RACHAEL RAY’S HOLIDAY INGREDIENT SWITCH-OUTS
NOTE: THIS INTERVIEW WAS CONDUCTED VIA EMAIL. ONE OF RACHAEL’S PUBLICISTS DID NOT LIKE THE WAY THE PIECE TURNED OUT BECAUSE OF MY EDITING. BELOW THE COLUMN FIND THE ORIGINAL ANSWERS TO MY BULLETED QUESTIONS. ALSO, FIND THE EMAIL OUTLINING THE PUBLICIST’S ISSUES WITH THE PIECE. WE ARE ALL ABOUT TRANSPARENCY HERE – YOU DECIDE…AND COMMENT.
Keep the glam this holiday but loose the slam from the credit card companies in January. Tracey Seaman, director of Every Day with Rachael Ray’s test kitchen, shared exclusive tips, for her Asbury Park friends, to keeping the sizzle in holiday meal prep this year.
TBP: What’s going on in Rachael’s kitchen during this leaner holiday entertaining season? How do you switch out more costly ingredients for cheaper ones in?
Tracey: Hosts in Asbury Park who are accustomed to enjoying extravagances probably already know what they are willing to live without. Trying to find a cheap substitute for recipes doesn’t work all the time. For me, attempting to find a replacement for foie gras, is like hiring an escort instead of going on a date with my boyfriend – why bother? I will settle with having it rarely.
TBP: So when you want to “wow” your man’s parents with a great meal, what do you do?
Tracey: You can always have a great party without going crazy. Be on the look-out for sales on beloved lavish items.
Let what you find at a good price dictate your menu instead of being bent on impressing with a bunch of must-haves.
TBP: What if someone is hooked on a tradition of having specific fancy foods like lobster or duck for the holidays?
Tracey: Invite fewer guests or tread carefully and serve those items in smaller amounts.
If you have a hankering for lobster, instead of serving whole lobsters as a main course, make a gorgeous lobster hors d’oeuvre – which could be quite exciting.
TBP: I love that idea. Rachael must be so proud. What do you think she is gifting you with this holiday? A Pitt Bull? She and I share the love of the Pitt Bull. Back to you – where do you and other pros, shop when you are not in Rachael’s colorific kitchen?
Tracey: I am a big fan of the warehouse stores. Aside from being a great place to buy mango juice and peeled and de-veined shrimp at about half the price, Costco has a reputation for treating their employees well.
TBP: Is there a secret to finding great items at a warehouse store?
Tracey: I often buy whole fillet mignons there, although I admit, they used to be less expensive. I have enjoyed many a boneless rib roast too, but buyer, beware – look for a slab of meat with ample marbling.
TBP: One of my most favorite recipes from you, err, Rachael is for Beef Wellington – we make it every year for Christmas. What about cocktail suggestions?
Tracey: Prosecco instead of champagne is popular these days – it’s festive and can be reasonably priced. Dress up a modest bottle of bubbly with a splash of nectar or rich, fruity syrup.
Most importantly, when entertaining, take care to pay attention to the little things. Serve excellent bread and wonderful coffee.
TBP: Fab, Tracey. If you do get that dog from Rachael this holiday, check out Asbury Bark in town.
Briefly: “If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage then don’t marry someone of the same sex.” So says one of the best comics around – named one of Entertainment Weekly’s Funniest People in America – Emmy winner and newly “out” Wanda Sykes.
I know a lot of you love her as much as I do, so FYI, she will be at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, March 20. Tickets are on sale now for the person on your holiday gift list with a great sense of humor.
POST-PUBLICATION EMAIL FROM PUBLICIST #1:
Good Evening Richard-
I just saw The B Plot article featuring your interview with Tracey Seaman, and it looks fabulous! Thanks so much for your interest Richard and I look forward to working with you again in the near future.
ORIGINAL REPLY TO MY QUESTIONS – UNEDITED – FROM PUBLICIST #1:
To: Richard Virgilio
From: Tracey Seaman
Re Switching out for the Holidays
People who are accustomed to enjoying extravagances probably already know what they are willing to live without. Trying to find a cheap substitute for things doesn’t work all the time. For me, attempting to find a replacement for foie gras, is like hiring an escort instead of going on a date with my boyfriend—why bother? I will settle with having it rarely.
One can have a great party without going crazy. First, look for sales on those beloved lavish items. Let what you find at a good price dictate your menu to some degree instead of being bent on impressing with a bunch of must-haves.
If you want to serve special ingredients you can’t get a break on, invite fewer guests or tread carefully and serve those items in smaller amounts. For example, if you have a hankering for lobster, instead of serving whole lobsters as a main course, you could make a gorgeous lobster hors d’oeuvre, which could be quite exciting and impressive.
Macadamia nuts are great for snacking on, but they are awful for cooking and baking because they are easily over powered by anything else you might pair with them. You could substitute cashews for snacking; they have a similar creamy texture, but for baking, pecans and especially hazelnuts are preferable for the holiday.
Although nuts are not always a bargain, you can get two-pound bags of them reasonably at your local wholesale superstore. I am a big fan of my Costco. Aside from being a great place to buy baby spinach, mango juice, haricots verts, and peeled and deveined shrimp at about half the price, Costco has a reputation for treating their employees well. I often buy whole fillet mignons there, although I admit, they used to be less expensive. Their choice grade steaks have hearty flavor and toothsome texture. I have enjoyed many a boneless rib roast from Costco—but buyer, beware to look for a slab of meat with ample marbling.
For value and flavor, I often choose boneless sirloin. It costs so much less than fillet, porterhouse and rib-eye steaks and needs only a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. I should mention that personally I would not buy meat merely because it’s a bargain.
In the wine department, buy something you like by the case at a discount. Take the sales person’s suggestion for a great vintage at a good value. Prosecco is popular these days, is festive and can be reasonable, and a modest bottle of bubbly can be dressed up with a splash of nectar or rich, fruity syrup.
Most importantly when entertaining, take care to pay attention to the little things—don’t forget to serve excellent bread and wonderful coffee.
EMAIL FROM PUBLICIST #2, POST-PUBLICATION. WE TOLD HER WE WOULD PUBLISH ANY FURTHER EMAIL TO US, TO LET THE READER DECIDE. ITS NOT EITHER PUBLICIST’S FAULT. THERE IS SOME BOSS MAKING ALL THIS HAPPEN AND THESE TWO WOMEN WERE THE MESSENGERS. ACTUALLY, BOTH GREAT AND SMART LADIES IN A BUSINESS BUILT ON TORTURE:
I really appreciate your time tonight. Thanks.
I spoke with you earlier in regards to your Q & A with Tracey Seaman of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. Thank you. As I mentioned on the phone, could you kindly revise the following in your Hot Plates article:
Please remove the question “So when you want to ‘wow’ your man’s parents with a great meal, what do you do?” This is not a question that was asked in the email interview and puts Tracey’s words out of context.
Please also remove Tracey’s answer, “Be on the look-out for sales on beloved lavish items.” I appreciate you trying to enhance the quotation – but its not in context.
Lastly, please bracket [Hosts in Asbury Park] in Tracey’s first answer. This is standard journalist practice.
Tracey’s comments were paired with questions that were not asked of her. She may have answered differently – that said, without giving her this option – we appreciate you working with us on the revisions. We really enjoyed working with you on this article and hope we can work together again.
Thanks again, Richard.