Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stock Investments

If you need a dry and rational way to think of making stocks, sauces, preserves, or say...infused oils or garlic confit, let me propose that you look at them as an investment. Be pragmatic and hardnosed about it! Making such things can take many hours (if not days or say, weeks in some cases), cost a little, and have no “meal” end-result. That can be disconcerting, but think again- you not making a meal but rather an investment with some very significant upside. One that is exponentially more valuable than the individual parts. Take some risks and actually make ahead of time what a recipe calls for- preserved lemons that take 1 month to cook for a lamb meatball recipe, fine! It will take some sacrifice and discipline- as most investment do! Do it. Reap the benefit multiple times over later. You do have to be patient and follow the (recipe) book. Then cash in.

If you don't need the investment rationalization that is even better,welcome to my world! I think about making these things as building blocks and generally just a great pastime watching simple ingredients turn into incredible creations.

Cooking is a matter of attitude. If you want quick, there are quick options, but they will likely not be complex and multifaceted. Nothing wrong with that. My salads are generally quick and simple- butter lettuce, salt, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice. If I feel like I should spice it up, I might shave a little lemon zest in. Simple and quick is great.

There is a time and a place for quick and simple and there is a time for intricate and time-consuming. However, there is never a time or a place for white collar cooking crimes- i.e. cutting corners and polluting perfectly good things with what I refer to as “shortcuts”- i.e. boxed stocks, sauces, and the like. This in-between and compromise of using store-bought stocks/sauces/etc is usually a sham that lessens the end result of your cooking. It very much like the a Wall Street Banker trading in credit swap derivatives- not actually taking the time to make it right Don’t be a Wall Street Chef—and have the integrity to do it right.

Whether you think of making these as building blocks or a wise investment, there are also serious health benefits that go along with “do-it yourself “stock, sauce, preserve. Call me neurotic, a major benefit of cooking at home is that I get to know what goes in my body and what I am feeding my family and friends. I love salt, but find sodium in boxed stock to be a serious health hazard precisely because you are not exactly aware of what and how much extraneous stuff goes in it. Plus, there is something deeply disturbing about say chicken stock sitting on an unrefrigerated shelf at a grocery store for years! Preservatives. Aside from being neurotic about what I ingest and feed to those I love, there is the bigger issue- taste! The store-bought stuff simply can’t resemble what you make at home in flavor, taste, and overall quality.

I realize that some (or more realistically all) of my recipes are the opposite of 7 easy dinners or quick family meals. I mean, I like it. I like watching veal bones come to a simmer slowly and then look at them under a surge of cold water that removes impurities. I like gazing at lamb bones while they roast and turn into great dark colors only to release their attractive brown tint into what is to become lamb jus. Aside from the pleasure I take from the act of making these things, there is yet another consideration that keeps me from cutting corners- making that …other recipe that this one leads to.

More than once I laughed at some of these recipes. Maybe smile is a better word than laugh…it was never that surprising that every Thomas Keller recipe will have in it some sort of sauce, confit, preserve that will take more to make than the actual recipe. It makes me smile. Don’t write off the extra steps as “complicated” but think of it as attention to detail- every single detail that composes a fantastic final dish that will awaken all of your senses.

I will offer an example of one of these 3 steppers - the Bouchon skirt steak…yes, this one.

Recipe on this will follow.

The Skirt Steak recipe seemed easy and straightforward- except for one ingredient, red wine jus. How hard can it be? I reference the red wine jus and realize that it requires veal stock. Now we’re talking something like this (1) make veal stock, (2) make red wine jus, (3) make the recipe you had in mind for dinner- here, the skirt steak. Those couple of extra steps can be impossible if you already bought your meat an were planning on doing this immediately. This is where planning and reading a recipe all the way through pays off. I didn’t have the steak.

And, I made the stock, then the jus, then the skirt steak. And it was worth every second of the process. And on the bright side- I had enough leftover veal stock to use to make the Bouchon beef bourguignon (MMMMMM! I can hardly wait for that one!!!!) and enough red wine jus to keep making that skirt steak 6 more times. And to add to my joy, I was able to share half a cup of this red wine sauce with my best friend- I bet she will still make veal stock- it just won’t be for red wine sauce.

So in the “investment/building blocks” category, I want to share with you the beautiful Bouchon Veal Stock- my version of it. This is a dark veal stock but not because of the bones being roasted but because of tomatoes and tomato paste. In other words- no roasting bones.

Veal Stock


5 lbs veal bones;

1 cup (8 oz) tomato paste

6 oz carrots (about 2 large carrots or 1 1/4 cup) cut into 1 inch chunks

4 oz (one large or 2 smaller) yellow onions cut into quarters

8 oz leeks (probably 3 leeks) cut into 1 inch chunks (only use the white and light green part of the leek)

half a head of garlic (cut one head of garlic horizontally -save the other half for another use- break the half you are using into pieces, root ends and excess skins removed)

18-20 large springs of parsley (Italian flat leaf is more flavorful)

18-20 springs of thyme

2 bay leaves

8 ounce diced tomatoes- probably about 3-4 roma tomatoes

[Well, if you didn’t ask yourself already, you are not paying attention- where do you get veal bones? This is a very legitimate question because grocery stores or even specialty butcheries simply don’t sell them. I am not trying to discourage you, but rather giving a warming- you don’t want to run from store to store looking for this because changes are you won’t fin them. My suggestion is talk to your local (for more likely success- small independent) butcher. If he can’t bring them in for you, he probably can tell you about someone else who could. Tap into your food friends and connections to figure out where can you score these bones at a reasonable price. One other mistake to avoid- veal osso bucco- too expensive and unnecessarily so. I would make a push to get the real veal bones and I advice you get 10 pounds while you are at it. No need to make both the same day- you can freeze half and no need to make this exact veal stock twice either- there is a white veal stock recipe I absolutely love and will share soon. ]

Rinse the bones in cold water and place them in a large stock pot. Fill with cold water ideally twice as much water as the bones, but I doubt that you have this big of a pot.

Slowly bring the water to a simmer to bring the impurities from the bones to the surface. Don't stir but do gently move the bones around to help with the removal of impurities. Skim.

When the liquid comes to a simmer, remove from heat, drain in a large colander and rinse the bones (while still hot!) with cold water to further remove impurities.

Clean your stock pot and return the bones to it. Add (ideally) 6 quarts of water- but don’t stress if your pot is not this big. The end result should be 2 quarts of stock- so keep that in mind and adjust while cooking so you end up with this quantity. This is NOT a lot- is is half a gallon, but it is beautiful!

Gently bring to a simmer over a low-medium heat and keep on skimming. This will probably take around an hour depending on how much water you added.

When it simmers, stir in the tomato paste, then the remaining ingredients, bring back to simmer and let it be for 4 hours. Read a book, reply to some emails, watch the Olympics (wait, that is over), but do return from time to time to...well, skim again. Keep your eye on the prize- the quantity you want to end up with- 2 quarts and add water during these 4 hours if needed.

After 4 hours, remove from the heat. Allow to cool - maybe in an ice bath but not necessarily.

Strain the stock. The recipe recommends straining first through a colander, then a chinois or fine-mesh strainer. I strained it three times through a fine mesh strainer and that seemed to get rid of impurities. The quality and beautiful appearance of the stock you get depends a lot on how you strain in. If you ladle it out, the cloudiest part of the stock will remain on the bottom of the pot and you can easily discard it. If, however, you pour it, the cloudy part will come tumbling down with the rest of your stock.

A non-cloudy, properly strained stock has a vibrant reddish-brownish color that is rich and very appealing.

Clean out your stock pot- again. Return the stock to the pot and reduce, if needed, to 2 quarts.

Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze (preferably in smaller containers) for longer storage.

4 cups is a good size- 2 could be even better.

You can make this and it will be worth the investment. And when you make it, you must let me know how it comes out!

P.S. For some reason, I was not good about taking pictures this time. Oops. Hope the explanation was clear enough to make you visualize :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Confession Wednesday - #2s

I love my #2s. I’m talking produce, not figuring out a new way to potty train my daughter or trying to comfort (the bitter and delusional) Evgeni Plushenko for his silver medal.

I don’t believe in the shiniest apple, the most polished bell pepper, smoothest zucchini, or most evenly colored watermelon. I don’t believe in the “hand-packed” (whatever that is supposed to mean!) $6 pint of strawberries or in a basket full of avocados identical in shape, color, and size. Actually, I find that to be ridiculous.

I am not saying that I am completely over judging a book by its cover- it happens to the best of us- but produce is real and beautiful imperfect, unique, slightly flawed. It is alive and inconsistent with its siblings- like any other living thing.

There was a time when I was really attracted to outside beauty…in produce (and otherwise). I mean, after all, who isn’t? And for me, growing up with produce from only farmers markets where producers were very small and not used to trying to grow the biggest shiniest vegetable, that really colorful perfectly shaped shimmering apple was a novelty. Maybe I can blame the attraction on the novelty factor.

That apple – the most vivid green with the most attractive spark is what I craved nearly nine years ago in a supermarket in New York City. I saw that apple and I craved it. I imagined it juicy, tart, luscious, and flavorful. I bought it and could hardly wait to bite into it. It was awful. Dry, tasteless, bland. Chewing on the peel was like eating wax. I remember that vividly. The experience woke me up and made me appreciate the less-than-perfect-looking apples I bought at the farmers markets back home.

Home is no longer Romania and the farmers’ markets in Colorado in February are… well, they are not. There are a few inches of snow on the grounds (still) and it has been 20 degrees for a few days. Sunflower is where I get my #2s now and I appreciate the selection, the prices, and the imperfections. Funny enough, I didn’t even notice that the produce I was buying there was # 2s. It was pointed out to me by a small grocery store owner where produce is scarce, somewhat overpriced, but always flawless. I don’t get produce there.

In honor of my Sunflower # 2 summer squash, Summer Squash Gratin. In case you missed it, our stove was down for a whole week so we cooked our way through seven days using the grill and oven without one dinner out! This one is from the “how to live without a stove” series.

Now, if you really want to have fun and figure out a little more about this delightful word, gratin, Clotilde has a fabulous explanation you can find here. Do listen to the pronunciation- you might be surprised to hear that you have been butchering this word for years.

Ingredients: 5-6 summer squash, 3-4 fresh springs of thyme, salt, fresh ground pepper. ¾ cup heavy cream, ¼ to ½ cup whole milk.

Preheat the oven to 375 ºF (oven thermometer anyone?).
Slice the squash thin- you can use a mandolin or not. Probably a knife will do. Here are my slices.

Arrange your squash slices in layers in a baking or gratin dish but put the thyme springs closer to the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on each layer as you lay them in. If you have more than 3 layers, maybe go with a bigger pan.

Pour the cream and milk in. The liquid should just come to the top of the squash.

Bake until bubbling and browned on top- approximately one hour.

It will be delicious, but then again, what isn’t if it is cooked in cream and milk. If you must, grate some cheese on it at the end while still hot.

See you soon!

P.S. In a perfect world, my # 2s would always be local and organic. Do I need to say it isn’t a perfect world? Partly because it is winter and the farmers markets are shut down, the #2s all local or organic. For a fun article on how to shop organically and not break the bank, click right here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Denver Restaurant Week +

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked for my recommendations on places to go during Denver Restaurant Week. I was flattered, I admit. I did my research, thought about our past experiences with this promotion, and came up with five places for those eager to participate. Along with recommendations, I have included a recipe from one them, duo Restaurant.

Before I get into DRW, a few words on the recipe! An amazing apple crostada and an easy to follow recipe from pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, semi-finalist for the James Beard awards for Outstanding Pastry Chef for the second year in a row (congrats!!!).

[You can access the complete list of James Beard Award semi-finalists here. You will find several Colorado names including a few fairly new faces- rising star chef of the year James Rugile of Venue Bistro! Winners will be announced March 22.]

[You can read more about the beautiful cookbook that features this recipe here. And stay tuned for more on the cookbook, its author (and my friend Jennifer Olson), and some great food pictures from Jen right here on my blog!]

DRW started Saturday and runs until March 5th. Don’t let the “week” in the title fool you- it is 2 weeks and it is supposed to be a celebration of the culinary scene in Denver. Participating restaurants offer a multi-course dinner for the fixed price of $52.80 for two, or $26.40 for one (not including tax or gratuity). These two weeks are notoriously slow for restaurants and this promotion is meant to bring diners out and allow them to try out places that they might not otherwise go to for the reasonable price of $52.80 for two. The concept is good and seemingly provides a win-win for both customers and the businesses.

The reality of the DRW experience, however, can be less appealing than the initial price tag. First, there are (very good) restaurants that don’t participate in the promotion for (let me speculate) obvious reasons- it is very hard to deliver outstanding food at that price and compromising the quality is simply not worth it for them. Because I chose five places to mention, I will also mention five notable absences- Fruition, Frasca, the Kitchen, Fuel Café, and Potager.

Second, some of the places that participate (and I generally like) just don’t live up to their regular standards. By that I mean that they offer one or two options per course and the offerings are, well, the cheap stuff- the chicken or the pork, and perhaps a shared dessert. Although unconfirmed, there is also a noticeable tendency to pre-make food in large quantities which enhances both the efficiency of the preparation and food costs but not the quality—ala the catering industry.

So, say you decide to join the masses out diners these two weeks. You now think that you will enjoy this fine dining experience for a reasonable price. You need a reservation and you probably won’t get one. Let’s say you do, so you are now there. You get seated, you get a menu, you look at it and you are excited to order. Not so fast! You are quickly informed that the 52.80 price can get you your choice of “grilled pork chop” for your entrée. Take your pick! [what pick you ask?] And, right, you don’t eat pork! Now what? Now you feel like a second class citizen who is backed into a corner into perhaps ordering off the regular menu or “accommodated” begrudgingly. [how do you feel about that one?...]

That said, I won't carry on. There are still a few worthwhile options and I will name the five best ones in my view. I like these five places anyway but they also seem to have made an effort to participate in this event- there are several menu options available and these options showcase the restaurant’s cuisine. That serves the purpose of the event!

Duo and Olivéa are nice places where food is delicious and the atmosphere enjoyable. Their menus for DRW are just fun and delicious…and varied - a big consideration for me as I said. The third really good and fun option is Café Brazil. Such a tasty and pleasant place and a decent menu offering for DRW. Then, it seems like Il Posto put together a menu that is not as exciting as their regular one, but that allows diners to experience the restaurant in a “tasting menu” kind of way. Lastly, and NOT because of their DRW menu, but because they are just generally fantastic, I have included Mizuna. Ultimately, while the options are not as varied, foie gras mouse x 2, beef pot of feu x 2, and bread pudding x 2 for $ 52.80 at Mizuna might just be a great deal.

Now the fun part- Apple Crostada.

I must preface (again) – I am NOT a baker. I am afraid of flour (and yeast and baking powder and corn starch) and like some sort of wild beast, the flour (and the rest) senses my fear and …bites me. Or simply ruins whatever baked creation I choose to make.

Odd fears aside, I believed I can make this recipe. It seemed simple and approachable and came from one of the 2009 James Beard semifinalists for outstanding pastry chef, Yasmin Lozada-Hissom of Duo.

Helpful tools, etc: mixer or food processor, pastry brush, parchment paper

Two things you will need to make then assemble- the crust and the filling. And depending on the speed of heating in your oven, decide when you need to start preheating at 350ºF.

Crust- ingredients: 2 cups all purpose flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, zest of one lemon, 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter cold and diced, 6 ounces cream cheese, 5 tablespoons water.

[Some side comments on the ingredients- flour when measured by the cup (as opposed to weight) gets tricky because the actual weight will be different on different kinds of flours and the way you pack it in the cup. Lemon zest is amazing! If you don’t have a microplane grater, get one for all of your lemon peel (or parmesan) grating needs.]

In a bowl using a hand mixer or in a food processor, mix/pulse together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter and cream cheese and mix until crumbly.

Add water and mix/pulse until the dough barely comes together in a ball. Wrap this ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 min. Seriously now- 15 min- after that it gets too hard to work the dough into the size/shape you need, which is 10 wedges that you will work piece by piece on a lightly floured surface into rounds that are ½ high and about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. You will get 10 individual crostadas but can freeze the dough if needed for up to 2 weeks.

Filling- ingredients- 5 medium apples- Jonagold suggested, juice of half a lemon, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, ¼ brown sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 ½ tablespoon tapioca starch (I used corn starch and it was fine), egg wash (1 egg beaten and mixed with 2 tablespoons of water), vanilla ice cream (for serving)

Peel, core, and slice the apples in ¼ inch thick pieces and then mix all the ingredients- except, of course, the vanilla ice cream!

Assembly- line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough on the parchment paper and in each round, scoop about 3 tablespoons of the apple mixture. Gently bring the edges of the dough up to the middle leaving an opening to expose the apples.

Brush the crust with egg wash and bake until golden brown about 30 minutes [I told you a brush is a handy thing to have in the kitchen].

Remove and serve either piping hot or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream [the home-made kind from the Valentine’s Day post]. Add a few chopped pecans for a crunchier texture.

I made half of this recipe and saved two of the crostadas (unassembled) for the next day. They were fabulous both days and the homemade vanilla ice cream was a great touch. My confidence in my baking abilities did not particularly increase, but I now know I can make a mean apple crostada!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Extra Heartbeats

The heart of my home is the kitchen- there is no doubt about that. It is where the magic happens, and I am not talking just about what we eat. My kitchen is where I unwind, create, relax, share, craft, and give. It is the center of every party and my daughter’s favorite play area. It is the place that makes me smile and sweat and the place that makes our home vibrate with beautiful scents, whistling sounds, delicious sights, and thrilling tastes.

This week has been a rough one as the heart of our home went into a near flat line- the beloved induction stove died (parts are on order). It put a damper on the cooking but forced some creativity on the grill and in the oven. And even as we nearly flat-lined, our back-up heart, the heart of the Taxi campus, was still beating strong. We are lucky- very lucky to be able to say what I am about to say- our community, the Taxi campus, has a young strong, active heart that brings us all together and keeps us well fed and happy. That heart is Fuel Café and the person who makes it pulse a vibrant beat every single day is Bob Blair.

So today, I will share with you a few things about Bob, a couple of stories about this vivid gathering place, the Fuel Café, and a recipe for Bob’s most famous Orange Currant Scones with Fresh Lemon Curd.

Please note - this is the first time I talk about a local restaurant on my blog. This is on purpose. I love this place more than any other in Colorado and I believe in its food with serious confidence and loyalty. Also, to my knowledge, this is the first time that one of Bob’s recipes has been shared in a public forum. A world premiere!

Bob is a self-described and self-taught cook. He is grumpy in the morning and sometimes seems frantic during the day. He has his mood swings- some are great, and some are not. He is a risk-taker with menu offerings and a teacher to his staff. The influences of his cooking are varied- a lot of Spanish in the way he spices his dishes, a lot of Italian in his passion for home-made pasta and gnocchi, a lot of French in his techniques and overall food philosophy. He is innovative yet traditional and you can always count on him to surprise your taste buds. Bob loves his work, his cookbooks, his wines, and aims to both challenge and please his customers. All of them. My 20 month daughter not only knows his name, she shouts it from across the room when she sees him. She runs into his arms with the happiest grin. Bob is the heartbeat of this place.

We almost like to keep Fuel a secret. It is undoubtedly a community place –it has been from the day it opened over two years ago. We will always meet someone we know there. There are many regulars for both lunch and dinner. There are parties and happy hours and fun brunches (some special weekends) and beer dinners, menus changing with the seasons, and daily specials changing with the weather.

The lunch menu has its staples- the sandwiches- the grinder, the Reuben, the Cubano, a few delicious salads, the appetizing lamb wrap, and the chicken chilaquiles- let me just say that I almost cried the first time I had this it was so good! There is always a special and that is generally what I get. The special is always well, special! It is seasonal and it fits the weather. Yep- the weather. If it’s really cold, Bob knows the craving of his community will be for a hearty warm stew. If it’s rainy and cold, maybe a biscuits and gravy. If it’s warming up, an entertaining salad or ingenious cold soup.

Dinner is where the challenging yet pleasing nature of Bob comes into play- the eclectic and diverse selection of small and not-so-small plates on this week’s menu includes awe-inspiring sweetbreads with shoestring potatoes and Madeira mushrooms, a teasing sunchoke soup with goat cheese panna cotta and hazelnuts, as well as pear caramelle (a house-made-from-scratch pasta in pretty candy-caramel shape) with goat cheese, ricotta, mascarpone and walnuts, and veal breast (an amazing cut of meat!) with polenta cake, tomato, olive, fennel, and herbsaint. My mouth is watering just thinking about it all.

The thing about Fuel Café is that once you get hooked, the addiction is impossible to shake. For us, this is especially true because of the location of our home. Walking across the alley after making dinner at home to get one of Bob’s desserts is pretty unbeatable. This is what we had to deal with last night- chocolate semifreddo!

After having dinner at home (all made in the oven plus a salad), I strolled into Fuel in a sweatsuit and picked up this treat. It was rich and decadent but not overly sweet. It was built from layers upon layers of flavors, temperatures, and textures. A complete adventure in every bite.

Now, the chocolate semifreddo leads me directly into my next topic- Bob’s incredible talent for all things sweet and baked. His desserts and pastries rival the best I have ever had- they are creative, balanced, original, and flawlessly executed. I envy his talent but love that I am lucky enough to enjoy it very often.

When I asked Bob to allow me to come into his kitchen and cook with him one day, we tossed around some ideas for what to make and I had to say- Bob, you are a baker. We are making scones. He agreed and added that he’ll toss in fresh lemon curd. I couldn’t resist.

So I invaded Bob’s kitchen at the early and grumpy time of 8:30 am. Let me clarify, when I say grumpy I mean both of us were grumpy, but I was too excited to focus on that. I had my notepad, my apron, my camera, and I was ready to see magic happen. I did. It was magic.

The kitchen at Fuel was already buzzing with prep for lunch- lamb meat balls getting ready for the lamb wrap.Nate getting his squash together for the soup of the day- Spicy Curry Butternut Squash.

The walk-in fridge was jam-packed- Bob tells me that Thursdays and Fridays it gets really full in there. A big 1 pound block of butter was already out on our scone-prep surface.

Equipment, etc you should plan on using for the scones and lemon curd: a KitchenAid mixer (did I tell you I don’t have one of those?), a cookie sheet, parchment paper, microplane grater, some measuring utensils.

So, there is goes…

Orange Currant Scones
2 cups of flour- fluffed (as opposed to packed- if you pack it, it will be closer to 1 and ¾ cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder (please don’t confuse these- the results can be pretty disastrous)
a pinch of salt
zest of one orange
1/3 cup currants
¼ lbs of butter chilled and cubed (keep it chilled!)
¾ cup buttermilk
1 egg beaten lightly
Vanilla extract (prob about half a tablespoon, but we didn't measure)
1 tablespoon of heavy cream (to brush the scones with)
1 tablespoon of turbinado (or coarser textured) sugar (to sprinkle on top of the scones)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

Combine the dry ingredients- flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and place in your pretty KitchenAid mixer equipped with a paddle.

Add the currants and orange zest.
[let me say this (again) a microplane grater for citrus zest is a necessity of any kitchen. And it works like magic on Parmesan too!]

Throw in the butter and keep mixing. Bob tells me that we are looking for a clumpy corn meal texture- wet sand-like. Don’t mix too long- you just want the butter to breakdown a little. Apparently the currants being already in there help this process.

To the buttermilk, add the beaten egg and a vanilla extract and whisk briefly.

Add this wet concoction to the dry one and mix until it comes together…basically a few seconds.

Flour your work surface and place your scone dough onto this surface. Lightly sprinkle some flour on your dough and gently work your dough into a one inch circle. Be tender- no manhalding this dough, Bob says. No overworking this dough!

Cut it up into 8 triangular pieces the same way you would slice up a pizza. Mmmmmmm! I can almost smell it already.

Grab yourself a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
[side note- apparently a Silpat, while great for other things, is not ideal for this- it does not allow the kind of browning/coloring you need here because it does not get hot enough. So no Silpat- parchment paper.]

Brush the scones with heavy cream.
Sprinkle with the sugar. Put it in the oven and about 8 to 10 minutes later voila!

Let them rest a little while you make the lemon curd.

Homemade Lemon Curd
2 lemons- zest (on that microplane grater) then juice (easier would be with a citrus juicer)
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4-5 eggs (depending on their size) very lightly beaten
6 tablespoons butter- chilled

Combine it all in a saucepan.[do you have one of those? I love mine!]

Place over medium-high heat. This is actually as easy as Bob promised. I was very skeptical because I know it is unbearably scrumptious. The butter melts, the eggs start to slowly cook – I am starting to get anxious because of my previous custard anxieties.

The concoction starts to thicken – with a wooden or silicon spatula keep stirring and dig into those corners, Bob tells me. You must reach that perfect point where the mixture is perfectly thick. Remove from heat.

If there are little bits of cooked egg white in your lemon curd- need not worry.

Strain in a bowl-see, all gone! Add more lemon zest if you want – you just strained most of it out.

Cover with plastic wrap all the way to the top of the lemon curd so that you don’t get that film that forms when custards cool. To get it to cool quicker, with the tip of a sharp knife, poke a few holes in the plastic wrap. Back off until it cools.

While we wait for everything to cool, Bob explains that everything gets weight for the making of the daily flatbread. Did I mention that the flatbread at Fuel is made fresh every day and it is outstanding?

All is cooled and I am ready to dig in. I thank Bob and think to myself that this was about as fun of a morning as I can come up with- glorious heartbeats in the kitchen! Mesmerizing!

I leave with my scones and am robbed of three along the way back to my house. These are friendly robbers- some of my neighbors who are well familiar with Bob’s scones. I had to share- it was the community-minded thing to do. Bob would have shared, he does it every day in his restaurant.

The Fuel Café is open for lunch every day of the workweek and for dinner Thursday through Saturday. Fuel makes cameo appearances for brunch every now and then- those are NOT to be missed.

P.S. One week after this post, 5280 released their March issue focusing on 25 best restaurants in Denver. Not surprisingly, Fuel was on the list.