Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Hot pot: A guide to the one soup everyone needs in their life

Hot pot is a dish steeped in history, with cultural variations all over Asia and dating back to the Mongolian Empire. With that kind of footprint, it’s not fair to say there’s a single “traditional” hot pot recipe, according to Lilly Zhuo, owner of D-Station Restaurant in Colorado Springs.
Location Details D-Station Restaurant
13141 Bass Pro Drive
Colorado Springs, CO
She should know; her restaurant has been dishing all-you-can-eat hot pot seven days a week since opening in Polaris Point in 2018, and she grew up learning how to prepare the dish from her mother in her family home.  Similar to fondue, hot pot is a communal dining experience. “It brings everyone together without keeping one person in the kitchen,” Zhuo says. At D-Station, each diner creates their own hot pot, but one large soup pot is perfect for entertaining guests at home.

A good, clean broth is key to preparing the perfect hot pot.
  • A good, clean broth is key to preparing the perfect hot pot.
A hot pot starts with a clean, delicious base soup (if you’re making from scratch, think fresh, filtered bone or vegetable broth). Adding a few more ingredients like vegetables, bones, herbs and spices to your base will define your hot pot broth. D-Station has four varieties made from one base soup made in-house. Their Hot & Spicy broth brings Thai and other chilies into play, while the pork broth’s rich flavor comes from a split pork bone and added onions. The “clear” and herbal broths are great choices for more timid pallets, calling for tomatoes and onions, or a mix of Chinese herbs, respectively. For no-meat eaters, vegan broths are nothing out of the ordinary either. (D-Station has vegan options available upon request).

The second step of any hot pot is fresh, raw ingredients. You name it and it’s probably hot pot appropriate. Meat eaters will want to start with thinly sliced proteins, shellfish, etc. that cook quickly and add flavor to your broth, or just skip straight to the veggies. The possibilities are endless — D-Station’s ingredient bar is a symbol of the range of flavors one can play with from fishballs, tofu and bean curd to leafy and root vegetables, mushrooms, noodles and more to make your hot pot one-of-a-kind. You can keep your hot pot simple, sticking to familiar flavors, but Zhuo recommends you try a little bit of everything you can. (Did we mention D-Station’s hot pot is all-you-can-eat?)

When preparing at home, your hot pot ingredients should be cut to bite-sized pieces to ensure quick cooking times, with meats sliced as thinly as possible, and heartier vegetables cut to chopstick-friendly bits. Take notes from D-Station — its quality is on full display with picturesque curls of sliced meats and gorgeous seafood, crisp veggies and freshly prepared meat and fishballs, tofu and more.
Prepare your hot pot ingredients to ensure quick cooking times.
  • Prepare your hot pot ingredients to ensure quick cooking times.
Now, you have the perfect broth and the freshest ingredients, there’s only one thing missing: Your dipping sauce.

The range of sauce options is limitless, and completely up to personal taste. D-Station makes it simple with quick recipes posted at the DIY sauce bar, including Zhuo’s signature (see recipe below). When hot potting at home, assemble enough fresh ingredients for your diners to create their own custom sauces, or prepare one or two of your favorites ahead of time.

Now we’re ready to hot pot! With your broth brought to a steady boil, add the larger, heartier items with longer cook times — like root vegetables, meat and fishballs, shellfish, etc. As you’re waiting for them to cook, dig into the remainder of your ingredients one by one, or layered to make the perfect bite. The size and type of ingredient will determine its cook time, but for newcomers, Zhuo says two minuets is a good rule-of-thumb. As your ingredients are cooked to perfection, pull each bite directly out of your broth, dip into your sauce and enjoy.

“It only gets better,” Zhuo says. The more ingredients you add to your broth, the more flavorful it becomes. “Don’t forget to drink the broth in-between bites!”

Whether you’re enjoying hot pot at home or at D-Station (open Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 9:30 p.m.), your friends, family and appetite will thank you.

Lilly’s Special Dipping Sauce:

- Barbecue sauce
- Fresh cilantro
- Oyster sauce
- Garlic oil
- Bean curd paste
- Vinegar
- Sugar

Add ingredients into small bowl; mix to combine.

Brought to you by D-Station Restaurant.
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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Roc and Ro Sushi On The Go gets the sushi rolling

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 7:48 AM

  • Courtesy Roc and Ro Sushi On The Go
Many foods come to mind as convenient food truck fare, but sushi isn’t one of them. That is, unless you’re former Jun Japanese Restaurant sushi chef Romeo Magat. He opened Roc and Ro Sushi On The Go in mid-2018.

“I had the idea about seven years ago,” he says. “It’s got everything a kitchen restaurant would have. It’s basically a kitchen on wheels.” Really, the biggest difference Magat notes is moving the food around when he doesn’t have access to a plug-in for his on-truck cooler.

Magat currently offers an assortment of sushi roll standards, including spicy tuna, Philadelphia and yummy rolls. Half of his menu arrives cold, while the other half, he serves deep-fried. And having made Roc and Ro his full-time gig in mid-January, he plans to expand his offerings and let his ambition grow.

“The latest special I put up on the menu is a lobster roll,” he says as an example. “I use grilled lobster claw meat. That’s a pretty popular one — people go for seconds on that one.”

Currently, he has three regular stops, which he lists on Facebook along with one-off events.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Iron Bird Pizza Kitchen to open under Piglatin Cocina chef's guidance

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 3:49 PM

Piglatin Cocina co-owner Andres Velez - ROBERT MITCHELL
  • Robert Mitchell
  • Piglatin Cocina co-owner Andres Velez
Iron Bird Brewing Co. has passed its kitchen off to Andres Velez and Aaron Ewton of Piglatin Cocina and Piglatin Food Truck notoriety, and they’ve rechristened it Iron Bird Pizza Kitchen.

“I have no idea [how it happened],” says Velez. “Aaron brought it up to me, and I said ‘Sure, let’s do it.’”

That was in December, and things have moved fast. Currently, Velez is waiting for his food vendor license to come through. He expects to open sometime in early- to mid-February, currently shooting for Friday the 8th.

Velez says the menu won’t change too much at first. He plans to simplify and change a few ingredients, but regulars will still be able to get most of their favorites. He will however bring back the spot’s meatball sub, instead packing it with lamb meatballs. He’ll also add between two and four new pizzas featuring flavors he’s honed at Piglatin.

“We’re also going to have a pasta salad added to the menu,” he says. He and Ewton are also figuring out how to do takeout and delivery — Velez says they’ll likely pair with a delivery app.

Long-term, however, Velez says they will transition away from pizzas altogether, implementing a model that’s more in line with what he and his team do under the Piglatin name. That’ll include a name change and renovation, following a long and gradual transition over “many months.”

“I can’t give you a timeline because we don’t know that timeline,” says Velez. But whatever he does, it won’t change the brewing operations going on next door — they’re a separate business. For now, he and his team are figuring out a grand opening celebration, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 8, with details to be announced.
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Dragon Theatre Productions celebrates 10 years with a retrospective showcase

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Dragon Theatre 10th Anniversary Celebration, 2-6 p.m., Stargazers, 10 S. Parkside Drive, $10, - MATT MEACHAM
  • Matt Meacham
  • Dragon Theatre 10th Anniversary Celebration, 2-6 p.m., Stargazers, 10 S. Parkside Drive, $10,
When Dragon Theatre Productions puts on a show, the most magical part of it happens behind the scenes. For 10 years, this beloved local company has followed an all-inclusive model that guarantees a part for everyone who auditions, opening up roles for people with disabilities and people of all ages. In their 10th anniversary video, Dragon Theatre actress Beth Wood says: “Growing up, I wanted to be an actress; now I am living a dream.”
Support that dream and the dreams of everyone who has participated in Dragon Theatre’s annual summer plays, by attending a retrospective showcase and celebration Sunday. You’ll see a selection of scenes from some of the company’s favorite productions of the last 10 years, and you can join the staff, cast, crew and volunteers for a dance party right afterward.
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Rice cake pounding is the perfect way to release some pent-up aggression from 2018

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Mochitsuki Japanese New Year’s Rice Cake Pounding Event, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., CC’s Worner Campus Center, 902 N. Cascade Ave., free, - AARONTPHOTOGRAPHY / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Aarontphotography /
  • Mochitsuki Japanese New Year’s Rice Cake Pounding Event, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., CC’s Worner Campus Center, 902 N. Cascade Ave., free,
While our local Mochitsuki event has a long history of about 15 years, the tradition of pounding rice in celebration of the new year goes back thousands of years in Japan. Mochi, a soft, sweet rice cake, can be eaten on its own or used in various dishes, and it’s thought to bring good luck to the new year — kind of like the Western tradition of eating black-eyed peas. But the process of preparing mochi is way more fun than cranking a can opener. Saturday, try your hand at pounding rice into mochi with traditional implements: big, heavy wooden mallets. If you have any pent-up aggression from 2018 (and which of us doesn’t?) this could prove a good way to start the year on a number of levels. 
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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Two new bars coming to downtown Springs

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 4:22 PM

As mentioned in our review of Cork & Cask, local restaurateur Joseph Campana has more bar and restaurant concepts set to open in the downtown area in the near future. Coming soonest, Springs drinkers can look forward to Shame & Regret opening in the former 15C's alleway spot at 15 C East Bijou St.. Campana co-owns the spot, 51 to 49 percent, with Matt Baumgartner, who’s been the general manager at the Campana-owned Rabbit Hole for the last five years. Campana says he’s had his eyes on the spot for years now, and he and Baumgartner plan to overhaul the space in a big way. Perhaps the biggest change: it’ll no longer be a smoker-friendly venue.

“95% of people don’t smoke,” says Campana, “and a lot of people would come in here and [say] the place stinks like cigars... They just don’t want to deal with it.”

While some smokers will resent the change, the duo think they’ll do better business overall, citing their shared past at Phantom Canyon Brewing Company as evidence. Campana recalls that when the long-standing brewery prohibited smoking in their upstairs pool hall, business went up — by his estimations, as much as 80 percent — as people could now hang around and eat or enjoy a game without reeking of tobacco. Further, they’re ditching the “mysterious door in an alley” ethos for a storefront with actual windows and natural lighting.

“We want to open up the whole alleyway so people can see it,” Campana says.

They’re working with Katie Toth, an alumna of the Principal’s Office, the Rabbit Hole and Moxie, to build a cocktail program that will feature a mix of prohibition-era classics and modern craft options. Campana’s corporate chef, Josh Kelly, will design a small menu of smaller plates — Campana suggests we might see shrimp cocktail and beef tartare, as well as ‘40s and ‘50s-style bar bites. They hope to open the spot in mid-February.

Following that, Campana’s got a tiki bar and Hawaiian-style poké joint in the works. He and Supernova general manager Audriana Sutherland, again splitting that 51-49 ownership model, will open Kanaloa (333 N. Tejon St.) in the former Paloma Salon and Micro Spa later in 2019 — Campana’s hoping for a March or April opening, while Sutherland says she anticipates things taking until May or June.

Sutherland says Kanaloa started with the bar, a lighted jade green granite bar-top that caught her and Campana’s eyes. From there, Sutherland came up with the idea for a rum-centric menu of tiki drinks, typically brightly colored for a visual pop to match the planned vibe.

“At first we were looking to do more of a Japanese-style [menu],” Sutherland says, but after seeing pictures of traditional Hawaiian raw fish bowls, she fell in love. Sutherland will act as general manager and will plan the cocktail program, while Kelly will design the menu.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Grain school at UCCS will up your knowledge of our biggest food group

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 8:34 PM

  • UCCS Grain School
Is it just me, or are grains the least popular kid at the dinner table these days?

For years, diet gurus have been telling us that shunning grains will help us lose weight, that ancient people didn't eat grain, and that modern grains are Frankenfoods that our digestive systems simply can't handle.

Expect the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' Grain School, set for Jan. 18-20 to address all the hype and concerns around our biggest food group. Also on the plate: Discussion and/or hand-on workshops that explore diversity and women in the grain movement, how we preserve grain (and feed the world) in the midst of climate change, global perspectives, agricultural techniques, and ways to process and cook with grains. But the main focus of the course is learning the history of ancient grains; how to differentiate among  heirloom, perennial, hybrid, and genetically modified grains; exploring agricultural practices and their impacts; and understanding how grains play into diet and cultures. The School will also explore grains the old-fashioned way: By eating them in all sorts of yummy recipes. (Sprouted kamut and winter squash stew, anyone?)

UCCS explains the Grain School this way:

Established in 2012 in Arizona, Grain School has evolved into an interdisciplinary course at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), with the first Grain School held at UCCS in 2016. During this three-day seminar held annually, students can earn credit by taking courses in the history of land-race grains, crop breeding, nutritional and health issues, baking, fermentation and cooking, and small-scale production techniques. Representatives from the entire industry from growers, millers, farmers, brewers, distillers, maltsters, bakers, chefs, food service staff or personnel, college students, and gardeners, contribute as part of this great exchange of learning and teaching.

Beyond the big questions, there's lots of opportunities to learn things you can bring into your own kitchen: How to make pasta or tortillas or cook with African grains; guidance from restaurant and bakery owners and brewers; a thoughtful discussion of the gluten-free debate; or (for the incredibly ambitious) a class on how to grow, mill and bake with your own grains at home. 

The bad news is that the Grain School costs $500 if you take it as a non-credit course (it's also available as a for-credit course). The good news is there will be a public forum on Saturday, July 19.

 Check out the full schedule here: 
Check out some of the events on the next page.

Continue reading »

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Skirted Heifer owners win on Guy's Grocery Games

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 4:27 PM

Skirted Heifer's Hangover burger. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Skirted Heifer's Hangover burger.
Congratulations to Suzette Megyeri, co-owner of Skirted Heifer and Bambino's Urban Pizzeria, and Kevin Megyiri, sole owner of the upcoming northeastern Skirted Heifer location. On January 2, the mother-son team took home first place on Food Network TV show Guy's Grocery Games. Their episode served as the first part of a four-episode "DDD Family Tournament," featuring family duos from restaurants previously featured on host Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives TV show, which featured Skirted Heifer in 2015. As a result of their win, they were invited back to compete in a final round of competition against the winners from the other two preliminary episodes, which will air on January 9 and 16.
Location Details The Skirted Heifer
204 N. Tejon St.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Burger Joints
“We were super-excited that we got to go out again," says Suzette. Food Network recorded the tournament in May, so while the Indy doesn't know how the Megyeris will fare in the final round — Hollywood non-disclosure agreements are nothing to test idly — they've already competed. The rest of the world will find out how they fared when the final round airs on January 23.

That said, they've already taken home $10,000 in prize money, which Suzette says will go to Kevin to help with the new Skirted Heifer. She tells us that while construction on the spot continues, they anticipate getting cleared to start decorating and stocking in early February. They plan to hold multiple soft opening days before their grand opening, tentatively set for February 11.
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