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Christmas Eve menu help??


IrishJersey
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I'm besigned with doubts on my xmas eve menu this year, so I appreciate any tips/advice/talk me down from my panic mode  :wacko:

 

In the past years of hosting for 25-30 people, I usually go heavy on appetizers during cocktail hour then serve Ham with the fixings as dinner. But, I'm changing menu up this year as very bored doing the ham year in & year out. 

 

I'm serving 1.5 pounds of shrimp on a platter, 2 different types of shelled oysters in the shell on ice, platter of italian antipasto, platter of hard/soft cheese with grapes, lamb lollipops with mint on the side, and mini pigs in a blanket alongside with champagne, wine and non alcoholic punch for my cocktail hour. 

 

Dinner will be 5 lbs trimmed beef tenderloin, 3 pounds pork tenderloin (stuffed with?? still thinking on stuffing??) green salad with blue cheese and dried cranberries, a pan of roasted vegetables (potatoes, parsnips etc) and a bowl of string beans. 

 

I'm having guests bring desserts which will be homemade cookies, rice pudding and a couple of pies. 

 

is this all balanced and enough for 30 people? 17 out of those are children ranging from 11 months old to 15 years old. I was thinking of adding a pasta option as a meatless entree but my husband is vetoing it as feels its enough food. 

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Unless most of your guests will be self-styled 'gourmets' or 'foodies' (in which case, I recommend simply doing what works, then pounding a couple of glasses of something potently alcoholic immediately before the first guests arrive), guests at a holiday dinner tend to arrive expecting to enjoy themselves, and eat too much, so don't put too much pressure on yourself. The amount of food seems fine for the number of guests you'll have, and if you have any lingering doubts, go ahead and cook some pasta and some marinara sauce. The vegetarians will appreciate it, and if there are none, anyone who is still 'hungry' (i.e. hasn't already eaten him or herself into a coma) will.

 

In addition to whatever else I make, I usually include a large, undressed salad composed of the more robust salad greens. Even if nobody touches it (and usually, one or two people will decide to have a go at it, to break up their three colossal helpings of meat and starch), it will still be quite edible the next day, when you may have little inclination to prepare food or eat it.

 

Your menu sounds great, don't panic :wink:

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Michaela, aka "Mjx"
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I'd add the veg pasta, as well, just in case.  Your menu sounds fantastic (can I come?) but I was just at a lavish holiday buffet and there was a small bean salad, while everything else was heavily meat/fish and the two vegetarians who attended were very sad, which made the rest of us feel guilty and a little sad, too.  

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If you are concerned about holding pasta, tossing it in some gremolata (lemon peel only, no juice) and a little olive oil will help it not stick together if held warm. If you go with marinara sauce, serve it on the side. If it were tossed together, the acid would degrade the pasta over time. Gremolata alone with some veggies would also be delicious.

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I wouldn't stuff the pork but also endorse the hearty winter greens with the dressing(simple vinaigrette) separately and also a roasted veg pasta dish.  How about some good crusty bread and some interesting mustards or horseradish sauce.  Any vegetarians can add the bread to their meal and some of the carnivores can make sandwiches with the bread, meats and the condiments and top with the winter greens...

 

just a thought

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Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

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I think your menu sounds wonderful.

The only thing I might question is (given the number of people you talked about hosting, even if many of them are kids) is the amount of shrimp you mentioned, unless you know most of your guests are not really shrimp lovers. If they arrive hungry, I can see a pound and a half of shrimp disappearing before the 10th person hits the buffet table. I know two of my kids (out of 3, even when they were small rugrats) would have scarfed down a pound between them in mere minutes. Of course, whether they last or not might also depend on what size they are. And I am sure your guests are very polite - and be dainty about their portions.

Anyway .. everything sounds delicious and I would love to be invited too, please!

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I have to agree with Deryn on the amount of shrimp. I would personally double it to 3 pounds based on the people that we know who come to events like this. Again, if left over it will certainly keep for a day or two. Other than that minor detail your meal sounds fantastic and sounds like a big undertaking especially since you do it every year! I personally would stuff the pork, it makes it stand out and be different. I like a pork stuff and that has a variety of dried fruits mixed in with the bread part of addressing it gives a hint of sweetness.

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I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Thanks to all for your suggestions!

For those of you who suggested a pasta veg dish? Could you post your recipe? I want to do a true and tried one, preferably one that I can make day before would even be better!

I love the idea of a hearty wintry green salad. I also appreciate a dressing that any of you can recommend to me too?

I'm still half half on stuffed pork. Probably stuff it since I already have other main protein that'll be just cooked in herbs, oil and salt and pepper.

As for the shrimp, very good point! I recall I had 2 pounds of shrimp and there was just a few left over even for 30 people last year. Hmm won't hurt to go up 3 pounds as I just know I won't be in the mood to go grocery shopping to restock our fridge till Monday after Xmas eve!

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I always have some spiced apple cider simmering on the stove or in a crockpot. It smells heavenly when guests walk in. And beside it, a bottle of Tuaca and some whipped cream. Children and non-drinkers can just have the plain cider, but others can add a glug of Tuaca to their mug to make a "Hot Apple Pie."

http://www.food.com/recipe/hot-apple-pie-adult-beverage-329172   

 

I've found that hot drinks are very welcomed on cold winter evenings. I know that I personally really love stepping in from the frosty air and being offered some hot buttered rum, or a Tom & Jerry, or Gluhwein, or something.

 

Want to add that I'm also big on "soup shooters" - soups served in shot glasses - for starters at my winter dinner parties.

 

You can google "soup shooters" for ideas but I particularly like spicy tomato soups, curried cauliflower, spiced pumpkin or other squash, rich and luxurious cream of mushroom, beer & cheese, cream of jalapeno, etc.

 

Doesn't really matter as long as it's packed with flavor.

 

I used to have my kids pass the hors d'oeuvres trays, starting when they were about eight years old or so.  They'd get dressed up and everybody would brag on them and they'd feel very grownup and helpful and involved in the party.

 

And then they were off to bed.

Edited by Jaymes (log)
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I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Make ahead is tough with pasta, although I make the Greens Cookbook recipe slightly modified, for pasta with onions and walnuts and find it pretty tasty heated up the next day. 

 

1/2 cup mixed butter/olive oil melted in large saute pan

sprig of fresh rosemary or crumbled dry, a bay leaf

4-5 large sweet onions, sliced thin

3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

pasta -- 1 pound, I usually use fettucine but farfale would be easier for a buffet

Grated gruyere -- about 1/2 cup

parsley, finely chopped

Grated parmesan -- as much as you want

 

Warm the herbs in the butter/oil until fragrant, then stir in the sliced onions, coating them with the oil.  Over low heat, cook the onions until soft and starting to carmelize, stirring regularly -- should take about 20-30 minutes.  Stir in half the walnuts and warm them with the onions until they are fragrant.  When you are ready to serve, reheat the onion/walnut mixture, stir in the rest of the walnuts, then the pasta. Mix all together, taste for seasoning and correct.  If wanted, stir in the grated gruyere. Put in a serving dish and sprinkle top with parsley.  Serve with parmesan on the side for those who want it.  You could keep the gruyer on the side, too, in case you have vegans.  It's a very simple recipe and unusual, also quite delicious.

 

But it might be easier to do a couple of bean dishes -- say a big bean salad as well as some hummous and dippers (pitas, crackers, raw veg, etc.).  That way, no last minute heating up, plating, etc.

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There's always noodle kugel! Tart cherries (yes, this time of year canned or frozen) look festive and make for a very nice kugel. Children will eat it, and so will teenagers and vegetarians. And it can be eaten room temp. Unlike dishes with melty cheeses, the cheeses in a kugel do fine as they cool. Also I don't see why it can't be assembled ahead and then just popped in the oven as needed. There are savory versions of kugel as well as sweet, so you have a lot of options. Far from kosher but probably delicious along side a slice of pork tenderloin.

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Make ahead is tough with pasta, although I make the Greens Cookbook recipe slightly modified, for pasta with onions and walnuts and find it pretty tasty heated up the next day. 

 

1/2 cup mixed butter/olive oil melted in large saute pan

sprig of fresh rosemary or crumbled dry, a bay leaf

4-5 large sweet onions, sliced thin

3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

pasta -- 1 pound, I usually use fettucine but farfale would be easier for a buffet

Grated gruyere -- about 1/2 cup

parsley, finely chopped

Grated parmesan -- as much as you want

 

Warm the herbs in the butter/oil until fragrant, then stir in the sliced onions, coating them with the oil.  Over low heat, cook the onions until soft and starting to carmelize, stirring regularly -- should take about 20-30 minutes.  Stir in half the walnuts and warm them with the onions until they are fragrant.  When you are ready to serve, reheat the onion/walnut mixture, stir in the rest of the walnuts, then the pasta. Mix all together, taste for seasoning and correct.  If wanted, stir in the grated gruyere. Put in a serving dish and sprinkle top with parsley.  Serve with parmesan on the side for those who want it.  You could keep the gruyer on the side, too, in case you have vegans.  It's a very simple recipe and unusual, also quite delicious.

 

But it might be easier to do a couple of bean dishes -- say a big bean salad as well as some hummous and dippers (pitas, crackers, raw veg, etc.).  That way, no last minute heating up, plating, etc.

 

 

Oh, jeez, I forgot that right before you stir in the pasta and the final walnuts, you add some dry white wine -- about 1/3 cup --  boil it down, then add about 3/4 cup water (I use the pasta water), enough to make the onions a little soupy.  Bring to a boil, then add the pasta and final walnuts.  Sorry!

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Been thinking about you and your Christmas Eve dinner party and harkening back to my entertaining years and recall that I always liked to give the guests a little something to take home - sort of a party favor. Often it was a baked good of some sort - cookies or small loaves of pumpkin or cranberry bread.

But during the winter, it usually was Hot Buttered Rum batter.

I'd mix up the batter and serve Hot Buttered Rum at the party, but also pack up some for the guests to take home.

When budget allowed, I'd pack the batter into seasonally-decorated mugs. When I couldn't afford that splurge, I'd just buy small plastic containers and tie them up with a pretty ribbon.

Can't find my recipe for the Hot Buttered Rum batter but, if memory serves, it's very similar to this one:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/hot-buttered-rum-cocktail-recipe.html

Edited by Jaymes (log)
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I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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If you are looking for a stuffed pork recipe I can recommend one from epicurious for pork loin (not tenderloin) stuffed with mortadella and truffle butter. So delish and could be stuffed and tied a day ahead:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mortadella-Stuffed-Pork-Loin-with-Rosemary-Roasted-Potatoes-107808

Recipe is a bit annoying because there is a potato side that is sort of integrated into it, you have to do a bit or sorting to make just the pork.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally had a chance to write a note reporting my xmas eve dinner was a success! I took some of your recommendations to up my shrimp servings, which I did to 2.5 pounds and only had two shrimps left by time dinner was ready. 

 

I decided in the end to stuff my pork with fresh spinach, dried cranberries and fresh herbs. Everyone loved it more than the beef, although whole beef was gone except for one strip. My only regrets was not having the time to take pics!!! was too busy enjoying myself with the guests. 

 

Hope you all had a great NYE! 

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