By Kate Manchester
Every family has holiday traditions around food, mine is no exception. When I have guests visiting for the holidays, I will ask what singular food defines the holiday for them, and then – if it’s at all humanly possible, add it to the menu. Over the years I have made Japanese Christmas cakes, seafood feasts to make you weep, Indian Kul Kuls, and I cannot count the number of Buche de Noel. Holiday food is like that, there are certain foods that are oft only eaten at that time, and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. This is an assortment of recipes that define my holiday; some are old family recipes, some were memories dear to others that I have adopted. I’ve been making all of them long enough that they are now solidly a part of my Christmas feast, no question. While the main course may alternate from year to year, (turkey or pork this year?), there are certain things I cannot live without each Christmas, like my Gramma’s Parker House rolls, or Amanda Hesser’s decadent Bread Pudding on Christmas morning. Each bite recalls the warmth of holidays past, reassuring and comforting; each dish has its own story and place in the day. Like a cherished family member unable to make it home for the holidays, it wouldn’t be Christmas for me if any of these were missing.
Christmas Breakfast Bread Pudding
This is a recipe I found years ago by Amanda Hesser, NY Times food columnist and author, It’s a dish that her family makes each Christmas morning , and seems appropriately indulgent and special given that it’s Christmas. After the gifts have been opened, , still in pajamas and slippers, to breakfast on something sweet and wonderful, something you’d never make any other day of the year for breakfast – feels just right. I round out the menu with thick cut bacon that I roast with maple syrup, and a cold platter of sliced oranges and grapefruit sprinkled with orange flower water and pomegranate seeds. Magic.
3/4 C. plus 2 T. sugar
6 T. butter
12 to 15 slices brioche or challah bread (all should be about 1/2-inch thick and about 3 inches round; cut accordingly)
1/4 C. mascarpone cheese
1 C. milk
1/4 t. almond extract
1/4 C. coarsely chopped toasted almonds
3/4 C. fromage blanc (don’t skip this!!!)
In a small, heavy saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar and butter over medium low heat. The butter will melt and the sugar will dissolve; keep an eye on it as it will begin to brown. Lower the heat and swirl the mixture in the pan so that it browns evenly, being careful not to burn. When it becomes a rich brown, remove from heat and pour into the base of a 9-inch round glass casserole with three-inch sides. Swirl the caramel around the base and 1 inch up the sides of the dish, and set aside until cool.
When the caramel is cool, place two bread slices stacked on top of each other in the center of the dish. Arrange the remaining slices, standing them against one another, around center, filling the dish so there are no gaps.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 T. sugar and mascarpone cheese, until very smooth. Add the milk and almond extract. Pour this over the bread, making sure to saturate all of it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
About an hour before baking, dish out of refrigerator and discard plastic wrap. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake pudding 15 minutes, then sprinkle almonds over pudding. Continue baking until moist and set in the center, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of dish, loosening bread from sides. Place a serving plate over top of dish (bottom side up), and, using potholders, hold pudding over sink and in a single fluid motion, holding it away from your body, invert plate. Lift off the dish. Scrape any extra caramel over the hot pudding. Serve warm with a dollop of fromage blanc.
Maple Glazed Parsnips and Carrots
Growing up, my grandfather always kept a five-gallon can of maple syrup that his friends brought him twice a year from Canada. We always had to boil it before we used it, and to this day I love the flavor. How I wish I could get my hands on a five-gallon can of this precious liquid – although I’m not sure I could afford it! I love parsnips, and I think they don’t show up on menus often enough. Pairing this humble root with bright carrots and maple syrup makes for a colorful and just dressy enough side dish that even kids love, delicious served along pork or turkey.
11/4 lbs. parsnips
1 ¼ lbs. carrots
3-4 T. olive oil
¼ C. maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the parsnips and carrots, and slice on the diagonal into 1 ½ -inch chunks.
Place a sheet of parchment in the bottom of two sheet pans with sides, then place parsnips and carrots in each pan, making sure there is one layer in each pan. Toss the parsnips with olive oil until all are coated.
Pour the maple syrup over the veggies, tossing to coat. Roast for 20 minutes or so, shaking the pan and using a spatula to turn so they don’t burn. Continue roasting for another ten to twenty minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, the parsnips and carrots are done when they are golden brown.
Parker House Rolls
Every holiday, my maternal grandmother – Grammie to all of us, made Parker House Rolls that came out of the oven minutes before we were all called to the table. I think everybody in the house waited for those rolls to come out – we all had at least one deliciously hot roll with butter before they ever got to the table. While this recipe makes about two dozen rolls, if you have a crowd of a dozen or more I suggest doubling the recipe – I have seen young men polish off a half dozen before they got to the table, and unless you have sentry assigned to the rolls they may well disappear before all your guests have one!
1 C. whole milk
2 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 C. butter, melted
1/4 t. salt
1/4 C. sugar
4-1/2 to 5 C. AP flour
Gently warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat, do not simmer or boil, just warm it enough to take out the cold. Mix 1/3 of the warm milk with the dry yeast in a small bowl and let sit until bubbly, about 15 minutes. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine remaining milk, melted butter, salt and sugar and beat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the beaten eggs, then the bubbly yeast.
Add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed, let the mixer beat the dough for 5 minutes. When the dough gets stiff, stir in rest of flour by hand, if necessary, to make a soft dough. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and satiny. Place dough in greased bowl, turning the dough so it is greased all around. Cover and let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, about 1 hour. (At this point you can cover the dough well and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding with recipe.)
Punch down the dough and roll out on floured surface to 1/2″ thickness. Cut with 3″ round cookie cutter, (Grammie always used a juice glass to cut hers). Brush each roll with melted butter and fold in half to make half circles. Pinch edge lightly to hold, so the rolls don’t unfold as they rise. Lay the rolls on 2 greased 13″ x 9″ cookie sheets, cover with a clean dish cloth, and let rise again until double, about 45 minutes. (If you have refrigerated your dough, this will take longer, about 60-75 minutes.)
Bake rolls at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan immediately and brush with more melted butter.
Makes 24 rolls
This recipe uses raw eggs, consume at your own risk. I got this recipe from a client I used to cook for many years ago. One year I was hired to cook Christmas dinner for her family in Texas, this was a family favorite that I’ve made part of my holiday every year since. It requires three bowls, but don’t let that deter you – upon cleaning up you’ll be happily well into your third glass which will surely make it all worthwhile. As for the raw eggs, I like to think that the bourbon takes care of any evil bacteria that might lurk in the eggs – I use Makers Mark in mine. Keep the eggnog well chilled and drink within two days, do your best not to drink too much, and try to remember to share some with your guests!
6 fresh eggs, separated
3/4 C. sugar
1 pint heavy cream
4 pints milk
1 pint bourbon, brandy, or dark rum
1 T. vanilla
1 T. freshly grated Nutmeg
In a bowl beat the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of sugar until thick. In another bowl beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup of sugar until thick. In a third bowl beat the cream until thick. Add the cream to the yolks, fold in the egg whites, and add the milk, Bourbon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Chill in freezer before serving, then refrigerate and drink within two days.
Fruit Cake Cookies
Years ago I worked at a specialty food shop in East Hampton called The Barefoot Contessa, owned by author and Food TV personality, Ina Garten. Ina is a gifted cook and has great style as any of you who watch her show or read her books know. One year we made dozens of these delicious little cookies for the shop, and I have made them every year since. You can make ahead, form into a long roll, wrap tightly and freeze for up to a month. I’ve never met anybody who doesn’t love these cookies, and if I make no other cookies for the holiday – I make these.
1/2 lb. dried figs, coarsely chopped
2 oz. craisins (dried cranberries), coarsely chopped
2 oz. golden currants
2 oz. candied cherries, coarsely chopped
2 oz. dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 T. honey
2 T. dry sherry
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 oz. finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 C. sugar
1/3 C light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 2/3 C. AP flour
In a medium bowl, combine the chopped figs, craisins, currants, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, nuts, and a pinch of salt. Stir so all are coated, cover with plastic wrap and leave the bowl out overnight at room temperature.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cloves, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Remove the bowl, and with a rubber spatula fold in the fruits, nuts, and any remaining liquid. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm. You can also seal in plastic wrap and freeze at this point; the dough will keep well for a month.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased, parchment lined sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden. These cookies keep very well in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
It’s holiday time once again and, all over the world, people are starting to think about those favorite family recipes that everyone looks forward to each year. Home cooking is a traditional part of the season’s celebrations but, for many cultures, it doesn’t have to center around turkey and pumpkin pie. As three top New Mexico chefs, from very different backgrounds, deliciously demonstrate, there are some very tempting alternatives out there for those adventurous enough to think out of the box.
For Henrique Valdovinos, general manager of La Provence, a French brasserie in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill district, the mere mention of holiday cooking makes his eyes light up. A trained and experienced chef, Valdovinos can produce a bûche de Noel as effortlessly as a pumpkin pie. “I love different traditions,” he says.
The Mexico City native had a multicultural perspective from the start. The son of a Lebanese father and Spanish/Mexican mother, he grew up with a variety of different ethnic foods. His interest in culinary cultures and a strong desire to travel, prompted him to go to school in Paris and he has since worked in restaurants in Spain, Italy and France as well as Mexico and the United States. His favorite holiday foods, however, remain those of his Mexican childhood.
The traditional holiday feast was eaten around midnight on Christmas Eve and began with ‘romeritos con tortas de camaron’ (shrimp cakes with rosemary) lovingly prepared by his mother from an old family recipe. “And, to go with it, we had pomegranate punch,” says Valdovinos, adding with a grin, “with tequila!”
The much-traveled chef arrived in Albuquerque in 1995, after leaving his culinary footprints in San Diego and Texas, where he opened a classical-style restaurant. Since his arrival here, he has consulted on a number of different projects and his association with Steve Paternoster, the owner of La Provence, goes back a number of years. Paternoster also owns the neighboring Scalo Italian restaurant in Nob Hill and Valdovinos was involved in getting both places up and running. Although it’s only been around for three years, La Provence has already been voted the number one best French restaurant in Abuquerque. Being an accomplished culinary chameleon clearly has its advantages.
Romeritos von Tortas de Camaron
By Henrique Valdevinos
2 lbs. small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb. fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
1 small yellow onion, cut in quarters
1 T. chopped garlic
1/4 C. olive oil or corn oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place shrimp in large saucepan and add enough water to cover.
Add the onion and garlic and bring to a hard boil.
Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until onion is soft.
Strain and dry all ingredients completely
Place in food processor. Add eggs, oil and half the breadcrumbs.
Form into croquettes, adding dry breadcrumbs as necessary.
Pan fry on low heat in shallow oil – about 5 to 8 minutes total. Do NOT burn!
I Lb. Romeros (Mexican rosemary) removed from stem
2 jars of mole (Dona Maria’s is best)
1 quart chicken consommé
Bring half the consommé to a boil, preferably in a clay pot. Lower the heat.
Add one jar of mole. Whisk together until the mix is shiny and without lumps.
Put in rest of consommé. Bring to a slow boil and add the second jar of mole.
Add the romeros to the mix and cook, over low heat, for about 30 mins. until the rosemary is soft. If necessary, add shrimp juice or stock.
About 5 minutes before serving, add the tortas to the mole.
Serve with Spanish cider or a strong red wine like a rioja.
For Joseph Wrede, the owner/executive chef of Joseph’s Table in Taos, it was his Italian mother who inspired an early interest in food. “I was raised on Italian cooking,” he says, “and my grandfather grew oranges, lemons and other produce in the Phoenix area where we lived, so I also had a connection with the land, growing up.” Wrede, who started working in restaurants at the age of 12, would spend hours in the kitchen with his mother, learning the basics of Italian home cooking. “But it wasn’t just about the food,” he says. “I also acquired an Italian culinary sensitivity, if you like, an appreciation of the importance of fresh ingredients, simple preparation, local flavors. I still believe in those things. Food is medicine, after all.”
Joseph’s Table opened in 1995 and specializes in seasonal foods “that work with the environment.” Wrede shops the farmers’ markets and may well be the only chef for miles around without a freezer. “We have a small one that we use for ice-cream and sorbets but none of our food is ever frozen,” he says. “That’s just my personal preference.” He is particularly fond of using local lamb in his restaurant “because real New Mexico food tastes of the area. What those animals eat, the grasses and shrubs, really does have a subtle effect on the flavor.”
The lamb dish Wrede chose for the holidays is featured on his restaurant’s Christmas Day menu (Joseph’s Table opens at 4:30 pm that day.) When asked what he likes to cook, for himself, as a holiday treat at home, he responds emphatically, “I never cook at home! I eat cereal and coconut water for breakfast, that’s about it.”
joseph’s holiday lamb shanks
By Joseph Wrede
ingredients (for 4)
4 lamb shanks, 8oz. each (chef’s choice is Shepherd’s Lamb)
32 oz. sweet local apples, unpeeled, chopped
2 medium red or white onions, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 C. fresh ginger root, chopped
2 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
I T. thyme (leaves only, no stems) chopped.
4 T. honey
Stock (chicken, lamb or veal)
Coat a large, deep 2 handled metal pan with olive oil and heat to medium.
Sear lamb shanks, together with chopped apples, about 5 minutes each side, gently shaking the pan to infuse the apple flavor into the mix.
Add the onions, garlic, ginger root, rosemary and thyme. Sauté for another
6 to 7 minutes, again shaking the pan gently to combine the flavors.
Add the honey and enough stock to half cover the lamb shanks.
Cover pan with a lid or parchment paper and place in a pre-heated oven (350°)
for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat starts to loosen from the bone.
Remove dish from the oven, remove the shanks and put them aside to rest.
Push the pan contents through a strainer and discard the remains.
Put the strained liquid into a saucepan and reduce to your preferred consistency.
Serve lamb shanks, topped with this glaze, on a bed of mashed, sweet potatoes.
Team with your favorite, fresh green vegetable and a good, red Zinfandel wine.
Traveling and cooking often go hand-in-hand for a successful chef and it was the globe-trotting potential that first attracted Roland Richter to the profession. The chef/owner of Joe’s and Pizza Etc. in Santa Fe, grew up in a small-town farming community in southern Germany and was eager to explore the world. “I read a newspaper article about these chefs who traveled all over and I thought, that’s for me!”
Richter was about ten years old at the time and shocked his local school by asking to opt out of woodworking and join the girls’ cooking class instead. “There were only about 300 children in the whole school and no one had ever done such a thing before, so it was a big deal,” he remembers, “but my parents were very supportive and in the end they said yes. After all that, I didn’t learn much!”
Richter left school at 14 to take a formal apprenticeship in a Bavarian hotel. Since then he has lived and worked in several countries, including Canada, (where he met his wife, Sheila), and has been in Santa Fe since 1990. He is passionately committed to using fresh, local ingredients and last year spent over $30,000 on locally produced foods. “If you know and appreciate real food,” he says, “it’s not a choice.”
At holiday time he returns to his German childhood roots, when the centerpiece of Christmas dinner was a roasted goose. “We exchanged presents on the 24th so there were no distractions,” he says with a smile.
“Christmas Day was just a non-stop eating day.” He has continued to prepare the traditional goose ever since and, though Joe’s is closed on Christmas Day, Richter will make up special orders in advance, a 10 to 12 lb. goose can cost anywhere between $70-$90.
By Roland Richter
12 – 14lb, serves about 8
The night before roasting, remove the giblets and neck and cut off the last two joints of the wings (use these items to make the stock.)
Place giblets in a pot (except the liver, which can be pan-fried and eaten as an appetizer.)
Add 1 cup of onions and carrots and 1 celery stick and cover with about 1 gal. water. Simmer slowly for about 3 hours, seasoning with pepper, salt, rosemary and sage. Set aside.
Remove the lumps of fat from the main and neck cavities (either save for rendering or discard.)
Rinse the bird thoroughly in cool running water, washing any residue from the cavity.
Rub about 2 T. kosher coarse salt all over the goose and sprinkle some in the cavity. Set the bird on a tray, breast side up, and put it, uncovered, in the refrigerator to dry overnight.
The next day, remove the goose from the refrigerator an hour before roasting and let it reach room temperature.
Season cavity with pepper, sage and grated orange zest and put the apples inside.
Prick the skin of the goose all over with a small thin knife (helps drain the fat) and place, breast side down, on a wire rack inside a heavy roasting pan. Add 1 pint of water to pan.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Roast the goose for 30 minutes to melt and drain body fat. Lower the oven to 300°F. Pour the hot fat from the roasting pan into a large can or pot (you’ll collect nearly a quart of fat by the end of roasting) and turn the goose breast side up.
Add remaining carrots, celery and onions, cover with 1 qt. of stock (made yesterday.) Cover the goose with heavy aluminum foil and roast for one hour.
Remove aluminum foil, baste goose and continue to roast and baste for the next 2 hours. Remove excess fat and replenish stock if needed.
When meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160F° the goose is done. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 min before carving.
For the sauce:
Put 1 cup of the goose fat in a heavy pot and whisk in 3 T . flour.
Cook slowly, until it starts to color. Add 1qt. of the cold stock and simmer, stirring gently, for about 20 mins.
Add another qt. of cold stock, stir and bring to a boil. Simmer slowly for 20 minutes.
Add all pan drippings (minus the fat) and vegetables from the goose. Puree in a blender and cook for 10 more minutes.
This basic sauce can be upgraded with the addition of wine, cranberries, orange or herbs of your choice.
Pomegranates, one of the earth’s oldest fruits, are believed to have originated in the Middle East over
4000 years ago. Spanish settlers were the first to introduce them to the United States in the late 1700’s. While the San
Joaquin Valley in California is the only serious growing area for pomegranates in the U.S., they seem to grow fairly well here in New Mexico in southern parts of the state, and can be found at many southern farmers markets. These mysterious fruits seem to have symbolism in nearly every culture: The Chinese valued them as one of the three blessed
fruits of Buddha, while in Turkey a bride would throw a pomegranate on the floor to discover the number of children
from the number of seeds scattered. The Greeks regarded the pomegranate as the symbol of love and fertility, as the
fruit was believed to have sprung from the blood of Dionysus—a spring fertility god. In the modern-day traditions
of many Greeks, it is customary to adorn the holiday table with pomegranates, as they are a symbol of abundance; a
fruit that spills over in plenitude and good luck. In Persia, the pomegranate was a popular amulet against evils. Some
Christian scholars believe it was a pomegranate and not an apple that tempted Eve. Islamic legend explains that each
and every pomegranate contains one seed—or aril—that has come directly from heaven. A heavenly fruit indeed!
|Pomegranate Gelee with Saffron-Yogurt Cream and Pistachios
Recipe by Deborah Madison
Serves 4 to 6
I developed this recipe for an event that featured both pomegranate juice and pistachio nuts. This seemed like a good way to bring them together. Pure, unpasteurized pomegranate juice is an intense drink, so a little goes a long way. It also happens to be a powerful source of antioxidants.
I let the gelee firm up in small, pretty juice glasses, leaving enough room for the saffron-yogurt topping, inspired by an, Indian dessert, mishi doi. It’s a pretty and somewhat unusual dessert. If saffron and yogurt seem strange, you can always have whipped cream in its place, or plain yogurt.
2 C.s pure pomegranate juice, such as Pom
The Yogurt Sauce
Pour 1/2 cup of the pomegranate juice into a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it stand for five minutes. Meanwhile heat half the remaining juice just to the boiling point. Stir it into the gelatin, add the sugar, and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Gradually stir in the rest of the juice, then add the orange flower water. Divide among four to six small glasses and refrigerate until set, allowing at least six hours or overnight.
Stir the yogurt and honey together. Heat the milk with the saffron threads, let cool, then stir into the yogurt. Refrigerate until needed.
To serve, spoon the yogurt cream over each glass of pomegranate jelly.
Garnish with the pistachio nuts and pomegranate seeds.
Tangerine Pudding Cake with Pomegranate Syrup
Recipe by Deborah Madison
Serves 4 to 6
Butter four custard cups or six smaller ramekins. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grate, then juice the tangerines.
Whisk the egg whites with the salt until foamy. Gradually add 2 T. of the sugar and continue beating until the whites are thick and glossy. Scrape them into a large bowl and set aside. Rinse out the mixing bowl, wipe it dry and return it to the mixer. Beat the butter with the sugar and tangerine zest until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time. When well mixed, gradually pour in the milk with the mixer running, then add the flour.
Pour the batter over the whites and fold them together. Distribute among the custard cups and bake until the tops have risen and are golden, and spring back when pressed with a finger, about 30 minutes. Remove from the water bath and let cool.
Serve while still slightly warm or at room temperature, with the pomegranate syrup drizzled over and a small cloud of whipped cream.
One pomegranate should yield about half a cup of juice. Roll a pomegranate around on the counter, pressing down firmly to release the juice inside. Use a paring knife to make an incision around the crown of the pomegranate, cutting a small opening.
Hold the pomegranate over a small bowl, and squeeze the juice out of the opening.
To make pomegranate syrup, bring the juice to a boil on the stovetop and simmer until thickened to the desired consistency.
Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Frisee, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts
Caramelizing the pears makes this winter salad a standout. Use firm pears, and cut them in quarters. Arrange cut side down in a hot skillet. When the pear is nicely browned, flip and brown the other side. Make the investment in walnut oil – it has a deep toasty, nutty flavor that really brings the salad to life.
3 firm pears, quartered and cored
Toss pears, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add pears cut-side down in single layer and cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Using small spatula or fork, tip each pear onto second cut side; continue to cook until second side is light brown, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Turn off heat, leave skillet on burner, and immediately add 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar; shaking the pan until vinegar coats pears, about 30 seconds. Transfer pears to large plate and cool to room temperature.
Cut each pear quarter crosswise into 1/2″ pieces.
Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon walnut oil, remaining 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and shallot together in large bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lettuce, frisée, and cooled pears to bowl; toss and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Divide salad among individual plates; top each with portions of cheese and nuts. Serve immediately.