As we gear up for the holidays, it’s easy to reminisce on the past. So, I sat down for a few moments of nostalgia with the ever-busy Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Wolfgang Puck to dish on delicious holiday recipes, fatherhood and his favorite family traditions!
AM: Happy Holidays! I know your mother was a pastry chef; did you help her with holiday meals when you were a child? Do you have any favorite memories that resonate?
WP: My mother would start making cookies three weeks before Christmas and we loved to help her. My favorites were the Linzer cookies she made filled with homemade raspberry marmalade and small vanilla crescents called Kipfel. I also remember that with all the leftover cookies, she made rum balls. She’d add day-old breads, mix them with rum, and roll them in chocolate. Because they were meant only for grown-ups, us kids would always sneak into the storage room to eat them!
AM: You’re a father of 4 boys – that must have been a fun house to cook for! How do you involve your kids in the kitchen?
WP: I often like to rent a house with my boys. Usually, we go to the mountains and cook a prime rib with roasted potatoes. I always open a good bottle of wine. One of my favorites is also our chestnut soup – which is a very traditional dish.
AM: So, what makes Wolfgang Puck tick?
WP: I love what I do, even more now than when I started!
AM: If you weren’t a chef, could you imagine yourself doing anything else?
WP: I would love to be a painter.
AM: If you could have any dish prepared for you over the holidays, what would it be?
WP: If my mother were still alive, she’d make me a Christmas goose with slow-braised red cabbage and potato croquettes. I’d love to have that this season!
AM: Can you share one of your fave holiday recipes from the
Macy’s Culinary Council Holiday Cookbook?
WP: Of course! Here’s my favorite recipe for Crab Cakes Benedict.
For the crab cakes:
Make the crab mixture and shape the cakes at least 1 hour before you are ready to cook them. In a 10-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and let cool. While the pepper mixture is cooling, return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the cream and jalapeno chili, and simmer briskly, stirring frequently, until the cream is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add to the pepper mixture and let cool for about 15 minutes. Add the chives, dill, parsley, thyme, salt, and cayenne to the cooled mixture and stir well. Stir in the egg and half each of the breadcrumbs and almonds. Gently fold in the crabmeat; the mixture should be lumpy.
On a plate, stir together the remaining bread crumbs and almonds. Have ready a baking sheet. With clean hands, divide the crab mixture into 12 equal portions (each will weigh about 21⁄2 ounces), then shape each portion into a cake the diameter of an English muffin. As you form each cake, gently press both sides of it into the crumb-almond mixture to coat well and place on the baking sheet. When all of the cakes are ready, cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
To cook and serve the crab cakes:
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Have a large baking dish ready. In a large skillet, combine 2 tablespoons of the butter and the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add half of the crab cakes and sauté, carefully turning them once with a spatula, until they are golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to the baking dish and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining crab cakes the same way, adding more oil to the pan if needed to prevent sticking.
When the crab cakes are almost done cooking, toast the English muffins and spread them lightly with a little of the remaining butter. Place 1 or 2 muffin halves cut side up, on each individual serving plate, or place them all on 1 or 2 large platters.
To cook the eggs and serve:
As soon as all of the crab cakes are cooked and in the oven, wipe out the skillet, return it to medium-high heat, and melt enough of the remaining butter in it to coat the bottom evenly when you swirl the pan. Carefully crack just enough eggs into the pan to fit without crowding and sprinkle them with salt. Fry until the whites are set and the yolks are cooked to your or your guest’s liking, spooning a little of the butter from the pan over the whites and yolks to help them set, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the same number of crab cakes to muffin halves as eggs you cooked, and top each crab cake with a fried egg. Repeat with the remaining butter, eggs, and crab cakes. Garnish the eggs with the chives and serve right away.
For more on Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Wolfgang Puck, visit macys.com/culinarycouncil
Want more delicious recipes? Be sure to pick up the Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook – just in time for the entertaining season!