Sunny Anderson's Secret Ingredient
Published December, 2008
Sunny Anderson, Food Network host, puts extra care into holiday recipes
Sunny Anderson, 32, host of the popular Food Network shows Cooking for Real and How’d That Get On My Plate? says her childhood as an army brat meant that getting the family together for the holidays wasn’t always a given. Those years when she was able to spend Christmas with her grandparents remain the most memorable.
"When we did get a chance to celebrate with everyone together, they were holidays times ten! There was a ton of cooking and eating, especially eating. As a child I remember eating pies and cakes and candy because grandparents never say 'no.'"
At her grandmother’s house, those cakes and pies were always made from scratch because, she says, her grandmother was a "cake person."
"My grandma made the best cakes, and I am lucky I got the gene! I always think of her and never make cake from a box or use frosting from a can, especially when I know I am going to serve it to my family," says Anderson.
After serving in the U.S. Air Force followed by a career as a radio host and in other entertainment media, Anderson’s feet are finally firmly planted in Brooklyn, but when traveling the world as an army daughter, Anderson’s parents encouraged her to experience and experiment with new cuisines. Later, when she enlisted in the Air Force, she recalled and supplemented her understanding of the world’s culinary diversity during her travels. This, she says, along with her parents' teachings and experiences and her grandparents’ Southern comfort food formed the foundation of the traditions that have become the essence of her career.
She also tries to incorporate these lessons learned into her own Christmas celebration, maintaining traditions while creating new ones.
"I try to maintain traditions of my grandparents' holidays so that I can pass them on," she says. "The memory of the greens, yams, and mac n' cheese are dishes will always be what I bring to the table."
No matter where the celebration may be, says Anderson, parents and grandparents alike need to take the time to put heart and soul into holiday meals as a way of showing grandchildren that love is the most precious ingredient in a great meal.
Sunny Anderson's Spicy Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups raw elbow pasta, cooked until almost al dente
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss together pasta with the cheese cubes and pour into a 2-quart baking dish.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Cornish Hens With Sage Butter
4 (1 3/4-pound) Cornish game hens, butterflied
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place hens on a sheet tray fitted with a cooling rack in the refrigerator for 1 hour to dry out skin. Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat, melt butter with sage, zest, salt and pepper.
Yield: Makes 4 servings.
Sunny Anderson’s Mini Espresso Cakes With Peanut Butter Frosting
For the coffee cakes:
For the frosting:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 4 3/8-pound mini-loaf pans. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together the sour cream and espresso until dissolved.
Yield: Make 4 mini loaves.