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Adrian Miller—the author of Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue—at Boney’s Smokehouse. Photo courtesy of Paul Miller
Eat and Drink

7 Essential Colorado Cookbooks For Foodies

Plus, local cooking classes that also make great gifts.

Never underestimate the power of a good cookbook. For all the curious foodies and avid home cooks and bakers in your life, a new cookbook is the gift that keeps on giving, providing new ideas and techniques to tinker with in the kitchen all winter long. (And, if you’re lucky, you might also benefit from this gift, too—in the form of leftovers and taste tests!) 

Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite cookbooks by Colorado authors. And as a bonus, we’re also throwing in a few of our favorite cooking classes, too—consider buying a gift card or scheduling a class for the people you love this holiday season.

Cookbooks

Weeknight Smoking on Your Traeger and Other Pellet Grills. Photo courtesy of Adam McKenzie

Weeknight Smoking on Your Traeger and Other Pellet Grills
By Adam McKenzie (aka this Jew Can Que)

Centennial-based STEM teacher Adam McKenzie has amassed over 200,000 followers on his @ThisJewCanQue Instagram account, thanks to his mouth-watering photos and videos of perfectly smoked meats, innovative side dishes, and unexpected desserts. Now, home cooks who want to try their hand at barbecue can follow McKenzie’s recipes and have dinner on the table in no time, even on busy weeknights. His new cookbook, which was published in May, features delicious, stress-free recipes for dishes like barbecue chicken lollipops and wood-fired carne asada. Find it online.  

Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue
By Adrian Miller

The contributions of African Americans to the American barbecue scene are often overlooked —but Adrian Miller, a James Beard Award–winning author, historian, and attorney who lives in Denver, wants to change that. Miller, also known as the “Soul Food Scholar,” penned Black Smoke to celebrate the Black men and women who made barbecue what it is today. In addition to historic maps, illustrations, and photographs, the book includes 22 barbecue recipes like Big Moe’s Memphis-style chicken and Henriette Dull’s whole hog barbecue. Also be sure to pick up Miller’s Black Smoke spice collection from Savory Spice, which comes with five regional African American seasonings that accompany the book. Find the book online; find the spice kit online and at Savory Spice stores. 

Friuli Food and Wine
By Bobby Stuckey, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, and Meredith Erickson

From the team behind Frasca Food and Wine comes Friuli Food and Wine, a cookbook that doubles as a love letter to the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, which inspired the James Beard Award–winning restaurant in downtown Boulder itself more than 15 years ago. The book has 80 recipes and wine pairings, plus profiles of local winemakers and wines. There are also restaurant and winery recommendations in case you’re interested in making the trip overseas. Find it online or at the restaurant.

Bite of Boulder. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bridge

The Fort Restaurant Cookbook: New Foods of the Old West from the Landmark Colorado Restaurant
By Holly Arnold Kinney

The Fort has been a classic Colorado restaurant since 1963, when the Arnold family bought the red-rock property in Morrison and built their adobe restaurant. Famous for its wild game and Old West ambiance, the Fort even has its own cookbook so you can make the restaurant’s recipes at home (and learn about this iconic eatery’s history in the process). The cookbook features 260 pages of images and recipes for dishes like Thomas Jefferson’s green chile mac and cheese “pudding” and marinated rack of lamb with couscous, making it the perfect gift for the Coloradans and visitors alike. Find it online.

A Bite of Boulder
By Jessica Benjamin

When the pandemic forced restaurants to close in 2020 (and, later, grapple with ever-changing capacity rules and other guidelines), Jessica Benjamin temporarily pivoted away from First Bite: Boulder County Restaurant Week’s in-person programming to produce this rich, local cookbook instead. It sports more than 40 recipes from beloved Boulder County restaurants like Oak at Fourteenth and Japango, plus narratives about the stories and people behind the food and stunning photographs by Christina Kiffney. At least 50 percent of the book’s proceeds are going back to participating restaurants, too, so you can feel extra good about giving this one as a gift. Find it online.

Seven Grand’s Hungry for Apples cocktail is one of 22 drinks recipes in the Happy Hour Handbook. Photo by Whiskey Media Studios

Happy Hour Handbook
By Fiona Arnold

Perfect for the at-home cocktail makers in your life, the Happy Hour Handbook was born from the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced Denver’s most beloved bars and restaurants to close in 2020. Created by Fiona Arnold, co-owner of Room for Milly, Queens Eleven, and Blue Sparrow, and starring photos by Andi Whiskey, the book includes dozens of cocktail and appetizer recipes from spots like Williams & Graham, Steuben’s, Osaka Ramen, and Room for Milly. Proceeds from the book, which is available in soft and hardcover, go back to participating establishments. This winter, there’s also a Happy Hour Handbook walking cocktail tour offered in partnership with Local Table Tours. Find it online and in-person at Room for Milly.

The Broadmoor: Spirit of the West
By Sarah Anschutz Hunt

You really can’t beat a holiday at the Broadmoor, the 100-plus-year-old resort in Colorado Springs that goes all out with sparkling decorations, glamorous events, and decadent dinners. But if your loved one can’t enjoy a visit in person, this cookbook is the next best thing. Packaged in a two-book box set along with Sea Island: Soul of the South, (Sea Island is the Broadmoor’s sister resort in Georgia), the set includes recipes and stories from the two resorts. Find it online or at the resort.

Half Baked Harvest: Cookbook: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains
By Tieghan Gerard

As this cookbook’s name suggests, the recipes draw inspiration from food blogger and stylist Tieghan Gerard’s converted horse barn home in the mountains of Summit County—cozy pastas, decadent desserts, braises, and crowd-pleasing small bites and appetizers. The book includes 125 recipes developed by Gerard, who found success with her blog and Instagram, Half Baked Harvest. Find this and other cookbooks from Gerard (plus tons of standalone recipes!) online.

Cooking Classes

Food Lab

Located in downtown Boulder, Food Lab is the brainchild of founder and chef Casey Easton, who offers recreational cooking classes for children and adults (she also does private and corporate classes). Her courses run the gamut from technique-focused lessons like how to make fresh pasta to regional cuisines like Bordeaux or Israeli. Food Lab also has robust offerings for kids, so even the little ones in your life can benefit from this gift—from an after-school series to day-off-from-school workshops and take-home kits. 1825 Pearl St., Ste. A, Boulder 

Stir

Since it launched in 2010, Stir has offered fun, hands-on cooking classes for groups, private cooking parties, cocktail classes, and online videos and recipes to help level up your cooking game. This winter, it’s offering an array of holiday-themed classes, covering everything from appetizers and hors-d’œuvres to high-altitude baking and cookies. And for your far-flung friends and family members (or those folks who just aren’t comfortable in a group setting), Stir has custom online videos and recipes, too. 3215 Zuni St.

Create Cooking School

Located inside Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, Create Cooking School offers an array of cooking classes that run the gamut from romantic date nights to wanderlust-inspiring deep dives into various world cuisines. There are also cooking classes designed for the whole family, with easy-to-digest (pun intended) lessons that even elementary-aged kids can enjoy. Before or after the class, participants can grab a drink at the Create bar and explore the other great restaurants and shops inside the Stanley. 2501 Dallas St.

Cook Street School of Contemporary Arts

In addition to having a full-blown culinary arts program for aspiring chefs and bakers, Cook Street also hosts tons of one-off classes, progressive series, and private events for home cooks. If you’ve always wanted to improve your knife skills, there’s a class for that. Want to hop aboard the sourdough craze? There’s a class just for that, too. Cook Street also offers broad-based overview classes that cover topics like classic techniques, butchery, and cake decorating. 43 W. 9th Ave.

Proud Souls Barbecue and Provisions

Competitive barbecuers Tony Roberts and Dan Casey know ‘cue, and if your friend or loved one is a burgeoning backyard pitmaster (or would like to become one), gifting them one of Proud Souls’ “QU” (BBQ University) classes is the way to go. Proud Souls hosts hands-on courses that cover meats like ribs, brisket, chicken, tri-tip, prime rib, ham, and beyond. And as a bonus, each class includes a full barbecue dinner so participants can get a first-hand taste of the techniques they studied. 2485 F. Federal Blvd.;and 5599 S. Rio Grande St., Littleton

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