No-Fuss Feast

It’s hard to predict what shenanigans your relatives might pull at this year’s holiday dinner, but at least you can take solace in knowing the food will be good. These fancy make-ahead recipes, courtesy of Alex Hitz’s The Art of the Host: Recipes and Rules for Flawless Entertaining, are surefire hits.
No Fuss Feast

 

Beverly Hills Eggnog

Yields: 12–16 servings

Eggnog

  • 12 eggs, separated n 21⁄2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. plus a pinch salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (1 quart) excellent-quality bourbon
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • ground nutmeg and cinnamon, for garnish

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks, sugar, 1 tsp. of the salt, vanilla and bourbon, and beat them together on medium speed until they are light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the heavy cream, but do not whip it. Clean and dry the stand mixer’s bowl, and add the egg whites. Whip the egg whites on medium speed with the remaining pinch of salt until soft peaks form.

Fold the egg whites carefully into the egg yolk mixture and refrigerate the eggnog covered for at least 4 four hours and up to 3 days before serving it cold.

Smoked Salmon Galette with Caviar

Yields: 10–12 servings

Salmon

  • 1 lb. cream cheese
  • ¼ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise or ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. plus 1½ tsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2½lbs. smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  • black pepper, freshly cracked
  • as much excellent-quality caviar as you like
  • zest of 2 lemons, grated then finely chopped, for garnish

Line an 8½-inch springform pan with plastic wrap. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, shallots, 3 Tbs. of lemon juice, dill, salt and ground black pepper and beat them together for a couple of minutes until they are thoroughly combined, smooth and spreadable.

Assemble a layer of salmon slices at the bottom of the prepared springform pan, making sure the entire bottom is covered, and placing the pieces so they are facing in the same direction for a finished product that looks uniform and gorgeous. Dot the salmon layer with 1⁄4 tsp. of the remaining lemon juice and some freshly cracked black pepper, and then spread 5 Tbs. of the cream cheese mixture evenly over the layer. Repeat this step until you have six layers, and then press down on the last layer to fully compress the galette. Reserve any excess filling to finish the galette. The excess can be kept in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature before finishing.

Let the galette chill, covered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. To serve, invert the galette onto a serving platter, cover it with the remaining cream cheese mixture, then garnish it with the caviar, lemon zest and more cracked black pepper. Slice the galette into 10–12 wedges and serve it cold.

Louise’s Seafood Pot Pie

Yields: 10–12 servings

Pie

  • 12 Tbs. (1½ sticks) butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3 lbs. mixed shellfish, such as finely diced shrimp, lobster, scallops, crabmeat or oysters
  • 2¼ tsp. salt, divided
  • 1¼plus ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper, divided
  • 1½ cups dry vermouth
  • 1 lb. medium button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1½cups plus 2 Tbs. heavy cream
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 4 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 4 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 lb. Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 1 (11-x-16-inch) sheet all-butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

Melt 8 Tbs. of the butter in a large, heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. When the foaming has subsided, add the seafood, 3⁄4 tsp. of the salt and 1⁄2 tsp. of the black pepper and sauté the seafood approximately 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until it is only partially cooked through. Add the vermouth and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes or so until the seafood is just cooked through but still very rare. Drain the seafood in a colander over a bowl, set aside the seafood and return the liquid back to the stockpot. Add the mushrooms and shallots, 1⁄4 tsp. of the salt and 1/8 tsp. of the black pepper and let the mushrooms and shallots steep in the liquid approximately 5-7 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Then drain them into a colander over a bowl, set aside the vegetables and return the liquid to the stockpot. Add the milk, 11⁄2 cups of the heavy cream, the white wine, dry mustard, tomato paste, tarragon and the remaining 11⁄4 tsp. salt and 3⁄4 tsp. black pepper, and whisk the mixture vigorously to break up the tomato paste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer.

In a separate heavy skillet over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 4 Tbs. butter and the flour together to make a roux, and then add it to the milk-cream mixture, again whisking vigorously to break up any lumps, then bring it to a boil and remove from the heat. Whisk in the cheese a little at a time to make a smooth sauce. Add the cooked seafood and mushrooms to the prepared baking dish, pour the sauce over the seafood and mushrooms, and place the puff pastry on top, trimming the edges to make it neat. (The pot pie may be assembled up to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days before bringing it to room temperature again before finishing the cooking.)

In a small bowl, beat the egg with the remaining 2 Tbs. heavy cream. Brush the puff pastry with the egg wash, place the baking dish on a sheet pan as there will be over-flow from the cheese and then place the pot pie in the oven. Bake it for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Let the pot pie rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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