Monthly Archives: November 2013

Coffee Syrup + Recipe for Coffee Spice Cake

In honor of Thanksgiving – our country’s foodiest holiday – this week’s post [posting just once this week, instead of the typical twice], is a recipe. Make it for Friday morning, when the gluttony of the previous day will haunt you with serious hunger pangs.

I am highly suggestible when it comes to cooking and baking.
I can be watching a cooking show, see them making something great, and start going through my mind to think if I have the ingredients on hand, and if I do, jump up from the couch, and get right into the kitchen to make it.
Let’s call it, rather, open to inspiration.
Recently, my inspiration came from a coffee themed gift basket I saw online, that contained a jar of coffee syrup.
Though I’ve made many homemade syrups before – lavender, spice, and even beer! – for some reason, coffee syrup had never occurred to me.
I made 3 cups of coffee in my Chemex, then boiled that on the stove, with 3 cups of natural sugar.
Does not get easier than that.
This made enough for a pint for me, plus two half pints to gift.
Now that I had my coffee syrup, and a good amount of it, I wanted to research recipes to use it in.
Thinking I’d find primarily cocktail recipes, I actually came across a site that features it [I love the Internets]:
Autocrat themselves make all-natural extracts and syrups, one of which is coffee, so they’ve developed some excellent recipes for it outside of the standard mocha, or ice cream.
The recipe I want to share here with you – adapted – is for Coffee Spice Cake:

1/2 c butter [I used 4T butter, and 4T applesauce]
1 c sugar [I used a combination of date and natural sugars]
1 egg
1/4 c coffee syrup
1/2 c milk
2 c sifted flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

350* / 40m

This is a beautifully balanced cake.
Not too sweet, but sweet enough.
The coffee flavor isn’t pronounced, but a subtle elevation.
Truly delicious.


Jensen Cummings’ Heroes Against Hunger is Truly Heroic. A Guest Post by Lia Moran.

This August, I attended an event on the University of Denver campus called “Heroes Against Hunger Block Party”.
Some of Denver’s most popular chefs and restaurants banded together to raise money to help end childhood hunger.
Jensen Cummings – a respected Denver chef – and one of the owners of Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery in town, was the driving force behind the event.
The carnival-themed party also had a farmers’ market selling produce local students had grown.
Jensen branched out and created Heroes Like Us, a group of over 100 chefs who will help organizations host fundraisers that need chefs.
“We’re going to be able to handle their food events. If we can handle the logistics for them – getting the chefs to sign on and helping them get what they need to put their best foot forward, then the event coordinators have less to worry about.”
Jensen said there is really nothing like this organization anywhere.
They’ve already gotten their 501(c)(3) status and Jensen has been writing bylaws for the group.
“It’s been an incredibly eye-opening experience,” he said.
Recently, Slow Food USA helped raise money for the Front Range Farm Flood Relief Fund at Balisteri Vineyards, and asked for Jensen’s help.
Within three hours, he had chefs to do the event and also organized getting the food to them for an event being held just nine days later.
“The impact is bigger than just the chefs involved. It really bolstered the community. That event helped show how this model works,” said Jensen.
Heroes Like Us is currently planning for 2014, pairing up with groups like Denver Off the Wagon and Kyle Dill of Industry Denver working to bring food and beverages to their events.
I had to ask Jensen why he was personally so interested in and concerned with ending childhood hunger.
I know why it matters to me.
In the past, I volunteered for “Chefs Up Front”, an annual fundraiser for Share Our Strength.
I was paired with Jennifer Jasinski, (Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Euclid Hall, S&G Fish) and she taught me so much about food in the six hours I spent with her.
I knew that day I wanted to cook more and help end childhood hunger.
I think Jensen’s answer is spot on: “Feeding our community is why I cook. It’s why chefs do what we do. Children deserve to be fed well. Kids who are will be more successful. No kid anywhere has ever done anything to deserve not being fed. It’s a natural connection for me to want to support that.”
He went on to say, “One of the ideals that has been a big part of our message is that it’s all about building a whole community of people passionate about food and drink, breaking down barriers around sociological and economical statuses. All of us should be inspired by food. It’s not really about the food you’re eating, it’s about the community you’re building.”
At the Heroes Like Us event in August, the parents could see what their children had produced for the farmers’ market and how it changes their lives.
“Two moms holding produce that their children had grown were inspired to cook for their families. That’s a perfect moment. At that moment, those two moms, no matter what their background, are the same,” said Jensen.
Earlier this year, Jensen, and two other well-known and loved local chefs, Matt Selby and Tyler Wiard, attended a dinner at the governor’s mansion with Share Our Strength.
Jensen went on, “We did the dinner and then Lt. Governor Joe Garcia presented us with a Colorado state flag that had been flown over the capitol. They did this whole flag presentation; it was incredible. I had goose bumps – like roller coaster tingly!”
The chefs also received a signed proclamation from Governor Hickenlooper.
“We came out of that dinner all fired up. Of course we didn’t deserve that honor but now we wanted to earn it.”
Jensen on food insecurity: “As far as people going hungry, there’s a lot of pride attached to being able to provide for your family. If you can’t provide food for your family, you’re often seen as a failure, and that’s not the case. That is why food is such an issue. It’s the core of who we are. We want to pretend it’s someone else’s problem when the reality is that it’s happening in our communities.”

Bistrot des Artistes Is Tasteful In Every Sense of the Word.

There are some words that were made for each other, and two of those are Cheese Warehouse.
A warehouse isn’t typically a place to go when you want beauty and charm, but when it’s filled with cheese, it’s just a different kind of both beauty and charm.
In business now for 35 years, for the bulk of those, Cheese Importers Warehouse in Longmont was in a literal warehouse on the west side of town.
It was a wonderland of cheese, but not nearly as much of a warm, inviting environment as they inhabit now.
It was a huge hit from the beginning, because, well, cheese.
Their “new” building itself is of note.
Built in 1931 as the first power station, it sat empty for over 30 years, until used as storage for the City of Longmont Museum.
But now, it is an eating and shopping destination experience overflowing with delightful discoveries.
One of the joyful additions to their expanded space is their bistro – Bistrot des Artistes.
Themed shops and restaurants – whether French, Mexican, Southwestern or others – can either go very right [tasteful] or very wrong [tacky].
Bistrot des Artistes has been done tastefully, in every sense of the word.
Taking up a third of the main floor of the building, you enter what looks like a deli, eye all the beautiful pastries [eclairs, pies and macarons, oh my!], quiches [a meat, and a vegetable offering daily, plus standards of Lorraine and salmon], charcuterie and cheese plates and more.
The menu is extensive and a tour through all the sweet and savory French favorites in this more casual style of dining.
You order and pay at the counter, then are given a number to take to your table and your food is brought to you there.
The tables themselves are charming bistro style, with a mix of eclectic chairs, and French themed accessories throughout.
Most of the floor is fabulous hexagon tiles, as you see in the old bistros of Paris.
There’s a bar in the center of the space, but for show, not for cocktails [though they do serve beer and wine; order at the counter].
And they’ve thoughtfully stacked glasses and pitchers of water there, so you can just help yourself.
I was with a group of friends, and we all ordered a variety of sandwiches, salads, soup and a cheese and charcuterie platter.
You would think the highlight of the meal would have been the meats and cheeses in various forms – but as good as those were, was actually the unexpected addition to the platter itself – miniature, tear-shaped sweet red peppers called Sweety Drop.
Native to the Highlands of Peru, each of us loved them so much, we took some home.
They’re available by the pound on the olive and pepper bar in the huge walk-in cooler [affectionately known as the Cheese Cave], and also in jars, for a shelf stable option.
If we were to cry over them, it would only be tears of joy.
They were that good.
It’s discoveries like this that make dining out so much fun.
Plan a couple of hours, at least, to eat and then visit their adjoining Market Europa, filled with a high quality selection of specialty foods, housewares, cookbooks and more.
And the Cheese Cave – almost as big as the Bistro itself, and larger than the first floor of my home – is a don’t miss.

Cheese Importers Warehouse
103 Main Street

Things You Want to Know About Spices, Plus Recipes for Red Rocks Mac & Cheese, Smoked Serrano Cranberry Chutney + Chicken Tikka Masala

When we had the FORK Social Lab space on Main Street in Louisville, I reached out to Dan Hayward, owner of Boulder’s Savory Spice Shop, to ask if he’d be interested in coming to teach spice classes.
He was, and over the course of a year, we hosted 9 public classes, and 1 private.
They were a big hit and we all learned a lot about the fascinating history of the spice trade, how to use them best in cooking, and how the wealthy used to pile them up on tables in their homes when entertaining as a show of wealth [!].
I did a short interview with Dan recently and here’s what he wants us to know:

HB: What’s something you wish more people knew about spices – either origin or application related, or both?
DH: The history surrounding the spice trade is quite fascinating and complex, especially when considering how certain spices have been adopted into various cultures i.e. Allspice berries where discovered in Jamaica by Christopher Columbus, brought to Europe, and then traded with Arab spice merchants. You will find this spice used in many Middle Eastern dishes. In addition, people should be aware that spices have a shelf life. Ground spices are at their peak from 6 to 9 months. Whole seeds and spices can last for years. Spices should be kept cool, dry, dark, and sealed.

HB: If someone could have only 3 spices in their kitchen, what are the musts in your opinion?
DH: A good multi-purposed salt like Himalayan Pink Sea Salt (high in minerals), a high quality Peppercorn like our Telicherry Peppercorns from India (well rounded flavor, mellow, not too sharp), and a good herb blend like our Herbes de Provence.

HB: What are your top sellers, and what kind of classic dishes are people making with them?
DH: Our curries and BBQ blends are our best sellers. Our curries cover regions like India, SE Asia, Africa, and other non-traditional regions like Spain and France. Our most popular curry dish is our Chicken Tikka Masala (family friendly and easy to prepare) Our most famous BBQ blend is our Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning closely followed by our Pearl St. Plank Rub. Our BBQ blends are designed to be used as a simple rub or as a marinade. One of our favorite recipes is the Red Rocks Mac & Cheese…smoky, cheesy goodness!

HB: Anything else you want us to know…
DH: We have over 400 herbs, spices, and seasonings fresh ground weekly in small batches. The advantage to buying with Savory Spice Shop is that you can buy in small quantities (as small as 1/2 ounce), you can try before you buy (taster, samples jars throughout the store), and our knowledgeable staff can help guide you to the perfect spice for whatever dish you can imagine.

Plus a bonus recipe!
Here’s a fun twist on the traditional cranberry dressing for the Holidays…Smoked Serrano Cranberry Chutney!

This week I wrote a feature for Boulder Weekly on this very topic, so grab a copy [free; published every Thursday] if you’d like to read it in print.
Here’s the link to it online:

If The Question Is: Do You Want to Come to a Butter Lunch? The Answer is Yes.

I was recently invited to a Butter Lunch.
I said yes.
I didn’t even ask for the date or time.
This was something I would clear a calendar for.
I was invited by Sara Lancaster, the Saucy Dipper, on behalf of one of her clients, Epicurean Butter.
Having never been to a butter lunch before, I didn’t know what to expect, but the experience exceeded any expectations I could have had.
Epicurean Butter is a Denver company, started by a professional chef and his wife, after he realized how much he relied on his house made compound butters in his professional kitchen, and wanted the at home cook to have access to the same flavor builders.
With 15 favors – sweet and savory – like caramel sea salt, black truffle [my personal favorite], porcini sage, pumpkin and Tuscan herb, the options are impressive.
They wanted to provide a product that allowed both numerous uses and ease of use.
I love that thoughtfulness.
Originally thinking their sweet butters would be the bigger hits, it’s actually been the savory ones.
They use only the highest quality ingredients; their butter comes from a California consortium of dairies; their black truffles are the real deal, straight from Italy.
This fact is not lost on the retailers that choose to carry their butters, and Whole Foods was the first one to.
Specialty groceries soon followed.
For our lunch, they flew in a chef from Chicago to cook for us, and we enjoyed a meal of flatbread, Shrimp Scampi, seared tenderloin, and fruit compote, all using a range of Epicurean butters.
As if a butter lunch isn’t enough joy, we were sent home with an insulated bag of 4 full-size butters to try.
Their roasted garlic herb butter is their top seller, followed by their truffle butter, so these are the two I’d get if I were you – experiment with them on everything from pasta to pork.
You’ll be amazed at how much of an incredible flavor punch even a tablespoon will make to your dishes.
Butter = Happiness.

DRAM Apothecary Cornbread. Sage Makes Everything Better.

{Recipe used with permission of Shae Whitney}

1 1/4 c coarse yellow cornmeal
3/4 c all purpose flour [I used wheat]
1/4 c sugar
2T chopped fresh sage
2T chopped fresh rosemary [for herbs, I used rubbed sage and less because you always use less of a dried herb – 1T]
2 t baking powder
1 t coarse salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 stick salted butter [couldn’t bear to use 16T of butter, so subbed applesauce for 8T]
1/4 c whole milk
1 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 c honey
2 t DRAM sage bitters

Shae recommends using a cast iron skillet, but since I don’t have one, just used a glass baking dish.
Heat oven to 425*, then reduce to 375* before putting skillet or baking dish in.
Recipe time is 20-23m, but my oven took 30m; at the 20m mark, I put foil over the top so it wouldn’t burn, and would allow inside to cook through.
This makes the most beautiful, subtle sage-flavored cornbread.
Perfect for this time of year.

Bones Has Soul. And a Lobster Ramen Bowl That Will Change Your Life for the Better.

Bones has soul.
It’s the first and most important thing I want you to know about it.
The food is incredible and crave-worthy, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but I can get good food a lot of places.
That soul comes from Executive Chef John DePierro and also his relationship with his Sous Chef, Sweet Michael [Nevarez], as he’s called.
They make a good team – you can tell there’s a genuine respect between them, while also a playfulness – easily observed in the open kitchen.
In an open kitchen, the presence of the chefs and cooks becomes part of the experience, unlike when they’re in kitchens that are hidden away.
This is why true generosity of spirit must be present.
It would be too off-putting to the guest otherwise.
With an Italian father, and a Puerto Rican mother, Chef John [Johnny, as he’s known in the industry, and which I was encouraged to call him] comes from a family that knows food.
That he grew up to become a chef isn’t a surprise, and I can see the passion he carries from both of those cultures, to his work.
Recently, he spent his Saturday plowing through a pile of books on food with titles like, Maximum Flavor and D.O.M Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients.
He knows a lot and also continues to push himself to learn.
When I was there, with a knit hat cocked to the side, like a beret, Chef Johnny looked like an artist.
He also has a reputation as being one of the kindest guys in the business, and you can’t have soul without kindness.
I’ve heard that Bonanno gives his chefs creative freedom is his/their kitchens, and this is evident at Bones.
Chef sent out a confit octopus whose presentation and flavor was so stunning, it is one of those dishes I will never forget.
The squid ink splattered plate looked like a Pollock painting.
The tender, while firm, quarter-sized medallions of octopus, along with oyster mushrooms, Korean pepper and orcha greens, was moving.
The Brussels sprouts were just as they should be: tender, with a browned crunch on the outside.
We all know that brown = delicious.
I enjoyed the beet salad, and especially loved the plating.
Justified left on a white porcelain plate, it was pretty and lively.
Fresh, local beets, thinly sliced carrots and greens, it served as a refreshing romp between the other rich dishes.
The lobster ramen is nothing less than a work of art.
Made with a beurre blanc broth, and gorgeous, generous chunks of lobster, I don’t exaggerate to say this; I fell in love and reverie with it.
It’s difficult to upstage lobster, and it is definitely a big player, but that broth.
Perfected over time, no doubt, that kind of flavor doesn’t just happen.
With shelled edamame and green onion, along with the ramen noodles, it’s all you need in a bowl.
And perhaps in life.
Ok, let’s not go quite that far.

701 Grant Street

Izakaya + Sushi Dens Have New Drink Programs, including a Bamboo Picnic of Premium Sakes

I like the word, sake.
It’s fun to say, and feels like the word itself has celebration built into it.
Izakaya Den now offers a Bamboo Picnic: a traditional Japanese wooden box decorated with bamboo leaf, containing a trio of premium sakes – a clever play on the bento box – served chilled, of course, and a side of Kinpira for just $20.
You can choose to enjoy your sake from glasses or the masu drinking boxes – filled to the rim to encourage prosperity.
The rotating selection keeps it exciting for sake lovers as well as those new to the Japanese liquor.
Selections include Sayuri, a full Nigori sake, Umenishiki, a Junmai Gingo sake [with a delicate, fruity finish] and The Chokaisan, a Junmai Diagingo sake offering elegance and balance in taste.
Presentation is so much of the fun, and if you’d like to bring me sake in this manner, I’m in.
This elegant experience is available exclusively at the Red Bar on the first floor.

Izakaya Den
1487-A South Pearl Street

Sushi Den now has intriguing new cocktails, sake tasting charts and wine pairing notes for their stellar food menus.
Known for their unparalleled sushi quality, they’ve elevated their drink program to match.
The extensive menu includes 10 revamped cocktails and over 30 premium white and red wines.
Red Rocks – with Breckenridge bourbon, sweet vermouth, black raspberry and orange juice – is sweet and refreshing, with colors befitting autumn.
Pacific Time winks at Japan in its name, with Goat vodka*, St. Germain, fresh lemon juice and white grapes.
Toshi Kizaki has also curated one of the top sake lists in the country.
The new list offers a tasting chart, with sakes ranked from sweetest to driest, sorted by region, along with food pairing suggestions.
The wine list also includes exciting and unusual pairing notes.
For example, Miso Black Cod – my all-time favorite – can be paired with sparkling Jolivet, while Yellowtail Kama pairs beautifully with Chamisal Estate Pinot Noir.

*From Peach Street Distillers in Palisade. Local = Lovely.

Sushi Den
1487 South Pearl Street

Here’s a very, very [did I mention, very] special and rare treat – a cocktail recipe from the genius cocktail minds at Izakaya Den – thanks to the generosity of one Miss Ellen Marchman Larkey – the first thing I order when I arrive – the Gion District:

1 oz Sky Blood Orange vodka
1 oz Sky Ginger Vodka
1 oz lemon juice
.5 oz Asian 5 spice syrup**
Shake all ingredients and pour into a martini or coupe glass [I prefer coupe – so elegant!]

**Simple syrups are easily made at home.
1 c of sugar to 1 c of water, with the flavoring to steep while it comes to a rolling boil and sugar dissolves.
In this case, you can just buy 5 spice powder, dissolve in a bit of water first, then add into the mixture.
Play with amount of 5 spice powder starting at 1T, until it’s to your preferred strength.
Or, use: whole star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds and Sichuan pepper – let that steep – and once sugar is dissolved, strain and put in bottle or jar to store in the fridge.