When asked to contribute my favorite ‘Sweet Escape’ for a recent Studio 5 segment, the first thing that came to mind were the wonderful, artisanal chocolates of Chocolatier Blue. Chris Blue, the chocolatier behind it all, prides his work on the quality, ‘best of the best’, local and organic ingredients. He focuses wholly on each individual piece and tries to make each individual chocolate its own dessert entity. His unique combinations, and creative recipes make for a decadent treat.
Nestled just a block north of the 9th and 9th neighborhood, this busy little bakery serves up some of the best treats in town. My favorites: their huge, flakey house croissants, chocolate sandwich cookies (or ‘Blackmoons’ as the term I grew up with), and fresh fruit tarts. Visit Tulie for a breakfast pastry, or warm artisanal panini for lunch.
. Fresco Italian Cafe / 1513 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City / www.frescoitaliancafe.com
As part of the Trio restaurant family, Fresco stands out for creative, gourmet Italian fare. Fresco is the perfect summer date night spot. Located in the cozy 15th and 15th area, reserve the patio ahead of time, and take a leisurely neighborhood stroll before and / or after dinner to enjoy the local shops, galleries, and twinkling street lights. My favorite dishes include the Cafe Salad, wrapped in Fresco’s version of a crouton, Fettucini Carbornara- fresh pasta, house made pancetta and local eggs (salivating now…), any of their specialty risottos, and of course dessert: Zeppole, italian donuts with lemon curd and fresh berries. . The Copper Onion / 111 East Broadway, Ste 170, Salt Lake City / www.thecopperonion.com A downtown hotspot known for it’s spectacular brunch and open kitchen counter service, The Copper Onion prides itself on ‘Regional American Fare’ and offers a comfy dining room with a rural vintage vibe. Their spin on Poutine (traditionally, a French fry and gravy dish from our neighbors to the North) is a luscious treat that is so melt-in-your-mouth delectable you will forget about its not so healthy aspects. To balance the rich poutine, try a triple veggie side platter. The broccoli raab is a local fav.
. Pago / 878 South 900 East, Salt Lake City / www.pagoslc.com Pago is, by far, my favorite restaurant in Salt Lake. As the city’s leader in the ‘Farm to Table’ movement, Pago’s menu is comprised of ingredients from local famers, purveyors, producers and artisans. Truly unique, rustic, belly-warming dishes complimented by an excellent wine selection and friendly, knowledgable waitstaff make this restaurant a must-try on any visit to Utah. Tip: try the Artisanal Cheese plate for a true sampling local flavors. Lunch on the patio is also a can’t miss with delicious specialty items such as their signature tuna melt or local Wagyu Beef Salad.
And last but not least…
Coffee Garden / 2 Locations, 9th & 9th neighborhood and 225 South Main Street, Salt Lake City Start your morning, or wind down your evening with the best coffee in town. Friendly, and eclectic baristas serve up creamy, rich lattes, and refreshing iced coffee. Bonus: they have a massive tea selection, and in-house baked goodies to go along side.
I first tried Krupp Brothers wine at the Vintner’s Collective in Napa and knew that I liked their style. This 2007 Black Bart Marsanne is a blend of 97% Marsanne and 3% Chardonnay, aged in French oak which lends itself to a lovely yet unique flavor. Although smooth and succulent, this sprightly white has a complex nose with a balanced finish. Tasting notes (in my opinion!) include: almond, honey, amber oak, and mossy spring grass. Try this wine as a first course for a light outdoor dinner!
Also, I’m loving the label….
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The latest recipe featured on Studio 5 was this yummy, fresh Spring Pizza. It is a great way to incorporate the first flavors of the season baked in a tasty crust. If you are a dough-making fiend, use your favorite recipe for pizza dough. If you are like me, and dough is the enemy, feel free to save a little time and buy some fresh made dough from your favorite pizza restaurant or market. For an added health benefit, use Skim or 1 % milk in the Bechamel sauce. The result will pack all the same flavor, without the added fat and calories. Recipe below.
Spring Pizza with White Sauce
- Bechamel sauce (see below)
- 1 fresh pizza dough ball (can be store bought)
- ½ bunch asparagus, shaved (about 8-10 stalks)
- 1 bunch spring onions, chop the whites
- ½ lemon
- 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper
- Fresh grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses
- 1 Tbs. flour (for your hands to work the dough)
- 4 Tbs. Butter
- 3 Tbs. Flour
- 1 clove Garlic (minced)
- 3 c. Milk
- 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
- 1 tsp. Salt
- ¼ c. Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To make one batch of béchamel sauce, heat butter in a sauce pan over medium heat until it is melted and frothy, but not browned. Add garlic. Stir in flour, and mix until roux consistency is smooth and granular (sandy), and has a tan-ish color (about 5-7 minutes). Meanwhile, heat milk in another small sauce pan over medium heat. When milk is warm to the touch (test a spoonful), gradually begin to add milk to the roux mixture while stirring the whole time to ensure a smooth sauce, and to avoid burning on the bottom. When all milk has been incorporated, stir in nutmeg. Add salt and stir in cheese. Remove from burner and set aside.
3. Flour your hands, and begin to work the pizza dough. Toss the dough in your hands until it has become stretched and pliable, but avoid tearing. Spread dough on a baking sheet. You can create whatever shape you like for your pizza: round, rectangular, oblong… Roll the sides of the dough to form a crust around all edges.
4. Pre-bake dough for 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a sautee pan over medium heat. Add the spring onion whites, and sweat for 1-2 minutes. Add the asparagus shavings, and mix thoroughly with onions. Squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over the mixture, and add a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Sautee for an additional minute or two. Remove from heat.
6. Spread your desired amount of béchamel sauce over the pre-baked pizza crust. Add asparagus and onion as topping, and finish off by sprinkling a layer of Parmesan and Romano cheeses over the top of the veggies.
7. Bake pizza (uncovered) at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Use your judgment for when it’s done! The cheese should be bubbly, and the crust golden brown.
Inspired by the version I saw on Ask Aida, I decided to recreate this recipe with my own added flair. The rich, luxe fennel flavor stuck out to me the most as both unique and comforting. As I always think homemade anything tastes better, I used my grandmother’s pie crust recipe for the topping (I subbed in 1/4 c. whole wheat flour instead of white for heartiness and health!), but as Aida suggests in her recipe, you can also easily use store bought pie dough or puff pastry.
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 8 fresh crimini mushrooms, quartered
- 1 white sweet potato, chopped into cubes
- 3 carrots, cleaned, peeled and chopped into cubes
- 1 bulb fennel, thin sliced
- 1 can of peas & 1/2 of the liquid in the can
- 3 Tbs. fresh chopped chives (about a palmful)
- 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
- 1 1/3 c. Veggie Stock
- 1/3 c. Dry White Wine
- 2 Tbs. Flour
- 1 Tbs. Herbs de Provence
- 1 pie dough or puff pastry (either homemade or store bought)
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbs. water
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together one egg with 1 Tbs water and set aside (egg wash).
3. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil In a medium sized dutch oven over medium high heat. Sweat the onion until translucent, add mushrooms and allow to brown for about 5-6 minutes.
4. Add fennel to the pan, and coat evenly with the onion & mushroom mixture. Toss in a pinch of salt.
5. Deglaze the pan with white wine and make sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom.
6. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, and stir in 1 Tbs. of flour. Make sure the flour is fully incorporated into the mix.
7. Add potato and carrots, another dash of salt with pepper and continue to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
8. Add peas and 1/2 of the liquid from the can. Stir all ingredients, and simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
9. Pour in veggie stock, and lightly sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour, and add the Herbs de Provence. Make sure the flour is fully incorporated into the mixture.
10. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with the fresh chives.
11. If you are choosing to transfer ingredients to a casserole dish, do so at this time. Cover the dutch oven or casserole dish with the pie crust. Trim the edges with a paring knife, and tuck into the pan/dish.
12. Brush the crust with eggwash, and sprinkle a light pinch of salt over the crust.
13. Place pot pie dish on a baking sheet, and bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown. Garnish with some additional chopped chives.