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.

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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.

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

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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.

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)

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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.

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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!

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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

Hot Chocolate Bar: Where Dreams Come True and Reindeer Fly

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“Self-serve” does not just apply to gas stations, you know. Parties that include a self-service component (all or some) make a lot of sense because 1: guests are more comfortable when they can eat and drink what they want, when they want, and 2: because your hostess hands are not bogged down in the kitchen; you can hold a glass of champagne and a cupcake which is much easier than if you try to balance both with one hand (I have tried this, sadly, more than once. It doesn’t end well. And people judge.)

Epicurean Group started doing stationed-catering waaayy before Pinterest was born. We practically invented DIY food and beverage stations. Sadly, we did not invent Pinterest. If we did, we would be sitting on a private beach and someone would feeding us grapes, which is the opposite of self-serve.

We have done lot of stations in our years in Denver. Yes, it’s true the 80s were all about The Pasta Bar, but we’ve grown. Oh how we’ve grown.

If I were asked to rate our station celebrations, I would put the mashed potato one at the top. But I was not asked to rate them. I was just asked to write. But it is hard to write when I am practically starving and mashed potatoes sound pretty good right now. Just saying.

Guests seem to delight in an area that is set for one distinct purpose. This, among other reasons, is why bars are still in business. You, too, can create your own holiday eats and drinks stations for friends and family. This year, we thought we’d treat you to a few station ideas on the topic of stations. (We were going to write one lovely little blog on these ideas, but there’s just too much to tackle. And sample.) So, first up: The Hot Chocolate Bar:

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The Hot Chocolate Station – Where Dreams Comes True and Reindeers Fly 

Ingredients :

  • Hot Cocoa Mix (you can make your own like we do at Epi, but c’mon, don’t get crazy at home)
  • Toppers for All*
  • Mix-Ins for Some
  • Mugs or Paper Cups
  • Stir Sticks and Straws
  • Napkins
  • Hot Milk or Hot Water
  • Extras

*Topper Ideas (notice the word ‘ideas’ here – add or subtract what ever floats your marshmallow):

  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Peppermint Sticks
  • Butterscotch Chips
  • Marshmallows (or those darling snowman peeps!)
  • Chocolate Sprinkles
  • Whipped Topping

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For the adult crowd only:

  • Rum
  • Kahlua
  • Peppermint Schnapps
  • Baileys
  • Flavored Vodkas (Smirnoff’s Marshmallow or Whipped Vodka work well with hot cocoa. Or ice. Or straight out of the bottle if you are dealing with small children or out-of-town guests. Or out-of-town guests who have small children.)

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Directions:

  • Place hot chocolate or hot water in an insulated carafe
  • Place mix-ins and toppings in clear glass containers, white paper bags or any other small containers that hiding in the recesses of your pantry. Or head to IKEA or the dollar store and invest in a few inexpensive stemless wine glasses – they come in handy for this idea and others. Like wine.
  • Add stir sticks, straws, mugs and liquors
  • Print out some labels or write some of your own (I use paint sample cards and a hole puncher)
  • Enjoy

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Tune in next week for our next station blog!

 

 

 submitted by Stephanie Blackford

 

Putting It All On The Table: Delicious Decorating Ideas

 

Cinnamon sticks smell so good...nobody will notice you burned Christmas goose...

Cinnamon sticks smell so good…nobody will notice you burned Christmas goose…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Isn’t that how the song goes? We should know, considering the Christmas music starts earlier and earlier. I, for one, love all things holiday, except the wine stains on the carpet and the required weight gain (I am a certified expert at both – we all have our special talents).

After spending many years in the catering and event planning business, combined with my many years of overcommitting to social engagements that seem to always be at my house, I can set a table in my sleep. Well, not sleep per se, but bleary-eyed zombie-like state from too little rest and too many quality checks of the margaritas during the party prep. I never learn. Does tequila really go with stuffing prep or potato peeling? I say yes. Martha Stewart would be appalled, but Martha had three fewer children than I, and she has a driver, so I am right.

If anyone can pull together a beautiful table, it’s Epicurean. Why? Because Larry DiPasquale is a perfectionist and was born with incomparable taste.

Not that we have to set a gorgeous table, because once Epicurean’s food arrives and the wine is poured, we could be serving our fare on cafeteria trays and everyone would still be happy. It’s that good. I’ve told you about the risotto, right?

Anyway, table settings need not be fancy or frilly, but they do need to be pretty and functional. Here’s a sneak peek to some stunning but simple tablescapes that won’t have you reaching for the tequila.

Fresh rosemary adds just enough green to a simple tablescape.

Fresh rosemary adds just enough green to a simple tablescape.

 

Use a painter's dropcloth as a tablecloth - so inexpensive you won't feel guilty throwing it out at the end of dinner.

Don’t want a bare table? Use a painter’s dropcloth as a tablecloth or cut them into napkins – it’s so inexpensive you won’t feel guilty throwing everything out at the end of dinner.

 

Feeling bold? Break out of the green and red tradition and go for a more modern palette.

Feeling bold? Break out of the green and red tradition and go for a more modern palette.

 

 

...or deck out your table in creamy white.

…or deck out your table in creamy white.

 

Vintage decor is always in style. This DIY centerpiece would be a fun take-away for guests.

Vintage decor is always in style. This DIY centerpiece would be a fun take-away for guests. I just noticed similar ornaments at West Elm – so cute!

 

This menorah makes a Hanukah table even more special.

This sweet menorah makes a Hanukah table even more special.

 

Cleaned-up tin cans covered with blue paper celebrate the Hanukah season.

Cleaned-up tin cans covered with blue paper celebrate the Hanukah season.

Old song sheets makes forks more festive!

Old song sheets makes forks more festive!

Greenery isn't just for mistletoe.

Greenery isn’t just for mistletoe.

Gold accents paired with chalkboard paint keep this look from being too frilly.

Gold accents paired with earthy add-ons keep this look from being too frilly.

Dig out an old Scarbble game and use the pieces for a cheeky design.

Dig out an old Scarbble game and use the pieces for a cheeky design.

This plaid screams cozy holiday. A tartan throw used for nights by the fire turns a table into something special.

This plaid screams cozy holiday. A tartan throw used for nights by the fire turns a table into something special.

Family photographs ups the aaawww factor.

Family photographs ups the aaawww factor.

Holiday books get an elevated status when built into a funky Christmas tree.

Holiday books get elevated status when built into a funky Christmas tree.

Add a spring of something green (and not poisonous) to your stemware. This quick decoration adds some personality to the table and a new spin on cocktails. Try lavender or a small skewer of cranberries.

Add a spring of something green (and not poisonous) to your stemware. This photo is clearly for decoration only, but by using something edible, you can add some personality to the table and a new spin on cocktails. Try lavender or a small skewer of cranberries.

Easy, Now. (Or Later? Why Soup is Good For the Busy Soul)

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You can find recipes for the perfect turkey everywhere. And anyone can build a great day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich (hint: it’s all about the mayo), but when you are staring back at that gigantic leftover … uh…carcass, you might be tempted to toss it out and just cut yourself an oversized slice of apple pie.

Don’t. I mean don’t throw out the turkey. Go ahead with the pie. But that leftover turkey makes some of the best soup of the year; and even if you are turkeyed-out, you can pop this easy soup into the freezer for a weeknight dinner that’s both hearty and healthy. Plus, this recipe can easily be modified for the gluten free crowd out there – simply swap out the pasta for rice, and the white flour for almond flour.

Epicurean’s Now Or Later Turkey Soup

Prep time: 25 minutes | Cook time: approximately 1.5 hours | Servings: 10-12

Ingredients:

  • Large turkey carcass (it’s such an unappetizing word but…)
  • 5 quarts cold water
  • 1 cup celery cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6-7 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 4 cups fine egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup flour

Directions:

  • Place turkey carcass, water, celery, onion, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper in a large stock pot
  • Heat to boiling; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour
  • Remove the turkey, place on a platter and let cool
  • Add the parsley, peas, carrots and pasta
  • Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile, pull meat from bones and return meat to soup pot
  • Add liquid if needed (either water or chicken stock, taste to check seasoning)
  • Heat to boiling; cook uncovered for 10 minutes
  • Melt butter in a small frying pan; stir in flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the flour browns
  • Slowly stir the flour mixture into the boiling soup
  • When the soup returns to a boil reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes

I keep a couple of boxes of cornbread mix in my pantry at all times so that if I am desperate and the cupboards are bare, I have an entire meal at the ready – soup in the freezer and cornbread from a box makes me almost as happy as apple pie.

 

 

 

 

 

submitted by Stephanie Blackford

Keeping Score at Sports Authority Field at Mile High

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Obviously Peyton Manning and the Broncos team garners LOTS of attention on game day; and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But what happens before, during and after the game for our own Epicurean/Broncos team is something to brag about. If we were the type to brag, that is.

We’ve been the exclusive premier concessionaire at SAF for over 20 years. That’s a lot of football. It’s also a lot of work. And a LOT of fun. What does it take to make game day a winner (at least off the field – we can only do SO much!)? Well, the numbers don’t lie:

  • 1800 pounds of prime rib, tenderloin, strip loin, turkeys and rotisserie chickens (all leftovers are donated to We Don’t Waste) to feed guests in –
  • 133 suites during each game which leads to the clean up of over –
  • 600 hotel pans and –
  • 1000 sheet pans which are par for the course for our –
  • 150 employees on site each game day; they can often be found in our  –
  • 1450 square feet of walk in refrigerator storage – the envy of every chef that’s every seen it. We use every single inch during the busy season which includes –
  • 220 special events including corporate parties and weddings. To get geared up we spend –
  • 3 weeks of traveling nationally and internationally during the off season, allowing our chefs and leadership team to research new trends. And by ‘research; we mean eat and drink our way across the globe. Not a bad gig. By sampling foods in different regions of the country, we can customize game day menus to reflect the opposing team. Think fish tacos when we play the San Diego Chargers; fried ravioli for the St. Louis Rams. Tackling all of this takes –
  • Unlimited amounts of energy and stamina to tackle the 1.7 million square feet of space at the stadium which seats over 76,000 fans, not including us – the biggest fans you’ll find.