Chef John Kanell has simple, preppy cooking ideas for busy Thanksgiving cooks. He said that while the holidays are meant to be fun, they often end up being quite stressful, especially for the chef at home.
“You know, we’re trying to get into the holidays. We are trying to make things easier when we may be a little stressed or on edge,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Then Kanell shared how she approaches the holidays and Thanksgiving the Preppy Kitchen way.
Preppy Kitchen plan ahead for less stress on Thanksgiving
“The one thing you always want to do is plan ahead and prepare,” he emphasized. “I don’t like to do things in the morning when the guests come because maybe I want to finish tidying up the house. I want to look good and be relaxed or have the final finishing touches like flowers on the table.”
“So I’ll do my best to get things baked well in advance, if possible, or prepared ahead of time,” she explained. “I’ll mix some things up, I’ll put some things in the oven, but I don’t want to work a lot of the day. So, if you’re in the kitchen for the first time in a minute, preparing a big meal, write out what your menu is, choose what you want to make versus what you want your guests to bring, and then say, “When can you?” I do this? How long will it last?'”
John uses eggs to add a fresh finishing touch.
Kanell used some examples from the Preppy Kitchen. “Like I’m making cookies, for example, I can make them a week in advance,” she said. “They are in the freezer in a deep freezer and baked from frozen. So I’m not going to worry about that, but they’re going to come out of the oven fresh as a daisy and very delicious.”
But he also loves to use eggs to finish the cakes. “There are little things you can do, like you’re baking a cake. Go ahead, she takes an egg. Whip it up with some water, milk or cream and make sure you have a beaten egg,” she said.
“Even if the recipe says you don’t need one, just add it anyway,” Kanell said. “If you like a chocolate cake, for example, you want the crispy butter crust to melt in your mouth. When you are baking the dough, add the beaten egg on top. It will be shiny, it will be golden. But that egg wash will also give you a bit of a barrier between the shortbread crust and the top of the wetter custard, keeping them apart so the crust stays crisp.”
What is John Kanell’s favorite Christmas dish?
What is a Preppy Kitchen “go-to” for the holidays? “Personally, I love having rolled cakes,” she said. “There is a pumpkin pie that is close to my heart. My mother’s favorite cake in the world is a lemon curd roll cake.
He described the Preppy Kitchen’s approach to a lemon curd pie. “So you’re making a very paper-thin layer and a rolled cake is usually fat-free,” she said. “So the magic comes from the foamy egg whites. You take the egg whites and the foams almost into a meringue, and you’re going to fold it into your dough that has the flour and the sugar and whatever. And those egg whites will expand in the oven as they heat up. Raise your cake without using baking soda or baking powder.”
“Fill that with a lemon curd,” he added. “Lemon curd is like these wonderful, rich, sunny egg yolks that help give lemon juice a thicker consistency. It’s one of my favorite things to eat… like sunshine on a spoon, is what my mom always says. Spread that on your cooled cake, roll it up, top with some whipped cream and berries. And that works every day of the year. Everyone is going to love this cake and it is so easy to make.”
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