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Holiday Entertaining

Area chefs share festive holiday recipes

by The Staff on November 21, 2013


Butternut Squash Salad

Chef Ian Brower, Capital City Gastropub

261 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 459-5077

Serves 4


2 large butternut squash

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 cup French cider vinegar (cidre de normandie, used at Gastropub)

1/8 cup clover honey

2 Tbsp petite capers

Fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup hazelnut butter (recipe to follow)

Hazelnut Butter Recipe:

Crushed hazelnuts

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: Prepare hazelnut butter by toasting peeled hazelnuts in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove 1/2 cup of roasted nuts to set aside to grind for garnish. In a food processor, grind remaining nuts until a paste is formed. Slowly stream olive oil into hazelnuts while blending till a butter texture is achieved. Set aside and allow to cool. Peel butternut squash until vibrant orange flesh is exposed. Discard skins. Using your peeler, shave long strips of squash. Place squash in a large bowl. Add olive oil, cider vinegar, honey and a large pinch of both salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly. Smear Hazelnut butter onto serving dish of your choosing. stack ribbons of squash on top of butter. Garnish dish with petite capers, freshly torn basil and ground hazelnuts. Serve immediately.

Panna Cotta

Sous Chef Tia Lule, Grappa ‘72

818 Central Ave., Albany, 482-7200

Serves 6


1 cup whole milk

3 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup honey

1 Tbsp unflavored gelatin powder

1 Tbsp sugar

1 pinch salt

Place milk in small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over bowl and allow to stand 3 to 6 minutes to soften gelatin. Pour mixture into heavy saucepan and stir over a medium heat until gelatin dissolves. Do not allow to boil. Stir for about 5 minutes, then add cream, honey, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Portion into six wine glasses and allow to cool slightly. Place them into the refrigerator to set for 6 to 7 hours. When serving, garnish with fresh berries and a dash of cinnamon.

Pumpkin Mulligawtawny

Chef Ric Orlando, New World Bistro Bar

300 Delaware Ave., Albany, 694-0520

This most popular Indian lentil soup has been made so many ways, one never really knows how authentic their version is. The recipe I have been preparing for the holidays is based on the soup made at India Pavilion in Central Square in Cambridge, Mass. The soup there is smooth with red lentils and has a nice lemony accent. Chunks of pumpkin add texture, and a nice holiday feel.


1 medium onion, diced

2 1×1 cubes of ginger

5 medium garlic cloves

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup ghee or vegetable oil

juice of two lemons

3 cups red split lentils

3 cups cubed pumpkin about 1-inch

1/2 gallon water with a touch of chicken or vegetable bouillon or . . .

chicken stock, vegetable stock

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Puree first ingredients in processor with 1/4 cup of water to make a paste. In a heavy pot add ghee or oil and heat gently. Add paste and saute until a beautiful aroma is released. Do not brown. Add lentils and stir to coat thoroughly. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add the pumpkin. Reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils turn golden and begin to melt. Add cilantro and lemon juice. Adjust salt of needed. Serve in bowls with grilled pita or nan.

Ric Orlando’s Turkey Roasting 101

Chef Ric Orlando, New World Bistro Bar

300 Delaware Ave., Albany, 694-0520

Ric’s Turkey Brine: When you are done frying, grilling and messing around, try my tested, tried and true method for brining and roasting! Brining and the high/low cooking technique is the secret. Ratio up to make enough to cover the bird entirely. Use a cooler to hold the turkey so that you can brine it overnight. Line it with a trash bag if you are squeamish.

Put 4 frozen ice packs or bags of ice in zip lock bags and cover the cooler to make sure it stays cold enough.


1 gallon cold water

1 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

3-4 allspice berries

8-10 peppercorns

2 fresh bay leaves

1 Tbsp dried thyme

1 tsp lemon zest

Stir salt into water to dissolve. Add all other ingredients to make the brine. Cover turkey completely with brine for as short as two hours or as long as 24 hours. Remove from brine and dry well.

Basic Ric Orlando Turkey Roasting Recipe: Massage the turkey with melted butter, olive oil, duck fat or grape seed oil before seasoning. Rub turkey with the following mix. You may not use all of it, but this rub makes for great skin!

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 Tbsp ground black pepper

2 Tbsp paprika

2 Tbsp dry thyme

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp dry sage, crumbled or “rubbed”

Mix well and massage into the entire bird.

Fill the cavity with the following:

1 Apple, split in half

1 Lemon, split in half

1 onion, split in half

1 head garlic, split in half

2-3 spring each of thyme, sage and parsley

Let turkey stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Have a quick-read thermometer and a kitchen timer handy. This method should take about 12 minutes per pound or about 4 total hours for a 20-pound bird. Put turkey in roasting pan directly in the bottom—not on a rack or mirepoix. Put turkey in oven and set timer for 30 minutes. When timer goes off, check turkey . You are looking for a golden brown skin and a nice sizzle in the pan. If it is still pale, reset time for 15 more minutes. If it is still not golden, do it again. The goal at this stage is to have a turkey that looks perfectly cooked, though we know it is raw inside still.

When you reach that stage, reduce oven to 300 and loosely cover it with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Pour enough water into the pan to cover the pan with about 1/4 inch of liquid.

Set timer again, this time for about 10 minutes per pound. When the timer goes off, check for internal temperature by putting the probe thermometer between the thigh and breast. When it reads 165-170, the bird is done. It will continue to cook as it rests and its internal temperature will increase by about 7 percent. Woo hooo.

Let the turkey stand for 30 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and use the juices in the pan to make amazing gravy!

Tuna Basket

Chef Steven, Koto Japanese Restaurant

260 Wolf Road, Latham, 869-8888 

Serves 3


Eel Sauce

Eel sauce can be purchased at your local supermarket where you can find Asian specialty ingredients.

1/2 pint soy sauce

1/2 pint water

1/4 pint Japanese sweet wine

3/4 pint sugar

For Tempera Crunch

Paper towels

1 cup tempura flour mix

1 cup water

2 egg whites

vegetable oil

Spicy Mayo

5 oz. mayonnaise

Chili hot paste/Siracha sauce

Tuna and Stuffing

3 oz. of fresh Blue Fin Tuna, in slices 3 inches by 1 inch by 1/4 inch thick_Crab/Lobster/King crabmeat (your choice)

1/2 cup finely diced ripe Mexican mango

1 cup finely diced cucumber


6 6-inch x 6-inch pieces of Saran Wrap


Make the eel sauce: In a small pot, whisk and reduce together all the above ingredients on a stove under low to medium heat. Make the spicy mayo sauce: Fold desired amount of chili sauce into the mayonnaise. Make the tempura crunch: Whisk tempura flour mix, egg whites, and water. Strain mix through a strainer. Heat vegetable oil in a pot to 375 degrees. Slowly pour tempura mix into hot oil. Strain the tempura crunch onto the paper towel. Place the tuna in between two Ceram wraps then gently flatten tuna with a mallet until transparent or paper-thin. Stuffing: Toss mango, cucumbers, and crab/lobster/king crabmeat together. Remove top layer of Saran Wrap and scoop desired amount of stuffing onto flatten tuna. Take the Saran Wrap beneath and with the tuna then gently fold the tuna around the stuffing.

On a white plate: place tuna baskets closely together in a triangle. Drizzle eel sauce, spicy mayo, and sprinkle tempura crunch. Garnish with masago (caviar) and thinly cut scallions.

Carmen’s Hot Spanish Xocolate

Chef Chris Faraci, Carmen’s Café

198 First St., Troy, 326-2064

Serves 4


4 oz. bar of your favorite dark chocolate

2 cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

rind and juice of 1/2 orange

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

fresh ground nutmeg

lots of love

Instructions: Heat the milk and cream. Stir occasionally. Separately, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Add the zest and juice of 1/2 orange. Whisk them together well.

When the milk mixture is hot, blend it into the chocolate. Whisk thoroughly.

Add the love. Plenty of love. Serve with whipped cream and a thin slice of orange. Dust with fresh ground nutmeg.

Grilled Asparagus Prosciutto Di Para (signature appetizer at Portofino’s)

Chef Justin Engineri, Portofino’s Italian Ristorante

831 New Loudon Road Latham, 608-4675

Serves 4


1 bunch asparagus

1/4 lbs. Di Parma Prosciutto sliced super thin (so you can read a newspaper through it)

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. salt and pepper mixed

2 cups baby arugula

1 clove garlic minced

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

shaved parmesan

Instructions: Melt butter and garlic until bubbly, boil 2 quarts water lightly salted and blanch asparagus for 30 seconds. Coat asparagus in garlic butter and char on grill pan or charcoal grill for 30-40 seconds rolling to mark on all sides every few seconds. In mixing bowl add arugula sprinkle with salt and pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil and mix. Arrange remaining ingredients on plate (asparagus, prosciutto, salad) and drizzle with honey, remaining olive oil and lemon juice over all ingredients and sprinkle with cheese and enjoy!

Chocolate Espresso Cake

Professor Susan Hatalsky, Casola Dining Room

Schenectady Community College, 78 Washington Ave, Schenectady

Yield: 1 cake

Serves: 16



1 lbs. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

8 oz. Brewed espresso coffee

1 lbs. butter

1 cup sugar

8 eggs; slightly beaten

Chocolate Glaze:

8 oz. semi sweet chocolate; chopped fine

8 oz. heavy cream

Instructions: Prepare 1, 10-inch cake pan by greasing bottom and sides. Cut and place a parchment circle in the bottom of pan, grease top of paper. Set oven to 350°F.

For cake:

Combine chocolate, coffee, butter, and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat until chocolate is melted and all ingredients are well blended. Remove from heat and cool to 140° F or just warm to the touch. Beat eggs well. Whisk beaten eggs into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared pan.

For glaze:

Heat cream to just under a boil in heavy pan; add chopped chocolate and remove from heat. Cover pan with plastic wrap for 5 minutes. Remove wrap and whisk. Allow glaze to cool slightly. When cake has cooled, place cake on a wire rack set over a sheet pan. Pour glaze over tops and sides of cake. Refrigerate until set. Cake can be frozen.

Beer Steamed Mussels

Chef Dan Miller, The Merry Monk

90 N. Pearl St., Albany, 463-MONK (6665)

Serves 3-4

1 lbs. fresh mussels

8 oz. Belgian ale (preferably)

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 oz. butter

2 oz. chopped onion

2 oz. chopped tomato

1 oz. chopped garlic

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. smoked paprika

Instructions: Heat butter in saute pan; add garlic, onion and tomato. Saute until almost browned; add beer to deglaze the pan. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Add mussels. Cook until mussels are open and are no longer translucent (about 4-5 minutes)

Osso Bucco

Chef David Gibson, Creo Restaurant

1475 Western Ave.,  Stuyvesant Plaza, 482-8000

Serves: 4-6

2-3lbs. veal shank (4 to 6 pieces)

1/4 lbs. pancetta, diced 1/4 in. cubes

1/2 cup diced carrot (1/4 in. cube)

1/2 cup diced celery (1/4in. cube)

1 medium onion, diced

2 Tbsp. chopped garlic

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup white wine

2 cups chicken or veal stock

1/4 tomato paste

flour for dredging

salt and pepper

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Add pancetta to large oven on the stove top over medium heat. Stir the pancetta occasionally to render out the fat (about 5mins). Remove pancetta and save. Season shanks well with salt and pepper. Dredge shanks in flour to coat evenly, shake off any excess. Add meat to hot pan and cook on each side till golden brown (about 5mins per). Remove shanks and save.

Add onions, carrots and celery stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add garlic, tomato paste and thyme cook for 3-4 minutes or until brown. Add white wine, shanks, pancetta and enough stock to cover 3/4 of the shanks. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in oven. Cook for 2 hours until meat is tender.

Tostones con Camarones y Chipotles

Chef Ray Wall, Jose Malone’s Mexican Irish Restaurant 

405 River St., Troy, 273-2196

Serves: 3-4

2 green plantains
oil for frying
salt and pepper
2 avocados
chipotles en adobo
garlic oil

Instructions: Heat oil to 375 degrees. Peel and cut plantains into 3/4 inch slices. Fry the slices in the hot oil for 3 minutes. Remove from oil and, when they are cool enough to handle, smash them into flat rounds. Fry the flatten rounds in hot oil for 3 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels and salt to taste. Cut open avocados, remove pit and scrape out the fruit. Smash until smooth, add salt pepper and a little lime juice.
Sautee shrimp in hot garlic oil. When shrimp turn color turn off heat and add chopped chipotle en adobo. To assemble put a dollop of the avocado creme on a plantain round and top with shrimp and chipotle. Place on tray and serve.

Ralph’s Famous Macaroni and Cheese with Ritz Cracker Crumb Topping

Executive Chef Mark D Graham, Taste Restaurant

45 Beaver St., Albany, 694-3322

1 1/2 cups Orecchiatte pasta

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 cup minced shallots

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

1cup shredded fresh mozzarella

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1cup parmesan grated

1/2 cup club crackers (Keebler Original)

Instructions: Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Cook Pasta in salted water. Cool and reserve. In a heavy bottom pot sweat the shallots in 2 tablespoons of the butter on medium heat. Add the heavy cream salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Whisk in the mozzarella, cheddar and half cup of the parmesan. When all the cheese is incorporated into a cheese sauce fold in the pasta and pour into a Pyrex baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and fold into the cracker crumbs and then the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Cover the pasta with the crumb topping and place in the oven to brown for about 30 minutes.

Celeriac Fritters with Saffron-Tarragon Mayo

Chef Rose Knightly, Honest Weight Food Co-op

100 Watervliet Ave Albany, 482-2667

1 1/2 lbs. celery root, peeled and grated (4 cups)

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Good pinch sea salt and smaller pinch black pepper generous

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (gluten free is okay)

1/3 to 1/2 cup beer

1 1/2 quarts canola oil for frying

For Mayo:

One good pinch saffron, 1 Tbsp. water, cream or milk, 2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, and 1/2 cup mayo


1. Combine celery root, parsley, olive oil, s&p. Add flour and stir to combine.

2. Add 1/3 cup beer and stir. Mix should be slightly sticky and hold together when formed into balls.

3. If necessary, add a bit more beer for the right consistency. Form into balls about 1 inch wide.

4. Line plate with paper towels. Heat 3-4 inches oil in pot 350 degrees. Drop and fry fritters till puffed and golden–turning once.

5. Drain on paper towels or newspaper and serve with mayo

For mayo: Take good pinch saffron, add 1 Tbsp. water or cream or milk and gently heat or microwave to activate saffron. Chop 2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon and add saffron mix and tarragon to 1/2 cup mayo, set aside.

Note: For variation, other roots can be added to celery root, such as carrot.