Tested menu for Christmas and it’s ‘beyond good’!

For the past couple of years, I have hosted my book club meeting in November/December and test my Christmas meal plan on them.  That meeting was last night and I was delighted with the results.   

The book for our discussion this month was “Zeitoun”, which is “the true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.”  Since the story takes place in New Orleans, I decided to find a Cajun/Creole menu.  I must admit that Cajun food has nothing whatsoever to do with this sad story.

Anyway, in my search for a coordinated Cajun menu, I found several great ideas on the Epicurous website.  I was torn between the Christmas Eve, Big & Easy and Ode to Joy, but went with the Ode to Joy because it was more elegant and I wanted to avoid a poultry main dish. 

Blog PhotoHere is a list of all of the recipes in the Ode to Joy menu … a friend was bringing the dessert.  I dropped one appetizer (Oysters Rockefeller) and the desserts and made the rest. 

·  Spanish Olive and Cream Cheese Canapes

·  Spicy Toasted Pecans

·  Radish Flowers

·  Oysters Rockefeller

·  Shrimp Courtbouillon with Rice

·  Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Espagnole Sauce

·  Creamed Spinach

·  Roasted Deviled Potatoes

·  Mâche Salad with Creole Vinaigrette

·  Ambrosia Layer Cake

·  Pineapple Anise Sherbet

I did my shopping on Saturday and only had a little trouble finding Mâche – I found and bought the last two boxes of it at Schnucks in Champaign.  Started cooking on Monday and made the Espagnole Sauce, toasted the Pecans, bread for the canapés and mixed up the topping for the canapés.  On Tuesday, I made the Courtboullion, and the radish flowers.  On Wednesday I made the rest in about 2 1/2 hours.  I was in the kitchen rather than with my guests when they arrived, but they seem to be used to that when I host.  A couple of friends who came a few minutes early helped setting the table.  John also helped by making the salad dressing and setting up the drinks station. 

Blog PhotoMy friends liked the meal and asked for the recipes.  Their favorites seemed to be the Shrimp Courtbouillon and the Roasted Potatoes. 

I forgot to take any photos of the food and the photo is of John’s plate - he's the one who rated the meal "beyond good".   I used about every piece of china I own and had a mountain of dirty dishes (three full dishwasher loads!)  We’ll do it again on Christmas Eve!


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rsp wrote on November 29, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Somehow John's plate looks much better than the one on the Epicurious' site. I bet it tasted better too. I really like that idea of having a dry run with a new menu. I've tested recipes before hand but not a whole menu. Sounds like Christmas Eve will be really good. 

Jeannette Beck wrote on November 30, 2012 at 8:11 am
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Thanx, RSP, for the photo compliment.  I always think my photos don't do the food justice, but I post snapshots from my iPhone so my expectations are low.  Besides people get annoyed to wait to eat for a photo session!

It is a really good menu and a lot of it can be made ahead.  Looking forward to the leftovers for dinner tonight!