A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Christmas Dinner Recap

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Christmas Dinner Recap

For this What's For Dinner Wednesday I thought I'd do a little recap of our Chicago Christmas menu.  One of my favorite parts of the holidays is the food and I tend to go all out and cook like I am entertaining an entire family-- even when it's just the two of us.

Although I admit that baking is not my greatest strength in the kitchen, I decided to try my hand at a special Christmas breakfast and made homemade cinnamon rolls.  I expected it to be a project, but had no idea that my lack of yeast-related knowledge would be my downfall.  These still tasted great and looked fairly normal, though I have a feeling that if I had actually used the instant yeast that the recipe called for then they would have been perfect.  I used active dry yeast and after baking the dough did expand, but it was still sort of dense.

Christmas Morning Breakfast 2011:
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Check out the recipe for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls here.

For Christmas dinner I fixed one of my favorites: Holiday Beef Tenderloin with Cipollini Onions.  My mom discovered this recipe in the Providence Journal a few years ago and it quickly became a family favorite.  I'm not even a huge red meat fan, but I love this recipe and Alex actually gave it an excellent review too.  It's a little lengthy, but not very difficult and the results are delicious.  We're already planning on fixing it for Christmas dinner next year (and hoping that Alex's brother Patrick will join us and partake in the eating extravaganza)!

Check out our full Christmas menu below-- along with a few of my tips to make them extra tasty.  Happy holiday cooking!

Christmas Dinner 2011 Menu
Holiday Beef Tenderloin With Cipollini Onions
Makes 8 to 10 servings 

  • 5-to 6-pound beef tenderloin  *For just the 2 of us, we used a 2 lb. tenderloin and halved the rest of the recipe.
  • 3 cloves freshly chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 pounds whole cipollini onions, peeled
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups Japanese panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup honey mustard  *Honeycup brand is my favorite to use.
The tenderloin should be trimmed with the silver skin removed. Then tie up the roast. In a small mixing bowl, combine garlic, thyme, rosemary, 1/4 olive oil and black pepper. Mix into a paste. Rub paste firmly all around the beef tenderloin, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With the stove set at medium-high, heat a very large skillet. Season tenderloin with kosher salt, and place in skillet, searing all sides. Remove and set side.
Add to the skillet the cipollini onion, chicken stock and sugar, and bring to a boil. Simmer onions and stir until they turn golden brown, about 10 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Keep warm, and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine Japanese panko bread crumbs, parsley and the remaining olive oil. Mix and set aside.
Place the beef tenderloin on a wire roasting rack and roasting pan. Brush honey mustard on all sides of the beef and then evenly sprinkle the parsley-panko bread crumbs.
Place in the oven and roast uncovered 30 to 40 minutes, depending on size and desired doneness. Using a roasting thermometer, medium rare is 125.
Remove butcher's string and rest the roast 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with caramelized onions. 

Recipe courtesy of the Providence Journal and Robert Daugherty, Hyatt Regency Hotel on Goat Island, Newport, R.I.

Green Beans With Bacon Vinaigrette
This recipe made a delicious side dish. Again, for the two of us I made a half batch and we still had leftovers.  Next time I might use regular dijon mustard instead of whole grain (or a combination of the two) to give the vinaigrette a smoother texture.  Get the recipe here.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes
My potatoes didn't get as pretty and brown as they did in Real Simple's photo so after baking fully I grated a little additional parmesan on top and then broiled the potatoes for 5 more minutes.  Get the recipe here.

Chocolate-Peppermint Cake
The grand finale.  I was feeling very ambitious at first and really wanted to try making a bouche de noel (a.k.a. a yule log).  After I had purchased all of the ingredients I realized that the cake would take a long time to make and required about a dozen eggs in total... yikes.  Instead, I made this equally delicious and festive Chocolate-Peppermint Cake.  It used most of the same ingredients, was very easy, and was a perfect holiday dessert.  I chopped candy canes and sprinkled them over the top of the icing once it started to firm up so that it looked a bit fancier.  If you choose to do this I would recommend chilling it in the refrigerator for at least 20-30 minutes afterward to set the chocolate and prevent the candy canes from melting and running down the sides of the cake.  Get Martha Stewart's recipe here.


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