Brainy New Magazine for Home Cooks

Christopher Kimball, PBS alum, launches super-smart publication.

milkstmag-coverToday’s mail brought a plastic-wrapped copy of the inaugural issue of Milk Street Magazine, the erstwhile host of “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS and founder of the esteemed Cooks Illustrated. ATK was a brainy cooking program about classic American fare — no gimmicks — hosted by Christopher Kimball. With his bow tie and his professorial demeanor, he gave credibility to the scholarly and analytical way that dishes were presented. The magazine is cleanly designed with legible type and excellent food photos.  And it is scholarly in its food history and cultural references.

I’m not up on the issues that resulted in Kimball’s departure from PBS, but Boston Magazine’sChristopher Kimball: Bow Ties, Recipes & Law Suits” provides some background and other tidbits.  I’m enjoying cruising through the stories and the recipes, but I’m thinking it might just be too detailed for me. I’ve toned down my kitchen ambitions. But if I decide to subscribe, six issues a year are $19.95 right now. Click here to subscribe for yourself or as a gift for the brainy cook in your life.

New Favorite Holiday Recipe

Roasted Cranberry & Grapes perfect side dish at a turkey dinner.

recipebox-jpgThanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It was the first I took over from my mother decades ago. I love to prepare and eat the food, and friends always ask, “What can I bring?” I usually reply, “an appetizer, a side dish or a dessert.” My husband likes to make a mountain of mashed potatoes, and I select different versions of other classic dishes every year — soup, turkey (including stuffing and gravy) and cranberries.

I make two cranberry dishes every year — one the simple recipe from the back of the Ocean Spray package and one other. Below  is this year’s cranberry “other,” an unusual and tasty side dish:

Roasted Cranberries & Grapes

1 12-oz. bag or fresh cranberries
12 oz. black seedless grapes ( I used Moon Drops, which resemble plum tomatoes in size and shape)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 fresh rosemary sprigs

Combine all ingredients on a jelly roll pan. Toss to coat cranberries and grapes, and press the rosemary springs into the fruit mixture. Broil 6 minutes until fruit browns slightly and softens.

Mo9on Drop grapes.
Moon Drop grapes.
Roasted cranberry dish ready for the broiler.
Roasted cranberry dish ready for the broiler.

And guess who neglected to take a picture when the dish came out of the broiler?. Sorry.

Flagstaff House Chef Wins ‘Chopped’ Episode

Royster prevails in on Food Network show.

Addendum: The Denver Post ran an interesting piece on Royster after the competition, concluding with “Royster’s winning dessert will make its way onto the menu at Flagstaff House, and plans for a dinner featuring his ‘Chopped’ dinner are in the works.”

chopped-logoI recently posted an item about Chris Royster’s upcoming appearance on the Food Network’s “Chopped.” That episode, aired last night, and the Flagstaff House chef de cuisine came out the winner. The last two standing out of the initial field of four contenders turned out to be Colorado chefs. Royster’s runner-up was Brother Luck of namesake Brother Luck’s Street Eats in downtown Colorado Springs.

This episode was called “Beast Feast.” The  theme of this heavily formatted mano a mano a mano a mano was supposed to be “meat.” One of those “meats” was chicken, which I would classify as poultry. Oh well. Each contestant is presented with a four-ingredient box of items that must be used in creating a dish. These four have nothing  to do with each other (in fact, clash), and it is a testimony to their skills and creativity that they can produce anything edible or attractive in the required 30 minutes or less.

Immediately following this episode was a rerun of last week’s “Battle of the Butchers.” One of the contestants was from Denver’s Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe, but frankly, I couldn’t bear watching another of these contrived programs. Remember, I’m the one who ardently dislikes the unreal realm of “reality” television — even as I celebrate the victory or even the appearance of any Colorado contestant.

In case I still have your interest, here’s how this excessively formatted show goes: “After each round, a rotating round of culinary judges critique the dishes based on presentation, taste and creativity. The judges then decide which chef is “chopped,” and that chef is eliminated from the competition. By the Dessert round, only two chefs remain. When deciding the winner, the judges consider not only the dessert course, but the entire meal presented by each chef as a whole. The winner of the competition receives prize money, usually in the amount of $10,000.”

Hop Alley Named Eater’s Best Restaurant

Nationnal site’s annual Denver honors announced.

EATER_Awards2013No Colorado chefs/restaurants made it to Eater.com’s 2016  national honors (disappointment again, but no surprise), but Denver and the greater metro area’s list of local awards is out. Click here for the whole four-item list that includes nominees and people’s choice honors.

  • Restaurant of the Year. Hop Alley.
  • Chef of the Year . Kelly Whitaker (Basta and Ash).
  • Most Beautiful Restaurant of the Year. Matsuhisa Cherry Creek.
  • Bar of the Year. B&GC.
  • Game-Changer of the Year. The Denver Central Market.

Boulder Chef to Appear on Chopped

Flagstaff House’s chef de cuisine Royster to be on Food Network.

chopped-logoI guess I’m going to have to watch “Chopped” this Tuesday, because another gifted Boulder chef will be on television, and the only time I watch reality TV is when a local is competing. This time it’s Flagstaff House Chef de Cuisine Chris Royster, named on the Zagat 30 Under 30 list,  His appearance on the Food Network’s “Chopped” is to be aired on Tuesday November 22 at 10 p.m. EST/8 p.m. MST.

chrisroysterChef Chris grew up in Hyde Park, NY, and I wonder whether the breeze wafting from the Culinary Institute of America infected him with a passion for food. If not that, it was more likely in the genes. His mother had a cake decorating business, and his father and grandfather were avid hunters. Whole animal butchery is a thing now, but once upon a time, it was country folk and hunters who utilized the whole animal, so he learned those skills from his immediate forebears.

Chef Chris has worked in restaurants since he was a teenager, first — along with his brother, Adam — at a local modern American restaurant called The Twist,  rising from washing dishes to being co-chef at the age of 17. Seventeen! He then attended the CIA, where an externship  at the Flagstaff House initially brought him to Colorado.  Prior to his return to this iconic Boulder restaurant, he cooked  in Coloradoat the Red Rocks Amphitheater and various restaurants in the Three Leaf Concepts group and since 2001, back at the Flagstaff House, first as Sous Chef, then as Chef de Cuisine.

I’ll be watching and rooting for Royster. How about you?

First Bite at River and Woods

Boulder eatery’s restaurant week selection offers wide choice.

p1120592When a group of us was picking where to go for First Bite Boulder, my town’s annual restaurant week, we picked River and Woods because my husband and I were the only ones who had previously eaten there and because there were more than three choices for the first and second courses — though just two for the dessert course.

A couple of us ordered from the regular menu, but I’m just posting pictures from the FBB menu here.  Sorry about the murky colors and fuzzy focus; just didn’t want to use the flash in this atmospheric restaurant.

Th3 grilled Caesar salad is a head of lightly dressed petite romaine, with Grateful Bread ciabatta, hemp seeds, and kalamata olives..
Th3 grilled Caesar salad is a head of lightly dressed petite romaine, with Grateful Bread ciabatta, hemp seeds, and kalamata olives..
Heirloom blue corndog consists of a Continental Sausage elk cheddar bratwurst, with Grateful Grits heirloom blue cornmeal, wildflower honey mustard and sea salt fries. 
Heirloom blue corndog consists of a Continental Sausage elk cheddar bratwurst, with Grateful Grits heirloom blue cornmeal, wildflower honey mustard and sea salt fries.
John’s Gnocchi Verde, named in honor of the resturant that long occupied this charming cottage, with baby spinach, Reggiano cream ande lemon zest.
John’s Gnocchi Verde, named in honor of the restaurant that long occupied this charming cottage, with baby spinach, Reggiano cream and lemon zest.
River Ranch Bison Burger on Texas toast,with a fresh cheese called Bellweather  crescenza, heirloom tomatoand black garlic aioli.  
River Ranch Bison Burger on Texas toast with a fresh cheese called crescenza, heirloom tomato and black garlic aioli.
Buttermile-brined chicken fried calamari steak made fron eild-caught Humboldt squid with lemon- pepper aioli, and Ozuke collard green kimchi.
Buttermile-brined chicken fried calamari steak made fron eild-caught Humboldt squid with lemon- pepper aioli, and Ozuke collard green kimchi..
This Chocolate Crunch-Berry Trifle combines dark chocolate pudding, peanut butter praline, fudge brownie, whipped Cap’n Crunch white chocolate ganache and organic berries.
This Chocolate Crunch-Berry Trifle combines
dark chocolate pudding, peanut butter praline, fudge brownie, whipped Cap’n Crunch white chocolate ganache and organic berries.

Click here for a previous post about the then-newly opened River & Woods, which is at 2328 Pearl Street, Boulder. Note: For reasons known only to itself, Zomato has moved River and Woods to Denver’s Capitol Hill — at least as for as its icon is concerned. I’ve alerted the site manager(s) but as of today, it hasn’t been corrected.
River and Woods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

First Bite Boulder Back with $29 Dinner Deal

Fifty-plus restaurants in Boulder & Broomfield Counties participate.

firstbiteboulderFirst Bite Boulder, the always-anticipated annual opportunity to enjoy three-course prix fixe dinners for just $29, takes place from November 11 to 19 and this year includes more than 50 eateries in Boulder and Broomfield Counties, Participating restaurants range from Aji to Zucca in the alphabet. They include such long-running restaurants as The Greenbriar, the Chautauqua Dining Hall and the Boulder Cork to newcomers like River & Woods, The Lyons Fork and Element Bistro. Also, The Med and The Kitchen Upstairs offer an $18, two-dish tasting menu — new this year. The website enables diners to search by location or cuisine, link to each restaurant’s FBB menu.

Additionally, you can sign up to receive a newsletter called “In the Mix” with the latest local restaurant information and be entered into a contest to win a three-course dinner for two. I did, and you should too.

Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.