A new book by Chef Annie Falk will add style and glamor to your dining table.
When Annie Falk throws a party, she throws a party. Thanksgiving at the Falk residence, for example, is a weekend-long event with 30 or so guests being entertained at two of her Southampton homes.
A native New Yorker who moved to Palm Beach 10 years ago with her husband and two daughters, Falk is all about entertaining. Her professional background is a blend of studying culinary arts under legendary chef Roger Vergé (a protégé of Alain Ducasse) at Le Moulin de Mougins in the south of France; coordinating huge annual company events for Barbizon International; and fundraising for various philanthropic organizations, including the March of Dimes, Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach Police Foundation, and the American Heart Association.
One non-profit in particular struck a deep chord with Falk—the Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS), which provides adoption, early childhood development and family support services. To avert cuts to the program due to its waning fiscal budget, Falk dedicated 100 percent of the proceeds of her recent first book, Palm Beach Entertaining: Creating Occasions to Remember, to CHS.
“I wanted to prevent cuts, in particular, to its program called Transitions Home, which aids pregnant teens and their newborns,” says Falk. “This book was a natural project for me and incredibly gratifying. People are not only buying it, they are handing me a check made out to CHS at the same time.”
The book is fashioned from CHS’ successful annual Ultimate Dinner Party in mid-November, a progressive dinner-esque fundraiser that Falk chairs and hosts. It offers an inside look at the chic world of Palm Beach, known for its lavish lifestyle and grand parties, with more than 20 hosts opening their gilded doors to reveal entertaining secrets and 100 of their most tried-and-true recipes. Here, Falk shares three of her favorite recipes along with entertaining tips on how to throw a stress-free but crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving dinner party.
Falk uses fall colors as her inspiration for her warm and inviting table settings.
ANNIE FALK’S ENTERTAINING TIPS
Set the Tone
To make your Thanksgiving table original, personal and inviting, start by mixing and matching china patterns, silverware, and smooth and textured linens. Falk suggests taking your color cues from autumn leaves, a combination of browns, burnt orange, golds and greens. Additionally, amp up the ambiance with glass hurricanes filled with candles set on top of acorns and pinecones.
Put Fresh Forward
The best meal always begins with the freshest ingredients purchased within a day or two of preparation. Check out your local farmers’ market for vegetables and fruits in season, and order your bird in advance from a reputable farm.
As your guest list grows, so does the list of dietary restrictions. At Falk’s home, Thanksgiving is a feast that includes salads, soups and pasta, in addition to turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes. Make sure there is always something for everyone.
Maximize the Menu
Menu cards elevate the look of any table. Falk likes to find vintage images or meaningful quotes to place at the top, and then list the menu items along with where they were procured, such as the local farm where the turkey was raised.
Add a touch of elegance to each place setting by sitting in-season Bosc pears with a sprig of seasonal berries at the center of each plate. Place a gold-trimmed place card just beneath it and your menu card to the side, in a folded napkin.
Style Your Service
An easy way to elevate the look of any dish is to layer your serving plates. Try placing a glass bowl on an attractive platter and sprinkle it with shelled walnuts, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts, or edible flowers. This is especially lovely on a buffet.
Thanksgiving is a time for reflecting on all your blessings from the past year with family and friends. Falk recommends beginning a fun and heart-warming ritual, such as a “gratitude journal,” where you give each guest a scroll on which to write three simple things they are thankful for. Later, share the sentiments over dessert.
- 1⁄2 lime, juiced
- 2 oz. vodka
- 8 oz. good-quality ginger beer
- 1 lime slice
Pour lime juice into a chilled mug or iced glass and top off with ginger beer and vodka. Garnish with a slice of lime. Yields 1 serving. Fun side note: Mark Badgley and James Mischka of Badgley Mischka donated this recipe to the book!
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, sliced
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 1 large green pepper, cored and sliced
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced
- 1 head garlic, peeled
- 2 Tbsps. each of finely chopped fresh parsley, tarragon, thyme and rosemary
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh marjoram
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Pour 1⁄2 cup of olive oil into a roasting pan and add eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic. In a medium bowl, combine parsley, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and jalapeño. Whisk in the remaining 1⁄2 cup olive oil and pour the mixture over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil, place in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until veggies are soft and cooked through. Remove foil, stir gently and return to the oven for 10 minutes for vegetables to crisp slightly. Yields 6 servings.
Kit’s Pecan Pie
- 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 9-inch pie shell
- 6 Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1⁄4 cups light brown sugar
- 1 cup light or dark corn syrup
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 tsp. orange zest
- 1⁄4 tsp. salt
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 Tbsp. bourbon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread pecans over the pie shell. Combine butter, sugar, syrup, orange zest, salt, eggs and bourbon in a large bowl. Pour the mixture over the pecans. Bake 45-50 minutes until firm around the edges and soft but set in the center. Yields 8 servings.
Image Credits: Jrabinowitz Photography.