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After splurging on a truly excellent meal out, I often wonder how to create dishes of the same caliber (or at least close to it) at home. Luckily, this holiday season, Rachel Nichols of The Fond Life developed a menu ideal for the aspiring at-home chef. Whatever your level of culinary experience, you’ll be able to easily navigate these recipes and wow your guests with the results.  


Enjoying wine

A Simply Stunning Spread

Once you’ve returned home from the grocery with your ingredients and the bar of chocolate you couldn’t resist buying at check-out, you’re ready to begin. Well, almost. First: savor a square of chocolate. Second: prepare your workspace. 

Mise en place is a French phrase that translates to “everything in its place.” Professional chefs live and die by this motto. When you take the time to set out all the ingredients and measure them, you’ll exponentially increase your efficiency. More than this, you can focus all of your attention on your technique. For those who feel intimidated by cooking, especially for groups, this step is one that mustn’t be overlooked. 

Prosciutto-Wrapped Persimmons

(Serves 8)


3 ripe persimmons

¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Balsamic glaze (optional)


1.  Prep persimmons by cutting in half through the stem and removing the top with a paring knife. Cut persimmons into 8 wedges, wrap in prosciutto and place on serving platter. Optionally drizzle lightly with balsamic glaze.

Winter Salad

(Serves 6-8)


For the Salad

6 cups mixed greens

1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken

¾ cup pomegranate seeds

¼ cup almond slivers, toasted

¼ cup crumbled goat cheese

4 large rainbow carrots

2 teaspoons za’atar seasoning

Olive oil

For the Dressing

½ cup oil

¼ cup balsamic

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon mustard

1 heaping teaspoon pomegranate molasses

Salt to taste

Splash of cream


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven warms up, prep almonds and carrots. Spread the almond slivers on a baking sheet. Peel the carrots and cut into quarters. Place carrots on a foil-lined baking sheet, coat liberally with olive oil and za’atar seasoning. Toss until evenly coated.

2.  Place almonds in the oven and toast until light brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3.  Bake carrots until they are tender enough to be easily pierced by a fork and take on a bit of color, about 30 minutes (start testing at the 20-minute mark). Remove carrots from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

4.  While carrots are cooling, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk over low heat until combined and warm, not simmering.

5.  Combine greens, shredded chicken, pomegranate seeds, cooled almond slivers, and carrots in a large serving bowl. Toss warm dressing over salad and top with goat cheese. Serve immediately.


Winter salad

Open-Faced Smoked Gouda & Apple Grilled Cheese

(Serves 2)


For Sandwiches

1 sprig of sage

3 Tablespoons butter

2 pieces of sourdough bread

1 green apple

2 Tablespoons apple butter

2-4 slices of gouda (depending on how large your sourdough slices are)

Black pepper

For Optional Garnish

2 large sage leaves

¼ cup olive oil


1.  If preparing the garnish, heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a pan until hot and beginning to shimmer. Add sage leaves and cook 10-15 seconds on each side, turning with chopsticks or a fork. The sage should sizzle vigorously when you add it to the pan. After cooking, remove and place on a paper towel.

2.  To make the sandwiches: Butter one side of each sourdough slice. Place the buttered side down and spread the other side with 1 Tablespoon apple butter. Peel the green apple, cut into quarters, remove seeds, and slice very thinly. Top each sandwich with apple slices, making sure to slightly overlap them. Top with slices of gouda so that the apple slices are mostly covered.

3.  Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat and add in sage leaves. Cook until butter is fully melted and the sage is fragrant. Discard sage. Add sandwiches, buttered side down and cover with a lid.

4.  Cook until cheese is fully melted and the bottom of the sourdough is toasted a golden brown. Plate sammies and top with freshly ground pepper and fried sage leaves.

Creamy Tomato Soup

(Serves 8)


3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 sprigs of sage, leaves finely chopped

2 Tablespoon tomato paste

30 oz vegetable stock

2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes

1 cup heavy cream, divided

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Sage leaves for garnish


1.  Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Saute garlic and sage until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2.  Add tomato paste and stir with a large wooden spoon until incorporated (about 30 seconds). Add cans of crushed tomatoes, stock, and sugar and simmer for 20 minutes. Add ¾ cup of cream and bring back to a light simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with a swirl of additional cream and sage leaves.


Cherry tomato soup

Nutella Pull-Apart Bread

(Serves 8)


2 packages Dufour frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight

Flour, for rolling out the dough

1 cup Nutella

1 Tablespoon melted butter

½ cup milk

¼ cup powdered sugar


1.  The night before you plan on baking, place the frozen puff pastry in the fridge to defrost overnight. 

2.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by laying down a sheet of baking paper.

3.  Prepare the filling by combining Nutella with melted butter and milk, 1 Tablespoon at a time until spreadable. Set aside.

4.  Remove the pastry from the fridge. Carefully remove from package and cut each sheet width-wise so you have 4 pieces. Place a sheet of wax paper on your work surface and lay one ½ sheet of pastry on top with the longer side facing you. Lightly sprinkle the pastry with flour, dusting off excess with a pastry brush. Lightly flour your rolling pin and roll the pastry into a 12” square. Carefully place the pastry onto your prepared baking sheet and spread with an even layer of the Nutella spread with an offset spatula or spoon, using about 4 Tablespoons of Nutella mix. Place in the fridge to chill.

5.  Repeat process with the next two sheets of pastry stacking each on top of the first layer that you prepared so that you end up with 3 layers of pastry and Nutella.

6.  Roll out your last, fourth layer into a 12” square and place on top as your final layer of the pastry.

7.  Cut the pastry into a 10” circle–you can either eye-ball it or using a plate as a guide. Lightly press a 2.5” round cookie cutter or cup into the center of the pastry circle to create a subtle indent. This indicates the portion of pastry that you don’t want to cut into.

8.  To form the pastry into a star, use a sharp knife to cut the pastry into 16 segments, cutting from the edge of your center indent outward to the edge of the pastry. First, cut into quarters, then eighths, then sixteenths. You should end up with 16 triangular-shaped pieces that are connected in the middle by the un-cut circle.

9.  Starting with the two pieces closest to you, take hold of the bottom of the pieces and gently them twist away from each other 2 times around, pressing the ends back together on their long side. Repeat around the circle until all of the pieces are twisted and lightly pressed back together.

10.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the pastry is a deep golden brown.

11.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, place on a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Guests can pull apart their desired pieces and enjoy! 



Nutella pull-apart bread.

Playlist Magic

Almost as important as the beverage you enjoy alongside your meal is the music you queue up for your dining experience. Our playlist’s cool vibes pair perfectly with what’s on the table. While these songs resound throughout your home, let your palette reap the benefits of your hard work and leave the dishes for the next morning. 

This year, we hope conversation flows and that you linger at the table a little while longer. Invite us to your celebration by sharing your spread on Instagram using #myhavenly. And if you haven’t yet, follow us @thehavenly. As we countdown to the holidays, shop this designer-curated selection of decor. 

Happiest holidays from the Havenly team to you and yours! 

You don’t need to be an expert chef to impress your guests. Our designers curated the perfect items that will make your holidays feel special. Shop our designer-curated assortment. And find more tips and inspiration on the 3-star chef look here


Words by Erika Torvik