In My Kitchen: Holly Arnold Kinney, The Fort

Holly Arnold Kinney, owner of the Fort restaurant, tells us the secrets of her kitchen.
September 2007

Kitchen Cred
Holly Kinney grew up in a restaurant. When her parents started building their dream home back in the '60s—an adobe-style castle modeled after Bent's Old Fort in La Junta—they quickly realized they needed more financing. So they turned the downstairs into a restaurant, and the family lived upstairs. Today, the Fort is known nationwide as the region's most authentic purveyor of Western game meats like buffalo, elk, and quail. And it's still in the family, with Kinney at the helm (though she no longer lives upstairs).

Customize It
Kinney insisted on a built-in Wolf steamer when she designed the kitchen this year. "I kept a file for things I wanted in my dream kitchen."

Tea Time
"We've cut back on our drinking, but I'm really into tea," says Kinney. She particularly loves scented flower balls, made by tying white tea leaves around a single dried flower that blossoms in the teapot. "Dragon Lily" Osmanthus Lily white tea, $14.95 at www.numitea.com

Kinney inherited these 12 Blue Willow cut-crystal goblets (circa 1830) from her great-grandmother. "We do use them, carefully, for special dinners, when we have people over who will appreciate their history."

Secret Spices
Kinney sells spices through the restaurant's online gift shop, The Fort Trading Co. One of her favorites is General Armijo's Lamb Rub. Available online at www.thefort.com.

History Books
Along with the restaurant, Kinney inherited her father's collection of rare historic cookbooks. One of the oldest, Nuevo Arte de Cocina, was printed in Spain in the 1700s. "This is one of the cookbooks that the Spanish priests brought with them to Mexico," Kinney explains.

The Hardware
These pots are a type of pottery that the Spanish learned from the Taos Indians. "They conduct heat evenly, they're beautiful, and you can cook in them right over the flame on your stove, but the handles always stay cool," says Kinney.

Quick Tip
Kinney stays organized by storing spices for specific recipes in the pot she'll use to cook the dish. "I get so frustrated hunting through my spices, so I'll just keep my paella spices in my paella pan. It's fast, easy, and organized."

RECIPE: Crab and Shrimp Swiss Enchilada (Serves 12)

  • 1 quart milk (or light cream)
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, cleaned, and deveined
  • 1 pound crabmeat
  • 2 onions, finely diced 2-3 cups mild green chilies, chopped
  • 1 cup ripe olives, sliced
  • 4 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 4 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated avocado wedges, red pimiento strips, and black and green olives or toasted pine nuts as a garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a saucepan, heat milk or cream, sour cream, garlic, salt, Mexican oregano, and butter until almost boiling. Keep warm on stovetop while you create the enchilada.

Line an 8-quart buttered casserole dish with 12 corn tortillas; overlap them to cover the bottom and sides completely. Scatter half the shrimp and crab over the tortillas, then scatter half the onions, chilies, and olives. Pour in 2 cups of the hot milk mixture. Combine cheeses and sprinkle half into casserole dish. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients, beginning with the tortillas and finishing with the cheese.

Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours, until well heated and cheese begins to bubble. Garnish with avocado, pimiento, olives, and/or toasted pine nuts.