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A Dressed Down Holiday Menu

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This casual menu (with root-beer-poached pears for dessert) is simple to pull off, but still makes your guests feel special.

This menu stars sear-roasted rib-eye steaks that are simple to pull off, but will still make your guests feel special. An easy marinade with fresh rosemary and ground fennel seed boosts the hearty flavor of the steaks, and a quick, hot sear gives them crunchy, caramelized crusts. Don’t forget to brush the sliced steaks with a bit of the reserved marinade before serving. Nothing could be simpler, or more delicious.

This menu’s starter goes retro with crunchy iceberg lettuce wedges and a thick, creamy blue cheese dressing. What’s the ideal side dish with a salad and steak? Cheesy twice-baked potatoes, of course. Mildly bitter broccolini with briny olives and capers comes together in less than 20 minutes and rounds out the plate beautifully.

Download a pdf  of this menu, including all recipes, shopping list, and timeline.

Menu Timeline

Three days ahead:

  • Make the blue cheese dressing.

One day ahead:

  • Bake the potatoes, make the filling, and fill the potatoes.
  • Blanch the broccolini.

Four hours ahead:

  • Make the gingerbread cake.
  • Poach the pears.

Three hours ahead:

  • Marinate the steaks, turning them every half hour.
  • Prepare the remaining broccolini ingredients.

One hour ahead:

  • Cook the steaks; let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Thirty minutes ahead:

  • Reheat the potatoes.

Before dinner:

  • Finish the broccolini.
  • Plate and dress the iceberg wedge salads.
  • Carve the steaks and brush with marinade.

Before dessert:

  • Make the whipped cream.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce:

  • 8 large Yukon Gold or medium russet potatoes
  • 4 firm-ripe Bosc pears
  • 4 medium bunches broccolini (2 to 2-1/2 lb.)
  • 2 medium lemons
  • 2 small heads iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cup scallions plus 2 scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic

Meat, Eggs & Dairy:

  • One 2-bone standing beef rib roast (about 5 lb.)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 lb. blue cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk; more as needed
  • 7 Tbs. unsalted butter

Other Groceries:

  • Five 12-fl.-oz. bottles root beer, preferably an artisanal brand
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 2 Tbs. chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 Tbs. chopped capers

Pantry Staples:

  • 1 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; plus one cup
  • 4 tsp. good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tsp. ground fennel seed
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt

The dressed-up version of this menu features Herb-and-Salt-Crusted Standing Rib Roast with Morel Sauce, Cauliflower Soup with Marcona Almond and Piquillo Pepper Relish, Crushed Potato and Watercress Cakes, Rainbow Chard with Lemon, Fennel, and Parmigiano, & Chocolate Soufflés with Brown Sugar and Rum Whipped Cream.  

The Menu

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