The Sure Thing

Five Baltimore notables share their can't-miss holiday dishes.

Focus on entertaining

November 23, 2003|By Lori Sears | Lori Sears,SUN STAFF

Fess up. We know you've got one - that one tried-and-true dish you make for every holiday party and get-together. It's always a smash hit, and everyone says so.

We wondered what some local celebrities like to cook when they want to have a sure-fire culinary sensation. We caught up with a few and here are their recipes.

Kendel Ehrlich, Maryland's First Lady

The dish: Chicken Alouette

"I love making this dish for guests because it's easy to make, it tastes great, and it presents beautifully on a nicely set table," Ehrlich says.

Chicken Alouette

Serves 6

1 package Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets thawed

one 4-ounce package of Garlic and Spice Alouette cheese

6 skinned and boneless chicken breast halves

1 egg beaten

1 tablespoon water

salt and pepper

Unfold pastry sheets. Roll both sheets out and add about 2 inches of length and width to the sheets, making sure they are not too thin. Cut one sheet into four 7 x 6 inch rectangles, cut the second sheet into two 7 x 6 inch rectangles and one 12 x 6 inch rectangle. Set the 12 x 6-inch rectangle aside. Spread the cheese on the small rectangles, leaving a 1/2 inch cheese-free border.

Salt and pepper the chicken and place it on the cheese. Slightly moisten the edges with water and press lengthwise to close into 6 packets. Place on lightly greased pastry sheet. Using cookie cutters, cut remaining puff pastry into shapes, such as leaves, snowflakes and flowers. Decorate chicken packets.

Combine egg and 1 tablespoon water and brush all over pastry.

Bake at 400 degrees on lower rack for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Denise Koch, WJZ-TV anchor

The dish: California green beans

"[The recipe] is truly tried and true," says Koch, a California native. "I've made it so many times, I have a lot of faith in it. ... I got it years ago from my mom."

California green beans

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds green beans

couple cloves of garlic

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 or 4 tomatoes


1/2 teaspoon oregano


1/2 cup parmesan

Cut the green beans on a slant, then steam until crisp. Put aside. Fry up the oil in a big round pan. Saute garlic on a low heat. Mix the beans in with the garlic. Peel tomatoes and cut up in sixths. Add tomatoes to the mixture and stir-fry shake it, adding the seasonings until blended. Put in a serving casserole dish appropriate for the oven. Sprinkle parmesan on top. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

Joel Sevidal, sous chef at IXIA restaurant

The dish: Lumpia (pork spring rolls)

"We make it every holiday, every special occasion," says Sevidal. "It goes over really well. And it's pretty easy. ... Someone always asks where it is. "


Serves 4 to 6 as appetizers

5 pounds ground pork shoulder

1 or 2 cans of water chestnuts, diced

4 eggs

2 large carrots, diced

salt, pepper

2 or 3 packages of lumpia wrappers (from an Asian food market) or wonton wrappers

vegetable or canola oil for frying


12 ounces ketchup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

couple dashes of Tabasco

cornstarch and water to make slurry

sugar to taste

Mix ground pork shoulder, finely diced chestnuts and diced carrots (first cut in thin strips then dice), two eggs, salt and pepper. Mix all well in bowl. It should look like a meatloaf. Peel defrosted, but moist wrappers. Put mixture on wrappers, then roll up in a snake-shape. Use other two eggs to brush over rims to bind. Cut spring rolls into bit-size pieces, 2 to 3 inches long. Fry rolls in enough oil to cover them completely, until golden brown. Season with pepper.

For a sauce, mix ketchup, 1 soy sauce, Tabasco, a slurry of cornstarch and water, and sugar to taste, in a pan. Serve sauce separately for dipping.

Taylor Branch, author

The dish: Bruschetta

"We had some in Italy in a restaurant and asked them how they made it. They said it was `semplice' (simple). ... I'm sure some chefs will call it an abomination with so few ingredients, but I've gotten compliments."


Makes 12-18

loaf of French bread

2-3 tomatoes

6 ounces of extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed

salt and pepper to taste, if needed

Slice up the French bread into thick pieces. Dice tomatoes with their juice in a bowl. Soak 6 ounces of olive oil in two crushed cloves of garlic. Wrap tin foil around a cookie sheet. Take each slice of bread and dip briefly in the oil and garlic mixture, on both sides. (Don't saturate.) Put bread slices on the cookie sheet, and put under broiler. Bake for one minute per side. Remove from broiler and spoon tomatoes with juice on top. Serve on the cookie sheet, as it may be messy to move. Salt and pepper to taste.

Paul Wolman, president of party-planning company P.W. Feats

The dish: Healthy Power Eggnog

"There's nothing quite like the unique aroma, texture and taste of eggnog to instantly transport one back to the traditions of the holiday season, Wolman says. "A low-fat, high-protein drink can work wonders. The key, however, is not to let others know."

Healthy Power Eggnog

Serves 4

2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (ProFlex 30)

1/4 cup Egg Beaters

1 cup low-fat French vanilla yogurt (Stoneyfield)

1/2 cup fat-free half and half

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup of ice cubes

Mix all ingredients in blender, then sprinkle with nutmeg.

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