No Summer is Complete without a Peach & Almond Slab Pie! Plus More of our Favorite Summertime Recipes!

We’ve rounded up some of the best recipes for when the weather is warm and our garden is lush! Here’s a few favorites from Asian Cucumber Salad to Strawberry Watermelon Agua Fresca that you can make at home today!

StrawberryWatermelonAquaFresca

STRAWBERRY WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA

Ingredients
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
2 mint sprigs, plus more for garnish
1’’ piece of ginger, peeled & sliced thinly or grated
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
2 cups strawberries, hulled & cut in half
pinch kosher salt
ice
chilled sparkling water
crystallized ginger for garnish {optional}
vodka {optional}

makes 8 drinks

Preparation

Heat sugar & water in saucepan over medium heat until dissolved. Remove from heat, add mint, ginger & salt. Place in refrigerator to chill. Remove & discard ginger & mint.

Puree syrup & fruit in blender, pour over ice & top with sparkling water.

Garnish with a sprig of mint or a skewer of crystallized ginger.

Adults
A splash of vodka is a great addition for a refreshing adult cocktail.

GreenBeans_SalumiVinaigrette

GREEN BEANS WITH SALUMI VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients
1 garlic clove
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp ground coriander
6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
pinch kosher salt
1 lb green beans, trimmed
6 oz salumi, sliced thinly

serves 6

Preparation

Blend garlic, vinegar, paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice & coriander in a blender on high.

Scrape down sides as needed, until very smooth. With the motor running, slowly add 4 Tbsp olive oil & 2 Tbsp water & blend until combined. Season to taste with kosher salt.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans & cook, tossing often, until tender & browned in spots, 10-12 minutes.

Top warm beans with vinaigrette base & sliced salumi.

_untitled_ 129 - Version 2 (1)

ASIAN CUCUMBER SALAD

Ingredients
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
½ tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 lb english cucumber
1 Tbsp scallions, sliced on the bias
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp pickled white ginger
1 – 4 tsp jalapeño, seeded & minced
1 Tbsp black & white toasted sesame seeds

serves 4

Preparation

Mix rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar & salt in a bowl with a whisk until well incorporated.

Slice cucumber as thinly as desired, with a knife, mandolin or vegetable peeler.

No more than ½ hour before serving, mix all salad ingredients well. Adjust heat by using more diced jalapeños. Season to taste. Right before serving, garnish with sesame seeds.

SouthwestPork_SweetPotato

SOUTHWESTERN PORK STUFFED SWEET POTATO

Ingredients
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 lbs pork shoulder, diced into 2″ cubes
3 tsp ground cumin, toasted
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried mexican oregano
to taste kosher salt & pepper
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp garlic, granulated
dash of cinnamon
¼ cup gluten free soy sauce
½ cup pineapple juice
1 cup pork or chicken stock
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
5 medium sweet potatoes, skin on, scrubbed

serves 5

Preparation

Place the sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix all dry ingredients together, rub pork with seasoning, adding any left over bits to the slow cooker. Layer pork & pineapple on top of onions, add liquid, turn on low & let slow cook all day or at least 8 hours.

One hour before serving, prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork & place in 350° F oven to roast.

Remove pork from pot. It should shred easily using two forks. Discard any large chunks of fat.

Cut a slit in the top of the potatoes, creating an opening. Place warm pork mixture inside & top with garnishes
as desired.

PeachAlmond_SlabPie

PEACH & ALMOND SLAB PIE

Ingredients
3 palisade peaches
¼ cup granulated sugar {more as needed}
pinch kosher salt
1 orange, zested & juiced
¼ cup almonds, sliced & toasted
splash almond extract
splash vanilla extract
1 tsp cornstarch
1 pkg refrigerated pie crust {or make your own, use julia child’s recipe!}
handful all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp water or milk
1 cup heavy cream

serves 6

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash, pit & slice peaches into 12 slices {You can blanch & peel peaches if you’d like, but we think the skins add fiber & a rustic touch to the dish}.

Mix sugar, kosher salt & cornstarch together. Add to peaches, orange zest & juice, almonds & almond extract. Test to see if peaches are sweet enough, if not, add more sugar.

On floured surface, roll out pie crust to a rough 12’’x10’’ rectangle. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Decoratively arrange peach slices over dough, leaving 2’’ border. Arrange butter slices on top of peaches. Fold edges of crust up over peaches, pinch as necessary.

Whisk egg & milk, then brush over visible crust. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes or so until crust is cooked & peaches are tender. Cool slightly before serving.

While pie is baking, whip cream with a pinch of sugar & kosher salt. Serve whipped cream with slice of slab pie.

Innovation Chef, Jenna Johansen Shares a Family Favorite for National Applesauce Cake Day

(Photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com )

(Photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com )

In honor of National Applesauce Cake Day on June 6th, Innovation Chef, Jenna Johansen shares one of her all-time favorite family recipes with us.

One of my absolute favorite summertime sweets to make is chocolate applesauce cake. I love our handed-down family recipe; moist and delicious, and I usually always have the ingredients on hand. This version needs no frosting, so it travels easily and sits on a picnic bench perfectly, which is just what a hot summer day calls for.

I have fond memories of my mother making it often as a kid and we never had leftovers for long because everyone loves it! This version came from my Great Grandma Pearl, handed-down over generations. Today, she is 106 years old, living in Fargo, North Dakota. Maybe applesauce cake has more benefits to it than just good taste!

I like to pick the chocolate chips off the top. As I was growing up and doing a lot of the baking, I would use WAY more than the specified 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and you may want to, too!

Applesauce first came into vogue during World War I and the Great Depression when many rations were scarce. Now, I think of applesauce as being the perfect use for the fallen apples from our tree. I just peel, cook and puree to have my own homemade applesauce, so easy and simple.

P.S. This recipe pairs perfectly with corn on the cob, deviled eggs, cold beer, potato salad and anything that’s cooked on the grill!

My Mom’s Chocolate Applesauce Cake

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs cocoa {I love the baking cocoas from Savory Spice}
1 can of applesauce
2 unbeaten eggs
2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Topping:
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips {my mom uses semi-sweet but I like to use milk chocolate}

Directions:
Mix all cake ingredients well.
Pour into a greased 9″x13″ cake pan.
Sprinkle the top with topping ingredients {I always add more chocolate chips}.
Bake 350 F for 30-40 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Epicurean’s Larry DiPasquale Granted Honorary Doctorate from Johnson & Wales University

0C1A0518

Larry DiPasquale, founder and chief executive officer of Denver’s most well established Epicurean Group, received an honorary Doctor of Business Administration in Food Service Entrepreneurship from Johnson & Wales University (JWU).

JWU is one of Denver’s premier, private institutions serving more than 1300 students from all 50 states and 8 countries; students prepping for careers in the food, travel and business markets.  DiPasquale has served on JWU’s President’s Council for 10 years is proud to have many graduates in upper management on his team.

DiPasquale launched what would be known as Epicurean Group in 1984, after moving to Denver from California with his wife, Jill. Epicurean Group has since grown to a multi-million dollar company acting as exclusive caterer for The Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Palazzo Verdi and SoCo Clubs. DiPasquale, along with his business partner, Sharon Magness Blake, opened their first restaurant, Mangia Bevi Café, in 2008, to rave reviews. DiPasquale and Epicurean continue to receive many awards, including being named as one of the Top 25 Caterers in the World by Special Events Magazine, Visit Denver’s Tourism Hall of Fame inductee, and Colorado Meetings & Events Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Still, DiPasquale’s greatest reward is serving the Denver community; DiPasquale and his Epicurean Street Cuisine food truck can be found several times a month downtown, feeding the hungry and needy.

DiPasquale, along with Richard Sandoval of Richard Sandoval Restaurants, received the award at JWU’s graduation, on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at the Colorado Convention Center’s Bellco Theater. DiPasquale’s family, including his 81 year-old Italian father, step-mother, wife, and daughter, who inspired his love for food and friends and family, were in attendance.

Larry with his wife, Jill and daughter, Christina.

Larry with his wife, Jill and daughter, Christina.

Epicurean is an organization that has grown to become one of the top catering and special event companies in the world, winning over 20 local and national awards.  Dr.  DiPasquale, along with his executive team of Greg Karl and Paul Aylmer have set the benchmark as Denver’s catering, restaurant, and venue group.

Happy Hummus Day!

_untitled_ 69 - Version 2#BAEB

To commemorate National Hummus Day, we’re sharing a healthy and delicious Roasted Red Pepper Hummus recipe created by our Executive Chef at Sports Authority Field, Nikki Olst.

 “We love this in the kitchen for a number of reasons; the touch of spice and tang from the roasted red peppers, how easy it comes together, and it goes great with everything!”

-Nikki Olst, Executive Chef at Sports Authority Filed

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Yields 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes {includes 30 minutes of chill time}

Ingredients
1 {15.5 oz.} can chickpeas, rinsed
¼ cup roasted red peppers
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
¾ tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions
Process all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, about 45 seconds.  Transfer to a serving bowl & chill until the flavors have blended, at least 30 minutes.  Serve cold with assorted crackers, tasty veggies & pita bread.

5 Filters to Help You Snap the Perfect Food Pic on Instagram

Last month we hosted a two-day, all out photo shoot to showcase some of the great recipes Epicurean Group will be releasing this fall. We were very fortunate to be able to work with an extremely talented freelance photographer, Laurie Smith for the third year in a row!  Lauries’ specialties are food and travel and she’s absolutely incredible. Visit her website if you can! (lauriesmithphoto.com)

_untitled_ 265_untitled_ 25

Often when you see a great photo, you stop and admire the beauty but fail to consider the amount of work that went into creating the shot. I am here to tell you firsthand, it’s A LOT of work! From planning the recipes, to preparing the food and selecting the props, there’s much work to be done. Luckily we had our Inspiration & Celebrity Chef, Jenna Johansen available to guide the way.

IMG_1485

Jenna had a clear vision in mind which was extremely helpful considering we were pressed for time. I’m sure you’ve heard of the clever tricks companies use to market their food such as using glue instead of real milk which can have a blueish hue to it. If you’ve ever eaten a Lean Cuisine before, you know that the photo on the outside of the box doesn’t even begin to resemble what’s actually inside. For our shoot, we didn’t use any of those tricks. We used actual, real food and because of that, timing was everything. Capturing the frothy foam on an espresso is an art form and must be done within a certain time frame before it melts away. Same goes for freshly cracked eggs.

Once we got the final pictures back from Laurie, we were ecstatic! While it might have been a grueling process, the final product was well worth the effort!

_untitled_ 103 - Version 2 (1)

For all of you amature food photographers such as myself that love to post #foodporn on Instagram, here are five filters you can use to make your food pictures more appetizing:

1. Amaro

This setting will brighten a dark photo, which could be helpful if you’re taking a pic in a dimly lit restaurant or bar. But if you’re documenting your kitchen adventures, this could make your meal look like it was cooked under florescent lighting–or worse–in a cafeteria.

2. Rise

Rise adds a soft glow to any image. It is forgiving when documenting anything with a blemish. For example, the fruit salad you made with the banana you forgot to pack in your lunch last week, but are too cheap to toss out. However, if you are indulging in a vibrantly colored dish, why mute its colors?

3. X-Pro 11, Lo-Fi, and Hefe

Have a photo that’s in need of some drama? All of these filter could work. If used on images of crispy cheese or baked goods, you’ll have your viewers drooling. These filters, though, may be a bit much with photos that are already full of depth and color. We don’t want your food looking like it came out of a Little Tikes play kit.

4. Earlybird

Want to give your food pic a vintage feel? This is the filter for you. Afraid of making your dish look like it should have been thrown out weeks ago? Maybe avoid this….

5. Brannan

Perfect when in need of some sharpening and contrast. Brannan will define the photo you blurred while trying to balance your spatula, frying pan, small child, and camera. However, this does add a metallic and muted tint; if you are working with vibrant colors, it could dull down your image.

Peters, Jolie (2013, November 20). Best and Worst Instagram Filters for Food Porn (Martha, Please Take Note) [Blog post]. Retrieved from: http://www.epicurious.com/archive/blogs/editor/2013/11/instagram-filter-blog.html

To Celebrate Earth Day: 5 Ways to Save Food at Home from Going to Waste

earth-day-22986156

While today officially marks Earth Day, at Epicurean Group we believe it’s important to celebrate the environment every day which is why we use a number of green practices in our kitchens daily. By creating partnerships with organizations like We Don’t Waste and Rocky Mountain Sustainable Enterprises, more than 90% of our annual waste output is recycled. Last year at Sports Authority Field at Mile High we donated 63,364 servings of unused food to people in need and we provide approximately 500lbs of scrap food to the Alpine Waste & Recycling Compost program each week.  We’re also recognized as a Colorado Proud company for souring locally and have a Bronze Level certification from the Environmental Leadership Program.

DSC_7234 480375_567522576609253_2095999269_n

Did you know that the average American household wastes $1,600 a year on food that gets tossed in the trash? Not only is wasted food bad for the pocket book but once it hits the landfill, the spoiled food releases methane gas which has been linked to global warming. Yikes!

11150300_10152976955588580_8252414926646966057_n

Here are 5 Ways to You Can Save Food at Home from Going to Waste:

    1. Make a Plan & Stick to it! –Before going to the grocery store, write a list keeping in mind if you have any plans throughout the week that may prevent you from cooking at home. Buy only what you intend to use and cut recipes in half for fewer servings. Look to the meat counter, bakery and bulk food bins where you have the ability to choose the quantity you buy opposed to prepackaged goods.
    2. Start a Compost-Create healthy and fertile soil for your garden by decomposing unused food scraps. To learn more about composting and how you can do this at home, click here.
    3. Repurpose Your Leftovers-Did you know you can make homemade broths using leftover meat bones that are loaded with health benefits? Bacon grease can also be saved and added to virtually any vegetable to give the flavor an extra boost!
    4. Just Freeze It! –Lots of meat and produce can be frozen and used at a later date. During meal prep, freeze and store portions to be used later on. This will save on those busy days when there’s no time to cook!
    5. Donate Unused Food-Many local food banks and shelters accept canned and non-perishable goods. Check with local churches and food banks for more information.

(*Sources cited: http://www.epa.gov/foodrecovery/)

 

Epicurean Sports Featured at Flavors of Denver 2015

Nikki

Chef Nikki and Juan getting ready for Flavors.

Last night our very own chef, Nikki Olst, Executive Chef at Sports Authority Field at Mile High was invited along with a few other top local chefs to prepare a multicourse dinner to help fund the research, education & advocacy efforts of the American Liver Foundation.

The event, Flavors, was held at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum and showcased signature dishes from culinary experts beyond traditional restaurant fare and encouraged guests to “unleash their inner foodie.”

“I’m truly overwhelmed by how grateful I am to be apart of this culinary world! The passion and drive I witnessed tonight was very special; it’s not everyday we get to step out from behind the curtain (or shall I say stove) to cook tableside for 10 guests.”

-Chef Nikki Olst, Executive Chef at Sports Authority Field at Mile High

One course Chef Nikki was particularly excited about preparing was the faux oysters, a dish that consists of oyster lettuce, ginger prosecco mignonette, apple chip & fig. Nikki was introduced to oyster lettuce on a recent trip to Napa.

Overall, the event was a great success and everyone including Nikki had a great time!

DSC_0008

Untitled-1