#HolidayTableTalk Chef Huston | Blog | Holiday Recipes

September 29, 2014:

Recipes from BlueStar Twitter chat with Chef Brian Huston on September 30, 2014 as part of our #holidaytabletalk series.


BlueStar All-Star Chef Brian HustonChef Brian Huston is chef and owner of newly opened Boltwood in Evanston, IL.  He previously served as chef de Cuisine with an unassuming style that was perfectly suited to The Publican, a restaurant whose goal is to be as simple as possible.  The Evanston, Illinois native boasts a solid career of building on classical culinary training, including stages at some of the country’s finest restaurants.


Brian came to The Publican from Boulder, Colorado, where he worked as Chef at The Kitchen.  Prior to that, Brian worked under Executive Chef Paul Kahan at Blackbird from 1998 to 2000.  At 37, Huston’s resume also includes Zuni Cafe in San Francisco and both Spiaggia and Heaven on Seven in Chicago.


Blueberry Pancakes


  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Pure maple syrup


  • Preheat oven to 250° F.  Place baking sheet in oven.  Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl.  Whisk buttermilk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons butter in medium bowl; stir into dry ingredients.  Fold in berries
  • Heat large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat; brush with butter.  Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle.  Cook pancakes until brown, brushing griddle with more butter as needed, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to sheet in oven to keep warm.  Serve pancakes with maple syrup.


Cajeta (Mexican Caramel Sauce)


  • 1 quart (32 ounces) goat’s milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split + seeds scraped out (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  • Stir together the milk and sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed pot.  (Make sure the liquid only goes three fourths the way up the sides, as it will froth when the baking soda is added.)  Add the cinnamon stick, salt, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds plus the empty vanilla bean pods.  Bring to a boil on medium high heat while constantly stirring.  This will take about 15 minutes.  DO NOT take your eyes off the pot.  It boils over easily and quickly!
  • When the milk comes to a boil, quickly remove from heat and add baking soda to the pot.  The mixture will rise and get frothy, just keep stirring the mixture.
  • Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat, and stir frequently, about every 10 minutes or so.  Make sure the milk stays at a gentle simmer rather than a raging boil, and stir across the bottom of the pot to make sure the mixture is not scorching.  Adjust heat as needed.
  • After about an hour and a half, the milk should start to turn golden brown.  Remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla pod.  At this point, it will start to thicken fast, so its important to keep stirring so the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
  • Keep stirring until the mixture is a rich brown and thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, this will happen after about 15 to 30 minutes.  Pour the cajeta over apples or vanilla ice cream with peanuts for the ultimate dessert.  Allow the sauce to cool slightly and then pour into airtight containers.  The mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Salad of Shaved Brussel Sprouts with Burrata cheese, parmesan, grilled red onion & lemon

Serves: 4

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 2 pints of brussels sprouts (pick brussels sprouts that are nice and firm)
  • 1/2 cup of good parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons (or a bit more) of Lemon Vinaigrette (see below)
  • 2 balls of burrata cheese, available in specialty grocery stores or upscale delis.  If you cannot find burrata, a good buffalo mozzarella is a suitable substitute.

Ingredients for the Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 3 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with a whisk.  Taste for salt and pepper.

Salad Preparation:

  • The day of your meal, grill your onions.  Light your grill to medium heat.  Season the onion with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once the grill is hot, grill the onion until tender.  This should take about 10-15 minutes.  As soon as the onions come off the grill, put them in a bowl and pour over the balsamic vinegar.  Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for an hour.  After the hour has passed, cut the onions into neat little squares and place them back in the bowl.  Refrigerate until needed.
  • Half an hour before you start your meal, shave the brussels sprouts as thin as possible on a mandolin.  Be very careful!  Mandolins frequently claim fingertips as victims!  Place the brussels sprouts in a mixing bowl and add the lemon vinaigrette, parmesan cheese, and red onion.  Season with salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for at least half an hour.
  • Just before you serve, cut the burrata in half and place it on a serving platter.  Season it liberally with salt, pepper, and your best extra virgin olive oil.  Spoon the brussels sprouts over the burrata and serve.


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