Gail Simmons' Entertaining Essentials
The holidays are fast-approaching, and with them comes countless opportunities for entertaining, whether it’s a big Thanksgiving dinner,an intimate Friendsgiving, an open house, or cocktail hour with co-workers. It’s a chance to dress up your tabletop, both with functional necessities and elegant details. Recently, Gail Simmons stopped by our Styer’s store to shop her entertaining essentials for this season’s celebrations. Read on for our quickfire Q&A with the world-traveling cookbook author and Top Chef judge for her tips on how she likes to bring it home for the holidays.
terrain: Hi Gail, thanks for chatting with us again! Do you prepare a feast on Thanksgiving? We’d love to hear your favorite ways to update, invigorate, and inspire classic holiday dishes.
Gail: As a Canadian, American Thanksgiving is one my favorite holidays now and I always look forward to entertaining friends and family. One small twist on a classic is usually all it takes to transform a dish. A few simple suggestions:
- Instead of a whole turkey, try butterflying a turkey breast - rub spices inside, roll it up, and put it in the oven. You can go anywhere with the spice flavors, from the Middle East to China, and the meat often becomes more tender and juicy this way!
- I love adding sumac or zaatar to regular dipping sauces for appetizers or lemon vinaigrettes for salads.
- Try using maple syrup in place of honey on a bowl of candied nuts.
- Swap pre-mixed syrups for fresh ginger and citrus juice for cocktails.
- Add miso to your roasted sweet potatoes instead of marshmallow.
- I love adding dill to my mom's classic latkes, or transforming classic bombolini into a doughtnut with a jar of jelly on the side.
Gail: One of the easiest ways to entertain is to throw a soup on the stove or a braise in the oven they’re warm, comforting, and always a crowd-pleaser. You can really layer on the flavor and easily accommodate any diet restriction. Plus, they basically cook themselves, so you’re spending less time in the kitchen and more time with your family.
terrain: What’s the one piece of entertaining advice you’d give anyone who’s hosting a big Thanksgiving this year?
Gail: Don’t do everything yourself! Ask for help – someone can bring dessert, someone else can bring a big, beautiful salad, and ask a few other friends to provide wine.