Local Chefs Share Special Holiday Recipes

The holidays aren’t complete without festive decorations, good company and, of course, delicious food. From appetizers, to entrées, to desserts, all courses are welcomed this time of year. If deciding what to whip up is an issue, a few experts are here to help. Local chefs shared the recipes they love to make each year along with their favorite holiday memories. Leave calorie counting for 2018.

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Rachel Flatley
Pastry chef at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton

“My favorite part about Christmas was always going over to my uncle’s house on Christmas Eve. When I was much younger I remember tons of presents and playing with my siblings and cousins for hours. There was always a flurry of activity, games and laughter. That didn’t change as I got older, except we went from playing with our presents to spending more time with the family. We would spend all afternoon and into the late evening eating, drinking, catching up with the family and watching the excitement on my nieces and nephews faces when they opened their toys and played with their cousins.”

Salted Caramel Budino


(Makes 5 individual portion servings)

7 oz sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 oz corn syrup
16 oz heavy cream
4 oz milk
1 oz milk chocolate
6 egg yolks
1/2 vanilla extract
1 tsp salt


-Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
-Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a pot and bring to a medium amber.
-Once at a nice amber, add the cream (be careful this will bubble). Then add the milk and chocolate. Stir to combine.
-Bring the mixture to a simmer. Then temper in the egg yolks.
-Cook for just a few minutes until it’s thick and custard-like.
-Add the salt and vanilla, and strain through a fine mesh strainer.
-Pour the mixture into the ramekins (fill 3/4 way). Set in a hotel pan and add hot water half way up the sides of the ramekins.
-Cover with foil, poke holes and bake until the custards are set at the edges but still slightly wobbly in the middle.
-Remove the ramekins from the water and let cool for 20 minutes to come to room temperature. Then place ramekins in fridge for three hours to fully set.
-Serve with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and sea salt.

Daniel Gagnon
Chef de Cuisine at VIEW in Oakdale

“In Italian families, it is a staple to have seven fishes for Christmas Eve. When I was a young boy, my family went to my maternal grandmother’s house with my family for Christmas Eve. My grandmother kept insisting that she wanted me to taste the salted baccala salad. I didn’t want to, but she bribed me with a cannoli so I did! I was hooked.”

Salted Baccala (Cod) Salad


1 lb of salted baccala soaked in water for a day
½ bunch of celery, small diced
1 red pepper, small diced
1 medium carrot, small diced
½ cup of sliced kalamata olives
½ bunch of chopped parsley
1 medium red onion, small diced
½ cup of white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil


-Boil salted baccala for half an hour.
-Cool in refrigerator for half an hour.
-Mix all ingredients (produce is raw) in a bowl.
-Let the entire mixture marinate for one day.
-Serve with fresh lemon.

David Loewenberg
Owner at The Bell & Anchor in Sag Harbor

“This is a simple, versatile recipe that lends itself to many applications. The salmon can be used with hors d’oeuvres and even as the main attraction to holiday brunch. It’s become a staple to our holiday celebrations and evokes wonderful memories with family and friends.”

Salmon Gravlax

Hamptons Sag Harbor


1 side of excellent quality salmon with skin on
3 cups salt
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup peppercorns, coarsely ground
1/4 cup juniper (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Zest of 1 orange (optional)
1 bunch dill chopped
1/2 bunch basil chopped
Splash vodka/gin/aquavit (optional and your choice of spirit)


-Dry the salmon and place skin side down in a non-reactive pan.
-Cover with salt, sugar, pepper mixture.
-Sprinkle with lemon and orange zest (optional).
-Cover with dill and basil.
-Drizzle with spirits (optional).
-Cover with cling wrap and weigh down with plates or another pan.
-Place in refrigerator to cure for two days. Liquids will begin to leave the salmon as it cures. You should check that the filet is not too wet and may tip the pan of extra liquids. Cure time depends on thickness of the filet. Salmon should be firm to the touch.
-After curing, remove salmon from pan and wipe off the curing spices.
-Dry with a clean kitchen towel.

anna halkidis

anna halkidis

Anna Halkidis is a senior web editor at Long Island Pulse. Feel free to reach out at anna@lipulse.com or on Twitter @annahalkidis.