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Fashion's Favorite Holiday Recipes: Appetizers and Side Dishes

Rachel Zoe, Eric Wilson, Mickey Boardman and more have you covered for all your pre-entrée needs.

The whole "fashion people really do eat" sentiment is a cliché at this point. But that being said, it is kind of surprising how many fashion people actually do cook -- like make food, in the kitchen -- for the holidays. (At least to me, considering how dependent I am on takeout, delivery and restaurants, particularly for special occasions.)

But after hearing about Rachel Zoe's complex carb-packed side dish and Mickey Boardman's mom's green bean casserole, we learned that fashion people actually have loads of tasty and imaginative recipes to share. So we've asked them to tell us their favorites, starting with appetizers -- perfect for when you want to home-make something small and order the big stuff, like pre-made turkeys and hams, from Whole Foods (like me).

See below for their recipes, and stay tuned for a few entrees and desserts (plus boozy drinks and doggy treats!).

Eric Wilson's Roasted Chestnut Stuffing

“I love the smell (and lyricism) of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but to be honest, their taste reminds me of a mouthful of sand," InStyle's fashion news director tells us via email. "Nestled in a stuffing of butter, sage, celery and breadcrumbs, however, and they add the right note of richness for holiday cooking. Plus, the kitchen smells like chestnuts! This version I’ve adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe that I tried nearly a decade ago, served with pheasant, for my first Christmas with my partner, Van. We’ve been adding more butter every year since, and fewer chestnuts.”


  • Breadcrumbs (about 8 to 10 cups, I prefer big cubes of sourdough)
  • Chestnuts (1/2 lb or most of 2 cups, though I prefer to use about half that or less
  • Butter (at least 1 stick, plus more for brushing and to coat baking dish)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 big bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Score chestnuts with an X and boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin just begins to peel. Let them cool, remove skins (easiest by rubbing them in a dishcloth) and chop. Cover a baking sheet with foil, spread the chestnuts evenly, brush them with melted butter and salt and pepper and broil them just until they begin to brown on each side and the kitchen smells nice.

Fry onions and celery in butter until soft, add half a cup of white wine, reduce until most liquid has evaporated and move to a large bowl. In same pan, gently fry 8 to 10 sage leaves until crispy.

Combine onions and celery, chestnuts, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, pepper and about two cups of stock in the bowl. Press mixture into small, greased baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 30 minutes, then continue to bake uncovered for another 20 to 30 minutes until top is golden, brushing top with more melted butter along the way. Garnish with fried sage.

Rachel Zoe's Broiled Rosemary Potatoes

"I love this recipe because it's perfect for entertaining," the designer/stylist/TV star/author explains via email. "Your house will smell as if you've been in the kitchen all day, yet the prep and cook time is less than an hour. Not to mention, the roasted potatoes make a beautiful presentation for your guests."


You can use new potatoes, sweet potatoes or purple potatoes. Parboil the potatoes until softened (5-10 minutes). Cut potatoes into 1/2" thick pieces.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, coat the potatoes in melted butter or olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder, fresh rosemary sprigs (dried is fine too), and salt & pepper.

Spread the potatoes onto a single layer on the cookie sheet and broil them in the oven. As they start to brown, toss the potatoes to ensure all sides are evenly browned (15 to 25 minutes). Done!

Jodie Snyder-Morel's Spinach Gratin

One-half of sister-run accessories label, Dannijo, counts this side dish as part of her family holiday tradition. "We always make Ina Garten's spinach gratin," she says. Here's how:


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 pounds frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (5 10-ounce packages)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the flour and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add the cream and milk and cook until thickened. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach and add the spinach to the sauce. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Transfer the spinach to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the Gruyère on top. Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.

Mickey Boardman's Mom's Green Bean Casserole

The Paper magazine editorial director admitted to not being much of a chef during the holidays, but like a good boy, he loves his mom's cooking. "It’s not very sophisticated but nothing says holiday time like this casserole," he says. "Something about the heavy sodium content of the cream of mushroom soup and the crunch of the fried onions just gives you that overstuffed and lazy feeling that Christmas is all about!"


  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can French fried onions
  • 1 can French style green beans

Drain liquid in green beans can. Mix all together. Bake in oven at 350 for 40 minutes.

Clare Vivier's Cranberry Salad

The Los Angeles-based handbag designer shares her take on the traditionally American holiday side dish.


Start with 2 small boxes of red jello -- I like to mix up the cherry and raspberry flavors. Make the jello using the package instructions but use a bit less water. Let the jello sit in the refrigerator until it's partially set. Then add in the below mixture while it's still partially set.

In a food processor, place:
1 can of crushed pineapple
2 whole oranges (including peels and skin) cut into cubes
1 bag of cranberries (can be frozen)
1 cup sugar (can be adjusted based on preference)

Process the above and add it into your partially set jello. Stir it together and then add cut up celery pieces and walnuts. Put the entire mixture into the fridge and let it sit until it's set.

Kate Davidson Hudson's Kabocha Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

"From my favorite foodie site:," the Editorialist co-founder explains. "It's the perfect festive comfort food that's actually incredibly healthy!"

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  • 1 kabocha squash
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of butter or coconut oil
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice kabocha squash in half and place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until the skin can be easily poked with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool.

While squash is cooking, peel and cube the sweet potato. Either boil or steam for 10 minutes. Set cooked cubes aside. When squash is cool, using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl, set aside.

In a large pot, heat one teaspoon of butter or coconut oil. Let sizzle. Add minced garlic and onion. Stir for five minutes until fragrant but not brown. Add spices and season with salt and pepper. Add squash and sweet potato. Stir for two minutes. Add broth until squash and sweet potato are covered. You may need to add more broth or water depending on how thick you like your soup.

Cover the pot and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Turn off heat and in batches, blend the soup, leaving some sweet potato and squash for a chunkier consistency. Add lemon juice and zest. Season again to your liking. Serve hot.

Nicole Miller's Corn Bread Dressing

The New York City-based designer makes this Paul Prudhomme corn bread dressing every year. "It's an office favorite!" she says.


  • 1 1/2 pounds turkey, duck or chicken giblets
  • 1 stick, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 2 cups basic chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
  • 10 cups finely crumbled Paul and K’s Corn Bread
  • 2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
  • 6 eggs, beaten

For the seasoning mix:

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves


Boil the giblets in water until tender, about 1 hour. Drain the giblets and (preferably) grind or very finely chop them.

Thoroughly combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a medium-size bowl and set aside.

In a 5 1/2-quart saucepan, heat the butter and margarine over high heat until half melted. Add 1 cup of the onions, 1 cup of the bell peppers, 1/2 cup of the celery, and the garlic and bay leaves. Sauté about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the seasoning mix and continue cooking about 5 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan bottom frequently.

Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup onions, 1/2 cup bell peppers and 1/2 cup celery, the stock, giblets, and Tabasco. Cook about five more minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Add the corn bread, milk and eggs, stirring well. Spoon the dressing into two greased 13-by-9-inch baking pans (preferably not nonstick types), spreading the mixture evenly in the pans. Bake at 350 degrees until browned on top, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and discard bay leaves. Serve as desired.

Note: Be certain to let the dressing cool, then refrigerate it and chill it well before using it to stuff fowl. Makes about 16 cups.

Stephanie Phair's Kale Ribbon Salad

"This salad provides a slightly different twist on a traditional salad, because it has great nuanced flavors yet is really easy to make," says London-based The Outnet president Stephanie Phair. (Note: The recipe for "Tuscan kale salad with toasted pine kernels, avocado and pecorino cheese tossed in shallot vinaigrette" is from Phair's very dear friend and celebrated chef, Phoebe Kemble of Kemble Kitchens.)


  • 2 bunches of cavolo nero (a.k.a. Italian black kale) de-stemmed, leaves finely sliced into ribbons)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 packet (100 grams) pine kernels, toasted
  • Wedge of pecorino romano cheese (about 200 grams) shaved
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the shallot vinaigrette:

  • Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large banana shallot or 3 small round shallots
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of Malden sea salt


Thinly slice up shallots, sprinkle with salt, then pour olive oil, juice and white balsamic vinegar over the shallots and set aside.

Rip greens from stem. Wash and dry leaves. Chop thin (like confetti ribbons) and place into salad bowl.

Roast pine kernels in hot oven or pan until they are golden brown, usually takes about two to three minutes in hot oven at 200c/400 fahrenheit and you can start to smell them.

Shave pecorino. Slice up avocado into bite size pieces.

Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix together with dressing. Serves 6 to 8.