What better way to spend a cold winter’s night during this holiday season than to invite a couple of friends over to gather around the table near the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree for a cozy Sunday supper? This gathering was pulled together in a short 48 hours. I reached out to my friends on a Friday afternoon and once they confirmed they could come, I began to pull my plan for the evening together.
I always start with my table decor, It helps me to set the stage for the evening, starting with my basic gold rimmed china dinner plates and gold inexpensive chargers. A few years ago I used a wide roll of dark red velvet ribbon to cut pieces that fold over and under the chargers for an elegant touch. I fold them one on top of the other on the original cardboard roll to store the pieces away to use from year to year. Finally I placed my Lenox “Pomegranate with Mistletoe” salad plates (a gift from a friend many years ago) on top of the dinner plate for a festive pop of color.
I started collecting pieces of silver cutlery this year and had just enough place settings to use for this small dinner party. I also pulled out my special crystal wine glasses that are not used for my wine parties, but deserved a spot at the table for this ocassion.
With a bag of mandarin oranges and a jar of whole cloves I studded patterns on some of the mandarins and then added a plaid ribbon in Christmas colors to complete their look. I created a centerpiece with fragrant evergreen branches (purchased at Fresh Market) placed across the center of the table with a string of jingle bell garland and battery operated twinkle lights. A clove studded mandarin was placed in the center of each plate and some were placed over the evergreens in the center of the table.
A holiday dinner party deserves the elegance of the season. The house is filled with beautiful twinkle lights and colors throughout the house, making it easy to create a warm ambiance that is perfect for an evening such as this. Why not take advantage of the added glow in the house?
For an easy Hors D’oeuvre, I bought a package of endive (also known as chicory) that contained two light green tipped heads and one purple tipped head. I filled the bottom of the green leaves with sushi snow crab salad and the purple with a small ball of Bouisin carmelized onion cheese rolled in pistachio crumbs and topped with a pomegranate seed. A small silver serving tray presented raisin rosemary crackers from Trader Joe’s, a citrus studded English cheese and toasted whole walnuts.
The Hors D’oeuvres were served with a holiday Lambrusco punch from the link below. Hint: I used all of the Autumn simple syrup from the recipe (not just the 1/2 cup per instructions). The syrup is delicious and added a lot of flavor.
I also made cocktail ice cubes (using the large square silicone trays) made with pomegranate juice and a little water, filling the tray sections with fresh rosemary, fresh cranberries and pomegranate seeds. One large cube was placed in each glass and the punch poured over and then garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
Champagne Citrus Salad
Coq Au Vin with Mashed Potatoes
Sweet soy glaze and Agave Roasted brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds
Gingerbread Eggnog Custard Tarts
I started with a citrus salad to follow along with the table decor, that unfortunately did not get photographed. The ingredients are as follows:
- Two navel oranges segmented
- Arugula and mixed greens
- Sliced (leftover endive) for cruch
- Pomegranate seeds
- Dried Cranberries 1/2 soaked in orange juice to rehydrate
- finely chopped chives
- toasted chopped hazelnuts
- Champagne citrus vinaigrette https://canapesandsoirees.com/citrus-champagne-vinaigrette/
Place the greens and endive in a bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Divide into 4 to 6 portions in separate plates. Top with orange segments, pomegranate seeds, rehydrated cranberries, and nuts.
For the entree I made a one pot comfort dish, French coq au vin served over rosemary roasted garlic mashed potatoes (achieved by simmering evaporated milk with a few sprigs of Greg rosemary and adding severs cloves of roasted garlic).
The side was roasted brussels (with sweet soy sauce, tamarin, a little agave tossed after cooking) and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.
Finally we ended the evening with gingerbread eggnog custard tarts. I had a half a bottle of eggnog leftover from my cookie decorating gathering and decided this would be a great way to finish the bottle off. The recipe I used made one full tart with a thick filling. I decided to make individual tarts so the custard was not as deep (thick) as the single tart, but it was still delicious. I also can recommend making just the eggnog custard and serve in little bowls that was also delicious on its own. My leftover custard was poured into small desserts dishes for another day.
Two of my guests had birthdays (one prior to the dinner and one due on Christmas day), so I put a single candle in each of their tarts so we could celebrate their birthdays.
Here’s proof that using what you have for the table and selecting a simple comfort food menu will enable you to throw together a quick festive winter holiday supper for a few of your friends or family in very little time.
However long you keep your Christmas decorations in place… there’s still time for a small gathering even once the day has come and gone.
Wishing everyone a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you so much for your support! I’m looking forward to new gatherings with new themes and getting my wine club back together in 2023. See you soon!