At home in Aspen: Pantry-ready recipes from ‘Tastes of Aspen’ author Jill Sheeley
Jill Sheeley has been cooking in Aspen for decades, back to her ski bum days in the kitchens of local restaurants in the 1970s. She’s also collected and written local recipes for her cookbooks “Tastes of Aspen” and “Lighter Tastes of Aspen,” and included additional favorites in her 2019 memoir “Those Were the Days.”
As the local stay-at-home order went into effect to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, the Aspen Times turned to Sheeley for recommendations for the best recipes that anybody can make at home right now.
Sheeley has been following public health directives and began an informal quarantine on March 13.
“I’m on day nine of self-isolation,” she said Monday, “which has flown by due to the fact that my dog, Ranger and I are lucky to still be able to go outdoors and cross-county ski and pretend it’s just another perfect day in paradise.”
During her homestay, Sheeley said, she baked banana and blueberry muffins, the smell of which transported her fondly back to her college days when she babysat for a ranching family outside Denver and made meals from scratch with ingredients from their greenhouse.
“We baked six loaves of bread each week and the sniffs wafted outside and brought family members and ranch workers in to devour a loaf of cinnamon, raisin bread slathered with warm butter,” she recalled.
Cooking, Sheeley noted, is a comfort in stressful times.
“My friend calls this, ‘cooking therapy,’” Sheeley said. “I share that feeling of satisfaction cooking or baking something beyond delicious and filling my home with comforting aromas. Smells are carried more acutely in our memories than any other of our senses. We seem to carry around a scent storage file that reveals a time and place we’d long tucked away.”
Sheeley combed through her own recipe files, and called on some friends to find “pantry ready” recipes for everyone quarantining at home who’d like to try make something delicious.
JILL’S VEGGIE SPAGHETTI
Spaghetti noodles, cooked till tender
grilled onions & zucchini squashes (grilled yesterday)
Baked butternut squash, cut into cubes
Red cabbage, chopped up
Broccoli and Cauliflower, chopped up
Spices, your favorites
Simmer the spaghetti sauce with the veggies, garlic and spices. Add the noodles to the sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy.
SIMPLE WHOLE-WHEAT IRISH SODA BREAD
From Sylvia Wendrow, of Carbondale
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-pound loaf (12 slices)
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk or 2 1/4 cups regular milk with 2 1/4 tablespoons of vinegar stirred in
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. (or 425 F convection) Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little flour.
Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Using one hand, (or large spoon) stir in full circles starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.
Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants.
Bake the bread for 20 minutes.(15 minutes convection) Reduce oven temperature to 400° and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. (20-25 minutes convection) Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes
LAYERED ENCHILADAS (AKA ‘MEXICAN MESS’)
From Carol Jenkins of Woody Creek
1 lb ground beef or turkey
16 0z jar of salsa
1 lge onion chopped but split into 2 portions
7 oz can diced green chili
2 lge cloves of garlic minced
15 oz can of Hatch enchilada sauce (med.)
Spices: 1 Tbsp cumin, 1 tsp each paprika, chili powder, ½ tsp cayenne S& P to taste
1 ½ cups of grated Colby or cheddar cheese & ¾ cup of grated pepper jack cheese
4-5 flour tortillas (8” size)
Pitcher of Margarita for chef (optional)
In a cold skillet, add 2Tbsp olive oil and garlic. Turn to medium heat. Once starts to sizzle, add ½ the chopped onions. Cook till onions are soft then add the meat. Cook and add the seasonings (if need more heat increase cayenne or add chipotle Tabasco). Stir and cook till meat has lost its pinkness- do not overcook as it will bake in oven. Set aside. In a medium sized Dutch oven or casserole dish with lid, smear a little oil on bottom and top with tortilla. Add some meat, then salsa, green chilis, fresh onions, enchilada sauce and cheese. Repeat layers. For top layer, end with the meat, salsa, onions, and chilies and pour remaining sauce around. Top with cheeses. Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 10. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving
PUMPKIN GINGER MUFFINS
From Shelly Gross of Snowmass Village
1 cup white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 ½ cup wheat bran
1 jar crystallized ginger
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup packed brown sugar
1 15 oz canned pumpkin
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 lg eggs
raw sugar to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 400
Combine flour, wwflour and wheat bran, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, ginger & salt in a med. Bowl. Stir well. Make a well in center.
Combine brown sugar, canned pumpkin, buttermilk, canola oil, molasses, vanilla, and eggs, stir well with a whisk.
Add to flour mixture, Stir until moist.
Mix in crystallized ginger
Coat muffin tins with baking spray. Spoon mixture into cups and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake for about 15 min. until center comes out clean.k Cool on a wire rack.
From Cindi Davis of Aspen
Makes 2 loaves
1 stick soft butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten
4-5 bananas on the ripe side cut up into small pieces
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ tea salt
2 cups of flour
Cream sugar and butter together
Add eggs blend
Cut up bananas add to butter sugar eggs
Add baking soda, salt to flour mix
Combine all ingredients
Flour two pans with Pam and lightly flour
Pour in batter
45 minutes at 350
BAKED FRENCH TOAST
From Jill’s Aunt Ellie in Larchmont, N.Y.
1 (13-14 inch long) loaf of Italian bread or a challah
½ stick of unsalted butter, softened
3 to 4 eggs
1 and 2/3 cup milk
½ to 1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
Butter a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish
Cut diagonal slices from bread or any way you like and place in buttered pan. They should fit tightly. Generously butter top of each slice.
Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and ¼ tsp. salt until well combined and pour evenly over bread. Chill, covered, overnight or at least one hour until all is absorbed.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Bring pan to room temperature and sprinkle bread with sugar and cinnamon or just cinnamon.
Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until bread is puffed and top is golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
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