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No Place Like the Stove


The holidays will be here faster than you can say, “I’d like to get an order for take out, please.” That means it’s time to dust off your fine china, warm up your oven and start your timer. It’s time to get cooking. Yellow Scene solicited dishes from three of our favorite local chefs and they happily handed over recipes they serve for their families during the most thankful of gatherings. All have been tested by Yellow Scene staffers, who volunteered to try the recipes before writing up this holiday menu. As they say, bon appetite.

Hearty Fare

Quebec Tourtiere with Nova Scotia Chow, Alexander Porter, Flatz

Chef Alex Porter of Flatz Restaurant at the Renaissance Suites at Flatiron likes to use fresh, local produce grown within a 100-mile radius of the restaurant, but his recipes come from a little further north.

He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and grew up on Prince Edward Island, and the recipes he sent us are traditions for his family at home. Our creative director, Stephanie Mott, whipped up the Quebec tourtiere for a small gathering at her home.

“This is the kind of food I love,” she said. “I would make this just for me and my husband.” The meat pie, rich with spices and full flavors, would be an appropriate centerpiece for a special occasion, or just a warm meal at home on a cold night. “The Nova Scotia chow is great with any hearty meat dish as well as the tourtiere,” Porter told us. And should you be so inclined, the green tomato chutney is excellent for preserving, which only intensifies the bright flavors and ensures you can have the treat even in the depths of winter.

Quebec Tourtiere
Pastry for two 9-inch double pie crusts
1 lb. lean ground pork
4 1/2 lbs. ground beef or veal
1/2 cup water
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp mace
1/8 tsp ground cloves
pepper to taste
2 medium potatoes
1 egg beaten

Combine meats, water garlic and all seasonings in large saucepan with tight lid. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook 25 minutes, stirring frequently and breaking up meat with a fork. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cook in boiling salted water for 20 minutes or so. Drain and mash. When meat mixture is cooked, don’t drain. Add potatoes and mix well. Fill uncooked pastry shell with mixture and add cover of pastry. Stir egg and brush top of pastry. Cook 425? F for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 375?. Cook until pastry is golden brown, about another 20 minutes. Serve the traditional way with green tomato chow.

Nova Scotia Chow

Chef Alexander Porter, Flatz Restaurant

10 lbs green tomatoes
4 lbs onions
1/3 cup coarse salt
Layer and let stand overnight
Next day drain well
3 ½ cups white sugar
2 cups white vinegar
6 peeled and diced apples (MacIntosh Red if possible, not green or red delicious)
4 ½ tsp pickling spice (in spice bag or tied cheese cloth
5 tsp mustard seed
Bring to a boil in large sauce pan. Reduce to a simmer for 2 hours. Bottle, seal, store at room temperature or cooler.

Marshmallow Squares

1 package chocolate chips
1 package butterscotch chips
½ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup peanut butter
1 package small marshmallows
Melt first four ingredients over a double boiler and pour over package of small marshmallows spread in bottom of 8 inch cake pan.


Hanukkah Feast

Sephardic-Style Brisket and Potato Latkes, Jim Cohen, The Empire

Whether your family gathers for eight crazy nights of holiday festivities, or just one or two, this hearty brisket is the ultimate crowd pleaser. “The brisket is a nice twist on a holiday tradition,” said Jim Cohen, chef and co-owner of The Empire Lounge & Restaurant in Louisville. “It’s a little bit spicy with great flavors.” Our publisher, Shavonne Blades, chose it to serve at a little pre-holiday get-together for the YS staff. “Don’t be daunted by the long cooking time,” she told us.

The brisket simmers away in its lush sauce of orange juice, cinnamon sticks, onions and peppers and asks very little attention from the chef once it’s in the oven. As a first course or a side dish, the latkes are an impressive, traditional and exceedingly tasty addition to the meal. “The latke recipe is nice because you can have them as hors d’ouvres or just serve the latkes with the brisket,” Cohen said.

Our tip: double the batch, because when it comes to potato pancakes fried in butter (or even better—schmaltz), people can’t seem to get enough. We served them with sour cream, smoked salmon and applesauce to rave reviews.

Sephardic Brisket

2 dried pasilla chiles
1 4-pound brisket
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Flour for dredging
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 cup orange juice
4 cups chicken or beef stock or water
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon peppercorns
4 tea bags of strong black tea
2 cups dried pitted prunes
2 cups dried apricots
Yield: 8 servings

1. Soak pepper in lukewarm water for 30 minutes. Seed, remove stems, and chop into tiny pieces. Season brisket with salt/pepper. Dredge with flour. Heat olive oil in a heavy roasting pan. Brown brisket on all sides. Remove from pan.
2. Preheat oven to 400?.
3. In the same pan, over medium heat, sauté onions and ginger until onions are transparent. Add pepper and deglaze with orange juice. Reduce for a few minutes. Add brisket and enough stock or water to cover. Add cinnamon stick, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cook, uncovered, until brisket is tender, about 3 hours, turning at 30-minute intervals.
4. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Puree sauce in a food processor or blender.
5. Cool and refrigerate a few hours or overnight. Remove congealed fat that floats on the top.
6. About 30 minutes before serving bring 4 cups water to a boil. Steep the tea bags in the water to make a strong tea. Discard tea bags. Put prunes and apricots in the tea for half hour. Drain. Reheat with the brisket and the plumped fruit.

Potato Latkes
Chef Jim Cohen, Empire Restaurant

4 peeled Idaho Potatoes
½ medium onion
3 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 egg
2 tablespoons potato starch or all purpose flour
¼ clarified butter or schmaltz
4 ounces smoked salmon
¼ cup sour cream
1. Grate the potatoes and onion on a large hole of a box grater.
2. Mix the chopped parsley, egg and potato starch with the potato and onion mixture in a bowl.
3. Form pancakes the size of silver dollars and saute in the butter or schmaltz until golden.
4. Serve with smoked salmon and sour cream as a topping.


Sweet Traditions

Butternut Spice Cake with Brandied
Mascarpone, Seth Witherspoon, Sugarbeet

“I love to cook,” our account executive Andrew Jones said one day. He didn’t say anything about baking; though, he told us later he wasn’t really much of a baker. So, this culinary adventure, a butternut spice cake from Seth Witherspoon of Sugarbeet, was pretty…well, interesting.

The bundt cake isn’t too challenging, even for a novice baker. “And you can put that frosting on just about anything and it would be tasty,” he said with a grin. We had to agree 100 percent. The stuff is amazing.
“This is a recipe that I make for my family back in Atlanta every time we get together for Thanksgiving,” Witherspoon told us. The cake is a good use for butternut squash, which is abundantly in season at this time of year. “We also make it a couple times a month at the restaurant during the fall and winter,” Witherspoon said, so if you can’t quite bring yourself to make your own, you still have an opportunity to give it a try.

Butternut Spice Cake with
Brandied Mascarpone

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
1 T fresh ginger, peeled, minced
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, cubed (1/2 in. squares) and steamed until tender
3/4 cup currants or raisins
1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Sift and mix flour and spices. Run steamed butternut through a food processor until smooth then add oil and sugar. Mix together all ingredients until smooth. Do not over mix. Pour into greased bundt pan and bake for approximately 40–45 min.

Whipped Mascarpone Frosting
2 cups mascarpone
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T brandy or cognac
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend in mixer on medium-high for 2 minutes


Lacy is an award-winning food writer and blogger. She lives in Westminster with her family. Google


  • Avatar

    I made the Butternut Spice Cake and was very disappointed! I followed the directions exactly and it came out of the bundt pan in pieces – oily, heavy in the middle, etc. It tastes grainy. I seriously doubted only 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of vegetable oil, along with the 1 lb. of squash (the squash is very moist) but figured it would be worth trying since I love butternut squash and all the spices. I can’t even eat it…

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