Celebrate with Tidbits & Cocktails

Chef Stathakis’ favorite holiday drinks & appetizers

Chef Pano Stathakis once again lent ELYSIAN his expertise, sharing four recipes perfect for entertaining during the holiday season. “Food and family are equally shared during the holidays,” says Stathakis. “Spending time in the kitchen to prepare a delicious meal for them is a wonderful gift to give.”

While most of us can’t relate to his level of culinary prowess, we can relate to entertaining our friends and families for the holidays — and the stress may come along with it. The most important things about cooking for the holidays, Chef Stathakis says, is making sure that you don’t overbook yourself or overestimate your abilities. “Feel comfortable with what you’re making. Don’t get too wrapped up in wanting to make it all yourself,” he says. After all, you want to be able to enjoy the party and your family as well. Holiday meals should begin with that element of “comfort food,” but the cooks in the kitchen should focus on adding their own spin, being creative and crafting something fit for a special occasion. And, of course, you should consider your own family and friends’ tastes and dietary restrictions.

Having a signature cocktail at your holiday party is a great way to show off your  are and “give the guests something to remember,” says Stathakis. Champagne is traditionally served at holiday parties, but adding a cordial can bring forth a whole new color and flavor to the tradition. For the appetizers, it’s best to go with something universal — something that will please vegetarians, carnivores and the pickiest of eaters. His recipe for stuffed mushrooms (with two different  fillings) are just as good served lukewarm, so they are a great option for setting out for guests to pick as they please.

The holidays are a time to rejoice, a time to celebrate. At holiday meals, Chef Stathakis rightly says, “It’s a time to say, ’What the hell, let’s treat ourselves,’ before we get back to a strict diet for the New Year.”

Check out these recipes & get cooking!


– The Classic Royal Cocktail –


5 ounces chilled Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Brut Yellow Label 375 ml, NV

1⁄4 ounce Chambord


Pour 5 ounces of chilled Champagne in to a fluted champagne glass.

Top off 1⁄4 ounce of Chambord into the glass.

Garnish is optional – one fresh raspberry.


– Fried Beer-battered Mushrooms Stuffed with –
Fresh Herbs, Goat Cheese & Cream Cheese
– or –
Pimento Cheese, Alfredo Sauce & Bacon Bits

Beer batter ingredients:

8 ounces all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoning salt

4 teaspoons granulated garlic

1 teaspoon of baking powder

10 ounces of Yuengling beer

2 large eggs

1⁄4 cup buttermilk



Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl. Combine all wet ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix well with wire whisk.

Coat mushrooms with batter then fry in deep fryer for 4 to 6 minutes, until internal temperature is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stuff 1 ounce of pimento cheese or goat cheese mixture into mushrooms.

Place the fried mushrooms around platter and garnish with parmesan cheese.




– Oysters Rockefeller –


6 fresh oysters

3 tablespoons butter

3 cups finely-minced fresh spinach leaves

1/2 cup finely-minced onion

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

1/4 cup bacon bits

1 cup alfredo sauce

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Rock salt

Lemon wedges


Using an oyster knife, pry open the shells and remove oysters. Discard top shells; scrub and dry bottom shells. Drain oysters, reserving the oyster liquor.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add spinach, onion, parsley, bread crumbs, bacon bits and salt. Cook and stir constantly for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Press the spinach mixture through a sieve or food mill; let cool. (Mixture may be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use.)

Preheat oven broiler. Line an ovenproof plate or platter with a layer of rock salt about 1 inch deep. Moisten the salt very slightly. Set oysters in the rock salt, making sure they are level.

Place a little of the reserved oyster liquor on each oyster. Spoon equal amounts of the prepared spinach mixture over each oyster and spread to the rim of the shell.

Top off with alfredo sauce.

Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the topping bubbles. Watch carefully. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.



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