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My Favorite Christmas Dinner

Veuve Clicquot Champagne
Mushroom Soup

Prime Rib Roast of Beef
Yorkshire Pudding Popovers

Crispy Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary, Garlic & Sea Salt
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Pancetta
Mincemeat Pies with Hard Sauce

Recipes yield 6 servings each

Whether in New York.....or in Honolulu (that's Santa arriving in a canoe at Waikiki Beach), this is Christmas dinner at our house!

The first course (or starter as the British would say) is a mushroom soup which stems from my Slovak heritage. I've updated the original recipe to reflect and take advantage of the variety of mushrooms now available.

A Prime rib roast of beef, served with Yorkshire pudding is probably my favorite main dish to serve at Christmas or at any special occasion dinner. Although, a roasted turkey can also be found on many a British Christmas table, I prefer the elegance of a rib roast. 

My variation on a traditionally made Yorkshire Pudding (in one pan, rendered beef fat, baked and then cut into wedges) is that I make individual popovers in a 6-cup non-stick popover pan.  Be sure to make the Yorkshire popovers as close to serving time as possible - they tend to deflate as they cool. The recipe below is the basic standard for homemade Yorkshire Pudding - your choice in baking styles - one pan or popover pan.

A traditional British sauce to serve with a Prime Rib Roast is a horseradish cream sauce. Specialty food stores will have one brand or another of a ready-made horseradish cream sauce, but if you want to make your own, here is a simple enough formula:


  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry Coleman's mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to serve along with the rib roast. 


For my popover version of Yorkshire Pudding I will be using an organic popover mix made by King Arthur®Flour in Norwich, Vermont.  Their Organic Golden Popover mix yields 6 large or 12 small popovers.  All you do is add eggs, melted butter and water to the mix.  Pour into a 6-cup popover pan or a standard 12-cup muffin pan for smaller popovers. Just be sure not to open the oven during the 38 to 42 minutes it takes to bake the popovers in a 400°F.   If you can peek into the oven door window to see how brown the popovers are getting, your oven may be hotter than the thermostat indicates in which case the popovers may cook in less time than suggested.  If you want the beefy fat flavor, pour a small amount of rendered beef fat into the popover pan or cupcake pan before added the batter. The recipe below for Yorkshire Pudding made from "scratch" is very authentic tasting

There is no question as to what vegetable I's always and forever the British standard for vegetables - Brussels Sprouts - seen in this photo as they grow on the stalk.  In the past, a must maligned vegetable....the difference between how my Brussels taste vs. the taste of Brussels from my husbands' childhood?  I don't boil them as long as his mum used to! I don't boil them at all!

For the most part, overcooking Brussels is why this healthy vegetable is so maligned! If you give my recipe a try, I'm sure you'll love Brussels Sprouts!  As I do most of my food shopping in Manhattan, I have access to many wonderful food stores - Citarella is one of my favorites - and in the Autumn and Winter they sell a mesh bag full of the smallest Brussels Sprouts from Holland. They are simply delicious.  If you can't find baby Brussels, then buy the smallest you can find or just cut larger ones in half. 

Potato Varieties Pan roasted potatoes are another British staple vegetable that is served with just about every traditional meal.  With the many varieties of potato that are now available in specialty food stores or at your local farmers' market, once you have eaten a variety of potato called fingerling, or any of the many other potato varieties, you'll be hard pressed to go back to the regular potatoes.  Not that there is anything wrong with an Idaho/Russet potato! They still are the best potato for making fries and baked potato.
Note that the recipe calls for roasting the potatoes in DUCK FAT.  The best source for this ingredient is to save the rendered duck fat from roasting a duck, or alternatively, check your local specialty food store for rendered duck fat sold by D'Artagnan - a top quality purveyor of specialty meats and charcuterie. 

Mincemeat pie with hard sauce is a favorite British-style dessert of ours - I must admit that  I don't often make my own mincemeat mixture which needs to be made at least 10 days  in advance.  I buy a good brand of mince imported from the U.K. that can be found at specialty food stores and some major supermarkets.

I like to make individual mince pies - I use a standard muffin tin, form the pie dough in each cup, cut out shapes (star, or strips) for the top of each one or .  If you're in or near NYC, the British grocer -Myers of Keswick on Hudson Street in the West Village will fulfill any British "soul food" desires you may have -  including mincemeat by Robertson's which is delicious.  Making your own hard sauce is simple and can be made days in advance and tastes better than ready-made hard sauce in a jar, especially when you use a top quality organic butter.


Mushroom Soup 


1½ pounds  

fresh assorted mushrooms,  cleaned, and sliced thickly

3 Tablespoons  

unsalted butter

1 teaspoon  

caraway seeds

3 Tablespoons  

chopped shallots

1 Tablespoon  


4 cups  

organic beef broth (heat up the beef stock in a separate small saucepan)


egg yolk

1 cup  

organic sour cream, room temperature

1 Tablespoon  

chopped fresh dill

In a 4 quart size soup pot, melt the butter and sauté mushrooms with caraway seeds and shallots for 5 minutes.  Add the flour and blend it into the mushroom mixture. Gradually add the heated beef stock, stirring with a whisk.  Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk until creamy, add the sour cream, dill and blend mixture well.  Quickly whisk in ½ cup of the hot soup (to temper the mixture) and then gradually add the tempered mixture to the soup pot whisking as you add it. Continue cooking soup over low heat for 2 minutes more.  Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of chopped fresh dill.

If you prefer a smooth puréed soup,  purée solids in a powerful blender or food processor - add a small amount of soup liquid to aid the puréeing.  Return the mushroom purée to the soup pot and re-heat before serving - garnish with dill.

 *if using dried mushrooms, rinse them under running water before soaking 1 ounce of dried mushrooms in 1 cup hot water for about 20 minutes. When mushrooms have re-hydrated, remove them and strain liquid through a very fine sieve to remove any remaining sand and use the mushroom liquid as part of the 4 cups of liquid.

Prime Rib Roast

Prime Rib

4 Ribs of

Prime Beef, approximately 9 - 10 pounds, trimmed. Set beef on a rack in a roasting pan and leave at room temperature for at least 1½ to 2 hours. There should be a good layer of fat on the beef - don't trim it off as you'll need the rendered beef fat for the Yorkshire Pudding recipe


5 cloves

garlic, finely minced

1 Tablespoon  

sea salt

1 Tablespoon  

ground or crushed black peppercorns

1 Tablespoon  

celery seed, finely ground

1 Tablespoon


1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Heat Oven to 450°F
Prime Rib1.  Using a mortar and pestle, combine the seasoning mix ingredients and grind until celery seed is finely ground.  Rub the seasoning mix all over the Prime Rib as it sits at room temperature. NOTE:  The seasoning mix can be made and spread on the rib roast the day before roasting, thereby allowing more time for the seasoning mix to penetrate the beef.

2.  Place roasting pan in the lower third of your oven and roast for 20 minutes at the set temperature.  Then reduce oven temperature to 350°F.  Continue roasting until internal temperature of beef in the center registers 125°F to 130°F for rare.  This should take approximately 2 hours, but check the internal temperature of the beef at least 15 minutes before the end of cooking time.  Spoon out the beef fat as it is rendered from roasting - reserve in a bowl for using to bake the Yorkshire Pudding Popovers recipe below.

Yorkshire Pudding Popovers


1 cup Plus 2 tablespoons

King Arthur® All-Purpose Flour

1 cup

whole milk

4 large

whole eggs

1 teaspoon

ground sea salt

1/4 teaspoon



black pepper

1.  Oven should be heated to 400°F. While roasted rib roast is resting, put 2 teaspoons of the reserved rendered beef fat into each cup of a 6-cup non-stick popover pan.

2.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, milk, eggs, salt, nutmeg, black pepper. Beat with a whisk until mixture is the consistency of whipping cream. (NOTE: batter can be made a few hours in advance and refrigerated)

3.  Place popover pan onto a baking sheet pan (or cookie sheet with sides) and put in the oven; heat  until the beef fat is very hot and almost smoking.

4. Fill each popover cup with batter about half way. The hot beef fat may spill over onto the  baking sheet which is why we put the popover pan on it!!  Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake until popovers are puffed and browned and the exposed sides of the popovers are firm - this should take approximately 20 - 25 minutes.   Try not to open the oven door during the baking time.

Crisp Roast Potatoes with Rosemary

4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and each cut into eight wedges.  OR if using Fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, allow 3 or 4 fingerlings per person.
4 Tablespoons Rendered duck fat*  OR Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons rosemary leaves, finely minced
1 Tablespoon garlic, finely minced
  Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

Coat potato chunks with duck fat (or olive oil) and minced rosemary. Place potatoes in a shallow roasting pan or on a cookie sheet pan with sides and roast for approximately 30 minutes in a 375ºF oven until potatoes are browned and crispy. Toss potatoes with finely minced garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Ventrèche

1½ lbs. Brussels Sprouts
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary and thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 cup diced Ventrèche (French pancetta) cut from 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup shallots, finely minced

Heat oven to 350°F.

Wash and trim the ends of each sprout.  If sprouts are large, cut in half.  Put sprouts on a sheet pan and toss in the olive oil and chopped herbs. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Place in oven and roast until Brussels are fork-tender.

In the meantime, in a large skillet, sauté the diced Ventrèche (French pancetta) until lightly browned.  Note - you can add a bit of olive oil to the skillet if the pancetta looks too dry.  Add shallots and sauté together until lightly browned. 

Transfer the roasted Brussels to the skillet and toss to combine with the pancetta/shallot mixture. Cook over low heat for a few minutes if serving immediately. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary.

Note: This vegetable dish can be prepared several hours in advance refrigerated in a covered dish - and heated through on the stovetop just before serving.

Mincemeat Pies with Hard Sauce


Prepare at least 7 to 10 days before needed
1 lb. golden raisins
1½ lb. currants
1 lb raisins
1 lb. dried cherries
1 lb. beef suet, finely chopped
1 lb. dark brown sugar
½ whole nutmeg, grated
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground clove
1½ lb. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 lemon, rind grated and juiced
1½ cups Cognac

In a large ceramic or glass bowl, thoroughly mix all ingredients together in the order as listed.  Keep covered in the refrigerator and stir the mixture daily for at least 7 days, up to 10 days. The yield will be sufficient to make two 10" double crust pies, or up to 24 individual pies using a muffin tin lined with pastry dough. If making individual mince pies, be sure to make a few slits in the top, just as you would if making larger pies. For a shiny crust, brush each pie or individual pies with an egg wash (whole egg beaten with a teaspoon of water). 

If you're not making your own pie crust, purchase Pillsbury ready made pie crusts which you can find in the refrigerated section of any supermarket.  The box is red and contains two pie crusts, ready to be formed into your pie pan or if making individual mince pies, cut a circle of pie crust to fit inside each muffin tin, plus a small circle of pie crust dough to fit on top of each individual pie.  You will need at least 3 packages of ready made pie crust to make individual pies.

Bake pies in a 400ºF oven for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350ºF and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown.  Remove large or individual pies from oven and let cool on a rack.  Mince pies are best served medium warm with a large dollop of Hard Sauce.

Hard Sauce


½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter, slightly softened
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup Cognac or dark Rum
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a medium-size bowl using a hand mixer), cream the butter and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add nutmeg, Cognac and vanilla extract and mix again until well combined.  Transfer butter mixture into a container and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until butter has hardened. Serve a dollop or more of hard sauce with each serving of warmed mince pie or Plum Pudding. Hard sauce should melt slightly on top of the warm pie or pudding.




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