Luxe Beat Magazine was lucky to hear from acclaimed Executive Chef Tim Keller. He shares with us his views on the holidays and treats us to some of his favorite recipes.
When I think of past and future holidays it’s the food that comes to mind first. I’m sorry loved ones! I love you, but I also LOVE my Mother’s Christmas cinnamon rolls and Aunt Roz’s Hanukkah Latkes.
Truly the holidays are about sharing. Sharing this special time with family and friends and enjoying each other’s traditional culinary delicacies. I suggest traveling and sampling as many different holiday foods as possible; each one is historically significant and fabulously delicious!!
I think that’s why I live like I’m always on holiday; I love to share! I believe most people who enjoy the arts typically enjoy sharing. Painters, composers, chefs and other passionately creative friends all share a common bond: We create to share. The seasons and holiday spirit enhance the creativity of artists and chefs alike.
I write this article pertaining to holiday foods and recipes as I look out the window of my Oregon home and gaze at the autumn rain. I nestle down a little further into my chair and think of the fondness I have for this time of year. The time of year when we’re hanging out in sweaters, lighting toasty fires and opening bottles of delicious red wine.
The Northern air is intoxicating, too! Smell that (long slow inhale through the nose); that’s the smell of Oregon Forest and Pacific Ocean, loam and wet straw. My mind instantly visualizes culinary treasures gathered by horseback, such as pheasants, duck and geese, wild boar, salmon and truffles. I think of a spectacularly long buffet in a king’s ballroom, where knights escort princesses to a table lined with the finest linens, silver goblets, bowls of fresh fruits and the most exquisitely prepared foods.
What is it about the changing leaves and weather that curve our appetite toward flavors of mushrooms, leeks and fiddlehead ferns? We want to cuddle with our foods, and comfort foods are, well, comforting. We begin to look forward to the holidays and make our yearly plans. We eagerly await the traditional dishes from our families and inspired chefs from around the globe.
My first holiday experience happened when I was five, when my grandmother arrived for Christmas Eve. She entered with packages of filet mignon, Belgium chocolates, Camembert and Kielbasa. She had thickly sliced bacon from the butcher and fresh bunches of tarragon and parsley. I helped her carry in many other bags of fresh vegetables and spices, many of which were piquing my interest nearly as much as the large wrapped presents.
I knew very little regarding these types of food then, as I was perfecting layered Slurpees and cream-less Twinkies. I was learning how to lick a candy cane as sharp as a sushi knife and unroll my mother’s cinnamon rolls into one continuous piece. I may have lost quite a few raisins into the couch.
My mother began arranging platters of cookies, cinnamon rolls and other homemade pastries on the tables. She placed bowls of pistachios, walnuts and peanuts in various locations throughout the house. The festivities were in full swing when Elvis’s “Blue Christmas” was interrupted by the door bell; it was my Uncle Bill and Grandmother Jean.
They brought stuffed eggs, ham, salads, baguettes, Perrier, wine and champagne. My Grandmother held a box containing See’s Candy, German chocolate cake, apple tarts and pumpkin pies. We placed them on the tables near my mother’s platters. More guests arrived and more platters were presented.
As the Christmas party gathered near the decorated tree, I noticed nearly all were kissing, talking, hugging, laughing and…eating! I was engaged in conversations, too, from time to time, but mostly I grazed from one table to the next. Fully immersed in the flavors of my family’s traditional Christmas snacks, I noticed my mother serving and my father mixing cocktails. My family was creating a magical holiday home–or perhaps, my first restaurant inspiration!
I had forgotten about Christmas and Santa Claus on that afternoon, and I was truly in a state of holiday bliss. Never before had I had such a wonderful assortment of delicious holiday foods. To be able to compare the chocolates, caramels and pie crusts for the first time was a pivotal moment in my life.
Of course, being a kid, I gravitated towards chocolates and fizzy drinks, but the filet mignon was the tastiest gift of all. That was my first bacon wrapped filet with béarnaise, and I never looked back!
Every day should be special, but for me, holidays are the oldest, most sacred family celebrations and deserve the utmost attention.
Sure, I’ll take another slice of holiday, thank you.
Food enhances our enjoyment of life; life enhances our enjoyment of food!
2014 Vintage Cuckoo’s Nest Syrah Lees Crackers
2 cups Cuckoo’s Nest cab franc lees
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons salt
4 cups bread flour
2 cups Blue Cheese
2 cups chopped candied walnuts (see candied nuts for method)
Place the lees, water, yeast and honey in small mixer and mix on low for 1 minute. Add the salt and bread flour, mix and knead for ten minutes. Add the walnuts and blue cheese and mix for 2 minutes. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and let double in size. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the risen dough onto an oiled 1/2 sheet pan and let fise for 20 minutes. Place dough on center rack and bake for 25-30 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, cut the bread into three, wrap and freeze overnight. Pull 1 of the 3 strips of bread from the freezer and place on a large cutting board. Let the bread slightly defrost to avoid cracking and thinly slice. Place Back into a 350 F oven and toast until crispy, approximately 10 minutes. Avoid any browning as this will lose some of the tartness of the lees. Let the slices cool and wrap tighly until served.
Roasted Holiday Nuts with Herbs D’Provence
1 lb mixed nuts*
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fine kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons herbs d’ provence
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Measure out the ingredients. Have a small clean bowl for mixing. Place the mixed nuts into the oven for 13-15 minutes until golden brown. Place the hot toasted nuts into the small bowl, drizzel the honey in and completely cove the nuts. Using your finger tips, pinch and grind the herbs d’ provence into the bowl and evenly disperse. Lastly, add the sugar and toss until the sugar no longer sticks. On a clean flat surface, spread the “candied” nuts out to dry. Once dry and cool, which only takes a few minutes, place into an airtight conainer until served.
Yields 8-10 induvidual portions, or enough to stock the bar for the night!
Royal Riviera Pear Martini
Harry and David Royal Riviera Comice Pear with Oregon Gin served up with a hint of floral lavender
2 each Harry & David Royal Riviera Comice Pears (1 for juicing, 1.5 ounces for muddling)
For the lavender syrup:
2 ounces purified water
2 ounces granulated sugar
smidgen dried lavender
For the Lavender Sugar:
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch ground dried lavender
For the cocktail:
1 and 1/2 ounces fresh Harry & David Royal Riviera Comice Pear
1 and 1/2 ounces Aviation American Gin
1/2 ounce St. Germain
1/2 ounce Harry & David Royal Riviera Pear Syrup
1/4 ounce fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
Directions: Juice and strain one Harry & David pear and reduce in a small sauce pan. Continuously skim until the pear juice is clear. Reduce on low-medium heat until the juice has thickened and starts to bubble rapidly. Avoid any coloration or caramelizing to ensure a bright, fresh pear flavor and chill. In another small sauce pan add the lavender syrup ingredients and thicken for approximately 5 minutes, strain and chill. To serve, muddle 1.5 ounces fresh pear and mix in a prepared shaker with the Aviation gin, St. Germain, Royal Riviera pear syrup, lavender syrup and Meyer lemon juice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled lavender sugared martini glass.
Harry & David New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake Bon Bons
1 each 2# Harry & David New York Style Cheesecake
26 each Harry & David Dark Chocolate Truffles (reserve 20 for Coating)
1 cup Fine Crushed Moose Moose (choose any favorite flavor)
Place the Harry & David Cheesecake (defrosted) into a medium sized mixing bowl. Place 6 Harry & David Truffles in a small microwave safe container and microwave for 40 seconds. The truffles will not be totally melted, stir with a spoon until the consistency is very smooth. Add the melted chocolate truffles to the cheesecake thoroughly mix and refrigerate overnight. After the bon bon mixture has thoroughly chilled, roll into ½ ounce balls and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile place the remaining 20 Harry & David Dark Truffles into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Again the truffles will not be fully melted, stir until the chocolate is shiny and smooth. Wash hands well and be ready to get messy! Cover your hands with the melted chocolate and roll each bon bon with gentle cupped hands, adding chocolate as needed. Let the melted chocolate run off each bon bon while holding them loosely with your fingers and place on parchment paper. While the chocolate is still “wet”, sprinkle a little crushed Moose Munch on top of each bon bon. Once the bon bons have cooled slightly and the chocolate is hardening, chill. These bon bons last well tightly wrapped and refrigerated.
YIELDS: 55, ½ ounce bon bons
Harry and David Turkey And Apple Cranberry Walnut stuffing En Croute
½ box and Harry and David Apple Cranberry Walnut Stuffing
2 ½ cups Chicken Stock
1ea Tbl Italian Parsley (chopped)
1oz Melted Unsalted Butter
¼ tsp Kosher Salt
Pinch Ground Black Pepper
1ea Harry and David Turkey Sampler (these are pre-cooked and sliced)
1ea Puff Pastry Sheet 14×18
2ea Egg Yolks
Directions: In a medium sized bowl gently mix all the ingredients, but the turkey. Next carefully cut apart the sliced Harry & David Turkey and lay each slice onto a flat surface. Evenly disperse the Harry & David Stuffing mix onto each slice of turkey and stack on top of each other. Wrap the layered turkey tightly with plastic wrap and freeze. Preheat oven to 375 and prepare roasting pan. Lay the puff pastry on a flat surface and be surface near the baking sheet. Un-wrap the layered turkey and place on top of one end of the pastry, leaving 2 inches from edge of the layered turkey. Pull the puff pastry sheet over the layered turkey and tuck under to meet the other end of the pastry. With your hands “mold” the pastry onto layered turkey while trying to remove any excess air or open space. Crimp the unsealed edges and decorate if desired. Brush the egg yolk onto the pastry and bake convection for 30 minutes or dark golden brown. Let cool and set for 10 minutes, slice and serve.
Makes: 12 servings or 60 samples
Harry and David Milk Chocolate Filled Royal Riviera “Poached” Pears with Caramel Sauce and Praline Pecans
8 ea. Harry and David Royal Riviera Pears
1/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1 ½ Cups Granulated Sugar
2 Cups Harry and David Milk Chocolate Moose Munch
11 oz. Harry and David caramel Sauce
3 oz. Harry and David Praline Pecans
8 ea. Mint Sprigs
Directions: Peel the Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears and place in a medium mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons lemon juice completely covering the pears. Next core the pears from the bottom leaving the stem attached. Place back in bowl and add the remaining lemon juice into each core and covering the pears thoroughly again. Add the sugar and carefully coat the pears. Place 4 pears on a microwave safe plate, cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 9-10 minutes. Leave cover and let sit for an additional 10 minutes. Cut small hole in wrap and chill. Finish the remaining four pears using the same method.
Once the pears are cool, fill with the Harry & David Milk Chocolate Moose Munch. Place the pears on a microwave safe plate, cover and microwave for 2 minutes to warm. Drizzle warm Harry & David Caramel Sauce over the pears and garnish with the Harry & David Praline Pecans and mint.
Yields: 8 servings or 50 samples
Harry and David Dark Chocolate Moose Munch Cookies
8 oz Softened Unsalted Butter
1 and 1/2 C Light Brown Sugar
1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Kosher Salt
1 T Vanilla Extract
2 ea Whole Eggs whipped
2 and 1/4 C All Purpose Flour
1 ea 10oz Bag of Harry and David Dark Chocolate Moose Munch
Cream the butter and the sugar. Mix in the baking soda, salt and vanilla. Add the eggs and mix. Add half the flour and lightly mix until just incorporated. Add the other half and mix, but not fully incorporated. Add the Moose Munch and finish mixing. Chill overnight and bake at 350 degrees.