Make holiday gatherings unforgettable with this retro-inspired menu
We asked Alicia Cahill, Coast Monthly’s food stylist, to create an unforgettable holiday spread. She delivered with this retro-inspired menu that will have you dreaming of a winter wonderland.
Party Magnet Punch
1 cup dark, spiced rum
1 cup white rum
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups cranberry juice
2 (12-ounce) bottles ginger beer
Garnish: Chopped pineapple on skewers
In a punch bowl or large pitcher, stir together rums and juices. Chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours. Just before serving, add ginger beer and stir to combine. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish, if desired.
Classic Cheese Ball
¼ cup high-quality blue cheese
5 tablespoons butter
1⁄2 cup fresh goat cheese
1⁄2 cup cream cheese
¼ cup medjool dates, chopped
2 tablespoons green onions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon hot sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
1⁄3 cup Savory Roasted Pecans (see recipe), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Allow the blue cheese, butter, goat cheese and cream cheese to soften on the counter for 30 minutes.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the ingredients except for the pecans and parsley. Mix it on low speed until well combined. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for 15 minutes to allow the mixture to firm up. Remove and form cheese mixture into a ball.
Place pecans in a shallow bowl or plate. Roll ball in the pecans. Add parsley and roll again.
Savory Roasted Pecans
11⁄2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt, divided
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat liner or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix the pecans with the melted butter and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt and toss until thoroughly combined. Spread nuts out in a single layer on the baking sheet and place on the middle oven rack. Roast pecans for 11 minutes.
Remove nuts from oven and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Cool 5 minutes.
Pigs in a Blanket
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup minced shallot
4 large garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons panko
6 tablespoons whole milk
11⁄2 cups kimchi, drained
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, plus more for serving
11⁄2 teaspoons caraway seeds, toasted, lightly crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground pork
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 large eggs, beaten
Melt butter in a small skillet over medium low heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Transfer shallot mixture to a large bowl and let cool.
Combine panko and milk in a small bowl; let stand until milk is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add to bowl with shallot mixture. Squeeze any excess liquid from kimchi; coarsely chop and add to bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and caraway seeds; season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Fold in pork, and using your hands, gently mix until just combined.
Line two baking sheets with Silpat liners or parchment paper. Roll out each piece of pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 14-by-10-inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle lengthwise into three equal strips. Transfer strips to prepared baking sheets.
Divide sausage filling in half, then into 3 equal portions. Form sausage into a thin log of filling and place down the center of 1 pastry strip, leaving a 1-inch border at each end. Fold pastry over sausage mixture to enclose; pinch to seal pastry. Roll log so it bakes seam side down. Repeat with remaining pastry and sausage mixture.
Cut small diagonal slits at 1-inch intervals along top of pastries to help release steam. Brush top and sides of pastry with beaten egg; chill in freezer for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Remove pastries from freezer and bake for 15 minutes, until puffed and light brown. Reduce heat to 350 F and continue baking until sausage is cooked through and pastry is golden and completely puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut sausage rolls crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Serve with Dijon mustard for dipping.
Cool Crab Salad
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell or cartilage
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
1⁄3 cup English cucumber, peeled and chopped, small dice
4 teaspoons fresh chives, finely sliced plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves, minced
1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Red leaf lettuce
In a medium bowl, lightly toss the crabmeat, celery, cucumber, chives and tarragon together.
In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice and mustard. Add the dressing to the crabmeat mixture and gently stir until coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to marry.
When ready to serve, line serving dishes with lettuce leaves. Scoop salad onto lettuce and sprinkle with chives.
Driftwood Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
3⁄4 teaspoon salt (1⁄2 teaspoon if you use salted butter)
11⁄2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons whole milk
13⁄4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-by-23⁄4-inch loaf pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, cream cheese, salt, sugar, baking powder, vanilla extract and almond extract until well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture may appear grainy. After adding the final egg, increase the mixer’s speed to high and beat for 3 minutes. Once all the eggs are added, stir in the milk.
Reduce the mixer’s speed to low and gradually sprinkle in the flour. Mix just until combined. The batter will be smooth and thick, but still pourable. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake it for 55 minutes.
Remove from oven and check that the cake has baked completely by inserting a toothpick into the center; it should come out clean. After 5 minutes, loosen the cake’s edges and turn it out of the pan to cool completely on a rack.
Note: To construct the driftwood cake, bake two individual pound cakes. This cake is dense with a firm crumb.
Decorating: Allow cake to cool completely before cutting and trimming into desired shape. Assemble and smooth chocolate buttercream frosting over cake with an offset spatula. Decorate cake with nonpareils, sugared herbs and berries and pearl sugar. Demerara sugar can be used to decorate the serving plate.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
21⁄2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl occasionally.
Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate.
Note: Depending on your desired amount of frosting, two batches may be needed to complete the driftwood cake.
Sugared Herbs and Berries
Combine 3⁄4 cup of granulated sugar and 1⁄2 cup of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside to cool.
Dip herbs and berries in syrup and remove with a slotted spoon. Roll them in additional sugar and sprinkle more sugar on top. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet to dry at least 2 hours.
Want to get your hands on some of the accessories used in this holiday spread? Then visit these downtown Galveston businesses: Vintage ceramic light up Christmas tree available at St. John Antiques; “Please Help Yourself” platter and white cake stand with gold polka dots available at The Kitchen Chick; holiday ornaments available at Strand Brass.
Alicia Cahill is owner of The Kitchen Chick, 528 23rd St. in Galveston.