Off the clock, local chefs share traditional holiday recipes
Food does more than nourish. It connects us to our culture, creates good memories, and can even bring us closer to loved ones who have passed. And for so many of us, making and serving food to our families is a daily expression of love. That’s why we are so thankful that three local chefs shared their beloved family recipes with us. These are the recipes that summon nostalgia and fond memories for them, along with wonderful tastes. Sure, busy parents can’t dish out meals that take hours to prepare every night (If that sounds familiar, check out Chef Keacean Phillips’ weeknight baked chicken recipe.) But once in a while, it’s good to take that extra time to prepare a special meal with your family and remember that food isn’t just calories and fuel, it can be love, too.
Peter Cho of Han Oak, 511 NE 24th Ave.
Peter Cho of Han Oak has racked up a pile of awards, from being named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2017 to being nominated for a James Beard award as one of the Pacific Northwest’s best for his take on modern Korean food. But his real goal is to balance the long, late hours of a chef’s career with raising his two young children, Elliott, 3, and Francis, 1, with wife Sun. Their solution? Blending their family home with their warm, open restaurant space — eating there feels like being invited to a dinner party at the home of some of the coolest kiddos on the block.
PETER CHO’S RICE CAKE AND DUMPLING SOUP
This is a soup traditionally eaten to celebrate New Year’s Day, and time with family. As a chef, I am always working on the holidays. But we always find a way to have New Year’s Day off and that means my mom cooks for us. I also love the added bonus of making dumplings with my mom, which is super nostalgic for me. — Peter Cho
5 beef bones (oxtail is preferable)
2 pieces konbu (dried seaweed, also called kombu)
2 tablespoons dried anchovy
Salt and black pepper to taste
egg and scallions for garnish
1. Cover bones with 8 cups of water, enough to fully cover. Bring to boil, then simmer for six to eight hours.
2. Remove from heat and steep the konbu and dried anchovy as it cools for one hour.
3. Strain through a fine sieve to remove solids. You can pick the meat off the oxtail and use in the soup. Season to taste with salt and some ground black pepper.
4. Bring the seasoned soup back to a boil, and drop in your dumpling and rice cakes until dumplings start to float — that indicates that they’re cooked. Slowly pour 1 beaten egg into broth and stir gently for an “egg drop” presentation. Serve with scallions as garnish.
*You can purchase fresh or frozen dumplings at most Korean markets, including H-Mart in Tigard, Beaverton and Southeast Belmont Street in Portland. Or, if you want to make your own dumplings, check out the recipe Cho wrote for Food and Wine magazine: foodandwine.com/recipes/pork-and-chive-dumplings
** Can be purchased at any Asian market. You can use either the coin-shaped variety or the rice sticks.
Loretta Guzman of Bison Coffeehouse, 3941 NE Cully Blvd.
Loretta Guzman opened Bison Coffeehouse in the Cully neighborhood in 2014, fulfilling her dream of opening a café that celebrated Native foods and culture. The name for the coffee shop first came to her in 2008 when she was battling cancer, and had a dream in which she came face to face with an enormous bison. Today she’s in remission and Native art hangs on the walls of her shop, which serves coffee roasted by native-owned company Tribal Grounds, and beef jerky made by the members of Guzman’s own tribe, the Shoshone-Bannock, along with other local treats. She credits her family for supporting her along the way, and her daughter, Charlomiya Cunningham and 2-year-old grandson, Harlin Alvarez, often help out in the kitchen.
LORETTA GUZMAN’S HUCKLEBERRY-SAGE SCONES
I make huckleberry-sage scones along with my daughter Charlomiya and grandson Harlin. Huckleberries are the official berries for the state of Idaho. I am a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe, from Fort Hall, Idaho, and sage is sacred to our people in our daily lives. When they come out of the oven, these tasty scones are similar to the Bannock bread that our people ate during their travels before there were reservations. — Loretta Guzman
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup butter
1 cup huckleberries*
cup heavy cream
For drizzle topping:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of water
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1. Butter a sheet pan, and preheat the oven to 325˚ F.
2. Mix together the egg and the cream in a medium-sized bowl, and set aside.
3. Next, mix together the dry ingredients — flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt — and set aside.
4. Cut cold butter into little cubes, and combine it with the dry ingredients, then add in the berries, and stir to mix.
5. Add in the egg mixture, and mix until fully combined.
6. Flour a cutting board, and turn out the dough onto it. Roll it out into a circle about one inch thick, and cut out into seven triangle shapes. Place the scones on the prepared sheet pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or when the top turns slightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Allow to cool, then mix together the drizzle ingredients, and drizzle on top of the scones.
*Fresh huckleberries can be picked along trails around Oregon and southwest Washington in the summer months, especially around the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in August and September. In the off-season, you can order frozen huckleberries from oregonmushroom.com.
Keacean Phillips of Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine, 441 N Killingsworth Ave.
Like so many Portland-area chefs, Keacean Phillips’ restaurant started as a food cart, back in 2014. Caribbean food isn’t very common in Portland, and she immediately found a niche audience for her savory jerk chicken, oxtail stew, goat curry and fried plantains. The food cart was successful enough that she was able to open her restaurant in the heart of Portland’s historical black community in 2016. But that wasn’t her only baby that year; she also gave birth to now 2-year-old son, Hasim Ransom. Hasim and his older brother, 13-year-old William Smith, are being raised on the bright flavors of sunny Jamaica, a fitting antidote for drizzly, gray Portland.
KEACEAN PHILLIPS’ HOMEMADE BAKED CHICKEN
I chose this recipe because it’s pretty easy and quick and doesn’t require much of my attention. Once I put the seasonings on, all I have to do is put it in the oven and wait. It takes 45 minutes to an hour, so I can focus on doing something else while dinner is in the oven. As a single mom and entrepreneur, I have to be able to multitask, so when I’m cooking at home, I prefer to prepare easy and simple dishes.
I also chose this dish because my mother would prepare this meal for us most evenings when we got home from school. She passed away in 2015. It was my favorite meal growing up because of the love I tasted in it. Now I can pass that on that tradition to my boys. — Keacean Phillips
2 green onions, diced
½ of a yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
Habanero pepper, diced
A pinch of fresh thyme, or to taste, finely chopped
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup ketchup
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
1. Mix together the spices, the ketchup and the diced up vegetables, and pour over the chicken in an ovenproof serving dish.
2. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350o F, and enjoy. Serves 4 people.
Irene Tejaratchi Hess is a documentary photographer and filmmaker. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her son and husband. A short film that Irene and her son collaborated on recently played at the Portland Ecofilm Festival, and can be seen at PDX Airport’s one-of-a-kind microcinema.