night before christmas

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Fish and Seafood, Poultry, Grains and Pasta, Veggies and Sides, Desserts, Dinner Party, Sources, Posted on December 24, 2012 by Sandy Bergsten - Comments (0)

 

As for many with adult children our holidays are looking more like a sprawl. This year we must divide and conquer. All this entertaining demands that memorable meals come together with a minimum of last minute effort. For selfishly I want to be with those I love, not tied to my overused stove.

Here’s the first of our three “Christmas” dinners. And just like Saint Nick I’m busy making my list, checking it twice and figuring what I can make ahead and stow out of sight.

list

A quick warm welcome that comes together in a snap.

cheese puff cups

Cheese puff cups with fig preserves right out of the freezer.

smoked salmon app

An elegant but easy smoked salmon appetizer. Combine the cream cheese mixture and cut the toast points earlier in the day.

 smoked salmon app

Then assemble an hour ahead and cover with a barely damp paper towel until your guests arrive.

smoked trout stack

Smoked trout stacks are an impressive showstopper. Once again this comes together in a matter moments. Bake the wonton crisps earlier in the day; seal in an airtight container at room temperature.

smoked trout stack

Flake the smoked trout, chop the scallions and make a balsamic vinaigrette, cover and refrigerate separately.

smoked trout stack

Right before serving assemble.

duck confit

Duck confit legs are the main event, but thanks to Grimaud Farms simply require only a brief stint in a searing oven. Roast on a heavy-duty foil lined pan and there is no clean up.

sautéed spinach

Red and green sides couldn’t be easier. Chop the garlic earlier in the day for the sautéed spinach, cover well and refrigerate.

sautéed spinach

Before your guests arrive sauté the spinach in batches until just wilted, set aside. Then right before serving sauté the garlic in olive oil, add the partially cooked off spinach and presto it’s done.

roasted cherry tomatoes

Roasted cherry tomatoes create great contrast to the leafy greens. Roast in a 400 degree oven until they are just about to pop, then cool and leave at room temperature before reheating right before serving.

roasted cherry tomatoes

Wild mushroom orzo looks complicated. But not when you sauté the wild mushrooms earlier in the day and cook off the orzo right before your guest arrive. Then it’s just a quick combine and reheat on the stovetop for a laborious looking risotto.

petite peppermint sundaes

Petite peppermint fudge sundaes are the shining star a top this four-star menu. Petite fudge cakes are made days or weeks ahead of time and stowed in the freezer.

petite peppermint sundaes

Scooping out the mini balls of minty ice cream ahead of time is a real time saver. Just cover and place in the freezer.

petite peppermint sundaes

Save a jar of that homemade hot fudge sauce you gave away as gifts and to gently re-warm and drizzle on top.

petite peppermint sundaes

Smack baby candy canes with a back of a spoon to sprinkle one on each plate.

petite peppermint sundaes  

The best gift of all- everything comes together in a matter of moments with a minimum of dishes! Santa would find this very nice indeed.

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