Doing some holiday cooking with The Foodie School

Chef Mara Norris has several holiday offerings that are sure to be hits at your Christmas parties!

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QC Life) - Who doesn’t love cooking up delicious treats during the holiday season?

Fortunately, we’re getting lots of great ideas from our friends at The Foodie School in Fort Mill. Chef Mara Norris has several holiday offerings that are sure to be hits at your Christmas parties!

Santa’s Caesar Salad


  • 3 romaine hearts
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 anchovy fillets packed in oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup canola oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
  • ¼ cup finely grated parmesan
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan shavings (garnish)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the baguette in 1-inch cubes. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Toast in the oven until slightly golden brown, but not completely hard (about 10-15 minutes).

2. In a blender, combine the anchovy fillets, garlic clove, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. To blender, add egg yolks, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. Blend to combine. Drop by drop, gradually stream in two tablespoons olive oil (while blender is running), then the canola oil. Blend until the dressing is thick and glossy.

3. Pour dressing into a bowl and stir in finely grated parmesan. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice.

4. To assemble skewers, place cut romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and croutons on the skewers. Drizzle the skewers with dressing and garnish with shaved parmesan and black pepper.


  • Prep Ahead: Make garlic oil, make croutons, cut lettuce
  • Food processor
  • Large bowl
  • Tongs
  • Larger plate microplane

Merry Meatballs


  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (or fresh)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh basil, minced
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 shallot, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soak bread crumbs in milk.

2. Place the ground meats, bread crumb mixture, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into two-inch meatballs.

3. Place meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and a rack. Drizzle meatballs with olive oil and roll with your hands to coat. Place baking sheet in preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully move the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels.


  • Prep Ahead: Mince herbs
  • Large bowl
  • Sheet pan/foil/rack
  • Red scoops
  • Bowl for water
  • Wrap counter in plastic

Ricotta Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups cookie crumbs
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Large pinch salt

Crust Directions:

1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Press onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for eight to 10 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups organic fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 12 ounces)
  • 3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs

Filling Directions:

1. Line the sieve with three layers of cheesecloth; set it over a medium bowl. Place ricotta cheese in a prepared sieve; wrap cheesecloth around the ricotta and squeeze gently to remove excess liquid. Cover and chill overnight (additional liquid will drain from the ricotta).

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Add drained ricotta cheese and beat until blended.

4. Add sugar, orange peel, vanilla bean paste, and coarse salt; beat until smooth.

5. Add eggs one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Transfer filling to baked crust in pan.

6. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until cheesecake is set around the edges and the center moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool in pan for 1 hour. Chill cheesecake uncovered overnight.

7. Using a small knife, cut around the cake sides to loosen. Remove pan sides. Transfer cake to platter. Cut cake into wedges and serve with cherry sauce.


  • Prep Ahead: Make crumb crust
  • Foil ramekins
  • Zester
  • Sheet pan
  • Large measuring cup
  • K-Aid/Paddle
  • Piping bag
  • Shears
  • Egg cracking cup
  • Paring knife

Cranberry Cherry Sauce


  • 16 oz. frozen, pitted cherries
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Kirsch


1. Bring cherries, sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often.

2. Stir one tablespoon of lemon juice and cornstarch together in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk into the boiling cherry mixture.

3. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. You don’t want this sauce to scorch on the bottom. Cook until the liquid has thickened, which should take about 1 more minute.

4. Remove pan from heat and add kirsch; return to heat and ignite with a match


  • Prep Ahead: Defrost cherries 2x, recipe is perfect for full class
  • Large saute pan
  • Citrus juicer
  • 2 Tbsp measure
  • Mini whisk

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