Holidays Across America

We asked chefs across the country for their favorite holiday recipes.
Related To:

Food Network Bobby Flay Champagne Cocktail

Photo by: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Marshall Troy, 2012,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Food Network Bobby Flay Champagne Cocktail

No matter your background and whether or not you believe in the man in the red suit and his industrious elves, it’s hard to deny that there’s is something magical about the month between Thanksgiving in New Year's — or at least about the season’s eatings. With that in mind, we asked great chefs from coast to coast to share their favorite holiday recipes — from crunchy potato latkes and sweet jelly doughnuts to savory roast duck and spicy mulled wine. There’s never been a better reason to eat, drink and be merry! — Sarah Karnasiewicz

Photo by: Picasa ©Lowry McKee Photography 2007

Picasa, Lowry McKee Photography 2007

Nathalie Dupree is an acclaimed writer, television host and co-author of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking as well as 10 other cookbooks on food and entertaining in the American South.

“Because oranges, particularly Florida oranges, don’t really ripen until December, my parents would always get a bunch of them shipped up to our house as a Christmas gift. We’d juice them for breakfast and cook with them, and Christmas morning there was always one in the toe of my stocking, along with fresh pecans in the shell. I love the sweetness of a classic ambrosia salad — it’s like a predessert dessert — but the combination of shaved fennel and citrus also makes a fabulous winter salad. There are still always oranges on my holiday table.”

Serve it with:
“Cheese straws are a Southern hostess’s staple — almost every gathering includes them. They’re so simple to make and they keep well, especially if you freeze them — that’s why it pays to make a big enough batch that you have a bunch leftover when the need strikes. They make the house smell so good when they’re cooking — and they’re a wonderful gift too. “

Pro tip: “I love all holiday cookies but my favorite might be Moravian ginger snaps. My secret for getting the dough ultra thin — 1/16th to 1/32nd of an inch! — is to roll it using a pasta machine. Served with a scoop of mascarpone cheese, they’re heaven.”

RECIPES:

Blackberry Farm Cookbook 2 - butter-braised cipollini onions wiht arugula and balsamic syrup

Blackberry Farm Cookbook 2 - butter-braised cipollini onions wiht arugula and balsamic syrup

Shoot - 03 - butter-braised cipollini onions wiht arugula and balsamic syrup

Photo by: Heather Anne Thomas ©2011 Heather Anne Thomas +1 865-681-6128. All rights reserved unless specifically granted in writing

Heather Anne Thomas, 2011 Heather Anne Thomas +1 865-681-6128. All rights reserved unless specifically granted in writing

Shoot - 03 - butter-braised cipollini onions wiht arugula and balsamic syrup

Sam Beall is proprietor of the award-winning Blackberry Farm resort in Tennessee and author of The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm and The Blackberry Farm Cookbook.

“My memories of the holidays with my family — especially New Year's — always involved a big meal out on a hunting camp in the country. In fact, growing up, hunting is about all I did on the weekends if it wasn’t football season. Duck hunting was my favorite — now, one of my favorite ways to cook duck is a recipe that the chef at The Barn at Blackberry Farm came up with in homage to his mother’s chicken and dumplings, which is a classic Southern meal. He takes it to a new level by making the dumplings like gnocchi and swapping chicken for succulent, confited duck leg. It makes an ordinary dish new and extraordinary.”

Serve it with: Duck is great for wine drinkers since it can go either way when pairing — from a full-bodied white like an American Chardonnay or a Roussanne from the Rhone Valley, to a red like a Burgundian Pinot Noir or a great Grenache. Or, for that matter, to beer — a traditional Belgian saison-style ale, with lots of acidity, which would be delicious.

Pro tip: We use pumpkins in our kitchens all throughout the fall and winter — in soup, purées, salads and lots more. The chefs’ favorite cooking pumpkin is called the Kentucky Field pumpkin — it’s an old type that is light tan and stands up to storage really well.

RECIPES:

©BenFink Photography Inc.

BenFink Photography Inc.

Hedy Goldsmith is the award-winning pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami and Grand Cayman and the author of the recently released cookbook, Baking Out Loud.

“The first night of Hanukkah was always special in my family — we’d light candles and get the foil-wrapped chocolate coins and have a big dinner. But though we were Jewish, I grew up in a neighborhood in Philadelphia where I was fortunate to be exposed to lots of different cultures. My neighbors were from Portugal and during the holidays, I watched them making steaming seafood stews and cakes soaked in sweet syrup — I thought it was heaven. Later, as a teen, I had a very good Italian friend. On Christmas we’d go to midnight mass and feast on panforte and pignoli cookies and biscotti. I still love that casual Italian baking. Panforte — with its rich, dried fruit, almost red wine flavor — always reminds me of fruitcake.”

Serve with: My mother loved coffee cake and always included it in her dessert buffet — with rugelach, an angel food cake or a honey cake, dried apricots and dates, figs drizzled with honey, and lots of nuts in their shells. When I was little my dad taught me how to crush two nuts together in my palm to shell them. I’ll never forget that!

Pro tip:
Leave your eggs and butter out at room temperature all the time — or at least during the holiday season, when you want to be able to bake at a moment’s notice. That’s the way it’s done in Europe, and no, you won’t get sick. Starting with them both at room temperature just makes creaming batters so much easier and keeps cookies and cakes evenly moist during baking.

RECIPES:

Photo by: john valls ©john valls

john valls, john valls

Jenn Louis is the James Beard Award-nominated chef/owner of Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern in Portland, Oregon.

“As a chef, I don’t have a lot of time off — even around the holidays — so when I do, I try to plan comfortable meals that I’ll be able to enjoy alongside my friends and family. One of my favorites is cassoulet. Sometimes I use confited rabbit or duck or braised pork or lamb, but I always like to braise my meat separately and usually include a sausage. I mix all that with beans and the braising liquid and stir them into a cassoulet that’s been heating in the oven and top it with a little duck fat and a light sprinkling of breadcrumbs. It takes some time, but it’s special. Add crusty bread and a big salad, and you’ve got a happy party. Or, because winter in the Pacific Northwest is prime season for seafood, another great way to celebrate is with a crab boil. Put out some butter, some truffle salt, and a salad; spread out newspapers and handout wet towels — and just let everyone talk and laugh and get messy together.”

Serve it with:
I’m a bourbon drinker — with everything. One of my favorite cocktails is the Monte Carlo, which is a riff on the classic Manhattan that substitutes Benedictine for sweet vermouth. It has a warm, carmel flavor that stands up well to rich dishes.

Pro tip:
One of my tricks is that if I am braising meat, I save the liquid and throw it in my freezer so I always have a really rich stock on hand for cooking. And when I roast a chicken, I throw the bones in a Ziploc in the freezer. Once I have a couple in there, I make stock — it’s a good habit to get into and a way to convince yourself to eat more roasted chicken!

RECIPES:

Aaron Sanchez is the co-star of the Food Network series Heat Seekers and Chopped and the executive chef and co-owner of Centrico Restaurant and Mestizo.

“Growing up in a restaurant family, our holidays were always very much about home cooking — my mother would have food everywhere and mariachi music playing and dance around the kitchen with us. But it’s funny, even though we’re Mexican, during the holidays we really got into Puritan white food! On Christmas Eve, tradition was to make a pork shoulder en charcroute, braised with big cabbage slices and carrots and caraway seeds and a little mustard sauce at the end. Christmas Day was about prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. We didn’t have those at any other time of the year, so we all looked forward to it.”

Serve it with: I think the ultimate side dish is bean and squash picadillo. I use fresh cranberry beans and pumpkin and add my special chipotle sauce to thicken the broth. You could substitute celery root or parsnips or turnips for the squash — the dish is so versatile and seasonal and goes great with all kinds of roasts.

Pro tip: When you’re roasting lamb or prime rib, let it come to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before putting it into the oven. That softens the muscles and helps you bring it to that perfect medium-rare point because the whole cut is the same temperature and can cook evenly. People tend to be hyper about refrigerating meat, but leaving it out for 20 minutes is not going to kill anyone.

RECIPE:

Photo by: Paul Brissman ©Photo & Copyright 2010

Paul Brissman, Photo & Copyright 2010

Marcus Samuelsson is an award-winning cookbook author, food activist and chef/owner of the acclaimed New York City restaurant Red Rooster Harlem.

“In Sweden, where I grew up, the holiday season has its own smell — of gingersnaps, fish being pickled and, of course, mulled wine, or glögg , which every family always keeps simmering on the stove. Those smells still really transport me — and I make a point to always have glögg on the menu of my restaurants in November and December. You don’t need to buy fancy wine — in fact, since you’re going to add sugar and spices to it, it’s a great way to use up any half bottles you have hanging around as leftovers. I also still make a lot of salmon during the holidays. Growing up, curing and roasting salmon was something we always did as a family. Little did I know that would someday be considered fine dining — in Sweden it was a necessity!”

Serve it with: Roasted garlic mashed potatoes, roasted fennel, collard greens or Brussels sprouts with pecans, bacon and dried cherries are all great accompaniments to serve with salmon. The root vegetables, the red cabbage — I think we should celebrate them.

Pro tip: From both on an economic level and in terms of convenience, it pays to be smart about using leftovers. Planning a second-day meal is a good habit to get into considering we throw out 33 percent of our food — and the holidays are an especially great time to be mindful of not letting resources go to waste.

RECIPES:

Michael White is the James Beard Award-winning chef/owner of Marea, Ai Fiori, and Osteria Morini in New York City.

“I grew up in Wisconsin in a Norwegian family, but my wife is from Italy, and like the Italians, we do a feast of fish on Christmas Eve. The lineup changes every year, but we always have clams and mussels and bluefish, and my wife likes to make baccala and octopus salads. On Christmas Day we make a roast. One of my favorite recipes is roast pork with rosemary and potatoes and a stewed fruit sauce — it’s so adaptable, in the late summer you can make it with peaches or in the fall you can substitute apples or pears.”

Serve with: In fall and winter I love to eat a creamed spinach with lots of nutmeg in it, or a gratin of Swiss chard, or simple sauteed mushrooms. When it comes to sides, less really is more. And for dessert, you can’t go wrong with affogato. The way the hot espresso softens the gelato is irresistible. It’s really the perfect simple ending to an epic meal.

Pro tip: Give yourself a break and plan a menu that will allow you to actually spend time with your guests. That means simple dishes that you can start ahead of time and cook low and slow — not things that require you to be fussing with them up until the last minute.

RECIPES:

Noah Bernamoff is the chef/owner of Mile End delicatessen in Brooklyn, New York and the co-author of the recently release Mile End Cookbook.

“In my opinion, Hanukkah isn’t complete without latkes and applesauce. I remember growing up how our house would reek of oil and my mom would be running around the kitchen with the windows open — this was December in Montreal! — and fanning her dishtowel to get the smoke out. When I got older she started making us sweet potato latkes because she thought they were healthier, though I don’t know if there is such a thing as a healthy latke! Now I make them sometimes with parsnips or butternut squash or celery root, and use olive oil instead of vegetable oil for frying. You can also grate some horseradish into the latke if you're really into that flavor.”

Serve with:
If you want something on the sweet side, doughnuts are another traditional Hannukah treat. We love making little jelly doughnuts with homemade Concord grape jelly, but store-bought jellies are a fine substitute. If you want to be more traditional, you could use strawberry or raspberry jelly, or if you want to be super seasonal, a quince or a pear or an apple jelly. And don’t be intimidated by the frying. You don’t need to rig up a fry-o-later or a big vat of oil — you need only 2 inches of oil in a sturdy cast iron pan. Fry the dough in that shallow pool of oil and they will puff right up and float. Everybody loves doughnuts — so it’s a festive way to bring some fun into the celebration.

Pro tip: When you’re making latkes, whether you use grated potatoes or parsnips or any other root vegetable, remember to really squeeze them and get every bit of water and moisture out. That moisture can be deadly — and if they’re too wet, they’ll never crisp up during frying.

RECIPES:

Holiday Recipes From Chefs Across America

See All Photos

Chefs' Holiday Favorites

No matter your background and whether or not you believe in the man in the red suit and his industrious elves, it's hard to deny that there's is something magical about the month between Thanksgiving in New Year's — or at least about the season’s eatings. With that in mind, we asked great chefs from coast to coast to share their favorite holiday recipes. —Sarah Karnasiewicz

Photo By: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

New York City: Marcus Samuelsson

“In Sweden, where I grew up, the holiday season has its own smell — of gingersnaps, fish being pickled and, of course, mulled wine, or gloegg, which every family always keeps simmering on the stove. Those smells still really transport me, and I make a point to always have gloegg on the menu of my restaurants in November and December."

Photo By: Paul Brissman ©Photo & Copyright 2010

South Carolina: Nathalie Dupree

"Because oranges, particularly Florida oranges, don't really ripen until December, my parents would always get a bunch of them shipped up to our house as a Christmas gift. We'd juice them for breakfast and cook with them, and Christmas morning there was always one in the toe of my stocking, along with fresh pecans in the shell. There are still always oranges on my holiday table."

Photo By: Picasa ©Lowry McKee Photography 2007

Tennessee: Sam Beall

"We use pumpkins in our Blackberry Farm kitchens all throughout the fall and winter — in soup, purées, salads and lots more. The chefs' favorite cooking pumpkin is called the Kentucky Field pumpkin. It's an old type that is light tan and stands up to storage really well."

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©2011 Heather Anne Thomas +1 865-681-6128. All rights reserved unless specifically granted in writing

Florida: Hedy Goldsmith

“The first night of Hanukkah was always special in my family. We'd light candles and get the foil-wrapped chocolate coins and have a big dinner. But though we were Jewish, I grew up in a neighborhood in Philadelphia where I was fortunate to be exposed to lots of different cultures. As a teen I had a very good Italian friend. On Christmas we’d go to midnight mass and feast on panforte and pignoli cookies and biscotti."

©BenFink Photography Inc.

Oregon: Jenn Louis

"Because winter in the Pacific Northwest is prime season for seafood, a great way to celebrate is with a crab boil. Put out some butter, some truffle salt and a salad; spread out newspapers and hand out wet towels — and just let everyone talk and laugh and get messy together."

Photo By: john valls ©john valls

New York City: Aaron Sanchez

"I think the ultimate side dish is bean and squash picadillo — I use fresh cranberry beans and pumpkin and add my special chipotle sauce to thicken the broth. You could substitute celery root or parsnips or turnips for the squash — the dish is so versatile and seasonal and goes great with all kinds of roasts."

Photo By:

New York City: Michael White

"I grew up in Wisconsin in a Norwegian family, but my wife is from Italy, and like the Italians, we do a feast of fish on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day we make a roast. One of my favorite recipes is roast pork with rosemary and potatoes and a stewed fruit sauce — it's so adaptable, in the late summer you can make it with peaches or in the fall you can substitute apples or pears."

Photo By: Evan Sung ©Evan Sung

New York City: Noah Bernamoff

"In my opinion, Hanukkah isn't complete without latkes and applesauce. I remember growing up how our house would reek of oil and my mom would be running around the kitchen with the windows open — this was December in Montreal! — and fanning her dishtowel to get the smoke out. When I got older she started making us sweet potato latkes because she thought they were healthier, though I don’t know if there is such a thing as a healthy latke!"

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