Porter Family Holiday Recipes

My family has always loved the idea of the holiday ritual, especially when it comes to food. Both my grandmother and my mother were/are amazing chefs and their recipes will forever be a part of how I define the holiday season. This post is just one of my little tributes to these amazing ladies. (this one is specific to my mother) Grammy Porter’s recipes will be covered in posts to come.

The Cook in the Family

A little background on my mom and where her complex palate comes from. My mom, Susan, is one of the most beautiful woman I have ever known. She is elegant, fun, smart, artistic, worldly and a wonderful cook and mother. Because of my grandfather’s line of work my mom traveled all over.

My Grandfather, was attending Yale Art school with a full scholarship only to drop out a year into it to learn how to fly freight planes for the war. This job fashionably transitioned into flying 747s for Pan Am, this was the glory days of air travel (According to my mother there were lots beautiful ladies, handsome men and perfectly dressed children all glamored by seeing the world and meeting fascinating people along the way. It was a special time! ) Due to the nature of my grandfather’s job the family moved around quite a bit. At 8 my mom was in Austria attending a German school in kitzbuhel, becaume fluent in german, then moved to England a few years later to attend a boarding school at age 11. (According to my Uncle, his experience in the English boarding school was terrible, frightfully similar to scenes depicted in Pink Floyds, The Wall. I dont blame him, being a 6 year old boy in boarding school sounds rough to say the least.)

In the midst of all this travel and being expats in foreign countries my mom and her family would always go back to someplace familiar and homey for the summers, Milbridge Maine. It was here that she got to stay with her grandmother and grandfather and take in all the beautiful nature around her.

My mother’s many adventures has without a doubt exposed her to fantastic food. Thankfully my brother, father and I also get to be exposed a bit to her travels, through her food. There are two specific dishes which make it to our table every Christmas: Maine Fish Chowder (Christmas Eve- Maine inspired) and Sachertorte (dessert on Christmas day- Austria inspired)


Maine Fish Chowder

Lets start with the Fish chowder. This is one of my absolute favorite dishes of all time. It is super flavorful and is extravagantly loaded with some of my favorite seafood: shrimp, haddock, salmon, scallops, clams. (You can go crazy here, put in any kind of seafood to your hearts content) This year we are spending the season in Florida, an area with different fish variates, but thankfully we found a fish market that ships fresh Maine seafood from boothbay harbor (where we summer) to Florida. This was an incredible and fortuitous find. The fish market sells gorgeous fish and is owned by the nicest Maine family. My parents will be going there frequently in the future. here is a link
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Fish Chowder Recipe

Haddock:1/2 lb.+
Salmon 1/2 lb
Day Boat Scallops med-large  10 or so
Shrimp 20 medium to large
Clams….you be the judge
1 onion
3 large potatoes …peeled, cut in half, then sliced in little less than 1/2 inch chunks.
Clam juice  2 small bottles
1 can of condensed milk.  I guess you could use cream if they don’ t have it.
2 cups Milk :  You can add more.
1.  Cut up  the potatoes.  Cook them in lightly salted water ..bring water to a boil. Cook until just slightly tender.  Drain and set aside.
2.  Cut up the onion.  Cut in half. Then in large slices and sautee
with butter or olive oil in the pot you will use for the chowder,
3.  Cut up the fish in large chunks. Skin off.  Sauteed the fish briefly with the onions.  Add salt and pepper.  Add the clams
4.  Add the clam juice
5.  Add the condensed milk or cream.
6. Add the milk.
7. Add the potatoes and shrimp.
8.  Simmer on low to cook the shrimp.
Season it again if you want with salt and pepper.
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Maine Fish Chowder
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Christmas, Sachertorte, cornish hens-7227.jpgThe Sachertorte recipe is one of my favorites! I have tried this torte in many fancy restaurants, such as blue hill stone barn, but nothing compares to my mom’s. It is out of this world. This year I asked for the recipe, and I have included it below. My mom suggests making it a day ahead of time, it allows the flavors to mature and come together.

Sachertorte Recipe

to make 1 nine-inch round cake
6 1/2 ounces of semisweet chocolate, broken or chopped in small chunks
8 egg yolks
8 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 egg whites
pinch of salt
3/4 cup of sugar
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup of apricot jam, rubber through a sieve. (add a touch of rum for flavor)
Preheat oven to 350
Line 2 9-by-1 1/2 inch round cake pans with circles of wax paper.
In the top of a double broiler, heat the chocolate until it melts, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. In a small mixing bowl, break up the egg yolks with a fork, then beat in the chocolate, melted butter and vanilla extract.
With a wire wisk or a rotary or electric beater, beat the egg whites and pinch of salt until they foam, then add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat until the whites form stiff, unwaivering peaks on the beater when it is lifted from the bowl.
Mix about 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk-chocolate mixture, then reverse the process and pour the chocolate over the remaining egg whites. Sprinkle the flour over the top. With a rubber spatula, using an over-and-under cutting motion instead of mixing motion, fold the whites and the chocolate mixture together until no trace of the whites remains. Do not overfold.
Pour Batter into the 2 lined pans, dividing it evenly between them.
Bake in the middle of the oven until the layers are puffed and dry and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Remove the pan from the oven and loosen the sides of the layers by running a sharp knife around them. Turn then out on a cake rack and remove the wax paper. Let the layers cool while you prepare the glaze.
3 ounces Unsweetened chocolate, broken or chopped into small chunks
1 cup Heavy cream
1 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Corn Syrup
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the chocolate, cream, sugar and corn syrup. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
Cook on low heat until the chocolate and sugar are melted, then change heat to medium and cook without stirring for 5 minutes or until a little of the mixture dropped into a glass of cold water forms a soft ball.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg lightly, then stir 3 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture into it.
Pour this into the remaining chocolate in the saucepan and stir it briskly.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, or until the glaze coats the spoon heavily. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla.
Cool the glaze to room temperature.
When the cake layers have completely cooled, spread one of them with apricot jam and put the other layer on top. Set the rack in a jelly-roll pan and holding the saucepan about 2 inches away from the cake, pour the glaze over it evenly.
Let the cake stand until the glaze stops dripping, then using 2 metal spatulas, transfer it to a plate and refrigerate for 3 hours to harden the glaze.
Remove from the refrigerator 1/2 hour before serving.
Serve with whipped cream.
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    • Thanks Jen! Yeah let me know what you think! I believe both recipes are killer. I haven’t had one year when they have been bad. Please keep me posted!!’ love ya!! Elise

  1. Hi Elise,

    Happy New Year!

    The chowder and the torte look fabulous!

    How many does the chowder recipe serve? I’m guessing I will have to cut it down since right now there will be only Michael and me eating it (unless it freezes well).

    As for the torte, although I’m a fairly decent baker, there are many recipes I find too daunting. But this one looks quite manageable for me.

    Looking forward to seeing you and José very soon.


    • Hi Roz,
      Happy New Years to you as well!

      Jose and I were sad that we could not join you at the Um Segredo game dinner, I hear it was another delicious evening! Knowing David, I’m sure there will be another special one in the works.

      I’m so happy you are curious about the recipes. The chowder is one of those dishes that I look forward to eating all year. I love this chowder so much that I made my mom email the recipe to me when I was visiting Jose’s family in Madrid. Needless to say it was a hit! As far as portions go, it does feed around 4 with some leftovers, but the chowder is just as good the next day so it does last a bit. I asked my mom about freezing it and she seems to think that could work well. As for the sachertorte, it is wonderful, pretty easy and it is not overly sweet, just the way I like my desserts. Let me know if you test them out… I’m curious what your thoughts are.

      I am Looking forward to seeing you and Michael again!
      Jose and I have been thinking long and hard about where we should all go. Let’s see what we come up with.


  2. Hi Elise,

    I made the fish chowder last night. In a word: Fantastic!! It’ easy to see why your family loves it. When I told Michael I was making it and where I got the recipe, he was so enthusiastic that he even went with me to buy the fish! I did cut the recipe in half, and it was the perfect size for a main course for the two of us with no leftovers. (A green salad with beets and chevre to start.)

    Michael insisted that I take a photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/6671297165/

    Please tell your mom how thrilled I am to be adding this recipe to my repetoire. And thank you for sharing it. 🙂

  3. Great reading!! Loved the writing, reviews, recipes and the photos are fantastic.
    Ask your Mom why she never made us Sachertorte! Looks delicious.

    • Thanks Susie! That means a great deal coming from you:) you should ask my mom to make it one of these days! I’m sure she would love to. Any plans on going to Maine this summer?

    • Hope to get to Maine…especially if she makes that yummy dessert.

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