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Sweet inspiration from the Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories

Photo courtesy Timolina for Freepik

The moment the pumpkins, ghost, and ghoul-inspired décor comes down, the holiday season in the States lights up. Even without snow and extreme weather, this is particularly true in Los Angeles, with sparkly, festive stuff popping up in homes and businesses at lightening speed. Although some of us are not quite ready for seasonal earworms to take up real estate in our heads (looking at you, Mariah Carey!), when it comes to the way seasonal comfort foods please our other senses, we’re on board … not only when it comes to savouring them, but also creating an aromatic mood in their preparation and sharing them with friends.
      The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories, located in Santa Monica, regarded as one of Los Angeles’ best-known cooking schools locally and nationwide, is a haven for both seasoned seasonal cooks and those who up until now have only dreamed of crafting holiday bliss by hand. While the school offers specialized (and inclusive) holiday season cooking and baking classes, it offers classes and workshops year round as well as a selection of gift packages and essentials.
      During the first week of November, journalists and influencers were treated to the Gourmandise experience. We came away with inspiring insights, helpful everyday kitchen techniques and an even greater appreciation for locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, as well as a few recipes that can carry one through the entire winter with bright spirits. We are sharing happy thoughts and great taste to readers below with some of the treats that were demoed to give you a head start on winter entertaining, even if you’re already looking ahead to a Super Bowl or Oscar viewing party.
      Visit TheGourmandiseSchool.com for more recipes, information on upcoming cooking classes, and cooking and entertaining-related gifts.

Butternut squash soup
1 lb butternut squash cut in half lengthwise and de-seeded
1 medium onion julienne
2 cloves garlic peeled
½ cup maple syrup
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cream
1 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
For the garnish
1 cup whole sage leaves, stem left on
1 pinch salt
4 oz butter
To make the soup
      1. Drizzle the olive oil on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Place the butternut squash cut side down on the oil. Roast in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes. Cool and scoop the squash out of the peel.
      2. While the squash is roasting, heat a heavy bottom pot with the butter, immediately followed by the onions. Cover and sweat (on low heat) the onions to a very soft translucent texture (about 20 minutes).
      3. Add the remaining ingredients with the scooped squash. Simmer for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender and season with salt and fresh black pepper.
      4. The soup can be made a day in advance and reheated to serve.
To make the garnish
      1. Gently heat the butter, salt, and a sage leaf on a low heat.
      2. Allow the butter to transform into a light golden brown and the sage to sizzle (this will take about 5 minutes).
      3. While hot, transfer the sage to a plate. Cool and garnish each soup shooter with a crispy sage leaf.
Apple latkes
1 lb tart, firm apples such as Granny Smiths (2 large or 3 medium)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
Butter for frying
Yoghurt, sour cream or crème fraîche for serving
      1. Grate the apples, either on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor, on the shredding blade.
      2. Transfer to a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth sling, and wring out as much juice as you can into a small bowl. Save juice.
      3. Transfer grated apple to a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice.
      4. In a small dish, whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder and toss with the apples, coating them evenly.
      5. Whisk eggs in this small dish until lightly beaten and stir into apple–lemon–flour mixture.
      6. Heat a large skillet to medium with one tablespoon butter. Once it has coated the pan, drop tablespoons full of apple batter in little piles, gently pressing them a bit flatter with a spatula.
      7. Fry until they are nicely brown underneath, about 3 to 5 minutes, then flip and continue to cook until they are browned and crisp. Drain briefly on paper towels.


Chicken rosemary skewers with honey dijon marinade
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1 in pieces
1 red pepper, diced into 1 in pieces

Wooden skewers
To make the marinade
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp fresh rosemary
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic peeled
1 Tbsp fresh ginger grated
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 sprig chives for garnish
      1. Blend all the ingredients together and marinate the cut chicken for 1–4 hours.
      2. Skewer three pieces of chicken with a dice of pepper between each piece, on soaked wooden skewer.
      3. Heat grill to a medium temperature. Brush each skewer liberally with olive oil and season with salt. Grill 3 minutes per side.
      4. Plate and garish with snipped chives.
Lemon shallot Brussels sprouts
3 shallots
½ cup olive oil
1 lemon for juicing
2 lb Brussels sprouts
Salt and pepper to taste
      1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Peel the shallots and place them in an oven-safe pot or dish. Cover completely with olive oil and bake for 20–30 minutes, or until the shallots are impossible soft and buttery.
      2. While the shallots are poaching, cut the stem off your sprouts and slice them each in half, discarding as many of the outer leaves as you can (don’t drive yourself crazy, though). Place these in a bowl and set aside.
      3. Remove the shallots from the oven and turn the heat up to 400°F. Spoon out the shallots and cut them into quarters, tossing them and enough olive oil from the pot to coat the sprouts.
      4. Toss in a few large pinches of salt and place the sprouts on a cookie sheet, baking them until just beginning to caramelize on the edges.
      5. Taste the sprouts, adding salt and pepper, if needed, and sprinkle in the lemon juice. Toss and serve warm.

Christmas with a punch
2 oz vodka (or your favourite zero-proof spirit)
½ oz elderflower liqueur
¾ oz cranberry juice
¼ oz simple syrup
¼ tsp freshly grated ginger
1 Tbsp fresh cranberries optional for garnish
      1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add your vodka or zero-proof spirit, elderflower, cranberry juice, grated ginger, and simple syrup.
      2. Shake well to combine.
      3. Divide evenly between two glasses and add extra ice if needed.
      4. Garnish with fresh cranberries.


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