Chefanie's Stephanie Nass on Holiday Cooking & Entertaining
Top Hostess Hacks
1. Define a Color palette
This will create cohesion from the invitation to the table to the menu to the dessert.
2. Use Candlelight
Candles at different heights across the table make your guests look their best, and they add a sense of occasion.
3. Personalize Elements for Each Guest
So they know how much they were thought of and how much their presence means. This could be as simple as a handwritten place card or as unusual as a embroidered napkin.
Must-Serve Dishes (a.k.a. The Guaranteed Crowd Pleasers)
1. Cheeseboard—a smattering of cheeses, meats, nuts, fruits, dried fruits, and chocolates from which guests can snack. In the golden olden days (pre-Covid), we would create enormous, colorful grazing tables. Now, when catering, we serve individual cheese plates or jars to be Covid-safe.
2. Patterned cakes to match the tablecloth, wallpaper, etc.
3. Geode cookies (recipe below!)
1. Cooking 1-2-3 by Rozanne Gold
Rozanne is a James Beard-award winning chef, who, in her early thirties, cooked at Windows on the World and Gracie Mansion. This book makes things extra simple with only three ingredients in each recipe.
2. The Food Lab by Kenji Lopez-Alt
Kenji takes a methodical approach to testing recipes (he tried over 100 experiments to get to his perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe), and the proof is in the pudding. I reference this cookbook often—the recipes are great, and he outlines the chemistry of temperatures, times, and ingredients.
3. The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden
Claudia is the most cosmopolitan, Cairo-born cookbook writer. When I first read this book, I learned about history, language, and cooking. The orange cake is so succulent—definitely my favorite.
4. Anything by Ottolenghi
All the recipes I've tried in Ottolenghi's books are delicious.
Stephanie's Must-Give Gifts
Recipe: Geode Cookies
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (moist)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2. Place chunks of that chocolate chip dough on a lined baking sheet in the freezer.
3. When the chunks are cold and firm, bake in oven at 400° F until golden brown.
Once baked, let cool.
4. Frost the cookies entirely with white buttercream frosting (mixture of 4 c confectioner's sugar, 1 stick softened butter, and 1/2 c heavy cream).
5. Spray the edges of the frosted cookies with an edible gold spray.
6. In the center of the cookie, place some colored rock candy, and around the colored rock candy, place clear rock candy. Leave the golden edges visible.
7. In the center of the colored rock candy, drip some drops of food coloring (in the same color as the colored rock candy).
8. Enjoy with a Chefanie cocktail napkin.
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