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Holiday Entertaining

Area chefs share favorite festive recipes


Chicken Marsala

Rosanna Bongiorno, Bongiorno’s Restaurant

23 Dove St., Albany, 462-9176

10 medallions of chicken, 1/8-inch thick

3 tsp. butter

10 medium-sized mushrooms, sliced

Pinch of salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 oz. Marsala wine



1 cup chicken stock

Dip chicken in flour. Sauté chicken in butter over medium heat. Add Marsala wine. Add chicken stock gradually, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, and parsley. Simmer until chicken is cooked (about 10 minutes.) Serve immediately. Serves 2.


Chile Pablano Relleno de Picadillo

Jason Evans , El Loco

465 Madison Ave., Albany, 436-1855

1 lb. fresh ground beef

8 oz. peeled and deveined cooked shrimp, cut coarsely

6-8 poblano chiles

3/4 cup spanish onion

28 oz. diced tomato

2 russet potatoes

1 roasted red bell pepper, diced

2 Tbsp. vinegar

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup olives

1 cup chicken stock

2 Tbsp. minced cilantro

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. cinnimon

3/4 tsp. chili powder

1 cup red wine

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. cayenne

salt and pepper to taste

Add ground beef to a large, high-sided pan while still cool. Slowly bring up temerature to sweat out the grease. Cook until halfway browned. Add garlic, onion and peppers. Continue to sauté, adding the vinegar, chicken stock and spices when the meat is nearly done. Continue to simmer and add the remaining ingredients. Cook until the potatoes are soft, but still retaining their shape. Remove and deglaze the pan with some more red wine. Mix into the rest and set aside.

Char poblano peppers on all sides and submerge in cold water to remove the skins. carefully slit peppers open along one side. Remove seeds and veins, leaving stems attached.

Stuff away! Serve immediately or place on a pan in tomato sauce to bake later. Serves 6-8.


Chicken & Sausage Pumpkin Soup

Shy Abbasi, Lark Tavern

453 Madison Ave., Albany, 463-9779

2 large carrots

3 stalks of celery

3 white onions

5 links of sausage

5 large chicken breasts

1 eggplant

2 zucchini

2 squash

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 gallon chicken stock

3 bay leaves

Chop carrots, celery, onions. Cook off in large pot with bay leaves. Next dice chicken and sausage. Add to pot. Cube eggplant, zucchini and squash. Add chicken stock and pumpkin puree. Let simmer for 1 hour. Serve.



Carrot Walnut Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Chef Matt McKeown, Holmes & Watson

450 Broadway, Troy, 273-4035

For cake:

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/5 cups oil

4 eggs

1 1/2 lbs grated carrots

1 cup nuts

1 tsp. vanilla

For Frosting:

1/2 cup melted butter

8 oz. cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla

1 lb 10X sugar

Cake: Sift together sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in oil. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add carrots, nuts and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Pour into floured and greased 9” layer pans. Bake in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool in pan.

Cream cheese frosting: combine butter, cheese and vanilla, mix well. Gradually add 10X sugar and beat until smooth. Spread on cooled cake. Garnish with chopped walnuts.

Serves 12.



Apple Cider Doughnut Bread Pudding

Chef Michael Cella, Cella Bistro

2015 Rosa Road, Schenectady, 381-2081

1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)

3/4 cup sugar

5 large eggs + 1 yolk

2 1/4 cups heavy cream

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

20 cider doughnuts, day old (Fo’Castle Farm recommended)

1 cup diced blueberries, raisins, or cranberries

1/4 cup apple brandy, Tuaca, Frangelico, or apple cider (your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and sugar until it forms a ball. Add eggs, yolk, cream, vanilla and Calvados (apple brandy). Process until blended. Break up doughnuts into 1-inch pieces. Place into buttered 9”x23” pan or baking dish. Scatter fruit evenly. Cover with egg mixture and let rest for 10 minutes. Make sure to press doughnuts down if they float. Bake covered with foil for 30-40 minutes, or until custard is set and soft. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes until golden brown. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, bourbon sauce or warm buttered apples (your choice). Serves 10.


Grilled Tuna Nicoise

Chef Darlene Desmo and Michael Cimmino, Maggie’s Sports Bar & Café

1186 Western Ave., Albany, 935-2661

6 oz. ahi tuna steak

1 roma tomato

1/4 cup sliced red onion

2 red bliss potatoes

1/2 cup green beans

Handful of Kalamata olives

1 hard-boiled egg

Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette:

Olive oil

Sherry vinegar

Handful minced shallot

Clove of minced garlic

Pinch of salt

Ground pepper to taste

Handful fresh chopped parsley

Grill tuna to medium rare. Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss with 2 oz. of dressing.


Chocolate Mousse

Chef Jeffrey Mesick, LaSerre Restaurant

14 Green St., Albany, 463-6056

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

3 1/2 cups heavy cream

8 whole large eggs

½ to 1 oz. brandy or Grand Marnier

Combine chocolate, eggs, and 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Stir over low heat until thick (mixture will coat spoon.) Let cool. Stir in 1/2 to 1oz. brandy or Grand Marnier. Transfer to mixing bowl. Beat in remaining cup of heavy cream. Refrigerate to cool and set a minimum of 3 hours. Serves 12.


Roasted Butternut, Dried Cranberry & Spinach Hash

Sous Chef Kevin Roberts, Kelsey’s Restaurant

Crowne Plaza, State & Lodges Streets, Albany, 427-3049

4 lbs. peeled, diced butternut squash

1 lb cleaned spinach

1/3 cup diced shallots

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1 Tbsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup safflower oil

Peel, deseed and dice one large butternut squash into 3/4-inch cubes. Carefully wilt spinach, then cool on a tray. Combine diced squash with shallots, dill, salt, pepper and oil, then toss to coat evenly. Spread squash misture on a sheet tray and roast in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Coarsely chop the chilled, wilted spinach. Sprinkle cranberries over roasted butternut mixture and spinach. Mix evenly. Return completed mixture to 400-degree oven and roast for an additional 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with roasted poultry that’s been rubbed with fresh rosemary, thyme and Kosher salt. Serves 6-8. Enjoy!


Crabby Pretzel

Chef Christopher Davies, Washington Tavern

250 Western Ave., Albany, 427-0091

1 fresh baked pretzel (found in local grocery store in frozen food section.)

5 oz. lump crabmeat

1 Tbsp. fine diced celery

1 Tbsp. fine diced onion

1 Tbsp. red bell pepper

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tsp. Old Bay seasonings

3 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

1 Tbsp. butter

2 oz. bread crumbs

1/2 tsp. chopped garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Splash of Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pretzel according to directions and sprinkle with salt before topping. Sauté celery, onion, and bell pepper until cooked yet still firm. Add the mixture to your lump crabmeat in a mixing bowl, than add all ingredients and mix thoroughly so all the flavors are evenly spread throughout. Use only 1/2 tsp. of the Old Bay seasonings in the mixture. Spoon stuffing in holes of the pretzel and heap generously over the top as well. Top the stuffing with more shredded cheese and sprinkle the rest of the Old Bay seasonings on top. Bake on a sheet pan for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Garnish the top with parsley and fresh lemon wedge. Serves 1-2 as an appetizer.


Veggie Chili with Roasted Vegetables

Chef Timothy Courtney, Bombers Burrito Bar

258 Lark St., Albany, 463-9635

3 chef potatoes

3 cloves garlic

1 large zucchini

1 large squash

1/2 lb carrots

1 small bunch celery

1 large onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

8 cups water

2 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes

1 8-oz. can tomato paste

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. thyme

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Dice up onion, carrot, celery, garlic and peppers. Take the diced vegetables and put them in a pot with the water. Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are soft. Add both cans of tomatoes to the pot, along with the tomato paste. Add the cinnamon, 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. oregano, and 1/ 4 cup chili powder. Keep the chili cooking over a low flame. Next, dice up your potatoes, squash and zucchini and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add oil, salt, pepper, remaining thyme and oregano, and diced vegetables. Coat vegetables with oil and seasoning mix and lay them out on 2 cookie sheets. Keep the potatoes on one sheet and the zucchini and squash on the other. Bake both trays at 350 degrees. Potatoes will take 25 minutes, zucchini and squash will take about 10 minutes. When roasted veggies are done add them to your chili. Top with shredded cheese and serve.


Roasted Butternut Squash Turnover With Tarragon Brown Butter

Chef Brian Bowden, The Ginger Man

234 Western Ave., Albany, 427-5963

1 small whole butternut squash; peeled, seeded, diced into 1-inch cubes

4 oz. wild mushrooms (such as shitakes or oysters)

4 Tbsp. cream cheese

4 Tbsp. goat cheese

4 Tbsp. walnuts or pecans

4 6-by-6-inch frozen puff pastry squares

2 Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon or sage

4 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 whole egg, beaten

Maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine cheeses with salt and pepper. Set aside. Toss squash with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast squash on sheet pan for 30-40 minutes, or until fork tender. Allow to cool. Roast nuts on sheet tray for 7-8 minutes and allow to cool. Sauté mushrooms in 1 Tbsp. butter until tender, and season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool. Thaw pastry on counter and turn 45 degrees so corners point up and out. Divide squash, mushrooms, cheeses and nuts among puff pastries and brush pastry edges with egg. Fold over making points meet. Firmly seal edges down with a fork to create a ridged edge. Place turnovers on parchment-lined cookie sheet and brush with remaining egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cook remaining butter in saucepan until foaming stops and butter solids begins to brown. Remove from heat and pour over turnovers. Sprinkle with herbs. Serves 4.


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 1/2 hours, or until squash is very tender. Sweet and savory! Serves 6.


Cai Tuoi Xao Chao

Linh Diep, My Linh

272 Delaware Ave., Albany, 465-8899

4 stalks bok choy (use only the white stalk)

6 stalks 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 angled 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 vegetables to the pan and bring it to high heat. Sauté quickly and serve with rice.


O’Brien’s Oyster Stew

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

276 Second Ave., Albany, 462-0571

1 pint oysters (fresh, shucked if available)

4 Tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

Dash of Frank’s RedHot sauce

1 pint milk

1 pint light cream

4 tsp. butter


4 sprigs parsley

Drain oysters; reserve oyster liquid. Melt 2 tsp. of butter in a heavy sauce pan. Add pepper, salt and Frank’s RedHot. Add reserved liquid to pan; stir to blend well. Add oysters; cook only until edges begin to curl (approximately 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.


Apple Crumb Cake

Chef John N. Futia, Justin’s

301 Lark St., Albany, 436-7008

2 cups diced apples

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup oil

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 large egg, beaten lightly

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together apples and sugar. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix oil, vanilla and egg. In a large bowl, mix baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and flour. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mixture will be stiff and crumbly. You can mix in 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, or raisins (optional). Fold into an 8”x 8” glass baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes.



Chef Serap Dalli, A Taste of Greece

193 Lark St., Albany, 426-9000

2 large eggplants (thinly sliced)

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 large tomatoes, chopped

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

3 Tbsp. breadcrumbs

2 egg whites

Salt and pepper to taste

For topping:

3 Tbsp. butter

1/3 cup flour

1 2/3 cup milk

1 1/4 cups Kefalotiri cheese

2 egg yolks

1 whole egg

Fry eggplant slices and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large pan and lightly brown ground beef. Add onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook 15-20 minutes more, and then cool for 10 minutes. Add parsley, bread crumbs and egg whites. In a baking dish, layer the sliced eggplant and top with ground beef mixture.

Topping: Combine flour, butter and milk in a saucepan. Bring to boil over low heat, whisking to keep smooth. Lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add seasoning and half of the cheese. Return to heat and cook 5 more minutes; add egg yolks and whole egg.

Pour topping into baking dish over the meat sauce and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 6.

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