The holiday for monsters normally takes place at the tail end of October. No longer, says the fine-food-wielding man in L’Escargot’s Carmel kitchen: Chef Kerry Loutas would like to introduce “Monster Nog,” his chief celebratory elixir. “This nog is not to be confused with the junk supermarkets foist on us every year,” Loutas says. “It is easily made and makes a very strong brew. This is not for the youngsters, as the nog retains its high alcoholic content after brewing – that’s the whole point.” Loutas’ atypical approach to the holiday sipper is joined here by similarly rich and creative dishes drawn from sly chefs at successful restaurants around the county. AJ Spurs’ Ryan Hickman offers a mean Mash to go with the Monster Nog. Deamer Dunn over at Pajaro Street Grill shares his designs on an inspired Brandy Alexander Pie, the likes of which the in-laws simply haven’t seen. Oscar Aviles of Golden Fish in Salinas stuffs a season’s share of pork and potatoes into a Salvadoreño-style chicken. Then there’s the Pumpkin Crème Brûlée that Anne Parker and Yann Lusseau at the aptly named Parker-Lusseau put together, furnished with instructions to break through that “I-can’t-pull-off-a-brûlée-at-home” fear like it’s a thin caramelized crust.
- AJ SPURS 3295 Dunes Rd., Marina • 883-9479
- GOLDEN FISH RESTAURANT 221 Main St., Oldtown Salinas • 422-4946
- L’ESCARGOT Mission and Fourth, Carmel 620-1942 • escargotcarmel.com
- PAJARO STREET GRILL AND GALLERY 435 Pajaro St., Salinas • 754-3738 • firstname.lastname@example.org
- PARKER-LUSSEAU 731C Munras Ave., Monterey 643-0300 • parker-lusseaupastries.com
This is part two of Holiday Menus: The Local Dish. Part one: Imaginative ways – from chorizo-chile stuffing to apple bourbon custard pie – to reinvent turkey day [from local chefs David Dildine (Redwood Grill), Ted Walter (Passionfish) and Pam Burns (Wild Plum Café and Bakery)] ran before Thanksgiving. To view these recipes, visit montereycountyweekly.com and search for “local unique recipes.”
Monster Egg Nog
Chef’s note: This makes about 12 servings – a little goes a long way. It is very close to a very rich ice cream recipe. Because of the cream and uncooked egg it should be handled with common sense. However, the booze will retard bacterial growth.
- 6 separated eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3cup whole milk (no reduced fat here)
- 1/2 cup dark rum
- 1-1/2 cups bourbon
- 1 cup brandy or cheap cognac
- 2 cups heavy cream
Take out the Kitchen Aid you haven’t used since last year. Beat the egg whites to soft-peak stage, add sugar slowly, set aside. Beat egg yolks until thickened and lighter yellow, stir in milk and booze. Whip cream to soft-peak stage, fold into yolk-milk-booze mixture. Now fold in egg whites. Add a pinch of nutmeg. You’re done.
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
Chef’s note: If you don’t have a torch, no problem. Broil the desserts in an oven or toaster oven, watching carefully. This way, it actually tastes better and crispier – chefs would likely do it if they had the time. Other adjustments: substitute brown sugar to make it even better (but beware – it scorches more easily); substitute whole milk for half of the cream for a less rich version. This should be enough for around 8 ramekins/crème brûlée dishes. You may store up to 5 days in refrigerator before serving.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 egg yolks
- 7 oz. pumpkin purée
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch ground nutmeg
- pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
Scald heavy cream and sugar (bring to near boiling). Combine yolks with pumpkin purée and spices. Slowly add scalded cream-sugar mixture to pumpkin/yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Pour into ramekins/crème brûlée dishes. Bake at 225 degrees F in a convection oven for 15-30 minutes, depending on depth of ramekin. Refrigerate overnight or 4 hours. Sprinkle top with sugar and caramelize using a kitchen torch. Serve immediately.
Chef’s note: This recipe serves 8. It goes nicely with rice or salad and is versatile enough to pair with a glass of Chardonnay or Merlot.
- 2 whole chickens (washed and cleaned)
- 3 teaspoons olive oil Stuffing
- 1/2 pound chopped white onions
- 1/2 pound chopped pork loin
- 1/2 pound chopped carrots
- 1/2 pound chopped celery
- 1/2 pound chopped potatoes
- 1/2 pound chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 pound chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup raisins
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place all ingredients except chicken in a sauté pan and cook until done. Fill chicken to the brim with sautéed ingredients and close with some stitches. Place chicken in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Brandy Alexander Pie
Chef’s note: This makes 8 servings. Chocolate and liquor-soaked fruit make great additions to a serving.
- 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 3/4 cup milk, bring to boil (and stop)
- 3/4 cup cold whipping or heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons brandy
- 3 tablespoon cream de cacao
- 1 cup ice cubes (about 6-8)
- 9-inch graham cracker crust
In five-cup blender, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over chilled cream; let stand 3-4 minutes. Add sugar, brandy and cream de cacao; process at high speed until blended. Add ice cubes, one at a time; process at high speed until ice is melted. Pour into prepared crust and chill until firm. Garnish with powdered chocolate and nutmeg.
Ryan’s Holiday Mash
Chef’s note: This delicious mash is a great side – right up there with my family’s famous Green Bean Casserole, “the side dish that everyone hates to love, but loves to eat.”
- 2 medium butternut squash, baked and cut into
- 1-inch cubes
- 4 cups russet potatoes, peeled, cut in 1-inch cubes
- 4 cups fingerling potatoes, peeled, cut in 1-inch cubes 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons onion salt
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Fresh Italian parsley finely chopped for garnishing
Place potatoes in large pan and cover with water. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes; drain. Combine squash, potatoes, butter, sour cream,and mascarpone in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat another 1 to 2 minutes to thoroughly mix. Garnish with parsely.