Eat Well: Colorado Springs grocery stores offer many choices of dairy-free milk
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Teresa Farney March 7, 2013. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

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I've been tinkering with recipes for potato salad and baked beans thanks to inspiration from a new cookbook and the discovery of a mustard-based barbecue sauce.

"Fresh Tastes" is a cookbook by Lee Clayton Roper, a Denver-based author who co-wrote her first cookbook, "A Well-Seasoned Kitchen," with her mother, Sally Clayton. That book received rave reviews.

With "Fresh Tastes," Roper expands the collection of family recipes. I was captivated by the beautiful photos and no-nonsense recipes. You can find both cookbooks at leading booksellers or online at seasonedkitchen.com.

I was especially interested in some of the techniques and ingredients used in a potato salad by a friend of Roper. The vinegar tang doesn't come from mixing in pickles. It comes from marinating the drained, boiled potatoes in a mixture of olive oil and white wine vinegar overnight in the refrigerator, then adding a diced plain cucumber. Also, radishes are added for an interesting, crunchy texture.

She recommends boiling the potatoes unpeeled.

"Cook them just until done," she said. "By leaving the potatoes whole, they will cook more evenly than if you peel and cube them."

Once the potatoes are done and the water is dumped, she puts the potatoes back in the saucepan to roll them around over low heat to further dry them. Then the spuds are peeled and cubed.

As for the barbecue sauce, I sampled Colorado Smokin' Butts, which is made in a commercial kitchen in Colorado Springs. I found out one of the company's four sauces served as the secret ingredient for an award-winning baked bean recipe.

"A lady told me she had won a recipe contest with baked beans she had made with our Carolina-style, mustard-based sauce," said Cliff Bruce, sales manager for the company.

Unfortunately, he didn't have any other information about the recipe so I figured I could try it with my own chipotle baked beans. My recipe starts with a large can of Bush's Original Baked Beans. I doll it up with a large, chopped yellow onion that's sautéed with a 4-ounce package of chopped prosciutto, a little olive oil and a couple of teaspoons of chipotle in adobo sauce. The mixture goes into a baking dish, and then a cup of Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce is folded in. It's baked at 325 degrees for an hour and comes out thick and delicious.

Enthused about the mustard sauce as an ingredient for another dish, I ended up using it in the aforementioned potato salad. The recipe called for French's yellow mustard, so I figured why not use my new secret ingredient? The sauce did a great job of layering more flavors into the taters.

I think part of the success of the Colorado Smokin' Butts sauce mixtures is the depth of flavor and the slightly chunky texture. Visit coloradosmokinbuttsbbq.com to find where you can buy it.

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Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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