First, Dascal says, a table that sparkles (like the one she created at her family’s home) makes any celebration feel special. She juxtaposed her mother’s traditional crystal with more contemporary placemats by Kim Siebert, who she says “always has the best placemats!” Next, she created a station for nutritious snacks and finger foods, such as spiced nuts and dried fruits. “It’s the holidays,” she says. “You don’t want to feel lethargic, you want to be awake to enjoy everything.”
Dascal says holiday eating doesn’t have to mean holiday gorging. For our shoot, her event company’s in-house chef, Misha Macdonald, whipped up creations that are both flavor- and nutrient-packed and that rely on some serious power ingredients. The lentil loaf is homey, hearty and meat-free (recipe below); a pistachio crusted sea bass filet makes for an elegant and special main dish; a perfectly poached egg atop a bed of mixed grilled mushrooms is a gorgeous side.
Dascal’s in-house mixologist, Christopher Hudnall, created a refreshing pomegranate-based drink, called a Gitano Holiday (recipe below), that can be made with or without alcohol.
HEARTY LENTIL LOAF over red beet cashew cream, roasted root vegetables, seared Brussels sprout leaves and scallion oil
For the lentil loaf
4 cup cooked baby lentils
1 large shallot
1 cup cooked celery
1 cup cooked carrot
4 cooked garlic cloves
¾ cup garbanzo flour
½ cup coconut oil plus I tbsp
1 tsp toasted cumin
chopped rosemary, thyme, and parsley
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Mix all ingredients together into a thick dough like consistency. 3. Form into a tube shape and brush with melted coconut oil. 4. Place over a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. 5. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until browned and firm. Cut into serving slices.
For the red beet cashew cream
1 cup raw cashews ¼ cup red beet, cooked in water until very tender
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1. Soak raw cashews in water overnight, but no more than 14 hours. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup. 2. Place cashews and beet in blender with reserved cashew water. 3. Add garlic, lemon, salt and pepper and blend until silky smooth.
For the roasted root vegetables & Brussels sprouts
6 to 8 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 to 3 fennel stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 or 2 celery roots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 or 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup Brussels sprout leaves
¼ cup coconut oil
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 2. Heat all but 2 T of the coconut oil in a sauté pan and sear all vegetables except the Brussels sprouts in it. Transfer to a sheet pan. 4. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until just tender. 5. In the same sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 T of coconut oil and sear the Brussels sprout leaves until they are lightly browned. Set aside.
For the scallion oil
½ cup canola oil ¼ cup scallion (green part only)
Add scallion to oil in a blender and blend for 45 seconds. Let sit for at least three hours.
To assemble the dish, spread red beet cashew cream across a dish or platter. Top the cream with the sliced lentil loaf, placing the slices in a row. Top each piece of lentil loaf with a few roasted vegetables and Brussels sprouts leaves. Dot the sides of the plate with the scallion oil. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
GITANO HOLIDAY COCKTAIL
1 oz Pierde Almas Mezcal 1 oz Milagro Silver Tequila 3/4 oz Pomegranate Molasses 3/4 oz Lime Juice 4 Dashes of Rhubarb Bitters 1 Egg White Orange zest
Add ingredients into a shaker. Shake vigorously with no ice for 10 seconds. Add ice and shake again for another 10 seconds. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. Zest an orange over the coupe and garnish with 3 pomegranate seeds placing them in a star figure. Makes one drink.