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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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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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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Recipe Wednesday: Gnocchi with tomato sauce and porcini mushrooms

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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.

"So these two Italians sat down to dinner...and start talking tomato sauce -- at least that's something that we like to imagine a lot of Italian families talking about," says Ariss. "Tomato sauce, after all, is all-important and something that every pasta-loving Italian cook has in their repertoire," plus, adds Ariss, "so many all-important things are discussed amidst heaping piles of spaghetti with tomato sauce."

Enter Nicola Peduzzi, matriarch of the Peduzzi family, who owns and runs Rustichella D'Abruzzo, and Rolando Beramendi, the founder of Manicaretti Italian food importers. "Destined to be a match made in heaven, Rolando fell in love with the purposeful simplicity of Nicola's cooking, and what started as a way for their family to utilize their own stone-ground wholewheat flour to make rustic, wholewheat pasta evolved into a thriving business dedicated to sourcing the best Italian ingredients, often from their own family farm, to make the best artisanal Italian sauces and pastas, Ariss explains. "Their tomato sauce is uncomplicated, well balanced and crazy-delicious." And it's the inspiration for today's recipe: gnocchi with tomato-porcini sauce.

"We bought the tomato sauce in bulk and got a great deal on it, and we're very excited to pass that deal along to our customers by offering these delicious sauces at a great price," says Ariss, adding while the tomato sauce "tastes wonderful on its own, add a little butter, cream, and foraged porcini mushrooms -- we get ours from Hunt & Gather -- and you've got something really special and delicious."

See also: Recipe Wednesday: bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with candy cap mushrooms

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In the kitchen with Comida chef Martin Campos: tequila-cured salmon ceviche tostada

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Martin Campos

In this week's Chef and Tell interview, Martin Campos, exec chef of Comida at the Source, admits that while he was a picky eater as a kid, a seafood feast in Oregon -- his first food epiphany -- paved the way for a future in cooking. The chef is still obsessed with seafood and fish, including salmon ceviche, the recipe of which he shares on the following page. "The size of the salmon you have will dictate how long it takes to cure, but count on twelve hours of curing for every pound of salmon, and write down the date and time that you started the curing process so you can be as accurate as possible," advises Campos.

See also: Martin Campos, exec chef of Comida at the Source: "Nothing is wrong with a nice round plate"


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