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September 12, 2023

Alpine Mule

By

by Danny Bonilla

Bartender and Executive Vice Party Animal

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When I was a teenager, my uncle would sometimes throw parties, and my family usually went. At one of those parties, I found myself all alone in the basement. Everyone else had gone to eat dinner, so it was just me and an open can of Bud Lite sitting on the coffee table in front of me.

This was my chance!

Even though I’d been around alcohol all my life, I’d never actually had a taste before. I picked up the can and gave it a sniff. It didn’t smell very good, but the temptation was irresistible. Checking to make sure no one was coming back down the stairs, I raised the can to my lips, held my breath, and took a big sip.

I nearly gagged. It was terrible! I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to drink something that tasted so bad. Right there on the spot, I decided that I never wanted to have another drink of alcohol my whole life.

It probably seems funny that someone who hates the taste of alcohol would become a bartender, but that’s exactly what I did. Years later, I started working behind the bar at Culinary Crafts events. At the first event I did at Utah Olympic Park in Park City, I was working with Ryan and Luis who showed me how to make a signature cocktail called an Alpine Mule. I figured if I was going to be mixing Alpine Mules all evening, I probably ought to know what one was supposed to taste like. I totally expected it would be disgusting, but for the second time in my life I held my breath and took a sip. To my surprise, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it tasted great!

I’ve mixed a lot of drinks since, at events or just with friends. There are a few other cocktails that I really like (Alan Starks makes a good Moscow Mule and I like Tyler’s Whiskey Sour), but my favorite is still that first cocktail that Ryan and Luis introduced me to, the Alpine Mule. It’s 1,000,000,000,000 percent better than Bud Lite.

Alpine Mule

(makes 1 serving)

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Fill a glass halfway with ice. (Mules are traditionally served in a copper mug to keep the drink cold, but if you want to see the blue color of this drink clearly, use a clear glass.)
  2. Add the vodka, curacao, ginger beer, and optional lime juice. Stir.
  3. Garnish with a wedge of lime or sprig of mint if you feel like getting fancy. Or just enjoy it like it is.

August 15, 2023

Apple Pie Bars: How to Win Friends and Influence Teachers

By

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Back in the day, at the start of a new school year, a shiny, polished apple was the way to win over your teacher. To be clear, we are not advocating acts of apple-related bribery. But…if you happened to send your young scholars back to school this year with a lunchbox full of delicious apple desserts (like, say, the recipe for amazing Apple Pie Bars below), they just might find themselves making instant friends and becoming their teachers' favorite. Just saying.

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Here at Culinary Crafts, we love finding ways to feature locally grown, in-season ingredients in our menus, and there are soooo many ways to enjoy the sweet abundance of Utah’s apple varieties that are ripening to perfection at this time of year. Apple-infused drinks. Apple butter. Apple chips. Crisps. Cobblers. Crumbles. Chutneys . Hors d’oeuvres. Cheeseboards, The uses for apples are limited only by the imagination. (Whoever said “You don’t make friends with salad” had never tried our Winter Greens with Apples, Beets, and Walnuts.)

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Of all the “apple-ications” you can make with this amazing fruit, some of our favorites are bite-size apple tarts, spicy ciders, and our own Hattie’s Apple Spice Cake.

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If you want to send your kids back to school ready to win a few points with their new classmates and teachers, we’ve got just the thing!

APPLE PIE BARS

Ingredients

SHORTBREAD CRUST
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
APPLE FILLING
  • 2 large apples, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
STREUSEL
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ⅓ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • salted caramel sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Make the Crust: Stir the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. apple pie bars, crust, dough, pastry dough, cookie sheet, hand spreading dough, Culinary Crafts kitchen, baker working dough, how to make crust Bake for 25-30 minutes, then remove from oven. (As the crust bakes, you can prepare the filling and streusel.)
  3. Make the Apple Filling: Combine the sliced apples, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all the apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
  4. Make the Streusel: Whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or two forks (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Set aside.
  5. Turn oven up to 350°F. Evenly layer the apples on top of the warm crust. It will look like there are too many apple slices, so layer them tightly and press them down to fit. Sprinkle the apple layer with streusel and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown. apple pie bars, streusel, apple slices, spreading the apple filling, roll the crust, spatula, oats, cinnamon, sugar, butter, flour, Culinary Crafts, Utah catering, catering Wasatch Front, best caterer in utah
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (or overnight). Lift the parchment out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. After they are cut, you can make the dessert even more decadent by drizzling salted caramel sauce on top.

Pro Tips:

  • If you want even more of these delicious Apple Pie Bars, you can double the recipe and bake it in a 9x13 pan. Just make sure you pre-bake the crust for only 18 minutes (instead of 25-30) and then extend the baking time in Step 5 to 45-55 minutes (instead of 30-35).
  • The bars will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days, or you can freeze them for up to 3 months. If you’re going to be storing the bars, avoid unnecessary mess by waiting to add the caramel sauce until you’re ready to serve them.
  • If you’re going to use only one type of apple, Granny Smiths are the way to go! They keep their shape beautifully when baked, and their wonderful tartness balances out the sugar in many baked desserts. For a fuller, more complex flavor, use two or more different types of apples; we like to combine a Granny Smith with a sweet variety like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp. Of course, the best guideline for choosing apples is to pick something ripe and fresh from one of our local growers.
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Where to Find Fresh Local Apples

Starting in August, Cherry Hill Farms in Alpine, Utah allows you to pick your own apples straight off the tree. You can’t get fresher than that! (Call ahead to check on availability.) And while you’re there, don’t miss their chocolate-covered cherries.

Throughout September, you can also pick your fill of apples at Rowley’s Red Barn in Santaquin on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 AM to 7 PM. (Treat yo'self to their apple cider donuts and fresh apple cider slushies!)

Allred Orchards has been a local favorite on University Avenue in Provo for generations. We are huge fans of their fresh-pressed cider! Along with the classic apple types, they also grow some unusual varieties like Zestar and Mutsu.

McMullin Orchards in Payson grows half a dozen different varieties of apples including Fuji, Honey Crisp, and Ginger Gold, all of which make school lunch snacks that are delicious, nutritious, and expeditious!

Crandall’s Fruit Farm in Orem is a great place to get fresh Gala apples. For the 2023 season, call ahead to find out exactly when they’ll be opening.

Wishing all the best to you and yours at the start of a brand-new school year!

Eat well!

August 2, 2023

Mango Pulled Pork

By

by M Parker Reed

Event Manager

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When I was six, my parents taught me to cook my first recipe, which was Whacky Cake, also known as Great Depression Cake. Ever since then, I have loved to cook. When I am in the kitchen, I feel like the chef in Ratatouille who has a rat secretly telling him what to do. The voice in my head isn’t a rodent, obviously, but I have wondered if some past relative of mine is connecting with me from the other side, or if it's just an unconscious part of my psyche manifesting itself. Whatever it is that I feel when I’m cooking, it gives me peace and makes me feel centered, like I’m in the right place doing what I love.

It’s also cheap therapy.

Growing up, my favorite TV channel was always the Food Network, but along with cooking, I also loved the broader field of hospitality. I went to UVU to study Hospitality Management (with an emphasis in Event Planning), which is where I came into contact with Culinary Crafts. I ran into Clayton Price at a career fair and later interviewed Kaleb Crafts as part of an assignment. Starting in May 2022, I began working at Culinary Crafts.

I love the family culture here and the feeling I get from people that “I’ve got your back.” They really walk the talk and take excellent care of the clients as well as the team. I’ve especially appreciated the mentorship of Chris, Sara, Amber, Jinous, and others who have been so generous with their help. Even the owners take the time to teach and share their knowledge.

The recipe I want to share, Mango Pulled Pork, is a creation I developed for an assignment at UVU. My wife (who is very particular about her pulled pork) claims that this recipe is better than her mother’s, but I’d never dare to mention that to my mother-in-law.

Bon Appetit, darlings!

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Mango Pulled Pork

(Serves 2-3 people)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb pork roast
  • 1 can (11 oz) mango nectar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix 1 cup (not the whole can) of mango nectar with 1 cup of water. Add a dash of onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Pour mixture over the pork roast in a crockpot.
  2. Cook on high for 2 hours. Then semi-shred the pork, turn crockpot down to low, and cook for another 2 hours.
  3. Mix the remaining mango nectar with ketchup and brown sugar. Drain the pork and place it in a mixing bowl. Pour ketchup mixture over the pork.
  4. Season with a dash of pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir until evenly coated, then serve.

July 11, 2023

Guinness-Battered Onion Rings

By

by Joey Howard

Prep Chef

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My stepfather believed in a lot of things, but paying taxes was not one of them. He was retired from the Army, and he had his checks sent to PO boxes far away from our house so the government couldn’t track him down. We moved from state to state, running from the law and living waaaay off the grid.

For a while, we lived in a half-finished house in the middle of freaking nowhere in Montana, 35 miles from the nearest paved road. Once, when I was eight, the truck broke down and our parents had to walk over 100 miles into town to pick up the check. Mom took the two youngest kids with her and left the other four of us to fend for ourselves. They were gone three weeks.

We didn’t have a lot of food in the house, and after four days it was gone. We were able to catch a few fish from the tiny creek that ran through the property, but by the end of the first week it was completely fished out. My oldest brother took his 30-06 and tried to hunt, but there was no game anywhere around us, so he gave up. Then things got bad.

During the second week, we didn’t eat anything. I had blood sugar problems as a kid, so I started to get lethargic. It was like a dream where everything seemed hazy and nothing made sense. I would wake up at random times, look around, and then go back to sleep.

The Best Onion Ever!

Part way through the third week, we found a Vidalia onion in the cellar. I don’t remember which of us found it, but we were so excited that all four of us gathered around and ate the whole thing raw. It tasted so sweet and delicious!

I moved out when I was 16 and have lived on my own ever since, but I’ll never forget the experiences I had as a kid. My crazy childhood taught me how to rely on myself and get through hardships. It taught me to be patient and generous with other people because you never know what their life has been like.

It also made me appreciate food, especially when it’s cooked! And if it happens to be Guinness-Battered Onion Rings, that's the best!

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Guinness-Battered Onion Rings

makes 4 servings

(adapted from seriouseats.com)

Ingredients

  • canola oil, for frying
  • ½ Tbsp hot paprika
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 (14.9 oz) can Guinness beer
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • kosher salt

Directions

  1. Fill medium pot with oil 6 inches deep. Heat over medium high to 350°F.
  2. While oil is heating, line a baking sheet with paper towels for finished onion rings to drain.
  3. Trim ends from onions, peel, and cut into 1-inch-thick rings. Gently separate rings, discarding innermost rings and broken pieces.
  4. Dredge onion rings by coating them in corn starch and then gently shaking off the excess.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and hot paprika. In a small bowl, whisk together beer, mustard, and honey. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring well to combine. Batter should have the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
  6. Dip onion rings into batter one at a time, coating thoroughly. Shake off excess batter and carefully lower into hot oil. Cook small batches until dark golden brown on each side, 2-3 minutes, turning once. Remove with a wire strainer and place on prepared baking sheet. (If you place the baking sheet in a warm oven, you can keep the fried onions warm as you finish your other batches.) Sprinkle lightly with salt while hot.
  7. Continue frying remaining onions in small batches. Once they’re all fried, serve immediately. Allow oil to cool completely before straining and storing.

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.

April 25, 2023

Not Yo’ Mama’s Peach Cheesecake

By

by Clayton Price

Director of Event Operations

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It’s hard to explain how important Jell-O was in my childhood. My mother had an entire section of her pantry dedicated to that relic of the 1950s. Jell-O was a staple at our table, and more than once, after she’d set out a delicious Sunday dinner of homemade rolls, homegrown veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy, and homemade pies, I heard Mom apologize, “I’m so sorry; I didn’t make Jell-O.”

My wife sees it a little differently.

As a member of the Crafts family (as in Culinary Crafts), my wife grew up with a very different culinary childhood and a different attitude about Jell-O. In our first year of marriage, my mom happened to tell Meagan that my absolute favorite dessert was a no-bake peach cheesecake topped with Jell-O. Always excited about a new recipe, Meagan decided to surprise me with it one day when I came home from school.

Well, Meagan is experimental when she bakes, discarding and substituting ingredients when it suits her, which consistently leads to tremendous results that are 1000% better than the originals. However, this is not one of those recipes.

Sometimes, there’s no substitute for Jell-O.

Meagan spent months working on this recipe, making dozens of edits and substitutions. She replaced the Jell-O with a homemade peach gelée, and she substituted fresh vanilla whipped cream for the Cool Whip. She tried using Culinary Crafts' famous cheesecake base instead of this no-baked version. Meagan experimented with fresh peaches, frozen peaches, diced peaches, sliced peaches, pureed peaches, compotes, marmalades, and curds. She tried a myriad of different ingredients, combinations, and setting methods, but nothing seemed to work the same way as the Jell-O original.

After one of these attempts, I finally asked Meagan, “Why not just follow the recipe?” She admitted that she had—several times—but she had to throw them out because she couldn't make the Jell-O set.

I had to laugh. Of all the millions of things my wife, the Queen of the Kitchen, does expertly, making Jell-O is not one of them. And in this recipe, there really is no substitute for these classic ingredients.

We still make this peach cheesecake with Jell-O whenever we visit my parents, but Meagan reminds me every time that once my mother passes away, she’s never making this recipe again. She says I’d better enjoy it while I can.

And I do!

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NO-BAKE PEACH CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 12 oz Cool Whip, defrosted large bowl of popcorn

Jell-O Filling

  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 oz peach Jell-O
  • 6 cups of peeled & diced fruit of your choice (Frozen fruit works great, but I love using fresh peaches in season. Match the fruit to the flavor of Jell-O.)

Crust

  • 16 graham crackers, crushed in a blender
  • ½ cup butter

    Directions

    1. 1Melt butter and stir together with graham crackers. Gently press the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9X13 pan. Place in fridge to chill.
    2. Combine water, cornstarch, and sugar in a saucepan. Boil until thick, then add peach Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Set Jell-O filling aside until it has cooled, then add peeled & diced fruit.
    3. In separate bowl, stir cream cheese filling ingredients until fluffy and well blended.
    4. Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the crust. Spoon the Jell-O filling over top of the cream mixture.
    5. Chill until set. ENJOY!
  • April 13, 2023

    Pink Popcorn

    By

    by Kate Morrow

    Wedding and Event Specialist

    Kate Morrow, pink popcorn, grandma's recipe, Culinary Crafts, Utah catering, Utah wedding and event specialist, wedding and event planner

    Growing up, I always loved the treats Grandma LaDawn made. Whenever my extended family got together, my grandma would always bring a tasty treat. It’s hard to choose a favorite of her desserts, but the one that brings back the most memories is her pink popcorn.

    This recipe is really simple. It’s basically sugary popcorn dyed pink! Grandma would also change up the color of the popcorn for special occasions and holidays. For St. Patrick’s Day she would dye it green, and if it was your birthday you got to choose whatever color you wanted the popcorn! This recipe is such a simple treat that is perfect for any holiday or celebration.

    PINK POPCORN

    Ingredients

    • large bowl of popcorn
    • 2 cups sugar
    • ⅓ cup water
    • 3 Tbsp butter
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • a few drops of food coloring

    Directions

    1. Pop the popcorn using an air popper or the stove.
    2. Pour out onto a flour sack towel and allow unpopped kernels to fall to the bottom. Scoop popcorn (minus unpopped kernels) back into large bowl. Set aside.
    3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
    4. Pour the sugar mixture over the popcorn and mix until all the popcorn is coated.
    5. Spread out the popcorn on wax paper and allow to cool. Enjoy!

    March 20, 2023

    Persian Fish with Herb Rice

    By

    by Jinous Jahromi

    Wedding and Event Specialist

    Culinary Crafts, catering, Jinous, event manager, wedding specialist, team portrait, smile, brunette, Persian New Year Every March, my family celebrates Persian New Year (Nowruz) which marks the beginning of spring and the start of the Iranian calendar. During these thirteen days we go all out! Of the many festivities and family traditions, my favorites are always the food, especially Persian Fish with Herb Rice.

    The Haft-sin

    We start by prepping our Haft-sin, which is a table full of seven different traditional items. Each item begins with the same Persian letter (which is pronounced “seen”) and symbolizes a different hope for the new year. Lentil sprouts, representing rebirth and renewal, were always one of my favorite items of Haft-sin because we grew our own, and I would beg my grandparents to let me be in charge of watering the tiny sprouts. Nowruz, Persian New Year, Haft-sin, Jinous, Culinary Crafts, Utah caterer, sprouts, coins, yellow flower, garlic, samanoo, sumac, recipes, sabzi polo ba mahi The second item, samanoo, is a sweet pudding that symbolizes wealth and fertility. I didn’t care much for the taste, but Grandpa loves it, so Grandma always made extra for him. Sumac (which tastes amazing on rice and kabobs) is a red berry spice that symbolizes the color of sunrise. Apples represent beauty and nutrition. Garlic stands for health and medicine. Vinegar signifies age, wisdom and patience. We also had dried fruits on the table, but I’m not sure what they stood for. I just remember trying to convince my grandma to get dried apricots so that I could eat some too.

    sabzi polo ba mahi, Persian recipe, Persian New Year, Nowruz, sumac, apple, garlic, coins, sprouts, Haft-sin, samanoo, staff recipe, Jinous Jahromi In addition to all these Haft-sin items, we would add goldfish, which I loved because, I mean, who doesn’t love goldfish, right? My brother and I would always argue on who got to feed the fish. Goldfish represent new life/new beginnings. We would also add some coins and flowers, traditionally hyacinths if we could find any, for the beauty and fragrance. On the last Tuesday before Nowruz, all our families and friends would get together and build small bonfires. Then we would jump over the flames as a symbol of wiping the slate clean of the past year and starting fresh. Believe me, the first time I did this I was excited, but scared to catch on fire. Nowruz, fire-jumping, leap over fire, Persian New Year, night, bonfire, jump, danger, celebration, Persian tradition But, like I said, the best part of Nowruz is the food. If I could, I would eat Persian food all day and every day. On the night of the New Year, we eat sabzi polo (herbed rice) with mahi (fish). To this day, my grandma makes the best Persian fish with herb rice. I loved going shopping at the Persian market with my grandparents, then going to Costco to get the Atlantic salmon. We had to make sure to get plenty to feed our whole family and enough for seconds and leftovers. I still have the oil-marked, torn paper I took notes on as I carefully watched Grandma prepare the sabzi polo. I am still trying to get the technique down perfectly. It’s tricky, but I’m almost there. Persian rice, sabzi, Nowruz, Jinous, herb rice, Utah caterer, Persian New Year, pecans, garlic, parsley, cilantro, Persian Fish with Herb Rice  

    Persian Fish with Herb Rice

    (Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi)

     

    Sabzi Polo (Herbed Rice)

    INGREDIENTS
    • 4 cups water
    • 2 cups basmati rice
    • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
    • ½ cup packed sliced fresh garlic chives (At an Asian market, these might be called nira or Chinese leeks.)
    • ½ cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
    • ½ cup packed chopped parsley
    • a dash of ground saffron powder (optional) for the top
    INSTRUCTIONS
    1. In a 3-quart saucepan (or rice cooker), boil 4 cups of water. Add 2 cups of rice. Allow water to reach a simmer. Cover and reduce to medium low heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the water is gone and little holes appear in the surface of the rice.
    2. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water.
    3. Add the prepared herbs and gently toss together to combine. Pour mixed rice back in the same pot and put it back over medium low heat.
    4. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel. (Be careful not to let the towel touch the heat and catch fire!) Let the wet rice cook in its own steam for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the steam rises and the tahdig (the skin on the bottom of the rice) is golden and crisp.

    Mahi (Fish)

    INGREDIENTS
    • 2-3 pounds of salmon
    • kosher salt
    • 1 Tbsp saffron powder
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • ¼ cup of water
    • lemon pepper to taste
    INSTRUCTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Pat dry salmon, with or without skin, and sprinkle kosher salt on the front and back side.
    2. Place on greased sheet pan. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
    3. In small bowl, mix together lemon juice, water, and saffron powder. Pour saffron mixture on salmon and sprinkle lemon pepper.
    4. Return salmon to oven and cook for 15 more minutes or until salmon reaches 130° F. (It should be easy to pull the fish apart with a fork.)
    Nowruz mobarak! (Happy New Year!)

    February 2, 2023

    Presidential Chocolate Mousse

    By

    Presidential Chocolate Mousse

    by Ron Crafts

    Founder and Speed Demon

    Ron Crafts, Presidential Chocolate Mousse, chocolate cups, chocolate petals, candied orange, candied orange strings, desserts, Utah catering, dessert catering, elegant finger desserts, treats

    When the Winter Olympics came to Utah in 2002, Culinary Crafts was asked to cater all the major events for the games, including several large galas for the International Olympic Committee, the Salt Lake Olympics Committee, and Sports Illustrated. We had done huge events before, but catering so many all at once would push our resources to the limit. It quickly became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to accept any more event requests until after the games.

    Then, one morning in October, we got a call from the White House.

    “We would like to book an event,” said the woman on the other end of the line.

    Not realizing who she was speaking with, our receptionist explained the situation and apologized. “We can’t take bookings right now, but I’d be happy to refer you to another caterer.”

    There was a pause, and then the caller said, “So you don’t want to work for the President?”

    “The President of what?”

    “The President of the United States.”

    We took the job.

    That's the ticket!

    As it turned out, one of my favorite memories of the games came as we were preparing a meal for the president’s event. That Sunday, one of our chefs called me in a panic because he needed a bottle of Frangelico for a dessert he was making, and he didn’t know where he could find one on such notice with all the Utah liquor stores closed. I told him I thought we had a bottle on the shelf at our facility, and I’d bring it right away.

    Twenty minutes later I was driven down I-80 at 140 miles per hour when I was pulled over by the Utah Highway Patrol.

    “Do you know how fast you were going?” the officer asked.

    “Yes, sir,” I said.

    He peered in my window and saw the bottle of Frangelico lying on the floor. “Is that an open bottle of alcohol?” he asked.

    “Yes, sir,” I admitted. (It was starting to look like I might be in some real trouble.)

    “So, what’s the rush?” he asked.

    There was nothing to do but tell the truth. “We’re hosting the President of the United States. They need this for dessert.”

    Incredibly, he let me go.

    It was lucky for me that President Bush was so popular in Utah.

    PRESIDENTIAL CHOCOLATE MOUSSE


    Ingredients

    • ¼ cup butter
    • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1 ½ Tbsp brandy
    • 1 ½ Tbsp Frangelico
    • 2 eggs, separated
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • ½ cup brown sugar (divided)

    Directions

    1. In a double boiler, melt butter, chocolate chips, brandy, and Frangelico.
    2. In large mixing bowl, whip heavy cream and 1 oz brown sugar until it forms medium peaks. Set in the refrigerator.
    3. Separate egg whites and yolks. In a large mixing bowl, whip egg whites and 1 oz brown sugar until it forms medium peaks. Set aside.
    4. In a small bowl, with the reserved egg yolks, slowly pour about 1 Tbsp of chocolate mixture into the yolks while constantly stirring. Continue to slowly add about another 2 Tbsp of chocolate to the yolk mixture. Combine remaining chocolate and yolk mixture. Mix until combined.
    5. Gently fold in egg whites.
    6. Gently fold in whipped cream.
    7. Serve chocolate mousse chilled and garnished with your favorite accoutrements. Berries and tuille cookies are my favorite!

    27x winner Utah’s Best of State

    24x Best of State Caterer

    3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

    1x Entrepreneur of the Year