Spring in Colorado- Great wine and beer recommendations

As Cholly heads out with Alaya and Eamon to visit family for their spring break, he left us with a couple great recommendations for spring time sips.  Not to alienate the beer or wine drinkers, he is sharing one of each.  Cheers!

 New Belgium Spring Blonde Belgian Style Ale

Light copper-colored with a tall, white head, the Spring Blonde has a nose of lemon peel, fresh baked bread (my favorite aroma), black pepper, cloves and a hint of apple and pear. The taste of this medium-bodied ale starts with a bit of malty sweetness that transitions into a dry, lightly bitter finish. It is a light and refreshing, but still slightly malty brew perfect for the changing season that is spring.

2013 Arnot-Roberts, Touriga Nacional Rosé, Luchsinger Vineyard, CA 

Named Winemaker of the Year for 2012 by the San Francisco Chronicle, Arnot-Roberts (pronounced AR-NOT; it’s Scottish, not French) has made a delicious rosé from the Touriga Nacional grape, indigenous to Portugal’s Douro Valley. With a nose of strawberry, watermelon and rose water that immediately captivates you and a taste that matches with bright, under-ripe berry tartness, herbal spiciness, and a long finish, this medium-bodied wine is not a sweet rosé – the Arnot-Roberts shines more like a Provencal-style wine with intense complexity and vivid acidity for a mouth-watering, refreshing and thirst quenching quaff that one could enjoy on a warm day on the patio or porch.

The best part is that both of these selections pair well with the same foods enabling you to serve them both at the same cookout or dinner party. They are lovely with steamed mussels, grilled lobster tail, salmon and even some lightly gamy meats such as venison and wild boar, even slightly spicy dishes match well with these refreshing choices.

Chef’s Corner: “Rye-sotto” with Glazed Root Vegetables

“Rye-sotto” with Glazed Root Vegetables

Ingredients (for the “rye-sotto”):   

      1 yellow onion, peeled and diced

      4 cloves garlic minced

      4 tablespoons olive oil

      4 cups rye berries

      2 quarts vegetable stock

      Salt and pepper to taste

      3 ounces chevre


      This “rye-sotto” is obviously a play on words.  The technique used to make this dish is more like making a Pilaf than making a true risotto. Rye Berries will not release starch like Arborio or Carnaroli rice, and therefore the slow cooking while stirring constantly method is unnecessary here. I simply simmer the rye berries until tender and make it creamy by folding in the goat cheese.

1. Start to simmer the vegetable stock; meanwhile in a heavy-bottomed pot sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the rye berries and stir to coat with the oil and to toast slightly; you do not want any color on the onions or garlic.

2. Add the vegetable stock to the rye berries, cover with a tight fitting lid or with foil, and simmer until the berries are tender, about one hour. Season with salt and pepper and set aside until ready to use.

Glazed Root Vegetables


     1 pound of carrots, peeled and cut into obliques

      1 pound of parsnips, peeled and cut into obliques

      1 pound of baby turnips, peeled and cut into obliques

      1 pound of beets, peeled and diced (keep beets separate)

      water to cover vegetables

      2 tablespoons of sugar

      2 bay leaves

      10 peppercorns

      4 springs of fresh thyme

      ¼ teaspoon salt


     If the beets are red beets, you will want to keep them separate from the other vegetables; otherwise they will stain them red (I also recommend latex/vinyl gloves to keep your hands from staining as well!)

1. In a large sauté pan add the vegetables and other ingredients and cover all with water about ¼ inch above the vegetables and set on medium heat to begin a simmer (do the beets in a separate pan).

2. Keep a close eye on the vegetables, and when they are just tender remove them from the liquid. Strain the liquid to remove the bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns. Return the liquid to the stove and reduce until the liquid is almost evaporated. Toss the root vegetables in the pan to “glaze” them. Keep warm until ready to use.

Red Wine Reduction


      1 shallot, minced

      2 cloves garlic, minced

      2 tablespoons olive oil

      4 bunches thyme

      1 bay leaf

      1 750ml bottle red wine (cabernet, merlot, syrah)

      2 tablespoons honey

      salt and pepper to taste


      You will want to use a good bottle of wine for this; a sub-par wine will be sub-par in the sauce.

1. In a small sauce pan, heat the olive oil on medium low and sauté the shallot and garlic lightly. Add the red wine and the herbs and adjust to a low simmer until reduced by about half.

2. Strain the reduction and return to the pot. Add the honey and continue to reduce to a sauce consistency. Season to taste, and taste often to ensure the correct level of reduction; the sauce should be flavorful without being harsh. The honey softens the wine without too much sweetness and gives a nice sheen and color to the final sauce.

To Finish:

      The timing of this dish depends on the rye berries; once they are cooking begin the vegetables and red wine reduction as they can simmer while the berries cook and the dish can be finished once the berries are done. Toss the goat cheese in with the rye berries at the last minute and taste for seasoning before serving.

      Place the “rye-sotto” in a line down the near-center of the plate, then spoon the root vegetables at an askew angle, and drizzle the red wine reduction across the top. Enjoy.


Chef’s Corner: Kale Salad

Yep, kale is all the rage right now.  It’s one of the most talked about super foods, and everywhere you turn someone is trying to make it appeal to the masses one way or another.    Although kale does not do it for everyone, this salad has a really good shot at turning even the biggest critic into a mild fan.  After being asked for the recipe almost daily by our winter holiday guests, Chef Cholly figured it might be time to make the recipe a bit more publicly accessible.  Kale is one of the “it foods” these days because there are so many benefits to eating kale, so we hope you’ll try this easy recipe and enjoy it!

Kale Salad (Serves 4)


2 Bunches of Lacinata Kale, stemmed & thinly shredded

1 Gala Apple, thinly sliced

½ cup toasted and salted whole almonds

½ cup grated parmesan

4 ounces Fresh Lemon Juice

12 ounces pure olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl, toss, season to taste, toss again, refrigerate until ready to use.

Chef’s Corner: Turkey Brine

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Chef Chol thought it would be perfect timing to share his recipe for turkey brine.  Enjoy!

VVR Turkey Brine (for one 15-18 pound Turkey)


          1 Gallon Apple juice

          1 Gallon Water

          1 ½ Pounds Kosher salt

          12 ounces dark brown sugar

          4 cinnamon sticks

          5 cloves

          2 bay leaves

          3 star anise

          ¼ cup pickling spice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Cool in the refrigerator overnight. (Alternatively, you could simmer the ingredients without the water and pour over 8 ¼ pounds of ice, and you could use the brine almost immediately)
  3. Brine Turkey 12-15 hours before roasting and refrigerate.

To Roast the Turkey:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse the turkey and pat dry with paper towels, inside and out.
  2. Rub the turkey with soft butter, inside and out, and place breast side down on a “V” rack in a roasting pan (this allows the breast to remain moist) and roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.
  3. One hour before turkey is done (an unstuffed turkey will take about 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F), flip the bird to breast side up (using wads of paper towel usually works) and roast until internal temperature of the thick part of the leg reads 165 degrees F. Let the bird rest 30 minutes before carving.

Chef’s Corner: S’mores cookies

Nothing says summertime like S’mores.  This summer we have been enjoying a new creation by our chefs that takes the traditional s’mores concept and turns it into a cookie.  So, if you don’t have access to an open campfire and long sticks, you can always try out this recipe.  Enjoy!

S’mores Cookies (makes 2 dozen cookies)


  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup, mini marshmallows, left out to stale for 24 hours



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl add the buttermilk, molasses, vanilla extract and melted butter.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients into the wet, when thoroughly mixed (but not over mixed) add the chocolate and marshmallows and mix until just combined.
  5. Drop by tablespoons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake on middle rack in the oven for 5 minutes, rotate the pan and finish baking for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Enjoy!

Chef’s Corner: Bison Short Ribs with Sweet Potato Gnocchi

We received a request for this recipe the other day from one of our guests who wanted to make this for her sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.  We may be a bit late in getting this out there for all of you to try on Valentine’s Day, but why not celebrate a wonderful dinner another night?  Here’s to lots of love, laughter, and good food.  And, maybe a little romance.

Red Wine Marinade

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 small celery root
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 bottle (750mL) red wine
  1. Clean and roughly chop the vegetables.
  2. Cover with red wine and simmer for 4 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cool together, then strain and discard vegetables and reserve liquid.

Marinated Short Ribs

  • Red wine marinade (recipe above)
  • 2 pounds boneless short rib
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 8 quarts beef stock, hot
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  1. Pour cold red wine marinade over the short ribs and let sit for 2 days, rotating meat twice a day.
  2. After the second day, remove the beef from the marinade and place in a roasting pan with the garlic, onion, and carrots.  Cover with hot beef bouillon; add rosemary and salt.  Place a sheet of parchment paper over beef and weigh down slightly with a 10” plate.  Place in a 250° F oven for eight hours.
  3. Once beef is fork tender and almost breaking apart, remove from bouillon onto a draining rack.  Save bouillon for a great soup or your next beef braising dinner.

Sweet potato Gnocchi

  • 1 ½ pounds roasted and pureed sweet potato
  • 6 ounces “00” Flour
  • 1 egg
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes in half, season well, and roast until tender.
  2. Dry the sweet potatoes thoroughly and run through a food mill or potato ricer.
  3. Sift the flour and incorporate with the egg into the sweet potato and taste for seasoning.
  4. When the water has come to a boil, roll the dough out into a long cylinder about a half inch in diameter and with a knife cut one inch long pieces and plunge into boiling water until the gnocchi begin to float.
  5. Skim the floating gnocchi off the water and into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
  6. Drain all the gnocchi onto a towel to dry.
  7. Heat a sauté pan on the stove, sauté the gnocchi in olive oil until crisp on all sides.
  8. Serve.

Chef’s Corner: Pumpkin Cheesecake [Recipe]

by Alaya

There is just something about fall that says, “Bring on the pumpkins!” Muffins, pies, lattes… it’s seems everywhere you go, you find this autumnal squash.

And I guess we’re no different here at VVR. As a treat for the few staff who are still here, Chef Chol recently made his delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake. (His recipe is shared below!)

After dinner, we gathered cozy by the fire, chatting and enjoying this seasonal dessert.

A clever alternative to the classic pumpkin pie, this cheesecake is hearty, without being too rich. It is sweet, with classic pumpkin-paired spices. (Goes great with a cup of coffee or homemade chai.) Chol served it to us with leftover caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Delicious!


Pumpkin Cheesecake
Makes one 10″ round cake


Ingredients (For Crust)

  • 1-1/4 cups toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumb
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter


Ingredients (For Batter)

  •  36 ounces cream cheese
  • 9 ounces brown sugar
  • 6 ounces granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs + 1 yolk
  • 1/4 cup + 3 Tblsp. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tblsp. Brandy
  • 18 ounces pumpkin (canned or cooked)



  1.  In a food processor, combine all crust ingredients and pulse until crumbs and nuts are fine and it all comes together.
  2. Press crust into the bottom of a 10 inch spring form pan lined with parchment paper.
  3. Wrap the spring form pan in a double layer of aluminum foil, bake the crust  at 325 degrees F for 5 minutes, let cool and chill in refrigerator until batter is prepared.
  4. In the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer (or in a mixing bowl with a hand held mixer) combine the cream cheese and the sugar and blend until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition, and blend until incorporated.
  6. Add the flour, spices, brandy and pumpkin and mix until just combined (but do not over mix).
  7. Pour the batter into the spring form pan, place the spring form into a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with warm water half way up the side of the spring form pan (hence the double layer of aluminum foil), place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes (or until the cheesecake is set). If the top of the cheesecake becomes too dark, cover loosely with a sheet of foil to prevent further browning.
  8. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, remove from the water bath (roasting pan) and place on the counter-top with a large mixing bowl turned over top to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly (if the cake cools too quickly, the top will tend to crack).
  9. After cooling for one hour, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for another four hours to allow the cheesecake to fully cool and set up.
  10. Remove the cheesecake from the spring form pan, slice and serve with caramel sauce, whipped cream, pumpkinseed or pecan brittle, or all of the above.
  11. Enjoy!

Chef’s Corner: The Best Fried Chicken (Ever!) [Recipe]

by Alaya

As the chef’s wife, I am in the unique position of taste-testing the dishes that come out of his kitchen. This classic-with-a-twist fried chicken is one of my favorites!

Gourmet comfort food? It might seem like an oxymoron, but once you try it, you realize it’s the best of both worlds: your favorite familiar foods elevated to the next level in flavor and presentation. And that’s exactly what this dish represents.

This dish starts with perfectly fried chicken: juicy, tender with crisp-battered skin. (Lip-smacking, finger licking –  even with this elevated version, you’ll want to lick your fingers clean and that’s okay with us!)

The added punch of unexpected flavors (tangy pickled vegetables, mellow blueberry sauce, and a sweet/nutty corn flour pancake) turns this fried chicken from a familiar favorite into a dish with bold personality.

This is a great meal for a dinner party or family gathering. The warm, familiar feeling of a home-cooked meal is amplified by the addition of a delicate and distinctive collection of bold flavors, making it the perfect meal to share with loved ones.

See for yourself… the recipe has several steps and components, but don’t let that overwhelm you!  It’s hardly as elaborate as it seems, and the results are well worth the small bit of extra effort.

The Best Fried Chicken (Ever!) – Serves 8
with Pickled Vegetables, Cornmeal Pancakes & Savory Blueberry Sauce  


For the Brine:

  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 ounces flat leaf parsley
  • 4-5 springs of thyme
  • 2 ounces honey
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 ounces kosher salt
  • 3 quarts water

For Frying the Chicken:

  • One 2 ½ -to 3-pound chicken
  • Chicken brine, cold (recipe to follow)
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 2 T onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the Pickled Vegetables:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch on a bias
  • 2 english cucumbers, sliced ¼ inch on a bias
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 6 ounces granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 small diced chile peppers

For the Cornmeal Pancakes

  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup red onion, minced
  • ¼ cup grana padano cheese, grated (you can substitute parmesan cheese)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 sprigs thyme, chopped

For the Savory Blueberry Sauce:

  • 2 quarts homemade chicken stock
  • 2 pints fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Brining the Chicken

  1. In a large pot combine chicken brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute until the salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat, cool, and then refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Break the chicken down into wings, thighs, drumsticks and breasts (save the carcass for more chicken stock), and cut the breast in equal halves.
  3. Place the chicken in the brine for 24 hours. When ready to use, remove from brine and rinse under cold water.

Pickling the Vegetables

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the vegetables, into a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the pickling liquid to boil, prepare your vegetables and place in a large canning jar big enough to hold the vegetables and the liquid.
  3. Pour the boiled liquid over the vegetables and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate pickled vegetables for up to one month.

Making the Cornmeal Pancakes

  1. Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. Heat the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion until translucent, remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and allow to cool.
  3. Whisk together the buttermilk and the egg yolks, fold in the cooled onion-cheese mixture. Fold in the dry ingredients.
  4. When ready to fry the pancakes, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into the existing batter, fold in the chopped herbs.
  5. Ladle into a heated skillet 2 ounces of cornmeal batter, flip when ready, keep warm until ready to use.

Making the Blueberry Sauce

  1. In a large pot on the stove begin reducing the chicken stock until reduced to 2 cups
  2. Meanwhile, heat a sauce pan on the stove and add the blueberries, when they start to burst, drizzle in the honey and allow it to simmer. Add the lemon juice and then add the reduced chicken stock.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend, season to taste with salt and black pepper. Keep sauce warm until ready to use.
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer again when ready to use and swirl in the butter until it is dissolved. Taste again for seasoning.

Frying the Chicken

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the canola oil to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients together and then split into 2 different bowls. Add buttermilk to a third bowl.
  3. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, then into the buttermilk, and then into the next seasoned flour.
  4. Place the chicken in hot oil for 2 minutes and then begin moving the chicken around to fry evenly for a total of 10-12 minutes, until chicken is dark golden and cooked thoroughly.
  5. On a plate, place a cornmeal pancake, a dark piece and a white piece of chicken on top, drape the pickled vegetables on the side and drizzle the blueberry sauce lightly over the chicken. Enjoy!

Chef’s Corner: Tempura Battered Summer Vegetables with a Ponzu Dipping Sauce [Recipe]

Chef Cholly’s has another delightful summertime appetizer for us this month: a summer vegetable tempura paired with a light and flavorful ponzu dipping sauce. Delicious!

Although fried, the light tempura batter keeps this vegetable appetizer fresh and crisp and the zesty ponzu dipping sauce adds an Asian twist – perfect for a hot summer day.

When making it at home, you can use the summer veggies Chef Cholly has listed below, or get creative and work with what is abundant locally for you this time of year.

Looking for a wine to pair with it? Lisa, our Sous Chef and Sommelier recommends this pick:


This Chardonnay introduces itself with clean aromas of citrus, apples, butter and oak spice. The palate is dominated by pronounced flavors of tropical fruits, brown baking spices, butter and toast. (Source:


Recipe: Tempura Battered Summer Vegetables
with a Ponzu Dipping Sauce

serves 4 as an appetizer

Tempura Battered Summer Vegetables


  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 16  asparagus spears
  • 20 green beans
  • 4 medium chanterelle or hen of the wood mushrooms
  • 2 cups of oil for frying
  • Tempura batter (recipe to follow)
  • Ponzu dipping sauce (recipe to follow)


  1. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash and dry the squash and zucchini and slice ¼ inch thick, trim asparagus and green beans, and brush any debris that may be on the mushrooms.
  3. Using one variety of vegetable at a time, dredge in the tempura batter enough to make one layer of veggies in the skillet. Allow excess batter to drip off briefly. Fry on both sides until crisp and golden. Remove to a pan lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Keep the pan in a pre-heated oven to keep veggies hot. Continue with each vegetable variety until all are fried.
  4. Arrange the veggies evenly on 4 plates and serve with warm ponzu sauce on the side for dipping.

Tempura Batter


  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups cake or pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ¼ cups sparkling water or beer


  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. When ready to use, add the sparkling water or beer and whisk until incorporated. The batter is ready to use.

Ponzu Dipping Sauce


  • 2 oz. soy sauce
  • 2 oz. lemon Juice
  • 2 oz. chicken stock
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger root
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup diced tomato


  1. Combine the soy sauce, lemon juice, chicken stock, olive oil, ginger root, and black pepper in a small pot and bring to a simmer.
  2. Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the other ingredients. Serve warm.

Chef’s Corner: Naranjillo Spanish Appetizer [Recipe]

Today is Chef Cholly’s birthday, and to  celebrate we’re sharing the recipe for his Naranjillos (or “Little Oranges.”)

Guests get a hand at making these small golden delights each week in Chef Cholly’s Friday afternoon cooking class. They are then served as an appetizer before the Friday-night meal – a continuation of our Spanish-themed Friday lunch. (Think: aromatic paella, cool and zesty gazpacho, nutty chickpea salad…)

These are a twist on the Italian arancini (also meaning “little orange.”) They get their name from their size, shape, and the deep golden hue they acquire in the frying process. In Chef Cholly’s Spanish version, the saffron-infused paella-style rice imparts an extra hit of gold. Breaded, fried, and filled with a tangy Spanish sheep cheese, these “little oranges” are a real treat!

Perfect as an appetizer, these “little oranges” always snatched up and enjoyed thoroughly. The best part? They’re easy to make! Kids are great at shaping the rice balls, making them a great family cooking activity. (Just watch those small hands near the hot oil!)

Start with Chef Cholly’s recipe below. If you’re feeling adventurous, try using different ingredients. Pair chorizo or olives with the Manchego to punch-up the Spanish theme. Ground meat, mozzarella, marinara, and peas will give you an Italian classic. You might even try a curried version with potatoes and peas to capture the flavors of India. (You can skip the saffron with these.) The possibilities are endless!

Recipe: Naranjillo (Little Oranges) – makes 20


½  pound semi-soft Manchego cheese – diced into 1 /2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups bomba rice 
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, simmering
15 threads of saffron
½ cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Flour for dusting
4 eggs
  • Fine panko bread crumbs (or fine regular bread crumbs)
    (Make regular breadcrumbs fine by pulsing them in a food processor
  • Oil for frying (Canola, peanut, or other high-temp oil)


  1. Heat a skillet on medium-high on the stove and add olive oil, then add rice and “toast” the rice in the skillet until it is almost translucent (10Mins.). Add the saffron, let the oils run and then add the stock (or water), salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Cook the rice until all the water is absorbed and the rice is over-cooked but still maintains its shape (mostly). Transfer to a flat pan to cool.
  3. In the meantime, gather your flour, bread crumbs and eggs (crack and beat the eggs), and place each in its own pan, bowl or container.
  4. Go back to the cheese and rice, take a piece of cheese and “wrap” rice around it to form a rice ball (with Manchego cheese in the middle). The rice should be sticky from over cooking and shape into a ball nicely.
  5. When all balls have been formed, dust the rice balls in seasoned flour, then dip in egg and finally into bread crumbs. Make sure rice balls are evenly coated.
  6. Cover and refrigerate the Naranjillo until cool and ready to use.
  7. Heat oil in a tall-sided pan (or use a fry daddy!) to 350 degrees F/(177 degrees C). Drop the Naranjillo into the oil for 1 -2 minutes until golden and heated through.
  8. Drain over paper towel and let cool a few minutes before eating so as not to burn the roof of your mouth!  Enjoy!

Empanada Filling

Chef Matt also updated his Empanada filling recipe to make it more user friendly.

Makes: 25


6- 6 oz. chicken breasts

½ – cup dry rib rub

1-Large yellow onion medium diced

1-Cup of toasted and rough chopped pistachios

Salt and pepper to taste

3- oz- olive oil

2- oz- butter


  1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and slowly caramelize the onions on very low heat for about 2 hours.
  2. Rub down all the chicken breast with the olive oil and rib rub then grill of the chicken breasts to medium well.
  3. Once chicken has cooled cut it to medium dice and mix in the caramelized onions and pistachios. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and begin filling your empanadas.


Depending on how much filling you use in each one you may have less or more so play with your amounts to get the right amount of filling for the amount of dough.

Sweet empanadas are great also that you can make with some diced apples caramelized with butter, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon. When you make sweeter ones you can add baking spices to the dough as well and a little brown sugar.

These can be really good served warm with vanilla ice cream.


Empanada Dough

Chef Matt has updated his Empanda Dough recipe to make it more usable.  Enjoy!

Makes: around 50(varies on the thickness of the dough and size of cutter)


4 ½ cups – All purpose flour

3 cups – Masa harina

1 tbsp. – baking powder

1 tbsp. – Salt

12 oz. – melted butter

½ to 2 cups – water

1-Egg blended with 2 ounces of milk

  1. Mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt in a kitchen aid mixer
  2. Slowly add in the melted butter on medium speed and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the water until the dough pulls together but is not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 3rds and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before shaping.
  5. On a floured surfaced roll out the dough to 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch in thickness.
  6. Cut out the dough with a 4 to 5 inch pastry cutter, brush ½ of the dough with the egg milk mixture add in your filling ( about 1 ½ tbsp.) then fold over the dough and seal up the empanada.
  7. Once all of the empanadas are done egg wash the top side and bake at 400 degrees F until golden brown.

This recipe can be easily cut in half or quartered to make the amount you need.

Buttermilk biscuits

Makes: 4 dozen


20 oz. -all purpose flour

16 oz. – cake flour

2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. – baking powder

2 tsp. – baking soda

4 tsp. – sugar

2 tsp. – salt

1-lb. butter

3 cups- buttermilk

4- oz.- yogurt

1-    Set the oven to 350 F then medium dice the butter and break it up with your hands.

2-   Mix together all of the dry ingredients then sift; Cut in the butter with your hands until all of the butter is in small flakes.

3-    Add in the butter milk and the yogurt then mix until fully combined.

4-   Roll out the dough to about an inch thickness then punch out the biscuits with a pastry cutter of your desired thickness.

5-   Place the biscuits on an un-greased cookie sheet about a ½ inch apart and bake until the tops are golden brown, then cool for about five minutes or serve hot

Sausage gravy


3 tbsp. – bacon fat

1- finely minced shallot

3 tbsp. – all purpose flour

¾ lbs. – breakfast sausage

1 tsp. – sugar

1/8  tsp. – smoked paprika

whole milk as needed

salt and pepper to taste

1-   Heat a medium sized sauce pot on the stove then add in bacon fat, melt down then add in the sausage. Once the sausage is almost cooked and broken up add in the shallot and cook until translucent.

2-   After cooking in the shallot add in the flour a bit at a time along with the paprika and sugar until a wet sand consistency is achieved. Roux should in general be about equal parts flour and fat.

3-   Once the roux is cooked for a minute or 2 add in milk a bit at a time adjusting consistency as the gravy thickens. Cook the gravy on low heat for at least 10 minutes adding more milk as needed. I add the pepper and salt at the end so the pepper does not become too spicy and it is easier to gauge.

Grilled peach jalapeno bbq sauce

Makes: 1 cup


3- Jalapenos roasted, peeled, and seeded

½ – peach seeded quartered and grilled

2-shallot small diced

2-clove of garlic minced

½ cup- white balsamic vinegar

¼ cup- rum

2-tbsp. – honey

½ – vanilla bean split and seeded

1-cup of ketchup

1-cup of chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Sauté the roasted jalapenos, shallot, and garlic in a little olive oil until the shallots turn translucent. Deglaze with rum, flame off, then add the balsamic vinegar, honey, ketchup and stock.
  2. Cook on the stove at a low simmer until reduced by 1/3. Puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
  4. Continue to simmer if needed until the sauce reaches the right thickness and cool down for service.


Jalapeno sweet and tangy sauce

Makes: 1 cup


3- Jalapenos roasted, peeled, and seeded

1-shallot small diced

1-clove of garlic minced

1-tsp. – cilantro rough chop

½  cup.-Sherry vinegar

¼ cup- tequila

2-tbsp. – honey

1tsp. – toasted cumin

1-cup of ketchup

1-cup of chicken stock

  1. Sauté the roasted jalapenos, shallot, and garlic in a little olive oil until the shallots turn translucent. Deglaze with tequila, flame off, then add the cilantro, sherry vinegar, honey, toasted cumin, ketchup and stock.
  2. Cook on the stove at a low simmer until reduced by 1/3. Puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
  4. Continue to simmer if needed until the sauce reaches the right thickness and cool down for service.


Soy Sesame Dressing


4-shallots minced

6-cloves of garlic crushed

2inch chunk- fresh ginger

2cups- soy sauce

1cup- teriyaki

1cup- red wine vinegar

1cup- orange juice

½ cup- rice wine vinegar

½ cup- lime juice

2 tbsp- Dijon mustard

2 tbsp- honey

2tbsp- tahini

2 tbsp- sirachi

3cups- vegetable oil

4cups- sesame oil

2tsp- red pepper flakes

2tsp- granulated garlic

1cup- sesame seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. 1.     Mix together the first 13 ingredients down to the line above the vegetable oil
  2. 2.     Blend the ingredients until the mixture is homogenized, then slowly add in the vegetable oil first then the sesame oil.
  3. 3.     Add in the rest of the ingredients then adjust the seasoning.

Peanut Butter Cookies


2 ½ cups- A. p. flour

½ tsp. – Baking Soda

½ tsp- baking powder

1 tsp. – salt

½ lb. – unsalted butter

7 oz. – light brown sugar

1 cup – crunchy peanut butter

2 large – eggs

2 tsp. – vanilla

1 cup – dry roasted salted peanuts ground in a food processor to resemble bread crumbs.

  1. Heat your oven to 350 Degrees F. Line 2 baking dishes with parchment paper, and coat them with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together, and set aside.
  3. Whip the butter, and add sugar until fluffy. Add the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
  4. Ad the dry ingredients in at slow speed, then finally the peanuts.
  5. Roll the dough into 2-in. balls, then place them on a baking sheet 2 ½ in. apart. Press each ball twice with a dinner fork, to make a crisscross design.
  6. Bake in the oven till slightly brown on the edges, about 10 min. Cool down for about 3 minutes
  7.  IF you want add 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips to the recipe.

Italian dressing & grilled romaine


1 oz.- balsamic vinegar

1 oz.- sherry vinegar

1 oz.- champagne vinegar

1 oz.- red wine vinegar

1 tbsp.- honey

1 tsp.- Dijon mustard

1 shallot- finely minced

3- cloves garlic minced

¼ – cup divina brand roasted tomatoes preserved in oil

2- tbsp- fresh basil

1- tbsp- fresh oregano

1 tsp.- Italian seasoning mix

8 oz. extra vigin olive oil

4 oz. – oil from preserved tomatoes

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients and let set for at least 2 hours for flavors to combine. Pulsing a few times in a blender works as well.
  2. Toss the romaine lettuce with the dressing and a little salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain off excess dressing in a perforated pan, grill on a broiler cut side down, flip then remove from the grill after another 20 seconds.

I serve this salad with roman style grilled artichokes, pecorino cheese with truffles or tallegio and some sort of toasted nut. Candied pumpkin seeds have been my personal favorite and the tallegio would be my cheese of choice as well.

Empanada dough


4 ½ cups – All purpose flour

3 cups – Masa harina

1 tbsp. – baking powder

1 tbsp. – Salt

12 oz. – melted butter

1 ½ to 2 cups – water

  1. Mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt in a kitchen aid mixer
  2. Slowly add in the melted butter on medium speed and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the water until the dough pulls together but is not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 3rds and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before shaping.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From the bottomless cookie jar:

Makes: enough to feed a ranch


6 3/4 cups- all-purpose flour

3 tsp. – baking soda

3 tsp. – salt

1 ½ – lb. unsalted butter at room temp.

2 ¼ cups- granulated sugar

2 ¼ cups- light brown sugar

6- Eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

3 cup- semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Set an oven to 350 degrees F., and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars until well blended and lightened in color.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and blend until fully incorporated.
  4. Mix together all the dry ingredients, and mix into the batter on low speed, then add in the chocolate chips.
  5. Make sure to cool down the batter for about an hour before scooping out and baking.
  6. To make the white chocolate chip macadamia replace the cup of chocolate with a cup of crushed macadamia and a cup of white chocolate chips.


Makes: ½ sheet tray


3 cups- all purpose flour

2 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. salt

¾ lb. butter

3 cups- brown sugar

4- Eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

2 cups- chocolate chips

1 cup- chopped pecans

  1. Let the butter set at room temperature for about a half hour, then cream it together with the sugar until it is light in color. Add in the eggs one at a time until it is fully incorporated along with the vanilla.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients into the mixture on slow speed, and then add in the chocolate chips, and pecans.
  3. Spread out the mixture on a well greased ½ sheet pan lined with parchment, and well greased.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees, until golden brown, then cool, cut, and enjoy.


Poblano butternut squash soup


1- Bunch celery

4-small carrots

1- Yellow onion

3- cloves garlic

1- butternut squash

3tbsp. olive oil

4 shallots- rough chop

3- poblano chilies roasted

½ cup- tequila

1-cup cream

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup- fresh cilantro

1-cup Cotija or parmesan cheese

1 gal- vegetable stock or water


1- Rough chop 1/2 celery, butternut squash, 2 carrots and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast off the vegetables in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned.

2- Meanwhile take the rest of the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and shallots, and process in a food processor until it is finely chopped. Sweat off the chopped vegetables in the olive oil until the onions turn translucent; add in the roasted peppers and cook for another two minutes. Deglaze the mix with tequilla, and add in the other roasted vegetables

3- Bring the mixture to a boil, adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture for about 30 minutes to an hour, and then puree it with an immersion blender. Add the cream to the mixture and simmer for another 10 minutes or so.

4- Add in the fresh cilantro and Cotija cheese.

5- Let the cheese melt slightly and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. This soup can be frozen for an exrended period of time then thawed out and reheated.

Grilled Romaine Salad

It’s summertime and we’ve been loving this salad!  Bring back a little bit of your Colorado ranch vacation with this salad and a nice glass of wine on a warm evening.

1 oz.- balsamice vinegar
1 oz.- sherry vinegar
1 oz.- champagne vinegar
1 oz.- red wine vinegar
1 tbsp.- honey
1 tsp.- Dijon mustard
1 shallot- finely minced
3- cloves garlic minced
¼ – cup divina brand roasted tomatoes preserved in oil
2- tbsp- fresh basil
1- tbsp- fresh oregano
1 tsp.- Italian seasoning mix
8 oz. extra vigin olive oil
4 oz. – oil from preserved tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
1. Mix together all of the ingredients and let set for at least 2 hours for flavors to combine. Pulsing a few times in a blender works as well.
2. Toss the romaine lettuce with the dressing and a little salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain off excess dressing in a perforated pan, grill on a broiler cut side down, flip then remove from the grill after another 20 seconds.

I serve this salad with roman style grilled artichokes, Pecorino cheese with truffles or tallegio and some sort of toasted nut. Candied pumpkin seeds have been my personal; favorite and the tallegio would be my cheese of choice as well.

Banana Crunch Muffins

As I was searching around for a healthy treat to send into school for a kiddo’s birthday, Chef Matt handed me this recipe. Our winter guest ranch guests enjoy these fresh from the over, sitting in front of the fireplace. Our summer guest ranch guests find these out on the breakfast ride most of the time. Enjoy!

Banana crunch muffins
Makes: 2 dozen
10 oz. – All Purpose Flour (roughly 2 cups)
1 tbsp. -baking powder
½ tsp. – salt
1- Egg
1 cup – sugar
2 oz. – butter melted
1 ¼ cups – sour cream
1 ½ cups – chopped bananas
¼ cup- granola
¼ – cup- toasted pecan pieces
1/8 cup- coarse sugar
1. Arrange 2 dozen muffin papers in a muffin tin and spray with baking spray
2. Mix together the melted butter, 1 tsp. – vanilla, sour cream, and eggs until homogeneous in a stand mixer. Add in the sugar mixing until all ingredients are blended
3. Sift together the dry ingredients, and add into the mix on low speed, then add in the bananas, granola, and pecans.
4. Scoop into greased muffin papers, sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake at 350 F until golden brown. Makes about 2 dozen

Depending on the size of the muffin tins and the oven muffins may take a little longer than it does for us so there really is not a specific time. How many you get will vary slightly also. I use a 2 0z. Cookie scoop for the size tins we have here at the dude ranch. I start out setting the timer for about 7 minutes, checking with a tooth pick when the tops brown up, and then baking longer if necessary.

If you want to tweak the recipe and make it your own you can use different kinds of extract, fruit or nut. Sometimes I will do the same recipe with fresh apricots and pistachios. The possibilities are endless.