Hosea Rosenberg may have been born and raised in Taos, New Mexico, but Colorado has embraced him as one of its own. And it’s not just because he was the Season 5 winner of Bravo TV’s Top Chef cooking competition in 2009. Rosenberg moved to Boulder in 1992 to pursue an engineering physics degree from the University of Colorado, and it was there that he stepped onto the line at Boulder Salad Company—a side job that led him to Restaurant Kevin Taylor and the late Zenith and Triana. Ultimately, he landed the executive chef post at Jax Fish House.
Now, with the Top Chef title to his name and as the owner of Blackbelly Catering & Events and a Boulder-area farm of the same name, Rosenberg is on the hunt for a restaurant to call his own. In the meantime (between catering private events and traveling for cooking demos and food festivals), he spends as much time as he can in the mountains. In the winter that means skiing Vail’s back bowls. After a day on the slopes, Rosenberg comes in and does what chefs do: He cooks. His menus are always casual and easy—a big pot of soup, a flatbread, a batch of cookies, and, of course, Colorado beer.
The key to après entertaining, Rosenberg says, is to do as much as possible ahead of time. “You can do the soup the night before,” he says. “You can make the cookies, too—at the very least make the batter. Then bake them off when you get back from skiing.” Of course, Rosenberg is an accomplished chef, which means that even a feast befitting Colorado’s laid-back lifestyle has a few gourmet details: a specialty cocktail made with local whiskey and a grape and goat cheese “truffle” appetizer that’s become his signature hors d’oeuvre. But Rosenberg assures us that these items are still easy enough to pull off with tired legs and a wind-whipped face—simply crack open a beer and get cooking.
HARD CIDER “TODDY”
For the Spiced Apple Cider Ice Cubes
1 gallon organic apple cider
¼ cup honey
¼ cup white wine
½ teaspoon lemon zest, grated
½ teaspoon orange zest, grated
2 cinnamon sticks
For the Cocktail (1 serving)
1 tablespoon honey
6 ounces ginger-lemon tea, hot
1½ ounces Leopold Bros small-batch whiskey
1 twist orange
Place honey in a warm mug. Add hot tea, whiskey, and an orange twist. Top with a spiced apple cider ice cube and serve immediately.
Grape Pistachio & Goat Cheese “Truffles” (serves 4-6)
“Eating half a grape doesn’t sound like much, but these are so flavorful,” Rosenberg says. “They’re a tiny bite, they’re beautiful to look at, and they’re a conversation piece.” The first time Rosenberg made these snacks, he was catering a party for a friend who owns Folsom Custom Skis. He traded his services for a pair of bespoke sticks designed to look like strips of bacon.
40 fresh, juicy red and
8 ounces plain goat cheese
8 ounces shelled
coarse gray salt
white truffle oil
Pick grapes, wash gently, and dry on paper towels.
Roll a very small ball (roughly half the size of a grape) of goat cheese in your hands and flatten in the palm of one hand with your thumb. Place a grape in the center and carefully work cheese around it until grape is entirely covered. Chill. Repeat.
Crush toasted pistachios in a food processor until very fine. Sift out larger pieces and set aside.
Roll goat cheese–covered grapes in finely crushed pistachios, pressing gently, until completely covered in nuts. Chill.
To serve, place the larger pistachio pieces on a platter. Slice grapes in half. Place on nuts with the cut side facing up. Garnish each grape with a couple of grains of salt and one drop of truffle oil. Serve immediately.
Best French Onion Soup (serves 10)
1 cup butter
8 yellow onions
4 cloves garlic,
6 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 cups sherry wine
1 cup white wine
8 cups high-quality brown
8 cups high-quality beef stock*
fresh-cracked black pepper
*Vegetarians can substitute dark vegetable or mushroom stock for the chicken and beef stocks.
For the Croutons
Sourdough baguette, cut
into ½-inch thick slices and toasted golden brown
1 pound Gruyère cheese
4 ounces grated Parmesan
Start by caramelizing the onions.
Once the onions are browned nicely, add the wines. Bring to a boil and reduce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn down heat to medium-low and add stocks. Cook for about 45 minutes. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. (Soup can be made up to this point three days ahead.)
When ready to serve, ladle about 8 ounces of soup into oven-safe soup cups. Top with a slice of toasted bread covered with a thick slice of Gruyère and some Parmesan. Place under broiler until cheeses are brown and bubbly. Serve immediately, taking care to not touch hot soup cups.
To Caramelize the Onions
1 – Gather the ingredients.
2 – Thinly slice the onions.
3 – Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add onions and stir occasionally over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until the onions are caramelized. This can take up to an hour. Allow the onions to take on color by not stirring very often.
Pear & Aged Gouda Flatbread (serves 8)
1 – For the Dough*
1 package active yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup warm water
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
In a standing mixer bowl, combine yeast, sugar, flour, and salt. With the mixer running, add warm water slowly until a ball forms. (If sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick and a ball forms. If too dry, add more water.) Knead ball until firm.
Coat large bowl with oil and set dough ball inside. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour. Dough should double in size.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead lightly into a smooth ball.
*As an alternative, you can use store-bought dough. For this recipe, you’ll need 1 package.
2 – For the Flatbread
5 ounces aged Gouda cheese, sliced
2 ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced
leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon honey
1 ounce fresh arugula leaves
juice of ½ lemon
fresh-cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 500°. Roll ball of dough into a thin circle. Place on a warmed pizza stone or in a cast-iron pan.
Top with sliced cheese, sliced pears, picked thyme leaves, and a drizzle of honey. Bake in oven for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until edges of the dough are dark brown and edges of the pears are showing color. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 2 minutes. Slice into wedges and top with arugula tossed in lemon juice, salt, and pepper. If desired, add prosciutto just before serving.
Bacon-Chocolate Chip Cookies
For convenience, you can make the cookie dough ahead of time.
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons hot water
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup cooked bacon pieces, chopped very small
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs. Add vanilla extract.
Combine hot water and baking soda and add.
Combine salt and all-purpose flour and slowly mix into batter. Mix well and occasionally stop mixer to scrape sides and bottom.
Add chocolate chips and bacon and mix until well combined. Chill dough for 30 minutes. (Dough can be made up to this point ahead of time.)
Scoop into balls, and gently flatten them with your hands. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until just turning golden brown. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.