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Food and Drink

6 Favorite Holiday Recipes

Dallas chefs on their culinary traditions.
By Nancy Nichols |

All holiday celebrations have one thing in common: food. If you love to shake up your culinary traditions, these Dallas chefs share ideas on bringing new foods to the holiday table.


Blythe Beck, Pink Magnolia

“So there are three traditions in the Beck household: my mother’s bread stuffing, rum balls, and my Uncle Joe’s boozy eggnog. Uncle Joe started the holiday season off every year by making eggnog at Thanksgiving, then again at Christmas, and again on New Year’s Eve. Now that he is gone, my brother makes it. It was so awesome growing up and waiting to get old enough to hold a cup and drink it. We’re Irish Catholic, and we embrace our heritage maybe just a little too much.”

Uncle Joe’s Eggnog

1 quart eggnog

1 pint vanilla bean ice cream

1 ½ cups Maker’s Mark bourbon

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Freshly grated nutmeg

Blend all wet ingredients in blender. Pour into 8 to 10 mugs. Top with freshly grated nutmeg.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Tamales

[inline_image id=”1″ align=”” crop=”full”]

Jesse Moreno, Peak & Elm

“The Moreno family first made pumpkin tamales at home as a way to welcome fall and kick off tamale season. We love to take traditional tamales and fill them with something unique. We started making them about 15 years ago and would give a few out as gifts. We received so much positive feedback that we decided to put them on the menu. They were a hit right away.” 

Makes 3 dozen tamales

1 package corn husks (at least 36-count)

3 cups pumpkin purée (canned or fresh)

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon salt 

Soak the corn husks in warm water in a large bowl. Set aside. Boil the whole cloves in 1 cup of water for seven minutes. Put the nixtamal masa, 1 cup hot water, and vegetable oil, salt, baking powder, and ½ cup of brown sugar into a mixer and blend until the mixture reaches a silky consistency. Set aside.

In a large pot, place pumpkin purée, boiled water from cloves, dry spices, and remaining ½ cup brown sugar. Add raisins if desired. 

To assemble: spread masa from left to right on lower half of corn husk using a spatula. Spread pumpkin mixture with a spatula onto masa. Fold each side of corn husk toward the center, and then fold the top portion back down.

To cook: stack the tamales open end up in a steamer. Steam for three hours with the lid on, adding water as needed. 

Potato Latkes and Applesauce

Tina Wasserman, Author,

[inline_image id=”2″ align=”r” crop=”tall”]“Latkes are traditionally served for Hanukkah because they are cooked in oil (to commemorate the vial of oil lasting for eight days), and freshly rendered goose fat was readily available. I serve them with homemade applesauce, alongside a brisket. Applesauce was the original topping for potato latkes in the early 1800s, when potatoes were popular.”

Serves 8

1 cup water (or enough to
      fill pot ½ inch)

2-inch cinnamon stick or

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Using an apple corer/slicer, core the apples and cut into eighths.

Cover the bottom of a 3-quart pot with ½ inch water. Place cinnamon stick and apples in the water. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until apples are very tender. (Cooking apples with their skins on makes the sauce a rosy color.)

Remove the cinnamon stick and strain the water from the pot into a bowl. Set aside. 

Place the apples in the basket of a food mill on top of a 2-quart bowl. Following the manufacturer’s directions, use the medium disk and turn the handle to pass the apple through the disk, leaving the skins in the basket and the applesauce in the bowl below. If mixture looks too thick, add some of the reserved liquid and cool. Mixture will thicken when cold. If necessary, add sugar to taste.

Serve warm or chilled.

Latkes/Potato Pancakes

6–8 large, thin-skinned potatoes

(California Long Whites or

Yukon Gold)

3 eggs, beaten well

1 tablespoon salt

Grate the raw potatoes using the large grating disk on a processor or the largest holes on a grater. Place grated potato in a colander, rinse with cold water, and drain.

Combine eggs, salt, pepper, and matzo meal in a 3-quart bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Change to the cutting blade on your processor. Add onions to the work bowl. Pulse on and off five times. Add ¼ of the grated potatoes to the onion and pulse on and off to make a coarse paste. Add to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

Add the drained potatoes to the bowl and mix thoroughly using a large spoon or your hands.

Heat a large frying pan or large skillet for 20 seconds. Add enough oil to cover the pan to a depth of ¼ inch and heat for an additional 20 seconds.

Drop mounds of potato mixture into the pan. Fry on both sides until golden. Drain fried latkes on a platter covered with crumpled paper towels. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

Barbecued Bacon-Wrapped Quail With Jalapeño Ranch Dressing

Dean Fearing, Fearing’s

[inline_image id=”3″ align=”r” crop=”tall”]“Thank goodness I have lots of friends who love to hunt quail. I like to serve it as an alternative to turkey at some of my holiday parties. My buddies bring them to me, and I keep them in the freezer. I add a whole lot of Texas attitude to them by glazing them with my homemade barbecue sauce.”

Serves 4


Four 4-ounce semiboneless quail


Freshly ground pepper

8 thin strips seeded jalapeño chile

8 strips smoked bacon

1 cup warm Texas-Style Barbecue sauce (recipe on opposite page)

1 cup Jalapeño Ranch Dressing (recipe on opposite page)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the quail on a cutting board. Working with one at a time and using a small, sharp knife, cut the wing tips and legs from each bird. Cut down the center of the backbone of each quail, opening the body. Lay flat, skin side down.

Generously season all sides of each quail with salt and pepper. Lay two strips of chile down the center of each one and roll the birds into a tight cylinder. Working with one bird at a time, place two strips of bacon side by side on a clean surface. Place a rolled quail on one end and again roll into a tight cylinder, completely enclosing the quail. Repeat the process to cover all birds.

Place the rolled quail, seam side down, in a baking pan, leaving about 2 inches between the birds. Transfer to the preheated oven and roast for about 12 minutes, or until the bacon is thoroughly cooked and nicely browned. 

Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes.

Using a serrated knife, cut each quail roll crosswise into ½-inch-thick rounds. Place a small skewer through the center of each round, entering and exiting through the bacon wrap. Dip the quail rolls into the barbecue sauce to
glaze slightly.

Place on a platter and serve warm with the ranch dressing for dipping.

Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce (makes 2 cups)

1 tablespoon bacon fat

1 large yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 cup ketchup

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon malt vinegar

2 teaspoons Creole mustard

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat the bacon fat in a small, ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about five minutes, or until softened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the ketchup, Worcestershire, molasses, vinegar, mustard, and Tabasco in a small bowl and stir to blend. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. 

Pour the ketchup mixture over the diced onions and stir to blend. Cover, place in the preheated oven, and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, transfer to a blender, and purée until smooth. Strain the sauce through a coarse-mesh strainer.

Jalapeño Ranch Dressing (makes 2 cups)

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup mayonnaise

 cup seeded and chopped jalapeño chile

One 1-ounce package ranch dressing mix

Tabasco sauce

Fresh lime juice

Put the buttermilk in a blender along with the mayonnaise and chile. Add the dressing mix and process to a smooth purée. Add the Tabasco and lime juice to taste, and process to blend.

Southern Wilted Greens

Stephan Pyles, Stephan Pyles Restaurant, San Salvaje, Stampede 66

[inline_image id=”4″ align=”r” crop=”tall”]“Every week when I was growing up, my mother would cook up a big pot of greens with a ham hock, red onion, and a big clove of garlic. As is typical with cooking any vegetables in the South, these greens would be cooked for much longer than they needed to be. In this recipe, I quickly wilt the greens in bacon vinaigrette. The dish, with the crunch of apple and tartness of the cranberries that play off the pungent greens, is a beautiful addition to a holiday buffet.” 

Serves 4

¾ cup fresh cranberries

4 ounces bacon, diced

2 shallots, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

½ cup toasted pecans

Coarsely chop the cranberries, add to a blender with the sugar, and blend for 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until all the fat is rendered. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and reserve. Using the bacon fat, sauté the shallots and garlic until soft. Add both oils and vinegars to the skillet and whisk. Add the rosemary, pecans, garlic, and macerated cranberries, and cook for one minute.

Add the greens, toss until just wilted, about 20 to 30 seconds, and season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among four plates, and sprinkle the reserved bacon on top.

Cranberry Walnut Tart 

Pascal Cayet, Lavendou Bistro Provençal

[inline_image id=”5″ align=”r” crop=”tall”]“This recipe is based on a family tradition.  My mother baked a walnut tart when I was growing up in France. It was basically a pastry with walnuts, without fruit, and was eaten like a cookie, especially around the holidays. I used this tradition as the base for this cranberry tart to serve to my clientele. It has become so popular, guests order whole tarts in advance for their holiday tables.” 

Serves 6 to 8
Sugar Dough                                       

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold, unsalted butter

1 large egg

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Toss once or twice to coat the pieces of butter. Using your hands or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse-ground cornmeal, and no large pieces of butter remain. Be careful to keep the mixture uniform by occasionally reaching down to the bottom of the bowl and mixing all the ingredients evenly together. Beat the egg in a small bowl and pour over the flour and butter mixture. Stir with a fork until the dough begins to hold together but still appears somewhat dry. Scatter flour on a work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Press and knead the dough quickly three or four times until it is smooth.

Refrigerate the dough until firm, or until you are ready to use it, at least one hour.


4 whole eggs

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

4 tablespoons melted butter

½ tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup walnuts or pecan pieces

1 ½ cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

2 cups whole cranberries

Apricot preserves for glaze

Line one 9-inch tart mold with the sugar dough, rolled  inch thick. In a bowl, mix the eggs and the brown sugar until the sugar is well dissolved. Add the corn syrup, salt, and vanilla extract. Fold in the cranberries, nuts, and melted butter. Fill the tart mold halfway with cranberry/nut mixture and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Boil cranberries in 1 ½ cup water and 1 ½ cup sugar for five min-utes or until plump. Cool. Coat cranberries with apricot preserves for glaze. Add a few walnut halves or pecans for decoration.


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