Thanksgiving is barely two weeks away, which means it's time to get out your roasting pans, gravy separators, oversized serving platters and a hefty dose of Xanax, because extended family will soon be knocking down your door. Lucky for me I've got a super small family so the drama is limited to some gravy-straining issues and mandatory vegan options, but others I know are not so fortunate. Both my mom and I know how stressful it can be to cook a rockin' holiday spread for eight (much less eighteen) that satiates everyone's appetite and dietary restrictions. So to help you out -- and prevent your Aunt Betty from complaining about watered-down gravy or dried out turkey -- I've put together a list of local holiday-themed cooking classes that will help you get the job done. And if you're lucky, maybe even a kudo or two.
Every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. until Thanksgiving (Nov. 9, 16 and 23) Breadbar Century City gives its lunchtime patrons a 15-minute complimentary crash course in turkey carving, helping them get the perfect sliced turkey breast, thigh, and wing. Each demonstration is open to the public, although you might want to spring for Breadbar's Turkey Special lunch ($14.95) with roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Just don't plan on going back to work.
On Thursday, Nov. 11 from 7-9 p.m., M Café's chef Lee Gross shares his favorite macrobiotic holiday recipes M Café de Chaya Beverly Hills. For $35 per person (including dinner, beverage, and recipes), Gross will show participants how to make spiced butternut bisque, maple-glazed acorn squash with Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, and pan-braised seitan with herbed gravy. Space is limited, so RSVP in advance by emailing Amy Harmon at Amy@mcafedechaya.com.
On Saturday, Nov. 13 from 2-4 p.m. Napa Valley Grille's executive chef Joseph Gillard shows home cooks the techniques and tricks behind cooking a fantastic Turkey Day dinner. The class is $20 and includes chef Gillard's demonstration, light hors d'oeuvres and pours of California wine. Call (310) 824-3322 for reservations.
From Nov. 15, 16 and 17, The Original Farmer's Market Sur La Table location hosts Bon Appetit: Thanksgiving Table, a cooking class that walks you through the basics behind preparing a complete Thanksgiving Day meal made from Bon Appetit recipes, including butternut squash soup with cider cream; roast turkey with port gravy; sourdough stuffing with sausage, apples, and golden raisins; mashed potatoes; maple-glazed yams with pecan topping; cranberry and blood orange relish; and pumpkin pie. Classes are $79 each. Spots are limited; make your reservation at Sur La Table's website.
Don't have time to attend a cooking class? Finding expert advice on how to cook a 20-pound bird, how to make the perfect creamed spinach, or what wines to pair with your personal holiday feast is as easy as opening a new browser window. Head to The Grill on the Alley's website, where executive chef John Sola is now answering holiday-related cooking questions on his "Ask Chef Sola" blog. Submit questions by filling out the form here.