For an old-fashioned holiday, the Holly Dickens Festival is the place to be. And, as this year's fun unfurls, a restaurant downtown serves up an extra helping of charm.
Constructed in the Victorian Queen Anne style, the Historic Holly Hotel hollyhotel.com looks like it came right out of a Charles Dickens novel. Built in 1891, it was destroyed twice by fire – most recently in 1978. George and Chrissy Kutlenios did some painstaking reconstruction to bring it back to its vintage look.
George, who grew up in Pittsburgh, actually bought the building – then in tatters – after that second fire. Now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the eatery strives to provide the freshest ingredients and dishes to visitors.
"We feature classic American dishes prepared to order," George says. "We don't have a microwave or a big freezer." For kids, he suggests a fairy or teddy bear-themed afternoon tea. Sunday brunch is also a popular with families. And in December the restaurant is decked in holiday trim. "We use nearly 1,500 feet of live garland, and there are always seven decorated Christmas trees," George says. "Christmas is a special time here."
Get in the spirit with one of its signature entrees, on the menu since '79.
- 2 whole chickens (or chicken pieces)*
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 cups chopped, cooked, broccoli
- 1.5 lb. herbed cream cheese** (at room temperature)
- 1 package phyllo sheets
- 2/3 cup butter, melted
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 egg whites
- 3 drops lemon juice
Hollandaise sauce or dollop of rich fruit preserve
*Another option is to use 4 cups leftover cooked, cubed chicken. **Make your own herbed cream cheese by blending regular cream cheese with salt, pepper and "Montreal Chicken" seasoning (found at Gordon Food Service and most grocery spots). Holly Hotel typically combines herbed cream cheese and Boursin cheese, seasoned additionally to taste.
- Fill a large stockpot with whole chickens or chicken pieces (this can also be done in a slow cooker) and enough water to just cover the meat. Add onion and celery and bring the liquid to a boil; reduce to simmer until chicken is tender but doesn't fall off the bone (small, 3-4 pound chickens will take just over an hour).
- Remove chicken from pot. Once chicken is cool, shred the meat into tablespoon-sized pieces (discard skin and bones). You'll have about 4-5 cups.
- In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, broccoli and chicken pieces. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow phyllo dough to come to room temperature and spread two sheets on a flat surface. Combine melted butter and olive oil. Liberally brush each sheet with the olive oil mixture.
- Place 1/8 of the chicken mixture on the lower center of the phyllo sheets and spread out evenly. Fold in sides and roll the phyllo to encase the mixture. (Almost like a large burrito.) You can vary the size, depending on the use. Place rolled strudels an inch apart on a greased baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to bake. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets for a total of eight individual strudels.
- In a small bowl, whisk three egg whites, 1 teaspoon of water and 3 drops of lemon juice together. Brush egg white mixture over the strudels.
- Bake at 375 F until the strudels just turn golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- Serve plain or top with hollandaise or a dollop of rich fruit preserve. Serves eight.