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Holiday Recipes From Houston Chef Manuel de la Mora

December 12, 2012 7:00 AM

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Manuel de la Mora is a local chef who helps to bring delicious cuisine to hundreds of Houstonians every day. As an employee of Compass Group, an international food services organization, he works in Chevron’s Houston headquarters, most specifically in the Italian section, focusing on the daily special and pasta sauces. When he is not whipping up delicious dishes for hungry Chevron employees, he’s cooking for his family and friends. Here he shares three of his favorite holiday recipes for everyone to make at home.

Appetizer: Shrimp Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 water chestnuts, peeled or 1/2 cup canned water chestnut slices
  • 1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine or rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 to 3 tsp cornstarch, as needed

Preparation:

Heat the oil in a pan suitable for deep frying to 350 degrees. Place the shrimp in warm, lightly salted water for five minutes to soak. Rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Wash the water chestnuts under warm water, then mince the shrimp and water chestnuts. In a medium bowl, combine the minced shrimp, water chestnuts, grated ginger, chopped green onion, rice wine/vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, pepper (to taste), cornstarch and egg until it’s as homogeneous as possible. Form the mixture into small balls about an inch in diameter. Carefully add the shrimp balls to the hot oil, adding only a few at a time so as to avoid them sticking together. Turn the balls constantly, until they are crisp and golden (about three to four minutes). Remove them and let them sit on paper towels until the excess oil has drained off. Serve the warm shrimp balls with sweet and sour sauce, plum sauce or spicy mustard.

Entree: Marinated Roasted Leg of Lamb

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds boneless leg of lamb
  • 2 to 3 sprigs chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper

Preparation:

In a medium bowl, mix the rosemary, garlic, dry red wine, olive oil, salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning levels to your taste.

Massage the mixture into the lamb and let it marinate in a plastic resealable bag for at least two hours, though overnight will give you the best flavoring. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast lamb in the oven for about 1.5 to two hours. Using a meat thermometer, check the internal temperature of the lamb at the thickest part starting around one hour into the cooking process. Temperature indicates doneness: 125 degrees for rare, 145 for medium, and 165 for well done. When the lamb is at the desired level of doneness, pull it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Carve the lamb into thin slices and serve with tangy yogurt.

Dessert: Mexican Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1 18.6-ounce box chopped, Mexican chocolate
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white rum or brandy
  • 4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided

Preparation:

Place milk, chocolate and salt in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat until the chocolate is melted and the sugar dissolves. Add alcohol and light with a long match or lighter. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flames subside. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Beat three cups of the heavy cream until peaks form. Working in batches, fold the heavy cream into the chocolate. Divide the mousse into 12 glasses (about 3/4 cup each). Let them set in refrigerator for at least three hours, if not overnight. Beat other cup of heavy cream and place a dollop on each mousse.

Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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