I met chef Annie Miler of Clementine (across from Century City, 310-552-1080) and award-winning pastry chef Sherry Yard of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills (310-385-0880) a few years ago at gala fundraiser for Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR). I couldn’t resist the opportunity and asked them to give us some tips for the holidays.
“Thanksgiving is about cooking with your friends and family, not about being one person performing,” said Miler. “That’s what makes it stressful. Relax!”
The day prior to Thanksgiving is the single busiest day of the year for Clementine, she noted. “I always have a set of family members here before Thanksgiving and Christmas to help pack gravy and get the orders out. For our own dinner I could just order from Clementine, but this year my mom wants to make everything herself. After days of packing gravy she may decide to order!”
“Desserts like apple pie and pumpkin pie always taste better the next day,” observed Yard, “so why not make them the day before. And this will free the oven to let the turkey spread its wings!”
She also suggested measuring and prepping ingredients for dishes that need last-minute attention the night before.
Try a trifle for an easy, but showy dessert, she suggested. “Buy some gingerbread cake and layer it with whipped cream – fold in candied ginger – and sprinkle the cake with a simple syrup made with brandy or Jack Daniels.”
For an easy take on Miler’s hors d’oevre, serve bruschetta: roasted balsamic onions on toasted French or Italian bread slices.
Sherry Yard’s intense and velvety chocolate ganache is the basis of so many memorable desserts from truffles to mousse. For her “It” tart, pour the ganache into tart shells and top with tiny grapes that have been rolled in melted chocolate (no need to temper), then dusted with cocoa powder.
Last night for the first time I had the most beautiful platter of neat turkey slices. I followed this video from the NY Times.
The man is a genius!! End of turkey hassles! The only thing I did differently (and it actually worked even better) was I removed the drumstick first and then held on to the thigh bone and slid my knife down that bone to remove it with no meat on it. Then it was a simple matter to remove the thigh - whole! Slicing boneless meat is a breeze! We will never carve a turkey on the bone again! My platter looked just as great as his! We should have taken a picture!
My friend Eileen Cohen knows her chocolate. In a blind taste test she can tell Tobleron from Godiva with her hands tied behind her back.
That’s why, when she raved about the chocolate mousse that nutrition expert and cookbook author Jennifer Flynn had served, I was intrigued. A healthy chocolate mousse? What was the secret? Would you believe avocado?
“Nobody believes me when I tell them they are eating avocado,” said Flynn, author of “The Super Food Generation: 14 Foods That Get You Glowing.”
“It’s amazing how well the other ingredients mask the flavor of this buttery fruit. The heart-healthy fat of the avocado is a perfect replacement for the dairy cream used in traditional mousse.”
Flynn became a vegetarian when a friend brought her an article about the conditions in slaughterhouses.
“I’m a really big animal lover, and I thought, I don’t want to be a part of this. My family didn’t think it would last, but I started paying attention to ingredients and noticing the hidden animal byproducts and ingredients you can’t even pronounce the names of.”
“The Super Food Generation” is not a diet book. “I wanted to get back to basics and promote healthy foods and ingredients rather than a particular diet,” she explained. “I want people be open-minded and not think so much about having to stick to a diet, but become more familiar with the healthy foods out there and adapt them to their own particular diet.”
Besides the avocado, pumpkin – along with carrots, sweet potatoes and its relatives in the squash family – is another of the 14 super foods that work “synergistically with the human body to unlock vitality, strengthen immunity and literally slow down the aging process,” Flynn writes.
Excuse me? Pumpkin Pie a health food? We’re talking about a healthy Thanksgiving feast now?