By Nancy Marr & Hayden Walker
Tis the season… The nip in the air as the temperature drops, the festive office parties, the gift wrapped rum-nut fruit cake, and Santa at your local mall. These are all signs of that special time of year we’ve all been waiting for. For us, it’s the time of year we all sing Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas while making new memories and setting new traditions with loved ones around the dinner table. In Texas, most of us rely on the traditions of turkey, ham and even barbecue with all the fixings. Although some of these classic dishes have been a reliable staple of family favorites, our tastes for tradition has evolved. The holiday dinner is one of the last moments of the year to impress the ones you love with something truly special. For a new generation of home cooks and holiday planners, we stray away from some of the classic festive feasts in search of new dishes that will inspire our own traditions for the years ahead.
In search of new traditions of holiday culinary splendor, we gathered a few of Austin’s hottest chefs to prepare an extraordinary holiday meal unlike any other this season. The result, a holiday feast fit for the appetite of a Texan as our chefs gathered at Contigo, a location filled with the charm and decor of a Southwest Texas ranch. It was the perfect setting for our chefs to collaborate on a festive holiday feast, unique to Austin.
Holiday Gravlox | Quality Seafood
Chef Scot Loranc found his home with Carol Huntsberger, owner of Quality Seafood. It’s a match made in heaven—and one we’ve been waiting for! After getting “thrown” into the kitchens early on in his career, he realized, in his words, “if you cook, you can get the girls!” His passion for seafood took him to Sous Chef at McCormick and Schmidt’s, the Seafood Manager at Central Market a now to Quality, where he belongs, making house-made gravalox, reinventing Oysters-on-the-Halfshell and showing off what happens when you combine great talent with Austin’s best destination for fresh seafood in town. P.S. If when you visit Chef Scot at Quality ask to see his Sleeve of Seafood. Perfect pairing: Sliced gravlox, cream cheese, caper berries, and Fall Creek Chenin Blanc ( this can be holiday app—also perfect for new years eve)
House-cured Salmon: serves a family
• Cures about 3 ½ lb fillet
• Scandinavian preserving method
• Recipe takes 48 hours
3 ½ lbs Salmon Fillet, bones removed and skin on
1 ¼ C Kosher Salt
1/3 C Granulated Sugar
¾ C Fresh Dill, chopped
5 Tbsp Lemon Zest
5 Tbsp Orange Zest
3 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1. In a bowl combine all of the ingredients except for the salmon.
2. Cut some cheese clothe or use plastic wrap twice the width of the salmon fillet and slightly longer than the length of the salmon.
3. Place some of the rub on the cheese-clothe, then place the fish on top of the rub. Coat the flesh side generously and wrap the fish tightly.
4. Place in a shallow pan. Place another pan on top that fits into the first. You will be sandwiching the salmon between the two pans. Add some weight on top of the fish.
5. Turn the fish 1 time per day for two days. Drain the excess fat out of the pan. Traditionally this will be reserved and made into a mayonnaise type sauce using the salmon drippings.
After the two-day cure, scrape the entire rub off the salmon. Slice on the bias and serve on toasted pumpernickel with dill mustard.
Garlic & Herb Leg of Lamb | Chef Roman Murphy
When we asked Chef Roman Murphy to bring his favorite holiday dish there was no question as to what it was going to be—Lamb! Chef Roman is bringing fine dining back to Bess Bistro. The picture of his Garlic and Herb Leg of Lamb tells us all we need to know. Impressive, tender, and flavorful…..personally, I had a glass of Fall Creek Meritas and it was heaven on a holiday plate!
• 3 Tablespoons Rosemary, Chopped
• 2 Tablespoons Thyme, Chopped
• 2 Tablespoons Parsley, Chopped
• 1 Tablespoon Mint, Chopped
• 1 Tablespoon Oregano, Chopped
• 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
• 2 Tablespoons Cracked Black Pepper
• 8 Cloves of Garlic, Finely minced
• ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 4.5-5# Bone-In Leg of Lamb
1. Combine the chopped herbs, salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil to create an herb paste. Pat the leg of lamb dry with paper towels. Place in a roasting pan and rub down the entire leg with the herb paste, being sure to coat completely. Wrap the bone of the leg with aluminum foil to prevent browning, cover with plastic film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator at least an hour before roasting to help bring the lamb closer to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Insert an oven proof thermometer into the thickest part of the leg not touching the bone. You may want to place some water in the bottom of the roasting so that the drippings fall into water and do not burn. Place the roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven.
3. Roast at 425°F for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 300°F and roast an additional 40 minutes to an hour. In general estimate 10-13 minutes per pound for total cooking time, it will take longer to cook if it’s directly out of the fridge. Remove from the oven once the internal temperature reaches 125°F for medium rare. Let rest for 25-30 minutes before carving against the grain. Serve with the pan drippings as a sauce or turn into a gravy.
Rabbit Dumplings | Andrew Wiseheart and Ben Edgerton
Andrew and Ben opened their doors for us! Contigo is the ideal place for your holiday or after-holiday-party! We had so much fun “talking shop” and learning who does the work ….after new years we’ll let you know who’s responsible for the rabbit dumplings. It sets the pace for a holiday favorite like no other in a hot cast-iron skillet simmering with moist rabbit, succulent veggies, and au jus topped with fluffy dumplings. We are certain this will be the new favorite of the holidays. Paring: Meritas
Rabbit and dumplings
For the rabbit Braise:
1 Rabbit – cut into 5 pieces
2 T Butter
1T Canola Oil
1 onion – cut into 8 pieces
2 carrots – cut into 1” pieces
3 celery stalks – cut into 1” pieces
5 garlic cloves
3 T whole grain mustard
1 bottle(750ml) dry white wine
4-6 cups chicken stock
For the slurry:
4T AP flour and water
Preheat oven to 300.
Season the rabbit generously with salt.
In a large skillet heat the canola oil until just before the smoke point. (very hot)
Place the rabbit in the hot oil leaving a half inch of space between each piece. Once the meat starts to brown (about 2 minutes) break the butter into 3-4 pieces and place in the pan with the rabbit. Once the butter melts flip the rabbit pieces over and let them brown in the melted butter. (about 2 minutes)
Remove the rabbit from the pan and place them in a ceramic baking dish.
In the same skillet, add the vegetables and let them cook for 5 minutes.
Add 2T of the whole grain mustard to the vegetables and stir to evenly distribute the mustard. Cook this mixture for 3 minutes allowing the mustard to toast and take on a new flavor. Remove the vegetables and mustard form the pan and place them on top of the rabbit.
Pour the bottle of wine into the same skillet and reduce by ¾.
Add this to the veg and rabbit.
Add enough chicken stock to the baking dish to completely cover the vegetables.
Cover and cook in oven for 1 hour.
Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
By hand remove the rabbit from the liquid. Pick the meat from the bone and shred into bite size pieces. set aside.
Strain the braising liquid into a medium sauce pot and bring to a simmer.
In a separate bowl make the slurry. Add 4T AP flour and wisk in enough water to form a smooth paste (you want the consistency of syrup). Once the braising liquid is simmering pour in half of the slurry while whisking the liquid. Let that cook for 2 minutes and add more of the slurry if you want a thicker liquid. Taste and season with the remaining whole grain mustard and salt. Reserve for final assembly.
For the garnish:
3 carrots – cut into bite size pieces
6 cipollini onions – cut into ¼’s
Slowly sauté the carrots in Evoo until cooked leaving a slight crunch in the middle. Season with salt. Remove from pan and cool
Slowly sauté the onions in EVOO until done. Season with salt. Remove from pan and cool
4 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
6 Tbl cold butter – cut into ¼” squares
2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbl fresh sage – chopped
Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix in the cold butter making sure none of the pieces are sticking together and all are coated with the dry mix. Form a well in the middle of the mix and add all of the buttermilk. Slowly fold the wet with the dry. Do not over mix.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flowered surface. With your hand, flatten the dough evenly to 1”. You will need to dust the dough with flower when it gets sticky.
With a round cookie cutter, punch out as many pieces as you can. Discard the scrap.
Final assembly: Cover the bottom of a cast iron pan with the picked rabbit meat. Add desired amount of cooked carrots and onions. Add the thickened braise liquid almost to the top of the vegetables. Add as many dumplings that will fit leaving ½ inch between each one.
Bake for 10 minutes at 400.
Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake | Chef Brandon Scawthorn
Brandon began his rise to stardom in the kitchen as the winner of the nationally televised Food Network show, Guy Verses Rachel Kids Cook-Off. He mostly learned to cook alongside his mother Yelena, cooking the Texas-style food he’s been eating throughout his childhood. He is constantly learning new recipes and embraces the challenge to create something unique to his skills. He spends time reading cookbooks and watching the Food Network, but Brandon learns predominately from simply implementing his technique in the kitchen. Since his television debut, life has changed pretty dramatically for the now eleven-year old who now has a Twitter and Facebook accounts where he promotes his Foodnetwork.com mini series, Cooking in the Fast Lane, and teaching other children how to cook as an honorary instructor at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. You can see Brandon this Saturday as he will be leading a Parent/Child Cooking Class during the holiday break on December 28 at the school. Get your tickets at www.myculinaryadventrue.com or www.eventbrite.parent-
Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake
1 1/2 cup OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, finely crushed
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 (8 ounce each) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 package (227 g) mascarpone
1 teaspoon vanilla
150 g chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
1/8 cup Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liquor or 1 tablespoo instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
3 eggs, room temperature
Also: 1 package (6oz) raspberries and 1/4 cup sugar
4 small egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar syrup (made out of 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water)
200 g chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
200 g chocolate
30 g unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons milk
Cocoa powder, whipped cream, mix of white and dark chocolate shavings for garnish if desired.
Directions: Preheat oven to 340 F.
Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake for 10 min.
Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with a electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and well blended. Add mascarpone. Mix well on slow speed. Add melted chocolate and coffee liquor or instant coffee mix. Mix well.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended, scraping bowl from time to time, making sure all ingredients are equally mixed.
Raspberry puree – in small mixing bowl combine raspberries and sugar. Using fork press through a sieve to remove the seeds.
Pour about 2/3 of cheese filling over the baked crust. Then spoon a raspberry puree all over the filling. Make swirls using a butter knife. Pour the rest of the cream cheese filling over the raspberries.
Reduce the oven temperature to the 325 F. Bake 55 min to 1 hour and 10 min or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake. Do not removing rim of pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight for best results.
Chocolate mousse: for best results prepare mousse next day after baking cheesecake (to give cheesecake enough time to properly set).
Beat egg yolks with a electric mixer in mixing bowl. In small pot bring water and sugar to boil. Boil until reduce in half. Slowly pour HOT sugar syrup into yolks mixture continuing whipping the mixture. Keep whipping on high speed until mixture is completely cooled off. It will double in size and will be thick and pale yellow in color. It will take you about 5-6 min. Add melted chocolate and mix well. In separate bowl whip heavy cream with sugar until firm peaks. Carefully fold cream into chocolate mixture. Cool off.
Ganache: prepare ganache right before assembling the cake.
Place all ingredients in small bowl and heat over the water bath until all melted and well incorporated. Add another tablespoon of milk if consistency is too thick.
Assembling: Keeping cheesecake in the spring form, spread cooled chocolate mousse over completely chilled cheesecake. Pour ganache over the mousse. Let the ganache completely set. Dust cocoa powder over the cake. Carefully remove the rim (run spatula or butter knife around the rim to prevent the ganache from cracking). Transfer the cheesecake onto serving platter. Using a pastry bag decorate cheesecake with whipped cream. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings.
Zuccotto | Leopoldo Ferrarese and Francesca Silvestrini
Zuccotto is a typical Italian semi-frozen dessert that is traditionally made using half sphere or pumpkin-shaped molds (the name zuccotto means “little pumpkin” in Italian). A zuccotto has an outer layer made of “pan di spagna”, the Italian version of the American sponge cake, and it usually has two layers of filling. The filling is called “spumone”, and it is a mix of Italian gelato and sweetened whipped cream. In this recipe we chose two traditional holiday flavors for the gelato: egg cream with lemon zest and dark chocolate with candied orange peel. www.dolcenevegelato.com (Dolce Neve will be opening soon at 1713 South 1st Street.)
For the “pan di spagna”:
6 oz of powdered sugar
5 oz of flour
Zest of 1/2 lemon
½ vanilla bean
Butter to grease the pan
For the inner layer of filling (egg cream with lemon zest “spumone”):
15 oz of milk
5 egg yolks
2 oz of whipping cream + 7 oz to add later
3 ½ oz of sugar + ½ oz to add later
Zest of 1 lemon
For the outer layer of filling (dark chocolate and candied orange peel “spumone”):
15 oz of milk
1 ½ oz of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ oz of dark chocolate
1 ½ oz whipping cream + 7 oz to add later
3 ½ oz of sugar + ½ oz to add later
Candied orange peel
For the topping:
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Two different half-sphere molds, one with a 7 inches-diameter and one with a 4 inches-diameter
Quarter size baking pan, at least 3 inches high (facultative)
Gelato machine (facultative)
The complete process to make a zuccotto is the described in the following 6 steps. You can choose not to make “pan di spagna” and buy a sponge cake. In this case you can skip step 1. Moreover, if you don’t have a gelato machine or you want to try different flavors from the ones described in this recipe, you can buy some gelato (Dolce Neve gelato would be the best :-)) and skip steps 3 and 5.
Step 1 (“pan di spagna”)
In a mixing bowl, beat together 6 egg yolks and 6 oz of powdered sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the 6 egg whites until they are thick and fluffy. Combine together the two mixtures and gradually add 5 oz of flour, the zest of half lemon and the content of half vanilla bean. Grease (with butter) and flour a quarter size baking pan. Cook the “pan di spagna” in a pre-heated oven at 350 F. When the cake is ready, place it in a cooling rack before slicing it.
Step 2 (lining the largest half-sphere mold)
Cut the “pan di spagna” crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Cut all the slices but one into rectangular or triangular shapes and line the inner surface of the largest half-sphere mold with the cake rectangles and triangles. Fit them snugly so the mold is completely lined. Reserve the remaining to use on top of the mold. Brush some soaking syrup (50% water and 50% sugar) or some liqueur (e.g. Rum) over the cake lining the mold. Transfer the lined mold to the refrigerator.
Step 3 (egg cream and lemon zest gelato)
Mix together 15 oz of milk, 5 egg yolks, 3 ½ oz of sugar, and 2 oz of whipping cream. Pour the mixture into a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until it reaches the temperature of 150 F. Keep at this temperature for 30 minutes and then let it cool down until it reaches the room temperature. Add the zest of 1 lemon. Pour everything into the gelato machine and wait until the gelato gets ready.
Step 4 (inner layer of “spumone” filling)
Beat 7 oz of whipping cream and gradually add ½ oz of sugar. Fold the sweetened whipped cream into the egg cream gelato. Fill the smaller 4 inches half-sphere mold with the mixture and place it in the freezer for 12 hours.
Step 5 (dark chocolate gelato)
Stir 1 ½ oz of dark chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Meanwhile, mix together 1 ½ oz of unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 oz of sugar, 1 ½ oz of whipping cream, and 15 oz of milk. When the chocolate is completely melted, pour the mixture into the bowl and stir until it reaches a temperature of 194 F. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely. Pour everything into the gelato machine and wait until it gets ready.
Step 6 (outer layer of “spumone” filling)
Beat 7 oz of whipping cream and gradually add ½ oz of sugar. Fold the sweetened whipped cream into the dark chocolate gelato. Add some candied orange peel. Spread half of the chocolate mixture over the “pan di spagna” lining in the larger half-sphere mold. Unfold the smaller half-sphere mold and place the egg cream “spumone” in the middle of the larger mold. Add the remaining chocolate mixture into the larger mold.
Brush the round “pan di spagna” layer that you reserved in step 1 with the soaking syrup or with liqueur and arrange it, soaked side down, over the larger half-sphere mold, covering the filling completely and trimming to fit, if necessary. Cover the zuccotto with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for at least 12 hours.
Step 6 (serving the zuccotto)
Remove the plastic wrap, invert the cake onto a platter, and unfold the mold. Sift the unsweetened cocoa powder over the zuccotto and serve.