Food Network star Aida Mollenkamp once masterminded a Thanksgiving dinner for eight using just a hot plate and a De’Longhi toaster oven. “It was a disaster waiting to happen, but it turned out great,” says Mollenkamp, who pulled off a menu of dates stuffed with foie gras, roast turkey breast, celery root soup and a pumpkin panna cotta. Compared to that, her current holiday challenge seems like a breeze: Create a Thanksgiving dinner for a group of friends with various dietary restrictions, from vegetarian to gluten-free.
Mollenkamp has made a name for herself as a problem-solving cook, first on her hit show Ask Aida, where viewers send in their cooking dilemmas; and now with her new cookbook, Keys to the Kitchen (out now), a sort of Joy of Cooking for the Facebook set. “I tried to teach the sort of things our parents’ generation would have known, like making stock or rice, cooking from the hip and how to hold a knife,” she says. Her food outlook, however, is very modern, inspired by her global travels (a root vegetable and cauliflower tagine), and she suggests surprising ways to use seasonal produce, like adding pomegranate seeds for a sweet-tart take on gremolata. Read on for more of Mollenkamp’s smart pantry, cooking and style tips.