Denver is getting so fancy these days!  I’m home for the holidays, and I find that city is cluttered with trendy ‘new American’ restaurants, and could probably take a few more, given that very few of them had any available reservations.  We ended up at Cholan, a small plates southeast Asian-fusion place.  The kitchen is run by Lon Symensma, formerly of Jean Georges Shanghai and at Spice Market and Buddakan in New York.  Cholan is industrial chic, with exposed pipes and a heavy door and concrete pillers and indie music in the bathroom and an open kitchen.  It was also a ‘small plates’ place, which I liked, because I am incorrigibly cosmopolitan, and confused my father, because he is incorrigibly provincial.  He didn’t like the food either.  But I did!  And my mother also. We had the following:

Chili Crab Rolls, Charred Corn Salad, Sriracha Mayo: Very expected, but well done and tasty.

Kaya Toast, Coconut Jam, Egg Cloud: Glazed toast that you dip in a coconut egg foam.  A singaporean dish, apparently.  The dish was both savory and sweet, and the egg added richness, but not too much, because it was foam.  I never thought I liked foam, but this made sense.

Chow Fun Noodle, Lobster, Shrimp, Black Bean Sauce: Also expected, tasted good, but like soy and fish sauce.

Kung Pao Chicken, Spiced Peanuts, Szechuan Sauce:  The chicken was deboned, rolled with some sort of protein addition, and then cooked sous vide.  It was really fantastic.  The chicken really had a unique texture, and was very very moist.  The peanuts, which seemed candied but not sweet somehow, were a good addition.

Black Pepper Short Rib, House Made Chow Fun, Chinese Broccoli: The short rib was chop stick tender and moist and very tasty.

Spiced Doughnuts, Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream, Condensed Milk: I don’t really know where the condensed milk was, but the doughnuts were flavorful, not too dense, and ice cream was delectable   There should have been more ice cream though.

happy holidays, my fancies!


Holiday German Apple Cake

apple cake

Here is a very simple and tasty apple cake courtesy of smitten kitchen.  It’s a holiday apple cake insofar as it’s the holidays.  And I’m not quite sure how it’s German, or if it’s maybe Jewish-German, or neither of those, but I did make it as part of German-themed Spaetzle party in honor of my friend M (more details on that later).  The biggest change I made was to use a regular cake pan (who has a tube pan??).  You could use a square pan or a loaf pan also.  Also, I used one cup of oil, as SK calls for, but would recommend half oil and half butter, for a richer texture and flavor.

Holiday German Apple Cake

6 apples, any kind you like

1 tablespoon cinnamon

5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup apple juice (I used sparkling apple juice from TJs, which worked)

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

4 eggs

1 cup walnuts, chopped or crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your cake pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.  I forgot to toss with the cinnamon and sugar, and everything came out ok.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, a smaller one perhaps, mix together oil, butter, apple juice, sugar and vanilla with your hand mixer or whisk. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.  That’s it!

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Top with crushed or chopped walnuts.  You can crush the walnuts in your mortar and pestle, which, unlike a tube pan, everyone has, right? Bake for about  hour or so, or until a tester comes out clean.  It may take another half an hour so just keep checking.

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Butterscotch Pudding

Several months ago, I visited a Jar, a steakhouse, during dine LA.  It was the first time I had eaten a steak since I was a teenager, and while good, what stole the show was the butterscotch pudding they served for dessert.  I said at the time: “Once it cools down, I’m going to make this for the first person who comes over to my house to eat.  I will make you some butterscotch pudding and you have to eat it.”  And I came through.  It was delicious, and easy!  And I’m not on the primal diet anymore, fyi.

Butterscotch Pudding

(via David Lebovitz who took it from someone else etc etc.)

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2½ cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons whiskey (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter, then add the dark brown sugar and salt and mix well.  Remove from heat.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth, and then whisk in the eggs.

3. Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar while whisking.  Then add the cornstarch mixture.

4. Return the pan to heat and bring to a boil while whisking.  When it bubbles, reduce heat to low and whisk until the pudding thickens to the consistency of a hot fudge sauce.  This is sort of the magic stage, because it will be very thin and milky one moment, and all of a sudden become quite thick and pudding-like the next.  It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

5. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and whisky if using.  Chill for several hours before serving.  If you are fancy, you can put the pudding in individual glasses to chill, so that each person gets her own. If you are not fancy, you can just put it in one big bowl, and your guests can just dig into it for their individual portions, like depraved animals.

6. Before serving, place some shaved chocolate on top.  To get nice shaved chocolate, place a big piece of baking chocolate upside down on a cutting board (so that the side facing you is smooth).  Then, scrape the chocolate with your knife towards you while holding the edge, almost as if you were ‘peeling’ the chocolate.  Learned that from Jamie Oliver.

Ta da!

dinner party-30


Look how fancy it is!  It tasted really good too, and everyone was happy to get their own little chilled portion, that told them, ‘you are not a depraved animal, but rather a rather sophisticated, elegant and fancy animal’.


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