Plucked from the pages of the local cookbooks we are featuring this month in “Gifts for the Home Cook,” here are four great recipes that will bring a little local flavor to your holiday table.
For the holidays, I have a few traditions I share with my family. We always have breakfast together after everyone gets in, and this year, I’m making everyone these Southwestern-style pancakes from Sharon Niederman’s gem, The New Mexico Farm Table Cookbook.
Toasted Pinon-Dusted Blue Corn Pancakes
This is a Sunday morning brunch treat that my family serves with bacon and chokecherry syrup that we make from chokecherries we forage in Cimarron Canyon each August. This recipe is good with honey butter.
1 ½ cups finely ground atole (toasted blue cornmeal) preferably horno roasted
¼ cup all purpose or whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup toasted ground piñon nuts, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups buttermilk or a combination of whole milk, yogurt, or unsweetened soy or coconut milk
¼ cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
Honey butter, for serving (optional)
Chokeberry syrup, local honey, or pure maple syrup, for serving
Heat a griddle, preferably cast iron
Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl, including ¼ cup of the piñons. In another bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir quickly, just enough to mix. Spoon the pancakes onto the hot griddle, using 2 large tablespoons of batter per pancake. When the edges start to bubble, flip once with a spatula. Serve hot with honey butter, if desired, and chokecherry syrup, local honey, or real maple syrup, sprinkled with the reserved ¼ cup of toasted piñons.
Niederman, Sharon. The New Mexico Farm Table Cookbook: 100 Homegrown Recipes from the Land of Enchantment (The Farm Table Cookbook). The Countryman Press, 2015.
These fast-approaching winter nights call for a hearty stew, preferably something spicy. Here’s one of my favorites from Lynn Cline’s The Maverick Cookbook.
Los Gallos Green Chile Lamb Stew
A rich and hearty stew, spiked with red wine and bearing the heat of green chile.
½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken or beef broth
3 cups roasted green chile
½ red bell pepper, diced
Put the flour in a wide, deep bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the lamb in the seasoned flour and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat and, working in batches, cook the lamb until well browned all over, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer meat to a separate bowl as it is browned. Using the same heavy pot, cook the onions and garlic for about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Add the potatoes and broth. Return the meat and any accumulated juice to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until meat is tender enough to be pierced easily with a fork, about 1 hour. Stir in the green chile and the bell pepper and cook for another 20 minutes.
Cline, Lynn. The Maverick Cookbook: Iconic Recipes & Tales from New Mexico.
Leaf Storm Press. 2015
I was so impressed with this recipe—it’s an easy way for a home cook to create the little caviar-like balls served at Restaurant Martín. This recipe takes very little time and provides a perfect garnish for my soups, salads or even to serve in place of actual caviar alongside a cheese plate. Hmmm…how about serving it with a little vodka or champagne, come New Year’s?
Balsamic Caviar Pearls
We get requests from guests constantly for two recipes in particular. Butternut squash soup is one, something easy enough for anyone to whip up for a weeknight supper (see the soup chapter.) The other is for the little pearls we create of vinegar, wine, or soy sauce. Guests are fascinated by these caviar-like rounds that ping against the tongue, fashioned from some substance no one expects to look like a tiny round egg. These are not an everyday accent, but a home cook can still accomplish them with a little time, a kitchen scale, and a trip to a well-stocked supermarket. The preparation technique is called spherification, and in this case it relies on agar agar to gel into tiny balls. I love these added to chilled Spring Pea Soup, where the pop of them mimics the pop of a fresh pea. Try them too on butternut squash soup, tomato salad, or even pasta. You can create this culinary sleight-of-hand up to 8 hours ahead of when you serve it. Take your time and follow the directions precisely. Magic.
Makes enough to garnish up to 8 dishes
2 cups (1 pint) extra virgin olive oil
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (2 ounces) apple juice
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt and ground white pepper
1.6 grams agar agar
Pour the olive oil into a deep container, one taller than it is wide. Place it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine balsamic vinegar, apple juice, sugar and pinches of salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Whisk in exactly 1.6 grams agar agar.
Carefully pour the hot vinegar mixture into a squeeze bottle, then stand the bottle in your freezer for 2-3 minutes to cool slightly.
Remove the oil from the freezer. Squeeze out a few individual droplets of the vinegar mixture slowly, from a height of about 6 inches, into the cold oil. As the droplets fall through the oil, they will become tiny, round, caviar-like balls. (If the balls aren’t holding shape, return the squeeze bottle to the freezer for another minute or 2. Spoon out the vinegar mixture from the oil before proceeding.) Move the bottle around as you make the droplets so that they don’t fall against each other and end up sticking together.
When all the liquid is used, strain the balls through a fine mesh sieve (you can reuse the oil later for another dish like salad dressing) and then dunk them again briefly (still in the strainer) into a bowl of cold water to rinse gently. Refrigerate for up to 8 hours if not using within 30 minutes. Spoon portions of the “caviar” over soup, salad, crudo, or other dishes just before you’re ready to serve.
Jamison, Bill and Cheryl. Rios, Martin. The Restaurant Martin Cookbook: Sophisticated Home Cooking From the Celebrated Santa Fe Restaurant. Globe Pequot, National Book Network, 2015
For entertaining at a party, try this cold-weather Sangria from Natalie Bovis’ Edible Cocktails. Sangria is a Spanish “wine punch,” that is inexpensive, fun to make and easy to put together in case you need another batch quickly:
Warm Winter Sangria
The smell of nuts, cloves, oranges, brandy, and red wine fills a home with the feeling of the holidays any time of year. This sangria style wine punch can be served warm or cold, so although it’s technically a “winter” sangria, it can be a great alternative in any season. This recipe serves twenty-four, just in case you have a full house for the holidays.
2 oranges, sliced into rings
1 lemon, sliced into rings
¼ cup Honey Syrup (see below)
1 cup brandy
3 whole cloves
½ cup almond slivers
2 bottles Sutter Home Sweet Red
Place sliced oranges and lemons into a large saucepan, reserving some for garnish. Drizzle with honey syrup, and add brandy, cloves, and almond slivers. Heat on low, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat and add one bottle of red wine. Let simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add second bottle of wine. If serving warm, serve immediately in heat-resistant punch cups or wine glasses. If serving cold, refrigerate until cool, and serve over ice in wine glasses. Garnish with additional sliced lemons or oranges.
Using honey adds both thickness and flavor to a syrup or cocktail. Farmer’s markets and even grocery stores carry everything from lavender honey to wildflower honey and beyond, so experiment with different flavors in your homemade cocktails to find a flavor you love. Play around with light and dark honeys to experience a different depth of flavor as well
1 part honey
1 part water
Slowly heat honey and water into a small saucepan, stirring often, until nearly boiling, Let cool, then store in a sealable bottle. Refrigerate.
Bovis, Natalie. Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass – Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist. Adams Media, a division of F+W Media Inc. 2012
Story by Mary Francis Cheeseman