As any visit to a craft store or those suspiciously wintery-themed commercials will tell you, the holiday season is fast approaching. But from lavish turkey dinners to Christmas tamales to black-eyed peas on New Year’s, there’s no one way to celebrate the holidays. We asked eight Dallasites—each from different cultures and backgrounds—to share with us the recipes that, for them, capture the meaning and memories of the holidays. Each dish tells a story about its maker, and the makers who shaped them. The resulting spread, like all the best gatherings, is made richer by its eclectic mix.
Manny’s Cuban Black Beans
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 6 bay leaves
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 7, 15-ounce cans of black beans (reserve liquid from two cans)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Pinch of cumin
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste (I use 3/4 tablespoon)
- Salt to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon)
(Note: Start 24 hours before serving.)
In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic, bell peppers, and bay leaves over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add salt, pepper, and cumin. Add black beans and the liquid of only 2 cans to the pot. (I prefer my black beans on the thicker side.) Remove 1 1/2 cups of beans from the pot (making sure you don’t have any bay leaves), place in a blender, and purée until smooth. Add back to pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, adding water as necessary to keep beans from drying out. Turn off heat, and leave pot on stove, covered, to cool overnight.
When ready to serve, remove bay leaves, add 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, and reheat on low.
Chef & Restaurateur
Sweet Potato Bussin’ Biscuits
Biscuit Dough Ingredients
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup frozen butter, cut into 10 equal cubes
- 6 tablespoons ice-cold plant milk or water
Sweet Potato Mash Ingredients
- 1–1 1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
Almond Glaze Ingredients*
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup plant milk or water
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Full Recipe Ingredients
- Biscuit dough
- Sweet potato mash
- 1 tbsp butter (for egg wash)
- Almond glaze
- Biscuit Dough
- Sweet Potato Mash
- Almond Glaze
- Full Recipe
Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter. Pulse continuously until mixture resembles crumbly sand. Add plant milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue to pulse until mixture fully comes together. Remove dough, and place on a floured surface. Knead for 3–4 minutes, and then wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest in fridge for 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil and bake sweet potatoes on a baking sheet for 30–45 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven, and let cool. Remove skins, and mash potatoes with remaining ingredients until smooth.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix until well incorporated. Taste and adjust as necessary. If you want a thicker icing, you can use more powdered sugar. If you want a thinner icing, use less powdered sugar.
Preheat oven to 425 F. On a floured surface, take your chilled dough and roll it to about ¼-inch thick. Use circle cutters and place cut 5-by-5-inch circles. Keep going until all dough is used up. Place 1 tbsp sweet potato mixture in the center of one circle, and add water to the edges of the dough to help seal. Place a second circle dough on top, and crimp edges together using a fork to close the biscuit. Repeat until all dough is used up. Arrange prepped biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool. Brush lightly with almond glaze.
You can use whatever size circles you want to cut the dough. You can even do squares—get creative and show off your style. Make sure when preparing the dough, the water is ice cold. Using enough flour when rolling out the dough helps prevent it from sticking.
Wellness Content Creator & Events Producer
Mai Lyn Ngo
Mom’s Egg Rolls
Egg Roll Ingredients
- 1 pound ground pork shoulder, cooked
- 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 1 bag dried wood ear mushroom slices
- 6 ounces vermicelli or glass noodles, cooked
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 packets of egg roll skins
- Canola oil for frying
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup fish sauce
- 1 cup distilled vinegar
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
- 5–10 Thai chili peppers, seeded and minced
- Egg Rolls
- To Assemble
Soak mushrooms in cold water for 1 hour. Drain and dice mushrooms. Combine mushrooms with all remaining ingredients except egg roll skins. Stir until well mixed.
In a medium pot, combine sugar with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely. Add remaining ingredients.
Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture on the corner of an egg roll wrapper. Fold corner over filling, and then fold the side corners over to meet in the middle and form an open envelope shape. Moisten the remaining corner with a little egg white, and then continue rolling to seal the roll.
Bring canola oil to medium boil, and fry rolls until golden brown on both sides.
Real Estate Agent
Baghali Polo (Herb Rice With Fava Beans)
- 2 cups fresh dill, chopped
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Advieh spice for layering (1 tablespoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1 pound frozen fava beans
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon bloomed saffron (saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water)
Finely chop dill and cilantro, place in a small bowl, and mix in advieh spice. Set aside. Gently rinse rice in cold water until water runs clear. Drain water, and then cover rice in bowl with fresh cold water. Stir in 1–2 teaspoons salt, and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain.
Fill a heavy-bottomed pot about half full of water, and bring to a boil. (If you want tadig, aka crispy rice, then it’s best to use a nonstick pot.) Add the drained rice and 4 tablespoons salt. Parboil rice for 5–7 minutes. Add frozen fava beans, and stir gently once or twice. Drain rice, and rinse under cold water. Gently fold in prepared herbs.
To the empty pot, add oil, turmeric, and 3 tablespoons water. Stir to coat bottom of pot. Add one layer of herb-rice mixture, and top with chopped garlic. Continue layering until all rice is used. Create three holes in the rice using the back of a wooden spoon. The holes should reach the bottom of the pot, allowing steam to come through. Put the lid on the pot, and turn heat to medium for 10 minutes. As soon as you see steam, place a towel under the lid, and turn heat down to medium-low. Cook rice for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
(Pro Tip: if you lick your finger, quickly touch the pot, and hear a soft sizzle, the rice is ready!)
Turn off heat, add 4 tablespoons cubed butter or oil, and then fluff rice gently. Transfer rice layers, one at a time, onto a dish, and top with bloomed saffron. If you are lucky enough to have crispy rice at the bottom of the pot, turn or scrape it out on a separate platter.
Restaurant, Commercial, & Residential Designer
Eugenio Reyes Retana
Mexican Buñuelos (Sweet Fritters)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 beaten eggs
- Canola or vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup sugar
In a saucepan, heat milk, butter, and vanilla, and bring to a boil. Set aside to cool. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. In a separate bowl, add beaten eggs to cooled milk mixture, and whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients, and mix well. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 20 balls. Roll out balls into thin tortillas, and then lay tortillas on a clean cloth to dry. Heat 1 inch of oil in a skillet wide enough for the tortillas to fry flat. Deep-fry tortillas until golden brown, turning once. Remove from pan. Stand tortillas vertically in a bowl lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and remaining teaspoon of cinnamon. While still warm, sprinkle fried tortillas on both sides with sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Jewish Chaplain at SMU
Rabbi Heidi Coretz
- 6 large potatoes
- 2 medium onions
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup of matzo meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
- Oil for frying
Peel and shred the potatoes. Wrap them in a clean kitchen towel, and squeeze out the excess liquid. Place in a large mixing bowl. Peel and grate the onions, and then squeeze out the liquid like you did with the potatoes. Add to bowl. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper. Add potatoes and onions, and mix to combine. Stir in baking powder and matzo meal. Coat bottom of a flat pan with oil, and heat pan over medium heat. Take about 1/4 cup of the mixture, and lay it in the pan. Flatten it with your spatula, and fry to a golden brown. Serve hot with applesauce and sour cream.
Risalamande Rice Pudding
Rice Pudding Ingredients
- 1 cup short-grained white rice
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 1/4 cups milk
- 2 vanilla beans
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 1/2 ounces whole roasted almonds
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1, 15-ounce can cherry sauce (for topping)
Rice Pudding Instructions
Slice open vanilla beans, scrape out seeds, and mix seeds with sugar. Set empty beans and vanilla sugar aside. In a saucepan, add rice and water. Bring water to a boil, and boil rice for 2 minutes. Add milk, and return pan to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, add empty vanilla beans and vanilla sugar, cover, and let simmer for 35 minutes. Stir often to prevent rice from burning and sticking to the saucepan. Remove pan from heat, and remove empty vanilla beans from pan. Let rice pudding cool in refrigerator while you make the risalamande. (You can also make the rice pudding in advance.)
Place almonds in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over almonds, and let soak for 5–7 minutes. Drain almonds, and remove peels by squeezing almonds between your fingers. Coarsely chop almonds, and add to the cold rice pudding. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gently mix into rice pudding. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve the risalamande with warm cherry sauce.
*If you want to play the traditional Danish almond game (mandelgave), leave a whole almond without the peel in the risalamande. Whoever gets the whole almond wins the prize.
Fashion and Bridal Designer
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 red onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
- 2 branches fresh rosemary
- 2 pounds top sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into long, wide strips
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into long, wide strips
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1–2 jalapeños, stem removed and cut in half
- 3 tablespoons berbere spice mix
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add rosemary, garlic, and onions, and cook until onions soften. Add beef and cook for 7–10 minutes until browned; do not overcook. Add vegetables and spices. Add teriyaki sauce, cover pot, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve on top of injera, and add a side salad.
*A previous version of this story did not include Brandon Waller’s almond glaze recipe. That has been corrected.