The holiday season, of course, is centered largely around food. November through January often mean full bellies and lots of travel, and that heaping combination often means hotels, hot meals and hospitality. For this month of gratitude and lots of food, Still Hungry? talks with the local chefs who work in some of Santa Fe’s best hotel restaurants and dedicate themselves year-round to feeding people who are away from home—and locals, too!
Whether you’re on the road for business, vacationing for the holidays, or you live in Santa Fe and don’t feel up to cooking, these chefs are there to feed and nurture you with a meal that tastes of his own traditions. And whether you’re staying in the hotel, or you’re just out for a local bite, you won’t even have to do the dishes.
Buche de Noel
Chef Todd Hall, Julia at La Posada
Chef Todd didn’t have to think at all about what recipe to share when I asked him for a favorite holiday dish. “I started making the Buche de Noel early in my career, and now it’s a holiday staple,” he says. After school, Todd worked at Le Parisien in Salt Lake City, where he learned to make a classic buche. March 2016 marks 40 years of professional cooking for Chef Todd, who says he’s seen “a lot of food trends come and go. But Christmas and Thanksgiving are all about traditional fare. People expect the regulars they’ve had their whole lives.” For his Buche de Noel, Todd teaches a few apprentices each year how to cook and assemble the perfect yule log, so he c an “pass down the skill to carry on the tradition.”
Yields about 10 cups of buttercream. Enough to frost about three Buche de Noels.
20 egg yolks
1 cup Grand Mariner
Pinch of salt
2 cups granulated sugar
3 pounds tempered unsalted butter
2 vanilla beans
Place egg yolks and Grand Mariner in a stainless steel mixing bowl over low heat and whip vigorously until it forms a ribbon and has become a sabayon. Place sugar in a saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Place sabayon in mixer at high speed. When syrup has reached 238 degrees, incorporate it into the sabayon in degrees. When the paté au bombe is cool enough, add tempered butter a quarter pound at a time, allowing it to mix well while periodically scraping the bowl.
Once all the butter has been added, add vanilla and mix to incorporate. Use immediately. To use buttercream that has been refrigerated, allow to come to room temperature (this takes about 3 hours in a warm kitchen). Then mix through until it’s spreadable again.
Serve at room temperature. If you’ve assembled your Buche de Noel, allow it to come to room temperature before serving (about 3 hours in a warm kitchen).
8 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 cups unbleached, unbromated pastry flour, sifted
3 Tablespoons instant decaf coffee
1 cup melted chocolate
Place the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar and honey in the mixing bowl and make an egg foam by whisking the mixture to 113 degrees above medium heat, about 7 to 10 minutes. When it forms a ribbon it will be tripled in volume, and light in color.
Remove the mixing bowl from the heat and incorporate flour—whip the batter in a mixer on medium-high speed until it cools, increases in volume, stiffens slightly and becomes pale yellow, about 7 to 10 minutes. Carefully fold the mixture, making sure to fold to the bottom of the bowl. Fill buttered and parchment paper-lined sheet trays 3/4 full with batter. Dot the batter with tempered butter. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until well-risen and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Let cool and drizzle with dark rum and spread with mocha butter cream. To make the chocolate and mocha butter creams, separate the French butter cream in half—mix one half with 3 Tablespoons coffee, and the other with the melted chocolate. Roll genoise lengthwise until it forms a log. Spread the exterior with chocolate butter cream. Garnish with meringue mushrooms, confectioners’ sugar and fresh holly.
Julia – a Spirited Restaurant & Bar, La Posada de Santa Fe, 505.986.0000, laposadadesantafe.com/dining
Chef Edgar Morales, Red Sage at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder
When I walk into Red Sage to talk with Chef Edgar, I’m immediately surrounded by the most wonderful aroma. “What is that?” I ask. “It smells delicious.”
“I just turned on the ovens,” the chef replies. It may have been a while since I last turned on my oven, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t smell like that. “Wood-fired ovens,” he adds. Aah.
The word that keeps coming up as Chef Edgar speaks is “passion.” The passion he has for cooking; the passion the guests have while eating; and how the chef can help younger cooks and servers find their passion in creating and serving his dishes. Edgar is a fairly recent addition to the Santa Fe restaurant scene, having moved here only four months ago from Las Vegas, NV. It’s a big change, but one that he’s embracing. Edgar’s general rule of thumb is the same wherever he cooks: “I come to work and think, ‘What do I need to do today to make it better?’”
Born in Mexico, Chef Edgar moved to the US when he was about three. Food-centered family gatherings were a tradition in his family. Now, when cooking at Red Sage, he “gets the warm feeling of seeing families coming and eating together, especially when I am not with my family.” His corn chowder is a fall favorite on the Red Sage menu. It’s a dish Edgar brought with him but has adjusted for the local seasonings and flavors of New Mexico. “I love sharing my recipes,” he says. “People can add their own touch, make it theirs.” Just as long as they do it with passion.
14 ounces of corn kernels
6 ounces diced pasilla chile
6 ounces diced onion
6 ounces diced leeks
Pinch each salt and pepper
1 gallon vegetable stock
2 pounds diced, peeled potatoes
1 quart heavy cream
Sauté corn, pasilla, onions and leeks with olive oil and salt and pepper. Add vegetable stock and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Add heavy cream, cook about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Blend together.
Red Sage, Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder, 505.819.2056, redsage-sf.com.
Butternut Squash Bisque
Chef Anthony Smith, The Old House at the Eldorado Hotel
“I live about 5,000 miles away from home (London), so I understand what it’s like to be away from home,” Chef Anthony says. One thing he loves to do for people travelling with children is to bring the kids to the kitchen and show them around. One thing he loves about cooking at the Old House is that he gets to be a part of people’s lives for a couple of days. “You see the same families at breakfast and dinner. It’s like they are guests in your own home,” the chef explains.
Anthony likes to “engage people, find out where they’ve been, where they’re coming from.” His butternut squash bisque will be on the Thanksgiving menu at the Old House—it’s one of his traditional recipes. Chef says he uses as many local ingredients as possible; the squash, for instance, comes from Green Tractor Farm, and he sources as many other vegetables as he can locally.
What’s most important to Chef Anthony? “To use as much local ingredients as possible, use regional products, keep the money local. We have a responsibility to the community,” he says. But more importantly is to “cook from the heart, put love into the food.” That’s the main ingredient.
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups water
Pinch saffron threads
To make veggie stock: Heat olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Sauté onion and celery, deglaze with wine. Add the water, saffron, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the stock into another saucepan.
2 cups butternut squash puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Sherry to taste
2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
To make soup: Add the squash puree, cream, and cayenne into the veggie stock. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, taste, and season with salt and black pepper. Finish with sherry to enrich taste and adjust seasoning as needed. When ready to serve, add the sage. Place soup in warm soup bowls and enjoy.
The Old House at Eldorado Hotel, 505.995.4530, eldoradohotel.com/dining-nightlife/old-house.
Story by Caitlin Richards