Category Archives: Recipe

Chef Tyler Wiard’s SPAM Tacos

Sample tacos al pastor with laughline meat or make them at home.

SPAMSPAM, the pork-in-a-can product not the E-mail annoyance, is a favorite in Hawaii and the subject of Mainland laughlines. But people stop laughing when they taste dishes prepared by name chefs using SPAM. The SPAMERICAN Tour visits 16 cities across the countries where chefs demonstrate that point with interesting recipes.

SPAM is also an iconic Army ingredient, and there-in lies the backstory of the SPAMERICAN Tour. It is partnering with Operation Gratitude, a volunteer based organization that sends care packages and letters to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas, veterans, wounded soldiers and their families, plus new recruits and first responders here at home. The tour is bringing Operation Gratitude’s letter-writing campaign into 16 communities, supporting its “March to a 2nd Million” goal with a $50,000 donation by pledging $1 for every letter written in-market and online at SPAM.com. I know it’s a little complicated.

But each stop is simplicity itself with free samples of Operation SPAM Gravy with Biscuits  and SPAM fries, plus creations of local chef partners. It comes to Denver’s Sustainability Park, where Tyler Wiard, the energetic culinary director of Elway’s restaurant and a recent “cheftestant” on Bravo’s Top Chef, prepares al pastor tacos. He uses crispy SPAM rather than the traditional pork butt. Taste them for FREE on Saturday, May 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. at The Big Wonderful, a sustainability fair at the park (2600 Lawrence St.).  Continue reading Chef Tyler Wiard’s SPAM Tacos

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.

Two From the Thanksgiving Table

Stuffing and cranberry relish were 2015 hits.

ThanksgivingTurkeyThe media are awash with Thanksgiving recipes before the holiday, but few people share recipes afterwards for successful dishes. But there will be Thanksgiving again in 2016, so here goes. Dinner was a joint effort of all us 2015 holiday gluttons, but I had compliments and even recipe requests for two of my contributions to the groaning board. I neglected to photograph either.

From the typeface on the yellowing clipped directions, I can tell that the basis for the stuffing recipe below came from the Denver Post at some time in the past. Of course, I changed it a bit. It filled a 15-pound turkey and a casserole for the oven.

Turkey with Olive Bread Stuffing

2 round loaves of artisanal olive bread
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
3 cups turkey stock (or chicken or veggie broth)
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup dried currants
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut bread into one-inch cubes, place  on cookie sheets in a single layer and toast until well dried out.  In a medium skillet, sauté sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon and cook until sausage is lightly browned. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large skillet (I like cast iron), melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, add onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add mushrooms, currants, part of the turkey stock and thyme, and heat until butter has melted.  Add to the bread cubes the remainder of the stock, the mushroom-currant mixture and the browned sausage. Mix with your hands until well combined. If you like a moister stuffing, add more stock. Stuff the brined or unbrined turkey. Put remaining stuffing into an ovenproof dish. Roast turkey and heat stuffing using your preferred method.

My tradition has long been to make one cranberry sauce as directed on the back of the Ocean Spray package (with or without an added cinnamon stick) and one interesting “other.” And here that one is, inspired by a recipe from Real Simple.

Fresh Cranberry and Apple Relish

3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 Braeburn apple, unpeeled but cored and chopped
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. orange juice
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Let sit at rom temperature so that flavors blend, and then refrigerate until serving.

Perfect for a Potluck: Glazed Carrots

Maple syrup and more punch up sliced carrots.

Potluck-linedrawingWhen bringing a hot dish to a potluck, I like to make something unfussy that doesn’t need to be cut with knife, can travel without falling apart and doesn’t need to be reheated in the hostess’ oven. For a potluck last night, I improvised a spin on Maple-Glazed Carrots. I didn’t measure (as I wrote, “unfussy” was a criterion), so I’m estimating quantities here. If you make it, you can change the seasonings, sprinkle with parsley or make any other modifications you wish.

Sliced carrots glazed with maple syrup and more.
Sliced carrots glazed with maple syrup and more.

Glazed Carrots

3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup real maple syrup
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup water*
2 Tbsp. mild chili powder
1/2 cup chopped pecans

*If you buy packaged carrots to avoid the step of peeling, use the water in the package.

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except chili powder and pecans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered. Stir occasionally for about 15 minutes. Add chili powder during the last stir. The goal is for the liquid to thicken and glaze the carrots. (If the carrots are tender before the liquid has thickened, uncover and increase heat to medium-high.) Stir in the chopped pecans.

Serves a crowd.

Easy Ad Hoc Avocado Soup

Cold soup made in the blender.

AvocadoI had two ripe avocadoes that needed to be but hadn’t planned to write a recipe when I threw together what turned out to be a nice mellow summer soup, so I didn’t measure anything and I didn’t take a single picture of this smooth soup that turned out to be lovely sea-foam green. But here, roughly is what I made — easy, flexible, not fussy.

Cold Avocado Soup

I placed in the blender the flesh of two ripe avocadoes, 3 cups of frozen turkey stock, generous splash of dry sherry, juice of three limes, 2 cloves of peeled and chopped garlic, 1/2 seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper, a cup of half and half, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend on high speed until frozen stock has thawed and the soup is smooth. Makes two sizable portions.

You could use chicken or vegetable stock from the freezer, the refrigerator or a package. You could use heavy cream, sour cream or plain yogurt. Lemon juice instead of lime juice. Or modify it in any other way. The important thing is to use those avocadoes before they pass their peak.

 

Caponata for a Summer’s Evening

Southern Italian appetizer a seasonal treat.

Photorealistic vector. Colorful fresh group of vegetables.
Photorealistic vector. Colorful fresh group of vegetables.

Caponata has long been one of my favorite summer appetizers. Eggplant, tomatoes and onions make for a heavenly combination. There are probably as many recipes as there are cooks in southern Italy. Over the years, I’ve made many different variations. Here’s the one I contrived for July 2015. I didn’t measure anything, but caponata is not a dish that requires precision, so have at it.

MIse en place for my latest version of caponata.
MIse en place for my latest version of caponata.

Caponata

1 eggplant
Salt
3/4   cup +/- extra-virgin olive oil
1 half medium red onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2-3 celery ribs, chopped
1/3 cup large black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2-3 Tbsp. capers
1 Tbsp. sugar (or to taste)
1/3 cup red -wine vinegar
1 (14- to 15-oz) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped

Peel eggplants, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread on half of a kitchen towel in a jellyroll pan. Sprinkle with salt, then cover with other half of the towel and weight with a second baking sheet topped with cast-iron pans for about 30 minutes.

Salting the eggplant and pressing out the moisture is a step in many recipes. Sometimes, it is also necessary to squeeze out any remaining water by hand.
Salting the eggplant and pressing out the moisture is a step in many recipes. Sometimes, it is also necessary to squeeze out any remaining water by hand.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup oil in a heavy  skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, and cook stirring occasionally, until pale golden (6 to 8 minutes). Add celery and garlic, and cook, stirring, occasionally until onion and celery are golden brown and soft (about 10 minutes). Add eggplant cubes and cook about 10 minutes Add olives, capers and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10  minutes. Stir in vinegar and tomatoes, breaking tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Caponata inrgedients simmering in the pan.
Caponata inrgedients simmering in the pan.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. If sauce is very acidic, add  a  bit more sugar (to taste). Transfer to a bowl and keep warm, covered. Cool room temperature and let stand, for at least 3 hours. Stir before serving.

Like many Spanish tapas, caponata can be eaten at various temperatures. I like it at room temperature, served with thinly sliced good-quality Italian or French bread,