Picture a holiday table bedecked with oranges studded with cloves. Buy a bag of fresh cranberries, and sprinkle them between the festive fruit. Delicate slivers of tinsel will add a twinkle to the tablecloth, while colorful knick knacks spruce up the barren places. With the decorating complete, all that is needed are the holiday recipes and the guest list. Included below are an eclectic mix of recipes perfect for any table this holiday season. The Inn of the Patriots’ chef Martin Mongiello, beloved to Charlotte audiences, shares these recipes from the Presidential Culinary Museum.
301 Cleveland Ave.
Grover, NC 28073
Chef Martin Mongiello served 21 years in the U.S. Navy before opening the Inn of the Patriots with his chef wife. The inn is located in the Charlotte-Metro area and also houses the Presidential Culinary Museum and a cooking school. He has appeared on cooking shows throughout the nation and is the featured chef of the “Inside the Presidents’ Cabinet” show.
Serves 12 to 18 for a party or reception at Camp David
6 (10 inch) flour tortilla wraps, use three spinach and three sun-dried tomato colors for holidays
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
12 slices Parma ham, Italian ham or some tasty ham
6 ounces fresh basil or more for basil lovers
1 ounce fresh oregano or dried McCormick shaker
1 cup fresh grated Pecorino parmiagiano cheese or grated, shaker cheese, small grind not strings
1. Mix cream cheese, oregano and cheese in bowl. Mixed, not whipped. Spread each tortilla wrap lightly with cream cheese mixture. Arrange two ham slices across the middle of each tortilla. Add a layer of fresh basil.
2. Starting at one end, tightly roll up each tortilla wrap. Place tortilla rolls in a dish, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours to chill. This stiffens the cream cheese mixture.
3. Slice each roll, creating pinwheels, and serve as soon as possible. The slices on the end are not the best looking (those are the snacks for hungry spouses watching you make these). The slices from the middle will be perfect and look great. Make sure your knife is
thin, long and razor sharp, otherwise it will crush and ruin the wrap. You may need to clean the knife occasionally to ensure you are not smearing while cutting the rest of the wraps.
4. A paper doily on the silver platter or nice plate makes the difference. Consider a few flowers on the platter and maybe a nice, large sprig of basil for showing off. The best sprig is one that has all of the leaves coming out in four directions, near the top of the plant. You can find these in a whole plant at a garden store or in the plastic packages of basil. Place pinwheels onto platter and enjoy.
Mongiello served as a Navy chef aboard a submarine. Just before the holidays, he purchased egg nog while in port. This is a twist on the regular holiday poultry.
Makes 10 servings
5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into strips
5 chicken drumsticks
5 chicken thighs or wings
1 quart egg nog
1 pinch (or more) of nutmeg to taste
1 pinch (or more) of cinnamon to taste
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon chicken base or bouillon (powdered)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 quart oil for frying
1. In a large bowl, mix the eggnog. Add in chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate
two to three hours.
2. In another large bowl, mix together the nutmeg, cinnamon, flour, bread crumbs, bouillon powder and baking powder. Remove chicken from the refrigerator. One piece at a time, drip drain, and then coat in dry mixture.
3. Heat oil in a large pot to 375 degrees. This is one of the few times a year that using a deep frying thermometer helps keep the kitchen safe! Otherwise it just sits in the drawer all year long.
4. Carefully put chicken pieces into the hot oil. Fry until it’s golden brown and the juices running out of it are clear. You can always poke the piece with the tip of a knife (just don’t do that while holding it over the hot oil). Drip-dry and drain on plenty of paper towels.
Yield: one to two dozen
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups (12-ounce package) white chocolate chips
1 cup coconut, toasted if desired
3/4 cup macadamia nuts and walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup, diced, dried pineapple
1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in separate bowl.
2. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
3. Beat in egg. Then gradually beat in flour mixture. Do not mix too long or over mix.
4. Stir in morsels, flaked coconut and nuts along with diced pineapple pieces.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
6. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for eight to 11 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly (up to 10 minutes) before attempting to remove.