Alex Guarnaschelli
Credit: Alex Guaranschelli

One of the main reasons why I love the Food Network so much is of course the food, but the other is Alex Guarnaschelli.  There is something so fresh, real and fun about her persona and the way she cooks that keeps me coming back for more and more.   With a new cookbook out and many other things she is doing like being an awesome person (and being an owner of one of our favorite restaurants called Butter), Alex still has time to host a fabulous holiday party and wants you to do the same.  In doing so, she has given our readers some great tips on how to have the most successful holiday party ever and not having it end with a gross piece of fruitcake.

Alex’s new book is called The Home Cook, which just came out at the end of September.  The book includes an entire chapters on hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, desserts, so this comes at a perfect time to get some advice from who I consider to be the queen of Food Network.

Credit: Alex Guarnaschelli

Take a look at Alex’s advice on how to have the best holiday party ever.

What is your favorite part about hosting a holiday party? 

I absolutely love the idea of taking the time to pause, set a beautiful table and spend an evening with friends and family. No distractions.   What could be better than the smell of homemade food cooking in the late afternoon?  There is something magical about it.

Where do you find that most hosts get it right and get it wrong in the execution of a party? 

They don’t plan properly, they do not make dishes that can be done ahead or served family style. The hosts that plan well always have a better evening, and wind up spending time with their actual guests. I suggest having dishes set out to nibble on when guests arrive. I like serving marinated cerignola olives, toasted sourdough bread with wedges of cheese or ricotta.  You can also offer passed or placed snacks such as individual brie sandwiches with toasted sesame seeds, warm bar nuts and a tray of trout roe tiny potatoes. Elegant and simple.  Have a great champagne and flutes and a few bottles of red or white in hand.  You can also serve a homemade eggnog, I like to place it in a punch bowl and I recommend using bourbon in your recipe. I have a great recipe for it in my new book, The Home Cook.

Do you have a favorite cocktail from your new book that you like to serve for your guests? 

I love a good Negroni. The bitter and sweet notes make people hungry for great food.

What about food recipes in the new book – any favorites that will keep them coming back for more?

I would say my Grandma Guarnaschelli’s lasagna, my whole roasted chicken with bacon, at a big holiday dinner serve family style with an elegant mixed green salad.

Is dessert a key element to a holiday party?

It is– I like to use high quality candy canes and chocolate to make homemade Dark Chocolate Bark.  It looks festive and can also be a beautiful take away gift at the end of a party. Using great ingredients always makes a difference.

For the table I love a variety of homemade cookies for the table such as thin crispy gingerbread cookies, salted butter shortbread cookies, and brown sugar chocolate chip cookies.  Make a homemade beautiful yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting and top it with brandied cherries.

For more information on Alex Guarnaschelli’s new cookbook, click here.