Thanksgiving tips from famous chefs

Submitted by Judy on Sat, 11/23/2013 - 10:14am.

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 a 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.

From Annie Miler of Clementine

Slice red onions 1/4 inch thick, keeping the rounds together. Lay them out on a baking tray and sprinkle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Roast uncovered in a preheated 375º oven until the balsamic is reduced and the onions are caramelized and glazed.

From “The Secrets of Baking” by Sherry Yard

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

1. Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

2. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat (or in the microwave) and immediately pour on top of the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then pulse 3 times. Scrape down sides with a rubber spatula and pulse three more times, until all the chocolate is melted. Transfer to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until it cools to 70° F.