Let’s break it down for Christmas dinner

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2010

My main Christmas dinner will be on the 23rd of December when I will be entertaining my daughter-in-law’s parents and her brother and my children. I have thought about what to serve for quite some time and have decided to do a five-course meal, some of which can be done ahead and some last minute. I like serving in courses if there are not too many people. I will be serving my radishes (from the recent appetizer column) with drinks and some pecans roasted with a little brown sugar and rosemary. One does not need much in the way of appetizers when a big dinner is to come.

The first three courses will be in this column and next week will have the last two courses. You should try some of these recipes for your Christmas dinner. I have done all of these recipes and know them to be good, impressive, and something for the relatives to talk about.

The soup has a lot of good ingredients, but it is not hard to make. You will have much left over. My husband saw it in a book about a New Orleans Christmas and thought it looked good. I went back to the bookstore and copied the recipe, tried it out for a luncheon and the people there wanted the recipe. What can I say? It is good!

Bisque of Curried Pumpkin, Crawfish and Corn

Serves 12

1 cup olive oil

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped bell peppers

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped garlic

1 cup flour

1 cup Steen’s cane syrup

¼ tsp. curry powder

2 quarts crawfish stock (can use seafood stock)

2 cups fresh corn kernels

1 lb. peeled crawfish tails

1 14 oz. can pure pumpkin puree unsweetened (Got any pumpkins left to make your own puree?)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for two minutes. Stir in cane sugar, curry powder, crawfish stock, corn kernels and crawfish tails. Whisk in pumpkin puree and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add heavy whipping cream and season soup with salt and pepper.

My second course will be a fish course topped with a tomato sauce. I first ate this dish in Venice at Harry’s Bar. I bought some special coin silver fish forks to use with my fish knives. Any excuse to buy silver!

Fish with Spicy Tomato Sauce

For the fish:

2 pounds of any white fish (flounder, grouper or snapper)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the sauce:

2 cans diced tomatoes (14 ounces)

1 onion chopped

4 cloves minced garlic

1 can of anchovies in oil (with or without capers)

4 tablespoons of caper berries

5 green olives, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Red pepper flakes

Olive oil (about ¼ cup)

Put the fish in an oven-proof dish and sprinkle the olive oil and salt and pepper over the fish and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degrees. Let rest and covered while you make the sauce.

In a heavy saucepan, heat ¼ cup olive oil and cook the onions for about five minutes, and then add the garlic, anchovies, caper berries, olives and tomatoes. Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add red pepper flakes to suit your taste. When the sauce is somewhat thick, purée in a blender. Pour about ¼ cup sauce over each portion of fish served to each person. This should serve eight people. The sauce can be made in advance and just reheated.


My salad will be a simple beet salad, red for the Christmas season. This can all be done ahead and just reheated for melting the goat cheese. The idea of this salad came from a favorite spot for lunch on Magazine Street, Lillette.

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

Serves 8

4 large beets

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 oz. goat cheese

Toasted pecans (about ½ cup) or you could use toasted walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and sprinkle the olive oil over them. Bake at 400 degrees for about one hour. Let cool and peel the outer skin.

When ready to serve, slice the beets into thin slices, about three slices per person and add the goat cheese on top and place in the oven for about five minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and place three beets with cheese on each of the eight plates. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and olive oil. Sprinkle the pecans around the plate and serve.