I LOVE Christmas dinner!
A time for celebration, family and great food.
Christmas is so close to Thanksgiving it is hard to think of preparing yet another huge family dinner.
When my husband and I moved into our big, beautiful home, I decided that Christmas dinner would be MINE. I had always wanted to prepare a tasting menu consisting of small courses. Five to be exact. So I did.
First Course ~ I serve a small appetizer tapas style, individual portions.
Second Course ~ Soup
Third Course~ Salad, leafy green or otherwise
Fourth Course ~ Small portion dinner. Includes Meat and a vegetable.
Fifth Course~ Dessert.
Break out the good China and Glasses. Let’s have a dinner party!
The first annual dinner was so much fun. Designing the menu (I made actual menus to be placed at each seat), decorating the table and pairing the wine was a real treat for me and my creative side. It’s no wonder that 5 years later, the tradition continues.
Each year I spend more time researching recipes and wine pairings. More time on perfecting the recipes and getting the timing just right so transition between courses is smooth. More time making the paper menus pretty.
I have hired my husband as designated wine pourer between courses. (This helps the execution of timely courses).
I learned to test recipes first. I tried numerous recipes that sounded great but when cooked failed to be impressive. My home became my test kitchen.
I am a gardener, so it was obvious to me that making soups in the fall harvest and freezing them would result in one course completed ahead of time. Hint, freeze the soup in ice cube trays then in a freezer bag. This makes defrosting easier.
This got me thinking. What else can I make ahead of time and freeze to help make the big day a success?
Desserts. Now my challenge would be what desserts freeze well for a month or more? So, I made a dessert, froze it for weeks. I would pull a sample out and test it. If it thawed pretty and tasted great it was a winner. Last Christmas I made tiramisu. It came out perfect.
Anything you can prep in advance and freeze makes life so much easier on the big day.
Test your recipes on your family during the year and save favorites in a folder marked Christmas Dinner.
Try different wines or cocktails through out the year and take notes so you have a handy guide to refer back to on what would go good with each course.
If you have a favorite appetizer that a restaurant makes, purchase it “uncooked” a day or two before your big dinner and then cook it at home so it is fresh. This helps cut down on some of your actual cook time. If you prefer to make it yourself a lot of websites have copycat recipes. Here are a couple I use: www.allfreecopycatrecipes.com and www.copykat.com You can usually find something pretty close to the recipe you want. (My cheat was Fleming’s Crab Cakes)
Have fun impressing your dinner guests. I am told my family looks forward to coming over for Christmas Dinner. That makes me strive to create an even more memorable dinner for next year.
Be watching for my upcoming blogs “5 course dinner” and “Annual Christmas Dinner” (5 part series).