Free-Form Pasta Dish

Penne + Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes = Quick Dinner.

Sometimes I follow recipes — faithfully or loosely. Sometimes, I just freelance a dish. That’s what I did when I wanted pasta sometime, had just bought organic baby spinach and rooted around for ingredients that I thought would go well. I used no recipe, and didn’t even measure what I used. So here is a very rough guide to making a quick, tasty dish. The pattern is simple, so it can be made with different kinds of pasta, with other leafy vegetables, with fresh or rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, etc., etc.

Bring salted water to a boil. Add about 3 ounces of mini-penne. Coarsely chop about 3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes in oil. Peel and mince one clove of fresh garlic, and sauté in about 1 tablespoon olive oil for a minute or two. Add crushed red pepper flakes. Rinse about 5 ounces fresh baby spinach and add to garlic/pepper. Add sun-dried tomatoes and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, adding a little water to cook the spinach. When pasta is al dente, drain. Put into a serving bowl, top with spinach/tomato mixture. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

 

 

LOW Now in LoHi

Steamboat Springs restaurant’s new location in hot Denver ‘hood.

Two and a half years ago, I learned to appreciate Southern cooking at the original LOW Country Kitchen in Steamboat Springs. Click here for my epiphany. Now Brian and Katy Vaughn have brought LOW to Denver, specifically to LoHi. I love the synergy between these names.

The bar and some tables are located at street level, with the rest of the dining room behind, a few steps higher and separated by a high room-dividing wall. Gray and white are the dominant hues. The food, served family-style to our group of invited media, echoes the fare in Steamboat Springs.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Mash, a welcoming cocktail of Four Roses bourbon, charred strawberry and rhubarb shrub, lemon slide and Amaro Sfumato. I had to look up “shrub” as it pertained to a cocktail ingredient. Turns out that it dates back to Colonial times and refers to a pre-refrigeration way of preserving fragile fruits by make a syrup of them.

Continue reading LOW Now in LoHi

Frasca & Redzikowski are Beard Finalists

Colorado contending for Outstanding Restaurant & Best Chef Southwest .

Narrowing down the annual list of James Beard Award winners is a length process: nominations, semi-finalists and finalists all announced with deliberate timing by the James Beard Foundation. Two Colorado contenders have made it to the finalist round: Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine in the Outstanding Restaurant category and Steve Redzikowski of Boulder’s Oak on Fourteenth and both Acorn and Brider in Denver as Best Chef, Southwest. As I have written before, being nominated is an honor. Being a finalist is greater honor. And winning a Beard Award is, well, over the moon.

Jasinski on Best Women Chefs List

Gayot.com picks the country’s top 10, including one in Denver.

I have mixed feelings whenever I see a list of the “best women something.” Unless it’s a sport that requires brute strength, I wish women were given equal opportunities and judged equally. But since they aren’t (yet), we have the token woman in a list of men and also “the best women.” The latest in the culinary realm being Guyot’s selection of the “Best Female Chefs in the U.S.” When I saw the title, I figured that she was a shoe-in.

Chef Jennifer Jasinski Photo by Clayton Vurciaga, courtesy Gayot.com

Here’s what self-described “guide to the good life” wrote about her:

Chef Jennifer Jasinski climbed the culinary ladder at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant empire before settling down in Denver, where she and business partner Beth Gruitch have had a string of hits.

At Rioja, she adds her own big, bright flavors to the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean. Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen puts an upscale spin on the American gastropub, while Stoic & Genuine is a sanctuary of pristine seafood. Bistro Vendôme remains a favorite for French comfort food.

Green Gazpacho for St. Patrick’s Day

Cold soup that’s simple to make and pretty (green) to serve.

Just Spices, a new California company that makes organic spice blends, has shared its simple recipe for Cucumber Gazpacho that comes out shamrock green. Note that the soup is shamrock green, not Kelly green.

The brand is only available by on-line order, and since there’s no time to order for a March 17 delivery, make it in summer, which is peak gazpacho season anyway. Or freelance making your own from your spice rack. The company says its vegetable broth blend “includes fresh herbs like lovage leaves, chopped parsley, crispy onions, exotic nutmeg, soft celery seeds, crushed sea salt, and wild garlic. For extra flavor we threw in a blend of some tasty tomatoes and ripe carrots. Lastly, the Tellicherry pepper and brown cane sugar contrast each other nicely, balancing a sharp taste with some cool sweetness.”

Cucumber Gazpacho

2 cucumbers
1 avocado, peeled
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons Just Spices Vegetable Broth Seasoning

Preparation

Cut vegetables into small pieces. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth.  Garnish with thin cucumber slices or chopped chile.

Serves 2.

The recipe did not mention this, but I would suggest tasting a small bit of the cucumber peel before committing two whole cucumbers to the soup, as peels are sometimes bitter. If so, remove the entire peel, of course. Also, seedless English cucumbers would be suitable.

Statewide Barrel Tastings of Colorado Wines

More than 30 wineries across Colorado are participating in Wine Around Colorado, a statewide barrel tasting event, for two weekends this spring (April 22-23 and May 6-7).  Tickets to each weekend are $25 and include barrel tastings at any participating wineries. Simply register for the weekend of your choice or both — though only the most dedicated oenophile with the most tireless designated driver could come close to managing.

Click here to register. A wristband, and an event map with each winery’s tasting room hours and location are emailed prior to the event. The wristband accesses the wineries offering tasting experiences. Participants may are welcome to visit any and all participating wineries over the weekend. The wineries typically offer discounts on their products, small bites and more.

Breakfast Burrito Brackets

March Madness moves to the local food realm.

The Denver Post has taken the end-of-season basketball bracket fervor into the realm of the Tex-Mex favorite, the burrito and developed brackets using 32 breakfast burritos in the metro Denver area, including food trucks, holes-in-the-wall and modest local chains. “Building the Best Breakfast Burrito” explains the rules and shows the initial seedings. There’s also a printable version of the bracket so readers can play with their friends. Good luck!

 

 

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.