Food Matters | Ali Larter’s Book of Seasonal Menus for Homegrown Parties
BY ALAINNA LEXIE BEDDIE SEPTEMBER 5, 2013

Ali Larter, the Los Angeles-based actress best known for her roles in “Heroes” and “Varsity Blues,” nearly put herself under house arrest for two and a half years while creating her first cookbook, “Kitchen Revelry” ($32.50, St. Martin’s Press). “This book has been my every day, nights and weekends,” said Larter, who wrote and art directed the “petite little party book,” as she put it, at home. “It’s taken over my house.” And it was all accomplished with what Larter called “incredible team of women” her good friend Tracy Zahoryin visited almost daily to help taste and develop the recipes, which Alison Attenborough food styled around Larter’s home and Amy Neunsinger photographed while friends and family poured in, gobbling it all up. (Her nearest and dearest are pictured in the book, too.)

“I don’t like food to be precious, and I don’t like it to be taken too seriously,” said Larter, who learned her lesson in her early 20s when she repeatedly failed at hosting elaborate dinner parties after moving to

Manhattan. So she filled the book with manageable recipes some borrowed from family (her sister’s candy cane crunch cookies) and friends (her girlfriend Deb’s jalapeno margaritas), most written for the first time alongside Zahoryin” and divided it into 12 chapters, one for each month. Each chapter has two themed menus, like December’s Tree-Trimming Cocktail Party and New Year’s Eve Dinner, complete with seasonal dishes and drinks meant for entertaining.

But Larter, who was recently a guest judge on “Top Chef Masters,” admits to making some of the dishes year round, like her mahi mahi tacos with nectarine salsa, carrot ginger muffins and buttermilk ranch dressing. Lately, she said, “My husband’s been asking for the turkey chili, and I keep saying, “Honey, it’s too hot out! We’re not there yet!” But I feel like the first day of football is when that will come in” Those also looking forward to the start of the 2013 N.F.L. season tonight can make Larter’s turkey chili, a hearty dish with chocolate and Guinness, featured here before the book hits shelves next Tuesday.

Lagered Turkey Chili

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
¼ cup olive oil
3 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)
2 cups chopped seeded green bell peppers (about 2 green bell peppers)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 pounds ground turkey meat, white or dark
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder or 1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness or lager beer
1 (14 ½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ½-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Mix the chili powder, cumin and chili flakes in a small bowl.
2. Heat a heavy large nonstick pot over medium-high heat. Add the chili powder mixture to the pot and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.
3. Add the oil to the pot, then add the onions, bell peppers and garlic and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the turkey and sauté until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, then the tomato paste, salt and cocoa powder; stir 1 minute.
5. Add the beer and simmer 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and the beans. Bring to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer slightly covered until the flavors develop, about 30 minutes.
7. Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and sliced green onions.

—Source: tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com