Your Perfect Holiday Menu + Reasons to Shop Small

Since I was seventeen, I spent my Christmases in Florida… most of them in Fort Lauderdale. While the palm trees swayed from ocean breezes outside, we watched old movies and drank hot cocoa inside.  It was a fun way to pretend we were having a White Christmas!

While the Season included baking and tree trimming, shopping and wrapping were not far behind. I remember all the personalized gifts purchased from Paper Mpressions and all the beautiful tablescapes on display at Special Additions. I remember buying the boys matching holiday outfits from Flora Ottimer and finding crafty creations at Cross Stitch Cupboard.

Small businesses have always been a part of our community, like patchwork squares in a storied, family quilt. Our friends are their owners, our families are their customers and together we keep each other wrapped in friendship.

While some of these stores have disappeared, some are still going strong. Cactus Flower, owned by Candy Johnson has been in business for over 30 years. Her customers are not only her friends, they are each other’s friends. In the spirit of friendship (which is celebrated in Canvas and Cuisine), I hope my Fort Lauderdale pals will drop by to say hi, sip some bubbly and support Candy Johnson’s store this Thursday. I look forward to seeing you!

3020 N Federal Hwy

While you’re there, take a look around. Cactus Flower’s vendors are both old and new, and the combination leads to whimsical tables perfect for entertaining.

Meanwhile, please accept this simple, yet elegant holiday party dinner plan as my gift to you. It allows you to prepare everything in advance, so that you can enjoy your party as much as your guests do. And, if you are looking for the perfect serving platter for the salmon, or cake stand for the jam cake… then I’ll see you at Candy’s on the 12th! Merry, merry!

 

Simple Holiday Dinner Party Menu

Pan Roasted Veggies

Cumin Crusted Salmon with Tarragon Caper Sauce

Cranberry Jam Cake

Pan Roasted Veggies

serves a crowd

45 minute cuisine

16 to 20 Brussels Sprouts

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons, plus more for the other veggies

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the other veggies

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for the other veggies

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper, plus more for the other veggies

16 to 20 Baby New Potatoes

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

16 to 20 Whole Baby Carrots

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground curry

16 to 20 Asparagus Spears

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 Large Yellow Onions

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Cut each Brussels sprout in half and steam (or blanch) until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with Balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Cut each potato in half and steam (or blanch) for a about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with mustard, Parmesan cheese, garlic, thyme, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Steam (or blanch) the carrots for a about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with brown sugar, curry, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Cut the onion into wedges leaving the root intact. This will help to keep the onion together. Toss with Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

You can prepare the vegetable up to this point several hours in advance. When you are ready to serve, roast the veggies until they begin to crisp and brown, about 20 minutes. You can serve them warm or at room temperature.

Cumin Crusted Salmon

with Tarragon Caper Sauce

serves a crowd

20 minute cuisine

For salmon:

1 (2 ½ pound) center-cut whole salmon fillet with skin

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

For sauce:

1 cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup cream

3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the whole fillet, skin side down, on a rimmed baking sheet, coated with vegetable oil spray.  Drizzle the lemon juice on top.

Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and oregano in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Rub this mixture all over the salmon, coating well. Drizzle the top with olive oil.

Place the salmon into the oven.  Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Roast until the salmon is rare in the center, about 8 minutes per inch of thickness, or about 15 to 30 minutes for the whole fillet.

For the sauce, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, cream, capers, tarragon vinegar and fresh tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the salmon with the sauce on the side. Garnish with fresh lemon or orange slices and fresh tarragon sprigs.

Cranberry Jam Cake

serves a crowd

60 minute cuisine plus baking

For filling:

1 (12-ounce) jar cherry preserves

¾ cup granulated sugar

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, (about 3 to 3 ½ cups)

For cake:

8 large egg whites

3 ½ cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, room temperature

Zest of 2 large oranges, about 2 tablespoons

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 cup milk

For frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks room temperature

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 (32-ounce) package powdered sugar

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 to 2 tablespoons half and half (optional)

Place the filling ingredients into a deep pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries soften and begin to pop, about 20 minutes. Use a potato masher to mush up the cranberries. Remove the pot from the heat and cool. Spread the filling into a shallow pan. (A cake pan or pie plate works well for this.) Place the pan into the freezer to cool thoroughly while you make and bake the cake.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray 2 (9-inch) square cake pans with vegetable oil spray. Place a square of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan and spray again. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the whipped egg whites to a large bowl. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Use the mixer to combine 1 cup butter and granulated sugar. Stir in the orange zest. Add ⅓ of the flour followed by ⅓ of the milk. Continue until all the flour and milk have been added. The batter will be quite thick.

Fold the egg whites into the batter using about ⅓ of the whites at a time. This will lighten the batter. Use a spatula to scrape and smooth the batter into the two pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a rack, remove the parchment paper and cool completely. Now is a good time to remove the cranberry filling from the freezer. You want it to be chilled – not frozen!

Use an electric mixer to combine 1 cup butter with cream cheese until fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt. Mix in the sugar a little bit at a time. Alternate the sugar and the remaining orange juice. If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it with a bit of half and half.

Now, here’s the fun part. You can turn this into a four layer cake, by horizontally slicing each of the square cakes in half. Or, you can just use one layer of jam frosting in the middle of the two cakes. It’s up to you how much cranberry to put in the center. Either way you will have cranberry jam left over which is the whole idea. The jam is perfect as an accompaniment to your favorite pork or poultry dish or spread onto your morning Christmas toast! Spread the frosting around the sides and the top of the cake.

 

 

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