve removed the cake from over, spread frosting over cake. (It’s important that the cake still be hot to help the frosting spread evenly.) Allow to cool, then cut into squares and serve. (The frosting tends to stick to a metal knife, so using a plastic knife can help you make cleaner cuts.)

February 5, 2024

How to Buy, Serve, and Enjoy Caviar

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Admit it. If you haven’t tasted quality caviar served on a buckwheat blini with a dallop of crème fraiche, aren’t you curious to know what the fuss is about?

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to indulge in a little decadence with your special someone, and nothing says romance like candlelight, soft music, long-stemmed roses, champagne…and caviar.

Today, caviar symbolizes the epitome of luxury and class, but it wasn’t always so. In fact, 150 years ago caviar was so cheap in the United States that it was served for free in bars—like pretzels or popcorn—just to encourage patrons to drink more! Overfishing, pollution, and loss of habitat caused supply to crash and prices to skyrocket, but you can still enjoy this delicious delicacy for a reasonable price. You just have to know what you’re looking for.

Read on to learn how to choose, buy, serve, and enjoy quality caviar. Once we’ve mother-of-pearl-spoon-fed you the basics, you’ll be ready to wow your guests or treat your sweety to an exquisite culinary treat.

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Why try caviar?

Caviar still has a bit of an elitist image, but it's no longer just for the uber-wealthy. In fact, it can be as affordable as a bottle of good wine or a great dessert...not to mention that it's far healthier.

Among its many nutritional virtues, caviar is rich in calcium, iron, selenium, and antioxidants. It’s also a great source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, which means that it’s good for your heart, bones, and immune system. It's even used as a natural anti-depressant.

But the real reason to treat yourself and your loved ones to this exquisite delicacy is, of course, flavor.

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What caviar is (and isn’t).

If you’re new to buying caviar, you may find the terminology a little confusing.

Technically, caviar is the salted, unfertilized eggs of sturgeon fish. The eggs of other kinds of fish like salmon or trout can also be tasty, but they aren’t true caviar; we refer to the eggs of those fish as “roe.”

In a moment, we’ll discuss the different kinds of caviar and roe, compare their tastes, and show you what you can expect to pay for each. But for now, just keep in mind that all true caviar comes from sturgeon. In the U.S., we tend to be pretty lax about the way we use the terminology, so you might see products that advertise “salmon caviar” or “lumpfish caviar.” Just understand that those products are actually roe.

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What kind of caviar should I buy, and how much should I expect to pay for it?

It’s true that the price of caviar can be astronomically high. (Gastronomically? Gasp-tronomically?) But, as with sparkling wine, the more expensive caviars don’t always offer the highest quality or value.

The following list should give you an idea of the range of caviar available and their prices. Let’s start with the most expensive.

Beluga:

Beluga is widely considered the most prized type of caviar in the world, but due to terribly overfishing, beluga sturgeon are critically endangered. The U.S. banned the importation of beluga caviar in 2005. While you can buy beluga today, not many vendors offer it, and you may have to pay $800 per ounce or more for high-quality product.

Beluga hybrids:

This type of caviar comes from fish that are a cross between beluga and another kind of sturgeon. It’s easier to find than beluga, has a similar buttery, nutty taste, and costs a lot less, ranging from about $120-145 per ounce.

Ossetra:

Perhaps the most popular caviar in the world, ossetra (a/k/a osetra or asetra) has medium-sized gold or brown eggs with a unique taste of butter, caramel, and brine. The price for ossetra varies widely from $50-250 per ounce.

Sevruga:

The European sevruga has small gray eggs with a full-bodied taste that is described as briny, nutty, and slightly tangy. It is not everyone’s favorite, but it is very popular with caviar connoisseurs. Price ranges from $50-150 per ounce.

American white sturgeon:

Arguably the best value, American white surgeon caviar starts with a typical briny taste but then has a buttery aftertaste almost like parmesan cheese. $85-110.

Siberian:

Also known as baika, Siberian caviar is saltier and has larger eggs than most other kinds. It typically costs $80-105.

Kaluga:

Closely related to beluga, the kaluga sturgeon is found in Asia and is the largest freshwater fish on earth. It is sometimes called “river beluga” because its caviar resembles beluga’s in taste, but it has been much better managed and protected, so they are not as endangered. Kaluga has large, firm eggs that are light brown, grey, gold, or green and have a creamy, nutty taste that is more subtle than some types. Expect to pay $55-85 for a 1-ounce tin.

Sterlet:

Similar to sevruga in taste, sterlet has even smaller eggs that are grey or silver. Expect to pay $50-100 per ounce.

Hackleback:

Also known as shovelback sturgeon, hackleback is a wild sturgeon harvested from the rivers of the American South. Hackleback caviar is dark black and tastes nutty and sweet. At such a low price of $35-50 per ounce, it can be a great value as long as you choose a high-quality product. fish roe, orange fish eggs, salmon roe, salmon eggs, dish of salmon roe, salmon

What alternatives should I consider?

Golden Whitefish:

Think of golden whitefish as the marijuana of the caviar world. Inexpensive and pleasant tasting, it is a gateway drug! At $8-15 per ounce, it’s the perfect “caviar” to experiment with.

Salmon:

Salmon roe, sometimes known as “red caviar,” is one of the most popular and delicious substitutes. For as low as $10 per ounce, it’s no wonder that salmon roe is used in so many cuisines and dishes.

Rainbow trout:

We love serving rainbow trout roe at home. It’s subtly sweet and a little briny, and it has that delightful pop in your mouth that you want. If you’re not a big seafood lover, try smoked salmon roe! As with most seafoods, smoke mellows out the fishy flavors and gives it a broader appeal. At just $10-30 per ounce, you can afford to add trout roe as a special treat to charcuterie boards, canapés, sushi, and other seafood dishes, or just enjoy it by the spoonful.

Paddlefish:

American paddlefish is another excellent “introductory” caviar substitute. Similar in flavor to sevruga, paddlefish roe is far less expensive at $16-28 per ounce.

Herruga:

The roe of Spanish herring, herruga has a mild smokey and nutty flavor. Prices vary widely, from $6 per ounce all the way up to $200, so make sure you buy from a reputable dealer.

Tobiko:

Made from flying fish roe, tobiko is often dyed green with wasabi, black with squid ink, or red with beet juice. Personally, we don’t think it tastes great on its own, but its pleasant texture makes a great garnish for sushi. Expect to pay around $15 an ounce for good quality tobiko.

Masago:

Masago “caviar” is made from the roe of tiny capelin fish. It’s mildly sweet and smokey, and it will only run you about $7-15 per ounce. Like tobiko, we wouldn’t recommend eating it on its own, but it is often used in Japan as a sushi topping. caviar taco, creme fraiche, avocado, caviar, sesame seeds, onion, Culinary Crafts, hors d'oeuvres, toasted, seafood, Utah wedding

How can I choose good caviar?

There’s a saying that a good caviar should have at least 15 different flavors to it. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, the point is that a bite of quality caviar should give you a multi-level experience. It should be enjoyable in every aspect, from its appearance and smell to the feel on your tongue, the pop against the roof of your mouth, the initial burst of flavors, and the lingering aftertaste.

  • Appearance: Caviar should have a shine and sparkle, but not an oily sheen. Each egg should be full and distinct, not a mushy mess.
  • Texture: Caviar should be firm, but not tough. When pressed, it should make a pleasant pop.
  • Smell: Caviar should have a mild briny smell, but if they smell fishy, you’ve got a problem!
  • Flavor: Different types of caviar have different forward flavors and lingering aftertaste, from nutty to buttery to fruity to sweet. However, caviar should never taste metallic or overly fishy.

A key to choosing good caviar is to look for quality but not for bargains. Don’t get fooled by blow-out sales or surprisingly low prices. Your best bet is to look for a caviar (or caviar substitute) in your price range and work through a reputable dealer.

Where should I buy caviar?

Shopping for caviar online is a dubious business unless you stick with companies that are established and dependable. We have never been disappointed with Marky’s or Om. Russ & Daughters and Petrossian also have fine reputations.

If you’re looking for caviar you can buy in bulk, Costco is a good option. They offer several varieties of ossetra, Siberian, and white sturgeon.

Here in Utah, we have a few local vendors to choose from. Caputo’s in Salt Lake City is one of our favorite purveyors, not only of caviar but of cheese, chocolate, and all sorts of loveliness! If you’ve shopped there before, you know that Caputo’s employees are amazingly helpful and more than willing to share their knowledge. Maybe if enough of us make a specific request, they’ll offer a hands-on class on caviar.

Finally, Pirate O’s carries reasonably priced caviar substitutes: salmon roe for $24.99/2 ounces and lumpfish roe for $12.99/2 ounces.

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How much caviar do I need to buy?

A good rule of thumb for buying and serving caviar is “Don’t overdo it. A little goes a long way.” The among of caviar you should buy depends on how you’re serving it, how many guests you have, how hungry they are, and how many true caviar-lovers you’ve invited. But here are the basic guidelines to follow:

  • As a garnish just to give a touch of class, a few grains per serving will do, so a 1-ounce tin of caviar can serve your whole party of 20+ people.
  • On most hors d’oeuvres or appetizers, use ⅛ to ¼ of a teaspoon per serving. This will yield roughly 20-40 servings per ounce of caviar.
  • If caviar is the main flavor you want guests to taste on an appetizer, use about ½ teaspoon per serving. This will give you about 10 servings per 1-ounce tin.
  • If eating caviar straight out of the tin, a 1-ounce serving will feed 1 to 2 people.

How should I store caviar?

Since caviar is partially cured with salt and vacuum sealed, it should last 4-6 weeks if unopened. Store caviar in the coldest part of your fridge, usually in the back. Once you open it, you should eat it as soon as you can, within no more than 2-4 days.

You can freeze caviar, but we don’t recommend it. The flavor will be mostly unaffected by freezing, but the texture will change. Once frozen, caviar tends to become more sticky, clumpy, and mushy. It will also lose that slight pop in the mouth.

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How should I serve caviar?

Fish eggs are fragile, so always handle caviar and other kinds of roe gently. Metal spoons, particularly silver, can give caviar a nasty metallic taste and alter its color. That’s why they make special mother-of-pearls spoons for caviar. Plastic, wood, ceramic, or tortoise shell works too.)

If you’re working with salmon, whitefish, or lumpfish roe, it’s a good idea to rinse it gently with cold water and let it dry on a paper towel before serving. Otherwise, the color might run.

To keep your caviar at its freshest, take it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you serve it. If you don’t use it all, immediately seal the remainder and place it back in the fridge.

To take a sample taste, place a dollop on the back of your thumb, on the flat part between your thumb and first finger. Then slurp it off. There’s no real reason to eat it like that except tradition.

If you can, keep the tins on ice.

There are lots of delicious ways to serve caviar as an hors d’oeuvres or appetizer. Blinis (small Russian pancakes) are a traditional favorite vehicle, and we particularly love to make them with buckwheat.

Different kinds of crackers or toast points (crustless triangles of toast) also work well, but you’ll be surprised how great caviar tastes on a simple, unsalted potato chip. (Caviar is salty enough on its own, so salted potato chips can be too much.) Honestly, potatoes in practically any form are a great match for caviar, so try it on baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, French fries, or even tater tots. Trust us on this! Eggs, sushi, and all kinds of sea food also complement caviar beautifully.

Red onions, chives, and crème fraiche or sour cream are all great additions. Just don’t overdo them and overpower the amazing flavors of the caviar.

What drink should I serve with caviar?

Ice cold vodka or champagne are the traditional beverages to complement caviar. Plain water or sparkling water can also work to cleanse your palate between tastes. You don’t want anything overpowering like a heavy red or white wine. That said, a milder white wine can work. Finding the perfect pairing is a matter of personal taste and experimentation, but what experimenting could be more fun to do?

From all of us at Culinary Crafts, may your Valentine’s Day be the most romantic and delicious ever!

Eat well.

August 29, 2023

Shiitake Happens

By

by Kaleb Crafts

Co-President and Challenge Accepter

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When I was fourteen, my family took a trip to Japan, a country near and dear to my father’s heart. For a high school-aged boy, it was a life-changing experience… sometimes in unexpected ways.

One afternoon we stopped at a cafeteria-style food hall for lunch. Each tray of food was served with traditional Japanese condiments, including pickled vegetables called tsukemono (pronounced “SKAY-moh-NOH”). These particular tsukemono were thinly sliced radishes, carrots, and cucumbers with generous amounts of Japanese horseradish or wasabi. Feeling adventurous, I took a small sample of the strange-smelling condiment and popped it into my mouth. Instantly, my mouth puckered and my nostrils tried to clamp shut. Noticing the tear that trickled down my cheek, my brother, Ryan, did what older brothers have a sacred duty to do: he dared me, “I'll give you twenty bucks if you can eat that whole bowl in one bite!"

Since younger brothers also have a sacred duty—to never turn down a dare—I scooped up the pile of pickles and stuffed them in my mouth. And then…FIRE! It felt like a mini volcano of acid had erupted in my sinuses. Tears streamed down my face, but I knew that if I could only manage the pain for a few minutes, the money and glory would be mine. I could practically feel that crisp twenty-dollar bill in my hand. Colors began to change as my vision blurred, but I kept chewing. By sheer power of will, I forced my esophagus to open and began to swallow. Unfortunately, my stomach didn't want any part of the hell that my mouth and sinuses had been enduring. With the help of my diaphragm and abdominal muscles, it put a sudden and violent end to the whole affair.

Lesson Learned

But here’s the strange part. Instead of leaving me with a lifelong hatred of horseradish, that experience did the opposite. I love horseradish, wasabi and anything with that unique tangy, acidic heat.

It’s strange how a person’s view of a particular food can be changed, for good or bad, by a single experience. For example, I had always told myself I hated mushrooms. To me, they had a weird texture and tasted like moldy dirt. For decades I refused to eat anything containing mushrooms, but then, one humid day in Vancouver, Canada, my narrative changed. A local mushroom expert prepared a meal for me that featured the 60 varieties of mushrooms he’d found on his hillside farm, and I knew I had to at least sample the dishes. I mustered the courage to try a pickled mushroom, and to my surprise, my love of acid and tang overcame my hatred of mushrooms. From that moment on, I couldn’t get enough of mushrooms!

I guess the moral (morel?) of the story is, don’t be too quick to write a food off or tell yourself you don’t like it. Maybe you just haven’t come across a variation or a way of preparing the food that you like. Stay open to new foods and to new ways of preparing them. Who knows? That food you’re sure you hate may turn out to be something you learn to love.

The other moral is, trust your taste buds, not your brother.

May 30, 2023

Basil Pesto Salmon

By

by Danielle Mahoney

Director of Staff Development

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Ever since my children could stand, they’ve been next to me at the stove as I cooked. When they were very young, they would join me at the cutting board and put their hands on mine as they “helped” me slice, dice, and chop. I’m a firm believer that the more opportunities children have to help in the kitchen, the less picky of eaters they will be and the healthier attitudes they will have about food and about themselves.

I wanted my daughters to be adventurous eaters, so I liked to introduce new foods and make sure they always tried everything. As they got a little older, they would express their likes and dislikes, which was also something I encouraged.

“Pink Chicken”

One day when my oldest was two or three, she came in from playing and asked what we were having for dinner. I told her we were having Basil Pesto Salmon, and she told me, “I don’t like salmon.” I knew that she had eaten salmon many times and had always enjoyed it, but I didn’t say anything. She went off to play some more, and her young memory forgot the interaction.

When we sat down to dinner that night, I thought I would try to fool her into eating, so when she asked what was on her plate I said, “Pink chicken.” Pink was her favorite color at the time, so it worked out well that the salmon was a sort of pink color. She ate every bite and said it was her favorite dinner and thanked me so much for making it. For years we continued to call salmon “pink chicken,” and even when she was old enough to know the difference, we continued the nickname. To this day, Basil Pesto Salmon is one of her favorite meals to eat and to cook herself. It’s super easy, nutritious, and delicious, and a great way for kids to flex their cooking skills.

To turn this dish into an extra-fancy affair, serve it as bite-size hors d’oeuvres on an appetizer buffet! And if you’re short on time, just buy some quality pesto instead of making your own.

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Basil Pesto Salmon

Salmon

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 salmon fillets, 5 oz each
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place salmon in lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper and allow to marinate while you prepare the pesto. (See Pesto recipe below.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Place 4 piles of parmesan (about 2 Tbsp in each pile) on a baking sheet, gently pat down to form into approx. 3-inch circles. Bake 4-5 min. until cheese starts to bubble and turn golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool and become crisp.
  4. Remove salmon from marinade, generously coated.
  5. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in sauté pan over med heat. When oil is hot, carefully place salmon in pan, and cook 4 min. Turn salmon over and coat with heaping Tbsp of pesto sauce. Cook additional 2-3 min. just until the fish flakes with fork.
  6. Serve topped with cheese crisp.

Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (I like to substitute ½ cup fresh spinach leaves for half of the basil. It’s a great way to sneak in some greens)
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a food processor or high-powered blender, place the spinach, basil, and pine nuts. Pulse a few times to chop roughly.
  2. Add the cheese and garlic, and pulse several more times to combine.
  3. While blending, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream to keep the mixture emulsified.
  4. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides so all the ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Consistency should be similar to mashed potatoes with small, uniform chunks.

Enjoy!

May 16, 2023

Rice Atole

By

By Jenna Winger

Event Manager

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When we were trying to decide what recipe I should share, someone asked my son, Jaxon, “What’s the best thing your mom cooks?” Without even thinking about it, he instantly said, “Atole!”

Rice atole (pronounced “uh-toe-lee”) is a Mexican dessert—kind of like a pudding. Jaxon’s grandparents made it for him when he was a baby, and he looooves it. In fact, it was one of his first words! And since he loves it so much, I realized I’d better learn how to make it.

My one bit of advice is to be careful that you add both condensed milk and evaporated milk. I’ve tried to leave one out and double the other, but it doesn’t work!

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Rice Atole

(makes 8 servings)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. In a rice cooker, combine rice, water, and cinnamon sticks. Cook for 10 minutes, longer if needed. Rice should be soft but not mushy.
  2. Remove cinnamon sticks. Add in butter, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla.
  3. If needed, cool the atole by adding a splash of milk.

January 11, 2023

Guasacaca

By

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!

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