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Recipes from the Heart

Local Chefs share their favorite dishes

Thanksgiving: It's a time of food and fellowship, even when food is your life. We wanted to see what the chefs eat when they aren't feeding us. Theses recipes find their way onto celebrated chefs' tables, if not their menus and speak to traditions that feed the soul. Enjoy these family recipes from some of the city's best culinary minds!

"We love cooking as a family. I made these cookies growing up with my Norwegian grandmother. My fondest holiday memories were made in her kitchen and on her farm." Chefs Jessica Armstrong and partner Ryan Brazeal of Novel 

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

3/4 c butter, at room temperature 

1 c brown sugar 

1 egg, at room temperature 

1/4 c molasses

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 c AP flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger 

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Granulated or coarse sugar 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cream the butter and sugar for 4 minutes or until fluffy. Add the molasses, cream for 2 more minutes, and scrape down the sides. Add the egg, mix well.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. 

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, slowly mix until incorporated.

Refrigerate the batter for 30 minutes.

Scoop out 2 tablespoons of batter and form into balls. Coat the balls with sugar.

Place the balls 2 inches apart on a lined cookie sheet. Flatten with your hand or the bottom of a drinking glass.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. 

"Green bean casserole is my favorite side dish, and this is my take on it—a light and delicious stir-fry that pairs well with turkey and other side dishes. Shiitake mushroom adds another layer of texture and aroma to the dish, making it the perfect savory accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner." —Chef Pam Liberda, Waldo Thai

Stir-Fried Garlic Green Beans & Shiitake Mushrooms with Chef Pam Liberda of Waldo Thai

Makes 4 servings 


1 pound green beans, trimmed 

½ pound fresh shiitake mushrooms 

1 tablespoon oyster sauce 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

¼ teaspoon white pepper 

1 tablespoon canola oil 

2 tablespoons fried shallots for garnish 


Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with salt and add the green beans. Boil 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water, then place on a kitchen towel to dry thoroughly. (If vegetables aren’t dry when you add them to the hot wok or pan, they will splutter and braise instead of stir frying.) Place within reach of your wok or pan. 

Place the shiitake mushrooms, garlic, oyster sauce and white pepper near the burner. 

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan. 

Add the garlic, stir-frying for no more than 10 seconds, then add the green beans and shiitake mushrooms. Toss together, then add the oyster sauce and white pepper. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until the beans are crisp-tender. Remove from heat and place on serving plate. Garnish with fried shallots on top.

“I have an aversion to traditional Thanksgiving foods. For starters, I don’t like squash, but most people love it. People never get tired of gnocchi and turkey meatballs are a healthy alternative to red meat. The dish is loosely based on my popular rabbit gnocchi dish that’s been on the menu since I opened Michael Smith Restaurant and now Farina. The last eight years or so, I’ve been preparing an Italian-influenced Thanksgiving dinner at home and while this dish takes some time, my family wouldn’t be happy if it wasn’t on the menu.”

—James Beard Award-Winning Chef Michael Smith, Farina/Extra Virgin

Chef Michael Smith's Gnocchi with Turkey Meatballs, Squash and Chanterelles 

Makes 8 servings


Gnocchi – 45-50 pieces fresh potato gnocchi  

1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, soaked and cleaned  

2 pounds turkey meatballs – 35-40 mini size meatballs 

2 cups diced hard squash (Hubbard, kuri, butternut) 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves 

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley 

1 clove garlic, minced 

1 cup turkey broth 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

2 teaspoons kosher salt 

1 teaspoon fennel pollen 

1/4 cup olive oil 


Poach the diced hard squash in salted water until just soft to the point of a knife. Drain and set aside. Place a large heavy-bottomed pan over high heat and add half the olive oil. When oil begins to smoke, add the mini meatballs, and cook until golden brown, then finish in the oven. Set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet add the remaining half of olive oil and heat until just smoking. Add gnocchi to the pan and don’t move it or shake it for 30-40 seconds. Let the gnocchi get a light caramelization then shake the pan to roll the gnocchi around for another minute or two. They will brown naturally on the other sides. Add chanterelles, oregano, parsley, fennel pollen and garlic. 

Sauté for a few minutes, then add turkey stock, squash and meatballs. Bring the pan to a boil and add butter. Stir vigorously with a spoon to emulsify the brothy dish. Add kosher salt and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve immediately. 


2 pounds Idaho potatoes, unpeeled 

2 cups 00 flour 

1 egg yolk 

1 tablespoon kosher salt 


Bake potatoes in a 400-degree oven until soft. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel potatoes, discarding skins. Put potato flesh through a fine food mill or potato press. Potatoes should be very warm. Spread them evenly on a lightly floured surface.  

Sift the 00 flour over the top of the riced potatoes. Stir egg yolk with a fork and pour over potatoes.  

Knead potatoes and flour into a soft dough. Don’t overwork the dough…it should come together in about 4-5 minutes. (Dough should not stick to your hands.) Flatten dough quite a bit, keeping it lightly floured. Cover dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce heat while cutting gnocchi.  

The technique to cutting the gnocchi all the same size is rolling the dough into thick ropes no thinner than the diameter of a nickel. Cut the flattened dough into 1-inch thick slices. Then separate each slice and roll into a long rope using the palms of both hands. Once the ropes are rolled out, cut the individual gnocchi, approximately 1 inch for standard size. Leave as is (shaped like a pillow) or press-roll on the back of a fork’s tines for a more traditional look. 

Reheat salted water to a boil. Poach gnocchi (about 20 at a time) in the boiling water. (The water does not need to be vigorously boiling.) Let gnocchi cook until they float to the top. Continue cooking for a full minute after rising to the top to completely cook through thickest parts of dough. Use a long-handled strainer to scoop out the cooked gnocchi. Toss onto an olive oil lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Let cool naturally. When all gnocchi are poached and cooled, coat well in olive oil and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. They will keep well for 4-5 days.  


2 pounds ground turkey 

6 large leaves fresh basil, chopped  

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves  

2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves 

2 cloves garlic, minced 

1 pinch chili pepper flakes  

2 whole eggs 

2 cups fine breadcrumbs 

1 cup milk  

1 tablespoon kosher salt 

2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper 

1 pinch ground allspice 


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Test for seasoning. Roll into meatballs about the size of a quarter.  

Poach meatballs in a favorite sauce or sauté them in a skillet until golden then bake them until cooked through.  

The meatballs can be frozen after cooking or before cooking.