Why You Should Go *Heavy* on the Apps This Holiday Season

And other holiday menu tips from professional chefs and food writers.

December 10, 2018
Photo by Mark Weinberg

Holiday season is firmly upon us—throws a giant handful of festive ribbons into the air—and we're pretty darn excited about it here at F52 HQ.

From gift-giving, to Holiday Swapping (psst, don't forget, today's the deadline to get those packages in the mail!), to menu planning, it's pretty much all we can talk about, both here in the office and when we go out into the rest of the world, too.

So, naturally, we couldn't help but ask a few of our favorite food writers and superstar cooks what they're planning to whip up for the festivities. And thanks to our nifty Automagic Holiday Menu Maker, we were able to get every single detail—like, down to the last grain of salt—just in case we want to take inspiration.

First, we checked in with our pal, food writer Jake Cohen, whose prowess in the kitchen has us drooling at all times.

"The holidays are such an eclectic time for me and my family. We don't really have small kids in the mix, so Hanukkah is reserved for the adults, requiring gatherings with copious amount of latke frying for all eight crazy nights," he says. "My sister and I always fight over topping them with apple sauce or sour cream (she will throw out any latke that has even the tiniest drop of sour cream touching it), and then my mom typically gets in the bickering mix. Someone always ends up shedding tears, but we don't really consider it a successful holiday if nobody cries."

You can view Jake's full menu here, or check out the highlights below:

"Since we don't celebrate Christmas, we typically fly down to Florida to get an escape from the cold with my husband's parents," says Jake. "His mother literally starts cooking in November, freezing a minimum of 10 pounds of Persian stews, ready to defrost when we arrive. She always wants to take us out to restaurants, but we insist on eating tahdig and ghormeh sabzi for breakfast, lunch and dinner the entire time. Finally, New Year's Eve is actually my birthday, so it's the only holiday my husband and I shun all our family and friends to go ball out at a fancy restaurant to celebrate."

Happy early birthday, Jake!

Next, we took things cross-country to check in with California cooking goddess Gaby Dalkin of What's Gaby Cooking. "Well, what are you cooking for the holidays?" we asked, hoping it might be another one of these:

"I'm so looking forward to entertaining this year! I'll be pulling out all the stops when we host," she says. "I tend to go heavy on the apps and the cocktails, so my guests immediately feel right at home. And then comes a fun and decadent menu with a California spin."

Is it too late to invite ourselves over, Gaby? The cheesy stuff to non–cheesy stuff ratio looks jusssst right.

You can see her entire menu here, or check out the following highlights:

That's all for now, but we'll be back with more holiday menu inspiration soon, but if you'd like to make your own in the meantime, head over to our Automagic Holiday Menu Maker and give it a whirl. (And don't forget to get those delicious Holiday Swap packages in the mail today, if you're participating!)

What's on your holiday table? Let us know in the comments.

Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker
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Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker

Choose your holiday adventure! Our Automagic Menu Maker is here to help.

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.