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Holiday Q&A With Claire Thomas

December 14, 2012|By Betty Hallock
  • Claire Thomas is the host of her own TV show, "Food for Thought With Claire Thomas."
Claire Thomas is the host of her own TV show, "Food for Thought With… (Yayo Ahumada )

Angeleno Claire Thomas is the host of her own ABC television cooking show, "Food for Thought With Claire Thomas," now in its second season. But she launched her food career with her wildly popular blog The Kitchy Kitchen right out of college -- "an experimental playground," she says, for her writing, photography and passion for food.

She's also a commercial director (directing for clients such as McDonald's, Miracle Whip and Del Taco) and food stylist. All of the photos and videos on the blog are shot by Thomas, featuring food, recipes and interviews with wine experts, food producers and chefs.

Among her hobbies: collecting vintage cookbooks, Depression-era glassware and L.A. postcards from the '30s and '40s.

We caught up with Thomas about how she's celebrating the holidays, popovers and making 25 pounds of hot cocoa mix....

What do you love about winter holidays in L.A.? 

The interesting thing about celebrating the holidays in Los Angeles is that we do not have sub-zero winter weather, it never gets bitter cold. The palm trees stand tall and the sun shines during the holiday season, and the holiday spirit is everywhere.... There is a lot of enthusiasm. We have a White Christmas spirit; we just don’t have a White Christmas.

What's your favorite holiday dish? 

My favorite item my family makes are popovers because they require a special tin and you have to eat them the second they get out of the oven – there is no waiting. They are not difficult to make and they are indulgent. The name "popover" comes from the fact that the batter swells or "pops" over the top of the muffin tin while baking.  If you’ve never had a popover it’s basically pancake batter that you cook at high heat.... The exterior is crunchy and golden brown and the interior is custardy and eggy. In my opinion it’s the best conveyance for butter that anyone has ever created!

How do you make a table festive? 

My family and I actually had a humorous conversation about this over Thanksgiving. When I was a child and in charge of creating everyone’s place card, I took the role very seriously. I used to draw these illustrations and designs that reminded me of each person at the table. Since then the position has gone to who ever the youngest relative is in the family. Recently we found this bag filled with cards, which was a terrific way of remembering everyone who has come to our holiday table. This includes everyone’s ex-boyfriends, which is an interesting way of knowing how long the relationship lasted – how many place cards they had made. I really love that technique of making the table personal. There’s a way of making the table “gorgeous” by making it look tablescaped by having one thing matching the other thing … but that’s not really my style. I would rather have electric vases filled with really beautiful spruce branches so it smells like Christmas. Vintage glass wear, linen napkins, etc. I love eclectic pieces.  

What are you planning for your next holiday meal?

Because my entry into food within the context of my family is recent (my mum and my aunts have been fabulous cooks for approximately 30 years), I’ve gotten to take over a couple of dishes. However, my job is mostly to help in the kitchen. I coordinate to ensure that the items come out in order and that all dishes are hot when they go on the table. If I don’t do my job well, that means someone’s dish will be cold. I typically do the sides. I love making candied yams or potatoes au gratin or parsnips au gratin because my mom is a parsnips fiend. They lend themselves to a sharp cheese.

Name three things on your holiday gift wish list. 

1) A food processor. This is No. 1 on my list because my younger brother recently borrowed mine to make pizza dough, and it broke! 2) Tea towels. I’m a bit of a collector (hoarder) of all things kitchen and table-top; I would love to get more tea towels this year. I adore the type of things you would find at a French bistro with a little red stripe or with gorgeous prints on them.  3) Vintage cookbooks. There are two places in the states that are great for finding them: Janit Jarvits and Bonnie Slotnick. Nothing makes me happier than poring through a good cookbook.  

Name three gift-giving ideas. 

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