Filipino Personality Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez's Holiday Hosting Tips
“Christmas is such a busy season in Manila! I try my best to go through my days peacefully so as not to forget what the season is truly about,” says Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez, COO of furniture company Philux. “To me, more than materiality and fluff, it’s about being present, sharing genuine moments and cherishing that time with your nearest and dearest.”
For Kienle-Gonzalez, Christmas has always been an intimate celebration with her small, tight-knit family. She shares, “If we are in town, we usually have Christmas Eve at home with my parents and sister, over a lovely home-cooked meal, holiday tunes and sitting around a bright tree in the living room that is filled with meaningful ornaments.” On Christmas day, her family would visit her husband Chris’ grandmother's home for lunch, where their kids would enjoy their cousins’ company while they run amok in the garden.
When asked about her Christmas traditions, Kienle-Gonzalez explains that it’s all about making her children happy during the festivities. “We have our Elf on the Shelf visit a month before the 25th of December. She cleverly and playfully moves around the house with special messages for Andrea and Arielle and this really builds up their excitement for the season. The head elf from the North Pole never fails to call up the children to let them know Santa Claus has received their letter.”
She adds, “Lastly, Santa or Le Père Noël always makes a stop on Christmas Eve, nibbles on the cookies, milk, jamon and wine that we place by the tree to the kids’ utter delight and leaves them a surprise. We always look forward to the smiles and giggles our holiday traditions bring.”
Holiday décor has her own signature pared-back elegance. “My holiday style evolves as our life does, though I always try to keep things natural, elegant and with sentiment. As I am a very visual person, the look slowly comes to life as I layer elements when setting the table. Sometimes, I edit elements out when I feel less is more. Overall, I want to create a feeling that is warm and festive.”
Of course, Christmas Eve wouldn’t be complete without a scrumptious feast. In the evening, an apéritif, usually champagne, and cheese spread with crackers, dried fruits, mixed nuts and dips are served as appetisers. While for the main course, Kienle-Gonzalez whips up a combination of healthy and comforting dishes.
“A healthy gourmet salad with grilled prawns, glazed walnuts, cranberries, pancetta and goat cheese is one of my staples. My mum makes the most decadent prime rib. Sometimes, we order truffle rice cochinillo as that is Chris’ favourite,” she elaborates. Her husband selects the wines and lately, they have been enjoying selections from South Africa.
“While I usually savour home-cooked meals for the holidays, when I find myself pressed for time, my go-to for delicious catered dishes is L’Entrecôte. My uncle, chef Martin Kaspar, always cooks up heart yet refined meals that my whole family can enjoy,” says Kienle-Gonzalez.
Here is a recipe from L’Entrecôte that you can try at home:
Deep-Sea Scallops in Pillow
Puff pastry filled with young spinach and deep-sea scallops on a lemongrass cream sauce, tomato-basil compote
Feeds 4 persons
- 1/2 pack puff pastry sheets
- 4 pcs deep-sea scallops (large size or 8 pieces small size)
- 400 grams fresh spinach, young leaves
- 100 grams shallots, chopped
- 2 pcs garlic cloves, chopped
- 100 ml white wine
- 1 string lemongrass, chopped 1 pc bay leaf
- 8 pcs black peppercorn
- 100 ml cream
- 1⁄2 bundle garlic chives, chopped 1 pcs tomato
- 1 bundle basil leaves, chopped Olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste 60 grams butter
- 10 ml lemon oil
Pastetli or Puff Pastry Pillow
Place two puff pastry sheets on top of each other and cut “pillows” out of it. Bake in the oven at 200 C for about 20 minutes. Leave outside and when cold, cut lengthwise in half.
Sautee 60 grams shallots and garlic in butter till transparent, add freshly washed spinach leaves and deglaze with 30 ml white wine. Sautee until all the wine is evaporated, season to taste with salt and pepper. Take out and set aside to cool.
Scallops & Sauce
Heat lemon oil with butter (ratio 2 to 1), season the scallops with salt and pepper and pan-fry until it’s nicely brown on each side. Take the scallops out and keep them in a warm place. Add in the pan butter, shallots, bay leaves, black peppercorn and lemongrass and sauté quickly (no colouration).
Deglaze with white wine and a little chicken stock, simmer for 3–4 minutes, add cream and reduce by half. Strain the sauce, place in a blender, add chive garlic and blend until smooth. Add small cubes of cold butter and blend, season to taste and strain the sauce again. Keep warm.
Tomato – Basil Compote
Peel the tomato, remove seeds and cut in small dice. Olive oil in a pan, add shallots and sauté until transparent. Add tomato, salt and pepper and a little wine and simmer until the tomato is soft (about 10 minutes). Slice basil in julienne strips, add to the tomato, season to taste and keep warm.
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