Winchell’s owners plan a second location in Greeley

Rami Batikha, left, and Samer Koudsi pose with fresh donuts Tuesday morning inside their Winchell’s Donut House, 1503 8th Ave. in Greeley. The business partners are working on opening a second location targeted for October 2019 in the Bear Paw Shopping Center, 4239 CenterPlace Drive. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)

Since 1965, Winchell’s Donut House in Greeley has served hot and fresh doughnuts at 1503 8th Ave., making it the oldest operating doughnut shop in the city.

Though the doughnut shop’s age shows with its retro design, the business has grown through the years, particularly since Rami Batikha, 39, and Samer Koudsi, 47, began operating it in 2004. Batikha and Koudsi spent $80,000 to remodel the store in 2017, its first remodel since 1977.

Winchell's Donut House

The co-owners of Winchell’s Donut House, 1503 8th Ave. in Greeley, are finalizing plans to open a second location of the doughnut store in the Bear Paw Shopping Center, at 4239 CenterPlace Drive.

The location isn’t expected to open until the fall, as Roche Constructors only broke ground on the two-story 25,000-square-foot development earlier this month.

For more information about Winchell’s in Greeley, call (970) 353-5728.

This month, the uncle-nephew business duo have been finalizing agreements for a second location, something Batikha said residents of central and west Greeley have said they’ve wanted for years.

“We’ve been in high demand in Greeley area,” Batikha said. “(I) feel the frustration of everybody having to drive downtown to get a dozen doughnuts.”

Batikha expects the second Winchell’s location could open as early as October, at PB Roche Solutions’ Bear Paw Shopping Center, 4239 CenterPlace Drive. Roche Constructors broke ground on the development earlier this month, with the expectations of finishing the core and shell of the two-story 25,000-square-foot development in late July. The development’s tenants, who are likely to include Winchell’s, Cheba Hut and Five Guys, will then do final touches before opening.

Batikha said the current plans for the second Winchell’s places the new doughnut shop in 1,500 square feet of space adjacent to Five Guys on the west end of the development. Batikha and Koudsi plan to introduce fresh juices at the new location, which will feature a modernized look. Other “surprises” are in the works for the new shop, Batikha said.

Fresh doughnuts at Winchell’s Donut House Tuesday morning at 1503 8th Ave. in Greeley. Owners Rami Batikha and Samer Koudsi are working on opening a second location targeted for October 2019 in the Bear Paw Shopping Center, 4239 CenterPlace Drive. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)

The city’s low retail vacancy rates have meant limited options for business owners like Batikha who have been looking to expand their businesses for the past few years. Developments like the Bear Paw Shopping Center are expected to open up more opportunities.

“It’s really been a dream for me to open a new location, but I (hadn’t) got the right opportunity here in town,” Batikha said.

Koudsi and Batikha moved to Colorado from Syria, with Koudsi arriving about a decade earlier than his nephew. Batikha said they were seeking a better quality of life, and Colorado seemed to have opportunities for their family. As the political stability in Syria deteriorated, Batikha moved his parents to Greeley in 2012. His dad now helps work the late night shifts at the doughnut shop.

“I try to get vocal about it and try to tell people what the American Dream means for everybody,” he said. “I came literally with nothing. I didn’t know how to speak English. I didn’t have any money.”

Batikha has worked with Winchell’s since 2000, when he ran a partnership store in Denver. Koudsi, who has been with Winchells for about 30 years, taught Batikha how to bake doughnuts and how to manage, and they developed a passion for the business. When the Greeley location was put up for sale, Batikha saw it as an opportunity. He described the Greeley Winchell’s success story as a “simple” one: “We try always to do the best we can to get out fresh doughnuts daily.”

Fresh doughnuts at Winchell’s Donut House, 1503 8th Ave. in Greeley, Tuesday morning. Owners Rami Batikha and Samer Koudsi are working on opening a second location targeted for October 2019 in the Bear Paw Shopping Center at 4239 CenterPlace Drive. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)

Working alongside their employees, Batikha and Koudsi work a minimum of eight hours a day, six days a week. They treat their employees like family, Batikha said, with some employees having been at the shop for as much as 14 years. Keeping doughnuts fresh is around-the-clock work, with a baker coming in around 6 p.m. and working as late as 4 a.m. About then, Batikha or Koudsi start making doughnuts until 10 or 11 a.m. That constant doughnut making helps keep an edge on the shop’s influx of customers from 7-10 a.m. on the weekdays. Batikha said the always-fresh standard he sets for the doughnuts he serves holds true for its sandwiches as well.

“I know it’s hard work, but we’re trying to build something for the future,” he said.

The downtown location will stay even as Richmark Real Estate Partners develops three multi-story apartment buildings. Batikha said he’s looking forward to the new business he expects the apartments will bring. The construction workers have already kept them pretty busy, he joked.

Batikha said he could have opened a new store in Denver, but he didn’t want to leave his hometown in Greeley.

“We’ve always loved Greeley,” he said. “We love the people in Greeley.”

The best burgers at Colorado ski resorts

My wife and I smelled beef sizzling on an outdoor grill at one of Colorado’s premier ski resorts. An employee there was systematically flipping what must have been four dozen beef patties.

“We’re getting ready for the lunch crowd,” the spatula-wielding man said.

But it was only 10 in the morning. Those precooked patties would swelter beneath heat lamps for an hour or more before being sold and consumed.

Standing in line to buy parched patties is not for us. When we crave burgers on the slopes, my wife and I head for full-service restaurants where the cow is cooked to order.

Here are a few of our tastier base-area options:

Keystone: Go Big Burger

I’m a cheapskate. When I ski Keystone, I park for free outside the River Run Village. It took a long time for us to discover Go Big Burger at Mountain House, Keystone’s original base village.

The unpretentious restaurant sits in the old lodge building, harkening back to that bygone era when skiers didn’t need second mortgages to buy lift tickets.

Its menu offers nine different burgers, which can be ordered in one-, two- or three-patty form. I like the Ultimate Colorado Burger (starting at $16.95) with cheese, pork green chili, roasted Hatch chiles and creamy horseradish with steak fries on the side. The “black-diamond,” double-patty version requires a dentist-worthy, open-wide mouth to consume. The juiciness of meat and topping make this a sloppy, multiple-napkin treat.

Breckenridge: Sevens

My wife and I formerly sedated our Breckenridge burger cravings with brie fondue burgers from the stand-in-line grill at Pioneer Crossing atop Peak 7. They’re not offered this year.

Looking for a full-service alternative, we went to the base of Peak 7 to check out Sevens, Breck’s self-proclaimed “premier on-mountain dining experience.”

The restaurant sits in the Grand Lodge behind the Independence SuperChair. Its interior features a modern motif appropriate for its timeshare-condo surroundings.

Sevens offers four burger choices. I prefer the Claimjumper ($18), which features BBQ sauce, melted cheddar, blue cheese crumble, Texas toothpicks and applewood bacon. Fat and tasty, it pairs well with a glass of imported malbec.

Related: Breckenridge’s Sevens will be turned into O’Sevens during March for St. Patrick’s Day

Crested Butte: Butte 66 Roadhouse Bar & Grille

The restaurant sits upstairs in the Treasury Building. True to its roadhouse moniker, the Butte features the feel of a highway road bar where tabletop buckets hold menus, napkins, condiments and cutlery.

For us burger lovers, there’s only one carnivorous option — the Roadhouse Burger ($16.95). It’s topped with sharp cheddar and garlic aioli on a butter-toasted bun; add Butte bacon for another $2.95. The crunchy waffle fries that accompany it come seasoned with sea salt, pepper and untold secret ingredients.

“As good as Chick-fil-A’s,” our server assured us.

Vail: Larkspur

With parking running $30 a day, skiing Vail is an indulgence we don’t make as often as we’d like. When the tax refund check arrives and we do head to Colorado’s largest ski resort, we’ll descend to the Golden Peak base and hit the Larkspur restaurant for classic “Larkburgers” ($23.50).

The burger features 7 ounces of unadulterated beef. It’s served with leaf lettuce, not iceberg, and the in-house-ripened tomatoes on top taste as flavorful as those from grandma’s garden.

Options include smoked bacon, marinated avocado and a choice of cheeses. The burger comes with butter-roasted fries, but since we’re splurging, we’ll opt for truffle fries.

Beaver Creek: 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill

Some burgers go down best with beer. Others demand wine. One of our favorite places for such a pairing is the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek’s 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill.

Their 8100 Burger ($22) comes covered with aged white cheddar, applewood smoked bacon and “special” sauce. They also offer a Black Diamond Burger ($32) made from black-truffled Kobe beef. Unfortunately, tax refund checks only go so far.

Our favorite place to enjoy a burger and bordeaux combo is outside on its patio. On warm, bluebird days, it’s a tough setting to leave.

Our well-honed plan is to arrive late, eat slowly and kick back with second pourings of wine. That leaves us with just enough time for a run or two before Beaver Creek’s free, chocolate-chip cookies arrive at the bottom of the Centennial Express Lift.

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A toast to National Margarita Day in Greeley

A toast to National Margarita Day.

Friday is all about raising your glass to the salty, sugary treats, and several locations are offering deals and specials.

Here are the best places to celebrate in Greeley.

La Mariposa Restaurant & Margarita House, 3055 65th Ave.

This restaurant will be giving out a free margarita to celebrate.

Luna’s Tacos & Tequila, 806 9th St.

The restaurant downtown has a wide array of tequila and margaritas to go along with its tacos.

Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, 825 9th St.

Their margaritas are so good — and so strong — that they have a three-margarita limit.

3 Margaritas, 2297 Greeley Mall

There are several 3 Margaritas in Colorado, and one in Greeley.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, 4635 Centerplace Drive

Enjoy $2 margaritas for National Margarita Day at the Greeley location and the Windsor location, 4305 N. Fairgrounds Ave.

— Adam Poulisse is the go and do reporter for the Greeley Tribune. Let him know of anything fun going on in the area by calling him at (970) 392-4440 or emailing him at apoulisse@greeleytribune.com.

 

 

From yogurt to spaghetti to stew, Instant Pot does it all

It appears that my aptitude with a kitchen appliance is in direct proportion to my faith in its name.

For instance, my Crock-Pot truly is a paleo appliance, no pretense, just a piece of crockery atop a hotplate. Easy peasy. Same with my Smart Stick immersion blender. I’m still surprised how it just purees slop into silk when all I do is stick it into the pot.

But sometimes an appliance’s name or instructions seem extreme to me, in the too-good-to-be-true way. For instance, in 1980, while on a babysitting job, the child’s mother told me that “17 minutes” in the Amana Touchmatic Radarange would cook the chicken thighs through.

“Yeah,” I said to myself, “right.”

After she left, I set the High Power button for 70 minutes because, obviously, that’s the number she meant.

The chicken’s bones blackened from the inside out and exploded.

Then, for Christmas two years ago, my son, Colin, and his mom gave me an Instant Pot.

“Instant, my frijoles,” I said (not to myself).

Christmas morning, I looked at this little R2-D2 with a plug and put it away. I couldn’t believe that this thing could improve on Ye Olde Crock Pot.

I was wrong. So wrong.

Colin made a shoulder of pulled pork with his Instant Pot, in an hour and a half, that was in every way — especially tenderness — like that of a six-hour slow cook. (Below, he makes green chile. And others provide recipes for Instant Pot Spaghetti; Bacon, Potato and Corn Chowder; and Quinoa and Sweet Potato Bowls with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette.)

I’ve made jasmine and basmati and Louisiana Long with the Instant Pot’s rice cooker function and they are all three far better — and less stressful — made that way than anything I’ve ever done with raw rice atop the stove or in the oven.

And I get rhapsodic about Instant Pot yogurt. I adore yogurt and eat at least half a quart a day. The Instant Pot lets me batch up a gallon at a time. Its great asset, in this area of the lactic arts, is how it holds a perfect incubation temperature of exactly 110 degrees for as long as you desire it. (I pull a nice 12-hour all-nighter.)

Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver Post
Colin St. John closes the lid and sets a timer to 25 minutes while preparing green chili in an Instant Pot Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.

So I now longer use Ye Olde Crock-Pot. (Well, maybe to keep things warm for a buffet item at a large dinner.)

Moreover, the Instant Pot has taught me several important things about itself:

  •  Use at least 1/2 cup of liquid when cooking anything on Pressure Cook.
  •  If using a standard recipe (say, from a non-Instant Pot cookbook), add 10 to 15 minutes to the overall cooking time stipulated in the recipe. The Instant Pot needs those extra minutes to do its initial pressurizing warm-up.
  •  Set the venting lever before you set any cooking buttons.
  •  Learn the difference between Natural Release (leaving the machine to drop the pressure slowly on its own after its cooking) and Quick Release (when you manually turn the venting knob to finish or stop the cooking).
  •  Do not use your fingers to move the venting lever from Sealing to Venting; use a spoon handle or some other implement. And keep your face away from looking at the valve as you turn it.

Instant Pot Yogurt 

After you make yogurt in the Instant Pot way, you may take the further step to “Greek” it, if you wish. Or you can make “labni” (sometimes spelled “labneh”), a sort of yogurt cheese popular in the Levant made by draining yogurt of its whey for more than merely a few hours. This main recipe makes 1 gallon yogurt, or 2 quarts of Greek-style, or less of labni. I do not use the Instant Pot for the initial heating of milk (and, in this recipe, cream), but rather Ye Olde Stovetop. It’s quicker, less messy and, in this instance, safer and more reliable. — Bill St. John

Colin St. John, Special to The Denver Post
To make Greek-style yogurt: Place the finished yogurt in a sieve or colander, lined with rinsed and squeezed muslin or several layers of open-weave cheesecloth, and set over a bowl sufficiently large to catch one-half of the volume of the yogurt of its whey.

Ingredients

1 gallon whole milk

1 quart half-and-half

2 tablespoons plain yogurt with active live cultures (store-bought or from a previous homemade batch), in a cup or bowl, at room temperature

Directions

In a large pot on stovetop, heat milk and half-and-half over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until temperature reads 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer at a few places in the hot liquid. FIll the Instant Pot’s inner pot halfway with hot water from the tap and set aside to warm it.

Cool the milk, either off the heat or in a water and ice bath, until the heat lowers to 108 degrees measured on an instant-read thermometer at a few places in the hot liquid. Empty and dry the inner pot and place inside the Instant Pot. Quickly temper the 2 tablespoons of yogurt with some of the heated milk and stir back into the heated milk. Transfer the milk to the Instant Pot, close the lid, press the Yogurt button and adjust the time to your taste, from 8 hours (slightly tart yogurt) to up to 12 hours (appreciably tart yogurt).

To make Greek-style yogurt: Place the finished yogurt in a sieve or colander, lined with rinsed and squeezed muslin or several layers of open-weave cheesecloth, and set over a bowl sufficiently large to catch 1/2 of the volume of the yogurt of its whey. Place in very cold or refrigerated spot for between 4 hours (moderately firm Greek style) to up to 8 hours (very firm Greek or labni/labneh style).

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Colin St. John closes the lid and sets a timer to 25 minutes while preparing green chile in an Instant Pot on Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Special to the Denver Post)

My father traveled a lot when I was a kid. He attended many food and wine conferences, festivals and junkets, all over the world. But when he’d get back from the Rhône Valley or Mendoza, an American boy stepped off the plane. Not just any sort of American boy: one born and raised in Colorado. He’d often want a burger to welcome him home, yes, but he’d want it with a side of or smothered in green chile.

My mother and I happily obliged. We usually got take-out from the old location of Annie’s Cafe on Eighth Avenue in Denver, which was close to our house. I can still remember the salty fries being slightly limp from the Styrofoam-encased journey home and that chile, same as it is today: big chunks of pork swimming in just the right amount of spice.

In time, this Colorado-bred boy became addicted, too. We’d sit in the corner booth at the Cherry Cricket and, soon, I didn’t even need a burger: just a bowl of the green stuff. Later, Dad and I would belly up to El Taco de Mexico and I’d experience green chile as more of a sauce than stew — didn’t matter to me; keep it coming.

Then came college, Boston, graduation and New York City. Those beginning years were lean for chile verde consumption. I eventually learned that the only way I could eat the defining dish of my childhood was to make it myself. I would get frozen Hatch chiles from a Denver grocery store and slide them into my suitcase. (Believe it or not, to this day, it’s still almost impossible to find roasted green chiles in Gotham.) I tried a few recipes and eventually settled on a favorite that is, quite fittingly, from The Denver Post.

When the Instant Pot hype reached the point that my kitchen would feel incomplete without one, I was most excited to use it as a rice cooker. And there’s no doubt it does a bang-up job in that department. But my interests and appetites soon pivoted to meat and how well the Instant Pot could break it up — and how quickly. So, I used it to put a beating on all sorts of inexpensive cuts, from pork butts to beef briskets. And what a terrific job it did.

Then, one day I was making green chile the old-fashioned way, on the stovetop, as my Instant Pot sat within view — lonely, unplugged. Wait a second, I thought. Why haven’t I tried to make it in that?

The next time I did. I wouldn’t be going back to the stockpot anytime soon. — Colin St. John 

Instant Pot Chile Verde

Colin St. John prepares green chile in an Instant Pot on Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Special to the Denver Post)

Adapted from a recipe created by legendary Denver Post food editor Helen Dollaghan. It was reprinted in 2014, with an introduction by Kristen Browning-Blas. Serves 4

Note: The most ubiquitous chiles on the Front Range are from Select New Mexico (which is actually a Denver-based company) and Bueno. Chiles almost always only come in “hot” and “mild.” If you prefer a medium heat, buy a package of each and double the recipe. Or add some jalapenos or serranos to a mild batch. If you use fresh chiles, chop them and add at least enough broth to cover to the rest of the ingredients.

Many stores carry “pork stew meat” that is already cut into pieces, which works just great. Also,  this recipe can easily be doubled; brown the pork in batches so as not to overcrowd the pot.

Ingredients

1 pound pork, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (lean pork shoulder, loin or chop)

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 1/2 tablespoons dark chile powder

1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 medium onion, diced

1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth

1 24-ounce package or 2 13-ounce packages frozen roasted green chiles, defrosted (or the equivalent in fresh-roasted green chiles)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 lime, halved

Sides of flour or corn tortillas, crumbled tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, lime wedges, shredded cheese

Directions

Set Instant Pot to Sauté and, once hot, add oil and pork. Brown pork on all sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Add cumin, chile powder, oregano, garlic and onion, and stir well. Add broth, chopped chiles, tomato paste and squeeze of one half of lime. Stir well; sauté until mixture in pot just begins to bubble. Press Cancel.

Close the lid and cook on High Pressure for 25 minutes, then allow for 5 minutes Natural Release followed by a Quick Release. Open the lid and serve with the sides.

For additional chile heat: Add seeded and chopped jalapeño or serrano chiles along with the chopped and roasted green chiles in the cooking pot, or the same, fresh, seeded and finely chopped as part of the sides.

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Instant Pot Spaghetti on Feb. 13, 2019 in Denver. (Photo by Amy Brothers/ MediaNews Group/The Denver Post)

This isn’t dinner-party-level spaghetti. This is I-need-to-feed-my-toddler- something-she’ll-actually-eat spaghetti. The I-came-home-late-dear-God-what-are-we-having-for-dinner spaghetti. And with the miracle of the Instant Pot, once it reaches pressure, this spaghetti only takes 8 minutes to cook. I use a mixture of ground beef and sweet Italian sausage, but you can use all beef or ground turkey if you’re looking for something leaner. And, yes, you can skip the spices and add actual chopped onion and minced garlic, but who has the time? — Alison Borden

Instant Pot Spaghetti

Recipe adapted from thesaltymarshmellow.com

Ingredients
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 lb spaghetti noodles
24 oz spaghetti sauce (you can make your own, but conveniently, this is the size of one jar)
1 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
36 oz water

Directions.
Set the Instant Pot to Saute and add the beef and sausage. Add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning. Cook the meat, breaking it into pieces, until it’s browned. Turn the Instant Pot off. Drain any excess grease, if necessary.

Break the spaghetti noodles in half and place them on top of the meat in the Instant Pot. Crisscross the noodles when adding them to avoid them clumping together.  Pour in the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain) and water. Push the noodles down to ensure they are submerged.

Turn the valve to Seal and set the Instant Pot to manual mode or pressure cook, at the high pressure setting, and add 8 minutes of cooking time. When the time is up, use a wooden spoon to manually release the valve to Venting. Stir the spaghetti well. Serve immediately.

Note: When you first open the lid after cooking, it will appear a little liquidy. Stir well to incorporate the liquid with the noodles. I will occasionally add more spaghetti sauce at this point (another half jar or about 12 ounces of homemade sauce), just to thicken up the mixture.

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Instant Pot Bacon, Potato and Corn Chowder on Feb. 13, 2019, in Denver. (Photo by Amy Brothers/ MediaNews Group/The Denver Post)

The reason I love this recipe, aside from sneaking corn into my almost exclusively spaghetti-eating child’s diet, is that the Instant Pot makes quick work of soup-sized potato chunks. Seriously, you get perfectly cooked potatoes in one minute. One minute! — Alison Borden

Bacon, Potato and Corn Chowder

From “How to Instant Pot” by Daniel Shumski, Workman Publishing, 2017

Ingredients

5 slices of bacon, cut in half
1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
1 lb unpeeled red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 bay leaves
2 cups reduced-salt chicken stock
3 cups frozen corn kernels
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp hot sauce

Directions
Line the bottom of the Instant Pot with the bacon slices. Set it to Saute and use the adjust button to select the middle temperature (“Normal”). Cook with the lid off, and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to move the bacon around so it cooks evenly. Cook until the bacon is crisp.

Remove the bacon, allowing it to drain on a paper-towel-lined plate, but leave the fat.

With the Saute function and middle temperature (“Normal”) still selected, add the onion and celery to the bacon fat. Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally, until the onion and celery soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes and bay leaves. Pour in the chicken stock. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing, press Cancel and then select Pressure Cook at high pressure and set the time to 1 minute.

When the cooking cycle ends, use a wooden spoon to manually release the valve to venting.

Remove the lid and discard the bay leaves. Add the corn, thyme, salt, pepper, milk and hot sauce. Press Cancel and set the Instant Pot to Saute and adjust to the lowest temperature (“Less”). Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the chowder is hot.

Chop the bacon. Add about half the bacon to the chowder and stir to distribute. Reserve the rest of the bacon to use as garnish.

Serve the chowder hot, garnished with bacon. A little shredded cheddar cheese works, too.

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Quinoa and Sweet Potato Bowl from “The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook” by Coco Morante (Ten Speed Press, 2019). Colin Price, for “The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook,” Ten Speed Press)

Putting together a grain bowl is even easier when you can cook two of the ingredients in the Instant Pot at the same time. Here, sweet potatoes steam on a tall rack over the quinoa below. Crunchy raw vegetables and a fresh, citrus-based vinaigrette brighten up the bowl. It’s especially important to seek out small, single-serving sweet potatoes for this recipe, since larger ones won’t cook through by the time the quinoa is done. — “The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook,” by Coco Morante (Ten Speed Press, February 2019)

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Bowls with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Serves 6

2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 1⁄2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

6 small (5-to 6-ounce) sweet potatoes, 1 1⁄2 to 2 inches in diameter

Vinaigrette:

1⁄3 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 limes)

1⁄3 cup avocado oil or grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1⁄2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1⁄2 small red cabbage (12 ounces), shredded

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips

2 Roma or plum tomatoes, cored and diced

3 medium or 6 tiny avocados, sliced

hot sauce for drizzling

The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, by Coco Morante (Ten Speed Press, February 2019)

Directions

Add the quinoa and broth to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure all of its legs rest firmly on the bottom of the pot. Place the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the rack.

Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Manual or Pressure Cook setting and set the cooking time for 10 minutes at low pressure. (The pot will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)

While the sweet potatoes and quinoa are cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a tightly lidded jar, combine the lime juice, oil, agave, salt, pepper, cumin, and cilantro. Shake to combine. Set aside.

When the cooking program ends, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and, using tongs, transfer the sweet potatoes to a dish. Wearing heat-resistant mitts, remove the rack, then lift out the inner pot. Use a fork to fluff the quinoa. Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds.

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and tomatoes, and pour in the vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Divide the quinoa and cabbage mixtures evenly among serving bowls. Arrange the sweet potato rounds on top, along with the sliced avocado. Drizzle with hot sauce and serve warm.

 

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The highest Irish pub in North America is popping up on a Colorado ski slope for St. Patrick’s Day

As far as drinking-holiday stunts go, Breckenridge Brewery’s latest is straight-up creative.

The Littleton-based brewer today announced that Sevens in Breckenridge will get an Irish makeover for the month of March, transforming the 10,100-feet restaurant into the continent’s highest-altitude Irish pub — however briefly.

No word on North America’s second-highest-altitude Irish pub, but Trip Savvy rates Paddy’s Irish Pub in Nepal — at 11,156 feet above sea level — as the world’s highest.

You won’t be gasping for breath quite so desperately in Summit County. But Sevens, located inside the Great Lodge at the base of Peak 7 at Breckenridge Ski Resort (1979 Ski Hill Road), comes as close as most of us will ever get.

Related: The highest restaurant in America just opened at a Colorado ski resort

“Before enjoying an Irish apres ski, visitors can take a ride down Leprechaun Lane and follow it all the way to the Breck Snug, a cozy pop-up bar made of snow ready to welcome skiers with Nitro Irish Stout and Irish cuisine,” Breckenridge Brewery said in a press statement Wednesday.

The restaurant will be temporarily renamed O’Sevens in honor of the March promotion, but “the only thing more Irish than this event is probably Ireland,” Breckenridge said.

As a result, and starting now and running through the end of March, Breckenridge is tipping off fans to a scavenger hunt of sorts with its Nitro Irish Stout. Golden cans will be hidden in the new 12-packs of Nitro, and “those who strike gold can enter to win a trip for two to Ireland by taking a photo of their gold can and posting on social using the hashtag #GoGoldSweepstakes,” Breckenridge said.

After Sevens gets its Irish makeover, the eatery and bar also will offer “Irish inspired, Colorado crafted speciality menu items” March 11-17, followed by St. Patrick’s Day festivities March 15-17 that include  live music, a snow sculpture bar, beer specials and more.

Reminder: High-country dehydration, even among acclimated long-timers, is a very real and dangerous thing, so be sure to alternate sips of water with your spirited St. Paddy’s Day libations this year.

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Crab and avocado? Don’t knock it until you try it at Windsor’s Pueblo Viejo Mexican restaurant

The shrimp Caesar, with additions of black beans and slices of avocado, is a classic Baja California dish. Tijuana is where Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini invented one of the world’s favorite salads back in 1924. (Emily Kemme/For The Tribune)

Pueblo Viejo

 

4630 Royal Vista Circle, Windsor
(970) 204-9860

185 N. College Ave., Fort Collins
(970) 221-1170

Building from traditions both local to Colorado and those of old Mexico, Windsor’s Pueblo Viejo is a colorful family Mexican restaurant offering selections from the most basic combo plates to the unique. The menu covers a range of Mexico’s many regional specialties. Decorative arches, colorful murals and graceful chandeliers promote the sense of dining in an elegant hacienda. 

Meals begin with salsa of medium heat and a warm bean dip served with crisp corn tortilla chips. From there, dive into the enormous menu while sipping a generous margarita.

Beef is served ground, shredded, charbroiled and "Milanesa," a method which pounds the meat to about a quarter inch thick, followed by breading and a quick fry. The result is tender, crisp mouthfuls. Find pork cooked in light tomatillo sauce chile verde style to tacos al pastor served up with pico de gallo and guacamole.

The restaurant features chicken mole, Oaxaca’s specialty. The sweet brown sauce with subtle spices is only one of mole’s many variations. There is an assortment of grilled or sautéed chicken selections: ranchera, a la Diabla or a spicy chipotle sauce are a few.

With seasoning accessible to the American palate, this is the sort of menu that will please even the pickiest of diners.

An avocado stuffed with crabmeat and tri-colored sweet peppers gives new meaning to the word, “relleno.” (Emily Kemme/For The Tribune)

Where Pueblo Viejo really gets creative are its “mariscos,” Spanish for seafood. Much of Mexico’s seafood can be found in the coastal states of Sinaloa and Sonora. Find sweet prawns wrapped in bacon accompanied by onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. Order Pescado Frito (fried fish), or take a mini vacay to sunny Mazatlan with a plateful of shrimp, octopus, scallops and fish enveloped in a spicy red sauce. There is also a beautiful fish soup swimming with seafood, creamy slices of avocado and a bite of jalapeño.

For lighter appetites or lunch, don't miss the avocados rellenos appetizer — a large avocado stuffed with sautéed crab meat. The term "rellenos" isn't reserved for chiles oozing with melted cheese. The word means "to stuff," and avocados are ideal little green containers in which to put all manner of delectable edibles. Mixed with red, green and yellow peppers, the dish is both appetizing and healthy.

A regional focus on salads takes this refreshing lunch spot on a trip around the Americas. The shrimp Caesar, with additions of black beans and slices of avocado, is a classic Baja California dish. Tijuana is where Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini invented one of the world’s favorite salads in 1924. The taco salad Cazuela with its traditional deep-fried tortilla bowl is Tex-Mex all the way. Tropical salads, including a Hawaiian and fish version which sport tropical fruits alongside the greens, reflect the foods of coastal Mexico. While fleshy fruits are almost expected in summertime salads, this unexpected burst of sweetness is so welcome during this gray time of year. 

The margaritas are generous with a self-pouring feature so you can sip at your leisure. (Emily Kemme/For The Tribune)

No Mexican restaurant is complete without an assessment of margaritas, and Pueblo Viejo doesn't fall short.

Go large and order the Original, a version of the house marg prepared with Sauza Gold Tequila, but shaken with fresh lime juice instead of Triple Sec. It costs $3 more than the house, but the difference is you'll get a tangy, refreshing margarita instead of a cloyingly sweet beverage. The inclusion of lime juice doesn’t make it over-the-top puckery — it's just the right amount. Margs are served with the shaker and a metal strainer so you can sip and pour as you go. It's a nice touch. If you're not a purist, there are plenty of margarita variations to please, including a Vallarta, a Bartender margarita and a fruit salad of flavored options like banana, blackberry and watermelon — which only begins to cover the choices. 

Weld County retail food inspections for Feb. 13 to 20, 2019

Weld County evaluates restaurants, schools, grocery stores and other facilities that handle food on a scale of five categories, from unacceptable to excellent. As part of the county's scoring index, officials evaluate facilities on factors such as cooling, reheating, cooking refrigeration and hot-holding equipment, cross-contamination between raw foods and ready-to-eat foods and employee hygiene, according to the county.

  • An "excellent" evaluation means the facility had no violations. Secondary critical and non-critical violations could exist.
  • Facilities that received a "good" evaluation could have one serious violation or one or more secondary violations.
  • A "fair" evaluation means the facility could have three serious violations or secondary violations.
  • A "marginal" evaluation means the facility could have four serious violations or secondary violations.
  • An "unacceptable" evaluation means the facility could have more than five serious violations or secondary violations. If an imminent public health hazard exists, the facility would be required to take immediate corrective action or close.

The following restaurants and facilities were evaluated from Feb. 13 to 20, 2019.

GREELEY

Feb. 12: Almansitas Mexican Food, 2727 23rd Ave. — Good

Feb. 15: Batter Up Cakes, 802 9th St. — Good

Feb. 13: Qdoba Mexican Eats, 4626 Centerplace Drive — Good

Feb. 15: Safeway Fuel Center, 3550 10th St. — Excellent

Feb. 14: Subway, 725 25th St. — Excellent

Feb. 13: Taco Bell, 3503 10th St. — Excellent

Feb. 13: Taco Bell, 4638 Centerplace Drive — Good

Feb. 13: Wendy’s, 4644 Centerplace Drive — Good

EVANS

Feb. 19: Evans Senior Center, 1100 37th St. — Excellent

Feb. 19: Tamales From Heaven, 3219 23rd Ave. — Excellent

WINDSOR

Feb. 19: Asian Pearl Bistro, 1580 Main St.  — Fair

Feb. 12: Dollar Tree, 700 Main St. — Excellent

Feb. 14: Domino’s Pizza, 1555 Main St. — Fair

Feb. 12: Loaf N Jug, 1201 Main St. — Excellent

Feb. 12: Roma Restaurant, 1039 Main St. — Fair

EATON

Feb. 14: A&W, 680 Oak Ave. — Fair

GARDEN CITY

Feb. 15: Almanza’s Mexican Food, 2502 8th Ave. — Excellent

Feb. 15: Carniceria y Taqueria Lozano No. 2, 2712 8th Ave. — Marginal

SEVERANCE

Feb. 15: Bruce’s Bar and Restaurant, 123 1st St. — Marginal

Feb. 15: G5 Brew Pub, 1018 Mahogany Way — Good

PLATTEVILLE

Feb. 15: Dollar General Store, 395 Justin Ave. — Excellent

Feb. 15: La Tortilleria JNG, 1202 Vasquez Ave. — Excellent

KERSEY

Feb. 13: Kersey Pizza, 104 Hill St. — Marginal

FORT LUPTON

Feb. 13: Little Caesars Pizza, 1400 Dexter St. — Good

Feb. 13: The South Station, 104 Denver Ave. — Good

Feb. 13: U-Pump-It, 105 1st St. — Excellent

MILLIKEN

Feb. 15: The Cracked Egg, 914 Broad St. — Good

Get Cooking: Crazy for Instant Pot

It appears that my aptitude with a kitchen appliance is in direct proportion to my faith in its name.

For instance, my Crock Pot truly is a paleo appliance, no pretense, just a piece of crockery atop a hotplate. Easy peasy. Same with my Smart Stick immersion blender. I’m still surprised how it just purees slop into silk when all I do is stick it into the pot.

But sometimes an appliance’s name or instructions seem extreme to me, in the too-good-to-be-true way. For instance, in 1980, while on a babysitting job, the child’s mother told me that “17 minutes” in the Amana Touchmatic Radarange would cook the chicken thighs through.

“Yeah,” I said to myself, “right.”

After she left, I set the High Power button for 70 minutes because, obviously, that’s the number she meant.

The chicken’s bones blackened from the inside out and exploded.

Then, for Christmas two years ago, my son, Colin, and his mom gave me an Instant Pot.

“Instant, my frijoles,” I said (not to myself).

Christmas morning, I looked at this little R2-D2 with a plug and put it away. I couldn’t believe that this thing could improve on Ye Olde Crock Pot.

I was wrong. So wrong.

Colin made a shoulder of pulled pork with his Instant Pot, in an hour and a half, that was in every way — especially tenderness — like that of a six-hour slow cook.

I’ve made jasmine and basmati and Louisiana Long with the Instant Pot’s rice cooker function and they are all three far better — and less stressful — made that way than anything I’ve ever done with raw rice atop the stove or in the oven.

And I get rhapsodic about Instant Pot yogurt. I adore yogurt and eat at least half a quart a day. The Instant Pot lets me batch up a gallon at a time. Its great asset, in this area of the lactic arts, is how it holds a perfect incubation temperature of exactly 110 degrees for as long as you desire it.
(I pull a nice 12-hour all-nighter.)

So I now longer use Ye Olde Crock Pot. (Well, maybe to keep things warm for a buffet item at a large dinner.)

Moreover, the Instant Pot has taught me several important things about itself:

• Use at least ½ cup of liquid when cooking anything on Pressure Cook.

• If using a standard recipe (say, from a non-Instant Pot cookbook), add 10 to 15 minutes to the overall cooking time stipulated in the recipe. The Instant Pot needs those extra minutes to do its initial pressurizing warmup.
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• Set the venting lever before you set any cooking buttons.

• Learn the difference between Natural Release (leaving the machine to drop the pressure slowly on its own after its cooking) and Quick Release (when you manually turn the venting knob to finish or stop the cooking).

• Do not use your fingers to move the venting lever from Sealing to Venting; use a spoon handle or some other implement. And keep your face away from looking at the valve as you turn it.

Instant Pot Yogurt

After you make yogurt in the Instant Pot way, you may take the further step to “Greek” it, if you wish. Or you can make “labni” (sometimes spelled “labneh”), a sort of yogurt cheese popular in the Levant made by draining yogurt of its whey for more than merely a few hours. This main recipe makes 1 gallon of yogurt, or 2 quarts of Greek-style, or less of labni. I do not use the Instant Pot for the initial heating of milk (and, in this recipe, cream), but rather Ye Olde Stovetop. It’s quicker, less messy and, in this instance, safer and more reliable. — Bill St. John

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 quart half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt with active live cultures (store-bought or from a previous homemade batch), in a cup or bowl, at room temperature

Directions

In a large pot on stovetop, heat milk and half-and-half over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until temperature reads 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer at a few places in the hot liquid. Fill the Instant Pot’s inner pot halfway with hot water from the tap and set aside to warm it.

Cool the milk, either off the heat or in a water and ice bath, until the heat lowers to 108 degrees measured on an instant-read thermometer at a few places in the hot liquid. Empty and dry the inner pot and place inside the Instant Pot. Quickly temper the 2 tablespoons of yogurt with some of the heated milk and stir back into the heated milk. Transfer the milk to the Instant Pot, close the lid, press the
Yogurt button and adjust the time to your taste, from 8 hours (slightly tart yogurt) to up to 12 hours (appreciably tart yogurt).

To make Greek-style yogurt: Place the finished yogurt in a sieve or colander, lined with rinsed and squeezed muslin or several layers of open-weave cheesecloth, and set over a bowl sufficiently large to catch ½ of the volume of the yogurt of its whey. Place in very cold or refrigerated spot for between 4 hours (moderately firm Greek style) to up to 8 hours (very firm Greek or labni/labneh style).

Instant Pot Spaghetti

This isn’t dinner-party-level spaghetti. This is I-need-to-feed-mytoddler-something-she’ll-actually-eat spaghetti. The I-came-home-late-dear-God-what-are-we-having-for-dinner spaghetti. And with the miracle of the Instant Pot, once it reaches pressure, this spaghetti only takes 8 minutes to cook. I use a mixture of ground beef and sweet Italian sausage, but you can use all beef or ground turkey if you’re looking for something leaner. And, yes, you can skip the spices and add actual chopped onion and minced garlic, but who has the time? — Alison Borden

Recipe adapted from thesaltymarshmellow.com

Ingredients

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound sweet Italian sausage
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 24 ounces spaghetti sauce (you can make your own, but conveniently, this is the size of one jar)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 36 ounces water

Directions

Set the Instant Pot to Saute and add the beef and sausage. Add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning. Cook the meat, breaking it into pieces, until it’s browned. Turn the Instant Pot off.

Drain any excess grease, if necessary. Break the spaghetti noodles in half and place them on top of the meat in the Instant Pot. Crisscross the noodles when adding them to avoid them clumping together. Pour in the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain) and water. Push the noodles down to ensure they are submerged.

Turn the valve to Seal and set the Instant Pot to manual mode or pressure cook, at the high pressure setting, and add 8 minutes of cooking time. When the time is up, use a wooden spoon to manually release the valve to Venting. Stir the spaghetti well. Serve immediately.

Note: When you first open the lid after cooking, it will appear a little liquidy. Stir well to incorporate the liquid with the noodles. I will occasionally add more spaghetti sauce at this point (another half jar or about 12 ounces of homemade sauce), just to thicken up the mixture.

Bacon, Potato and Corn Chowder

From “How to Instant Pot” by Daniel Shumski, Workman Publishing, 2017

The reason I love this recipe, aside from sneaking corn into my almost exclusively spaghetti-eating child’s diet, is that the Instant Pot makes quick work of soup-sized potato chunks. Seriously, you get perfectly cooked potatoes in one minute. One minute! — Alison Borden

Ingredients

  • 5 slices of bacon, cut in half
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound unpeeled red potatoes, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups reduced-salt chicken stock
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce

Directions

Line the bottom of the Instant Pot with the bacon slices. Set it to Saute and use the adjust button to select the middle temperature (“Normal”). Cook with the lid off, and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to move the bacon around so it cooks evenly. Cook until the bacon is crisp.

Remove the bacon, allowing it to drain on a paper-towel-lined plate, but leave the fat.

With the Saute function and middle temperature (“Normal”) still selected, add the onion and celery to the bacon fat. Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally, until the onion and celery soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes and bay leaves. Pour in the chicken stock. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing, press Cancel and then select Pressure Cook at high pressure and set the time to 1 minute.

When the cooking cycle ends, use a wooden spoon to manually release the valve to venting.

Remove the lid and discard the bay leaves. Add the corn, thyme, salt, pepper, milk and hot sauce. Press Cancel and set the Instant Pot to Saute and adjust to the lowest temperature (”Less”). Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the chowder is hot.

Chop the bacon. Add about half the bacon to the chowder and stir to distribute. Reserve the rest of the bacon to use as garnish.

Serve the chowder hot, garnished with bacon. A little shredded cheddar cheese works, too.

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Bowls with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Putting together a grain bowl is even easier when you can cook two of the ingredients in the Instant Pot at the same time. Here, sweet potatoes steam on a tall rack over the quinoa below. Crunchy raw vegetables and a fresh, citrus-based vinaigrette brighten up the bowl. It’s especially important to seek out small, single-serving sweet potatoes for this recipe, since larger ones won’t cook through by the time the quinoa is done. — From “The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook,” by Coco Morante (Ten Speed Press, February 2019)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 6 small (5-to 6-ounce) sweet potatoes, 1½ to 2 inches in diameter

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 limes)
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ small red cabbage (12 ounces), shredded
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 2 Roma or plum tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 3 medium or 6 tiny avocados, sliced hot sauce for drizzling

Directions

Add the quinoa and broth to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure all of its legs rest firmly on the bottom of the pot. Place the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the rack.

Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Manual or Pressure Cook setting and set the cooking time for 10 minutes at low pressure. (The pot will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)

While the sweet potatoes and quinoa are cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a tightly lidded jar, combine the lime juice, oil, agave, salt, pepper, cumin, and cilantro. Shake to combine. Set aside. When the cooking program ends, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and, using tongs, transfer the sweet potatoes to a dish. Wearing heat resistant mitts, remove the rack, then lift out the inner pot. Use a fork to fluff the quinoa. Slice the sweet potatoes into ½-inch rounds.

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and tomatoes, and pour in the vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Divide the quinoa and cabbage mixtures evenly among serving bowls. Arrange the sweet potato rounds on top, along with the sliced avocado. Drizzle with hot sauce and serve warm.

This eggless take on chocolate mousse is a breeze to make and a dream to eat

Chocolate mousse is one of those treats that broadcasts “date night!” or some other kind of special-ish occasion, and frankly, I don’t mind the cliche. (Although it tastes just as good as a before-bed snack while you’re wearing pajamas as it would in a little black dress on Valentine’s Day, in case you were wondering.) Its pure chocolate flavor is classic, and it manages to be both rich and light at the same time.

Traditional chocolate mousse can be tricky to perfect when it comes to texture, and not everyone is comfortable with or medically cleared for the whole raw-egg thing. That’s why I’m such a huge fan of this recipe from Serious Eats contributor and pastry wizard Stella Parks, culled from her debut cookbook, “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts.”

Parks describes her whipped cremeux (“creamy” in French) as a cross between pot de crème and mousse. It will remind you of a mousse — hence our “almost-mousse” moniker — but it is egg-free and easier to make, and it’ll last longer, too. The recipe combines a gelatin-stabilized pudding, straight out of your childhood memories of a certain packaged brand that begins with “J” and ends in “ell-O,” and softly whipped cream. I’ve made this four times, and each time it varied slightly. If you deflate the cream a bit too much in folding or find little bits of pudding that didn’t disappear completely, no sweat. You’ll still love it.

If you’re more of a pudding fan, you can skip combining it with the whipped cream altogether, or serve the cream on top, and still have a fantastic treat.

Otherwise, serve the cremeux in your fanciest glassware … or those 14-year-old bowls you bought at Walmart (who, me?). As long as you’re eating it, this unfussy dessert lives up to whatever the occasion happens (or doesn’t happen) to be.

Recipe notes: Parks likes using full-fat Dutch-process cocoa powder here (Droste is one widely available brand), for its rich flavor and because it has been treated to reduce acidity, which would otherwise lead to a tangy and thin pudding. Parks also prefers using Diamond Crystal kosher salt to achieve the right flavor balance. A handheld electric mixer can be used to beat the whipped cream, but it is not recommended for the chocolate pudding; Parks says a strong arm and a flexible spatula is the alternative way to go.

The pudding mixture needs to set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to a week. After it’s smoothed out, leftovers can keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator; just rewhip before serving. The combined pudding and whipped cream needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and up to 5 days.

Chocolate Almost-Mousse

Servings: 8 (makes about 4 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (1/4 ounce; 1 packet) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 cups milk (13 ounces total)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (5 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa powder (see headnote)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (see headnote)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream
  • Chocolate shavings or curls, for garnish (optional)

Steps

Use a fork to stir together the gelatin, 2 tablespoons of the milk and all the vanilla extract in a small bowl, until well incorporated. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, so the gelatin can set up.

Combine the brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a small stainless-steel (or other nonreactive) saucepan, using a flexible spatula to stir together the ingredients and break up any lumps. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of milk; cook over medium heat, stirring gently until steaming hot — for no more than 5 minutes and no higher than 200 degrees, otherwise the milk will curdle. Remove from the heat.

Add the gelatin-milk mixture, stirring until it has fully dissolved. Transfer to a 4-cup container and cool for 5 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours until firm, and up to 1 week. This is the chocolate pudding part of your almost-mousse.

Scrape the chilled chocolate pudding into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on low speed for a few seconds, then slowly increase to medium-high. At first, the pudding will clump like curds of cottage cheese, but continue beating and it will smooth out in a minute. Return to its original container, then pour the cream into the now-empty mixer bowl (without cleaning the bowl).

Switch the attachment on your mixer to a balloon-whisk; beat on medium speed for about 4 minutes, until the cream is whipped just enough that it begins to ball up inside the balloon-whisk attachment.

Use a flexible spatula to gently fold in the chocolate pudding by hand in several additions, until no streaks of white remain. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, and up to 5 days.

Spoon the chilled mixture into parfait dishes or small bowls.

Adapted from “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts,” by Stella Parks (W.W. Norton, 2017).

Froot Loops mini doughnuts are returning to a drive thru near you

Let’s take a step back in time.

You’re a child, it’s the morning and you’re elated because your parents let you indulge in the colorful, sugary cereal that is Froot Loops. The bright blue, green, yellow, purple and red pop from the white milk like little parties ready for your mouth.

But now you’re a grown-up. You’re not sure it’s socially acceptable to sit down and sink into that bowl of Kellogg’s-brand childhood anymore, so you begrudgingly eat your egg whites and fiber cereal.

It’s time to let that inner child back out at a drive-thru near you. Froot Loops doughnuts are returning to Carl’s Jr. — no bowl or milk needed.

The colorful, sugary mini treats popped into the chain restaurant at the end of August last year, and sold out in weeks  — probably because you can front the $1.99 price tag pretty easily by breaking into that ol’ piggy bank of yours.

At 1¾ inches in diameter with the vibrant, not-found-in-nature colors in the frosting and injected into the doughnut, it’s basically a giant version of the cereal circles.

A request for calorie information from Carl’s Jr. has not yet been returned.

Much like other gimmicky goodies (we’re talking to you, Unicorn Frappuccino), the colorful carb parade launched a flurry of YouTube reviews and posts from social media influencers, including Kim Kardashian’s best friend Jonathan Cheban, who goes by Foodgod on Instagram.

“They smell exactly like Froot Loops. Taste exactly like Froot Loops. They even look like jumbo Froot Loops when you cut into them,” said Shay Spence, the food editor for People, in his Instagram posted on Aug. 28.

“It actually smells like I just cracked open a box of Froot Loops,” Peep THIS Out!, a YouTube food reviewer with more than 19,000 subscribers, said in his video.

“That’s a big Froot Loop,” was his big take away of the “fresh, fluffy” mini doughnut.

According to the restaurant’s website, there are 25 locations in Colorado, including Denver, Lakewood and Commerce City. However, not all may have the doughnuts. According to a company spokeswoman, “While there are several Carl’s Jr. locations in the Denver area, the availability of the product will be dependent on participation of the franchisee.”

Marijuana-themed Cheba Hut opening more sub joints in Colorado, across the country

A lot has happened since Scott Jennings opened his first Cheba Hut, a marijuana-themed sub shop, in 1998.

What was still pretty daring has become more mainstream, culturally speaking, Jennings said. And what started as one shop in Tempe, Ariz., where Jennings attended Arizona State University, is turning into an enterprise whose goal is to double in size to 50 restaurants in a couple of years and reach 200 by 2025.

Three more of the sandwich shops are set to open in Colorado this year — Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood, Johnstown and Colorado Springs — boosting the total to 12 in the state.

Cheba Hut Toasted Subs, now based in Fort Collins, plans to open its 25th restaurant in Las Vegas.

“We have several more in the hopper,” Jennings said.

There are plans to open franchises in Atlanta, Austin, Texas, and Riverside, Calif. The company is working with a consultant to carefully choose the right people, said Seth Larsen, the brand’s chief relationship officer. He deals with the contracts, logistics and does a bit of marketing.

“We’re getting ready to push nationally,” Larsen said. “We want to be smart about our growth.”

Provided by Cheba Hut
The marijuana theme of Cheba Hut was risque when the first shop opened, but with changing societal attitudes, it’s more mainstream now.

Jennings has been “slinging subs now for 21 years” after briefly trying out the corporate world.

“Back in the day, the marijuana theme wasn’t so palatable,” Jennings said.

The theme is carried out through the colorful, psychedelic murals to the sandwich names: Thai Stick, or chicken breast with teriyaki glaze; Panama Red, grilled chicken breast topped with marinara sauce; and Acapulco Gold, grilled chicken breast with barbecue sauce.

The company’s website says Cheba Hut is “a ‘Toasted’ sub concept that has been curing munchies since 1998” and boasts having “the best bread in the business.”

Jennings said early on, police officers used to stop by to make sure everything was above-board.

“It was. They started eating there, and they got great food,” Jennings said.

Cheba Hut’s theme, Jennings said, was a bit of a statement. “It was kind of fun. It was like freedom of speech.”

Twenty-one years later, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, or both. And Cheba Hut has developed a kind of cult following, Jennings said.

“I’d like to think that we were part of that movement,” Jennings said of the changing attitudes toward marijuana.

Besides Colorado and Arizona, Cheba Huts are in New Mexico, California, Oregon, Nevada and Wisconsin. Most of the restaurants have full bars

“We’ve been doing the soft casual thing for a while,” Larsen said. “We want people to come in and spend a little more time.”

The company did about $30 million in sales last year, Larsen said. There are about 750 employees across all the restaurants.

Berthoud Brewing launches a Loveland brewpub in 5030 Local

Another local craft brewery has broken away from the “just beer, no food” mold with the opening of a brewpub in west Loveland.

5030 Local, a collaboration of Berthoud Brewing Co. and Frederick-based Peel Handcrafted Pizza, started serving food and beer Jan. 5 in the former Fountains of Loveland building at 1480 Cascade Ave., just off West Eisenhower Boulevard.

So far, the beer being poured there is brewed at Berthoud Brewing’s original location, 450 Eighth St., in Berthoud. But that will change in the next few weeks.

Another local craft brewery has broken away from the “just beer, no food” mold with the opening of a brewpub in west Loveland.

5030 Local, a collaboration of Berthoud Brewing Co. and Frederick-based Peel Handcrafted Pizza, started serving food and beer Jan. 5 in the former Fountains of Loveland building at 1480 Cascade Ave. just off West Eisenhower Boulevard.

So far, the beer being poured there is brewed at Berthoud Brewing’s original location, 450 Eighth St. in Berthoud. But that will change in the next few weeks.

Read the full story at reporterherald.com.

Savor the elegant and spicy world of Thailand’s cuisine at Chili Thai

A meal at Chili Thai, 3623 23rd Ave. in Evans, is meant to be shared. Order a variety of plates to taste and explore the flavors of Thailand. (For The Tribune/Emily Kemme)

Not all Asian food is spicy, and it’s not all Chinese take-out or sushi, either. As vast and versatile as is American cuisine, the scope of Asian food, encompassing Japan, parts of Russia, India, Vietnam, Afghanistan and others, is more so. According to the United Nations, there are nearly 50 sovereign states or dependent territories within the geographical boundaries of the Asian continent. Chili Thai3623 23rd Ave. in Evans, stir-fries up a wide assortment of dishes with the authentic flavors of Thailand.

But what is that, exactly? Are there egg rolls and fried rice? Will there be soy sauce to enhance your meal? Does everything on the menu have chilies? Does Thai food taste like the more familiar Chinese food? All these and more are good questions.

Unlike Chinese food, actually an umbrella name for the many regional cuisines of China — there is Guangdong (also known as Cantonese), Sichuan and Hunan, to name only a few — the cuisine of Thailand is slightly more uniform. It borrows from other southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, which is in close proximity. Thailand also has several regions with different focal points based on geography. And as with regional foods eaten anywhere, each has its own traditions and cultural stories associated with the dishes.

Look for fresh herbs and less oil than Chinese cooking

Thai cuisine is lighter with a focus on fresh vegetables and herbs. Little oil is used to stir-fry; in contrast, Chinese cuisine relies on a lot of oil to fry many of its dishes.

Thai cuisine centers on balancing five flavors: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Sour flavors come from lime juice, fresh kaffir lime leaves, tamarind, rice vinegar and the delicate lemon grass, an herbal root with tangy citrus notes. Order lemongrass chicken or shrimp for a milder, aromatic dish. Sweetness is derived from palm sugar, the bountiful fruits that grace the Thai table and often are served for dessert, Thai basil, a strong and sweet basil tinged with purple stems, and coconuts.

Rather than soy sauce, fish sauce — a fermented condiment made from salted fish — is typically used to add salt and can mellow the chilies’ heat. It also contributes an umami element to a dish.

For vegetarians, ask to leave fish sauce out of the preparations.

Fresh herbs like cilantro provide bitterness. Chilies lend varying levels of heat to a dish. Interestingly, they were introduced to Thailand from the Americas in the 16th century through traders bringing new foods discovered by the Portuguese and Spanish. 

A Pu Pu Platter at Chili Thai features a selection of traditional Thai street foods mixed with Chinese appetizers. (For The Tribune/Emily Kemme)

How spicy is spicy?

Thai spices feature a wide range of ingredients that tingle the tongue. Chili paste and slivered red chilies will deliver more of a burn than fresh basil leaves (tending toward pepperiness), ginger, onions or fresh mint leaves. At Chili Thai, jalapeños are featured in several dishes, like Bangkok Beef with Basil or Spicy Thai Ginger Shrimp. Condiments like the popular red Sriracha — a chili sauce made from chilies, vinegar, garlic and salt — can be added to a dish to ramp up the fire, but if you’re a wimp, leave it off. Many dishes are prepared with a paste made from ingredients like garlic, chilies, shrimp paste, shallots, lime and spices muddled with a mortar and pestle.

Thai food is all about complexity, with herbs and spices like fresh ginger, turmeric, dried peppercorns and the cinnamon-clove star anise contributing interesting flavors.

But there are non-spicy options. Just ask your server.

Is there rice with a meal?

Rice is an important part of a Thai meal. Many different grain varieties are steamed to serve alongside meats and fresh vegetables, which are often carved into pretty shapes — part of a Thai meal is to dine with the eyes. Jasmine rice is long grained and has a delicate floral fragrance. Shorter grained rices are used to prepare the shapeable sticky rice which can be eaten by hand and dipped into sauces.

There also is fried rice. Jasmine rice shouldn’t be stir-fried, but rather should be eaten unadorned, so as not to detract from its aroma. Find sticky rice in desserts.

I’ve heard about Pad Thai noodles — what are those?

Pad Thai is a noodle-based dish where wide ribbons of rice noodles are stir-fried with egg, green onions, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. Meat can be added — chicken, pork, beef, shrimp — or the dish can be made vegetarian with tofu. If you prefer spice, order them “Drunken ” — rice noodles prepared with basil and dried chilies. Other noodle dishes are prepared with rice noodles as thin as vermicelli or angel hair pasta. Find these in the Vietnamese rice noodle bowl, topped with a choice of meat or tofu, and served with lettuce, ground peanuts and a chili-lime sauce.

Red paper lanterns and a sparkling chandelier give Chili Thai’s dining room a festive note. (For The Tribune/Emily Kemme)

Why is there curry on a Thai menu?

Curry is not limited to Indian cuisine. The Thai palate includes both red and green curries, each prepared with a chili paste as its core, often with a coconut milk base. Thick and soup-like, Thai curries can be mild and sweet, include potatoes and peanuts, and often are served with the ubiquitous rice.

Chili Thai offers Panang, a sweet red curry, a spicier green curry with bell peppers, onions, bamboo shoots and jalapeños, and a delicate — yet a bit spicy — pineapple curry. But remember, spice doesn’t necessarily mean eye-watering, water-gulping levels.

Why is there “Chinese” food on the menu?

Because of geographic proximity, there still will be what are considered typical Chinese dishes on the menu — they are what Americans look for in Chinese food. There are egg rolls, cheese-filled wontons and Chicken Lo Mein, alongside many other recognizable Chinese dishes.

Call it Asian fusion, or maybe because this is the United States, Chili Thai serves more than simply Thai cuisine, which was never all that simple to begin with.

— Award-winning author Emily Kemme — Musings, recipes, and a touch of satire. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished or on Twitter @emilykemme

Denver Restaurant Week has gone from 83 eateries to 238 since it started. Here’s some menu help for 2019.

In 2005, you most likely hadn’t heard of Facebook; you could buy a decent home for under $300k; and Denver got its first-ever Restaurant Week, with 83 participating eateries.

Oh, how times have changed. Facebook hasn’t just entered the conversation but controls it; houses cost a smidge more; and this year’s Denver Restaurant Week, Feb. 22-March 3, will feature 238 restaurants. So …progress?

Like DRW’s format over the past two years, a (typically) three-course meal will run you $25, $35 or $45 per person, depending on which pricing tier the restaurant chooses. For some spots, this is a steal, which is why this week can be a lot of fun for both diners and, believe it or not, the restaurants.

“Restaurant Week is like a food festival in Denver that celebrates all of the incredible culinary experiences we have in the city,” said Andrea Frizzi, chef/owner of RiNo’s Il Posto. “It provides the opportunity to so many people who may have never been in before to try our restaurant. We love the energy it creates in the restaurant and all of the new faces we get to see. It’s truly a beautiful thing for the city.”

Besides being beautiful, DRW also can help restaurants attract new diners throughout the year. Il Posto general manager Kell Kaiser has tracked the restaurant’s numbers via a customer management database and OpenTable. He said that 62 percent of DRW diners returned to Il Posto at least once within the following six months.

“Restaurant week can be a real win for restaurants,” Kaiser said. “When done correctly and deliberately, the increase in guest count opens the doors to numerous opportunities for a profitable program.”

Visit Denver, which launched the program way back when, did so to promote the city’s dining scene to its own residents. Travel + Leisure had conducted a reader poll where Denver residents ranked the city’s dining scene 25th out of 25. So, yeah, we didn’t think too highly of our city’s culinary offerings then.

“We wanted to turn that perception around,” said Justin Bresler, vice president of marketing for Visit Denver. “We had good restaurants — not as many as we have now — but they were there.”

The plan seems to have worked. With nearly triple the number of restaurants participating and hundreds of thousands of meals served each year, diners and restaurants both are filling up.

If you haven’t made reservations, you’re not completely out of luck. If you’re booking online, check weekdays first and be flexible on your time. A light lunch can make those early reservations pretty appetizing, and snacks (snacks!) make the later ones doable. If you’re coming up short with online booking systems, try calling the restaurant. Sometimes they save reservations for callers and walk-ins.

Need more convincing? We’ll let the food speak for itself. Here are some DRW menu highlights:

For $25

Check out Cuba Cuba Cafe’s tostones con ceviche, fish sandwich and key lime tart. 1173 Delaware St., 303-605-2822; cubacubacafe.com 

For $25, not just one person but two people get beer, dessert, meat platters and sides at Burnt End BBQ. 5332 DTC Blvd., Greenwood Village, 720-538-1153; burntendbbqdenver.com

At Max’s Wine Dive, choose an appetizers like Crispy Deviled Eggs, main dishes like Southern Style Meatloaf, and finish with the Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding. 696 Sherman St., 303-593-2554; maxswinedive.com

Feed two for $25 at Tag Burger Bar in Congress Park: Choose two orders of fries, two burgers and get a buy one, get one draft beer to boot. 1222 Madison St., 303-736-2260; tagburgerbar.com

For $35

Fill up on Bamboo Sushi’s menu of rolls, smoked duck stuffed with bao bun and scallop, bass and salmon nigiri. 2715 17th St., 303-284-6600; bamboosushi.com

Lots of choices at Il Posto, but beef tartare, pappardelle pasta and pork cheeks with polenta are a good start. 2601 Larimer St., 303-394-0100; ilpostodenver.com

At Bacon Social House, try the Crispy Brussels, Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and Creme Brulee. 2434 W. 44th Ave., 720-550-7065; baconsocialhouse.com

The Rhein Haus will start you off with a house-baked pretzel with sauce; a choice of salads or charcuterie for an appetizer; one of three entrees (try the Schweinhaxe); plus dessert. 1415 Market St., 303-800-2652; rheinhausdenver.com

For $45

You’ve got a full menu to choose from at Old Major, including salmon crudo, charcuterie and fried chicken — and that’s just the first course. Keep going with short ribs, lamb, duck confit and lots of other meat-centric plates. 3316 Tejon St., 720-420-0622; oldmajordenver.com

Satchel’s on 6th has roasted carrot salad, seafood pasta, pork belly with broken pistachio sauce and apple tarts on the menu.1710 E. 6th Ave., 303-399-2560; satchelsonsixth.com

In Cherry Creek, Cucina Colore‘s Restaurant Week menu includes Filet Mignon Carpaccio, Strawberry salad, Maine Lobster Ravioli, Veal Marsala and tiramisu. 3041 E. 3rd Ave., 303-393-6917; cucinacolore.com

Even The Palm downtown is getting in on the act, with choices like Poached Pear Salad, Saffron Spaghetti a la Lobster Arrabbiata and New York Cheesecake. Plus, there are upgrade options. 1672 Lawrence St., 303-825-7256; thepalm.com

Get the full list of restaurants and menus at denver.org/denver-restaurant-week.

Pie fries and pockets full of sweet and savory goodness for on-the-go meals at UNC’s Pie Cafe

The new Pie Café at University of Northern Colorado’s new Campus Commons building, 1051 22nd St., sells savory and sweet hand-held pies. Pie Café is open to the public and UNC community Monday through Friday. (Emily Kemme/For The Tribune)

You might not have known this, but pie is a Colorado food. In fact, National Pie Day owes its existence to a teacher and brewer in Boulder named Charlie Papazian.

Papazian, who loves to celebrate his birthday with a slice of pie lit up with candles, also was the driving force and founder of the perhaps equally celebrated Great American Beer Festival held each October in Denver. 

Dedication rights aside, pie is beloved around the globe. 

Other spots to grab a bite at UNC that are open to the public:

 

Bear's Bistro offers quick lunch and dinner options. Build a bowl of pasta with your choice of toppings, order a grinder or barbecue sandwich for dinner, or grab a cookie. The Bistro accepts cash or credit, along with student Dining Dollar and meal plan options.

Popular chains like Einstein Bros. Bagels, Subway and Sushi with Gusto are also open to the public. Check UNC’s website for other retail dining locations campus wide.

Pie Café is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. There may be extended hours during UNC School of Performing Arts events.

That is one reason why University of Northern Colorado's shiny new restaurant Pie Café at the equally shiny and new Campus Commons spotlights pies of the sweet and savory variety.

Savory meat pie shops in the United Kingdom and Australia, along with similar hand-held pies in France (quiche), Spain (empanadas), Africa (Nigerian meat pies) and good old chicken pot pie from the USA, are very popular today, in part because — pun intended — they are filling meals.

Another reason dials into our busy lifestyle: These portable, handheld bundles of tender crust encasing savory goodies are a meal staple that can be tucked into a backpack or briefcase. No knife or fork is required.

UNC Dining Services staff did their fair share of globetrotting to test how pie is served. From Seattle to Atlanta, New York to Nashville and even Australia and the UK, UNC tasters scheduled personal vacations and hopped planes to eat pie, all in the name of research. Executive Chef Aran Essig and pastry chef Jen Moore spent four days learning about pie crust at the French School of Pastry in Chicago.

Dining services personnel also partnered with the College of Natural and Health Sciences, Nutrition and Dietetics, where students performed "intensive testing on various types of flours, fats, bake times and mixing methods" to create the most tender pie crust ever, according to Pie Café officials.

After tasting Pie Café's crust, there is no doubt they succeeded. Essig said they had anticipated selling 100 per day, but since opening Jan. 23, about 300 pies have gone out the door daily.

Pie Café offers savory and sweet individual pies like fruit, cream and quiche pies. (Emily Kemme/For The Tribune)

"One of the biggest differences between our crust and the crust I tasted in London (is) theirs is tough and mealy. Ours is tender and flaky — it's an American-style crust. It's not layered like a French croissant, it's more flaky than a European crust. We use butter, not lard. That could be the reason," Moore explained.

There are two dough types: the flaky, buttery, regular dough and a gluten-free, vegan pie dough prepared from a Longmont flour, vegetable shortening and vegan margarine. Hal Brown, director of Dining Services, calls the product, "Gluten-friendly, because the pies are prepared in an environment that has flour."

If you’re wondering whether there are there gluten-free options around the world, the short answer is no, according to Chef Aran. Both gluten-free crust and enclosed fruit pies like apple and cherry are unique to the United States. France has its tarte tatin (an open-faced apple tart), but Essig believes the fruit pie topped and sealed with crust is an American invention.

Pastry chef Jen Moore slices apples for hand held pies at UNC’s Pie Café. (Emily Kemme/For The Tribune)

Look for an assortment of filled, individual pies at the cafe. Perfect for eating out of hand, the sturdy 4-and-a-half inch bundles replicate American-style pies, with crimped, fluted edges and holes to allow steam to escape while baking. Whether enjoying a savory or fruit-filled pie, the crust isn't sweet. Flaky and light, the crust provides a neutral background perfectly setting off the fillings.

The menu changes weekly, although standards like chicken and beef pot pies, alongside a quiche du jour make regular appearances. From a broccoli smoked cheddar with sun-dried tomato, a rosemary pork with sweet potato, chicken cordon bleu with chunks of ham and a hint of mustard, or a maple bacon cream pie, to name only a few, the choices are tough.

Fruit and cream pies are on the menu for dessert. You can order your pie a la mode, choosing from three flavors of locally produced Longview Creamery ice cream, but you’ll likely need a spoon for that. To get some Colorado flavor and a sweet heat, try the peach and green chili pie made with Pueblo chiles and Palisade peaches when in season.

For the fun and quirky, there are pie fries. Yes, there is such a thing, possibly only at UNC's Pie Café.

"It's like those scraps Grandma saved from pie crusts,” Brown explained.

For a riff on the French fry, order a bag of pie fries, sweetened with cinnamon and sugar. They’re served with vanilla and cherry dipping sauce for a unique treat. (Emily Kemme/For The Tribune)

Reimagined as “fries,” the fried dough strips are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and served in paper bags with vanilla or cherry sauce for dipping. As a riff on the french fry, "we thought about having the vanilla sauce tinged yellow to look like mustard and the cherry sauce — it's supposed to look like ketchup," said Brown. Instead, they went with vanilla, giving snackers an opportunity to use their imagination. In case you’re wondering, the condiments don’t taste like mustard or ketchup.

You can travel around the world and find food encased in dough, but, "this is American style pie; it's like your very own miniature pie," said Jen Moore. You can eat it without a knife and fork or use them. The choice is yours.

— Award-winning author Emily Kemme — Musings, recipes, and a touch of satire. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished or on Twitter @emilykemme

 

 

Weld County retail food inspections for Feb. 5 to 13, 2019

Weld County evaluates restaurants, schools, grocery stores and other facilities that handle food on a scale of five categories, from unacceptable to excellent. As part of the county's scoring index, officials evaluate facilities on factors such as cooling, reheating, cooking refrigeration and hot-holding equipment, cross-contamination between raw foods and ready-to-eat foods and employee hygiene, according to the county.

  • An "excellent" evaluation means the facility had no violations. Secondary critical and non-critical violations could exist.
  • Facilities that received a "good" evaluation could have one serious violation or one or more secondary violations.
  • A "fair" evaluation means the facility could have three serious violations or secondary violations.
  • A "marginal" evaluation means the facility could have four serious violations or secondary violations.
  • An "unacceptable" evaluation means the facility could have more than five serious violations or secondary violations. If an imminent public health hazard exists, the facility would be required to take immediate corrective action or close.

The following restaurants and facilities were evaluated from Feb. 5 to 13, 2019.

GREELEY

Feb. 6: 54th Avenue Market Place, 1005 54th Ave. — Excellent

Feb. 7: Buffalo Wild Wings, 4711 29th St. — Excellent

Feb. 6: Burger King, 6710 10th St. — Excellent

Feb. 11: Kenny’s Steak House, 3502 10th St. — Excellent

Feb. 7: Lucky Panda, 2321 27th St. — Marginal

Feb. 11: Marcos Pizza, 2000 35th Ave. — Good

Feb. 8: McDonald’s, 2440 8th Ave. — Excellent

Feb. 12: Silver Mine Subs, 2519 11th Ave. — Excellent

Feb. 6: University Center School Kitchen, 20th Street and 11th Avenue — Fair

Feb. 8: Weld County North Jail Complex, 2110 O St. — Excellent

EVANS

Feb. 11: 7-Eleven, 1011 37th St. — Good

Feb. 8: Evans Fast Break, 1100 42nd St. — Marginal

Feb. 6: Los Comales Express, 1012 37th St. — Excellent

Feb. 8: Schwartz’s Krautburger Kitchen, 820 39th St. — Excellent

Feb. 6: Shortstop Evans, 3636 23rd Ave. — Excellent

MILLIKEN

Feb. 5: Dollar General Store, 1740 Broad St. — Excellent

Feb. 5: El Mex-Kal, 1760 Broad St. — Fair

Feb. 5: Far Better Convenience, 101 Quentine Ave. — Good

Feb. 5: Little Caesars Pizza, 1760 Broad St. — Excellent

Feb. 5: The Alibi, 1007 Broad St. — Good

LASALLE

Feb. 11: Family Dollar Store, 165 2nd St. — Excellent

Feb. 11: The Human Bean Drive-Thru, 100 2nd St. — Excellent

Get Cooking: Cooking with cheese

Whatcha say, cheese?

Writer Clifton Fadiman once called cheese “milk’s leap to immortality.” It may be everyone’s favorite dairy product. (Sorry, yogurt. Sorry, ice cream.)

While most of us enjoy eating it just as is, cheese also can stand the heat of the kitchen. As in that time when we really needed it to because it was the only food that our children would eat. Thank you, mac ‘n’ cheese.

Today, some tips on how to get cooking with cheese.

  • Save rinds from grating hard, aged cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, cave-aged Gouda and the like. Italian moms save such to put at the bottom of the bowls of their kids’ hot soups. By the time Secondo finishes his broth, the rind has melted into the treat Mamma had in mind. Store them in the freezer. They’re close to everlasting. (The rinds; not the kids.)
  • However, a family of cheeses doesn’t melt well and hence fits only into niche cooking (for example, used only cold or chilled, or in preparations such as lasagna where they’re needed precisely because they do not melt). Fresh mozzarella, ricotta, feta and cottage cheeses are like that. Don’t substitute these cheeses in a recipe calling for a melting cheese.
  • That said, another family of cheeses —  Greek haloumi or so-called Scandinavian “bread cheeses” — doesn’t melt at all but need to be heated on high flame and fried in order to be fully enjoyed.
  • Chill any cheese before grating and cooking with it (just store it in the refrigerator all the time). Room-temperature Gruyère (and other grating cheeses like it) are difficult to hold steady against the grater, possibly contributing to injury to your hand. They also grate unevenly at room temp.
  • A lot of people don’t eat the rinds of such cheeses as Brie or Camembert — whcih is too bad, because they’re eminently edible, good for you, and often very tasty. Under heat, though, these outer surfaces change in taste and could be considered a healthy and flavorful addition to the dish. (This applies especially to the firm outsides of many washed-rind Alpine cheeses such as Comté or Beaufort.)
  • The best time to top a hot food with a grated cheese — the classic example would be to “Parm” the pasta — is the moment just before it’s served or eaten. Otherwise, if mixed in while preparing the food, it melts into the food and, as generations of dishwashing sponges have discovered, gloms onto the surfaces of the pot or plate. And the sponge.
  • In general, it’s wisest not to add any cheese into very hot food while the recipe is being prepared. Virtually all cheeses will seize up and get stringy (or even fall apart) as their proteins and fat break down in the presence of high heat. “Slow and low” is the way to go, for example, adding grated cheese just a spoonful at a time to a bechamel sauce that’s at very low heat (or, better, off the heat) or when making a scratch mac ‘n’ cheese on the stovetop before baking it off further.
  • And don’t bake that mac at too high a temperature (anything over 375 degrees is iffy). Too high an oven heat also breaks down a cheese into strings or grainy particles. If the casserole or gratin needs a browned crust, use the broiler, if you have one, just as the recipe is finishing.
  • If the cheese you’re using is to be the topping for an oven-baked dish, add it during the final 10 minutes, rather then earlier — again, so the cheese won’t break down or filigree.
  • Likewise, high microwave heat is dangerous to cheese. So fix a dish in the microwave using pulses or lower, longish power settings.
  • Remember that grated cheeses of all kinds (hard aged; firm aged; moist) always increase in volume while being grated. They’re getting “inflated” with air. Measure by weight or volume, depending on the recipe, but don’t confuse the two.
  • We also “cook cool,” so when assembling salads comprised of, say, pasta, rice or vegetables, consider chunks of cheese as an ingredient. Queso fresco’s good for that, as of course are the many crumbly blue cheeses and the fresh goat and sheep cheeses (such as chèvre or feta).

Frico Friulano (Friulian Cheese and Potato Crisp)

From eataly.com; makes 6 slices

This form of frico (“fried” cheese) is in the shape of a small pancake, and crisp on the outside. Montasio is a creamy cow’s milk cheese from northeastern Italy’s Friuli region. You may substitute the same amount of a slightly aged Asiago or similar cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound Montasio, grated
  • 1 medium potato (1/2 pound), peeled and grated
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Pour the olive oil into the skillet; set over medium heat, and scatter in the sliced onion. Cook for a minute, and then scatter the potato in the pan. Toss and tumble the potatoes with the onion, and season with the salt and grinds of black pepper. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, tossing frequently, until the potatoes are lightly crisped and golden.

Add the Montasio. Combine with the potatoes and onion, until the cheese is well distributed. With the spatula, clean the sides of the skillet and smooth the vegetables and cheese into a neat pancake-like disk, filling the pan bottom.

Lower the heat and let the frico cook, undisturbed, as the cheese melts and crisps, until the bottom is very brown and nicely crusted, about 5 minutes. Shake the pan to loosen the disk, put a large plate on top and invert, dropping the frico onto the plate, then slide it back in the skillet, top side down. Cook until the second side is crisp and brown, about 5 minutes more.

Slide the frico onto a plate, slice into 6 wedges, and serve immediately.

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Human Bean breaks ground on coffee stand in St. Michael’s Town Square

Korri Roth, of Greeley, breaks ground on the new Human Bean in St. Michael’s Town Square, southwest of U.S. 34 and 65th Avenue. Roth will manage the new stand. (Trevor Reid/treid@greeleytribune.com)

The Human Bean of Northern Colorado broke ground on its 10th coffee stand Tuesday morning in St. Michael’s Town Square, southwest of U.S. 34 and 65th Avenue.

The Human Bean of Northern Colorado will open its 10th coffee stand in St. Michael’s Square, southwest of U.S. 34 and 65th Avenue. UCHealth plans to open a new hospital and medical campus in June to the west. (Trevor Reid/treid@greeleytribune.com)

Frank Sherman, owner of the Human Bean of Northern Colorado, estimated construction would take about 120 days. The new location, the third in Greeley and sixth in Weld County, sits in St. Michael’s Town Square, where UCHealth plans to open a new hospital and medical campus in June.

“We are a locally owned and operated coffee drive-through, the largest … in northern Colorado,” Sherman said. “Our young people come in at 4:30 in the morning, and they are ready to rock and roll at 5 o’clock in the morning until 10 at night. When you can get young people to show up at work at 4:30, and then smile at 5 o’clock after fixing everything, getting everything turned on, that’s a great thing, so we’re proud of all our people.”

Korri Roth, 25, of Greeley will manage the new coffee stand after about six years with the company. Roth, born and raised in Greeley, is a graduate of Greeley West High School and Colorado State University. Roth said she’s happy to work for a company with such a record for community involvement.

“We’re so happy to be bringing the Human Bean to the St. Michael’s community,” Sherman said.

C2D Architects, in Greeley, is the designer for the stand, which will have two drive-through lanes from north to south.

C2D Architects designed the Human Bean of Northern Colorado’s 10th coffee stand at St. Michael’s Town Square in Greeley. (C2D Architects/For The Tribune)

No constant stirring, no dairy: This double-mushroom risotto defies conventional wisdom

Let’s get a couple of misconceptions about risotto out of the way: First, I hope you’ve heard by now that the whole standing-and-stirring-forever myth is just that. Good risotto doesn’t require such constant attention. Second, I realize this is heretical to purists (don’t @ me), but you also don’t have to use dairy butter and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano to enrich it. When I served this version to tasters recently, not a single one picked up on the fact that I had employed vegan butter and vegan Parm; they were too busy verbalizing, in between bites, how delicious it was.

The dish’s intoxicating creaminess, after all, comes mostly from the rice itself, and here’s where substitutions won’t do. You have to use a short-grain, starchy variety such as Arborio (or the harder-to-find Carnaroli or Vialone Nano) because the alchemy happens when the rice gradually absorbs the broth and simultaneously releases its starch.

The broth, too, is crucial. Use something homemade, if possible, and infuse it with a powerful ingredient: Dried porcini mushrooms. When they soak in hot broth for just a few minutes, they release much of their flavor, and the liquid — which you add gradually — carries it right into the grains of rice. After the mushrooms rehydrate, you drain them, chop them and add them to the risotto base, too, along with the requisite aromatics. This one gets topped with sauteed cremini mushrooms to double up on that earthiness.

I need to mention a few more requirements for perfect risotto. Keep the broth hot as you’re stirring it in. Stop cooking while the rice is still a little al dente, not mushy. And make sure that your risotto isn’t too stiff, which is especially crucial if it will sit for more than a minute or two before serving because it tends to tighten up. If need be, practice ladling some into a shallow bowl; it should spread all the way flat, and if it doesn’t, scrape it back into the pot, stir in a little more broth to loosen it, and try again. You’ll be glad you did.

Porcini Risotto

Servings: 4 (makes about 5 cups)

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce (about 1 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups store-bought or homemade vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Leaves from 2 stems thyme, chopped, plus more for optional garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves, plus more for optional garnish
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Steps

Combine the dried porcini mushrooms and broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook until hot. Turn off the heat, and let them soak, to rehydrate, for at least 5 minutes. Use a fine-mesh strainer to scoop out the mushrooms, press on them to extract as much liquid as possible, and transfer them to a cutting board. Coarsely chop them.

Line the strainer with paper towels, and place over a large bowl or large liquid measuring cup. Strain the broth into the bowl, rinse out the saucepan, and pour the broth back into the saucepan. Cover and keep it warm over low heat.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the vegan butter in a deep saute pan over high heat. Stir in the sliced cremini mushrooms and cook until soft and lightly browned, 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, then transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.

Return the saute pan to medium heat. Pour in the oil, and when it shimmers, stir in the onion, garlic, thyme and sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, for 8 minutes. Add the rice, stirring for about a minute so all the grains are evenly coated. Pour in the wine; cook until it has mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped porcinis.

Add 1 cup of the warm broth to the rice mixture, and stir it in. Cook until the broth is mostly absorbed, then stir in another cup and repeat. Continue cooking and stirring in broth, 1 cup at a time, until the rice is al dente and the liquid is mostly absorbed; this should take about 20 minutes total, and you’ll use about 4 cups of the broth. Stir in the vegan Parmesan, the remaining tablespoon of vegan butter, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and all the pepper. Taste, and add more salt as needed.

Stir in up to another 1/2 cup of broth to loosen the risotto, as needed. (You want it to be just soupy enough that when you ladle it into shallow bowls, it spreads flat.) Divide among individual bowls, top with the cremini mushrooms, garnish with more thyme and/or sage, if desired, and serve.

Adapted from “Great Vegan Meals for the Carnivorous Family: 75 Delicious Dishes for Herbivores, Carnivores and Everyone in Between,” by Amanda Logan (Page Street Publishing, 2018).

Make a quick, comforting tomato soup that’s full of pantry staples and tastes fresher than the can

When I am craving the cozy fulfillment of a bowl of creamy tomato soup, like many people I reach into my kitchen cabinet for a can – but not the one you are probably thinking of.

I grab a few cans of no-salt-added, diced tomatoes. While I’m at it, I pull a few other staples from my pantry and refrigerator: Broth, tomato paste, garlic, onion, milk, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. With these basics, it’s easy to whip up a big batch of tomato soup that is fresher-tasting, more nuanced in flavor, less aggressively sweet and lower in sodium than the typical canned version.

It is well worth the small amount of extra effort it takes to make it. Start by sweating the onions and garlic in a little oil, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste and broth. Simmer until the flavors meld, just 15 minutes. Add the milk, a little honey, salt and pepper and then puree everything until it’s nice and smooth. An immersion blender makes this step especially easy, or you can use a regular blender. I prefer using whole milk, which mellows the acidity of the tomatoes and makes everything more luscious, but you could use low-fat milk, almond milk or oat milk.

It’s a soup that’s in regular rotation in my house throughout the winter because I always have the ingredients on hand, it comes together fast and in one pot, and it never fails to hit the spot. The last time I made a batch, I had a garnish revelation that gave the soup another dimension entirely, thanks to an opened bag of cheddar popcorn stashed near the canned tomatoes in my pantry. Tossing a handful of the popcorn into the soup right before eating it added a measure of smile-inducing fun that, as it turns out, is as welcomed this time of year as the warm comfort of the soup itself.

Creamy Tomato Soup with Popcorn

Servings: 4 (makes about 6 cups)

Agave may be substituted for the honey.

MAKE AHEAD: The soup can be refrigerated (without the popcorn) for up to 4 days.

From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (at least 1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Two 14.5-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, plus their juices
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (see headnote)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (see headnote)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 cups plain or cheddar popcorn (popped)

Steps

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent.

Stir in the garlic; cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste and broth; increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the milk, honey, salt and pepper, then remove from the heat. Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree until smooth, or allow the soup mixture to cool slightly before pureeing in batches in a blender.

Garnish each portion with the popcorn just before serving.

Nutrition per serving (using cheddar popcorn): 160 calories, 5 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 13 g sugar

Colfax staple Tom’s Diner is for sale

One of Denver’s most iconic diners could be changing hands soon.

After 20 years of business, Colfax late-night staple Tom’s Diner is for sale.

Tom Messina, the greasy spoon’s owner and namesake, put the diner on the market late last year. The half-acre lot is listed at $4.8 million.

In Denver’s hot real estate market, it’s no surprise that the land has already attracted some serious offers. Messina said he’s been approached by two developers interested in building housing on the land, which is zoned for residential and commercial use.

But if Messina gets his way, Tom’s will be a diner for years to come. “It would make me happy to see someone come in and keep the ball rolling and enjoy a busy and successful restaurant.”

While Denver’s hot real estate market nudged Messina toward selling — “The numbers work,” he said — it isn’t just about money. With 40 years in the restaurant industry behind him and his 60th birthday ahead, Messina said he’s ready for a new challenge, likely in a new industry.

“Or maybe sitting on the couch and eating Bon Bons,” he joked. “Does that count?”

After Messina graduated high school in Long Island, N.Y., he moved to Florida, where he learned the ins and outs of the hospitality business through shifts at restaurants and hotels.

He moved to Denver in 1999. After a short stint as the manager of the then newly opened Gothic Theatre, he decided to rent The Sun Diner that year. (As evidenced by its retro-futurist Googie architecture, it was a part of Denver’s White Spot diner chain before that — a lineage it shares with Denver Diner.) He named it Tom’s Diner, eventually buying the plot in 2003.

Colfax has changed since then. But according to Messina, business is booming. It doesn’t hurt that Tom’s 24-hour diner is smack dab between East Colfax and Capitol Hill, a stretch with three major music venues between it and dozens of smaller clubs and bars. “We have lines out the door at 3 a.m.”

Reminiscing about the space over a cup of coffee, Messina emphasizes he’s in no rush to sell. But even in 24-hour diners, time marches on.

“There will be some sellers remorse when the time comes,” he said. “I’ll wake up in the morning and say ‘Where do I go?’ Especially for breakfast.”

Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta in Windsor serves up grand opening

Henry Olsen (left) and Tate Olsen (right) eat pizza and play “Minecraft” at Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta grand opening in Windsor. (Adam Poulisse/apoulisse@greeleytribune.com)

Five-year-old Tate Olsen and 8-year-old Henry Olsen loves pizza.

“If there’s a slice of cheese pizza available, they’ll give it a try,” their father Nik Olsen said.

So the Fort Collins family took the opportunity to visit Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta in Windsor, 1180 Main St., for its grand opening bash that featured live music, prizes and a special appearance by the 2018 Steinfeld trophy that was won by the Denver Outlaws.

“We came from Fort Collins so we have a lot of options, but we wanted to get out and try something new,” Nik Olsen said.

The eatery is the closest Anthony’s besides Longmont. They have some in Denver but co-owners Ashlee and Jonathan Hitchcock wanted to bring the New York-style pizza chain here. It officially opened in December, but the Hitchcocks wanted to wait a few weeks before having a grand opening.

“This is certainly the busiest lunch we’ve had,” Jonathan Hitchcock said, adding that the business has received a warm welcome over the past couple of weeks.

“The town of Windsor has been absolutely amazing,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve had people come in from Greeley, Fort Collins, everywhere.”

The 2,000 square-foot pizzeria also serves salads, sandwiches, appetizers, deserts and more. Outside dining will be available when it gets warmer.

— Adam Poulisse is the go and do reporter for the Greeley Tribune. Let him know of anything fun going on in the area by calling him at 970-392-4440 or emailing him at apoulisse@greeleytribune.com.

Windsor’s Grillhouse chef Mick Vininski sees customer relations as essential part of his profession

Chef Mick Vininski, the Grillhouse at Pelican Lake’s front man and classically trained French chef. (For The Tribune/Emily Kemme)

To go

1600 Pelican Lakes Point, Windsor
(970) 674-1100
PelicanLakesWindsor.com/Grillhouse

Hours:
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday thru Thursday
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday thru Saturday
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

The Grillhouse at Pelican Lakes is open to the public for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Chef Mick Vininski sees himself as a front man. That's not to imply he isn't equally comfortable back of the house, working the line and overseeing the entire operation at the Grillhouse at Pelican Lakes. But as an executive chef, he believes a fundamental element of the job is creating that personal touch. It's an innate skill, the ability to connect with the people you feed. Vininski doesn't see it as something taught at cooking school. You either have it or you don't.

As the former sushi chef at Fort Collins' Suehiro, Vininski said the best part of his job was being out front visiting with people while preparing their sushi orders.

"People get to know you and vice versa,” he said. “You get to know what they like, but it also provided the opportunity to expand dining horizons.”

It was knowing people and their tastes that opened opportunities to teach new twists on the tried and true. At Suehiro, Vininski tempted sushi neophytes to test the waters, suggesting ideas one off from the next step up.

"I'd get them to try a poké — soy-sauce marinated raw fish — as a comfortable way to venture into the world of sushi,” he said. “It's the same thing with vegans and vegetarians. Their food preferences can be a challenge, but I like it."

Once Vininski knows his diners, he'll provide suggestions while adapting to the client's palate. He hopes the relationship goes deeper than taste buds. He wants the Grillhouse to be a destination where people feel comfortable and relaxed, and he wants it to be a place they return to often. 

Smoked goat cheese, beets, and dried figs atop arugula at the Grillhouse at Pelican Lakes. (Grillhouse at Pelican Lakes)

Lifelong learning about food shapes his thinking. At age 15, he began training at the self-described "school of hard knocks" in Minneapolis hotels and started chef training when he was 19, working at the Sofitel hotel's culinary school on room service detail. Next door was a Radisson where he became the convention floor manager. By 25, he could call himself a classically trained French chef. 

It's a hard-earned title, one that isn't respected unless you treat those with whom you work as a team, he believes.

"I'll never ask an associate to do something I haven't done. Scrubbing hoods, floors, the grills — it's a team effort every day," Vininski said.

"I'm only as good as the people I surround myself with. I like to work with people who care about what they're doing — but as a baseline, they have to be interested in food. I'm open to trying new ideas from my younger employees — even the teens. I want to hear their viewpoint."

That's what makes The Grillhouse at Pelican Lakes special, Vininski believes. It's become a destination beyond Water Valley and Windsor residents. Open to the public, the restaurant is becoming part of a destination resort community, a place to stay and play.

The Grillhouse at Pelican Lakes is a stunning room with a view. (Emily Kemme)

"The venue is gorgeous — rooms with a view — but we cook to our customer's palates,” he said. “You want a baked potato every night of the week? That's no problem. Just let me know in advance."

The restaurant offers seasonal fare; right now, it's cold so the fare is heartier. He spent the morning preparing a pork green chile that will be on the lunch buffet. Look for regular offerings: prime rib on Fridays and Saturdays, and all-you-can-eat Nashville-style hot-fried chicken marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce on Thursday nights.

Vininski said he believes challenges are good, too, embodied in the Grillhouse's five-course wine pairing dinners which are offered the second Saturday each month. It provides Chef Mick the opportunity to play, experiment and continue raising the learning curve for both him and his clients. The dinners let him dabble in his favorite culinary genre — Mediterranean flavors.  

Most lunchtimes find Vininski working the line in the kitchen. It helps with labor costs — he finds it can be tough to find lunchtime labor.

But when making the dining room rounds at night, he changes to his show coat — the pristine white one with piping, covered buttons and his name embroidered in black. It's part of the restaurant's face. Chef Mick hopes it will be one that's memorable, one people will want to return to see regularly.

Immigrant family offers fresh, authentic cuisine daily at China Kitchen in Greeley

When Casey Chen and her husband moved to Greeley from China in 2003, they hoped to create a better life for their family.

China Kitchen

China Kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 3-9 p.m. Sunday at 4626 CenterPlace Drive, Suite 130. The restaurant has dine-in options with large booths, take-out and delivery within five miles.

For more information, call (970) 506-1118 or (970) 506-1117, or go to ChinaKitchenGreeley.com.

Starting at 8 a.m. nearly every day of the week, her husband, Weihui, continues that work, preparing the fresh cuisine for their restaurant, China Kitchen, 4626 CenterPlace Drive, Suite 130. China Kitchen has all the usual offerings diners expect at a Chinese restaurant: orange chicken, General Tso’s chicken, lo mein and crab cheese wontons to name a few customer favorites.

The Chens opened China Kitchen in May 2017, having worked there when it was Su Asian Wok. Since moving to Greeley, they worked at Chinese restaurants in town, Weihui cooking and Casey serving. They started thinking about opening a restaurant in 2013, after Casey gave birth to their first child, but it wasn’t yet feasible.

After Weihui quit working at Su Asian Wok, he kept in touch with the restaurant’s owner. When the owner mentioned he was looking to sell the restaurant in 2017 and the Chens had their third child, they decided to take the plunge.

Casey said business at the restaurant has gradually increased since they opened in May, seeing more regular customers trickling in each month. With the exception of sending out menus this past year, they’ve mostly relied on word-of-mouth, passersby and internet searches to drive traffic to the restaurant. They typically see a good lunch crowd from nearby CenterPlace employees, according to Casey.

“Some customers (say), ‘You should open one in Fort Collins,'” Casey said with jovial laughter. “Maybe someday, when we grow bigger. Right now, we’re only a family restaurant.”

Casey said her cousin works at the restaurant, and they get additional help from her brother and mom sometimes. They don’t keep any prepared cuisines overnight, she added, so they put in a lot of work at the restaurant.

With all that time spent at the restaurant, Casey sometimes worries about finding enough time to get out and have fun with the kids. But, through all their hard work, she and Weihui hope to give them better lives.

Diner-esque vibe thriving at Windsor Lake Coffee

Keaton Michel prepares a drink for a customer at the Windsor Lake Coffee, 430 Main St. (Tony Villalobos May/For The Tribune)

To go

Windsor Lake Coffee
430 Main St.
(970) 445-4124
WindsorLakeCoffee.com

Hours:
6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday
8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday
Closed on Tuesdays

Walking down Main Street in Windsor, Claire Brogden happened upon an older building and it sparked her interest.

Brogden said she saw the location and knew it was a fit for her long-held dream of owning her own coffee shop.

Before it was even put on the market, Brogden scooped up the space for next venture in life.

"They never even had to put up a lease sign," she said. "I just jumped on it."

That building, at 430 Main St., is now home to Windsor Lake Coffee. Brogden opened the shop on Dec. 1, fulfilling her dream.

Brogden didn't make her plan out of the blue or without forethought. She comes to Windsor with years of experience in the coffee house industry.

For five years before opening Windsor Lake Coffee, she managed the Starry Night Espresso Café in Old Town in Fort Collins. It was when Brogden's boyfriend moved to Windsor in September that she realized the small town was missing something vital.

"Windsor was really in need of another breakfast place that wasn't fast food and that offered health options," she said.

She took over the space in November and did some updates — like painting and sprucing up — while also bringing in new coffee and espresso equipment.

It's not only a coffee shop, though. It's a restaurant and ice cream shop, too.

Windsor Lake Coffee features an old-fashioned soda fountain and other nostalgic decorations. (Tony Villalobos May)

Windsor Lake Coffee offers house-made soups, salads, sandwiches, coffee (of course), bakery items and ice cream from Little Man Ice Cream in Denver.

Brogden also has burritos and bread from J Street Bakery in Loveland and bagels from Windsor favorite, Gib's New York Bagels.

Plus, Brogden's mom, Elaine Huot, comes in a few times a week to bake fresh pies.

The Main Street building used to house The Robin's Nest, a longtime Windsor institution that served krautburgers, fries and ice cream.

That's why Brogden wanted to keep a lot of the old-timey feel to it. She salvaged items from around the state to give it unique and authentic feeling.

"I really kept the mid-century vibe in there," Brogden said "It's really cool; it's original."

Cara Clemmons prepares a drink at Windsor Lake Coffee. (Tony Villalobos May)

The 24-foot soda fountain counter that sits inside the shop is just one of the old-fashioned touches Brogden brought in.

"I really want it to be a community-driven place," Brogden said. "I'm taking suggestions and will update the menu."

One example of that happened a few weeks ago, just after the shop opened. She had a young girl come in, asking for M&Ms on her ice cream. There were none in the store, so Brogden ran out and bought two kinds. Now the shop has more than 40 ice cream toppings because of similar community requests.

As part of the effort to entice people to stick around and enjoy the atmosphere, Brogden decided to offer free refills on drip coffee at Windsor Lake Coffee.

Between the free refills, the local and homemade baked goods and the comfortable atmosphere, Brogden hopes the community will love the shop as much as she does.

9 National Pizza Day freebies, deals and events on Feb. 9

As if we needed a reason to celebrate the cheesy, saucy concoction that is pizza, there’s National Pizza Day, a whole day dedicated to this delicious Italian dish. On Feb. 9, you have a legitimate excuse to eat as much pizza as humanly possible — and no one can judge you for it.

Whether you’re a deep-dish lover or more of a wood-oven-fired fan, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to pizza pie. Plus, creative Colorado chefs are coming up with some pretty unique flavor combinations, using ingredients like tender belly bacon and kale, just to name a few.

Here are nine freebies, deals and events along the Front Range to help you celebrate National Pizza Day.

Denver Pizza Company

If the thought of beer-battered dough makes your mouth start watering, you might want to check out Denver Pizza Company, a popular, 100 percent wind-powered pizza joint that’s been around since 2009. The folks there make both thin-crust pizza and a Colorado-style deep dish, so no matter what your crust preferences are, they’ve got you covered. (There is also a tasty gluten-free pizza on the menu!) In honor of National Pizza Day, Denver Pizza is offering free bacon jalapeño popper breadsticks with the purchase of any large or extra large pizza. Denver Pizza Company, 309 W. 11th Ave., Denver, 720-475-1471, denverpizzaco.com.

Peel Handcrafted Pizza

Peel Handcrafted Pizza in Frederick will give you a free craft beer, wine pour or cocktail when you order one of its special pizzas on National Pizza Day. Options include the pepperoni rustica and the nduja (made with spicy nduja sausage, red onion, basil and whole-milk mozzarella), as well as a few others. Peel Handcrafted Pizza, 214 5th St., Frederick, 303-484-9702, peelhandcraftedpizza.com.

MORE PIZZA: From Chicago deep dish to Brooklyn-style, here’s where to find the best regional pizzas in Denver

Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta

Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta is offering two-topping large pizzas for just $20 on National Pizza Day. To get this deal, you must order online and from a participating location, so be sure to call ahead to see if your local Anthony’s is running this special. There are more than 20 Anthony’s locations along the Front Range serving up New York-style pizzas. Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta, various locations, anthonyspizzaandpasta.com.

Mici

If you order a 16-inch pizza from any of Colorado’s Mici locations on National Pizza Day, you can get a bottle of house wine or any four beers for just $13. To take advantage of this deal, you have to dine in at the restaurant. Choose from pinot grigio, primitivo red, Peroni, Fat Tire or Coors Light. Mici has five locations in the Denver metro area, plus a sixth coming soon in Parker. Mici, various locations, miciitalian.com.

OAK at fourteenth

For a little something different, head to OAK at fourteenth in Boulder, where executive chef Steve Redzikowski is cooking up late-night pizzas for one night only. Redzikowski has been experimenting with wood-oven-fired pizzas for 18 months, using 100 percent naturally leavened dough fermented for 72 hours. From 10 p.m. to midnight on National Pizza Day, you can taste five of his delicious concoctions for $11-$12, including The Steverino, made with OAK sausage, kale, olives and roasted garlic. There will also be beer, wine and cocktail specials, plus small plates. OAK at fourteenth, 1400 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-3622, oakatfourteenth.com.

Pilot Flying J

Pilot Flying J decided to combine its celebrations for the Super Bowl and National Pizza Day into one epic week of freebies. All you have to do to get a totally free slice of pizza at Pilot Flying J (there are six locations in Colorado) is download its app Feb. 3-10. If it’s your first time using the app, you can also receive a free drink. There are a wide variety of toppings available, including mega meatball. Pilot Flying J, various locations, pilotflyingj.com.

Hops & Pie

Visit Hops & Pie from noon to 11 p.m. on National Pizza Day for the OG Whales of Craft Beer Fest, featuring beers like the Kentucky Breakfast Stout from Founders Brewing Co. and Pliny The Elder from Russian River, among others. It’s also celebrating a new Detroit-style pizza it has recently debuted. Hops & Pie, 3920 Tennyson St., Denver, 303-477-7000, hopsandpie.com.

5030 Local

On National Pizza Day from 2 to 11 p.m., you can get a sneak peek inside 5030 Local, a new brewery, music venue and restaurant in Loveland. It’s a collaboration between Peel Handcrafted Pizza and Berthoud Brewing, so you know it’s going to be good. There will be pizzas like the fungo, made with a rotating blend of seasonal mushrooms, and the B.P.J., made with pickled jalapeños and tender belly bacon. 5030 Local, 1480 Cascade Ave., Loveland, 970-775,2235, 5030local.com.

Parry’s Pizzeria & Bar

When you visit the Parry’s Pizzeria & Bar location in Johnstown between now and Feb. 10, you’ll get a sealed envelope with a prize inside in honor of its one-year anniversary and National Pizza Day. Inside, you could find tickets to a Nuggets game, a VIP brewery tour at New Belgium and Odell, free pizza for a year or other prices. There will also be balloon artists, face painters and food and drink specials. Parry’s Pizzeria & Bar, 4874 Thompson Parkway, Johnstown, (970) 541-1775, parryspizza.com/locations/johnstown.

No excuses: Here are 20 Valentine’s Day dining options along the Front Range

No matter who your Valentine is this year — a spouse, girlfriend, dad, kid, BFF, lobster risotto — the absolute best way to show them just how much they’re loved is with food.

That is probably why Valentine’s Day is the second-busiest day of the year for dining out. (Mother’s Day is first, in case you’re curious.) Restaurants, of course, know this, and they’re putting their hearts and souls into creating special menus to ensure you and your date (or, heck, just you) have a memorable meal worthy of your affection.

Here are some of the most enticing and creative Valentine’s Day menus at restaurants around town — because flowers die and cards get recycled, but that flourless chocolate cake will attach itself to your body forever.

(Note: Reservations were still available for all restaurants at the time of this writing, but it’s a Valentine’s Day jungle out there, so call soon!)

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably not kicking lobster mac and cheese out of bed. Shanty Supper Club’s Valentine’s menu offers that and more things that you won’t kick out of bed, like strawberry champagne soup, shrimp scampi, crème brûlée and a free bottle of wine. From $50/person. 1033 E. 17th Ave., Denver, 303-830-6637; shantysupperclub.com 

 

Love is a many-splendored thing at Ocean Prime DTC, and by “many-splendored” we mean Alaskan king crab gnocchi topped with roasted sea bass and champagne cream. More splendid dishes and cocktails await on the restaurant’s indulgent V-Day menu. 8000 E. Belleview Ave., Greenwood Village, 303-552-3000; ocean-prime.com

It’s impossible not to fall in love with someone over queso fundido. Nomad Taqueria + Beer Garden is exploiting that cheesy love potion with its $35/person, three-course meal that includes the queso, plus ancho chile-rubbed tenderloin and watermelon tequila sorbet to boot. 18485 W. Colfax, Golden (Origin Hotel Red Rocks), 303-215-2511; omadredrocks.com

More Valentine’s Day: 
Galentines and ” Goonies”: 12 Valentine’s Day events for singles in Denver and Boulder
Cheap Valentine’s Day ideas, BOGO froyo and more Denver-area deals you can score in February

Vegan valentines will fall for Charcoal Bistro’s five-course, $65/person vegan dinner on the 13th. With smoked eggplant “caviar,” black truffles and shiitake mushroom toast, there will be no missing the meat. On Valentine’s Day proper, the restaurant will feature a more traditional menu (also $65/person) with scallops and steak. 1028 S. Gaylord St., Denver, 303-953-8718; charcoalbistro.com

Fate will bring you and Courier’s passion fruit bombe together on Valentine’s Day. Thanks, Fate! The $50/person menu also includes oysters Rockefeller, French onion soup and wagyu steak Diane. Fate is also giving you a complimentary glass of champagne, because Fate is sweet like that. 1750 Welton St., Denver, 303-603-4171; courierrestaurant.com

Besides being patient and kind, love is also hearts of palm, salmon collars and black and white hand-made chitarra pasta. Or at least it is at The Bindery. And while love may not envy, you certainly will if you miss the restaurant’s four-course, $85/person menu. 1817 Central St., Denver, 303-993-2364; thebinderydenver.com

Value and V-Day don’t always go together, but Acova is giving couples a free half bottle of wine and appetizer with the purchase of two entrees. Because thrifty equals sexy. 3651 Navajo St., Denver, 303-736-2718; acovarestaurant.com

Spice up your night with Comida’s three-course, $50/person menu. The sweet corn bisque with habanero bacon and diced coconut cake with cayenne chocolate are sure to heat things up. 3350 Brighton Blvd. at The Source, 303-296-2747; eatcomida.com

Lovestruck carnivores will want to meat up (oh, snap!) at Fogo de Chao. Not only will you get to stuff yourselves silly with all the grilled meats you can eat, but if you dine between Feb. 14-17 you’ll also get a card for another free meal. That means even more meat! Could anything be more romantic? 1513 Wynkoop St., Denver, 303-623-9600 and 8419 Park Meadows Center Drive, Lone Tree, 303-481-4001; fogodechao.com

If carbs are your love language, Chow Morso Osteria has you covered with its four-course, $65/person Buon San Valentino menu. Choose among pasta with rabbit sausage, spaghetti puttanesca and burrata with ciabatta crisps, followed by Valrhona chocolate ganache cake for dessert. 1500 Wynkoop St., Denver, 720-639-4089; chowmorso.com

The Japanese word “omakase” basically means, “I trust you, chef.” Put your trust in the talented Uchi chefs and their Valentine’s Day omakase menu ($190/couple), which involves 11 courses of nigiri, oysters, king crab, wagyu beef and more. 2500 Lawrence St., Denver, 303-444-1922; uchidenver.com

A Valentine’s Day special at beast + bottle includes half of its namesake — a beast! On Thursday, the restaurant will have a dry-aged New York strip on the menu, not to mention chocolate stack cake with malted milk buttercream and hazelnut crunch. (That may not be beast nor bottle, but it sounds pretty tasty.) 719 E. 17th Ave., Denver, 303-623-3223; beastandbottle.com

If you love lobster, then Wine Experience Café & World Cellar’s four-course, $200/couple Valentine’s Day menu is right up your alley. Feast on lobster ravioli, lobster bisque and lobster with squid ink pasta. Even finish up with lobster cake! Kidding; dessert is the crustacean-free apple tart or flourless chocolate pyramid. Maybe next year … . 6240 S. Main St., Aurora, 303-690-1025; wineexperiencecafe.com

You know what they say: All’s fair in love and beef heart tartare. Or something like that. Hearth & Dram’s three-course, $59/person dinner has the heart (and the filet and the cheese plate). Be your own Valentine hero and add the whiskey pairings for $45. 1801 Wewatta St., Denver, 303-623-0979; hearthanddram.com

Citizen Rail is doing Valentine’s Day two ways — one for couples and one for singles. On the big day, lovers can order from a special three-course menu (highlights include foie gras-stuffed quail and 36-day aged ribeye). On Feb. 15, the restaurant will host a Lonely Hearts Club ’90s-themed happy hour at 10 p.m. Besides strawberry champagne Jell-O shots and Campari punch, Lonely Hearts Clubbers will score a free CD of ’90s ballads. Yes, really. 1899 16th St., Denver, 303-323-0017; citizenrail.com

All Valentine’s weekend (Feb. 14-16), Arcana is cooking up a killer, four-course, $75/person menu. Choices include lobster and grits, elk tartare and masa dumplings — and those are just the first two courses. Just imagine the possibilities for the rest. Or go to the website and see the possibilities for yourself and don’t imagine. Your choice. 909 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-444-3885; arcanarestaurant.com

For the first time in its history, California Pizza Kitchen will be serving heart-shaped pizzas. Feb. 13-17, you can eat delicious pizza-y love via any CPK pizza on a heart-shaped crust, and on V-Day you and your loved one can snag an appetizer, two entrees and dessert for $35. Various locations; cpk.com

The word “aphrodisiac” comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexual love. To celebrate her and all she arouses, FIRE at The ART hotel is hosting an aphrodisiac meal ($65/person). Set the mood with scallops and pomegranate, coffee-crusted filet mignon and cinnamon pineapple shortcake. 1201 Broadway, Denver, 303-572-8000; thearthotel.com

Jovanina’s Broken Italian knows that a little healthy competition is good for any relationship, hence its Loser Picks Up the Tab dessert. The peanut butter and chocolate tic-tac-toe bar comes with almond sugar cookie x’s and o’s so you can battle to the death (or to something a little more romantic) with your date. Besides the special dessert, Jovanina’s will also feature Valentine’s Day-themed dishes. 1520 Blake St., Denver, 720-541-7721; jovanina.com

Colorado’s resident “Top Chef” winner Hosea Rosenberg is showing you the love at his Boulder restaurant, Blackbelly. You’ll be head over heels for the $75/person, five-course tasting menu of bone marrow, truffles, scallops, chocolate and more words that cause our blood pressure to rise. 1606 Conestoga St., Boulder, 303-247-1000; blackbelly.com

Greeley’s Valentine’s Day Dining Guide

Whether you and your sweetie want fish fillet or Chick-fil-A, there are plenty of options to dine on Valentine’s Day this year.

Here are our top choices:

Kenny’s Steak House, 3502 W. 10th St., Greeley

In addition to their regular menu, Kenny’s will have a special menu from Valentine’s Day through Feb. 16. Six jumbo shrimp will be on sale for $8.95 and champagne for $4 a glass. A Valentine’s Day dinner for two is $41.95. Choose between a 10-ounce prime rib, 8-ounce sirloin, 5-ounce filet or jumbo fried shrimp. Each comes with a choice of side, soup or salad and a desert to share. Reservations are encouraged.

Meeker’s and Doubletree, 919 7th St., Greeley 

Meeker’s and the adjoining Doubletree by Hilton Greeley at Lincoln Park will host a special. From Feb. 14-16, a package for two will include an overnight stay at the hotel, a six-course dinner for two at Meeker’s and a breakfast buffet at Meeker’s. The romantic getaway costs $249.

Greeley Chophouse, 804 8th St.

The restaurant voted Greeley’s “most romantic” is offering a special Valentine’s Day seafood platter consisting of mussels, scallops, tiger shrimp and crab salad with lobster. There will also be a wine list. Reservations can be made at opentable.com.

Gourmet Grub, 2118 35th Ave.

This restaurant will feature its Valentine’s Day celebration on both Thursday and Friday. The special dinner menu will include salmon tartare, lamb, chicken and more.

Hearth Restaurant and Pub, 205 1/2 4th Street, Windsor 

Hearth will have its regular menu available plus Valentine’s Day specials on the big day.

Chimney Park, 406 Main St, Windsor

If you don’t already have reservations here, you’re probably not getting in. Chimney Park books up around Valentine’s Day two months in advance. The restaurant’s special menu comes with a warning: All of the items contain aphrodisiacs. There are oysters, French toast with strawberries, chocolate, cherries and more found in the ingredients.

Chick-fil-A, 4555 Centerplace Drive, Greeley

So this one is a bit more, uh, casual than the rest. But the fast-food chicken joint is hosting what’s promised to be an elegant evening of candlelight, flowers, table service, live music, photo opportunities and more. Reservations allow one hour for dinner. No children are permitted and it’s for couples only.

— Adam Poulisse is the go and do reporter for the Greeley Tribune. Let him know of anything fun going on in the area by calling him at (970) 392-4440 or emailing him at apoulisse@greeleytribune.com.

Weld County retail food inspections for Jan. 29 to Feb. 6, 2019

Weld County evaluates restaurants, schools, grocery stores and other facilities that handle food on a scale of five categories, from unacceptable to excellent. As part of the county's scoring index, officials evaluate facilities on factors such as cooling, reheating, cooking refrigeration and hot-holding equipment, cross-contamination between raw foods and ready-to-eat foods and employee hygiene, according to the county.

  • An "excellent" evaluation means the facility had no violations. Secondary critical and non-critical violations could exist.
  • Facilities that received a "good" evaluation could have one serious violation or one or more secondary violations.
  • A "fair" evaluation means the facility could have three serious violations or secondary violations.
  • A "marginal" evaluation means the facility could have four serious violations or secondary violations.
  • An "unacceptable" evaluation means the facility could have more than five serious violations or secondary violations. If an imminent public health hazard exists, the facility would be required to take immediate corrective action or close.

The following restaurants and facilities were evaluated from Jan. 29 to Feb. 6, 2019.

GREELEY

Feb. 5: Hampton Inn & Suites, 2350 29th St. — Good

Jan. 29: Island Grove 4-H Building, 527 15th Ave. — Excellent

Jan. 29: Island Grove Exhibition Building, 525 15th Ave. — Excellent

Feb. 5: La Michoacana Es Natural, 2088 Greeley Mall — Excellent

Jan. 29: Northridge High School Concession Stand, 100 71st Ave. — Good

Feb. 4: Qdoba Mexican Eats, 2527 11th Ave. — Fair

Jan. 29: Silver Mine Subs, 3820 10th St. — Excellent

Jan. 31: Sushi with Gusto, 5501 20th St. — Excellent

Jan. 31: Thai One, 2541 11th Ave. — Good

Feb. 4: The Blue Mug Coffee Bar, 807 17th St. — Good

Jan. 29: University Middle School Concession Stand, 1717 65th Ave. — Excellent

Jan. 30: Walmart, 3103 23rd Ave. — Excellent

EVANS

Feb. 5: Family Dollar Store, 825 31st St. — Excellent

Feb. 5: Kum & Go, 2901 37th St. — Excellent

WINDSOR

Jan. 30: KFC and A&W, 1590 Main St. — Excellent

Feb. 5: Pollos El Guero, 1293 Main St. — Fair

Jan. 30: Senor Jalapeno, 1039 Main St. — Good

Feb. 5: Sol De Jalisco Mexican Restaurant, 1345 Water Valley Parkway — Fair

Feb. 5: Stuft A Burger Bar, 1294 Main St. — Good

Feb. 5: Toast, 205 4th St. — Excellent

EATON

Jan. 31: Dollar General, 355 Elm Road — Excellent

Jan. 31: Dominos, 201 Elm Ave. — Excellent

FORT LUPTON

Feb. 1: Burrito Delight, 1230 Denver Ave. — Good

Feb. 1: Circle K, 101 Denver Ave. — Good

PIERCE

Feb. 5: Grubbyz, 206 Main St. — Excellent

Feb. 5: Highland Elementary School, 102 2nd St. — Marginal

You won’t miss the oil in this garlicky, herby shrimp and pasta dish

This old-school recipe redefines pesto you might be used to making or buying. Its liquid component is a quick broth instead of oil, which extracts maximum flavor from the shellfish and keeps the dish light-tasting.

It also affords a good opportunity to use up any leftover amounts of dried pasta shapes you have on hand — all that nubbiness works nicely with the shrimp. In testing, we used raw almonds per the original recipe; if you would rather not end up with bits of almond skin in your pesto, use whole blanched almonds or almond slivers. We recommend using cherry tomatoes here rather than grape tomatoes, because they are juicier.

The dish is a good one to make for folks in a household who eat at different times, because it tastes as great at room temperature as it does warm. Take leftovers to work the next day, and be sure to stir them up first to get all the bits evenly re-coated.

Serve with a green salad.

Pasta and Shrimp with Sicilian Pesto

Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shell-on, U.S. wild-caught shrimp (26-30 count), defrosted if frozen
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, plus 1 or 2 for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 to 16 ounces dried, short shaped pasta, such as elbow macaroni or fusilli
  • Leaves from 4 stems fresh mint
  • Leaves from 2 to 4 stems fresh basil, plus a few leaves for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 12 whole (raw) almonds (may use blanched whole or slivered almonds)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, plus more for garnish

Steps

Peel and devein the shrimp, placing the shells and tails in a medium saucepan along with the tomatoes and water. Reserve the shrimp on a plate.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook the shell mixture for 20 minutes. The tomatoes should burst or at least deflate; if they don’t, you can pierce them with tip of a sharp knife during cooking.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch or two of salt and the pasta; cook according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and return the pasta to its pot.

Strain the shrimp-tomato broth, discarding the solids. Return the broth to the small saucepan. Increase the heat to high; boil for 3 minutes, so the broth has reduced to about 1 cup (and its flavor is concentrated). Keep 1/2 cup of it in the pan, then pour off the rest (save or discard). Turn off the heat.

Finely chop the mint, basil, garlic and almonds; add to the small saucepan, along with the pine nuts. Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree into a loose, frothy sauce, adding more of the reduced broth, as needed. Taste, and season lightly with salt.

Add the reserved shrimp to the pesto sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently and frequently, just until the shrimp is just opaque and pink.

Pour the sauce and shrimp into the pot with the drained pasta, along with 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir to incorporate, adding more of the remaining pasta cooking water as needed to keep the pasta saucy. Cook over low heat, just until the pasta is warmed through.

Transfer to a large warmed serving bowl. Garnish with more pine nuts, and an extra tomato and fresh basil leaf or two.

Adapted from “Adventures From an Italian Food Lover,” by Faith Willinger (Crown, 2007).