The Chefs’ Table


Hors d’oeuvre

George Allen

B—A Bolton Hill Bistro, Bolton Hill
Training: Studied at L’Academie de Cuisine. Worked with chef Bob Kincead at Colvin Run Tavern.
Favorite holiday food: Anything that goes with a big glass of Bordeaux.

“Step one: pour nice glass of red. Take your time. Plan accordingly. Don’t stress out, it’s just cooking. Guests always love what you make.”

Red Wine Braised Beef
Short Ribs with Country
Jalapeno Cheddar Grits

Yields 10-15 appetizer portions

10 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
1⁄4 cup garlic, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 bottle red wine (preferably cabernet sauvignon)
6-10 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dry
1 large onion, diced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 quarts veal stock or beef broth
Vegetable oil
For the ribs:
Add salt and pepper to flour to season. Then season all ribs and with salt and pepper being careful to season all sides. Then dredge seasoned ribs in seasoned flour.

Heat skillet over medium to high heat. Add enough oil to topcoat bottom of hot skillet and sear all sides of ribs until brown (add more oil, if needed, during searing process). In Dutch oven or large pot with lid cook thyme, celery, garlic, carrot and onion until they soften and begin to release liquid. Arrange ribs on top of vegetables. Combine wine and stock and pour over ribs.

Place in Dutch oven at 235 degrees for 10-12 hours. (Alternatively, recipe can be cooked in a Crock-Pot on low temperature for 6-8 hours.)

Let cool to room temperature and carefully remove ribs (they will be fragile).

(Note: Can be frozen until needed. Let thaw in refrigerator. Reheat in oven at 350 degrees with beef stock.)

For the grits:
Quick grits
Milk (amount as directed on box of grits)
Cheddar cheese (to taste)
Jalapeno, chopped (to taste)
Butter (to taste)

Follow directions on box using half water and half milk. Cook until desired consistency. Finish with chopped jalapenos, cheddar cheese and butter to taste.



Tyson Spangler

Towson Tavern, Towson

Training: Honors student at Baltimore International College. Studied abroad in Ireland.

Favorite holiday food: Classic—turkey, spiral cut ham, creamed corn, creamed spinach.

“This salad is a twist on a classic. I add apricots for sweetness and crisp-fry the shiitake to add a little crunch in every bite.”

Warm Spinach Salad

Yields 1 salad

4 ounces fresh baby spinach
2 ounces apricot/bacon vinaigrette
1 ounce red onion, slivered
1 hard-boiled egg, diced
1 ounce Crispy Fried Shiitake Mushroom
For the vinaigrette:
6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, diced
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces brown sugar
½ cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
¾ cup orange juice
1 ounce balsamic vinegar
1 ounce whole grain mustard
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Place the bacon in a cold stockpot and cook on medium-high heat. Once the bacon has just started to crisp, add the shallots and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and apricots, and then stir for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and place into a blender or food processor. Blend until it becomes a smooth purée.
For the mushrooms:
2 cups vegetable oil
1 ounce shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
Place vegetable oil into a medium stockpot and heat on medium-high heat. Julienne the shiitake mushroom caps and place into the hot oil. Let cook until they begin to shrink and become crispy. Once crisp remove from the hot oil and toss with a small amount of salt and pepper.
For assembling the salad: In a large mixing bowl toss the spinach with the warm dressing and place into a salad bowl. Top the salad with the slivered red onion, hardboiled egg and finish with the crispy fried shiitake mushroom and serve.

Main Dish

Sascha Wolhandler

Sascha’s 527 Cafe, Mount Vernon
Training: Self-taught with inspiration from her mother—a world traveler who wouldn’t hesitate to march into a kitchen in Portugal and learn what the chef was doing.

Favorite holiday food: Magret de canard. The French ducks are leaner than ours. Everything in France is skinnier—like the women. The ducks follow suit.

“Treat your guests to something people don’t often eat—something rich and delicious, like duck.”

Duck Breast with Cherry and Port Wine Sauce

Serves 8
8 boneless duck breasts
½ cup dried cherries
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 cup of port wine
2cups fresh (or frozen) black cherries
Zest of 1 orange
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Score the skin of the duck breast in diamond fashion. Try not to score down to the breast meat.

Heat port wine over low heat until warm. Add ½ cup dried cherries and allow to steep.

Season duck breast liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a large skillet over medium heat place the duck breasts skin side down. Sear the breasts until the skin is golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 2 minutes. Place the seared duck breasts in a baking dish skin side up and put them in oven. (Can be done in advance. Before serving, remove duck from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.)
Bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes for medium to medium rare. Remove, tent with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes.

Pour off most of the duck fat. (Hint: reserve duck fat for other dishes.) Place some of the duck fat into a skillet, over medium heat. Add shallots and ginger and sauté until translucent. Pour in port, orange juice and the stock, picking up any bits from the sauté pan. Add orange zest and fresh cherries to pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until sauce reduces. Smash some of the fresh cherries to thicken. Add dried cherries.

Slice duck breast on diagonal and nap with sauce.


Side Dish

Winston Blick

Clementine, Hamilton
Training: Dishwasher (”and it was not cool”). Then McCafferty’s in Baltimore.

Favorite holiday food: Food is sentimental. It reminds me of my my mother and grandmother—the good feelings of my formative years. My family were hunters and watermen and would always have wild game like venison, goose and duck.

“This recipe is Maryland. It represents the Bay. It’s home to me. The kale is a nod to our Southern roots. And the sweet potatoes are sweet. It’s the holidays!”

Oyster, Sweet Potato and Kale Gratin with Rye Whiskey

Serves 4
1 pint shucked oysters, reserve liquor
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 cup rye whiskey
Salt and pepper
1 1⁄2 cups sweet potato, cubed and cooked
1 cup kale, julienned and blanched
2 pinches fresh grated nutmeg
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
2 cups potato roll crumbs, toasted
Begin by sautéing onion and garlic in butter over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir often until flour smells nutty and is light brown in color. Next, add whiskey, cream, milk and oyster liquor. Stir until thick and season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. (Don’t hesitate to be generous with the black pepper. It brings out great flavors in the rye.)

Gently fold in the sweet potatoes and kale and chill the whole mix for a couple of hours.

Remove from refrigerator and spoon mixture into a 3-quart gratin dish or a couple of pie plates. Nestle the oysters in the cream (the more the merrier) and top with potato breadcrumbs. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with green onions and parsley.

Side Dish

Joseph Krywucki

Victoria Gastro Pub, Columbia
Training: Baltimore International College. Working internship in Ireland. Graduated with Le Grande Diplome from London’s
Le Cordon Bleu.

Favorite holiday foods: Fall and winter ingredients: pears, apples, figs, pumpkins, root vegetables, beets, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

“Keep it simple! Don’t over-design the menu, which creates unnecessary stress.”

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Cider

Serves 4
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces shallots
4 ounces pancetta, diced
4 ounces chicken stock
4 ounces apple cider
1 tablespoon butter, cold
Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and sauté until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the same pan and sauté until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cider. Simmer until the Brussels sprouts have a light glaze, about 3 minutes. Whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Mallory Staley

Sotto Sopra, Mount Vernon

Training: French Culinary Institute in New York

Favorite holiday food: My grandmother makes the best whoppie pies. If we didn’t have them at Christmas, my whole family would be upset. We’d throw the turkey out the window.

“Make your desserts ahead of time. Some chefs swear they taste better the next day.”

Frozen Eggnog with Cinnamon Cream Filled Gingerbread Cookies

Serves 4-5
For the gingerbread cookies
(Yields about 8-10 cookies)
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup molasses syrup
5 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and set the oven racks in the middle. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Next add in the molasses and vanilla.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add into the butter/syrup mixture in two batches, mixing only long enough to incorporate the flour.
Roll out on a floured surface, cut into desired gingerbread shape and place onto cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees until the edges are lightly golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside to cool as you are making the filling.
For the cinnamon cream filling:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup spiced rum
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered sugar. Next add in the egg white. Then add in the remaining ingredients and beat until all are incorporated. Sandwich using the cooled gingerbread cookies.
For eggnog ice cream:
2½ cups whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup egg yolks
1⁄3 cup ground nutmeg
½ cup dark rum
Using a large metal or plastic bowl, fill half way with ice and water. Set aside for later.
In a sauce pot, bring to a boil the milk, cream, rum and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Once the liquid is to a boil, pour
1 cup into the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Whisk quickly to prevent the yolks from scrambling. Return liquid to the pot with the remaining cream/milk and cook for
1 minute, while whisking constantly.
Remove from the heat and immediately place into a container. Set the container in larger bowl with water and ice. Let cool for 1-2 hours. Process in an ice cream machine.
To assemble:
Place the eggnog ice cream in a blender and add a little milk. Blend together until the consistency of a thick milkshake is achieved. Pour into a glass and set the sandwiched cookies next to the glass. Enjoy!

Craft Cocktail

Ryan Travers and Josh Bosstick

Of Love & Regret, Canton
Training: Bosstick’s dad owned a liquor store. Josh trained at Grano Emporio and Wine Market Bistro. Travers and his wife owned a small beer bar in Brunswick, Maine.

Favorite holiday spirit: This dynamic bar-tending duo concocts all their craft cocktail recipes together—and both say scotch is their go-to holiday drink.

“This is like a holiday dinner in a drink—using scotch as the backbone with cardamom and cinnamon flavors. Topped off with the crème brûlee as dessert.”

Fireside Chats with Charles MacLean

Makes 1 cocktail
1½ ounces Glenrothes Select Reserve
1½ ounces Velvet Falernum
¾ ounce Cardamaro
¾ ounce Becherovka
Shaken over rocks with egg white until foamy. Use bar spoon to layer froth on top. Lightly torch froth with crème brûlee torch to caramelize. Top with freshly shaved cinnamon. 

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