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Cooking With Ricky Flickenger: Restaurant-Worthy Edibles Don’t Have to Be Complicated

October 5, 2018

Life is about more than brownies and gummy bears. As more states legalize recreational cannabis, gourmet infusions are being served from kitchens all over the country. Yet most people only experience them by shelling out the extra dollars for expensive catering or exclusive multi-course dinners.

“Everybody deserves good food.”

Ricky Flickenger, Chef

“There are plenty of chefs who are doing that and I applaud them,” says Ricky Flickenger of Mortar ‘n Pestle. “I think that’s wonderful. But I want people to know they can cook whatever dish they see on the Food Network with some simple instructions.”

Flickenger, who usually goes by “Chef Ricky,” is one of those guys who can tackle almost any recipe you throw his way. For the past seven years, he’s been a traveling chef in Seattle. You have a home, apartment, or Airbnb? Flickenger will show up and reveal the secrets behind preparing your favorite dishes.

Have a craving? Find your favorite edible nearby.

“I’m all about teaching people how to cook,” he says. “I know a lot of chefs who tend to keep their skills a secret, and I don’t think that’s right. Everybody needs to eat at least three times a day and everybody deserves good food.”

Stepping Away From Infused Sugar Bombs

(Courtesy of Mortar ’n Pestle)

About three years ago, Flickenger added cannabis-infused cuisine into the custom-curriculum for his interactive classes which were inspired by his own use of the herb to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia. He realized a low-dose edible every night would have a carryover effect, allowing him to feel better and focus on work the following day. However, he found most edibles to be “awful”—loaded with sugar with little regard to taste.

“They were purely just a vehicle to get THC into you,” Flickenger remembers. “And from one brand to the next, the dosing on those packages was never consistent for me. They would all say 10 milligrams, but some would feel like 25 and others would feel like 5. It was hard to find something I really liked and was inexpensive.”

In doing his own research, he saw there was “a lot of bad information out there.” So the chef put together his own recipes that not only put a gourmet spin on edibles, but were also simple enough for people to do in their own kitchens.

“A lot of infusion recipes require you to decarb (see: decarboxylation) your cannabis for four hours or overnight—or by using a crockpot,” says Flickenger. “I wanted a short method. I wanted something that wasn’t going to make my apartment or my client’s home smell like cannabis while prepping, cooking, or eating it.”

The chef turned to concentrates and an infusion time of 10 to 15 minutes plus whatever time is required to actually cook the dish. For the best results—in both time and taste—kief is the way to go.

Related

What is kief and how can you use it?

“It’s the least messy and least processed of the concentrates,” says Flickenger. “There are other concentrates out there that have no cannabis flavor at all because they’ve been distilled down to just the THC or CBD. By using kief, you’re getting little to no cannabis flavor, and the little cannabis flavor that’s in there tends to amplify the recipes and taste good.”

Instead of trying to cover up the taste and scent of marijuana altogether, a mild infusion can enhance the food without competing with the flavors already in place.

“If you’re making dishes that are slightly acidic with tomatoes, lemons or herbs, those dishes go really well with any kind of cannabis flavor that’s leftover.”

Dosing Practices in the Kitchen

(Courtesy of Mortar ’n Pestle)

Flickenger acknowledges that other chefs often do infusions with glycerin or alcohol tinctures, which are useful for beverages, but he prefers to stick with fats. They’re not only ideal for fat-soluble THC, but also common and familiar to his students and clients.

It's better to carefully introduce 10-30 milligrams of THC into a dish, rather than shove 500 milligrams in there.

“I teach people how to infuse directly into cream or heavy cream. You can also infuse directly into egg yolks, which is really fun, to make very specific dishes such as souffles or French desserts that don’t require any cream, butter or oil.”

One of his joys as a chef is “figuring out the puzzle” of infusing something that doesn’t have a creamy sauce or heavy fat base.

“One of my favorites is bruschetta,” he says. “Some versions use olive oil and some don’t. The only thing you can do is infuse your olive oil and either add it to the bruschetta or drizzle it over afterwards.”

However, the biggest problem when it comes to cannabis-infusions is that people just don’t know how to dose. Flickenger says it’s a common complaint among his students: “They tried edibles at a party or tried to make them at home. Either it did nothing for them or they were stoned for way longer than they wanted to be.”

The key is microdosing—down to the precise miligram. It’s better to carefully introduce 10-30 milligrams of THC into a dish, rather than shove 500 milligrams in there. When preparing a four-course meal for example, there may be only 2 milligrams in each course, allowing for the total equivalent of a standard edible to emerge comfortably throughout the evening. The practice not only reduces the chances for a sudden hit of brain fog but adds to the overall enjoyment of the meal itself.

Related

Microdosing cannabis: Benefits without the buzz

“The smells and flavor of the food are enhanced, and you don’t feel the need to necessarily shovel everything into your mouth like when you have the munchies,” says Flickenger. “You get to really enjoy the experience.”

Pairing Real World Experience With Delicious Cuisine

(Courtesy of Mortar ’n Pestle)

No dish is off limits, including bread, pastas and sauces made from scratch. Flickenger even does a cheese making class with cannabis-infusions. “We focus on fresh cheeses,” he says. “Goat cheese, cream cheese and ricotta cheese. That’s one dish where you’ll taste a little bit of that cannabis because there’s not a lot of other flavors in there. It’s about the quality of the cream or the milk and the tanginess from the fermentation process.”

When listening to Flickenger speak, it’s hard to believe he’s entirely self-taught. He always wanted to be a cook and had a knack for it growing up, but he turned down an offer from his parents to pay for culinary school. Seeking a “good career” instead, he earned a degree in psychology, which led to a job as a counselor at a psych ward in Pennsylvania. “I’ve been bitten, I’ve had my nose broken, I was almost stabbed,” he remembers. “I didn’t want to go to work anymore and be stressed out by my job.”

So Flickenger moved to Seattle and followed his true passion with jobs at restaurants and bakeries, including Seattle’s famous Trophy Cupcakes. “I ran it for two years,” he remembers. “It was a lot of hard work and I ended up getting them on the Martha Stewart Show, which for me was a big deal because I’m not classically trained. But people liked the recipes and designs I had.”

Related

The Low-Dose Cannabis Experience of Chef Luke Reyes

Flickenger eventually went out on his own, starting a business that allows him to prepare great food while teaching others how to do it too.

“I talked to people here in Seattle who renovated their kitchen for $75,000 and never touched it,” he says. “They just wanted a nice kitchen but had no idea how to use it.” By his own admission, Flickenger says the prices for his classes and catering can be quite high, but he still wants to spread the word to as many aspiring chefs as possible. He regularly posts recipes on his Patreon page and recently published his first cookbook, Cannabis & the Art of Infusion, which includes detailed instructions on his preferred infusion methods.

He’s also filmed a pilot for Baked, a cannabis cooking show that’s being shopped around. More information on his work as a traveling chef can be found through his company, Mortar ‘n Pestle.

Robert Kachelriess's Bio Image

Robert Kachelriess

Rob Kachelriess is a Las Vegas-based writer and editor whose work has appeared in Thrillist, Travel + Leisure, Modern Luxury, Supercall and other publications. When not in front of a laptop, he stays busy hanging out with wife Mary and chihuahua Zoey.

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  • Shlomo von Glickstein

    I’m now venturing into making my own edibles, since california banned edibles with higher doses than 100mg thc as of July 1… With the exception of Dr. Raw Organics, whose RED VELVET BAR w/ 500mg thc, which is DELICIOUS, alternatives by bakers like KOROVA, are DREADFUL and taste like they were baked by MONSANTO…

    I am a VERY good cook/baker, and my shortbread cookies, and savories like my family’s ancient recipe for SHABBAT RIGATONI (we’re Sephardic — not Ashkenaz and we make DELICIOUS food…)… I am just now learning proportions of cannabutter to regular butter to make these edibles effective… For savories, I am testing the infusion of olive oil, but have not perfected this yet…

    My cookie recipes are butter rich — using 5 sticks of butter to make 2 8″ spring form pans of shortbread cookies… I have found that 2 of these sticks of butter should be cannabutter, which is very simple to make in the oven at low heat for about an hour…. I have also used the infused pot two times — the 2nd time of course makes a weaker cannabutter, but still quite usable and effective…and milder… Also, I don’t use all that much pot — just a quarter — for 2 sticks of butter…. I found that using a half for two sticks of butter is just too strong… at least for me…

    I use indica — only indica — to treat for insomnia and lower back and knee pain…and it truly works wonders…. and my shortbreads are DELICIOUS… So, here’s the recipe….

    Dry ingredients…

    3.5 cups flour
    ground cashews or peanuts – 1 cup (use a cuisinart)
    cinnamon
    nutmeg

    Wet ingredients…

    5 sticks of butter — 2 canna / 3 regular (room temperature and soft)
    a couple of table spoons of CORN oil — this makes these shortbreads tender…rather than too crispy
    vanilla / amaretto / orange juice / lemon juice to taste

    2 cups DARK BROWN SUGAR…

    Place wet ingredients in a kitchen aid mixer with the paddle attachment — and mix until it’s all incorporated…

    ON SLOW SPEED mix in the dry ingredients…SLOWLY so your kitchen doesn’t turn into a mess

    in 2 8″ spring form pans, divide the mixed dough between them

    Bake at 300 f for about 1/2 hour — then check them to see that they’ve risen a bit (even without leavening they’ll rise a bit)
    continue baking for another half hour — but be sure to check them so they don’t burn

    When they’re fork tender, but fully baked, TURN THE OVEN OFF and leave them in the oven to cool…

    Once cool, cut into wedges and serve — or just eat one yourself — JUST ONE — they’re edibles after all….

    ENJOY!

  • I would love to go to a restaurant that only had edibles.