Seasonings greetings

Local chefs offer the recipes — and meaning — behind their favorite holiday dishes

Jefferson Dodge | Boulder Weekly

When the holidays roll around, it usually means good food — and lots of it. We decided to reach out to prominent local chefs to find out what their favorite dishes are during this special time of year. In addition to the recipe, each chef has provided a short summary about the meaning that each dish has for them personally. Here’s what some of them came up with. Happy feasting!

Porcini Mushroom-Filled, Crispy Noodle-Wrapped Pheasant

— from Executive Chef Mark Monette of the Flagstaff House

“This one of my favorite items to do over the holidays because I go pheasant hunting in November or early December. I use the whole bird. It’s delicious for a cold winter day.”

Ingredients for the braised legs:

1 5-pound pheasant

Diced: 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 leek, 1 celery stick

3 garlic cloves, chopped

Bouquet garnish: thyme, black peppercorns, bay leaf, salt and pepper

Green cabbage, shallot, rosemary

Ingredients for the breasts:

4 porcini mushrooms

1 chopped shallot

2 chopped garlic cloves

1 package shredded filo dough

Melted butter

Whole butter

Directions for the legs:

De-bone the pheasant and brown bones. Place bones in pot and add mirepoix. Tie legs and poach in stock for 45 minutes. Remove legs and continue simmering stock for three hours, then strain.

Remove meat from legs and set aside. Strain liquid and reduce to consistency. Set aside.

Sweat cabbage and chopped garlic and rosemary until soft. Add stock, reduce and add leg meat.

Directions for the breasts:

Sauté porcini mushrooms with shallots and garlic. Let cool.

Open pheasant breasts, place porcini mushrooms inside, and roll closed in cellophane. Remove cellophane and roll in shredded filo dough. Sear breasts in hot sauté pan, turning until golden brown. Finish in oven for approximately 8 minutes.

Maple Sweet Potato Hash

— from Chef Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Catering

“It’s big (probably makes 20 orders or so), so it might need to get scaled down by a few factors. I have served it for my family for years. It’s actually quite easy to make, but different and unique. It is a killer side dish for turkey, pork, beef or fish. It’s also great with eggs on top in the morning. My sister and mom ask me to make it every year, so it’s always on the table. Originally it was a component on a salmon dish I used to serve at Jax Boulder when I was the chef there.”


2 pounds of bacon

4 yellow onions, diced small

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

15 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small

3 cups roasted red bell peppers, diced small

1 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons cayenne

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup line herbs

Oil, salt and pepper


Cook bacon in large pan until crispy. Add garlic, shallots and onions and cook until al dente. Toss sweet potatoes in salt, pepper and oil, and roast in oven until soft and browned. Mix everything in large bowl and add herbs, maple, cinnamon and cayenne. Check seasoning and cool.

Cherry Mash Candy

— from Chef Matt Ochs of The Greenbriar Inn

“My Grandma Norma made this candy every holiday. She always made a wide variety of different holiday candies, but this one was my favorite. She always set aside my portions. The combination of peanuts, peanut butter, fudge and cherry always got my sweet tooth right. Even as an adult, no matter where I was during the holidays, I got my ration. Even overseas while serving in the Navy, I got a care package from Grandma with ‘my’ Cherry Mash; instantly I was ‘home’ for the holidays. So sharing this special treat with you is my gift to take you ‘home’ for the holidays. Enjoy!”


2 cups of sugar

12 large marshmallows

1 6-ounce package cherry chips

3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 3-ounce pack salted nuts, crushed

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup margarine

1 12-ounce package chocolate chips

1 tsp. vanilla

Dash of salt


Combine sugar, salt, milk, marshmallows and margarine in saucepan over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cherry chips and vanilla. Pour into 9×13 buttered pan.

Melt chocolate chips in double boiler. Add peanut butter and crushed peanuts. Spread over cherry mixture and chill.

Matzo Cake

— from Chef Ann Cooper, the “Renegade Lunch Lady” of the Boulder Valley School District

“This recipe is from my grandmother — who passed it down from her mother. As a kid growing up, my grandfather had a hand-cranked meat grinder that was attached to the dining room table and he and I ground the chocolate and nuts — while he drank the wine. This was always eaten at Passover. My grandmother brought this recipe from Germany with her. My mother would never give the recipe out.”


6-7 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Dash of salt

1/4 to 1/3 cup kosher Concord grape wine

1/2 cup matzo meal

1/2 cup grated German chocolate

1/2 cup grated almonds

1 rounded tbsp. cocoa

1 tsp. baking powder


Beat whites stiff at highest speed. Add one cup of sugar slowly.

In separate bowl beat egg yolks well and add dash of salt, vanilla and wine.

Add above to whites and mix well on medium speed.

Add matzo meal, chocolate, almonds, cocoa and baking powder.

Add dry ingredients to eggs by tablespoon and mix well on low speed.

When mixed, pour into greased pan and bake in 325-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Test for doneness after 20-25 minutes, may take as long as 40 minutes. Torte is done when top stops moving and cake starts to pull away from sides of pan. When cool, cake will pull away further from sides and top will have a slight crust.