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June 19, 2024

Sharing a Beer with Anthony Bourdain

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If you ever watched Chef Anthony Bourdain eating his way around the world in one of his hit TV shows like No Reservations or Parts Unknown, you understand why he was known for his genuineness, wit, and love for food and the people he shared it with.

As Anthony Bourdain Day (June 25th) approaches, we offer this reminiscence of Chef Bourdain from our Culinary Director, Brandon Roddy. Owl bar, Sundance, Utah restaurant, Utah Sundance, fine dining in Utah, Sundance restaurant, Chef Bourdain, Anthony Bourdain, wood chairs, bar, bottles, bar back

Back in 2010, the two chefs met when Bourdain visited Utah’s Sundance ski resort. Brandon was Sundance’s Purchasing Director at the time, and he was able to share an evening of beers and discussion with the icon himself, Anthony Bourdain.

Here’s the story of that memorable encounter, some thoughts about Chef Bourdain’s legacy, and a few ideas for ways you can celebrate Anthony Bourdain Day (plus a recipe for one of his favorite dishes).

As Chef Brandon Remembers It

“Chef Bourdain came into the kitchen and greeted all the cooks and chefs. He chatted with everyone, and then he invited us to join him later for drinks. That evening, my wife and I sat at the Owl Bar drinking beers and visiting with Anthony Bourdain. He asked us all about our lives and careers, and he was very interested in what we had to say. It didn’t feel like being around a celebrity. He was very down to earth, unpretentious, and funny. He talked about what really mattered to him. Mostly what he talked about was his family.

“We went on visiting and drinking for several hours, but he wasn’t in a hurry to finish or to be somewhere else. His whole philosophy about taking time to be with people and eat or drink together—that’s not made up. He really lived that way. You could see how much he loved meeting new people and trying new things. I don’t know what his politics were—he probably had different philosophies and beliefs from a lot of the people in that room—but it didn’t matter to him. He knew how to value other people and enjoy their company. For him, food was a way to connect and embrace life.”

That’s an ethic that we at Culinary Crafts fully endorse!

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The Ethic of Hospitality

The food industry is a lot of different things for different people, but for us it’s all about true hospitality.

The ethic of hospitality reaches back as far as civilization itself. In fact, in many cultures and religions (including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), the practice of hospitality became a tell-tale sign that someone was civilized. Strangers and foreigners were owed food, drink, safety, and shelter without being made to feel that they were a burden on their hosts. It was seen as a great honor for hosts to offer their very best to a guest, the same as if God had shown up on your doorstep in the guise of a stranger.

Nearly all major religions espouse some version of the Golden Rule, “Treat other people the way you would want to be treated,” and Anthony Bourdain truly treated others the way we all want to be treated. He would meet people where they were, share a meal with them, and find what was admirable and good about them. He took the time to listen. Whether he was a guest in some foreign country or hosting a get-together in his own home, Chef Bourdain embraced the opportunity to connect with other people. He had a reputation for trying anything (from six-month-long fermented shark to fried rice with maggots to a warthog rectum in Namibia). And even when the food was disgusting, he was gracious towards those who offered it to him.

Well, that’s not entirely true. He had no patience for the makers of food who put no effort into what they serve. Food and drink prepared with little thought or care was an insult to him. He was bothered by any lost opportunity for joy and connection.

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Ideas for Anthony Bourdain Day

There are many ways we can all benefit from Chef Bourdain’s spirit of hospitality and joie de vivre. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reach out to someone who may be struggling and share a meal with them. Spend the time to really get to know them better.
  • Watch a Bourdain documentary, preferably with someone else.
  • Learn about someplace new, starting with the local food. If you can, plan a food-centric trip to go there.
  • Support a local eatery you’ve never tried. Order a dish they’re proud of.
  • Share a recipe or food story of your own.
  • Have a conversation with someone who’s different from you. Focus on listening and appreciating them rather than arguing.
  • Cook and share one of Chef Bourdain’s favorite recipes. Here’s a variation on the easy-to-make French classic, rillettes (pronounced “ruh-lets”). Once you’ve tried this divine treat on toast (maybe with cornichon and a little Dijon mustard), you’ll want to share it with everyone you know!
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Rillettes

Adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook
 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork belly, bones removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ½ lb pork shoulder (a/k/a Boston butt), bones removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bouquet garni (i.e. 1 sprig of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 leaf of bay, bundled together in cheesecloth
  • and tied with a string)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • ½ lb pork fat, cut into thin slices

Equipment

  • large, heavy-bottomed pot
  • mixing bowl
  • 2 forks
  • several small plastic or glass containers
  • plastic wrap

Instructions

  1. In the pot, cook the water, pork belly, shoulder, and bouquet garni over low heat, stirring occasionally for six hours.
  2. Remove from heat, discard the bouquet garni, and add the salt and pepper. Remove the meat and allow it to cool in the mixing bowl. (Save that liquid!)
  3. Use forks to shred the meat gently. You should still be able to see the meat’s fibers. Add back a little of the liquid if needed to reach a thick paste consistency.
  4. Divide the mixture into your small containers. Top each portion with enough slices of pork fat to cover the portion. Fold the mixture together in each container, then cover the containers with plastic wrap.
  5. Refrigerate the covered containers for 3 days.
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Serving Ideas

Allow rillettes to warm to room temperature before serving. Traditionally, rillettes are enjoyed as a spread on toast, crostini, baguettes, or crackers, often with mustard, pickled onions, or cornichons. Set out a jar of rillettes as part of a charcuterie board or lunch spread and watch guests gravitate to it.

Rillettes are also great with cheeses or hard-boiled eggs, in a sandwich, or used to liven up a green salad. But the main serving suggestion for rillettes—as we learned from Chef Bourdain—is to enjoy them with someone else, preferably accompanied by a leisurely, meaningful conversation…and perhaps a beer.

This year, may you enjoy the spirit of true hospitality and the pleasure of eating and drinking with good company. As Chef Bourdain wrote in his introduction to Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, “the greatest and most memorable meals are as much about who you ate with as they are about what you ate.”

June 16, 2024

Dirty Grilling the Perfect Steak

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Okay, let’s be honest. There is no “perfect” way to make a steak. Grilling, pan-searing, oven broiling, smoking, reverse searing, steak tartare…there are lots of great ways to prepare a steak, and they all can lead to perfectly delicious results.

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But, in honor of Father’s Day, we want to share with you what is perhaps the “manliest” thing you can do with steak: dirty grilling.

Dirty Grilling

What is dirty grilling? It’s the simplest way to cook a steak. You simply slap it down right on top of the hot coals and enjoy hearing your guests gasp.

Okay, it’s not quite that simple. But it’s close.

As grillmaster Adam Perry Lang explains in his grilling guide Charred and Scruffed, grilling “dirty” means cooking your meat directly on your coals or at least so close to the coals that there’s no room for oxygen to get in and start kicking up flames (which we want to avoid, since too much flame can give meat a nasty acrid taste).

It takes a leap of faith the first time you drop that pristine steak directly onto a bed of hot coals, but trust us, your boldness will be rewarded!

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Why should you dirty grill your steaks?

The great thing about dirty grilling steaks (besides the fun of cooking like a caveman), is that (a) it’s super easy to do, (b) the cleanup couldn’t be easier, and (c) slapping a steak directly onto the coals feels like the epitome of "manning" a grill. Plus, (d) dirty grilling gives your steak a fantastic outer crust or “bark” while still leaving the inside juicy and tender.

How important is it to give your steak a nice sear on the outside? Personally, I think that a great crust is what makes steak worth grilling in the first place. If you cook the inside of a steak to juicy, flavorful perfection but you don’t have a good crust on the outside, then you have exactly half of a great steak. So yeah, the sear matters.

And dirty grilling can give you a fantastic sear.

While dirty grilling is, technically, a form of reverse searing, it has one huge advantage over a conventional reverse sear. Dirty grilling doesn’t take hours and hours. It’s just quick and…well…dirty.

And don’t worry: Your steak won’t end up tasting like charcoal. You will fan away any ash before you lay down your steak, and any bits of coal that may get attached to the meat can easily be brushed off. If you follow the steps correctly, you’ll be left with a wonderfully smoky, crispy, succulent steak, plus the pleasure of watching your guests’ jaws drop.

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Review

In earlier articles, we’ve covered the grilling basics including how to choose your grill (e.g. propane versus charcoal/wood) and what tools are worth using. We went over how to plan, build, and maintain your fire . Now it’s time to put your grilling knowledge to work.

Start with the right steak.

If you want to do this up right, you need to start with a good, thick, dry-aged steak, preferably a Porterhouse or bone-in ribeye.

How thick? I’d say at least 1¼ inches, but 1½ – 2 inches would be better. And leave some of that outer fat on there, trimmed back to about ¼ inch.

Why dry-aged? The biggest obstacle to getting a great sear on a steak is surface moisture. If there’s water on the outside of the steak, a lot of heat from your coals will go into evaporating away that water. Instead, we need that heat to be used to activate the Maillard reaction that gives meat that wonderful fragrance and flavor of a good sear. If you're using heat to burn away water, you’ll miss that narrow window of time when your meat should be getting a great crust without overcooking the inside.

Dry-aging

Dry-aging is when meat is stored under carefully controlled conditions. This gives time for the surface to dry and for muscles and connective tissues to start breaking down, making the meat more tender and flavorful. I prefer a steak that’s been dry-aged 28-54 days. Although most stores don’t age their meat that long (if at all), you can ask your butcher to let one age for you. (Shout out to Heritage Craft Butchers and the Harmon’s Meat Department in Orem whose butchers have been tremendously helpful to us.) Alternatively, you can order dry-aged wagyu beef online, but that can get unnecessarily pricey.

If the steak you want to grill hasn’t been sufficiently dry-aged, you can salt-dry it instead. Pack the steak on all sides in a covering of course salt. (Any kind of rock salt will do, but don’t use kosher/iodized salt or anything that’s ground too fine.) Leave the salted steak uncovered in your fridge for two hours. The salt should get wet from the moisture it draws from the meat. Rinse the salt off thoroughly and pat the steak dry. (It might seem like washing the salt off with water defeats the purpose but trust us on this.) Allow the steak to air dry in the fridge for two more hours.

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Don’t skip the salt.

Typically, when I grill steak I’m going to use a combination of spices, olive oil, and maybe some butter to baste as I grill. But grilling dirty presents a little bit of a problem. We don’t want anything on our steak that will burn in contact with the coals. Don’t confuse the Maillard process (which gives steak its nice, tasty outer crust) with burning; they are not the same thing. Anything that burns on the steak is just going to taste nasty. So we're not going to put much on the steak before it hits the coals.

But salt is the exception.

We simply can’t have a great steak without salt, and we need to add it before we grill. In fact, the best practice is to salt your steak a full 48 hours before grilling. Paradoxically, the more time the salt has to work its way into the interior of the steak, the less “salty” the finished steak will taste. Steaks that have been salted 48 hours in advance come out tasting well-seasoned, which heightens the flavor of the meat.

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Prepare your fire.

If you’re going to grill your steak dirty, you need to use lump charcoal fire, not briquettes or gas. Briquettes are full of chemicals that you don’t want touching your meat directly, and a gas grill misses the whole point of grilling dirty.

You’re going to want your fire very hot (that’s the main advantage of using a charcoal grill, after all), and the more rare you like your steaks, the hotter your fire needs to be. That may seem counterintuitive, but the hotter your fire, the quicker you can get a good sear on the outside, which means there’s less time for the inside of your steak to overcook.

Once you have your coals glowing hot, you’ll need to spread them out evenly so they lie as flat as possible. You’ll need enough coals so that when it’s time to flip your steak over, you’ll be able to move it onto fresh coals.

How should you arrange the coals?

That depends on which of two approaches you are taking to your dirty grill.

The first approach is to go full cave man and just slap that baby straight onto the coals. This has the advantage of being quick and easy, and it works great for relatively thin steaks.

The second approach (which you’ll need for any steak over about 1¼ inches thickness) is to slow-cook the steak first. Position your steak a few feet above the flames (as we do with our Santa Maria grill). Leave it there until the inside temperature measures 10 degrees below your target temperature, then lower the steak directly onto the coals to start that precious sear. Alternatively, you can zone your coals so that they are all off to one side, then place your steak on the other side of the grill. The steak can cook slowly from the indirect heat inside your covered grill. Again, once it’s 10 degrees below your target doneness (as measured by a meat thermometer), move it directly onto the coals to start your sear.

If you’re going to be pressed for time on the day of your grill, you can prepare your steak sous vide. That way, all you have to do on the day of your party is give it a great sear and enjoy.

Target internal temperatures

As a rule of thumb, here are the target internal temperatures you’ll want to hit with your steak. Remember, this is the highest temperature you want the inside of your steak to hit, not the point at which you take it off the grill. The internal temperature will continue to rise for a little while after you take meat off, so remove it from the heat a few degrees before it hits your target temperature. Otherwise, it will overcook.

  • Rare=120-125°F
  • Medium rare=130-135°F
  • Medium=140-145°F
  • Medium well=150-155°F
  • Well done=160-165°F
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Searing

Regardless of whether you slow-cook the inside of your steak first or skip straight to your dirty grilling, you’ll first want to fan away any ash from the coals. Give your steak a good basting in butter, then carefully lower it onto the coals so that it lies as flat as possible. Leave yourself room so that you will later be able to flip your steak onto fresh, unused coals.

Let the steak cook for two minutes undisturbed. Remove it completely from the heat, brush off any ash. Brush it with butter again and let it sit a few minutes so that it bastes and also rests the meat, letting the internal temperature continue to rise. Place it back onto coals with the uncooked side down for another two minutes. Repeat this process until you reach the needed internal temperature. The thicker your steak, the more gradually you’ll need to approach that target temperature, so the more times you may need to take the steak on and off.

All this “on again off again” movement may run counter to what you’ve been told about grilling. Counterintuitive as it may seem, it helps to cook the meat all the way through. The internal meat will continue to rise even after being removed from direct heat, while the outside of the steak will be allowed to cook. The goal is to let the inside reach its target temperature without scorching your outside, and tempering can help the steak gradually get there.

But I’m not supposed to turn the steak too many times!

The old adage that “turning the meat too many times will ruin the steak” is nonsense, especially in the case of dirty grilling.

Turning the meat multiple times allows for a more gradual, consistent cook, which is good. The main rationale behind the “don’t mess with the meat” rule was that multiple flips will mess up your grill marks. Well, with dirty cooking, you’re not going to have any grill marks anyway.

But while we’re on the topic, let’s dispel this pesky myth of grill marks. The reason grill marks are appealing is that they visually signal that the meat has been grilled and thus received a bit of Maillard reaction wherever the meat touched the hot grill. Well, since Maillard browning makes meat more delicious, why confine it to a small area? Why wouldn’t you want that deliciousness all over the surface of your steak?

You would!

So forget about trying to get grill lines onto your meat. When I see a piece of meat with grill lines, that just tells me that the fire wasn’t hot enough to give the whole surface a proper sear.

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Resting

Once your steak has reached an internal temperature 10 degrees below your target temperature, take it off the coals and brush away any clinging debris. Wrap it in tinfoil and allow the meat to rest for 10 to 20 minutes so the meat fibers will soak back up all the juices. (If you were to slice the steak open right away, a lot of juice would spill out of the meat, and you would lose a lot of flavor.)

Dressing your Board

As your steak is resting, make a board dressing. Take a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a little salt and pepper, a few finely-chopped herbs like rosemary and thyme, and maybe some microplaned garlic or shallots. Balsamic vinegar can add a little bite if you like. Mix these together and drizzle them onto the board you’ll be using to cut and serve the meat from.

The idea is that when you are ready to slice into the steak, some residual liquid will inevitably run out onto the board. You want that liquid to ix with your dressing. Then, as you cut into your steak, let each slice get a delightful dip in your dressing. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

Serving suggestions

Nothing beats the taste of a quality, well-grilled steak, but if you were tempted to top it with a special sauce or dressing, we wouldn’t blame you.

Here are a few of our favorite toppers for grilled steak here are Culinary Crafts.

And while you’ve got that grill fired up and running, here are a few of our past grilled recipes.

Happy Father’s Day to all you grillers out there, old and new.

Eat well!

June 6, 2024

Chef’s Dinner at Culinary Crafts

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Question: What do you get when you give Culinary Crafts chefs license to make anything they want?

Answer: Magic!

We held this special Chef’s Dinner event in our own Pleasant Grove kitchen so that diners would have a ring-side seat to see innovation and culinary creativity conjured right before their eyes.

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A foyer full of playful smoke and bubbles set the mood for an evening of adventure and fun. As guests met and mingled, they were treated to bubbly champagne with smoked trout and caviar hors d’oeuvres.

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Appetizers

Meanwhile, in the kitchen our chefs were already hard at work concocting something truly special.

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Our youngest chef, Haylie, prepared a unique appetizer of cotton candy foie gras.

Everyone knows that fats and sweets pair well. (That’s why so many desserts contain both butter and sugar.) But recent food trends blur the lines between savory and sweet. In Haylie’s dish, the richness of goose liver and sautéed butter received a boost from the sweetness of cotton candy. We paired it with an excellent Sainte-Croix-du-Mont (usually a dessert wine) which helped to balance the savory foie gras.

At first, guests were amused at the cute and playful idea. But when they tried it, they were shocked at how well the ingredients combined.

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With the magic of molecular gastronomy, we turned a classic margarita into a spherified cocktail you can eat off a spoon! A sprinkle of Tajin gave it an extra kick.

We served it with a tasty bite of scallop ceviche.

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First Course

The first course of the chef's dinner took a traditional French terrine and broke all the rules. Instead of the typical meat filling, our chef used radishes fresh out of the ground. Raw radishes can taste sharp, but the butter and salt of the terrine slowed down their bite. Cut thick and served on rustic artisan bread straight from our bakery (with a crackling outside and chewy middle), it had guests begging for more.

The wine we paired it with needed to be acidic enough to cut through the butter, so we served our Culinary Crafts Albion White, bottled in Park City by Old Town Cellars.

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Salad

The next course took “salad” to a whole new level. Petite frisée lardon nest—translation: a little curly nest of bacon with poached eggs, local micro greens, and a house-made vinaigrette. Diners refreshed their palates with our Culinary Crafts Towers Rosé or nonalcoholic Zilch Brut Rosé. roasted carrot, creme fraiche, squid ink tapioca

Third Course

This intriguing bite was roasted carrot and crème fraîche on a squid ink tapioca cracker. We paired it with Elusive Chardonnay from Park City’s Old Town Cellars. Diners had an option of a non-alcoholic Waterbrook Chardonnay.

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Fourth Course

Porcini donut on raclette foam paired with an edible negroni made with Madam Pattirini Gin from Ogden’s Own distillery.

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Fifth Course

The togarashi-seasoned ahi tuna was delicious in its own right, but the real star of this course was the Sakura Cha (Japanese Green Tea), featuring local spirits Tsuku Saki and Holystone Tsunami Shochu.

Owner Ryan Crafts—a mixologist who has won a Catie Award for his cocktail creations—developed this unique cocktail with jasmine blossoms, salt-cured cherry blossoms, pears, and grapefruits. The glass porthole canteens made eye-catching table decorations until it was time to pour in the drink and start the infusion process. Guests watched the blossoms gracefully unfurl and the tea slowly turn a delicate pink.

It was a vivid reminder that we eat and drink with our eyes first.

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After a rich dish, nothing cleanses the palate like a buzz button. These tropical blossoms, also known as Szechuan flowers or electric daisies, have a peculiar effect when you pop one in your mouth. As Chef Brandon, our Culinary Director, explained to guests as he passed them out, buzz buttons will make your mouth tingle and your salivary glands go nuts! All that saliva will cleanse your palate in no time.

But be careful. Buzz buttons can leave your whole mouth numb if you overdo it. Half a blossom is plenty.

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Sixth Course

Next, Chef Hunter served up a Five Spice MacFarlane Pheasant. Pheasant has a particularly robust flavor, and wild pheasant can taste gamey, but Chef Hunter chose farm-raised pheasant and prepared it with a strong blend of spices that smoothed out the taste.

We were excited to pair this dish with a pinot noir from Old Town Cellars in Park City. The pinot is a lovely wine, but we seldom get to use it with poultry dishes because it would overpower something like chicken. Hunter’s pheasant was an ideal paring because it held its own.

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Seventh Course

Next up came pink peppercorn prime flat iron steak, served with succotash and paired with Park City’s Old Town Cellars Outlaw Reserve Cabernet / Waterbrook Cabernet.

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Dessert

After so many bold flavors, we wanted to wind the meal down with a light treat that wasn’t overly sweet. This blood orange tart was a citrus mousse in a classic tart shell, with subtly sweet whipped cream. Paired with Château Rieussec Sauternes 2016 , it was our co-owner Ryan’s favorite course of the whole chef's dinner.

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Cheese and Sodas

We love to highlight the best products for local producers whenever we can, and this cheese tasting comprised three cheeses made by Beehive Cheese in Ogden, Utah. Paired with three local sodas, they made a delicious interlude between dessert courses.

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Dessert Reprise

Then (since one dessert is never enough) we surprised guests with one more bite. This opera cake eclair, coffee pastry cream, and chocolate ganache was served with a milk-washed antrim cocktail made with Josephine Eau de Vie from Pleasant Grove’s only distillery, Clear Water. A milk-washed mulled cider from Utah’s Rowley's Red Barn Farms was the non-alcoholic alternative.

To commemorate this Chef’s Dinner event, we gave each guest a custom cutting board engraved with the evening’s menu. Hopefully, every time they use it in their own kitchen it will serve as an inspiration to experiment in the kitchen, have fun with food, and share the joy of hospitality.

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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!

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