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Dec 25, 2008 09:02 PM

2008 Holiday Dinner Hits and Misses

There is usually a thread by now about this, but I couldn't locate one.

My hits were:

White Bean Roasted Pepper Dip from Simitten Kitchen for Xmas Eve-I used Goat Chz
The Tenderloin with Henry Bain sauce and Spicy Horseradish from Southern Living
Buttermilk-Chive Potatoes


Maple Nutmeg Cream Pie-Horrible, awful. So unlike the photos on Smitten Kitchen.
I made pita chips for the Bean Dip, but used a national brand this time. I usually use the wheats from Target Bakery. Much Better.

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  1. We had a lovely traditional English roast with roasted veggies and Yorkshire puddings plus Brussels sprouts with a browned butter and balsamic glaze. It was all very good. No dessert as such because there is so much holiday stuff around here to fill in in the sweets department.

    What didn't work was the carrot and leek soup that I've been making for at least a decade for Christmas and Easter. I always make it because we all love it so much but this year the veggies -- no doubt the leeks -- were stringy and the flavor was pale and characterless. I thought I did myself a favor buying the packaged cleaned leeks from Trader Joes. Next time I'll go the distance and clean up leeks that I can see are fresh. Not sure why the carrots were so whimpy and disappointing tho.

    Oh well....

    1 Reply
    1. re: rainey

      rainey: I've had trouble several times with Trader Joe's veggies. Often they have been tasteless. It IS a pain to cut the leeks, wash them and then bang them against the side of the sink to dislodge the dirt, then wash again...BUT I've had bad luck with TJ's veg packs.

    2. Everything turned out quite well, despite some technical problems with Goin's Meyer Lemon Tarte - I'd make everything again.

      Pisco Sours (per my mother's recipe card, a recipe from a cabarello in Lima!)
      Potted Shrimp on Brioche Toasts (Elizabeth David's Christmas)
      Potato, Celery and Tomato Soup (Elizabeth David's Christmas)
      Beef Wellington (A combination of Caroline1's recipe and one on Epicurious - mostly for timing)
      [Endive and Roasted Beet Salad - we ended up not having this, but the beets were made! (Elizabeth David's Christmas)]
      Meyer Lemon Tarte with Whipped Cream (Sunday Suppers at Lucques)

      10 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        A couple more photos:

          1. re: MMRuth

            Absolutely gorgeous photos, MMRuth... the Beef Wellington looks like it belongs in a photo shoot for a Cooking Mag!

            1. re: ideabaker

              Thanks - I was really pleased with the temperature of the meat. We like ours rare, but my mother likes hers medium, and they both turned out well. I'm going to post later the recipe I cobbled together using Caroline1's very helpful post, and the recipe. It was actually a lot easier to do than I expected.

            2. re: MMRuth

              MMR: That beef Wellington looks fabulous!

              What were the technical difficulties with the tart? I made the Nigella Seville orange tart and had some setting-up issues with the curd the first time.

              1. re: oakjoan

                It was a user errory with the crust - report and photos here:


            3. re: MMRuth

              Forgot to mention that I made a Sauce Perigueux for the beef wellington, using the recipe link posted by Caroline1:


              No Madeira to be found here, so I substituted a combination of Port and Cognac.

              1. re: MMRuth

                what are pisco sours? they sound very good whatever they are:)

                1. re: geminigirl

                  Here's the recipe:


                  Pisco/sugar syrup/key lime juice/egg white/bitters.

              2. hit: ridiculousy good play on the ubiquitous tater skins found at many chains/sports bars/etc (at least they used to be ubiquitous, haven't been to one of those places this millenium)...

                roasted some garlic & combined it w/ sour cream. made salt potatoes using small (ie bite size) new potaotes. fried up some good bacon & crumbled it. sliced potatoes in half & scooped out center. topped w/ cheddar & ran under broiler to melt. filled centers w/ a dollop of flavored sour cream. topped with bacon & chives.

                nothing fancy, but damn they were tasty.

                only miss was the flat bread i made to go with hummus. wasn't bad, but i "bake" it in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, and this was my first time on my newish stove. took a little practice to get the temp right, so it came out a little crisper than i wanted. still tasted fine.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mark

                  Well, I tried doing them the night before, but I had to crisp them up the next, that wasn't a time saving task. Some of mine were too crisp and weren't good for dipping, but mostly it was the flavor of "fake wheat" that was a turn off.

                  We usually do snacky things on Christmas Eve and go a bit fancier on Christmas Day. Those potatoes sound delish. Unfortunately, for some relatives, "snacky things" have turned into appetizers from Sams...which, I'm not too fond of. It doesn't have to be fancy, but I want it to taste good!

                2. Christmas Eve 2008 Menu

                  Appetizers (put out in the living room):
                  Smoked salmon spread and assorted crackers
                  Cheese straws, twisted with grated parmesan and poppy seeds
                  Nuts and nut mixes to nibble

                  On the buffet table:
                  Smoked ham with cilantro/lime glaze, thickly sliced
                  Cranberries with oranges and cinnamon
                  Glazed baby carrots with butter and orange juice (ordinary)
                  Potatoes (thinly sliced, layered with thinly sliced onions, chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper; turkey stock poured over, topped with butter and baked )
                  Spinach and red pepper quiche
                  Vegetarian ravioli (brought by friends)

                  On the sideboard:
                  Raspberry-topped lemon tartlets in red and green phyllo shells (really pretty)
                  Assorted chocolates
                  Cookies (brought by another friend)

                  Recipe for the quiche and some photos at

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ClaireWalter

                    How did you make those phyllo shells?

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I didn't make the phyllo shells; the colored ones are available seasonally at my King Soopers (Kroger). They are made by Athens (, which makes packaged phyllo shells year-round as well as frozen phyllo dough. In previous years, I've filled the red and green shells with a mushroom filling or with a cheese mixture as an appetizer. This year, I used a lemon filling for tart shells from an old "Gourmet's Menus for Conemporary Living" and topped each with a fresh raspberry.

                  2. The single "miss" of Christmas dinner was that my husband could not get the popovers out of the popover tin. This has happened before, and I'm not sure what the solution is. This was in lieu of making Yorkshire pudding, and some of our guests were disappointed :-(