At Home With…
Skye McAlpine


Warmth, abundance, and the art of imperfection: food writer Skye McAlpine on the humble ingredients that make for the most spectacular parties—whether you’re hosting for two or ten.
  
Interview by: Tatiana Hambro
Pictured: Skye McAlpine wears
Oscar de la Renta with her own hair and make-up. Photographed by Nikki McClarron at her home.
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At Home With…
Skye McAlpine


Warmth, abundance, and the art of imperfection: food writer Skye McAlpine on the humble ingredients that make for the most spectacular parties—whether you’re hosting for two or ten.
  
Interview by: Tatiana Hambro
Pictured: Skye McAlpine wears
Oscar de la Renta with her own hair and make-up. Photographed by Nikki McClarron at her home.
Editorial Image
At Home With…
Skye McAlpine


Warmth, abundance, and the art of imperfection: food writer Skye McAlpine on the humble ingredients that make for the most spectacular parties—whether you’re hosting for two or twenty.
 
 

Interview by: Tatiana Hambro Pictured: Skye McAlpine wears Oscar de la Renta with her own hair and make-up.  Photographed by Nikki McClarron at her home.
At Home With…
Skye McAlpine


Warmth, abundance, and the art of imperfection: food writer Skye McAlpine on the humble ingredients that make for the most spectacular parties—whether you’re hosting for two or twenty.
 
 

Interview by: Tatiana Hambro Pictured: Skye McAlpine wears Oscar de la Renta with her own hair and make-up.  Photographed by Nikki McClarron at her home.
On What Her Holidays Look Like This Year

Because I was born British and grew up in Italy and my husband is Australian, we embrace a mix of traditions from all over. I love that because it means I get to adopt holidays like Thanksgiving (growing up, one of my mother’s best friends was married to an American and we’d celebrate every year in their palazzo in Venice). This year, it’ll be just our bubble in London—my husband, our two sons, and our nanny—owing to the lockdown. We’ll probably do an early Thanksgiving supper rather than a lunch as it gets dark at 4pm.
   
It’s not as big a group as I’d like it to be but I still think cooking and laying the table will be an important part of making it feel special, even though it’s tempting to sit in your pajamas and do nothing. We’ve decided we don’t love turkey so we’ll do a really good roast chicken instead. I normally put it on a bed of rosemary with some open pomegranates so it looks really pretty. To go with that, I’ll do mashed potatoes, a squash mash with heaps of butter, and chopped preserved lemons on top. I’m not sure if that’s traditional but it feels really autumnal and I just love it. For pudding, I’ll add an Italian touch with my mascarpone tart. It’s almost an American pie—or a nod to a pie, at least. And it’s really easy to make (see the recipe below). 
   
On What Her Holidays Look Like This Year

Because I was born British and grew up in Italy and my husband is Australian, we embrace a mix of traditions from all over. I love that because it means I get to adopt holidays like Thanksgiving (growing up, one of my mother’s best friends was married to an American and we’d celebrate every year in their palazzo in Venice). This year, it’ll be just our bubble in London—my husband, our two sons, and our nanny—owing to the lockdown. We’ll probably do an early Thanksgiving supper rather than a lunch as it gets dark at 4pm.
   
It’s not as big a group as I’d like it to be but I still think cooking and laying the table will be an important part of making it feel special, even though it’s tempting to sit in your pajamas and do nothing. We’ve decided we don’t love turkey so we’ll do a really good roast chicken instead. I normally put it on a bed of rosemary with some open pomegranates so it looks really pretty. To go with that, I’ll do mashed potatoes, a squash mash with heaps of butter, and chopped preserved lemons on top. I’m not sure if that’s traditional but it feels really autumnal and I just love it. For pudding, I’ll add an Italian touch with my mascarpone tart. It’s almost an American pie—or a nod to a pie, at least. And it’s really easy to make (see the recipe below). 
   
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On Festive Decorating—And Why She Favors Fruits Over Flowers

I’m loving gingham this year paired with lots of squashes, herbs, and candles on the tables. Everything looks good and glamorous by candlelight. And I like to layer, mixing up the heights so it doesn’t feel too rigid. Choose bowls in different sizes and scatter them so it’s kind of undulating over the table. Another thing that is lovely in winter are herbs. I like to tie big bunches of rosemary with twine. If I’m doing a really big long table, I’ll take potted plants and herbs and dot them up and down.
  
At this time of year, flowers can be harder to come by; they’re not in season and they’re really expensive. By contrast, there are so many beautiful fruits in really autumnal colors. I go heavy on pumpkins, squashes, persimmons, pears, apples, deep-colored plums, as well as bowls of walnuts and chestnuts.
  
The other reason I love decorating with fruit is you can use it afterwards, whereas flowers wilt. People tend to help themselves and that interactive element encourages people to linger after the meal. That’s often when you know you’ve thrown a good party, when everyone’s still there. What doesn’t get used up can then be used in cooking later on—poached pears, apple crumble, or a delicious breakfast compote. It worked particularly well in the holiday period when there’s a succession of entertaining.
  
On Her Secret Ingredient: Imperfection

Character is so aesthetically valuable. Something will be more beautiful if it’s a little bit off—it just makes it that much more memorable or interesting. If you can find the strange-shaped fruit and veggie, that’s better.
  
It’s also one of the reasons I love mixing and matching. You want your table to feel special and exciting, but you also want everyone to feel relaxed and instantly at home in that setting. The worst thing is when you feel you’re at someone’s house and you’re afraid to break something. One of the ways to achieve that is having the hoards of candles and piles of fruit so it feels really sumptuous—but at the same time it’s not perfect. Odd shapes and overflowing piles help people to feel at ease and more comfortable.
 
On Festive Decorating—And Why She Favors Fruits Over Flowers

I’m loving gingham this year paired with lots of squashes, herbs, and candles on the tables. Everything looks good and glamorous by candlelight. And I like to layer, mixing up the heights so it doesn’t feel too rigid. Choose bowls in different sizes and scatter them so it’s kind of undulating over the table. Another thing that is lovely in winter are herbs. I like to tie big bunches of rosemary with twine. If I’m doing a really big long table, I’ll take potted plants and herbs and dot them up and down.
  
At this time of year, flowers can be harder to come by; they’re not in season and they’re really expensive. By contrast, there are so many beautiful fruits in really autumnal colors. I go heavy on pumpkins, squashes, persimmons, pears, apples, deep-colored plums, as well as bowls of walnuts and chestnuts.
  
The other reason I love decorating with fruit is you can use it afterwards, whereas flowers wilt. People tend to help themselves and that interactive element encourages people to linger after the meal. That’s often when you know you’ve thrown a good party, when everyone’s still there. What doesn’t get used up can then be used in cooking later on—poached pears, apple crumble, or a delicious breakfast compote. It worked particularly well in the holiday period when there’s a succession of entertaining.
  
On Her Secret Ingredient: Imperfection

Character is so aesthetically valuable. Something will be more beautiful if it’s a little bit off—it just makes it that much more memorable or interesting. If you can find the strange-shaped fruit and veggie, that’s better.
  
It’s also one of the reasons I love mixing and matching. You want your table to feel special and exciting, but you also want everyone to feel relaxed and instantly at home in that setting. The worst thing is when you feel you’re at someone’s house and you’re afraid to break something. One of the ways to achieve that is having the hoards of candles and piles of fruit so it feels really sumptuous—but at the same time it’s not perfect. Odd shapes and overflowing piles help people to feel at ease and more comfortable.
 
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On Why Anyone Can Cook (Yes, Really)

Everything I’ve learned has come from cooking for more people than it ever seems sensible to squeeze into our tiny kitchen. And that stems back to when I was living in student digs—we didn’t even have a fridge in the kitchen! We only had a tiny mini fridge in our bedrooms and no real table. But we’d gather around the coffee table and still have a proper meal. Cooking isn’t hard. A lot of it is about letting go of your expectations. A lot of us have these preconceptions that hosting is about doing something really elaborate, but it doesn’t have to be. And that’s not because you’re settling for something that’s second best, I genuinely think the simplest thing done the right way offers the best experience. And that’s definitely true when it comes to entertaining. You want it to be simple and inviting and cozy—because otherwise it’s not fun for you and it’s not fun for your guests. That’s really the Italian way.
  
On How Italy Has Influenced Her Hosting Style

The Italian way of cooking is what I grew up with. Obviously it’s delicious—but it’s really all about simplicity. It’s very ingredients-led, so it’s all about finding the ingredients and then doing the bare minimum to make it a meal. Obviously, we’re not all buying from an Italian market where the produce is all there for you, so if you’re shopping from a farmer’s market or a supermarket, it’s about knowing what to buy and how to put it together.
  
On Why Anyone Can Cook (Yes, Really)

Everything I’ve learned has come from cooking for more people than it ever seems sensible to squeeze into our tiny kitchen. And that stems back to when I was living in student digs—we didn’t even have a fridge in the kitchen! We only had a tiny mini fridge in our bedrooms and no real table. But we’d gather around the coffee table and still have a proper meal. Cooking isn’t hard. A lot of it is about letting go of your expectations. A lot of us have these preconceptions that hosting is about doing something really elaborate, but it doesn’t have to be. And that’s not because you’re settling for something that’s second best, I genuinely think the simplest thing done the right way offers the best experience. And that’s definitely true when it comes to entertaining. You want it to be simple and inviting and cozy—because otherwise it’s not fun for you and it’s not fun for your guests. That’s really the Italian way.
  
On How Italy Has Influenced Her Hosting Style

The Italian way of cooking is what I grew up with. Obviously it’s delicious—but it’s really all about simplicity. It’s very ingredients-led, so it’s all about finding the ingredients and then doing the bare minimum to make it a meal. Obviously, we’re not all buying from an Italian market where the produce is all there for you, so if you’re shopping from a farmer’s market or a supermarket, it’s about knowing what to buy and how to put it together.
  
“Everything I’ve learned has come from cooking for more people than it ever seems sensible.” 
 

“Everything I’ve learned has come from cooking for more people than it ever seems sensible.” 
 

5 Rules To Throw a Perfect Party

1. Remember it should be fun and comfortable—for you and your guests. Try not to cave to the pressure that comes with holiday cooking. I know it sounds cliché, but don’t seek perfection. There’s an authenticity to it that’s very chic, stylish, and welcoming. Ultimately the most precious thing you can offer guests is to make them feel really welcome, as if they’re in their own homes.
 
2. Holiday entertaining is usually for larger numbers so you want to be really organized. Do you have a lot of oven space? It’s not a problem either way, but it’s better to be aware of how your kitchen works before you’ve done the shopping. As you’re planning out the menu, think about dishes: are you going to roast your turkey in this dish, and sweet potatoes in this one? Double check if you can fit them in the oven at the same time. It may sound tedious but you only have to do it once, and then you’ll know for all the parties moving forward.
 
3. Do as much as possible in advance so you can stay relaxed. Choose dishes accordingly, prioritizing things that can be easily heated up or are served cold. 
 
4. Avoid the fuss. Where we can often go wrong is when we’re so excited and want to do something so celebratory that we go over the top. There’s nothing worse than having everyone else upstairs opening presents or chatting and you’re in the kitchen fussing over the hand-rolled pastry.
 
5. Less is not more, but fewer is better. In other words: go for fewer dishes and cook lots of them. It’s a lot less time consuming to do more of one thing—and it looks better. A big dish of anything always looks really fabulous.
  
5 Rules To Throw a Perfect Party

1. Remember it should be fun and comfortable—for you and your guests. Try not to cave to the pressure that comes with holiday cooking. I know it sounds cliché, but don’t seek perfection. There’s an authenticity to it that’s very chic, stylish, and welcoming. Ultimately the most precious thing you can offer guests is to make them feel really welcome, as if they’re in their own homes.
 
2. Holiday entertaining is usually for larger numbers so you want to be really organized. Do you have a lot of oven space? It’s not a problem either way, but it’s better to be aware of how your kitchen works before you’ve done the shopping. As you’re planning out the menu, think about dishes: are you going to roast your turkey in this dish, and sweet potatoes in this one? Double check if you can fit them in the oven at the same time. It may sound tedious but you only have to do it once, and then you’ll know for all the parties moving forward.
 
3. Do as much as possible in advance so you can stay relaxed. Choose dishes accordingly, prioritizing things that can be easily heated up or are served cold. 
 
4. Avoid the fuss. Where we can often go wrong is when we’re so excited and want to do something so celebratory that we go over the top. There’s nothing worse than having everyone else upstairs opening presents or chatting and you’re in the kitchen fussing over the hand-rolled pastry.
 
5. Less is not more, but fewer is better. In other words: go for fewer dishes and cook lots of them. It’s a lot less time consuming to do more of one thing—and it looks better. A big dish of anything always looks really fabulous.
  

Try This At Home: Winter Fruit & Mascarpone Tart

An indulgent and easy crowd-pleaser, you really can’t go wrong with this no-bake recipe. You can serve the tart plain if you’re feeling lazy or decorate with anything you think looks pretty. This time of year, I like to use redcurrants, blackberries, chunks of pear, persimmon, and a drizzle of honey.
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Try This At Home: Winter Fruit & Mascarpone Tart

An indulgent and easy crowd-pleaser, you really can’t go wrong with this no-bake recipe. You can serve the tart plain if you’re feeling lazy or decorate with anything you think looks pretty. This time of year, I like to use redcurrants, blackberries, chunks of pear, persimmon, and a drizzle of honey.
Editorial Image



Try This At Home: Winter Fruit & Mascarpone Tart 
 
An indulgent and easy crowd-pleaser, you really can’t go wrong with this no-bake recipe. You can serve the tart plain if you’re feeling lazy or decorate with anything you think looks pretty. This time of year, I like to use redcurrants, blackberries, chunks of pear, persimmon, and a drizzle of honey.   







Try This At Home: Winter Fruit & Mascarpone Tart 
 
An indulgent and easy crowd-pleaser, you really can’t go wrong with this no-bake recipe. You can serve the tart plain if you’re feeling lazy or decorate with anything you think looks pretty. This time of year, I like to use redcurrants, blackberries, chunks of pear, persimmon, and a drizzle of honey.   




Ingredients 

Active Time: 30 minutes


For The Base:
 80g dark chocolate, chopped
 450g chocolate bourbon biscuits
 100g salted butter, softened

For The Filling & Topping:
 1 egg, separated
 80g caster sugar
 500g mascarpone, at room temperature
 400g blackberries
 4–5 plums, quartered & pitted 
 

Instructions:

1. Put the chocolate in a food processor with the biscuits. Blitz until they form a crumb mixture, then add the butter and blitz again until the mix starts to clump together. Press evenly into a deep 28cm fluted pie dish with a removable base and put in the freezer for 10 –15 minutes to harden. You could put it in the fridge if you prefer, just leave it in there a little longer.

2. Whisk the egg white until stiff, adding half the sugar a little at a time. In a second bowl, beat the yolk with the remaining sugar until thick and lemony pale. Beat the mascarpone into the egg yolk mixture until smooth, then gently fold in the egg white.

3. Spoon the mascarpone cream into the case and smooth it out with the back of a spoon. Store in the fridge for up to 1 day.

4. Top with the blackberries and plums just a few hours before serving, so the plums don’t turn brown.


Excerpt taken from A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty by Skye McAlpine (Bloomsbury)
Ingredients 

Active Time: 30 minutes


For The Base:
 80g dark chocolate, chopped
 450g chocolate bourbon biscuits
 100g salted butter, softened

For The Filling & Topping:
 1 egg, separated
 80g caster sugar
 500g mascarpone, at room temperature
 400g blackberries
 4–5 plums, quartered & pitted 
 

Instructions:

1. Put the chocolate in a food processor with the biscuits. Blitz until they form a crumb mixture, then add the butter and blitz again until the mix starts to clump together. Press evenly into a deep 28cm fluted pie dish with a removable base and put in the freezer for 10 –15 minutes to harden. You could put it in the fridge if you prefer, just leave it in there a little longer.

2. Whisk the egg white until stiff, adding half the sugar a little at a time. In a second bowl, beat the yolk with the remaining sugar until thick and lemony pale. Beat the mascarpone into the egg yolk mixture until smooth, then gently fold in the egg white.

3. Spoon the mascarpone cream into the case and smooth it out with the back of a spoon. Store in the fridge for up to 1 day.

4. Top with the blackberries and plums just a few hours before serving, so the plums don’t turn brown.


Excerpt taken from A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty by Skye McAlpine (Bloomsbury)
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READ MORE: Top Fashion Editors Share Their Style Secrets
SHOP MORE: Winter Wardrobe
READ MORE: Top Fashion Editors Share Their Style Secrets
SHOP MORE: Winter Wardrobe
READ MORE:
 
Top Fashion Editors 
Share Their Style Secrets
 
SHOP MORE:
Winter Wardrobe
READ MORE:
 
Top Fashion Editors 
Share Their Style Secrets
 
SHOP MORE:
Winter Wardrobe