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Pantry Raid

Dessert, version one: Kheer. Local artist Ginny Abblett's Middle Eastern rice pudding is a dead cinch.

What you need: basmati or jasmine rice (boiled with two parts water to one part rice), grated cardamom, cream, sugar, unsalted butter, saffron threads (no doubt stolen from the chef's secret stash).

How to do it: After the rice has been cooked dry, add cream (4 cups for every cup of uncooked rice), some butter, then let simmer while you do something else (like maybe make that bastilla), stirring whenever you get the chance. When volume is reduced by one-third, add sugar, cardamom and saffron. Simmer for about fifteen minutes, then transfer to small dishes and cool rapidly. For service, top with crème fraîche (and I would suggest a little nutmeg or cinnamon, too).

Dessert, version two.This offering is again from Gabriel, and since I couldn't read the dish's name on the fax, I'm going to call it "A great way to get rid of that extra case of lemons the chef accidentally ordered."

What you need: lemons, buttermilk, limoncello liqueur, cream, sugar, fresh mint leaves.

How to do it: When the chef isn't looking, take those lemons and split them in half lengthwise. Shave a little peel from the bottom so they'll sit stably on their backs. Remove pulp, cover lemon shells with plastic wrap and freeze. In a mixing bowl, combine lemon zest, juice squeezed from all that pulp, cream and buttermilk (at a two-to-one ratio), and limoncello. Add sugar (one-to-one with cream) and stir until dissolved. Cover, and stick it in the freezer. When stiff, run it through the food processor. Pulse until it forms stiff peaks. Spoon into frozen lemon shells and hold in freezer until service. Garnish with lemon zest and fresh mint leaves.

And that's it: Eight good dishes made from nothing more than the stock left sitting around in your average restaurant pantry at ten in the morning when the chef is screaming for lunch specials and the noble pantry cooks are called to the fore. Thanks to everyone who sent in entries, and you winners are in for a treat that I have yet to determine. Now, from all of us here at the Bite Me HQ test kitchen, good night, and don't forget to tip your servers....

Leftovers: It's been a tough few weeks for restaurants in Denver. We recently lost the southeast outpost of Tacos Jaliscos, on Leetsdale at Forest Street, but the original location is still up and running at 4309 West 38th Avenue. And the phone at Decisions (1201 East Colfax Avenue) has been disconnected -- a pretty good sign that things have gone south. More telling is this note on the Decisions Web site: "We would like to thank all of our customers for their patronage. It was a pleasure to have you at the restaurant and we appreciate all of the support you have given all of us. We had a great time while it lasted, but now it's time for Michael and the rest of the staff to move on to new adventures. Thank you all!"

Another note, this one hung on the front door of the Beehive(609 Corona Street), is less forthcoming. It says the hive is closed while the staff and owners take their annual summer vacation -- when in actuality, they're on permanent vacation. Yup, the Beehive has closed for good. But the ownership group from Adega (1700 Wynkoop Street) has been negotiating to pick up that nice little spot just off Sixth Avenue. "I'm not going to lie to you," chef Bryan Moscatello says. "We've been talking to them. If we do indeed wind up with that space, it will be us. It'll be Adega; I'll be writing the menus and stuff, but it'll still be a casual, neighborhood kind of place."

And while things look good for that deal to go through, Adega's owners already have other irons in the fire. Beyond the LoDo restaurant that started it all (which has won more awards in its first year of business than they can probably find space for on the walls), there's also an as-yet-unnamed restaurant that will be going into the new Marriott property being built in Cherry Creek. So how will the chef handle it all? "My role, especially with Adega, is that I'll be at Adega a lot. I'll be at the Marriott a lot. But I know I can't be everywhere at once," Moscatello says. "So we've been hiring people and grooming them here."

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