2012’s best recipes: Blueberry loaves, corn-bacon salsa, steamed mussels. truffled mac-n-cheese

Besides using Olathe sweet corn in the Corn-Bacon Salsa recipe below, cooks can now sizzle Colorado-smoked bacon from Denver-based Tender Belly. (Courtesy photo)

AURORA – When we debuted the Colorado Table food section this year in the Aurora Sentinel newspapers and web sites, we committed ourselves to locally sourced food and to sourcing great homegrown recipes from Colorado chefs, cookbooks and cooks. As with children, it’s hard to name our recipe favorites but the following delivered such delicious results that we had to share them again.

The first is a classic from Boulder’s Flagstaff House Restaurant which sends diners home with a Blueberry-Poppy Seed Loaf.

Flagstaff House Blueberry-Poppy Seed Loaves

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil, plus more for brushing

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

2 ½ cups sugar

Pinch of salt

1½ cups whole milk

3 large eggs

1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds

1 ½ teaspoons almond extract

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush four mini loaf pans (about 5 by 3 inches each) with vegetable oil. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Beat the milk, 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil, the eggs, poppy seeds, and almond and vanilla extracts in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until combined. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until well combined. Fold the blueberries into the batter with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes. Transfer the pans to a rack and let cool about 10 minutes, then remove the cakes to the rack to cool completely. Makes four mini-loaves.

The next recipe combines two of our top tastes: Colorado corn and bacon. The Colorado Corn and Bacon Salsa recipe was contributed by Jason K. Morse, executive chef for the Douglas County School District.

Colorado Corn and Bacon Salsa

5 ears Colorado sweet corn

5 tablespoons butter, melted

kosher or sea salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 red onion

3 fresno peppers or red jalapenos

12 strips thick cut Colorado bacon

1 tablespoon garlic puree

1/2 cup pinto beans, rinsed

1/2 cup black beans, rinsed

1 cup tomato sauce

2 teaspoons cumin

1 tablespoon dark chili powder

fresh lime juice, to taste

5 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, no stems

Peel the husk back on the corn, do not tear off, and remove the silk. Brush each ear of corn with melted butter and season with the salt and pepper. Replace the husk on the corn. On medium heat on outdoor grill, grill the corn with the husk on until tender. Remove the husk and continue grilling until the corn starts to show grill marks, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Cook the peppers on the grill until well roasted, remove, cool and dice. Split the red onion in half, brush with butter and season with salt and pepper. Grill both halves of the red onion until well cooked then remove, cool and dice. Cook the bacon in a skillet until fully cooked then remove, cool and chop. Once the corn is cooled, trim the niblets from the ear and place into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, except the bacon, lime juice and cilantro. Mix well and season to taste then add the lime juice and cilantro and mix well. Add the bacon and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. This recipe goes great with grilled flour tortillas, white corn tortilla chips or as a side for any grilled meat. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

The Truffle, the cool cheese shop at 2906 E. 6th Ave. in Denver, shared the following recipe at denvertruffle.com.

The Truffle’s Baked Mac and Cheese

1 pound dried penne pasta

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

¾ pound grated high quality cheeses such as:

¼ pound Colston Bassett Stilton, crumbled

1/4 pound Fontina val d’Aosta, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. While pasta is cooking: In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk the flour into the butter, and continue cooking, whisking constantly until the mixture reaches the consistency of a thick paste, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the milk, and continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese, stirring until melted. Stir in the pasta until coated. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Break out your those carefully frozen ripe Colorado peaches for this classic cobbler recipe contributed by Barbara Baker of Cañon City to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Want to match your cobbler with a Colorado dessert wine? Try a glass of Merlot Port from The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey.

Grannie’s Peach Cobbler

6 cups peeled, sliced Colorado peaches (about 2 medium peaches or 2 pounds)

3⁄4 to 1 1/4 cups sugar, depending on peach sweetness

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons butter

Crumb crust:

1 cup sugar

1 1⁄2 cup flour

2/3 cup butter

cinnamon (optional)

To make crumb crust, gently combine sugar, flour and butter. Mix peaches with all cobbler ingredients and pour into 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Sprinkle with crumb crust. Sprinkling with cinnamon is optional. Bake for about 60 minutes at 350 degrees or until crust is brown and juice is bubbling. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Bertrand Bouquin, executive sous chef at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, shares his exquisitely simple, quick recipe for fresh mussels.
Mussels with White Wine

½ tablespoon minced garlic

½ tablespooon minced shallots

½ cup white wine

4 tablespoons butter

4 to 5 cups mussels

1 ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, julienned

10 to 15 Italian parsley leaves

salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

Wash mussels very well in cold water several times and remove the beard (strings) attached to shell. In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter then add garlic and shallots. Sautee on low heat for about 30 minutes. Do not caramelize. Add mussels and white wine and cover the pot. Steam the mussels until they open, remove the lid and season with salt and pepper. Add remaining butter with the tomatoes and the parsley. Stir all together until butter is melted. Serve with baguette and/or pommes frites (french fries).This recipe feeds one person. Double or triple recipe for more people.

This recipe was developed by Elizabeth Watts, a volunteer with Cooking Matters Colorado, a non-profit which offers classes in making healthy, affordable meals. Cranberry Walnut Slaw took first place in the salad category in a national contest sponsored by the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength.

1 (1-pound) head green or red Colorado cabbage

3 medium carrots

1 cup walnuts

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1⁄4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon celery seed

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried cranberries

Rinse cabbage and carrots. Thinly slice cabbage. Peel and grate carrots. Chop walnuts. In a large bowl, use a fork to whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, celery seed, and salt. Add cabbage, carrots, walnuts, and cranberries. Toss to mix well. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Tip:  If you end up with extra cabbage, slice and and sauté with sliced apples, salt, and pepper. Serve with chicken or pork.

For more of our favorite Colorado recipes of 2012, visit aurorasentinel.com/colorado-table.

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