For many, the holidays are about connecting with family traditions, and cooking is one of the most enjoyable ways to connect, no matter where you’re from or which holidays you celebrate. To keep the season merry, we’re presenting a few recipes from Merrimack Valley’s finest chefs and restaurant owners. Perhaps they’ll change the ways you celebrate your holidays with those you care about the most.
Moonstones Executive Chef Adam Hervieux entered the restaurant business when he was in high school, tossing pizzas with his older brother at a small establishment in Lowell. Before then, a culinary career hadn’t entered his mind. “My dad was a mechanic, and I know nothing about cars,” Hervieux says.
He attended Lowell High School and, after graduating in 1997, enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he studied under renowned chef Todd English. Hervieux worked at restaurants all over the country before returning to the Merrimack Valley.
Now that Hervieux is closer to family, he recalls some of his favorite holiday moments and the food that was part of them.
“We always had dinner as a family. Mom would be cooking, and my dad and my brothers and I would gather around the table and talk about our day,” Hervieux says. What set these days apart was the quality of the food, which was always, in his words, “authentic and multidimensional.”
Start to finish: 2-3 hours
5 red beets, peeled, diced
8 ounces whole butter, melted
Sea salt to taste
Water as needed
Saute the beets on low heat with half of the butter and a pinch of sea salt until all the liquid is evaporated and the beets are soft. Place the beets in a blender with the remaining butter. Use a little water if the filling is too thick. Season with sea salt and cool.
Roll out pasta dough and cut into rounds. Fill and seal with egg.
3 ounces white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1 lemon, for zest
1 sprig thyme
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces whole butter, cubed
Reduce the wine in a saucepot until almost dry, add lemon juice and heavy cream, reduce by half. When cream has thickened, slowly whisk in the butter on low heat. Do not boil or the sauce will break.
1/4 cup arugula
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 ounce goat cheese
4 beet chips, fried at 275 F
SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI
Start to finish: 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours
Serving Size: 4-6
2 large sweet potatoes
2 russet potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1 cup (plus more for dusting) “00” farina flour
Salt and pepper
Wash potatoes, then bake unpeeled in a 375 F oven until soft, about an hour. While the potatoes are still hot, peel and pass through a ricer or a food mill onto a lightly floured workbench. Season with salt and pepper, make a well out of the potatoes, add half the egg and cut into the dough with a bench scraper.
Add the flour and work the dough until it forms a ball, using the extra flour to roll into tubes and then cut into pillows. Drop directly into boiling water.
2 ounces butter, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon hazelnuts, toasted, crushed
5 leaves sage cut into long, thin strips
2 tablespoons pasta water
Add the butter to a hot saute pan. Swirl the pan until the butter becomes golden brown, lower the heat and then add the hazelnuts and sage. Add the gnocchi to the pan and toss, add the pasta water to finish the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Slice the prosciutto thin, put on a baking sheet and bake at 275 F until crispy. Garnish gnocchi with grated Parmesan, crispy prosciutto, and fried sage leaves.
BROWN BUTTER CORNBREAD
Start to finish: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
Serving Size: 6
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons honey
8 ounces butter
1 cup creamed corn or fresh corn puree
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
In a hot pan, cook the butter until golden brown, let cool. Combine the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Brush a cast-iron skillet with butter, fill 3/4 full with the cornbread mix. Bake at 325 F for 30 to 45 minutes.