TV food host Claire Thomas reigns with her own segment for the syndicated (US) ABC program Litton’s Weekend Adventure, “Food For Thought.” Every episode, she brings viewers into her own California style living, diet and food decoration methods. Fab!
What was the first traditional Aussie dish you remember your mother cooked, and how did it create an interest in food for you?
My mom is a fantastic cook, so I grew up around delicious food. Pavlova has always been a bit a specialty for her, and I have to say, hers is perfect. Crunchy on the outside but slightly chewy in the center, and the whipped cream is added at the very last second so it doesn’t make the meringue soggy. Yum! I think just being around good food had the greatest impact on me. We love eating as a family, and we care about the details but are pretty unfussy/unpretentious when it comes to the type of food we eat. My love of food also comes from the fact that history and research were my first love, and food happens to be an inexhaustible well to draw on. There’s always something new to learn, and the best part is you get to eat your lesson.
Is there such a thing as traditional fare where you grew up in Los Angeles? What’s the California version?
Absolutely! LA has three major things it’s known for: tacos, sushi, and hamburgers. We do all of them amazingly well. I grew up in LA, so all of these dishes are close to my heart. I’d also argue that traditional LA food is more of an attitude than a specific canon of cuisine. LA food (at least in the last 20 years) tends to be ingredient driven, bright, fresh, and very playful. We love going for the unexpected.
Let’s have a fake party! You had a very cool InStyle article about cheese boards. Uh oh! Half my guests either dislike eating more than a little cheese, hate the stinky breath they get or are lactose intolerant. All truth. Now what?
Sounds like your friends aren’t into cheese, so I’d make something dairy-free to replace the cheese board. I love crudite platters, even fresh vegetables drizzles with olive oil and sea salt can be wonderful. If you want something a little heartier, you could have a lot of fun with your charcuterie platter and serve different rilletes, olives, dried fruit, and delicious bread with fancy butter or nut butter.
Likewise for cocktails. Perhaps I know too many fitness oriented men and women who want to be skinny, but if I threw a party, lots of people would refuse my hard earned work. How could I do healthy party drinks in your neon tone style that still look good and aren’t beet juice?
An easy way to lower the calories in drinks is to turn them into a spritzer. I know spritzers are out of fashion, and have a sort of “Mom party in the 80’s” vibe, but they’re just so refreshing. You can make yours elegant and sophisticated by having fun with the herbs and flavors you’re adding, like rose with rose petals and muddled raspberries, or an aperol spritz with blood orange and fresh basil, or sauvignon blanc with fresh mint and lime. If you want the drinks to have more of a kick, replace the wine with your favorite alcohol, and add more fresh fruit for natural sweetness instead of sugar.
Is it ever OK to use paper plates at this pretend party so I don’t have to wash the dishes? Or is that tacky? Should I hire a maid for the day if lots of people come and I must do dishes? Help! In all truth, I’ve never thrown a party in my life. I mean this.
It all depends on the type of party you’re having. If it’s a daytime thing and pretty casual, sure, paper plates are fine. If you’re having a sit down dinner, use regular plates. Additionally, if you serve your meal family style, then you can avoid having a separate plate for each course.
My neighbor’s luau parties I used to attend always involved people ruining their home. Food everywhere, plates on the tables and floor, people leaving stuff outside, ugh. How do I make note of this for guests so they won’t trash my home too?
Yikes! It sounds like either your neighbor invites WAY too many people or doesn’t have very polite friends.
(*MY SIDE NOTE: YES! Very untidy folks for being professional people.)
So I guess the option is to either invite less people, so the host can have a bit more control over their guests, or invite better behaved friends. You should never have to make a note: “Please don’t trash my home.” However, people can be absentminded when they’re having a good time, leaving glasses on wooden tables without a coaster, forgetting to remove their shoes, etc., so if you have a smaller group, it won’t be an issue to kindly remind the guest about the house rule. Also, people are a little more self aware in an intimate setting, rather than a large, anonymous party, so they tend to be more careful with the host’s home. But if you want to have a giant party and don’t want your house to messed up, I’d recommend having the party outside. Rent a few heat lamps if it’s chilly and have a good time knowing your house is safe from disaster.