Across the Table from Martha Stewart
In 1982, the best-selling Entertaining started Martha Stewart on an epic journey of gracious living. Her new book, Martha's Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations —equal parts sequel and diary—continues the voyage.
By Christian Millman
1. Has it really been 30 years since Entertaining came out and changed everything?
I know. Time flies, doesn't it?
2. In Martha's Entertaining, you chronicle a year of celebrations. Did you ever shout, "Hey, all you people, get out of my house!"?
Not once. It makes me happy. There was a stretch with five amazing parties in one week. That's fun for me.
3. You enjoy entertaining in the morning most. Why?
I live on a farm. The nicest part of the day is the morning. Everyone is fresh and happy. The day is just beginning.
4. With all those parties, do you ever try new-to-you recipes on guests?
Sure. I'm a pretty good cook so I know by looking at the recipe if it's going to work. You can also say, "I want to try out a new recipe tonight. Do you want to try it with me?"
5. A former neighbor says he always wanted to knock on your door and borrow a cup of sugar but never did.
He should have! That's what neighbors are for. I love borrowing things—but I always return them.
6. How do you add special touches to daily-driver dinners?
Take spaghetti: Grate some fresh Parmesan cheese, add some chopped fresh herbs. A minute later, it's something special. I also keep 14 different kinds of salt in ramekins. They go with any dish, even dessert, and make even the most ordinary meal taste so much better.
7. You're known for so many signature dishes. Is there a limit to the number of dishes anyone can truly master?
I don't think so. Those are what I call the 101s. You can master a lot of 101s in life.
8. So no advantage to concentrating on just a few?
You know who does that? A lot of men. I have a friend who has mastered the puttanesca. You know when you go to his house what you're going to have and it's going to be really good puttanesca.
9. It's almost Thanksgiving. Traditional approach? Change it up a bit?
I love subtly altering the traditional to make it more interesting. But some things should stay the same. My favorite thing on the Thanksgiving weekend is actually a delicious turkey club sandwich made from leftovers.
10. Mmmm, leftovers. Would it surprise people to find out you eat straight from the container?
No, everybody does that. Don't you eat peanut butter out of the jar? A little spoon, right? Cold stuffing—I love it. Olives. Liverwurst. Hot fudge. I rarely open a can of sweetened condensed milk because I know I'll finish the whole thing. It's delicious. I invented "It's a good thing" for moments just like this.
Martha's French Toast Recipe
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup Cognac or other brandy
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 slices (1 inch) brioche or challah bread, preferably day-old
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil, such as safflower
2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for sprinkling (optional)
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)
Pure maple sugar, for serving
Whisk together eggs, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, brandy, and orange zest in a shallow dish. Dip bread slices in egg mixture to coat.
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook bread on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture or dust with confectioner's sugar, as desired. Serve immediately, with syrup on the side.
Reprinted from the book Martha's Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations by Martha Stewart. Copyright © 2011 by Martha Stewart. Photograph copyright © 2011 by Frédéric Lagrange. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.