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Holiday Entertaining: Area chefs share favorite holiday recipes


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. of the mixture into each squash cavity. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Bake 1 ½ 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 2 minutes. Add sirloin steak. Let it cook for about 15-20 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 with 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

2 ½ cups sugar

1 cup chopped garlic

Roast vegetables on grill until tender. (They should have black grill marks and black 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!

Cai Tuoi Xao Chao

Linh Diep, My Linh

272 Delaware Ave., Albany, 465-8899

4 stalks of Bok Choy (use only the white stock)

6 stalks of asparagus

10 mushroom caps

1 medium carrot

4 oz. of broccoli

4 oz snow peas

6 oz. fried tofu

12 oz .of Anh’s Bean Curd Sauce (can be purchased at My Linh)

Wash all the vegetables and slice with an angle cut. Steam ingredients until color brightens. Add 12 oz. of Anh’s Bean Curd Sauce to a stir-fry pan. Heat pan to medium temperature. Add steamed vegetable to the pan and bring it to high heat. Sautee quickly and serve with rice.

Apple Cider and Cheddar Soup

Mezzo Marketplace & Eatery

340 Hamilton St., Albany, 463-6240

½ cup finely chopped onion

1 Tbsp. butter

2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups apple cider

1 tsp. snipped fresh thyme

½ tsp. salt

dash cayenne pepper

1 medium cooking apple, peeled and coarsely chopped

½ cup milk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

fresh apple slices

green peppercorns

In a large saucepan, cook onion in butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in potatoes, cider, thyme, salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped apple and simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes or until potato is tender.

In a small bowl combine milk and cheese. Stir into soup and cook until bubbly. Continue whisking until cheese is melted. Divide evenly among serving dishes and top with apple slices and peppercorns. Serves 4.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Chef Robert Cardona, Cardona’s Market

340 Delaware Ave., Albany, 434-4838

4 cups Cream Cheese

1 ½ cups sugar

½ oz. corn starch

¼ tsp. Vanilla

½ tsp. salt

4 eggs

3 egg yolks

3 oz. heavy cream

1.5 oz. milk

8 oz. pumpkin puree

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. cloves


8 oz. graham cracker crumbs

4 oz. sugar

4 oz. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine graham cracker and sugar in mixing bowl. Melt butter and add to crumbs. Mix well until combined together. Spay 10-inch spring form pan with non-starch spray. Press crumbs into bottom and sided of pan. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes or until crust starts to brown. Take out of oven and cool completely before adding filling.

In a mixing bowl, using paddle attachment, cream the cheese until soft. Add sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add heavy cream and milk. Stir in pumpkin puree and spices. Pour into graham cracker shell and bake in a water bath for 1 hour. Cool on wire rack and refrigerate. Makes one 10-inch cake.

Tiny Witches Hat

Chef Tom Simmons, Elbo Room

170 Delaware Ave., Albany, 257-7300

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

½ tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

½ softened butter

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 squares (1oz each) semisweet chocolate

36 candy kisses (unwrapped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Mix butter and powdered sugar until well-blended. Add egg and vanilla, blend thoroughly than stir in chocolate. Add flour mix gradually. Blend completely. Make 36 dough balls. Place them about 2 inches apart on sheet tray. Flatten balls until ¼-inch thick. Press kiss into the center. Bake 6-8 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Apple & Pear Cobbler

Chef Brian Bowden, Gingerman

234 Western Ave., Albany 427-5963


2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, diced to 1 inch

2 lbs. pears, peeled, cored, diced to 1 inch

1 cup brown sugar

2 ½ Tbsp.flour

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter


2 cups flour

¼ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. nutmeg

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter

Filling: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Transfer to 8½x11-inch baking dish. Dot top with butter. Bake until bubbling, approx. 15 minutes.

Topping: Sift flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and nutmeg together. Cut in cold butter until mix resembles cornmeal. Workings quickly drop batter by tablespoons atop hot apple-pear mixture. Covering surface completely return to oven and bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 365 degrees and continue baking until topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve hot. Top with vanilla ice cream.

Upstate Down Pineapple Cake Martini

Chef Matt Baumgartner, Bombers Burrito Bar

258 Lark St., Albany, 463-9636

2 oz. Stoli Vanil Vodka

2 oz. Pineapple Juice

splash Grenadine

Add all the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice, shake sharply, and strain into a frosted martini glass. Garnish with fresh pineapple.

Chipotle & Roasted Garlic Shrimp over Polenta

Chef Josh Banks, El Loco Mexican Café

465 Madison Ave., Albany 436-1855


2 chipotle chilies in adobo (seeded)

4 cloves roasted garlic

4 cups crushed tomatoes

1 cup white wine

salt and pepper to taste


2 cups water

2 cups fine cornmeal

8 scallions chopped

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup scallions

Polenta: Boil water, remove from heat and quickly stir scallions, cheese and cornmeal. Mix well. Transfer to a 12x17-inch baking sheet. Smooth mixture into the corners. Refrigerate. When cooled slightly, cut into 9 squares, and cut each square in half, making 18 triangles. Arrange in a casserole dish and keep in warm oven.

Sauce: Add sauce ingredients to a saucepan and simmer slowly for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Blend to a smooth paste. Add shrimp and sear on both sides. Add chipotle-tomato sauce to pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

To serve, spoon shrimp over polenta triangles, and garnish with shredded cheese and slivered scallions.

Quenelles Nantua

Chef Daniel Smith, Nicole’s Bistro at the Quackenbush House

25 Quackenbush Square, Albany, 465-1111

“Quenelles are a very light fish dumpling made by poaching spoon shaped dollops of fish mousse in a fragrant broth and typically served with a very rich cream sauce made from lobster, crayfish or shrimp.”

Choux paste:

½ cup flour

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup water

¼ cup butter

2 large eggs

1 ½ lbs. pike, halibut, sole, cod, or haddock filet

3 egg whites

1 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper

pinch of nutmeg

1-1 ½ lbs of lobster or 8 large shrimp

½ cup onion finely chopped

½ cup carrot finely chopped

1 tsp. of butter

2 tsp. cognac

½ cup white wine

1 bouquet garni (cheesecloth satchel filled with peppercorns, bay leave, thyme leave, and parsley stems)

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 cups heavy cream or crème’ fraiche

Fish Dumpling:

Make the choux paste by boiling the water with the butter and salt, stirring in the flour. Cook for one more minute. Remove from the heat and beat in the 2 eggs.

In a food processor, puree the fish filet with egg whites. Remove the puree and in a bowl set over an ice bath, beat in the heavy cream and then the choux paste. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg


Cook the onions and carrots in the butter for 1 minute until soft. Add in the shrimp or lobster, flame with cognac and then add wine and the bouquet garni. Simmer for 5 minutes to cook shellfish. Remove shellfish to cool, then remove meat from the shell. Meanwhile, add the heavy cream and tomato paste to the cooking liquid and vegetables. Chop the shellfish meat into large chunks and add back until the sauce is slightly thickened. Season to taste and ladle over warm quenelles. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs, and the shelled lobster tail. Serve and enjoy.

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 2 10-inch pies.

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 tablespoons of butter

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

dash of Frank’s RedHot sauce

1 pint of milk

1 pint of light cream

4 teaspoons of butter


4 sprigs of parsley

Drain oysters; reserve oyster liquor. Melt 2 tsp. of butter in a heavy sauce pan. Add pepper, salt and Frank’s RedHot. 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.

Italian Cheesecake

Angelina, Inferno Pizzeria

496 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville, 12211

2 lbs. whole ricotta

1 yellow Duncan Hines cake 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 eggs and beat in water until creamy. In a half size steam pan butter pan add mix. Oven at 350 degrees; for 1.5 hours. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. Let sit one day and cut into small squares and serve. Delicious! Serves 20.

Halibut Toscana with Grilled Vegetable Neapolitan

Larry Schepici, Tosca Grill

200 Broadway, Troy, 273-3013


4 6 oz. portions very thick halibut filets

½ tsp. Kosher salt

½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1/8 cup of olive oil

6 oz. dry white wine

8 oz. canned imported whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup carrots sliced ¼ inch thick

1 cup leeks split down middle cut into ½ inch rings

1 cup fresh fennel, medium dice

1 Tbsp. butter

8 each basil whole torn leaves

1 bay leaf

1 pinch saffron

1 Tbsp. extra virgin good quality olive oil

¼ cup scallions

Vegetable Neapolitan

3 slices eggplant

6 slices zucchini

1 red bell pepper sliced

12 oz. spinach

1 portabella mushroom

pinch salt

pinch pepper

1/8 cup olive oil

red onion


Fish: In large skillet, season fish with salt and pepper and place top facing down in hot olive oil. Flip fish and brown both sides. Add carrots, leeks and fennel. Cook for 4 minutes. Add white wine, tomatoes, and ¼ tsp. of fresh minced garlic. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness of fish. Add basil, bay leaf, saffron and scallions. Finish with good quantity extra virgin olive oil. Adjust salt and pepper.

For Vegetable Neapolitan: Slice eggplant, zucchini and red onion about ¼ inch thick. Brush with olive oil and grill on both sides. Set aside.

Cut red bell pepper into two-inch wide strips. Remove stem from portabella and scrape out gills on backside. Carefully slice portabella lengthwise so you have two thin slices of mushroom. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté portabellas and red peppers in olive oil until tender. In a separate pan, add olive oil, garlic and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted and then set aside.

To assemble, start off with largest part of portabella as your base. Add ½ the amount of spinach, alternating layers as you choose. After assembling portabellas, bake in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Cut portabellas into quarters and garnish on your halibut. Serves 4.

Sweet Potato Pie

John Futia, Justin’s

301 Lark St., Albany, 436-7008


9 medium sweet potatoes (about 4 lbs.)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 eggs, well beaten

2 cups milk

1 Tbsp. vanilla

Each crust:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. Salt

½ cup Crisco shortening

3 Tbsp. cold water

To make crust: combine flour and salt in bowl. cut in Crisco until flour is blended into pea-size chunks. Sprinkle with water one tablespoon at a time. Toss lightly until dough forms a ball. Roll out with flour, place in pie tins. Flute edges with thumb.

For Filling: Boil sweet potatoes until tender. Peel and mash. Heat oven to 350 degrees Combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer until well mixed. Beat in eggs. Beat in milk and vanilla slowly. Spoon into three unbaked pie shells, using about four cups of filling per shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature before serving. Store in refrigerator. Makes three nine inch pies.

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