Category Archives: Products

Easiest Garlic Bread Ever

Salt from Grand Junction the magic ingredient.

001A lifetime ago, when I was quite young, garlic bread seemed like an exotic food item. Over the years, I’ve often made it — usually with a salad or soup, or perhaps with a pasta entrée.  I’ve done it the “pure way,” mincing garlic and mixing it with softened butter. Then I began getting lazy and started using Lawry’s Garlic Spread* from the supermarket.

As I’ve become more ingredient-savvy and also more interested in supporting independent food enterprises, especially in Colorado, I tried lightly buttering both halves of a baguette cut lengthwise and sprinkling with a bit of garlic/jalapeño salt from the Colorado Buffalo Salt Company in Grand Junction,wrapping in foil and then baking as usual. Verdict: The Bufffalo Salt and butter combo was the best of the three that I’ve tried.

*If you want to make your foodie hair stand on end, here are the ingredients in Lawry’s Garlic Spread: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean And Cottonseed Oil, Water, Salt, Sugar, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Garlic Powder, Mono- And Diglycerides, Parmesan Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate And Sodium Benzoate (Used To Protect Quality), Garlic Oil, Butter Oil (Milk), And Carrot Oil (For Color).” I’m just glad I never binged on the stuff.

Easy & Interesting Dessert With Colorado Yogurt

Noosa’s new flavor worth tasting.

WP_20160211_001I had just finished a small container of Noosa 0% fat salt caramel  flavor yogurt the other day, when a package arrived. It held two containers of high-test Noosa blackberry serrano Greek yogurt, a new variety available only in Colorado. I opened one soon and loved the richness, the fruity flavor and the kick of serrano. But having only eaten non-fat and low-fat yogurt for years, I had to consume it in two helpings. Fortunately, it had a real lid and not that foil peel-off stuff.

I should add that I have a soft spot for Noosa Yoghurt, because it comes from tiny Bellevue, Colorado, north of Fort Collins and is made with local milk. My inspiration for the second container was a quick dessert recipe called “3 Ingredient Chocolate Strawberry Yogurt Bites” from a site called A Cedar Spoon and modified it to suit three main ingredients that I happened to have on hand. I didn’t take pictures, but here’s what a made for Valentines Day:

Chocolate/Blackberry Serrano Yogurt Bites

1 carton  of 15 ready-made phyllo shells
1 container Noosa blackberry serrano yogurt
2 ounces organic dark chocolate
4 strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place phyllo shells on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes to crisp. Set aside to cool.
2. In a glass bowl, melt chocolate in a microwave set on medium power for about 8 minutes or until melted, stirring once or twice.
3. Stir yogurt into chocolate and spoon into shells.
4. Cut strawberries into small pieces and place a few bits on top of each.

Serve before the phyllo gets soggy.

Science Museum Explores Chocolate

Special exhibition follows cacao from rainforest to candy.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science debuted a new exhibition on chocolate, exploring its botanical, cultural, economic and culinary impacts. Called “CHOCOLATE: The Exhibition,” this modest visiting exhibition with its suitably bilingual captions was developed by Chicago’s exemplary Field Museum. It provides an enticing experience for the whole family during its brief stop in Denver.

As visitors progress from the Central American origins of the use of chocolate to the history and on to the present, the chocolate aroma becomes stronger. The captions are appropriately bilingual, as suits an exploration of a food that originated in Central America. At the exit, there is a chocolate  shop and a little café.  Double dare you not to stop.

The members’ opening event included tasting tables set up among the dioramas. Grand Junction-based Enstrom’s provided samples from dark and bitter to sweet milk chocolate. No special ticket is required, for this exhibition is included in the general admission. It is in town through May 8. Photography was challenging, so here are just a few images — the best I could manage:

Cacao tree in the rainforest.
Cacao tree in the rainforest with its robust pods that  produce a little seed that eventually yields what we know as chocolate.
Close-up in a case.
Close-up in a case.
Docent explaining the ins and outs of one the world's most beloved sweets.
Docent explaining the ins and outs of one the world’s most beloved sweets.
As chocolate reached Europe, it inspired a the development of elegant cups and pitchers to further its enjoyment by the elite,
As chocolate reached Europe, it inspired a the development of elegant cups and pitchers to further its enjoyment by the elite.
Café and chocolate shop at the exhibition exit.
Café and chocolate shop at the exhibition exit.



Polish Pierogis in a Package


Denver’s Bistro Charlotte makes these filled treats.

BC-sealOnce upon a time, there was a cafe in Boulder that made divine pierogis, filled dumplings that could bring gustatory sunshine to a rare Colorado gloomy day. I wrote about them here, but that now is a nostalgic essay rather than a description, because the Eggcredible Cafe is no more.

I just received a heads-up message from Charlotte Pistek, whose frozen pierogis are available in high-end markets around the metro area. Preparing them takes less time than driving across town. Three flavors (traditional Potatoes and Cheese with Sautéed Onions, Kraut & Sautéed Mushroom Potato and the Colorado-inspired Cheddar with Roasted Jalapeño) are sold under the Bistro Charlotte label, though there appears to be no brick-and-mortar bistro.  Amanda Faison of 5280 Magazine has tried them and recommended them, so that’s good enough for me. She wrote:

Look to most any corner of the world and you’ll find a dumpling. Japan has the gyoza, Nepal the momo, Italy the ravioli, and Russia the pelmeni. But to many, the ultimate dumpling is the supremely comforting pierogi. The Polish finger food is usually stuffed with a starchy combo of mashed potato and cheese or potato and sauerkraut. A good pierogi is worth hunting for, especially as winter weather blasts us with cold and snow.

Enter Bistro Charlotte, Denverite Anna Postek’s boutique pierogi company. Postek began making and selling her own dumplings when she couldn’t find the quality she was looking for in the market. “Everything is so processed now,” Postek says. She looked in old books and pestered her Polish mother and family members and friends’ family members until she came up with a pierogi recipe that “is something like what used to be made.”

Postek works every batch from scratch using organic eggs and flour, and the results yield excellent chewy dough stuffed with creamy, satisfying fillings. She sells her Bistro Charlotte pierogi (there are three varieties: potatoes and cheese with sautéed onions, kraut and sautéed mushroom, and potato and cheddar with roasted jalapeño) at Marczyk Fine Foods, Whole Foods, and Sawa Meat & Sausage. The pierogi are so good, we keep a box or two in the freezer for a quick lunch, dinner, or anytime snack.

At Home Tip: We like serving the potato and cheese pierogi with balsamic-red onion jam.

Sweetener Firm Based in Sugar Land

New brand name is Wholesome! — with a bang! at the end.

Wholesome!-Organic-Sweeteners_resizedI sometimes (make that often) have wondered by rebranding mania. It’s expensive and it runs the risk of losing loyal customers. When a big corporation, say, Esso becomes Exxon or First National City Bank becomes Citibank, changes its name and its logo, it gets a lot attention. Perhaps that’s reason enough.

But I wonder what the point is for Wholesome Sweetener to become Wholesome! with an exclamation point at the end. It is a well-respected line of organic, fair trade and non-GMO sugars and sweeteners founded by Nigel Willerton and endorsed by Gale Gand, a well-known pastry chef, cookbook author and Food Network personality, described by a company spokeswoman as “a great friend of Wholesome!. Still, this rebranding is relative modest, and the name doesn’t really change all that much.

I am tickled that this line of gourmet sugars, syrups, molasses, stevia and honeys is based in Sugar Land, Texas, which is what drew my attention in the first place. Actually, I answered my own question by concluding that rebranding might partially be to capture the attention of bloggers like me in addition to trade and consumer publications. New packaging with its now-punctuated logo with a heart will be introduced at a trade show next month.

A Tasty Oil & Vinegar Shop Visit

New shop for gourmet condiments, pasta and gifts at FlatIron Crossing Mall.

001I have met the folks from Oil & Vinegar at food events in the last few months. They were congenial and enthusiastic, and they kept urging me to come visit their new store at Broomfield’s FlatIron Crossing Mall. Although I tend to prefer real downtowns to indoor malls, I promised that I would stop by — and now I have. And I was impressed. This light, bright store is filled with kegs of some 50 interesting olive and other oils and vinegars on tap, plus bottles of the exotic expensive stuff. Condiments, artisanal pastas, sauces, herbs, spices and beguiling tableware are temptingly displayed.

Liquid deliciousness from stainless steel kegs fills bottles of customers' choices.
Liquid deliciousness from stainless steel kegs fills bottles that customers select.
Tasting station for a variety of olive and other oils. The first thing you notice are the different colors and shades of oils. Spear small pieces of bread on toothpicks, dip and taste away.
Tasting station for a variety of olive and other oils. The first thing you notice are the different colors and shades of oils. Spear small pieces of bread on toothpicks, dip and taste away.
Pasta, sauces and plates to serve them on are grouped in one section of the store. It sparks ideas for the foodies on our gift list.
Pasta, sauces and plates to serve them on are grouped in one section of the store. It sparks ideas for the foodies on our gift list.

To further tempt, everything that comes in a jar or bottle is available for tasting. In fact, customers are urged to sample whatever they’ve stopped to look at. My downfall was the first item I tasted: Delizia al Barolo e Tartufo, a blend of vinegar made from Barolo grape, which many think makes Italy’s greatest wine, and blended with summer truffles. One seductive taste and I was in love with this vinegar that is as thick as syrup, a little sweet and has two of the finest flavors on the planet in one pretty little bottle. The Oil & Vinegar website suggests using it in salads, sprinkling it on grilled meats and adding to hearty vegetable dishes. I’m thinking more that I’ll use it with next summer’s caprese salad and pouring a bit on vanilla ice cream. It’s that good.

The current object of my vinegar affection -- or perhaps obsession.
The current object of my vinegar affection — or perhaps obsession.

Olive & Vinegar is a Dutch company with hundreds of retail locations on the Continent. There are only about 20 in the US, and the FlatIron Crossing Mall location is currently Colorado’s only one. It is on the mall’s upper level, across from Williams-Sonoma, which is a bonus for foodies or those who are shopping for foodies for the holidays. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 noon to 6 p.m. It will be closed on Christmas, as it was on Thanksgiving. The franchise-holders want employees and customers to spend holidays at the table, not at work.

1 West FlatIron Crossing Drive, Unit 2253, Broomfield, 303-404-1762.

Green Bean Casseroles by the Numbers

Del Monte’s study of cliché Thanksgiving casserole.

DelMonte-logoMy husband often teases me, saying that that I am not a “real American,” foodwise, because I have never made a casserole of any sort, country gravy, a Jello salad or other such staples on the American food scene. Guilty of food treason, I suppose. But I am oddly fascinated by statistics. So when an Email from Del Monte announcing that Colorado is #8 in the country for its love of green bean casseroles, presumably made with canned ream of mushroom soup mixed in with the canned green beans, according to something called the Del Monte Green Bean Index, I was intrigued and, frankly, amused.

Del Monte says that “30 million green-bean casseroles [are] set to appear on Thanksgiving tables,” according to a study that was conducted by, ahem, bean counters at Del Monte. The survey asked 1,500 Americans to “go green bean” and rate their fondness for the classic green-bean casserole side dish. I took Statistics 101 AND 102, which makes me a little skeptical about a survey of 1,500 people representing 320 million or so in all 50 states. But I’m putting my skepticism aside. Here goes:

Del Monte’s Top 20 States With the Most Green Bean Casserole Lovers

1. Kentucky (78% of residents ‘really like or love the dish’)
2. Wisconsin (77%)
3. Missouri (76%)
4. Iowa (75%)
5. Maine (74%)
6. New Hampshire (73%)
7. Florida (72%)
8: Colorado (71%)
9. California (69%)
10 Mississippi (68%)
11. Oklahoma (67%)
12. Utah (66%)
13. Kansas (66%)
14. Texas (65%)
15. Maryland (64%)
16. Ohio (63%)
17. Massachusetts (62%)
18. Illinois (61%)
19. Michigan (60%)
20. New York (60%)

Top Five Ingredients for Green Bean Casseroles

Del Monte also asked state residents to rate their favorite “secret ingredient” — described as “a single, creative item that can be added to the casserole’s iconic green bean, cream of mushroom and French fried onion flavors to make it unique and different.” I feel snarkiness coming on, but that is mean, so I will simply post what Del Monte released:

1. Bacon (37% picked it as their favorite secret ingredient)
2. Cheese (19%)
3. Mushrooms (15%)
4. Bread crumbs, croutons, or crushed crackers (12%)
5. Almonds (8%)

Now, since I am posting this, I hope I qualify as a “real American” in my husband’s eyes. But I’m not ever making this casserole —  or serving canned jellied cranberries either.