Find Culinary Inspiration with Duke Chefs

Try these winter recipes at home

With cold air nipping and the first day of spring still far off, it's a perfect time to warm up with winter recipes. In order to find some great-tasting dishes, Working@Duke reached out to three chefs from across Duke and asked them to share their favorite creations for winter.

Pre-heat the oven, get your Cuisinart and fill some stomachs with these favorites:

Jason Cunningham is executive chef of the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. He has been included in the books "Great Chefs Cook Vegan" and "Chefs of the Triangle: Their Lives, Recipes and Restaurants."

"I love to make soups in the fall and winter when it's really satisfying to have a nice hearty hot bowl of soup. This is also the time of year when we are able to locally source really nice, hard squashes. When cooked and pureed into a soup their subtle flavors are very clean and can be enhanced quite easily."

Acorn Squash Soup


  • 1 pound jumbo onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound carrot, chopped
  • 2 ounces celery, chopped
  • 3 pounds acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 4 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 pound Poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter
  • 1/4 ounce fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 gallon vegetable stock or low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 anise star

Steps:Season the squash with cumin, salt and pepper and roast cut side down at 350 degrees with one-quarter of onions and a little water in bottom of the pan until very tender. While roasting, saute rest of vegetables with butter. Scoop out roasted squash and add to pot with ginger, vegetable stock and peppers. Simmer 30 minutes, then puree and adjust seasoning.


Cate Smith, executive chef for Duke Integrative Medicine and Duke Diet and Fitness Center, is a certified dietary manager with more than 25 years of culinary and management experience.

"Fall and winter are such an exciting time for food because it's when we think of comfort food the most. Oranges, yellows and other vibrant colors of fall are ever-present in our food. I like taking traditional comfort foods and make them healthier, since it's a time of year we try not to gain weight."

Fig and Walnut Cheese Balls


  • 2 eight-ounce packages of reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup dried figs, finely chopped with stems removed
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

Steps:Cream cheese for one minute in a medium bowl with a hand or stand mixer until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in figs, Parmesan cheese, honey, pepper and cinnamon. On sheet of plastic wrap, shape one-third of cheese mixture into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining cheese mixture, making three balls. Refrigerate until cheese balls are chilled and firm, about one hour or overnight. Roll chilled balls in chopped walnuts. If chilled overnight, let stand 30 minutes before serving.


Vernon Dunnegan has worked at Duke for 20 years, working as a lead production worker with Duke Dining since 1999. He currently prepares food in Penn Pavilion, Duke's newest dining space.

"The ribs cook so tender that you don't even need a fork. All you want to do is grab the bone!"

Beef Short Ribs


  • 15 pounds beef short ribs
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 white onion, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cup of burgundy wine
  • 3 cups of beef stock

Steps:Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients with olive oil, remove beef ribs from marinade and thoroughly rub mix on ribs. Heat a roasting pan to 375 degrees, and sear beef ribs on all sides. Add liquid ingredients to roasting pan and place onions around ribs. Cook for two hours at 165 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.Optional: Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, basil and thyme and marinate in beef stock to preference.