Tidewater Kitchen: December 2005

Open House Before the Holiday Crunch

Traditions are never more apparent that during the holidays when friends and family gather to celebrate. It is the time of year when we like to do nice things for those we love. And those on the Eastern Shore have always tended to express their hospitality and kindness with food.
Here is my annual special section on holiday entertaining. The following pages contain a bountiful collection of recipes for your holiday party and helpful hints for planning your seasonal event.
This menu is great for a crowd of 50-60 or great for leftovers!

Serves 60 generous portions
3 4-6 pound tenderloins
6 or more Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce per tenderloin
Seasoned black pepper
Garlic salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Remove all the fat from the tenderloin. Spear all over with a fork and sprinkle with seasoned pepper and garlic salt; rub it into the meat.
Pour the Worcestershire sauce over the tenderloins. I use about 6 Tablespoons per tenderloin, but you can use more if you want. Then, using a sifter, dust the meat with flour.
Place the beef in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Take the meat out of the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with assorted breads. This is especially good with sliced whole wheat and rye bread.

I like to use a vegetable brush to thoroughly wash the ham in warm water.
Soak the ham overnight in cold water.
Fill a large pot with enough water to cover ham and place on the stove. When the water comes to a boil, place the ham in the pot with the skin side up. Place the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 20-25 minutes per pound or until it is tender.
Remove the ham from the pot and remove the skin. Place the ham in a baking pan, fat side up. Diagonally score fat using diamond or square design. Place a whole clove in each square.
Mix ½ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup white sugar together and coat the ham. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until it is golden brown. Cool and refrigerate before slicing. Serve with party rolls.

Yield: 1½ pints
2 eggs, room temperature
1 heaping teaspoon mustard
4-5 dashes of Tabasco
1 teaspoon salt
1 24 oz. bottle of salad oil (use something basic)
1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice

Place eggs in a mixing bowl, food processor or blender with the salt, mustard and Tabasco. Beat together, gradually adding oil. Beat briefly after mixed. Add vinegar or lemon juice and beat a few seconds longer.

Yield: 4 cups
1 cup dry mustard
1 cup white vinegar
3 eggs
1 cup sugar

Soak mustard in vinegar overnight. Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat. Add mustard and vinegar, mixing well. Cook in top of a double boiler for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove and pour into a container. Refrigerate.

1 18 oz. jar pineapple preserves
1 18 oz. jar apple jelly
1 small can of dry mustard (approx. 1 oz.)
1 5 oz. jar prepared horseradish
1 Tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and blend well. Keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator. Serve with pork, roast beef or venison. I enjoy it over cream cheese and served with crackers.


Even in the winter months you can find some colorful varieties of fresh vegetables available for a crunchy, low-calorie addition to the party fare. Many exotic vegetables from a good produce department can enhance the usual offerings of carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower. Here is a combination with some variety that will be available at most grocers. Amounts and selections can be adjusted to your taste.

Beans: Leave them whole but check them carefully and remove the stem. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Drop in the beans and allow them to boil for 4-5 minutes. Drain. Immediately plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve the bright green color. Spread the beans on a towel lined rack to dry. Refrigerate until time to serve. Leftovers are great sauteed with butter or stir-fried with other vegetables.
Snow Peas: Remove the stems and strings and follow the same procedure as the beans, but only cook them for 1 minute.
Endive: Separate heads of endive into leaves. Wash carefully in cold water. Allow to dry and refrigerate.
Turnips: Peel and slice. Cut into strips.
Mushrooms: Clean with a damp brush or soft cloth. Cut away woody part of stem and leave whole. These store best in a cloth bag in the refrigerator.
Bell Peppers: Remove stalk and seeds. Slice peppers into strips. Refrigerate.

Arrange vegetables with attention to color and texture. Dip is attractive when served in a hollowed out vegetable sue as a bell pepper or a purple cabbage.

Dipping Sauce - Yields 4 cups
2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1½ cups mayonnaise
½ cup ketchup
1 onion, grated
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons French dressing

Blend all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight.


Yield: 40 Servings
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
½ cup water
Soften gelatin in cold water; dissolve over low heat. Two tablespoons of this will be used for each layer, so reheating may be necessary.

Egg Layer:
8 hard boiled eggs, mashed
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons dissolved gelatin
Blend ingredients in a food processor and place in a greased 9-inch spring form pan. This will be the first layer. Put pan in the refrigerator while preparing the next layer.

Avocado Layer:
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
½ cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
4 Tablespoons chopped green onion
2 Tablespoons dissolved gelatin
Blend ingredients in a food processor and spread on top of the egg layer in the spring form pan.

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz. container sour cream
2 Tablespoons dissolved gelatin
4 oz. black or red caviar, washed and thoroughly drained
Chopped parsley
Blend the cream cheese, sour cream and dissolved gelatin together. Place on top of the avocado layer. Chill overnight. When ready to serve, remove sides from the spring form pan. Decorate the top with caviar and around the bottom with chopped parsley. Serve with crackers.


Yield: 40 servings
2 teaspoons salt
4 quarts water
4 pounds tortellini, green and white
2 teaspoons olive oil

Bring salt and water to a boil in a large pot. Add tortellini, cooking until just tender. Remove from heat and drain. Place pasta in a large bowl and add olive oil to prevent sticking.
Skewer tortellini on fancy toothpicks and arrange on a platter. Serve with dipping sauces.

Creme Fraiche: 2 cups
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tablespoons buttermilk
Mix the cream and buttermilk together in a glass bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 10-12 hours, or until mixture is thick.

Garlic Sauce: 2 cups
2 cups creme fraiche
2 garlic cloves
1½ Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Lemon Dill Sauce: 2 cups
2 cups creme fraiche
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
Mix all ingredients together and chill overnight.

Yield: 25 servings
3 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
2 bunches green onions, chopped
9 cups shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined and chopped

Blend together the cream cheese and butter. Add onion and shrimp. Chill overnight. Right before you serve this dish, heat on high in a microwave until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a chafing dish and garnish with parsley and whole peeled, cooked shrimp. Serve with crackers.

Serves 50
150 oysters, in half shells

To make opening oysters easier, put them in a 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes. Then drop them into ice water. After opening, arrange the oysters on a bed of crushed ice. Serve with lemon wedges, cocktail sauce and sour cream dip.

Sour Cream Dip: 2 cups
2 cups sour cream
2 Tablespoons horseradish
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
Dash of Tabasco
1 red cabbage hollowed out (optional)
Mix together the sour cream, horseradish, salt, paprika and Tabasco. Put in small dish the will fit into the red cabbage, or just use a fancy dish for the sauce.

Yield: 40
8 oz. fresh Shitake mushrooms, chopped
8 oz. fresh button mushrooms, chopped
6 green onions, sliced
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons dry white wine
2 Tablespoons diced pimento
2 Tablespoons snipped parsley
¼ teaspoon sage, crushed
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon thyme, crushed
1 egg yolk
6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed, halved into 12x9-inch sheets, covered with damp cloth
¼ cup butter, melted and divided
2 Tablespoons fine, dry bread crumbs

Saute mushrooms and onions in 3 Tablespoons of butter. Add wine and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the pimento, parsley, sage, pepper and thyme.
Cool for 10 minutes.
Place half of mixture in food processor and add egg yolk; mix. Combine the mushroom mixture from the food processor with the rest of the mushroom.
Layer six of the halved phyllo sheets on one large, ungreased baking sheet, brushing each with melted butter. Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs down the length of one side of the phyllo within 3 inches from the long edge and 1½ inches from the short side.
Spoon half of the mushroom mixture over the breadcrumbs. Fold short edges of phyllo toward center; roll jellyroll-style from long side nearest filling. Brush roll with melted butter. Cut diagonal slits, 1 inch apart, but not through the mushroom mixture. Using another baking sheet, repeat to make a second roll.
Bake in a 400 degree over for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into slices.

Yield 50 small pralines
1½ cups pecans
1½ cups sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup milk
¾ stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Roast pecans at 275 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook to the soft ball stage (238-240 degrees). Watch to make sure it doesn’t burn and stir constantly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
Stir until mixture thickens and becomes creamy and cloudy. Using a teaspoon, spoon onto buttered waxed paper. Allow to cool and store in a tin.

Yield 25-30 squares
This recipe is a family favorite and one I used to make when I was very young with my cousin Elizabeth.

1 pound (4 sticks) butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
6 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour, one cup at a time. Press dough into ungreased 11x15-inch pan. Use cookie stamp to imprint dough if desired.
Bake at 325 degrees for 25-35 minutes, or until light brown.
Cut into squares while still hot. Let cool in pan. Store in tightly covered tin; do not freeze.
Note: this recipe definitely works best with real butter.
Happy Holidays!