One thing I hear repeatedly from all my favorite chefs on Food Network is that entertaining doesn’t have to be hard work. This didn’t settle with me at first because I always associated the party’s success by the amount of effort you invested in preparing the supper, but I decided to take the advice from the experts and prepare a simple dinner for Christmas this year. This approach worked out perfectly because I had to work on Christmas Eve (boo) and I really didn’t have time to prepare a grandiose dinner. My boyfriend arriving early from work and helping me with the preparation made all the difference in the world. This was truly a collaboration 🙂
I began the Christmas celebration with this little appetizer of sesame crackers, goat cheese brie, cucumber slices, smoked salmon and lemon wedges. I meant to get the regular goat cheese for tanginess but picked this one by accident (Trader Joe’s was just jammed packed all last week!) but it turned out as delicious as the original recipe. I make this appetizer at every opportunity I get because I just love the combination of soft cheese, refreshing cucumber and salty smoked salmon together in my mouth. And they’re so colorful and fun to eat.
The second appetizer was Portobello mushrooms stuffed with sautéed garlic, onion, pistachio, panko breadcrumbs, flavored with cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and topped with Parmesan shavings. I like serving stuffed mushrooms for starter so the guests can start enjoying wine before dinner and they go so well together.
Next up was a very simple salad of baby arugula, sliced red onion and cannellini beans, with homemade vinegarette dressing — my favorite!
Ever since my epicurean journey to the Northwest, I’ve been fascinated with the beauty of one-plate dinner where the plate becomes the chef’s canvas. I was dying to try something like that myself, so this was the perfect opportunity. So for the main course, I decided to decorate the plate with festive Christmas colors of green, white and red.
For green, I sautéed and roasted zucchinis, which served as the base of the decoration. Next, to replicate snow, I made herb (thyme, rosemary and oregano) and garlic mashed potatoes, which sat in the center of the plate. I sauteed the spinach with balsamic vinegar for a little texture and additional green. For red, I made a balsamic reduction to accompany the beef by cooking the vinegar with twigs of herbs for about 10 minutes until the liquid reduced to half.
The life of the party was definitely the filet mignon. My boyfriend was in charge of the meat (it’s a guy thing) and he made them simply divine. He seasoned each beef with salt and pepper, and rubbed minced garlic and chopped herbs (again, thyme, rosemary and oregano). He infused the olive oil with garlic wedges first and seared the meat for a few minutes on all sides, before putting them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. What came out was a perfectly juicy medium rare steak. Mmm. (oh, did I tell you that he’s close to being a professional chef?)
Christmas is such a special time where friends and family come together to enjoy their company. I hope you all have a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2008!