Tis the holiday season, whether you’re celebrating Diwali, Thanks- giving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, or some combination. The one thing that factors into all holidays – and all lives, and all cultures – is food. Whether you’re making gulab jamun for Diwali, or roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving, food is what makes these celebrations special. The table is where we gather for communion. The kitchen, our editor likes to say, is where love is made in the home.
We come from diverse backgrounds, sometimes bringing foreign ancestry with us, sometimes bringing food al- lergies or preferences. In honor of this we reached out to a couple of Boulder County chefs to see what they do for their holidays and to ask for a suggestion to make your holiday table explode with non-traditional flavor. We value diversity in all things, and our plates are no exception. Whether you choose to try these scrumptious ideas or not, we encourage you to expand your palette, introduce your loved ones to less-than-local loveliness, and bring culture to your kitchens.
We heard back from Dallas Houle, Executive Chef for Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant. Houle proves that vegetarian and vegan food can be delicious and approachable. Leaf is one of many Farm to table restaurants in Boulder County. Their farm, Three Leaf Farm, an urban farm, botanical sanctuary, and education center, is located in Lafayette. We also talked to Chef Christine Ruch at Fresh Thymes Eatery, which opened in August 2013 and has been making foodie waves since. Fresh Thymes is a fresh take on food as a whole, accord- ing to their website, one that trades flavorless fare for chef-inspired (and chef-prepared) cuisine that tastes so good you’ll swear it’s at least a little bad for you.
Pull out the stretchy pants, pull up to the table, and get ready to eat. Happy Holidays!
By way of #BonusRecipes, while you’re here, we love a good drink to wash down our meals. Our friends at Spirit Hound Distillers sent over this lovely recipe for a drink they call the Puppy Upper. Enjoy it with your holiday meals.
2 oz Spirit Hound whisky
1 oz creme de cacao
1 oz cold-pressed coffee splash of cream, if you prefer
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker; add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into martini glass and top with sweet- ened cocoa powder. And voila.
Executive Chef Dallas Houle, LEAF VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
What is your holiday go to? I do have a main course that I like to bring to festive and celebratory gatherings: a whole kabocha squash that has been stuffed and roasted. It looks impressive on the table, and brings a bit of mystery as to what is inside.
Is there a holiday recipe that you could share with our readers to make their holiday special? What do you pair with your dish? Serve with apple butter and a nice stout or porter. And please, don’t be shy about eating the skin!
What is your favorite holiday memory that involves this dish? My girlfriend and I have been making vegan Thanksgiving dinners for the past few years. The first year, we needed a focal point for our feast and this is the dish we created together.
What does the dish you’re sharing mean to you? To me, it means that you can have an impressive feast without an animal’s body on your table.
If you could invite anyone from history to your next holiday gathering who would it be, and what would you cook for them?
I would invite Henry David Thoreau to my next gathering and serve the recipe above. I would invite him for two reasons: first he was a vegetarian and I would like to know his why. More importantly though I would want to convince him of the value and deep meaning of food, that as a chef I have based my life around!
Maple Glazed Kabocha Squash with Cranberry Apple Stuffing
For the squash:
1 medium kabocha squash 1/4 cup hazelnut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
For the stuffing:
2 slices bread of choice (toasted and diced)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1 apple (diced)
2 vegan sausage links (slice in rounds)
1 stalk celery (sliced) 1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Carefully cut a square shaped hole around the stem of the kabocha, pull the section off reserving for later, then scoop out the seeds.
3. Whisk together the hazel- nut oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Then rub the whole squash with this mixture saving a few tablespoons for bast- ing later.
4. Add all the ingredients for the stuffing into a medium sized bowl; mix well.
5. Stuff squash until it is full, ensuring the section with stem will fit flush once again.
6. Place the kabocha squash in a heavy bottomed baking dish and roast in the center of your oven for 30 minutes, remove from oven, baste with remain- ing oil and syrup mixture, place back in oven and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until fork tender.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.
Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant 2010 16th Street. Boulder, CO 80302 303.442.1485. leafvegetarianrestaurant.com
Chef Christine Ruch FRESH THYMES EATERY
Chef Ruch makes a modern twist on a classic side. Because Fresh Thymes has been named one of the best gluten free restaurants in Boulder and is known for their organic and vegetarian cuisine, you’d be right to expect greatness.
We want to know what you bring to the table for holiday gatherings with family/friends. Whether a fun side dish, main course, or dessert. What is your go to? I would normally bring one or two of the things I love the most, stuffing and really well prepared gravy. I think those are also two dishes that most intimidate people as they are not part of most people’s normal meal making routine. But also those are things that make people super happy. Everyone loves to slather their food with super tasty gravy.
Is there a holiday recipe that you could share with our readers to make their holiday special? I like to veer from traditional bread based stuffing and change it up from year to year. As I am from Arizona, I must have a touch of the Southwest, or Mexico in a couple of dishes. Making a southwestern cornbread stuffing is a great way to go.
What do you pair with your dish? Gravy!
What is your favorite holiday memory that involves this dish? My step mother’s mother was the undisputed stuffing queen. Well, she called it dressing. And it was so mysterious because she never had a written recipe. There was always all the girls in the kitchen with her trying to figure out how Grandma made her stuffing so good. We never came close. Sometimes Leuna would watch from a stool and give us all guidance. It still wasn’t the same for some reason. Even today, so long after she reigned over the kitchen, we still talk about her stuffing.
What does the dish you’re sharing with us mean to you? I love so much that it was the dish that brought us all together in the kitchen. It made us all pay attention and ask questions, wanting to stay true to her tradition. It was the beginning of so many of those fun Thanksgiving stories that don’t end well, but in the funny way – all the ways we have tried and failed to get Grandma’s dressing just right. I love how a dish can become legend, lore.
Southwest Cornbread Stuffing (10 SERVINGS)
8 cups cubed cornbread
8 ounces bulk mexican chorizo sausage
3 stalks stalks celery, chopped
2 poblano chilies, seeded and chopped
1 large onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, nely chopped
2 Golden Delicious or McIntosh apples, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread cornbread on a bak- ing sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook sausage
in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up, about 10 minutes. Remove sausage to bowl and set-aside.
3. In the same pan, using the oil rendered from cooking the sausage, heat to medium. Add celery, onions and poblano chilies and cook stirring, until softened and starting to turn golden about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another couple of minutes until fragrant. Add apples and cook, stirring, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Add the cooked sausage, toasted cornbread, sage and thyme to the bowl. Toss well. Drizzle broth over the mixture and toss until evenly moistened. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly oiled 9-by-13-inch baking pan. 5. Cover the stuffing with foil and bake until heated through, 35 to 45 minutes. If you want a crisp top, uncover it for the last 15 minutes.
Fresh Thymes Eatery 2500 30th St. #101. Boulder, Colorado Freshthymes.com. 303.955.7988