Area chefs explore their culinary roots (recipes)


Butternut squash risotto accompanies this rum-and-whiskey-glazed salmon from Duling-Kurtz House & Country Inn. PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

By Emily Ryan, The Mercury

Sunlight streamed through the windows of a cozy dining room set for two at Exton’s Duling-Kurtz House & Country Inn. On the table: a plate of rum-and-whiskey-glazed salmon, evocative of the chef’s Jamaican heritage.

“My granduncle had a little restaurant on the side of the house,” said executive chef Damian H. Gauld, who grew up on 150 acres in St. Mary parish. “Everything was made from scratch.”

He enjoyed curry goat, fish-head soup and even alligator.

“My uncle used to work on a ship, and he would bring it once a week,” recalled Gauld, who now offers a pan-seared alligator appetizer with porcini mushrooms, roasted garlic, grilled polenta and red-wine cream sauce.

“When I was growing up, we had a lot of mushrooms on our farm,” he said, adding that “in Jamaica, we call it turned cornmeal, but over here we call it polenta.”

On occasion, Gauld’s also made curry chicken, oxtail, and ackee and saltfish (fruit and salted cod), Jamaica’s national dish. New to the dessert menu is another tradition — Jamaican rum cake.

At The Farmer’s Daughter in Whitpain, executive chef Mtele Abubakar likes exploring his culinary roots too, or as he puts it, “how I can combine the flavors from back home with what I’ve learned from America.”

“I grew up on an island in the coastal area of Kenya,” Abubakar said. “We eat what it is in season. We eat what we can kill. A lot of seafood. One-pot cooking.”

He sometimes serves octopus as a special, marinating it with garlic, cumin, cilantro and lemon juice.

“In America, most of the chefs do confit of octopus or poach it. Back in my country, we grill the octopus,” Abubakar described. “It really brings me home.”

So do short ribs, which he calls “comfort food back home and here.”

Looking for German comfort food? At Rising Sun Inn in Franconia, executive chef Fred Duerr celebrates his heritage with fastnachts on Fat Tuesday and other German fare like red cabbage, featuring apples, onions, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

“People always like that. It smells good cooking,” he said. “Sometimes I’m taking older recipes and putting a modern twist on it.”

Duerr shared the cabbage recipe and one for bison or beef sauerbraten, noting “they used to sour marinate the beef, so it would stay longer over the winter.”

One final favorite: lentil frankfurter soup.

“When we serve that at the restaurant, it kind of hits home with the older clientele,” he said. “Everyone seems to be happy celebrating their heritage.”

Kabocha Squash Soup

Yield: 1¾ gallons


2½ ounces ginger, chopped

3 cups white wine

½ pound butter

1 pounds shallots, sliced thin

1 pounds leek whites, sliced thin

1¼ gallons vegetable stock

1 sachet of cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, turmeric and black pepper to taste

14 pounds kabocha squash, roasted pulp (raw weight)

7 ounces heavy cream, hot

Kosher salt to taste

White pepper to taste

½ tablespoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg


Combine the ginger and white wine, and reduce au sec. Place into the sachet bag with the star anise. Sweat the mirepoix with the butter. Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the roasted squash and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the sachet. Add the cream and remaining spices. Check for seasoning.


Red Cabbage


1 medium head red cabbage, corded and sliced

2 Granny Smith apples, sliced

1 cup diced onions

½ cup red-wine vinegar

1 cup red wine

4 cloves

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of allspice

Pinch of nutmeg

2 tablespoons duck fat or oil

½ cup sugar

½ cup currant jelly

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 cup stock or water


In a pot, add duck fat or oil and sauté onions and apples 3 minutes. Add cabbage. Cook 3 minutes. Add wine, vinegar, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, sugar, stock. Cook until cabbage is tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Dissolve corn starch in water and stir in to thicken.


Lentil Frankfurter Soup


1-pound bag lentils, washed and drained

¼ cup diced bacon

1 cup diced onions

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced potatoes, skin on

½ pound sliced buffalo frankfurters (hot dogs)

1 gallon stock

¼ cup tomato paste

1 teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon thyme leaves

Salt and pepper


Sauté bacon until brown. Add onions. Cook 3 min. Add lentils. Cook 1 min. Add tomato paste, all dry ingredients and stock. Bring to boil, simmer for 30 to 40 minutes and then add carrots, celery and potatoes. Cook 15 to 20 min. Add buffalo frankfurters. Cook 5 to 10 min. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pumpernickel bread.


Bison or Beef Sauerbraten


4 pounds bison or beef roast

1 onion

½ cup red-wine vinegar

1 cup red wine

2 cups boiling water

10 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 cup roux (½ cup melted butter and ½ cup flour)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon beef base

½ cup sour cream


Trim roast and cut into four pieces. In plastic 2-quart container, place meat, onions, wine, vinegar, bay leaves and peppercorns. Top with boiling water, let cool and marinate 2 days in refrigerator. Take meat out of marinade and reserve half of liquid marinade. Heat medium-sized pot and brown meat. Add tomato paste, beef base, marinating liquid and enough water to cover meat.

Cover pot with lid and put in 400-degree oven 1½ hours. Take meat out. Thicken with roux and strain. Finish with sour cream.


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