Check out these favorite cold-weather menus from local restaurateurs and a farmer
By Kate Jonuska
Few joys can top a lovingly prepared feast on a cold winter day. In fact, when the days grow chilly, our homes often grow warm with family and friend get-togethers. Boulder Magazine asked three local foodies to share their favorite menus to help your winter gatherings come together deliciously. Here are their suggestions.
Seth Witherspoon recipes
Philip Goddard recipes
Volz and Zucker recipes
Sugarbeet’s Seth Witherspoon
Executive chef of Sugarbeet,
serving modern American cuisine
101 Pratt St., Longmont, 303-651-3330,
“What’s not to like about Colorado winters?” asks Seth Witherspoon, who, with his wife Justine, is an East Coast transplant. They both love the Colorado lifestyle, especially cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. In fact, the only drawback to winter, as far as Witherspoon is concerned, is the reduced daylight and having to put the restaurant’s vegetable garden to bed.
Witherspoon says making fresh meals is not entirely impossible in winter, however. He often prepares a good Tuscan kale salad marinated in citrus juices. Justine’s Italian roots encouraged her to master fresh homemade pasta that Witherspoon can only describe as “righteous.”
“We often warm up the kitchen by cooking all day,” he says. Especially memorable are the couple’s wine dinners, often shared among a group of culinary and restaurant professionals. “ “The wines get big, and the recycling bin gets heavy.”
Favorite winter produce: Cellar root vegetables and hearty greens.
Favorite kitchen tool: Cast-iron Le Creuset Dutch ovens for cooking soups, stews and chilis.
Best host/hostess gift: Anything made by hand, but specifically any friends’ home-brewed beer.
The Gang’s All Here: A Shank to Share
This menu will warm a crowd, and ends with a unique maple syrup-based semifreddo made with quince. Says Witherspoon, “I have a great neighbor who gives us quince every year. We make a paste with it and have enough to serve it all year on cheese plates.”
Grilled Bruschetta with Beef Bresaola, Celery Root, Green Apple and Horseradish Lemon Crema
Roasted Chicken Soup with Cannellini Beans and Swiss Chard
Braised Colorado Lamb Shank with Rosemary Jus, Roasted Baby Heirloom Carrots and Creamy Polenta with Gorgonzola
Pure Vermont Maple Semifreddo with Quince and Toasted-Pecan Crust
Impressive Evening: An Intimate Wine Dinner
Always one to cook local, Witherspoon planned this dinner around the recent harvest of heritage-breed pigs at C.K. Ranch. He adds, “Learning how to shuck oysters is a great way to get everyone involved.”
Fresh-Shucked Kumomoto Oysters with Yuzu-Ginger Mignonette (pair with
Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier)
Hazel Dell Shiitake Mushrooms stuffed with Spinach, Parsnip and Pecorino Toscano
(pair with Merry Edwards 2011 Russian River Pinot Noir, Flax Vineyard)
Braised C.K. Ranch Pork Shoulder with Cassis Mustard, French Green Lentils and wilted Tuscan Kale (pair with Miner Family 2012 Napa Valley Granache, Hudson Vineyard)
Blueberry-Hazelnut Crumble with Crème Fraîche Ice Cream (pair with Croft Distinction Port Special Reserve)
The Greenbriar’s Philip Goddard
Proprietor/general manager of the Greenbriar Inn,
serving classic American cuisine
8735 North Foothills Highway,
While the Greenbriar Inn’s menu is certainly upscale, don’t expect anything overly fancy in Philip Goddard’s home kitchen, where entertaining often takes place at the island and breakfast bar. “I have knives that I’ve used for 30-plus years,” Goddard says, waxing nostalgic about all the chef’s memories his favorite knife evokes. “I think of all the times I grabbed that knife and got things done. Even now, it still fits my hand. The callouses are still there.”
Goddard is a unique restaurateur who’s equal parts chef, gardener (the Greenbriar Inn boasts 7,000 square feet of gardens on-site) and philosopher. “The seasons are huge for me. Seasons represent the changes in life,” he says philosophically. “They make you realize that things inevitably change, and it keeps you invigorated about life.”
His family also invigorates Goddard, who enjoys skiing, snowshoeing and sledding with the kids—and a hearty meal afterward. “Those are my favorite gatherings,” he says. “I love putting a roast in the oven and when you get back from the snow, it’s all ready to go.”
Favorite part of his kitchen: The six-burner gas range with a convection oven.
Winter family recipe: His mother’s warm Grape Nut pudding.
Favorite winter protein: Whole-roasted turkeys, chickens and pheasants.
The Gang’s All Here: Post-Snowshoeing or Sledding Sunday Dinner
“Prime rib and Yorkshire pudding are such simple yet impressive dishes to make for larger groups,” Goddard says. “I can cook other things while it’s roasting, and with any luck, there’ll be leftovers for sandwiches.”
Large Cheese and Charcuterie Platter with Smoked Salmon, Fresh Fruit and
Herb-Rubbed Roast Prime Rib with Fresh Tarragon Yorkshire Pudding, Cabernet
Green-Peppercorn Au Jus, Truffle Whipped Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli and Lemon Butter
Warm Grape Nut Pudding with Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries
Impressive Evening: Dinner with Friends
“More intimate dinners for four to six people are something I really like,” Goddard says. He serves this menu for special occasions like birthdays, which his family has a lot of in the winter months.
Seared Sea Scallop and Shrimp with Basil Cream, finished with Concassé Tomatoes,
Fresh Fettuccini and Shaved Parmesan
Arugula Pear Salad with Candied Pecans and Maple Vinaigrette
Lamb Chops Mephisto with Grilled Asiago Polenta, Sauté of Asparagus and Red-Pepper Sauce Piquant *See Recipe
Apple Tarte Tatin with Warm Vanilla Bean and Brie Cream
Oxford Gardens’ Peter Volz and Gail Zucker
Owner of Oxford Gardens,
a local farm at
10145 Oxford Road, Longmont,
A farmer’s work is never done, Peter Volz says. On Oxford Garden’s 5 acres, the season starts in February with the first greenhouse plantings and winds to a close in December with soil amending after the harvest, leaving scant time off in between.
“The break can be pleasantly boring, but it’s not a whole lot of downtime,” Volz says. “My girlfriend Gail [Zucker] and I use the time to take one big adventure trip each year, always in the dead of winter.” Of the pair, Zucker is definitely the kitchen wizard, adept at deliciously preparing whatever seasonal produce is at hand, and Volz’s farm keeps her amply supplied year-round. In fact, Oxford Gardens has some form of fresh greens nine months a year, and some of its carrot varieties store deliciously in root-cellar conditions.
“I like entertaining in winter,” Volz says, “just because it’s so cozy. I spend a lot of time the rest of the year outside, so it’s nice to curl up in the warmth for a while.”
Favorite unique root vegetable: The Hakurei turnip (aka Tokyo turnip or white salad turnip), which is crisp and sweet, raw or cooked.
Gail’s favorite recipe: The many variations of her carrot soup.
Winter staples: A freezer full of local meat (for Peter) and a variety of winter squash (for Gail)
The Gang’s All Here: Season’s Last Farm Dinner
Oxford Gardens pairs with Cafe Aion and café chef Dakota Soifer to host several farm dinners a year, the last of which is in mid-December. “It’s a nice, festive time of year to be outdoors, and it’s a great time for root crops,” Volz says.
Butternut Squash Toasts with Whipped Ricotta and Mint
Carrot and Parsnip Soup with Toasted Cumin
Brined, Wood Oven-Baked Chicken with Chermoula
Chard au Gratin
Winter Salad with Watercress, Escarole, Radicchio and Red Onion with Walnut-Oil Vinaigrette
Apple Galette with Maple Ice Cream
Kate Jonuska is a freelance writer with a passion for food, fiction and storytelling. Follow her online at @katejonuska or www.katejonuska.com.