with Chef Tom Douglas
We chat with Chef Tom Douglas as he shares how we can handle the holidays.
and decided on a leek and potato empanada. It’s got cheese tarragon in it which is fragrant and I just baked them off and the treat is that I can get them all made up and then freeze them raw so an hour or two before your party, you can pull them out and bake them and it feels like you made them that afternoon. Those are little tricks of the trade that help you to be a more successful party planner.
AM: How easy is it for someone to take a dish and change it for those that are vegetarian, gluten free or other kinds of dietary needs?
CTD: Well it’s super easy because just 10 years ago, it was hard to find a good gluten-free flour, now they’re all over the place and they’re really good! Gluten-free flour, pasta, you name it – the key has been into the lock on gluten-free so we have delicious foods that way. Simplicity is key and vegetarian is key too so this little fennel tart that I made – a little caramel, a little fresh fennel slices and a little gluten free fennel on top, you cook them upside down so when you pop them out you get this golden mahogany nugget of deliciousness and you can serve it just like that or you can take a nice piece of Wagyu beautiful steak like what I have here and sear it and slice it thin and put it right on top and now you have a meat eaters delight. So with the same dish, you have made a classic dish that no one has had vegetarian wise and something for the meat eater that is coming to the party.
You know that you’re going to have red wine and we have the Chateau St Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon from Indian Wells Vineyards so you need a rich dish to go with a wine like that. You’ve got a party with all of these different kinds of wines and it really helps to try them in advance and then to plan the apps to go with them!
AM: What are ingredients that we should always have at home just in case someone comes by that we don’t expect and then it becomes a bit of a party?
CTD: That happens all the time at my house – that’s so funny! There are some really good premade dough out there. I try to always keep in my freezer, a pie dough and puff pastry dough. It’s the beginning of everything good and I always keep a chunk of smoked salmon in my fridge. We have beautiful wild salmon here and it would go along with all of these wines (probably not the red one that we talked about). I always keep that around and have good crackers, a little fresh chevre (goat cheese) – those are some of my ideas on quick apps to get things rolling.
AM: What are your suggestions for dishes to make for office parties for busy people that want to look like they have spent so much time on them?
CTD: Well they have to look good right? I mean, if you’re bringing it to work, it’s going to be hours later. One of the dishes I love to make which everybody loves them is a Roasted Vegetable Salad. It goes great with a Northwest Chardonnay. Take all the different veggies – fennel, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, pepper rings – all those different vegetables, douse them with a little olive oil and pop them into a 500 degree oven and roast them off until you have all kinds of caramelized edges, and dress them with lemon juice and vinegar. Bring a bottle of the Eroica and bring it to the office as you’re going to be a hero because you have solved every problem right? You’ve solved gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan!