Magazine article Sunset

Crowning the Season

Magazine article Sunset

Crowning the Season

Article excerpt

A holiday meal worth its weight in gold

"People eat with their eyes. If it looks good, they'll try it," says career Jenny Burnsworth. But her choice of beautifully presented foods is not based on appearance alone; taste figures into the calculation, as does savvy use of time: her cooking has to fit around a full-time teaching job.

Burnsworth's food philosophy comes together in this sumptuous, stylish menu she serves her family and friends. Many ingredients - cranberries, roast beef, and potatoes - resonate with tradition, but there's a delicious freshness to these versions: this is not your standard fruitcake, for instance. Best of all, the meal is easy enough for a new cook to manage comfortably.

Holiday Dinner

Cranberry-Wine Aperitif * Belgian Endive with Crab * From-Scratch Shrimp Bisque

1997 Milliaire Chardonnay * Butter Lettuce Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Beef Tenderloin with Fresh Herbs * Rosemary Potato Fans * Lemony Green Beans

1994 Milliaire Cabernet Sauvignon * St. Nicholas Dried-Fruit Cake

Vanilla Ice Cream with Rum-soaked Raisins

Cranberry-Wine Aperitif

PREP TIME: About 15 minutes

NOTES: Make at least 1 week ahead; flavor and color intensify with 3 to 4 weeks' storage.

MAKES: 7 cups; 8 servings

2 cups cranberries, fresh or thawed frozen 2 tablespoons finely shredded orange peel 2 cups sugar 2 bottles (750 ml. each) Chardonnay

1. Sort cranberries and discard soft or decayed fruit. Rinse berries and put in a 2- to 3-quart glass jar, crock, or bowl. Add peel, sugar, and wine; mix well.

2. Cover and chill at least 1 week or up to a month; stir several times. Pour aperitif through a fine strainer into a pitcher, or return to jar. Serve cold. Reserve cranberry-orange peel mixture to dress up muffins and pancakes.

Per serving: 328 cal., 0% (0 cal.) from fat; 0.2 g protein; 0 g fat; 53 g carbo (0 g fiber); 10 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Belgian Endive with Crab

PREP TIME: About 15 minutes

NOTES: Up to 1 day ahead, assemble appetizers, cover, and chill.

MAKES: 32 pieces; 8 appetizer servings

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese

3 tablespoons minced green onions

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine Worcestershire

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 pound shelled cooked crab

32 red or white Belgian endive leaves (from about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb. total), rinsed and crisped

1. Mix cheese with 1 tablespoon onions, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and pepper. Add crab and stir to mix.

2. Mound 2 teaspoons crab filling at stem end of each endive leaf. Garnish with remaining green onions. Set leaves, filling side up, on a platter.

Per serving: 127 cal., 71% (90 cal.) from fat; 5.7 g protein; 10 g fat (6.3 g sat.); 3.6 g carbo (1.6 g fiber); 145 mg sodium; 45 mg chol.

From-Scratch Shrimp Bisque

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/4 hours

NOTES: Up to 1 day ahead, make soup, cool, cover, and chill. To reheat, stir often over medium heat. Set aside 8 cooked shrimp for garnish.

MAKES: 8 servings

1 1/2 pounds (31 to 35 per lb.) shrimp About 5 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth 1 onion (1/2 lb.), quartered 4 stalks celery (3/4 lb. total), cut into chunks 1 carrot (3 oz.), peeled and cut into chunks 2 dried bay leaves 1 tablespoon white peppercorns 6 tablespoons butter or margarine 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 3 cups half-and-half (light cream) Salt and pepper Dill sprigs

1. Shell and devein shrimp; save shells. Rinse shrimp. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

2. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine shrimp shells, 5 cups broth, onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and white peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Pour broth through a strainer into a 2-quart glass measure or bowl. …

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