Holiday Entertaining: Holiday Issue 1998 (pg. 27-28)

    Chefs Andrew Pantano and Toni Manzi both worked together in the kitchen of the Bernards Inn before Toni joined Andrew at his Culinary Creations � cafe and Caterers in Hillsborough. The team has served us some of the recipes that have pleased many of their catering clients at holiday time. Pantano's shitake mushroom and pumpkin strudel coordinates well with Weaver's mushroom strudel; both would be excellent accompaniments to the roasted meats mentioned above.


    Pantano favors tortas on the buffet table along with a cheese display. For our holiday entertaining, Pantano has presented a recipe for an Italian torta, a layered display of sun-dried tomatoes, mascarpone cheese, and pesto - in the red and green of the holiday season.


Shitake Mushroom and Pumpkin Strudel

The pumpkin and shitake mushrooms have the complimentary tastes that are enhanced by the fragrance of winter spices. 

  • 6 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1 mini pumpkin (about 11/2 pounds; you'll need about 1 pound of meat
  • 1 lb shitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 tbsp fines herbs (any combination chopped chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground preferred)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (freshly ground preferred)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp sweet butter olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg for the egg wash
  1. Cut the pumpkin in half, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in oven at 425� until al dente (about 25 minutes)
  2. Meanwhile, saut� shitake mushrooms on high. Beat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brown mushrooms, turning them as they saut�. After mushrooms have been turned add garlic, shallots, butter and fines herbs. Cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and spread out on parchment paper to cool.
  3. While it is still warm, peel pumpkin and slice meat into slices two inches long and 1/4" thick. Mix with mushrooms and cranberries.
  4. Lay out one sheet of phyllo dough, lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon. Continue with another sheet, brushing with oil and sprinkling spices until you have six layers. Crisscross sheets of phyllo when you place them on top of each other.
  5. Spread mushroom and pumpkin mixture on top of phyllo sheets leaving a two-inch border around sheet. Roll sheet gently (be careful not to squeeze it while rolling). Place on parchment paper on sheet pan. Brush top lightly with egg wash and bake at 350� until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Let cool on rack and display at room temperature. Can be prepared one day in advance and refrigerated before baking.


Italian Torta

The Italian Torta  is an appetizer filled with holiday colors. The torta is a layered display of sun-dried tomatoes, mascarpone cheese and pesto sauce. It displays beautifully, lasts long and presents a combination of rich and interesting tastes. If you don't have your own pesto recipe, you can purchase prepared pesto in some supermarkets and many Italian markets. Focaccia is also available in Italian markets as well as in the bakery department of large supermarkets.


For The Torta

  • (1) 8-inch round focaccia bread 

  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese

  • 4 cups cream cheese, (room temp)

  • 1 tbsp oregano

  • 1 tbsp basil

  • 1 tsp white pepper

  • 1/4 cup parmigiano cheese, grated

For The Puree

  • 1/4 cup pesto

  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, pureed in food processor

  • 1/4 cup whole sun-dried tomatoes (marinated in olive oil)

  1. In a food processor, puree the cream cheese.

  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix pureed cream cheese with mascarpone cheese, spice and parmesan cheese.

  3. Place focaccia onto a parchment paper. Place a spring-form pan ring over the focaccia (as close to the actual size as possible)

  4. Spread two cups of mixture onto focaccia bread, and then spread sun-dried tomato puree evenly on top of cheese. Spread two more cups of cheese mixture on top of that, and then the pesto sauce, spreading evenly. Finally, spread the remaining cheese mixture on top of that, and place whole sun-dried tomatoes on top in a circular pattern to resemble a cake.

  5. Chill overnight in ring. Italian Torta tastes best if prepared 24 hours in advance. Before serving, peel ring from focaccia. serve with crackers or crostini toast.


Tart Dough for Tart Shell

This rich, buttery dough is used in the recipes for the two wonderful tarts to follow.

  • 8 ozs. butter at room temp

  • 4 ozs sugar

  • 2 cups plus 3 tbsp sifted cake flour

  • 1 whole egg

  • 1 tsp almond extract dash of salt

  1. Beat butter on medium speed until light and smooth

  2. Beat in whole egg, flavoring, and salt on low speed. Then fold in the cake flour.

  3. Remove dough from bowl and gather into a disc. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate until needed.

  4. Heat oven to 425�. When ready to use remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on lightly floured surface.

  5. Transfer to a nine-inch tart pan lightly covered with butter or oil. Press dough into the bottom and side of pan. Trim the dough. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork.

  6. Line with aluminum foil,   shiny side down. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 20-25 minutes in a 425� oven until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool.


Bittersweet Chocolate Cinnamon Tart

The cinnamon greatly enhances the chocolate flavor of this tart. (use tart shell recipe above for the prepared tart shell)

  • 3/4 cup  cream

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 7 ozs bittersweet chocolate, chopped

  • 1 large egg

  • (1) 9 inch pre-baked tart shell

  1. heat oven to 350�. In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
  2. Remove from the heat, add chocolate, whisk and let cool.
  3. When chocolate is cooled, whisk in egg.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared tart shell. Bake until the filling is slightly firm but still trembling in the center. (about 12 to 15 minutes) Remove from oven and cool. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.


Honey-Orange Macadamia Tart

This Tart combines some or our very favorite flavors, it's a holiday winner. (use tart shell recipe above for the prepared tart shell)

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup orange juice

  • zest from 1 whole orange, chopped fine

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1-1/2 tsp flour

  • 1/4 tsp cloves

  • dash of salt

  • 1 cup toasted chopped macadamia nuts

  • (1) 9-inch pre-baked tart shell

  1. heat oven to 350�. In a separate bowl, sift together baking powder, flour, cloves, and salt.
  2. Beat eggs lightly with the sugar and honey. Add the orange juice and zest. Add sifted ingredients and nuts.
  3. Pour into a prepared tart shell. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Tart should be set. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate syrup enhanced with Grand Marnier.