Saturday, April 30, 2011

Free Groceries at the New Harmons in Farmington

Harmons will open its first store in Davis County Monday, May 2. It's also the first business to open in the huge Station Park shopping center, just south of the Frontrunner Commuter Rail Station in Farmington. 
Events Monday morning: 
6 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Parking lot party with free coffee, cocoa, food and entertainment.
9:45 a.m. - Brief ribbon cutting with Farmington Mayor and Harmons’ leaders
10 a.m. - Store opens

Harmons is giving away gift bags full of the store's signature foods and local products valued at $50, to the first 200 Station Park customers. Five random bags will include a $500 Harmons’ gift card and the rest will contain a $10 gift card. 

Beginning at 8 a.m., Harmons will begin distributing 200 wrist bands on site that can be redeemed with purchase at any Station Park check stand between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day in exchange for the gift bags. One wristband per family, and you must be 18 years or older.  

Some of the features of the new store:
- Made to order sandwiches from freshly baked artisan bread
- Carving station and hot meals, salad bar and soups to go 
- Chef prepared breakfasts
- A mezzanine with tables and chairs to sit and enjoy meals
- A cooking school offering classes
- Gourmet cheese island with imported and locally made artisan cheese

Harmons is a Utah-based grocery chain that has been in business for 79 years.  This is its fourteenth store. The Emigration Market store will open in June, and the downtown Salt Lake City Creek store will open next spring.

Food Network's Food Truck Race in Salt Lake Today

I got this email last night from SuAn Chow, owner of the ChowHaute Asian food truck:

The Food Network rolled into town with seven mobile food truck contestants of “The Great Food Truck Race.”  Three of the food trucks will be joining me at a location Saturday 4/30 for a national mobile food truck rally.  This is a unique opportunity to experience four gourmet food trucks in Salt Lake at one location for just one day!  And as a bonus for the three joining me at the rally, they are also invited to join me Sunday to offer up lunch at a convention downtown.

The rally will include:
Chow truck – Salt Lake City
Hodge Podge – from Cleveland, OH
Korilla BBQ – from New York City
Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese - from Boston, MA

Saturday 4/30
11:00 – all day
Canyon Rim Center
3150 East 3300 South – just west of REI

Come compare your local truck with others and place your own vote, it will be a Food truck party!!
See you on the streets,
Email Signature 
SuAn Chow

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chef Tom Up For Local Award

Local culinary entertainer “Chef Tom” Woodbury is a "Choice in Future" Award finalist in Utah's Entertainment and Choice Awards. 
Woodbury appears on ABC 4’s “Good Things Utah” and nationally on ShopNBC. He recently shot a cooking show pilot with Ocean Entertainment LTD, of Halifax, Nova Scotia ( He lives in Holladay with his wife and daughter.
The award is given to those individuals or businesses that display extraordinary tenacity, ambition, and fortitude for achievement in the entertainment industry, and will be determined based on votes from the general public. Voting is online at:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prince William's Wedding Cake and the Royal Chef

News that Prince William chose a Chocolate Biscuit Cake for his groom’s cake was probably no surprise to the chef who cooked for the Royal Family for many years, Darren McGrady. 

In fact, McGrady has a recipe for Chocolate Biscuit Cake in his cookbook, “Eating Royally” and mentions that it is also Queen Elizabeth’s favorite tea cake. In British terminology, “biscuits” are the American version of cookies. The cake is made with broken-up McVities Rich Tea Biscuits, butter, sugar, dark chocolate, and an egg.
 “Eating Royally” offers a peek into the palaces where McGrady spent 11 years cooking for Queen Elizabeth II and four years as Princess Diana’s personal chef. 
When the book came out several years ago, I took the opportunity to do a telephone interview with McGrady. He referred fondly to the princess as “The Boss,” and said that after she died, he turned down a job offer from Prince Charles and Camilla. "I think I would have forever felt Princess Diana looking down on me saying,'You are not going to cook for that woman, are you?"'
As Will and Kate tie the knot, many of us remember the last fairy tale wedding and the princess who didn’t end up living “happily ever after” with her handsome prince. 
McGrady was hired as a junior cook at Buckingham Palace shortly after Prince Charles and Diana married. When they separated, Diana offered him the job to cook for her and her sons at Kensington Palace. He found Diana's kitchen more relaxed, where William and Harry could wander in for ice cream and eat it out of the container while sitting in the windowsill.
"You didn't get that at Buckingham Palace. If the boys wanted ice cream, the Queen would call her page, who in turn would call the head chef. The head chef would call the pastry kitchen and the pastry chef would in turn call the silver pantry for some silver dishes to present it on. The ice cream would be formed into decorated quenelle shapes and placed in the silver dessert dish. Then it was off to the linen room to get the proper napkin."
The books is sprinkled with anecdotes about the young princes — their sneaky water gun attacks on the unsuspecting chefs, their attempt to make "Mummy's" her favorite stuffed eggplant, and Prince Harry’s forged note requesting pizza for dinner (his eight-year-old handwriting gave him away).
Diana's favorite dessert was Bread and Butter Pudding. "It's a cross between a pudding and creme brulee, a real nursery comfort food," McGrady said. "She couldn't resist going for seconds." A favorite savory dish was eggplant stuffed with zucchini, bell pepper, celery, onion, mushrooms, bacon and mozzarella.
He said he walked away from an earlier book deal because he wouldn't divulge "juicy gossip" of Diana's love life. "I didn't want to go that route -- never have, never will."
Indeed.  Any "juicy" references are saved for Windsor Castle's hothouse peaches or Balmoral's raspberries.
After Diana's death, McGrady decided to move "across the Pond," and became a chef for a Dallas socialite family. He also teaches cooking classes and maintains a Web site,
 Profits from his book went to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. "I wanted it to be something that would make money for the causes she cared about,” he told me. “It was never about cashing in."

Prep: 25 minutes
3 hours
This recipe from Darren McGrady's "Eating Royally" cookbook calls for McVitie's Rich Tea Biscuits. They can be bought at specialty food shops or ordered through
8 ounces tea biscuits or cookies
 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
 1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces dark chocolate
1 egg, beaten
1 ounce white chocolate
Lightly grease a small (6-inch) cake ring or springform pan with butter. Place on a parchment-lined tray. Break each of the biscuits into almond-size pieces; set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until a light lemon color.
Melt 4 ounces of the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Off the heat, add the butter and sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Add the egg; continue stirring. Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake ring. Try to fill all the gaps on the bottom of the ring, because this will be the top when it is unmolded. Refrigerate, at least 3 hours.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator; let it stand while you melt the remaining 8 ounces of dark chocolate in a double boiler. Slide the ring off the cake; turn the cake upside-down onto a cooling rack. Pour the melted chocolate over the cake, smoothing the top and sides using a butter knife or offset spatula. Allow the icing to set at room temperature. Carefully run a knife around the bottom of the cake where it has stuck to the cooling rack, transfer the cake to a cake dish. Melt the white chocolate; drizzle on top of the cake in a decorative pattern. — "Eating Royally," by Darren McGrady 

This was Diana's all-time favorite, so much so that she once had a royal reporter write that "Darren makes the best bread and butter pudding in the world."
3 ounces raisins
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur (or 1 teaspoon almond extract plus enough water to equal 1/4 cup)
12 slices white bread, crusts removed
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
9 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar to dust top of pudding
3 ounces sliced almonds, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Soak raisins in Amaretto, leave covered with plastic wrap at room temperature 6-8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut four slices of the bread into 1/ 2-inch dice, and spread diced bread on the bottom of a casserole dish. Sprinkle the raisins on top of the bread cubes and pour any remaining liquid over the bread.
Cut the remaining eight slices of bread in half diagonally, and then cut each half slice in half diagonally to create 4 even triangles per slice. Dip triangles into the butter and arrange on top of the raisins, overlapping triangles slightly. Pour any remaining butter over the top of the bread.
Whisk yolks, vanilla paste and sugar in a large bowl until combined. Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat, and pour the hot mix onto the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the warm egg mixture over the bread, making sure all of the bread is coated, and set aside for 20 minutes to allow the egg mixture to soak into the bread.
Place the casserole dish in a roasting tray filled with hot water halfway up the sides of the casserole dish, and bake on the middle rack in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown on top with the filling just set.
Remove the dish from the oven and roasting tray, and sprinkle with the extra sugar. Broil or use a creme brulee torch to caramelize the sugar. Sprinkle with the toasted sliced almonds, and dust with powdered sugar. Cool slightly and serve warm with a jug of cream and some fresh berries. -- "Eating Royally," by Darren McGrady

Monday, April 25, 2011

Restaurant Specials With Salt Lake's Dining Diversity

This is the last week of Dining Diversity, when Salt Lake City local, independent restaurants offer special menu options. Some are featuring $10 fixed-price lunches, others $15 or $30 fixed-price dinner choices.
The event was started a couple of years ago, in response to the popularity of the Downtown Dine O'Round.  Some restaurants wanted to participate in the Dine O'Round, but couldn't because they weren't located within the Downtown Alliance boundary.
I would call or check the restaurant's Web sites to see what the specials are, as may of them change daily.  The following restaurants are participating in Dining Diversity:  
Caffe Molise 
Caffe Niche
Citris Grill

Frida Bistro 
Log Haven

Mazza 9th & 9th
Oasis Cafe 
Sage's Cafe
Sego Lily Cafe
Tin Angel Cafe 
Trio Downtown 
The Wild Grape 


Free Chocolate Dipped Strawberries at Gastronomy

 It used to be called "National Secretaries Day," but now it's Administrative Professionals Week. Whatever the  title, The New Yorker and all Market Street Grill and Oyster Bar locations will offer complimentary chocolate-dipped strawberries at lunch this week, April 25-29.
 “These are the people who keep our offices and businesses running smoothly, and this is our way to recognize their service,” said Tom Guinney, Gastronomy partner, in a company press release.
 Created in 1952 to honor secretaries, Administrative Professionals Week is now one of the largest workplace observances outside of employee birthdays and major holidays.
 Since 1991, Gastronomy restaurants have prepared chocolate-dipped strawberries for this special week. Last year, more than 4,500 berries were served, according to Guinney.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Fun

Coloring Easter eggs with my daughter Amy, granddaughter Jayden, and grandson Anthony.  We love getting creative with masking tape, buttons, glitter and tie-dying.

Hunting for Easter eggs at Aunt Christi's house in Tooele.

Hunter Nash fills his basket.

Jayden rushes to find more eggs.  "Hurry Grandma!"

Owen Nash and Jayden Phillips look for eggs, then take a break on the swing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Biggest Loser Versus Weight Watchers Meals

 Since Lean Cuisine showed up 30 years ago, the number of diet-wise frozen meals has continued to expand. Now The Biggest Loser TV Show is has put its label on a line of Simply Sensible refrigerated entrees.

 Weight Watchers is expanding its Smart Ones frozen line with more breakfast and dessert items.

I tried several of the BL Simply Sensible entrees.  The Zing Chicken was great — slices of boneless chicken breast with a sweet-and-sour sauce, with ginger giving it a spicy “zing.”  One package actually offers about two servings at 230 calories each. But since  each serving is just one cup, it might be easy to eat the whole 17-ounce package in one sitting. You  get 16 grams protein and three grams dietary fiber, and a fair amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron per serving. I also liked the Beef Tips and Rice, which had a rich beefy flavor and brown rice. Neither dinner tasted diet-y.
To me, a major drawback is that the meal components are in separate plastic pouches that you vent, microwave and then combine. So if you’re taking this to work as a lunchtime meal to pop in the microwave, you'll need to bring along a bowl or plate.  Also,  you are supposed to add one cup of fresh steamed vegetables in order to make it a meal. I had some shredded cabbage in the refrigerator, and it worked great mixed with the Zing Chicken’s Asian-flavors. 
But the reason a lot of people buy a “healthy” entree is to get some vegetables in their diet without having to peel, slice or cook them. If you’re taking this as a workday lunch, you’d have to pack veggies and cook them in the company break room.  I suppose it’s hard for these dinner manufacturers to keep broccoli or asparagus looking appetizing in a refrigerated sauce. But I really think more veggies should be included in these entrees.
Simply Sensible’s $6.99 suggested retail price seems steep, although you are supposed to get two one-cup servings, which makes it about $3.50 per serving.  
Weight Watchers’ new Morning Express meals include French Toast with Turkey Sausage for 280 calories and 14 grams of protein  — seven points in Weight Watchers’ new PointsPlus program. The Egg Sausage and Cheese Wrap of scrambled egg whites, sausage, vegetables and cheddar cheese in a soft tortilla is  240 calories, 11 grams of protein, and a PointsPlus value of six. The suggested retail price of these is $3.09.  I tried the WW brand Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundaes, which have chunks of real-tasting brownie, for 140 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per serving. Each serving has a PointsPlus value of 4. 
WW has a variety of other products — muffins, string cheese, crackers and cookies, etc. If you’re on the Weight Watchers program, the advantage of is that the “points” are already calculated for you. The drawback is that they are pricey, unless you can find them on sale. 
My main complaint with so many “healthy” meals and desserts — Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, SmartOnes, and so on — is that the portions seem so small! And the entrees are usually heavy on starches, and lighter on veggies and protein. But there are recent improvements, such as more meals with brown rice or whole-grain pasta, and some boast that they offer two full servings of veggies.  And, most of these go on sale fairly regularly. I wouldnt' buy them otherwise. 
Two of my favorites are Lean Cuisine's meatless Butternut Squash Ravioli, and Chicken With Basil Cream Sauce.  But, I rarely eat any frozen entrees now that I'm working from home.
I’d like to hear what everyone else thinks — what’s your favorite frozen entree?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bratten’s Clam Chowder Revisited

Bratten's Clam Chowder      Photo by Valerie Phillips

My mom, Patricia Dymock, is recovering from shoulder replacement surgery. Despite the nausea and pain, she’s tried to do her rehab exercises faithfully. I suspect that my step-father, John, is getting just as much of a workout putting her through those exercises.
This is when you need comfort food.  I made her some clam chowder and rice pudding, two dishes that she is able to tolerate well.  I used the old Bratten’s clam chowder recipe, but streamlined the preparation and cut down on the fat. I used fat-free half-and-half, and cut the amount of butter from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup. it was still very rich and creamy. 
For  those who weren’t around in the 1970s, Bratten’s Seafood Grotto was a Utah hot spot, with several locations along the Wasatch Front. The clam chowder had a following that lasted long after the restaurants closed. Recipes claiming to be the real Bratten’s chowder have been passed around in numerous church and neighborhood cookbooks. The recipe I use, published in  “Five-Star Recipes From Well-Known Latter-Day Saints,” (Deseret Book) came from Bratten’s owner Milton Weilenmann. So I think it’s the real deal.  It’s a simple recipe, but I streamlined it by using frozen hash browns instead of peeling and dicing potatoes.  The original recipe also called for simmering the vegetables in a pan on the stove; I sped things up in the microwave. By the time you’ve made a roux and mixed in the half-and-half, the vegetables are tender and ready to add to the soup.  And if you elect to use fat-free half-and-half, you really won’t miss the fat.
 1 cup finely diced onion (or about 1 1/2 cups frozen diced onion)
 1 cup finely diced celery 
 3 cups frozen hash browns (or 2 cups diced raw potatoes)
 1 cup water
 2 6 1/2-ounce cans of minced clams
 1/2 cup butter 
 1/2 cup flour
 1 quart fat-free half & half cream
 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  Pepper to taste
 Place onion, celery and hash browns in a microwaveable casserole bowl. Drain juice from clams and pour liquid over vegetables. Add 1 cup water. Place a lid on the bowl and microwave on high 10 minutes, stirring at the 5-minute point.  Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in a heavy stock pot. Make a roux by stirring the flour and butter together with a wire whisk. Continuing cooking and stirring the roux  for about 5 minutes. Stir constantly while slowly adding half and half. Continue stirring and cooking over medium heat until mixture is thick and smooth.  Add the cooked vegetables and clams. Allow the mixture to heat completely through.  Add salt and pepper. Makes 6 1 1/2 cup servings.
Garnish: Parsley, oyster crackers

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hotel Utah History: "Recipes From The Roof" Cookbook

While I was the food editor at the Deseret News, I would sometimes get calls and letters wanting recipes from the legendary Hotel Utah (now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building). So when I heard that Deseret Book was publishing “Recipes From The Roof” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Hotel Utah/JSMB, I was excited to think that some of those old recipes would be finally in print. 
But while the new book has a lot of old stories, the recipes are all modern-day dishes from the restaurants that now occupy the building: The Garden, The Roof, the JSMB Bakery and the JSMB Catering Services. 

At a press conference Monday to showcase the book, I asked Deseret Book editor Jana Erickson about it. She said that cooking techniques and tastes have changed so much from the Hotel Utah’s early years that people probably wouldn’t want to eat those old dishes.  I understand the point — today we use a lot more fresh produce, more ethnic seasonings, and this new book has such a wide variety of flavorful recipes. But I still wish that a few of the old recipes had been tracked down and included, just for “old times’ sake.” 
Temple Square Hospitality chefs who contributed to the book demonstrated some of the recipes at yesterday’s press conference. Don Sanchez, Pedro Mauricio and Val Ayrapetov made Tomato & Kalamata Olive Bread Salad, Avocado Gazpacho and Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits. 
Hotel Utah was built in 1911 as the premier hotel west of the Mississippi River.  When I did research for my own historic book, “Dining Through The Decades,” I found out that President William Howard Taft stayed at the Hotel Utah in October of 1911. The 300-pound Big Bill polished off the following breakfast: Cantaloupe, sliced peaches, broiled sirloin steak, bacon and eggs, potatoes mashed in cream, toast, rolls and coffee.  The cost of this chow-fest was $2.15. 
The top floor restaurant over the years was known as the Roof Gardens, the Starlite Gardens, the Sky Room; and today, it's the Garden Restaurant and the Roof Restaurant. As the Starlite Gardens, it offered dance music and a romantic atmosphere. I imagine there were plenty of marriage proposals that took place.
A few historic tidbits:
-in 1936 the cost for dinner and dancing in the Empire Room was $2.50 per person.
-Will Rogers was once denied entrance to the Empire Room as he lacked acoat and tie. He borrowed them from the front desk in order to be admitted.
-The Crossroads Grill, located on the lower level of the hotel featured a live trout pond that ran down the middle of the table.

After 76 years as a hotel, it closed in 1987 and some floors were renovated into office space for its owner, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Gordon B. Hinckley, in the church's First Presidency at that time, requested that it be renamed the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in remembrance of the church's first prophet, and that it be used as a place for gathaerings and celebrations. The restaurants as well as many of the ballrooms are still used today for those celebrating weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, company parties and so on. In fact, when my oldest son, Jess, went to his first prom, he took his date to The Roof for dinner beforehand. 
Here’s one of the recipes from the book:
Artichoke Spinach Cheese Dip
6 servings

6 ounces cream cheese
1½ cups chopped baby spinach
1 cup drained and chopped canned artichokes
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
5–6 slices pita bread, grilled

Heat the cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except the bread) and mix well.

Cut the grilled pita bread into 8 triangles per slice.

Serve the dip hot with the sliced grilled pita bread.

Whole Foods Diet Delights

I've often heard complaints about the prices at Whole Foods — some people refer to the store as "Whole Paycheck."

But tonight, I found a great deal tonight on Kettle Brand baked potato chips, which are would be addicting if they weren't so expensive. At my local Smith's store, a 4-ounce bag of these chips is usually $3.49.  The Whole Foods at Trolley Square had them on a special for two bags for $4 -- just $2 each.
I'm in Weight Watchers mode right now, and Kettle Baked are my not-too-guilty pleasure when I have the munchies.  They have 65 percent less fat that regular potato chips, but are made from real slices of potato rather than molded potato mush as other low-fat potato chips seem to be. Each serving also has three grams of  fat, two grams of fiber and 120 calories.  The only problem is that old "betcha can't eat just one" saying. Hard to stop until the whole bag is gone.

How does the Whole Foods price on these chips compare with other stores besides Smith's? I don't know, because I've never been able to find them at other grocery stores where I shop, such as  Harmons, Fresh Market or Bowman's in Kaysville.

I can't say much about the rest of Whole Foods' regular prices, as I don't shop there often enough to really be familiar with them.  But if you're a Kettle Baked fan, stock up now while the sale is on. I did!

Earth Day Events in Utah

Oasis Cafe, at 151 S,  500 East  in Salt Lake City, is celebrating Earth Day by hosting a farmers market, and serving menu specials that use on local ingredients.  Specials will include turkey burgers and chicken dishes from Utah's Heritage Valley Organic, with proceeds benefiting Wasatch Community Gardens.
Chad Midgely with Chad's Produce will be on hand from noon-6 p.m. for the farmers market. He will return each Saturday through the summer. His Earth Day crops include Swiss chard, rainbow carrots, candy striped beets, turnips, leeks and parsnips.  He will also have farm eggs, locally raised onion plants, and heirloom tomato plants. 
"Our diners appreciate the extra care we take, to fill our menus with local organic vegetables, sustainably ranched meats and the freshest seafood," said Billy Sotelo, executive chef.  "We are starting our weekly farmers market to extend this effort to their home kitchens."
Slow Food Utah,  at has several other events listed on its Web site in conjunction with Earth Day:
Nature Conservancy "Picnic for the Planet"
1050 S State St, Salt Lake City, UT  April 23, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Nature Conservancy

After a year of hard work and community dedication, the refugee "Field of Dreams" is turning into a reality.  
Wednesday, April 20, 3: p.m.
3100 S. Lester St. - behind Redwood Recreation Center
Donate your extra garden tools for a gardener in need: collection boxes will be available onsite.
Dining Diversity for a Good Cause
Join with 20 of Salt Lake City's fresh, local and independent restaurants with special menu options,  April 18 - May 1. Follow this link for more information.

Utah Women's Alliance for Building Community, with guest panelists from Slow Food Utah and others.
Tuesday April 19 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. 
A Gift to Africa, 824 S. 400 W., Suite B101
Salt Lake City

Join Slow Food Utah at the shop that specializes in fair-trade products from around the world. We will be there with recipes and samples for you to try as you shop and receive a discount on garden products for Earth Day.
Friday, April 22 from 4 - 6 p.m.
1941 S. 1100 E.
Salt Lake City

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Utah Chefs Win National Honors

A couple of years ago, I met two young chefs named Viet Pham and Bowman Brown, who told me they were starting a small restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City that would serve local, organic ingredients. In fact, they were in the process of building a greenhouse so they could grow some of the vegetables. They planned to serve one fixed-price meal each night, with the menu changing every day. The prices would run from about $35 to $70. 
At the time, the economy had just tanked. I wondered at the time if these guys would survive their first year in business at Forage, 370 E. 900 South.  They did — and they’ve made a national name for themselves as well.  Pham and Brown are among the 10 regional winners of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs” award. The magazine works with restaurant critics, food writers and other experts around the country to identify outstanding chefs in each region of the country who have been in charge of a kitchen for five years or fewer.  
The Forage chefs and the other 2011 winners will be featured in the July issue of the magazine and also will attend the 29th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on June 17-19.  
 You can read more about Forage at

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mormon Funeral Potatoes Go National

Cook’s Country magazine features Funeral Potatoes in its May issue and credits Mormon for coming up with the dish’s name, although the dishes goes by other names in other parts of the country.   
“Mormons call it ‘Funeral’ or ‘Ward Party’ potatoes. In the South, it’s ‘hash brown casserole, but I’ve heard it called ‘neighborhood potatoes in Massachusetts and ‘cheesy potatoes’ in Washington,” writes the Cook’s Country author, Sarah Gabriel. 
When I did a story on Funeral Potatoes a few years ago, I asked food editor friends across the country if they were familiar with the recipe, and what they called it.  It seemed that Utah was the only place that called them Funeral Potatoes. In Wisconsin, they're known as Heart-Stopper Hash Browns, for all their artery-clogging sour cream, butter and cheese. In New Jersey, they're Party Potatoes. In Detroit, they're Cheesy Potato Casserole. Folks in Pennsylvania call them Pittsburgh Potatoes. In a Virginia cookbook, they're a Church Social Potato Casserole, and in Florida, they're Churchlady Potatoes.
In fact, most Utahns didn't start calling them Funeral Potatoes until the past 15 years or so. By that time, they were a staple at  dinners given for bereaved friends and family after an LDS funeral. Relief Society presidents heading up the after-funeral dinners say these potatoes go well with ham, and are easy for other ward members to make and bring. The unofficial name stuck.
When they got their own 2002 Winter Olympics pin, they were firmly entrenched , as part of Utah food culture, along with fry sauce and green Jell-O. 
The recipe has appeared by other names in community cookbooks and on packages of frozen hash browns. The hash browns are swimming in sour cream, grated cheese, and cream-of-something soup (mushroom, chicken, celery or potato, depending on your recipe and what's in your pantry). Crushed, buttery cornflakes are the usual topping.
The Cook’s Country article revises the recipe by ditching the “gloppy” cream of chicken soup and making a from-scratch cheese sauce instead. Sour-cream-and-onion potato chips are swapped for the buttered cornflake crumbs. 
The result? Still potatoes “to die for.”  But I wonder if busy cooks would take the time to make the cheese sauce, or whether they are just content to open up a can, gloppy or not. Here's a comparison of the Cook's County version with the recipe from "The Essential Mormon Cookbook." 
Which is best? You decide..

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped fine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
9 cups (1 30-ounce bag) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
4 cups sour-cream-and-onion potato chips, crushed
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a Dutch oven (or pot) over medium-high heat. Cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, half-and-half, salt, thyme, and pepper and bring to a boil. 
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3-5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheddar until smooth. 
Stir potatoes into sauce, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until thawed, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in sour cream until combined.
Scrape mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and top with potato chips. Bake until golden brown, 45-50 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serves 8-10.
Make ahead: potato mixture can be refrigerated in baking dish, covered with aluminum foil, for up to 2 days. To finish, bake potatoes 20 minutes, then uncover and top with potato chips. Bake an additional 45-50 minutes.
— Cook’s Country 
1 32-ounce bag frozen shredded hash browns
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
1 cup grated cheese
 1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cups crushed cornflakes
2 tablespoons butter, melted 
Peel potatoes and boil 30 minutes, until just tender. Cool and grate into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish (or put hash browns into the baking dish). Combine soup, sour cream, cheese, the 1/2 cup melted butter, and onions. Gently blend into potatoes. Combine crushed cornflakes and the 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 12 servings.
-- “The Essential Mormon Cookbook,” by Julie Badger Jensen

As for my opinion, I never use the butter that the recipe calls for, and I use reduced-fat sour cream and low-fat cream of chicken soup. But, I'm afraid, those calorie-cutting attempts barely mitigate the diet damage.