Recipe Wednesday: Molasses barbecue sauce

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Whitney Arris

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

"It may not be summer just yet, but here at Marczyk Fine Foods, we're full-swing into outdoor cooking season, and that means we're ready to start grilling, smoking and barbecue-saucing everything we can," says Ariss. Now, she adds, "is officially the time to cook and eat al fresco."

To that end, says Ariss, "we wanted to feature a simple, multi-purpose, homemade barbecue sauce, because, well, homemade sauce just can't be beat, plus it's easy to put together." The sugars and spices, she notes, are often higher quality when you purchase the ingredients separately, "and your family and friends will be super impressed, which is always a nice bonus," she adds. Her barbecue sauce, which she tweaked from a Food & Wine magazine recipe, "yields a spicy, sticky and sweet result that's pretty perfect as an all-purpose barbecue sauce but works particularly well with grilled or smoked chicken and ribs," she says.

"We love using Traina sundried tomato ketchup instead of the regular stuff to add an unexpected depth to the flavor of the sauce," notes Ariss, adding that "the beauty of barbecue is that you can make it your own, so douse it with way more hot sauce if you like it spicy, or add a few more cloves of garlic if stinky breath is your thing." Just make sure to make enough for everybody, because Ariss promises that people go grabby for the stuff.

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Ramp and morel omelet


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Recipe Wednesday: Ramp and morel omelet

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Whitney Ariss

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

Spring ingredients, sadly, are already starting to dwindle, and now is most definitely the time to stock up on things like morels and ramps while you can still find them in the produce section of Denver markets. "Luckily, these two harbingers of spring taste really great together," says Ariss. "Morels, thanks to their delicate, nutty flavor, are allowed to shine against the gentle garlic flavor of cooked ramps," she adds. And to really accentuate the woodsy flavor of the morels, Ariss suggests serving them with "other mild, creamy or starchy things like polenta, pasta or in an omelet," the latter of which makes an elegant breakfast or brunch pleaser. Just keep in mind that morels can be toxic when they're raw, so be sure to cook them before you take a bite.

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate crackles


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Recipe Wednesday: Challah French toast

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Whitney Ariss

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

"All of us at Marczyk's are devoting the entire month of May to everybody's favorite in-between meal: brunch," says Ariss. "Between National Cook Brunch for Mom Day, aka Mother's Day, and the spring weather putting us all in the mood to do some day drinking, we thought it seemed appropriate."

And while brunch can be as simple as a plate of fresh eggs and fat slabs of bacon, the crew at Marczyk's is obsessed with challah, and when there's challah, there's French toast. "You can make French toast out of just about any bread you like, but you'll never quite reach French toast euphoria until you try making it with challah," insists Ariss. "We bake our big, fluffy, beautiful loaves at Marczyk's using local, organic flour and fresh eggs, and when it's sliced nice and thick, our challah has the perfect texture for absorbing batter, and the slices cook up light, spongy and toothsome," she adds.

Her recipe, which appeals to adults and kids, also leaves plenty of room for creativity. "You can add other flavor elements to the batter, like cinnamon, grated lemon zest or whiskey if you're feeling sassy," says Ariss. And if your idea of brunch really is bacon and eggs, feel free to crown your toast with both. "I top mine off with a generous drizzle of really good maple syrup, like Slopeside syrup from Vermont, and a little pat of butter, and the result is brunch perfection," she promises. Just add mimosas.

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate crackles


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Photos: A delicious preview of Linger's new spring menu

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All photos by Lori Midson.

"During the winter season, we hibernate inward," says Daniel Asher, culinary director of Root Down and Linger. But spring? Spring, he counters, "represents turning outward, feeling the sunshine on our skin and setting the tone for seasonality that takes us through the rest of the year." Spring, he adds, "gives us all an opportunity to eat food with beautiful tones and colors -- food that makes us feel energized, happy and free."

And Linger is celebrating the start of spring with a new menu -- and a collaborative kitchen crew that's no longer helmed by an executive chef.

See also: Matt Selby is back on his game with renewed energy -- and a new menu -- at Central Bistro & Bar


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Recipe Wednesday: Mizuna, chevre and preserved lemon salad

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Whitney Arris

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

"One of Pete's favorite mottos is 'keep it simple, make it great,' which also might as well be the motto for this salad recipe," says Ariss. And by simple, she adds, "I don't mean store-bought dressing and a bunch of random pre-cut vegetables you happen to have in the fridge."

Simple, yes. Memorable? No. "For this salad, you want really, really good, fresh greens, and a couple other best quality ingredients, which are key, and at the markets, we have a full line of field-grown bagged salad greens from one of our favorite farms, Oxford Gardens, which is in Niwot," says Ariss. "Since the greens are grown in the biologically active and mineral rich soil, which Oxford works so hard to cultivate, they're absolutely full of flavor and nutrition," she notes.

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate crackles

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Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate crackles

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Whitney Arris

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

"Chocolate crackles are one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes, and they're super kid-friendly," says Ariss, who spent the past week baking cookies with her nieces and nephew. "Whenever I get together with the kids, we end up baking, and I like to choose recipes that let them participate and get their hands dirty, and any kind of rolled cookie is perfect for that purpose," she notes.

"I also love these cookies because they taste like brownies, but they're a little more foolproof," she says, adding that the cookies "bake up a little crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy in the center." Hint: Use the Valrhona dark chocolate cocoa powder that Marczyk's stocks for an "ultra-fudgey and bittersweet flavor."

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Chilled nettle soup with pickled fiddleheads

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Recipe Wednesday: Chilled nettle soup with pickled fiddleheads

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Whitney Ariss

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

At Marczyk's, the first signs of spring -- fiddleheads and nettles -- have arrived in the produce section. "Finally, our eating habits can come out of hibernation," says Ariss, and soon, she adds, "We'll get even more fun stuff like morels, peas and ramps."

And to celebrate these early springtime ingredients, Ariss tracked down this recipe for chilled nettle soup with pickled fiddleheads. "It's the perfect entryway into seasonal eating, because it takes advantage of some really flavorful ingredients that are usually only around for a fleeting period of time in the spring," she says, adding that the soup can be made with just about "any assortment of greens, including watercress, mizuna or even beet greens."

But if you're feeling adventurous, she encourages you to play with nettles. "Their stinging ability is enough to frighten people away," she admits, "but as long as you don't handle thee greens with your bare hands, you'll be just fine." Empty them straight from the bag into a pot of boiling water, she advises, and after five minutes, the sting diminishes. "The flavor is lovely, akin to a combination of spinach and cucumber, and adds a really unique flavor to this delicious and wholesome soup," she says.

See also: Recipe Wednesday: oven-baked bacon-and-kale chips

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Recipe Wednesday: Pickled shrimp

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Whitney Ariss

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

Fat Tuesday has come and gone, but Mardi Gras season is still in full swing, and for New Orleans-inspired recipes, Ariss turns to John Besh, the Louisiana-born celebrity chef whose restaurants have made New Orleans a celebrated culinary city.

"Pickled shrimp may seem a little strange, but I've totally fallen in love with Besh's recipe." says Ariss. "Not only is it super-easy to make, but I can think of about a million uses for ready-to-eat shrimp, including bloody Mary garnishes, shrimp salad, tacos with cabbage slaw, folded into an omelette, or just eaten straight from the jar standing in front of the open refrigerator door, which is my favorite way to eat them," admits Ariss.

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Lemony cream cheese cookies

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Sustainable seafood at Jax Fish House & Oyster -- with recipes!

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Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar is definitely in the swim when it comes to sustainability. The restaurant recently announced its partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, a program that encourages consumers, restaurants and distributors to make friendly choices for healthy oceans.

See also: Jax Fish House named one of the best seafood restaurants in the country

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Recipe Wednesday: Lemony cream cheese cookies

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Whitney Ariss

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

"Right around now is the time I start getting major spring fever, especially on a day like today when it literally feels like spring," says Ariss. But spring is still a month away (29 days, if you're counting) -- and Colorado's growing season won't peak until summer, which is why Ariss consoles her spring fever by turning to baking. "About all that you can get that's local in our stores right now is carrots, potatoes and greens, and the promise of local fruit still seems painfully far away, so to cure the spring fever, I bake," she says, adding that "nothing wakes up your senses from the cold of winter like some freshly grated lemon zest," a key ingredient in today's cookie recipe, which she shares on the next page.

"I love the depth of flavor the zest adds to the cookies, which get an extra punch of citrus-y goodness from the addition of lemon extract, and I also love baking with our Sierra Nevada cream cheese, which is fluffier and lighter than the stuff you find wrapped in foil but still has the rich, creamy taste you'd expect from a cream cheese," explains Ariss. The result? "Pretty cookies that bake up light, tender and cake-y."

See also: Recipe Wednesday: Gnocchi with tomato sauce and porcini mushrooms

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