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May 16, 2024

Tips for Using Edible Flowers

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Whenever we garnish a dish with marigolds or drop a pansy into a cocktail drink, at least one guest will inevitably ask “Can we eat the flowers?”

The answer is “Yes! Yes, you can.”

In fact, you can do a lot more than eat these flowers, if you know what you’re doing!

We’ll show you how edible flowers can be a simple, sophisticated way to add color, flavor, and fun to any meal. But first, a little quirky history!

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A Brief History of Edible Flowers

If you grew up sipping the nectar from honeysuckles or daring your friends to eat a dandelion, you already know about edible flowers. But you might not know that the use of edible flowers is a tradition that goes back thousands of years.

In fact, flowers are featured in the world’s second oldest cookbook! The Art of Cooking, a collection of ancient Roman recipes, mentions violets, roses, mallows, and other flowers as key ingredients on Roman tables around 30 AD. Interestingly, the author of most of those recipes, Marcus Gavius Apicius, was a food enthusiast known for hosting lavish banquets and serving exotic dishes like flamingo, ostrich, gazelle, and a liquor made from fish. After partying away his enormous fortune, Apicius could no longer afford his accustomed lifestyle, so he deliberately poisoned himself with his final meal.

Apicius’ story leads us to two important warnings:

1. Not all flowers are edible.

We can’t stress this strongly enough! Many flowers are naturally toxic, and even the edible varieties are dangerous to consume if they’ve been treated with chemicals. That’s why we don’t advise anyone to forage for their own flowers unless they have extensive knowledge of the subject and are sure that the flowers they pick have not been treated with any kind of pesticide, herbicide, or other “cide.” Also, we recommend introducing an edible flower into your diet a little at a time to see if you have any allergies or adverse reactions.

2. When it comes to edible flowers, don’t overdo it.

There’s no need to break your budget to spice up your table with edible flowers. We’ll show you how to find them for a reasonable price…or even grow your own. Read on!

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Which edible flowers should I try?

It’s worth repeating that you need to be very careful when selecting which flowers to eat. We would never suggest ingesting any flowers you find alongside the road or in someone else’s garden. Grow your flowers yourself or buy them from a vendor you trust, and be sure to ask whether they’ve been chemically treated.

All that said, here are some of our favorite edible flowers:

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Calendula

These bright orange blossoms work especially well with savory dishes because they have a slightly peppery, tangy flavor.

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Pansies and Violets

You could be forgiven if you can’t tell the difference between a pansy and a violet. Technically, pansies are a type of violet. If it has four petals pointing up and one petal pointing down, it’s a pansy. True violets are generally a little smaller than pansies and have two petals pointing up with three petals pointing down.

Both pansies and violets are visually gorgeous and have a pleasant, faint aroma. They are slightly spicy, but really, they don’t affect taste much.

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Lavender

It doesn’t have the vivid color of some other edible flowers, but lavender is fantastic for the distinct aroma it adds to teas, cocktails, lemonades, and other drinks. We use lavender sprigs on panna cotta and other baked desserts. Be sure to use culinary lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) because other strains of lavender can taste or smell soapy.

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Nasturtium

If we could only grow one type of edible flower, we would probably choose nasturtium. Most edible flowers are mainly for looks and/or scent; they don’t have much of a flavor of their own. Nasturtium, on the other hand, has a distinct flavor that affects the overall dish. It adds a nice peppery bite similar to watercress or arugula.

Unlike most flowers, the whole nasturtium plant is edible! Its buds, flowers, and leaves can be eaten, and you can even use nasturtium seeds as a substitute for capers. This versatile flower works well in a wide range of recipes.

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Squash Blossoms

Always a crowd favorite, fried squash blossoms taste fantastic. Filled with whipped goat cheese or ricotta and then deep fried, they are out of this world!

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Butterfly Pea Blossoms

If you want to add edible flowers to a beverage, you won’t find one more fun (or more nutritious) than butterfly pea blossoms. Read here to learn about the magical color-changing properties of butterfly pea blossoms.

Where can I get safe, affordable edible flowers?

You can order edible flowers online, but the quality and freshness are likely going to suffer if you don’t get them directly from growers. That’s why your best bet is either to grow them yourself or buy them through local vendors and farmer’s markets.

Brickhouse Growers in Orem is an excellent supplier for anyone alone the Wasatch Front.

Vertical Harvest is another wonderful vendor in the Wyoming/Utah/Idaho area.

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Other tips for using edible flowers.

  • If you grow your own edible flowers, pick them at a cool time of the day when they are at their best, usually early in the morning.
  • For most types of edible flowers, you’ll need to remove the pistils, stamens, sepals, leaves, and stems.
  • Wash your flowers thoroughly.
  • Make sure there aren’t any pollinating insects lurking inside.
  • When using edible flowers in drinks, one fun option is to freeze the individual flowers in ice cube molds beforehand.
  • Your flowers will last much longer and will taste sweeter if you candy them first.
  • When using edible flowers to enhance the look of a dish, remember to not overdo it. Think “contrast, not clash.” While a colorful blossom can liven up a monochrome or dull-looking dish, piling flowers onto an already colorful dish makes the whole thing look messy and overly busy. Use a light touch.
  • Have fun!
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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 30, 2024

Whole Wheat Waffles with Cinnamon Buttermilk Syrup

By

by Harvest Hale

Events Team

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Made With Love

My grandmother is an amazing woman!

Maren Hale—or Mun, as the grandkids call her—is always thinking of others and has charity towards all. She regularly sends thank you notes and gifts to each of her 44 grandchildren, and her gifts are always chosen with great thought, not to mention being color-coordinated, themed, and wrapped in a beautiful basket! Mun’s homemade birthday and thank you cards always have paper punched hearts and a little symbol on the back that says “Halemark: Made with Love.”

As the mother of eight children, Mun always looks for opportunities to gather her large family. Such gatherings always include a delicious meal around a beautifully set table. We spend every Fourth of July at her house for a barbeque, and we enjoy monthly family Sunday potlucks at a local city park. When I was little, Mun and Grandpa Pops also hosted Waffle Day every Friday at their home.

Waffle Day

Waffle Day started with a hug in my grandparents' entryway. Pops always added an extra few pats on the back as each child hugged him around the knees. Then it was off to the cozy kitchen with shelves lined with dishes, seasonal decor, and treasures collected through the years from all the places they lived during military assignments. Mun and Pops started the Waffle Day feast by giving us a steaming bowl of some combination of broccoli, carrots, onions, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and chard, which was topped with Pop's special lemon sauce. Eventually, every grandchild learned to love these delicious and lovingly prepared vegetables.

Once we ate our veggies, we could start stuffing our chubby, eager faces with as many whole wheat waffles as we could handle. Mun, always dressed in a 3/4 sleeve sweater and apron, would have three waffle irons running at once to feed the grandchildren army of waffle monsters. Pops would lovingly butter everyone’s crispy waffle with homemade whipped butter, and I was always amazed at how he managed to get the whipped butter into every individual waffle square. Topped with berry or maple syrup, the waffles were then distributed to children in highchairs, table chairs, or barstools while the aunts helped to manage all the chaos, sticky hands, and waffle cutting. The food, the smells, the family--those waffle days were some of the best memories of my whole childhood.

Now that the grandkids have grown up and Mun and Pops have slowed down, Waffle Days are a treasured memory of the past. But my family still loves to eat steamed vegetables and a lot of waffles! Our family loves to make homemade buttermilk syrup to go on top too. Below are our favorite homemade waffles and buttermilk syrup recipes.

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Whole Wheat Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. Blend together egg yolks, buttermilk, and oil in large bowl.
  2. Add wheat flour and baking powder. Beat briskly for 2 minutes until barely smooth.
  3. Beat egg whites in small bowl and fold into mixture.
  4. Bake in preheated waffle iron that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Cinnamon Buttermilk Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Add sugar, buttermilk, and butter to medium saucepan. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  2. Add baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir well.
  3. Serve over waffles, pancakes, French toast, or ice cream sundaes.

April 26, 2024

Best Catered Event of the Year!

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Big news! The International Caterers Association has awarded Culinary Crafts the Catie prize for Best Catered Event of the Year.

In the catering and hospitality world, that’s like winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

To learn more about this event, read on.

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The Best Catered Event of 2023

This event was an outdoor adventure full of food, fishing, and fun.

In planning this event, we were inspired by Henry David Thoreau who “went to the woods” not to escape life but to live life more deeply.

In the rush of everyday life, it’s easy to become numb and to do things out of routine habit. Even the way we eat becomes thoughtless and automatic. We tend to consume our food as mere fuel, grabbing it on the go and racing on to something else. Our goal for this event was to help our guests slow down, attune to their beautiful surroundings, and truly savor the experience.

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The Venue

The perfect place to stage this event was the 4U Ranch in Peoa, Utah.

The 4U ranch is an enchanting, rustic venue on the banks of the Weber River. Towering groves of shade trees. Manicured lawns. Open horse pastures. A state-of-the-art timber-frame barn. A majestic rock cliff that towers over it all. It is truly breathtaking.

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Plus, the owners of 4U, Donna and Gary, are two of the most delightful and helpful professionals we’ve ever known. They generously shared their gorgeous venue and their expertise to help make the event happen.

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THE MENU

To help our guests be immersed in nature, we designed the menu to be primal and natural. No fussy foods. Just fresh, locally-sourced ingredients prepared onsite.

The menu read like an itinerary, presenting guests with opportunities to savor and reflect as they moved through the various activities and gorgeous venue spaces.

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This Epic-urean Immersion began in the barn where they were greeted with sparkling alcoholic and non-alcoholic wine. As they received an orientation and description of the upcoming experiences, they enjoyed truffle deviled eggs and trout caviar smoked in a cloche and then served on unsalted kettle chips with crème fraiche and chives.

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Tying Flies

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The first activity of the evening involved guests learning to tie their own trout flies under expert instruction.

Charcuterie Station

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During the fly-tying instruction, guests helped themselves to the full charcuterie spread featuring local Utah Beehive cheeses, fruits, berries, and honeycomb from Utah’s Slide Ridge.

Utah Craft Gin Bar

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A fully staffed bar kept guests refreshed with custom cocktails featuring local Utah products such as a barrel-aged gimlet made with Beehive Barrel Reserve gin, a Japanese slow-drip aviation with Madame Pattirini gin from Ogden’s Own, and a charred strawberry gin featuring Alpine Elevated.

Casting Lessons

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The party then moved outside where local fishing guides taught the guests how to cast with a fly rod.

Horses, Horses, Horses!

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A surprise visit from Summit Wagon and Sleigh gave guests a chance to get up close and personal with a pair of magnificent Percheron draft horses.

Into the River

Then it was time for guests to put their training to the test. Our river guides worked one-on-one with guests to try their hand at hooking a Weber River cutthroat trout.

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Riverside Repose

While some guests tested the waters with their newfound casting skills, others took advantage of the riverside lounge, games, and refreshments.

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A second bar, set up by the riverbank, served wine and cocktails to order.

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Meanwhile, butlers brought around pizza slices made fresh in our wood-fired ovens.

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The Main Event

At last, guests were led upstream to where their tables waited…in the river!

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What followed was a one-of-a-kind feast—exquisite food, excited chatter, and wine pairings for each of the four courses, all in the middle of a gorgeous river setting.

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We started with a roasted mushroom bisque served with fresh-baked artisan bread.

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We followed that up with tallow candles (a-MAY-zingly delicious when you melt them and then dip your bread in the tallow!), and roasted bone marrow with a High West Bourye chaser. You don’t have to pour the whiskey straight onto the bone, but it sure is fun to do it that way.

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We served the mesquite-grilled trout with peach salsa and a corn puree with blistered tomatoes, chorizo, and sage.

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For the main entrée, we served grilled Snake River Farms tomahawk ribeye with garlic herb butter and coffee flake salt, along with fried Brussel sprouts with bacon and Fresno chilis.

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As the evening waned, we treated our guests to a rainbow chard salad with melon, house-made ricotta, granola, and vanilla vinaigrette.

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Dusk comes early in the mountains, so the party moved back inside to enjoy dessert and wine.

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We’d made buttermilk vanilla panna cotta and rose gelee with fresh plums, mini macarons, candies pistachios, and rose petals, paired with 2017 Chateau Suduiratu Sauternes.

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Guests also enjoyed a tasting with samples of Utah artisan chocolates from Solstice, Amano, and Ritual. We paired these with a leather-aged chocolate negroni featuring Holystone’s Navy Bosun gin.

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Each guest found a little personalized gift to take home and commemorate the experience.

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After dessert, we lit a campfire to keep the evening chill at bay while guests enjoyed dessert, coffee, and after-dinner drinks. We were gratified to see that many guests lingered well into the night, laughing and visiting about what they had experienced.

A silver full moon put the punctuation on a beautiful event.

Best Catered Event of the Year

Earlier this year, some of our team who helped stage this extraordinary event traveled to Austin, Texas. There, they accepted the award for Best Catered Event of the Year. It was a thrill to be recognized for our work and to show the world a little of what Utah has to offer. As we’ve always believed, “this is the place” to throw a party!

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How does the saying go? “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and then treat him to an epic culinary experience in the middle of a river, and you give him memories he’ll savor for a lifetime.”

Something like that.

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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!

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