Holiday Recipes from Portland's Finest Chefs! 

Basic Vegetable Soup Stock

"Be a BIGSHOT CHEF with one simple FRENCH PHRASE!" promises No Fish! Go Fish! owner Sean Brown. "Mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah) is a mixture of 50% onion, 25% carrot, and 25% celery, and is the basic building block of many soups and stocks. Toss it out in conversation for major style points!"

2 onions
1 large carrot
3 large stalks of celery
1 clove of garlic whole
3 bay leaves
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 or 3 sprigs fresh parsley

Wrap herbs in cheesecloth and tie in a knot. Congratulations--you've made a sachet!

Chop the onion, celery and carrot in large chunks. Combine in a pot with your sachet. Simmer (but try not to let the broth come to a rolling boil) for 45 minutes. KS

Creamy Vegetables over Homemade Croutons

No Fish! also offers up this creamy, compelling vegetable medley, which can be served as a soup or a side.

5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
4 stalks of celery, split up the spine and sliced into quarter-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled, quartered, and sliced into quarter-inch pieces
1 medium-sized onion, chopped into quarter-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced

Combine ingredients in pot and cover with light vegetable stock. Cook until tender and potatoes begin to break down (approximately one and a half to two hours).

Add:

1 zucchini squash, peeled, quartered, and sliced into quarter-inch pieces
1 medium-sized tomato, chopped into quarter-inch pieces
1 lb sliced mushrooms (crimini, portabella, or whatever you like!)
1/2 lb fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1/2 stick of butter
1 tsp fresh oregano minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. If necessary, thin with milk and cream. Serve over homemade croutons.

Homemade Croutons

Take several slices of sourdough bread cut into half-inch cubes, sauté in pan with olive oil and butter, then toss with garlic salt. KS

Mushroom Tomato Red Wine Fennel Soup

The innovative cooks at Paradox Café, including Heather Lane, have come up with a warming winter soup with a subtle tang. All of your leftover fall vegetables will be in here, and the combination of spices, tomato, and fennel give it a flavor that's out there enough to be unique, but in here enough to become a seasonal favorite.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup leeks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tsp basil, minced
1/2 tsp thyme, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup fennel bulb, chopped
5 cup vegetable stock and/or water
Dash of red wine vinegar
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
minced parsley (optional)

Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil for five minutes. Add the other vegetables (except tomatoes) and spices, then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Bring the soup to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally for (7-10 minutes). Stir in the tomatoes and serve, topped with parsley. KS

Hoppin' John

Margot Wilcoxon, chef at Salvador Molly's, gives us an easy Hoppin' John, which she explains is "a traditional African-American dish consumed on New Years' Day to bring prosperity and fruitfulness in the New Year." Whip it up as a holiday side dish or vegetarian entrée.

1 cup long grain white rice, rinsed well and drained
1 cup black-eyed peas, rinsed well and drained
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in juice
1 Tbsp. soybean or other clear vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small white onion, peeled and minced
1 rib celery, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. thyme leaves (fresh preferred)

Steam rice as you would normally, leaving it a bit firm. When cooked, spread on a large pan to cool.

Place black-eyed peas in a medium saucepan with water to cover by two inches, plus one teaspoon of the kosher salt. Simmer peas, uncovered, until just done. Drain off cooking liquid and spread peas on a large pan to cool.

In a large stockpot, heat the oil on medium heat. Add garlic clove, onion, celery, and bay leaf with one teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook vegetables until soft, but not browned. Add tomato with all the juice and bring to a boil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the sauce, rice and peas together gently, adding the last teaspoon of kosher salt if needed (to taste).

Bake until heated through--about 20 minutes. Enjoy a prosperous New Year! AH

Persimmon Spinach Salad

At some point, shopping for groceries went from chore to experience. New Seasons falls into the latter category, with lots of organic produce, local products, and non-stop in-store food tastings. Store locations are increasing exponentially, so chances are there's one near you. But Angela and Steve at the Concordia location encourage you to make their persimmon salad at home.

Salad:

1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and de-stemmed
3 large ripe persimmons
2 cups candied pecans (see below)

Dressing:

3 Tbsps orange marmalade
2 tsps minced fresh ginger
1 cup rice wine vinegar

Blend the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Add spinach and toss well. Add persimmons (thinly sliced). For candied pecans, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In saucepan, melt four tablespoons of butter and mix with a half cup of light brown sugar. On a cookie sheet lay out pecans. Pour butter mixture over them, mixing well. Add one tablespoon of cinnamon, one of nutmeg and two of granulated sugar. Bake on a rack for 10 minutes until dark brown. Let cool, and top salad. PA

"Slow" Braised Painted Hills Beef with Bittersweet Chocolate Espresso and Fresh Bay Leaf

It sounds a little strange, but Slow Bar Chef Amy Germain explains that "a little of each ingredient layering throughout with the beef creates an incredibly rich, warm stew."

2 lbs Painted Hills stew meat
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 shot espresso (or 1/2 cup coffee)
3 juniper berries, finely chopped
4 fresh bay leaves
A sprig of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups beef stock
1 parsnip, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
2 stalks celery, small dice
1/2 yellow onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, finey chopped

Brown the meat in a little olive oil--the caramel color contributes to the flavor. When finished, dump the oil, and in the same pan, sauté the diced vegetables and garlic until soft, scraping all the browned bits of meat with it. Deglaze the pan with the vegetables, the red wine, and espresso. Reduce this liquid by half, then add all the herbs, chocolate, and beef into the braising pan. Season with a little salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover and allow to simmer in a 325 degree oven for approximately three hours or until the meat is soft and the liquid has reduced to a thick stew. MB

Squash and Pumpkin With Apple and Walnut Soup

This is the perfect hearty holiday soup for your vegetarian Thanksgiving potluck, or just make it, throw it in your freezer, and eat it until New Year's. And hey, if grocery shopping, boiling, mixing, and peeling aren't your thing, call No Fish! Go Fish! (235-5378) and order a bulk quantity of soup to go (eight varieties--including this one).

1 1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
16 oz pumpkin
1 medium size potato, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
1 medium size onion, quarter-inch chop
4 cloves garlic, minced

Combine ingredients in pot and cover with light vegetable stock. Cook until soft approximately one and a half to two hours.

Add:

32 oz apple juice
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 tblsp sugar
2 tblsp fresh tarragon, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for one hour. Thin soup if necessary with light vegetable stock. Garnish with fresh peeled and chopped apple and chopped walnuts. KS

Pesto Mashed Potatoes

La Buca Italian Restaurant specializes in hearty, delicious Italian influenced dishes year round. Scott, the restaurant's owner, hands over this tip for jazzing up this holiday's mashed potatoes, with relatively little sweat.

Boil potatoes until soft--Yukon Golds are the best, with their natural buttery flavor. Mash with milk and butter, salt and pepper--or blend with a mixer if you like your potatoes smooth and whipped.

Whip up an easy pesto sauce, like this one from www.initaly.com:

4 cups basil leaves, well packed
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
1 cup pine nuts or walnuts (or a combo)
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese (or a combo)
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put basil leaves and garlic in a blender or food processor until chopped finely. Then add nuts and process until finely chopped. Add cheese and process. With the machine running, add olive oil slowly. After the oil is incorporated, turn off the machine and add salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, store in an air-tight container with a thin coating of olive oil on top to keep the sauce from darkening.

If you don't have a blender or food processor available, you can use a store bought pesto.

Mix pesto with a healthy dose of olive oil (Scott recommends half and half, but use less oil if you want). Mix the pesto and olive oil to a thin, runny consistency, then drizzle over mashed potatoes, and voila--you'll look like a gourmet in no time. AH

Whiskey Pumpkin Pie (with a "kick")

A Protestant, my grandma was not an out-and-out drinker. But she liked to slip alcohol into her food--"just for the taste."

Line a nine-inch pie pan with foolproof crust (below).

Cream:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp flour

Add in two eggs, beat well.

Stir in:
1 1/2 cup pumpkin (fresh or canned)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp whiskey (or more, to up the ante)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 375 for 45 minutes. Great with whipped cream (and a snifter of cognac). PB

Foolproof Crust

My grandma used to say that even a brain-dead idiot--like me--could make this pie crust. (Actually, she never said that; she was a sweetheart and found retarded people "adorable.") But I don't lie: This dough is durable. Use it as a hockey puck and it will still bounce back and bake out as flaky, tender and delicious.

4 c. flour, lightly spooned into cup
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsps salt
1 3/4 cup shortening (not refrigerated--and don't use oil, lard, or butter)
1/2 c. water
1 Tbsp white or cider vinegar
1 large egg

In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar and salt. With a fork, cut in the shortening. In a different, small bowl, beat together water, vinegar and egg. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until everything is moistened.

Now, reach in and divide into five lumps; shape each into a flat round patty. Wrap each one in waxed paper and chill for at least 30 minutes. When you're ready (dough can stay in fridge for three days or remain frozen forever), take it out, lightly flour each side of the patty and roll it flat. PB

Deep Dish Plum Pie

Local boy Richard Perry went to Western Culinary with dreams of joining the likes of Cory Schreiber and Philippe Boulot as a prominent chef. But he found himself less into pots de creme and more into whoopie pies, so he started 'retro' book company Collectors Press instead. This blue-ribbon winner comes from Richard, and is sure to satisfy.

1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 lbs (about 3 1/2 cups) plums, halved and pitted
Single pastry crust for a nine-inch pie (or use the foolproof crust recipe, listed under Whiskey Pumpkin Pie)
2 1/2 tblsps butter
1 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Toss with plums. Place in a deep pie dish lined with pastry. Dot with butter. Seal top crust and cut slashes for steam. Brush top with milk. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle top with sugar. Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream. PA

Rosemary Seasoned Hazelnuts

Fearn, owner of the fabulous local restaurant The Farm, provides this excellent holiday munchie you can make for the family--or better yet, roast a batch for your boss and receive many butt-kissing points.

4 cups roasted and peeled Oregon hazelnuts
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
5 dashes of Tabasco brand hot pepper sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil for cookie sheet

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then spread into a 9 x 13 cake pan. Place in a 350 oven for 10 minutes, then stir them with a spatula to coat and place back in the oven for another five to eight minutes--this should result in nice shiny nuts. Try to stir the nuts while they are still in the oven by just pulling the rack out or placing on oven door, it's important they stay hot while roasting. When done, spread the nuts out on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and cool completely, then scrape off and serve or store in an airtight container. Makes 4 cups. KS

Wild Abandon Winter Chutney

Stop by Wild Abandon bleary-eyed and hungover on the weekends for one of Portland's most delicious brunches, or have a fine dining experience in the evening, when the dinner menu features an eclectic blend of meat and seafood dishes. Or, if you're feeling stingy, don't come at all, and use this handy-dandy recipe to prepare head chef Richard Menjou's delicious chutney at home. The restaurant serves it atop a stunning pork tenderloin, but according to owner Michael Cox, "It also pairs perfectly with any poultry, including the traditional family holiday turkey, or even a tofurkey."

3 cups green apples, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries (or a combo of both)
1 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tblsp fresh garlic, finely diced
2 Tblsp. shallot, finely diced
2 Tblsp fresh ginger, finely diced
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp cayenne

Combine all ingredients into a four-quart saucepan.

Cook at medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes. When liquid is thick and jelly-like, you're finished. Serve warm or cold. JWS

Indian Pudding

Linda Ragomo, chef at Mizrakhi House Café (7779 SW Capitol Hwy), which at one time was a kosher restaurant, now specializes in an eclectic mix of vegetarian and Italian cooking. When pressed for a great holiday recipe, she insisted on this pudding. She says it's "simple and everybody goes crazy for it here."

4 1/2 cups milk
2/3 cup corn meal
1/4 cup butter
1/2 dark molasses
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 1/2 Tbsp ground ginger

Bring the milk to a light boil and add cornmeal, stir about 7 minutes until thickens. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl, once milk starts to thicken, pour hot liquid over dry ingredients, then pour into round baking dish and bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Cools into a sweet spicy custard pie.

Heat slices before serving and top with whipped cream! MLS

Greek Shortbread

Costello's Travel Cafe (2222 NE Broadway) serves some of the most delicious homemade pastries EVER. Co-owner, pastry chef, and registered nurse Patti Costello took a few minutes to sit with me and pass along her mother's recipe for Greek Shortbread. It's an orange and almond twist on the old standard, and Patti swears by it.

1 lb. salt free butter
1 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp orange juice
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
5 cups cake flour

Cream butter and sugar until very creamy. Add egg yolks and beat well. Add orange juice and almonds, again beating well. Sift in cake flour and blend. Form into small balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. While hot, sprinkle with colored decorating sugar. MLS

Zeppoli

If you've had your fill of tiramisu, can't find a decent cannoli to save your life, or simply want to take a stab at whipping up an Italian restaurant treat, try this simple recipe for Italian homemade doughnuts.

3 large eggs
2 teaspoons of baking powder
8 ounces of milk
flour
cooking oil

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add baking powder and milk, and enough flour to give the mix the consistency of wet plaster. Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter into a deep fryer, one at a time. When they're golden brown, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or rack. Dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar. PA

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