When I wrote 'Barefoot in Paris,' I wanted to make simple recipes that you could make at home that tasted like French classics.
You don't have to do everything from scratch. Nobody wants to make puff pastry!
The most important thing for having a party is that the hostess is having fun. I'm very organized. I make a plan for absolutely everything. I never have anything that has to be cooked while the guests are there. The only thing I might have to do is take something out of the oven and carve it.
I learned that the hardest party to pull off successfully is Saturday night dinner. This meal is expected to be elaborate: appetizers, first course, dinner, dessert, and coffee. People arrive at 7:30 or 8 p.m. and stay for hours - definitely past my bedtime - and they all go home exhausted.
Instead of going out to dinner, buy good food. Cooking at home shows such affection. In a bad economy, it's more important to make yourself feel good.
They say that gardens look better when they are created by loving gardeners rather than by landscapers, because the garden is more tended to and cared for. The same thing goes for cooking. I only cook for people I love.
I always like to have flowers on the table. I think they make it look special.
Creme Brulee is the ultimate 'guy' dessert. Make it and he'll follow you anywhere.
I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand, a warm smile on my face, and great music in the background, because that's what gets a dinner party off to a fun start.
I'm really a scientist. I follow recipes exactly - until I decide not to. And then I'll follow something else exactly. I may decide I could turn this peach tart into a plum tart, but if I'm following a recipe, I follow it exactly.
My extravagance is my garden - it's the first thing I look at every morning when I wake up. It gives me so much pleasure.
I love to take something ordinary and make it really special.
If it's a cocktail party, I generally make five or six different things, and I try to choose recipes that feel like a meal: a chicken thing, a fish or shrimp thing, maybe two vegetable things, and I think it's fun to end the cocktail party with a sweet thing.
If you think about a Thanksgiving dinner, it's really like making a large chicken.
I worked for the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, on nuclear energy policy. But I decided it would be much more fun to have a specialty food store, so I left Washington D.C. and moved to the Hamptons. And how glad I am that I did!
My mother would never let me in the kitchen. I always wanted to cook, but I was never allowed to. Her view of the world was, 'Cooking is my job, and studying is your job.' I think, in retrospect, she didn't like the chaos. She was very orderly. It had to be her way.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the ultimate comfort meal.
I've taught myself how to use good, fresh ingredients and to prepare them as simply as possible by cooking only to enhance their intrinsic flavors.
In the summer you want fresh, light and sort of quick things; in winter you want things that are comforting, so your body really tells you you want to go towards potatoes, apples, fennel, things that are warm and comforting. And loin of pork.
I absolutely adore Thanksgiving. It's the only holiday I insist on making myself.