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Holiday Entertaining

Area chefs share favorite festive recipes

by The Staff on November 10, 2011

Sweet Potato-Andouille Soup

Kenneth Ruud, Grille One Six Five

Normanside Country Club, 150 Salisbury Road, 439-2117

2 Tbsp. oil

1/2 cup onions, diced

2 links andouille sausage, diced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

4 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 Tbsp. salt

2 1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

2 Tbsp. parsley

1 1/2 cups white wine

In a stockpot, heat oil and add onions and sausage. Cook for about 15-20 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes.Add chicken stock and cream, simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Working in small batches puree soup in blender or food processor.  Add back to pot.Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Note: Add sugar and seasonings a little at a time until you reach your desired sweetness and taste. Serves 5-8.


Holiday Jalapeno Poppers

Jason Acosta and Michael Baker, El Loco Mexican Cafe  

465 Madison Ave., Albany, 436-1855            

12 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

6 ounces jalapeno peppers, minced

1 small red onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

vegetable oil for frying

2 cups fine-ground corn meal masa

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

6 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. chipotle chile in adobo

12 ounce container ranch dressing or sour cream

scallions, chopped for garnish

Saute minced onion, minced jalapeno, and minced garlic until onion is transparent. Set aside. Set aside 1/2 cup corn meal on a plate for dredging

To make batter: Combine 1 1/2 cups corn meal masa, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cumin. Whisk together the eggs and milk. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry batter ingredients until the batter is thick and will hold together (you may not use all of the liquids).

To assemble each individual popper: Fold 1 ounce of shredded cheese around 1/12 of the minced onion & jalapeno filling. Dredge in the corn meal, and dip in the batter until a ball shape is created. Place on a waxed baking sheet. (uncooked poppers can be refrigerate for up to 3 days, or frozen for later use).

Deep fry jalapeno poppers until golden brown. To make dipping salsa: Mix chipotle chile in adobo into your choice ofranch dressing or sour cream. Serve with dipping salsa garnished with scallions. Serves 12.


Country Ham and Fig Flatbreads

Carl Anderson, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

377 River St., Troy, 308-0400

12 ounce ball of pizza dough, room temperature

All-purpose flour (for rolling dough)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

Salt and cracked black pepper

1/2 cup fig jam

1 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

3 ounces Country Ham, sliced very thin (have local butcher slice for you) and cut into 1-inch strips

1 scallion, white and green parts thinly sliced

Place a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Allow at least 45 minutes for the pizza stone to heat thoroughly.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to a 13-inch round. Drizzle with about 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil and sprinkle on the garlic and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the fig jam over the crust, being sure to leave a 1-inch border of dough all around. Evenly distribute the cheese and country ham over the dough.

Slide the flatbread onto the stone and bake for about 15 minutes, until crispy and golden. Transfer the flatbread to a cutting board and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with the sliced scallion and serve

Notes: Procuitto maybe substituted for country ham. A hot baking sheet may be used where a stone is not available.


Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ric Orlando, New World Bistro Bar

300 Delaware Ave., Albany, 694-0520

Properly cooked brussles sprouts are an autumn treat. When purchased from a farm stand on a stalk, they are often the star of the meal. These sprouts are roasted, carmelized and lucious!

Some sprouts are wound tighter than others, so the roasting time my vary , depending upon the particular batch of sprouts you are cooking. Make sure they are lightly browned, but not black, or you will have bitter sprouts. Remember that strong and bitter green vegetables can handle more salt than delicate veggies. This dish used quartered sprouts with lots of garlic. This gives them a balanced firm yet tender texture.  They are great with pork and rich skin on poultry prepartations.

Because of the vinegar, this dish pairs well with red meats, venison, beef and lamb. It is also good served family style with hearty salmon preparations.

1 pound medium brussels sprouts

2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.

4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

2 medium shallots, cut in  half

6 Tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar

2 sprigs rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare Brussels sprouts by trimming off any dry or loose leaves. Cut brown end off of the stem to expose the white core of the stem. Cut an “X” into the bottom of the core of the stem, about 2 or three millimeter deep.

In a mixing bowl. toss all ingredients to coat well. Let marinate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Put everything in a roasting pan and loosely cover with parchment paper or foil. Bake about 30 minutes, and then check the sprouts. They will begin to soften and become golden. Poke a big one with a skewer or toothpick. It should be tender. If they need a little more time, let it happen. When they are just tender, remove the covering and allow to cook 10 more minutes until lightly browned. They should be very tender when done. Serve them right in the roasting dish and make sure everyone gets a piece of shallot and a clove of garlic. Serves 4.


Pear and Sweet Potato Casserole

Monica Kurzejeski, Troy Farmers Market

Uncle Sam Atrium, Broadway, Troy

1 1/2 large sweet potatoes

1 sprays cooking spray

1 1/2 Tbsp. butter

1 1/2 tsp. ginger root, fresh, minced

3 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. lemon zest, freshly grated

1/2 tsp. table salt

2 medium ripe Anjou pears, peeled, halved, sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Pierce sweet potatoes in a few places with tip of a knife. Place on a paper towel and microwave on high until tender, about 7 to 9 minutes, turning potatoes over once. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat; add ginger and cook until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat; stir in maple syrup, lemon zest and salt.

With your fingers or a small knife, peel skin from sweet potatoes. Slice potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds. Arrange sweet potatoes in bottom of prepared plate and place pears on top; brush with about half the syrup mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes; remove from oven and brush with remaining syrup mixture. Return to oven; bake until glazed and mixture is bubbly around edges, about 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and drizzle lemon juice over top. Make sure to spoon juices from bottom of dish over each serving. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

Pasta with Chinghiale (Wild Boar) Ragu

Michael Cella, Cella Bistro

2015 Rosa Road, Schenectady, 381-2081

For Pasta:

4 cups flour

3 whole eggs

1 yolk

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

Place flour on clean, smooth surface, form into a well. With a fork, mix eggs, oil, salt & pepper and yolk; pour into center of flour well. Slowly mix flour into egg mixture, pulling small amounts from the sides of the well as you mix. When flour is fully incorporated, form into a ball and knead 10 minutes until the dough feels firm and bounces back when poked lightly. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes at room temperature or 1-2 hours in refrigerator. Roll dough to l/16-inch thickness and cut into sheets. Cut sheets into 1.5- to 2-inch ribbons. Toss with flour and set aside.

For Boar Ragu:

5 pounds BRT Boar shoulder (boned, rolled and tied)

8 ounces tomato paste


2 medium onions

1 large carrot, diced

3 celery ribs, diced

2 quarts veal stock

1/2 bottle pinot noir

Sachet of thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stems and garlic wrapped in cheese cloth


salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously season boar shoulder on all sides. Brown in skillet on each side in oil for 8-10 minutes per side. Remove from pot. Sweat chopped mirepoix (onion, celery and carrot) in remaining fat until fragrant and soft. Season. Rust (brown) tomato paste with mirepoix about 10-15 minutes, taking care not to burn. Deglaze pan with pinot noir, bring to a boil, simmer 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Add stock, bring to a boil. Season lightly.

Add boar and sachet, cover and place in oven 2-2 1/2 hours until meat falls apart. Cool. Shred boar meat. Strain solids out of stock, skim all fat. Reduce liquid by one-half, add boar meat, adjust seasonings. Mount with butter.

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water 3-5 minutes until tender. Toss with boar ragu, season with grated parmeggiano reggiano. Plate and garnish with chopped fresh parsley and more parmeggiano reggiano.



Jeffrey Ruff, Wolff’s Biergarten

895 Broadway, Albany, 427-2461

2 cups water

1 1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 cup  red wine vinegar

1/2 cup red wine

2 onions, rough chopped

2 carrots, rough chopped

15 juniper berries

3 bay leaves

6 whole cloves

1 tsp. mustard seeds

10 whole peppercorns

5 allspice berries

4 cups ice

5-6 pounds bottom round

2 tbs. veggie oil

1/3-1/2 cup sugar (to taste)

20 dark old-fashioned ginger snaps, crushed

1/2 cup raisins

In a large sauce pan combine first 12 ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a non-reactive container large enough to hold the bottom round and all brine. Add ice, and cool. Add beef to brine and submerge.   Refrigerate for 4-6 days, turning daily.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place meat and brine in large roasting pan, sprinkle with sugar and cover. Place in middle of the oven and cook till tender, about 4 hrs.

Remove from oven.  Set meet aside and strain all liquid in the pan.  Return liquid to a pan and add ginger snaps whisking unil thickened. Add raisins. Slice and Enjoy. Serves 6-8.


Chicken Harira

Aneesa Waheed, Tara Kitchen, market café vendor at Schenectady Greenmarket

Robb Alley, Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

Harira is a dish traditionally served in Morocco during the holy month of Ramadan. No

matter what holiday you celebrate, this dish will earn rave reviews from the people gathered around at your table. Many of the ingredients listed can be found at Schenectady Greenmarket

3 Tbsp. oil

1 medium onion

1 Tbsp. ginger/garlic paste

1 Tbsp. vegetable masala

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. garam masala

1/4 pound ground chicken

8 ounces tomato paste

1/4 bunch cilantro

1/2 cup yellow lentils

1/2 can chickpeas

Juice of 1 lemon (you can add more if you like)

8 cups water

1/2 cup basmati rice (soaked for at least 1/2 hour)

Salt to taste


Boil yellow lentils until tender but not overcooked. In large soup pot over medium heat, cook the onions until soft and translucent.Add ginger/garlic paste, spices and saute for about 5 minutes. Add ground chicken, salt, fresh cilantro, tomato paste, lemon juice  and cook covered for about 15 minutes on low heat. Add chickpeas and lentils and cook for another 3 minutes. Add water, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Add rice and cook until soft. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve hot! Serves 4.


The Olde English Strongbow Apple Pie  

Jeremey Kerr, Olde English Pub and Pantry

683 Broadway, Albany, 434-6533

Ingredients (Please use exact measurements):

6 granny smith apples

8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

32 ounces string bow pub cider

1 cup light brown sugar

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

3 Tbsp. cold water

2 premade pie shells with tins

Nonstick pan spray.

Core, peel, and slice 4 apples. Combine sliced apples, 1 cup of brown sugar and 32 ounces of strongbow pub cider in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let ingredients simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk together to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the sauce pan. Let the mixture thicken for two to three minutes. Remove from heat and cool the filling mixture in an ice bath.

Core, peel, and slice the two remaining apples. Remove the premade pie crusts from the aluminum foil shells and lay them out. Spray one tin with the pan spray and replace one of the pie crust shells. Spread the slices of cheddar on the bottom of the pie crust.Spread one of the sliced apples on top of the sliced cheddar. Spread the cooled filling in the pie crust and even it out with a large sppon or spatula.Spread the last apple slices on top of the filling. Place the 2nd pie crust on top of the pie and crimp the edges to seal the pie.

Preheat conventional oven to 425 degrees. Bake pie for 45 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown. Remove from  the oven and let cool completely, then slice and serve with your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.


Bûche de Noël

Claire Pogue, The Epicurian Bistro & Wine Bar

Latham Farms Shopping Center, 579 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, 786-8272

The Bûche de Noël, or yule log, is a French tradition akin to making a Ginger Bread House, and a great holiday undertaking with the kids. Below you will find the basic cake recipe. For the complete recipe, decorations and assembly instructions—including Espresso Buttercream Frosting, Espresso Syrup, Meringue Mushrooms, Almond Ganache Bark and Pistachio Moss—please visit epicurean-ny.com.

Basic Chiffon Cake

Note: You can store the cake well-wrapped in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.  If you make it ahead, make sure to bring the cake to room temperature before rolling it. We recommend you assemble and frost the Bûche on the day you plan to eat it.

9 ounces of all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup of sunflower oil

3 large egg yolks (1/4 cup)

1/3 cup of water plus 1 Tbsp.

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 tsp. grated lemon zest (optional)

5 large egg whites (2/3 cup)

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar or lemon juice


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line the bottom of a 12×17 jelly roll/sheet pan with parchment paper cut to fit exactly. Do not grease the sides of the pan.

Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl; add 5ounces of sugar and the salt and mix to combine. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Make a well in the flour and add the yolk mixture. Whisk quickly and thoroughly for about a minute until very smooth.

Place the egg white in a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk on medium speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar/lemon juice and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold soft peaks.  Slowly add 3Tbsp. of sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm; the peaks will be shiny.

Using a rubber spatula, scoop about one third of the whites onto the yolk mixture and fold in gently to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.  Bake until the cake is just set to the touch ~ approximately 20 to 20 minutes.  Make sure to let the cake cool before assembling. Visit epicurean-ny.com for further instructions.