“Eureka,” said Ellyn with a twinkle in her eye. “Rocky Mountain High is a great theme – folks can select the mountain part or the high part, as they choose.”
Our group, being all about the excess, said yes please to everything, in moderation of course. I have to say – the creativity was at an all-time high!
Throughout this post we’re going to drop in some mountain/hiker/outdoor sports factoids and lingo – perhaps only tangentially related to the Rocky Mountains, but pretty cool and new to us anyway. Here’s the first one.
Eureka Mountain is a central member of the Crestone Conglomerate portion of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains, one of the most distinct subranges of Colorado's Rocky Mountains.
- Drinks – Kathleen and Karen: Bristlecones – a gin-based cocktail; Assorted wines
- Appetizers – Greg and Dan: “Mountain" Goat Cheese Spread with Herbs and Lemon with Sourdough Whole-Wheat Crackers; Denver Omelette Frittata with Grandma’s Chili Sauce
- Main Course – Ellyn: Roast Trout Stuffed with Lemon and Herbs; Seared Venison with Black Raspberry Sauce; Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries; Baked Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
- Dessert – Ilise and Ann: A Rocky Mountain Ski-scape featuring Chocolate Layer Cake with White Chocolate Mousse Filling and Chocolate Fudge Frosting
The Playlist: Yes, we’re going there.
Inhale the second-hand smoke from John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High and then sing along at the top of your THC-filled lungs, won’t you?
This playlist is packed with other great mountain music too. Check it out.
Today we welcome a deep dive into the freshies (defined by Matador Network’s Guide to Mountain Slang as “Fresh, untracked powder. The ultimate sign of a good day to come”) with respect to the Drinks and Appetizer courses. Here’s what you need to know about the drinks, in the Ks’ own words:
We served Bristlecones - our take on a pine syrup gimlet - named in honor of Colorado's unique ancient high-desert pine. The syrup, however, was made with blue spruce needles - a tree found in both Illinois and Colorado. Because we generally find simple syrup too sweet, ours is 2 cups of water to 3/4 cup of sugar (we used caster, or superfine, sugar). We chopped blue spruce needles and muddled them with the sugar before adding the water. (Because the needles were older rather than young and tender as they would be in springtime, muddling was essential to release the piney flavor.) The recipe for one drink is as follows:
60 ml Leopold's American small-batch gin (made in Colorado)
35 ml homemade blue spruce (tweaked) simple syrup
20 ml fine-strained fresh lime juice
That Bristlecone is a mighty tasty cocktail! I’m a gimlet fan to begin with and the pine/spruce syrup adds a distinct and delightful flavor all its own. Dangerously good – this goes down quite easily.
Presentation was a knock-out as well. Spruce needles were frozen into the ice cubes, creating a beautiful natural garnish. And then the Ks served the glasses from a large woven basket spread with evergreen clippings. A delight for all the senses! Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
- Pine Ridge; Chenin Blanc Viognier 2014; Napa, CA
- Gundlach Bundschu; Mountain Cuvée 2013; Sonoma, CA
- 1000 Stories; Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel 2014; North Coast, CA
- Ghost Pines; Cabernet Sauvignon 2013; North Coast, CA
- Red Rock; Reserve Merlot 2014; Healdsburg, CA
- Stonefly; Chardonnay 2015; Russian River Valley, CA
For the appetizer course, Greg and Dan brought savory delicacies representing two sides of Colorado living:
- A sculpted presentation of rocky, snow-covered mountains (if not THE Rocky Mountains)
- Also a famous dish that was born in Denver, Colorado’s capital.
Hot tip for those who like to play with your food: Dan used glasses of different sizes as the foundation for the goat cheese mountains, layering the spread all around. Great idea, guys!
I’ve never had much luck with homemade crackers (always too thick) but Greg makes it look easy and taste delicious. Here are his recipes.
Recipe source: Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook
Makes 8 servings
- 12 ounces Montrachet or other soft mild chèvre, broken into pieces
- 1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 3 bunches (about 12 stems each) chives, finely snipped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- In a stand mixer, beat chèvre until smooth.
- Add the cream and beat until smooth, scraping the mixing bowl a few times.
- Stir in the chives, thyme, pepper, lemon juice and zest.
- Refrigerate several hours to allow flavors to blend.
- NOTE: Goes well with lemon-pepper or herb crackers.
Sourdough Whole Wheat Crackers
Recipe source: King Arthur Flour
- 4 ounces King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour or White Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 8 3/4 ounces unfed ("discarded") sourdough starter (1 cup)
- 2 ounces unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 tablespoons dried herbs of your choice optional
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Oil for brushing
- Coarse salt (such as kosher or sea salt) for sprinkling on top
- Additional dried-herb or spice blend to sprinkle on top (optional)
- Mix together the flour, salt, sourdough starter, butter, and optional herbs to make a smooth (not sticky), cohesive dough.
- Divide the dough in thirds, and shape each third into a small rectangular slab. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a couple of hours, until the dough is firm.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (convection) or 325°F (conventional bake cycle).
- Very lightly flour a piece of parchment, your rolling pin, and the top of the dough.
- Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough to about 1/16" thick (or as thin as possible). The dough will have ragged, uneven edges; that's OK. Just try to make it as even as possible.
- Transfer the dough and parchment together onto a baking sheet. Lightly brush with oil and then sprinkle the salt over the top of the crackers.
- Cut the dough into 1 1/4" squares or triangles; a rolling pizza wheel works well here.
- Prick each square with the tines of a fork (optional).
- Bake the crackers for about 20-30 minutes, until the squares are starting to brown around the edges.
- When fully browned, remove the crackers from the oven, and transfer them to a cooling rack. Store airtight at room temperature for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.
NOTE: Some herb blend suggestions, all from The Spice House: Rocky Mountain Blend; Italian Herb Blend; Herbes de Provence; Lemon Pepper; Garlic Salt
|Printable Recipe- Goat Cheese Spread with Herbs and Lemon|
|File Size:||549 kb|
Inspired by a number of Denver Omelette recipes as well as the classic Spanish dish "Tortilla Española" which is traditionally made with just potatoes and onions. To make this Tortilla style instead of frittata stile, cut the recipe in half and use a slightly smaller skillet. Instead of finishing in the oven, invert the partially cooked egg mixture to a plate. Add some more oil to the pan and then slide the egg mixture back onto the skillet uncooked side down. Tuck in the edges to round out the tortilla and cook the other side through, about another 10 to 15 minutes.
Wow, the omelette was not only flavorful and satisfying but also pretty as a mosaic when viewed in cross-section. The veggies looked like little gems embedded in random, organic patterns within the eggy kaleidoscope. A dollop of a sweet/smoky chili sauce or chutney is the perfect accompaniment for a slice of Denver Omelette Frittata.