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Holiday Entertaining

Area chefs share favorite holiday recipes


Spiced Egg Nog Cheesecake

Todd Yutzler, Delaware Plaza Wine and Liquor Co.

Delaware Plaza, Delmar, 439-4361


8 graham crackers

1 tsp. sugar

¼ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ cup butter, melted


4 package (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature.

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup all purpose flour

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

pinch ground cloves

1 egg

1¾ cups Evan Williams Eggnog (available at Delaware Plaza Wine and Liquor)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 container (8 oz.) sour cream

Garnish (optional):

1 package (6 oz.) premium white-chocolate baking bars pinch ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Crust: Crush crackers in plastic bag. Add sugar, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add butter; knead bag to blend. Press over bottom on 9-inch round spring form pan. Bake crust in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, then cool on wire rack. Filling: Beat cream cheese in bowl until smooth. Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves in small bowl. Add to cream cheese; beat until smooth. Beat in egg. Beat in eggnog in slow stream. Beat in vanilla. Pour into spring-form pan. Tap pan lightly to release air bubbles. Bake in 350-degree oven for one hour. Remove from oven; spread with sour cream. Bake for five more minutes. Cool in pan on rack until cool to the touch. Refrigerate until serving. Optional garnish: Melt chocolate in bowl over saucepan of simmering water. Add nutmeg. Line 8x4x3-inch loaf pan with foil. Pour chocolate into pan, spreading evenly; cool until firm. Lift out of pan. Make curls, using vegetable peeler. Arrange on top of cake. Reserve remaining “bar” for snacking. Serves 10-12.

O’Brien’s Oyster Stew

Bill O’Brien, O’Brien’s at the Garden Grill

276 Second Ave, Albany, 462-0571

1 pint of oysters (fresh, shucked if available)

4 Tbsp. of butter

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

dash of Frank’s hot sauce

1 pint of milk

1 pint of light cream

4 tsp. of butter


4 sprigs of parsley

Drain oysters; reserve oyster liquor. Melt two tsp. of butter in a heavy sauce pan. Add pepper, salt and Franks hot sauce. Add reserved liquor to pan; stir to blend well. Add oysters; cook only until edges begin to curl (approx. 3-5 minutes). Stir in milk and cream, bring to boil, but do not boil. Spoon soup into hot bowls. Dot each serving with butter. Garnish with a healthy dash of paprika and sprig of parsley. Serve with oyster crackers or French bread garlic toast.

Coconut Pumpkin Pie

Debbie Klauber, Debbie’s Kitchen

456 Madison Ave., Albany, 463-3829

2 10-inch all-vegetable pie shells

4 ½ cups pumpkin puree

6 eggs

1 ½ cups coconut milk

1 ½ cups heavy cream

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light-brown sugar

½ cup toasted coconut

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. ginger powder

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. almond extract

Set your oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add all of your ingredients and mix. So far, easy as pie, right? Pour your mixture into each pie shell. Bake for the first 10-12 minutes in a 425-degree oven then turn the temperature down to 350-degrees and continue baking for about 30-40 minutes. Take your pies out and cool to room temperature before serving. Enjoy and think of me! Serves up to 16, makes two 10-inch pies.

Sausage, Rappini and Cavatelli

Chef Chip Morrison, El Divino Lounge and Restaurant

1702 Chrisler Ave., Schenectady, 374-7711

1 lb. loose hot sausage

2 bunches Rappini greens

1 lb. frozen Cavatelli

½ cup olive oil

½ -1 cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

2 pinches crushed red pepper

1 pinch kosher salt

1 pinch cracked black pepper

In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch rappini until stalks are tender, then shock in cold water and drain all water thoroughly. Give the rappini a loose chop. In a sauté pan, brown sausage in a half cup of olive oil, add garlic, crushed red pepper, kosher salt, cracked black pepper. When the garlic gets a little color, add chopped rappini and chicken stock and simmer lightly. In a different pot cook cavatelli. Drain, add to pan and add Romano cheese; toss and serve. Serves 2.

Londonderry Vegetable Soup

Ethan Thurin, Londonderry Café

Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, 489-4288

2 cans of pumpkin

2 large carrots

1 large white onion

4 stalks of celery

1 gallon of water

1 tsp. of chopped garlic

1 tsp. of oregano

1 tsp. of salt and pepper

2 bay leaves

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

Chop all vegetables. Add water and bring to boil in a large pot. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add seasonings and pumpkin. Cook until carrots are tender.

Italian Cheesecake

Angelina, Inferno Pizzeria

496 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville, 12211

2 lbs. whole ricotta

1 yellow Duncan Hines mix

6 eggs

1 cup sugar

5 lemons seeded and ground

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup cool water

In a large mixing bowl, mix ricotta, cake mix, sugar, oil, lemon and eggs, and beat in water until creamy. In a buttered pan, add mix. Oven at 350 degrees for an hour and a half. Let cool and refrigerate over night. Let sit one day and cut into small squares and serve. Delicious! Serves 20.

Poppyseed Gugelhupf

John N. Futia, Justin’s

301 Lark Street, Albany, 436-7008,

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

grated zest of one lemon

2 cups cake flour

2 tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

¾ cup poppy seeds (ground in coffee grinder ¼ cup at a time)

½ cup milk

2 Tbsp. golden rum

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Center rack. Butter and flour a 9 to 9 ½ inch bundt pan. Beat batter on high until smooth, about one minute. On low, beat in confectioners’ sugar. Return to high and beat until mixture is very pale and light, about three minutes. One at a time, add the eggs, then the lemon zest. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in poppy seeds. Mix the milk, rum and vanilla in separate bowl. Stir in half the flour mixture, then half the milk, then repeat. Spread evenly in the pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Serves 8-10.

Banh Xeo Tom (Crispy Crepe With Shrimp)

Linh Diep, My Linh

272 Delaware Ave, Albany, 465-8899

Crepe shells:

3 oz. rice flour

1 oz. cooked mung beans

7-8 oz. water

2.5 oz. coconut milk

4 tsp. vegetable oil

1/8 tsp. turmeric powder

1/16 tsp. sugar

1/16 tsp. salt

Crepe filling:

1 lb. peeled medium size shrimp

1 lb. fresh sliced mushrooms

½ lb. fresh bean sprouts

1 medium whole onion (sliced)

1 tsp. minced garlic

3 tsp. sugar

1½ tsp. salt

Crepe topping (garnish):

My Linh’s nuoc mam

whole lettuce



¼ cucumber, sliced

1 pickled carrot

1 radish, sliced

Crepe Shell: Heat a frying pan until hot. Add one tsp. vegetable oil into pan. Pour a thin layer of mixed crepe flour into the whole pan. Turn heat low to keep the crepe cooked until crispy golden brown. Slide crepe off pan. Repeat for other three shells.

Crepe Filling: Heat a pan until hot and add one tsp. of vegetable oil and a half tsp. of minced garlic to the heated pan. Add peeled shrimp and stir until almost cooked. Add sliced onions, mushrooms, sugar and salt. Sauté for about one minute. Finally, add bean sprouts and stir quickly for about 30 seconds. Add filling to crepe. Sauce with My Linh’s nuoc mam and serve with whole lettuce, mint, cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots and radish.

Three Cheese White Lasagna

Brian La Mora, Malt River

Latham Circle Mall, Latham, 786-6258,

1 lb. lasagna shells

1 cup sun-dried tomato

2 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup fresh diced mozzarella cheese

2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cup coarsely chopped tomato

2 lbs. chicken breast

Cube chicken, then sauté in robust Italian dressing. Boil pasta, then layer lasagna, sun-dried tomato, ricotta cheese, diced tomato and sautéed chicken. Layer ingredients until pan is full. Top with fresh and shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4-5.

Herb Encrusted Rib Roast

Keith Rockefeller, Parisi’s Steakhouse

11 N. Broadway, Schenectady, 374-0100,

1 rib roast (prime rib)

1 cup oil

1 cup Dijon mustard

Breadcrumb mixture:

6 cups bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. rosemary, chopped

1 Tbsp. thyme

1 Tbsp. paprika

pinch of salt

In a pan, heat oil, sear roast on all sides, let rest. Rub roast with Dijon mustard. Roll roast in seasoned breadcrumb mixture. Bake in oven at 300 degrees, 2 hours for medium. Serves 12-15.

Pear and Dried Cherry Custard Crisp

Frank Voce, Isn’t It Sweet

575 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 489-9820


¾ cup all purpose flour

6 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar

¼ cup pecans, ground in processor

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 large eggs

1 cup crème fraiche

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tbsp.all purpose flour


3 ½ pounds firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored cut into 1½ inch chunks (about 8 cups)

1 cup dried tart cherries (about 6 oz.)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup all purpose flour

½ cup baker’s sugar or regular sugar

2 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

For Topping: Mix first six ingredients in medium bowl. Add melted butter and vanilla extract; stir with fork until soft crumbly dough forms. (can be made up to six hours ahead. Cover, let stand at room temperature.)

For Custard: Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Whisk crème fraîche and vanilla. Sift in flour; whisk until smooth. (Can be made up to six hours ahead. Cover and chill. Re-whisk before using.)

For Filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch oval ceramic or glass baking dish. Combine pears, cherries, and lemon juice in large bowl; toss to blend. Mix flour, sugar, and lemon peel in small bowl. Add to pear mixture and toss to blend. Transfer pear mixture to prepared dish, pressing slightly with rubber spatula to form even layer. (Can be made up to one hour ahead; let stand to room temperature.)

Pour custard evenly over pear mixture. Using fingertips, crumble topping evenly over. Bake until pears are tender and topping is deep golden, about 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.

New England Clam Chowder

Chef Tom Simmons, Elbo Room

170 Delaware Ave., Albany, 257-7300

20 Cherrystone clams

4 oz. salt pork

1 quart water

4 oz. onion, minced

4 oz. celery, fine dice

¾ lb. potatoes, diced ¼-inch pieces

1 quart milk

12 oz. heavy cream

½ teaspoon salt

white pepper


Worcestershire sauce

Steam clams until open. Strain the broth and keep on the side. Pick, chop and reserve the clams. Render salt pork in pot, add onion and celery and sweat until translucent. Add the flour, cook to make a blond roux. Add the broth and milk gradually and incorporate it completely, working out any lumps. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming the surface as necessary. Add the potato to the soup, and simmer until tender. Add the clams and cream. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, whole pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.

Pork Rib Chops With Sautéed Apple and Star Anise

Deena Ecker, Mezzo Marketplace and Eatery

340 Hamilton St., Albany 463-6240

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 12-oz. pork rib chops

3 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

4 whole star anise

2 Fuji apples (about 1 lb.) sliced ½-inch thick

½ cup apple juice

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add pork to skillet; cook until brown on both sides and thermometer inserted horizontally registers 140 degrees (about seven minutes per side). Transfer to plates; tent with foil. Pour off drippings from skillet. Add two Tbsp. butter, brown sugar, and star anise to same skillet and stir over high heat until melted. Add apples; cook until brown and caramelized, stirring frequently, about eight minutes. Spoon apples over pork. Add apple juice and vinegar to skillet; boil sauce until reduced to two Tbsp., about three minutes. Whisk in remaining one Tbsp. butter; season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle sauce over apples and pork. Serves 2.

Ancho-Citrus Tequila Shrimp

Ted Fraker, Noche Lounge

895 Broadway, Downtown Albany, 434-4540

1 Tbsp. olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

¾ cup ancho chile paste

1 small onion, chopped

¼ cup sugar

1 bunch cilantro

2 lbs. jumbo shrimp

1 cup tequila

salt and pepper to taste

1½ cups orange juice

bamboo skewers

½ cup pineapple juice

For sauce: In 5-quart saucepan, sauté garlic and onion until translucent over med. Heat. Deglaze pan with tequila then add pineapple juice, orange juice, cilantro and sugar. Reduce liquid by half then carefully strain hot liquid and return to pan. Add chile paste and lemon juice, simmer until thickened. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and cool.

For shrimp: Peel and devein shrimp, then skewer. Brush with oil, season with salt and pepper, grill shrimp approx. 2 minutes per side or until no longer opaque and then coat with sauce and serve. Great with a margarita on the rocks! Serves 4.

Black Jack Delmonico

Michael Barbagallo, Goodfellas Bar and Restaurant

15 Watervliet Ave, Albany, 438-0069

10 oz. boneless delmonico

1 oz. black peppercorns

1 garlic clove (minced)

½ shallot (minced)

3 oz. Gentleman’s Jack

1 oz. demi

1 oz. heavy cream

1 oz. butter

Season Delmonico with peppercorns. Sear on medium heat 4 to 5 minutes each side. Place on sizzle platter in oven 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees for a medium steak. In a sauté pan add garlic, shallots and butter. Cook till translucent. Deglaze pan with 3 oz. Gentleman’s Jack and reduce by half. Add demi. Finish with heavy cream. Goodfella’s recommends you serve with garlic mash potatoes or sweet potato fries. Serves 1.

Baked Acorn Squash with Dijon, Honey and Cider

Sue Goold-Miller, Goold Orchards

1297 Brookview Station Road, Castleton, 732-7317,

3 acorn squash

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. Goold’s Apple Cider

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

6 Tbsp. honey

salt (optional)

black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half vertically. Scrape out the seeds and membranes. Place squash-cavity-side up in roasting pan. Mix the honey, butter, mustard and cider in a bowl. Place 2 Tbsp.s of the mixture into each squash cavity. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Bake 1½ hours or until squash is very tender. Sweet and savory! Serves 6.

Bistec a la Mexicana

Cesar Bermejo, El Mariachi

289 Hamilton St., Albany, 432-7580

1 ½ lbs top sirloin, thinly sliced

6 fresh tomatoes, chopped

Couple cloves of fresh garlic, chopped

1 onion, sliced

4 Tbsp. olive oil

In a large pan, heat oil. Add garlic and sauté for about two minutes. Add sirloin steak. Let it cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until meat is tender. Add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. El Mariachi recommends you serve with rice and tortillas. Serves 4.

Orzo and Fire-Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Reduction

Brian Pouchak, Gershon’s Deli and Catering

1600 Union St., Schenectady, 393-0617

3 large red peppers, seeded, cut in half

3 large green peppers, seeded, cut in half

3 large green zucchini, cut off ends, sliced

3 large yellow squash, cut off ends, sliced

3 yellow onions, remove skin, cut in quarters

3 cups balsamic vinegar

2½ cups sugar

1 cup chopped garlic

Roast vegetables on grill until tender (should have black grill marks on them). Slice and chop into bite-size pieces. In small fry pan, sauté garlic until golden brown. Combine all roasted veggies and garlic into a large mixing bowl, let marinate, add salt and pepper to taste. Place balsamic vinegar into a large fry pan, reduce by 1/3 on high heat, approx. 20 minutes. Add sugar to vinegar, whisk to dissolve, remove from heat and cool. Combine orzo, veggies and vinegar, mix well. Taste for salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Fontina and Sage Bread Pudding

Ross Kotzin, Gingerman

234 Western Ave., Albany, 427-5963

1 loaf French bread, cubed ½ inch

1 head garlic

½ lb. fontina cheese, grated

1 bunch sage, rough chop

8 eggs

3 cups heavy cream

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

To roast garlic, cut off top of head. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake at 450 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and soft. Mix bread cubes, grated cheese and sage in a large bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic out into the mix and blend well. Beat eggs and cream, then add to the bread, mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper. Portion mixture equally into muffin pans and bake at 450 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool slightly. Pop out of muffin pans and enjoy! Serves 6.

Cranberry Relish

Carolyn Blythe, Indian Ladder Farms

342 Altamont Road, Altamont, 765-2956,

1 12-oz. bag of fresh cranberries

6 fresh navel oranges

1 cup sugar

Cut up the oranges. Place some oranges and cranberries in the chopper and chop. Repeat until all oranges and cranberries are chopped. Place in a bowl and mix in the sugar. You can freeze this for up to three months or use at once. This is an old-fashioned favorite. On Thanksgiving Eve we would dig out our meat grinder and grind the berries with the oranges. Sometimes we forgot to place a bowl underneath and the floor would be a mess! Today we have food choppers to make the job much easier, but my family follows the tradition and does it the old-fashioned way. Serves 12.

Torta Di Formaggio (Ricotta Cheesecake)

Carmen LoPorto, LoPorto Restaurant

85 4th St., Troy, 273-8546

3 lbs. ricotta cheese

5 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp. butter


9-inch spring-form pan

aluminum foil

2-inch-deep casserole dish


In the mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, flour and sugar. Mix at low speed for one minute. Turn mixer between medium and high and continue mixing until ingredients are fully incorporated, approximately two to three minutes. Add vanilla and lemon zest and mix for another 30 seconds. Melt butter and pour into spring form pan, making sure to fully coat bottom and sides. Remove excess butter. Add graham cracker crumbs to pan, covering bottom and sides. Pour cheese mixture into pan. Lay two sheets of aluminum foil on table cris-crossed. Place spring-form pan on top and line bottom and sides with tinfoil to waterproof. Place pan into 2-inch deep casserole dish with 1” of water in the bottom. In a pre-heated 350-375 degree oven, cook for 45 minutes. Rotate dish and finish cooking for an additional 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove and let stand for one hour before refrigerating. Serve with fresh berries.

Bombers Sangrita or Bombers Key Lime Pie Shot

Victoria, Bombers Burrito Bar

258 Lark Street, Albany, 463-9636,

If you are feeling hot, try this Mexican spicy tequila chaser: One shot of your choice of tequila. Chased with a chilled, delicious spicy concoction: a combination of V8, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, salt, pepper, SECRET spices (you can add your own), Tabasco sauce, and our very own Bombers Habanero sauce. Drink it and you will love tequila forever (para siempre!).

If you’re feeling cool, try Bombers Key Lime Pie Shot: Licor 43, Rose’s Lime juice and milk. Chill and serve.

Cappuccino Martini

Tony the Bartender, Zink Lounge

720 Central Ave, Albany, 852-1290,

1 shot espresso coffee

¾ oz. of Baileys Irish Cream

¾ oz.of Kahlua

1 oz. Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka

splash of cream

Combine all ingredients and shake in martini shaker. Pour and garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans. Sip and enjoy! Serves 1.

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