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Interview: Holiday Entertaining & Recipe Ideas with Top Chef’s Gail Simmons

By   /   December 22, 2012  /   No Comments

If you’re gearing up for your next holiday celebration and in search of some delicious recipes from a trusted expert, you’re definitely in luck! Culinary expert Gail Simmons of Bravo’s Top Chef joined me recently to dish on a delicious hors d’oeuvre recipe, and refreshing dessert just in time for Christmas Day, New Years and every celebration you’ll be partaking in this holiday season!

Top Chef culinary expert and judge Gail Simmons

Top Chef culinary expert and judge, Gail Simmons talks holiday hors d’oeuvres, desserts and holiday tablescapes with Candace Rose.





Candace Rose: As a renowned culinary expert and judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, what’s your secret to entertaining during the holidays?

Gail Simmons: “My secret is always about keeping it simple at the holidays. You want to make food that’s delicious and looks beautiful, but you also don’t want to spend your whole day in the kitchen; you want to spend time with family and friends. So I have a couple of secret weapon ingredients and ideas that are sure to do just that.”


Candace Rose: And I hear you have some recipes for us today?

Gail Simmons: “I do. My go-to ingredient for the holidays is (and I’ll show you some recipes to use with it in a minute) is the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry. You can find it in the frozen section at your grocery store. There are two sheets in every box so there’s lots of puff pastry available to make lots of different hors d’oeuvres, desserts, anything that you want. It’s one of those ingredients that if you keep it on hand you can make dozens of different recipes with.

My first idea is a recipe for a great hors d’oeuvre that’s a sausage, onion and pepper bundle. It’s an Italian-American sort of flavor combination that I love, but it’s given a little bit of a twist and it’s really delicious and easy to make. I just take some sautéed peppers, onions and sausages together and then I put them into a little round of puff pastry that I bundle up and seal, bake in the oven until golden. And then I just serve with a marinara sauce or maybe even some spicy mustard on the side. And the great thing about this is it’s really easy to pick up and eat with one hand while you have a glass of wine in the other.”

Candace Rose: It sounds delicious!



These sausage, onion and pepper hors d'oeuvres (with a side of marinara) were made with Pepperidge Farm puff pastry by Top Chef culinary expert and judge, Gail Simmons.

These sausage, onion and pepper hors d’oeuvres (with a side of marinara) were made with Pepperidge Farm puff pastry by Top Chef culinary expert and judge, Gail Simmons.


Candace Rose: Do you have any tips for setting the perfect holiday table?

Gail Simmons: “I do. The thing about keeping your table looking great for the holidays is often to keep it simple. You don’t want to make it too fussy where there’s no room for the food, and you want your table to really focus on the food that you’re serving. So little ideas like using old mason jars or jelly and jam jars that you may have around, putting a little votive candle in them that just gives it a beautiful elegant warm feel, but doesn’t retract from whatever you’re serving is a great tip to use for the holidays.”

Votive candles in mason jars are a beautiful addition to your holiday table.

Votive candles in mason jars are a beautiful addition to your holiday table.


Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?

Gail Simmons: “Well, there are so many different recipes that you can make during the holidays. A favorite dessert of mine is profiteroles. You can also make this with puff pastry. If you bake rounds of puff pastry until they get all nice and golden and puffy in the oven, cut them in half and then you can make an ice cream sandwich with them drizzled with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with a little bit of peppermint candies that you can get during the holidays. And that’s also a really refreshing, festive holiday dessert.”

How delicious do these profiteroles look? Yum!

How delicious do these profiteroles look? Yum!


A close up of Gail Simmons profiteroles.

Closeup of delicious festive profiteroles.


Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information and to find these great recipes?

Gail Simmons: “Well, for all of these recipes and many more that are perfect for the holidays, check out PuffPastry.com.”

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