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Great Gatherings: Two Holiday Dinners

Transitioning a table at the holidays is simpler than you think

Written by Candace Ord Manroe
  • Peter Krumhardt

    For menus and shopping lists, click here.

    Recipes start here.

    Entertaining is a passion too deep to run its course in a single celebration. The challenge this time of year is how to indulge the desire to host fabulous fêtes without succumbing to seasonal madness. For a table that needs to decoratively (and easily) switch gears from Thanksgiving feast to Christmas dinner, Traditional Home Senior Style Editor Krissa Rossbund has consolidated ideas and items to use for each event.

    “It’s not necessary to start from scratch during a season when there is little breathing room,” Krissa says. “Save time and plan for both holidays by collecting a solid arsenal of interchangeable wares—dinnerware, glassware, linens—to make preparation less daunting.” 

    Century Furniture’s “Tribeca” table is set with a mix of crystal and pressed-glass vintage stemware, all available through Replacements. Drapery panels are made with “Brahma” fabric by Travers from Zimmer+Rohde, available through Thomas Lavin. The “George II” crystal chandelier is from Circa Lighting. 

    Photography: Peter Krumhardt  
    Produced by Krissa Rossbund

    Recipes by Chef Mary Payne Moran, Hail Mary Food of Grace, http://marypaynemoran.com

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    Festive Place Settings

    While bridal registries call for multiple matched place settings, reality—how we live today—runs another direction: Mixing is the mandate. Krissa starts with a basic foundation—striped chargers and a chartreuse-colored salad plate—that, when mixed with dinner and dessert plates in orange or lavender, moves from November to December with ease. Natural materials break into each scheme: Carved wood placemats lend support to the Thanksgiving porcelain, while a wicker mat atop an embroidered linen placemat anchors the Christmas ensemble. Having the basics in place leaves ample opportunity for finishing touches—ribbon and snipped herbs to tie off napkins, for example, or crystal-encrusted reindeer as a dashing accent.

    For planning purposes, even the menu can offer surprising consistency. While the entree does change, other menu items are simply adapted with flavorful ingredients—just another way to allow the holidays to move smoothly from one happy celebration to the next.

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    Seasonal Slipcovers

    Furniture, too, can have a distinctive look for each event. Slipcovers made of green-and-ivory-printed linen dress dining chairs for Thanksgiving, but the elegant Christmas look shows off the chairs’ permanent upholstery—an ivory-colored matelassé fabric. 

    Slipcovers made from Kerry Joyce’s “Kent” printed linen change the look of Wesley Hall’s “#640" dining chairs for Thanksgiving dinner. The rug is from Safavieh. 

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    Thanksgiving Place Setting

    Dinnerware for the table marries patterns and colors that work well together: “Sacred Bird & Butterfly” dessert and dinner plates from Mottahedeh, green “Recamier” salad plates by Royal Limoges, and “Palladian” chargers from Wedgwood top “Nola” wooden placemats by Kim Seybert. 

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    Place Setting Details

    Strands of wheat are tucked into jute lattice ribbon rings to embellish the Kim Seybert metallic linen napkins. 

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    Fruit Bowl

    The “Berry & Thread” fruit bowl by Juliska displays a bountiful mix of artichokes, grapes, and white pumpkins. 

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    Pretty Punch Bowl

    The “La Scala” crystal punch bowl by Gorham through Replacements shows off the rich color of sparkling cider. 

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    Carving Set

    Wallace’s “Rose Point” carving set and the “Woodland” platter from Spode are available through Replacements.

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    Christmas Table

    Runners made from Schumacher’s “Rossini” sheer link place settings across the table. White roses by Natural Decorations, Inc. fill “Ellis Street” crystal bowls by Kate Spade for Lenox. Crystal-encrusted reindeer from Frontgate and glass birds clipped into the flowers add sparkle.

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    Sparkling Mantel

    The mantel shimmers with Kim Seybert beaded stockings and a lighted garland from Frontgate. Floral arrangements from Natural Decorations, Inc. are displayed in creamware cachepots from Mottahedeh. The “Scallop” mirror is from Chelsea House. 

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    Crystal Stemware

    Saint-Louis’ “Apollo Gold” stemware replaces the amber goblets from the Thanksgiving setting.  

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    Serving Dish

    Stuffing is served in a baking dish from Le Creuset. 

    Click here for the recipe.

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    Chocolatey Dessert

    The chocolate tart is served with raspberry sauce for Christmas—for Thanksgiving it’s enhanced with caramel and sea salt. The table setting gets a new look by adding “Mikado” dessert plates from Royal Crown Derby through DeVine Corp., Juliska’s wicker placemats, and Zimmer+Rohde’s “Bow Knot” embroidered fabric.

    Click here for the recipe.

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    Shake it Up

    A variety of salt-and-pepper shakers—these are Oscar de la Renta’s fluted pattern—and pinecones from L’Objet add interest and sculpture.

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    Thanksgiving Menu

    Sparkling Apple Cider

    Holiday Butter Lettuce Salad with Avocado and Chèvre

    Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Glaze

    Thanksgiving Stuffing with Parsley and Sage

    Holiday Green Beans with Hazelnuts

    Holiday Mashed Potatoes

    Chocolate Ganache Tart With Caramel Sauce and Sea Salt

    Shopping list

    We’ve organized two shopping lists to make shopping for these holiday menus easier. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

    Thanksgiving Shopping List

    It’s a good idea to pre-order your turkey and allow time for defrosting  (if purchasing a frozen turkey) and brining. We believe that fresh, organic, and/or free-range is best, however. Check with a better grocery or specialty grocery store for the best local source.

    Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

    • Unsalted butter (need 3 cups plus 5 tablespoons, or seven sticks)
    • Olive oil (need about 3/4 cup)
    • Light-color corn syrup (need 2 tablespoons)
    • White wine vinegar (need 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon)
    • Lemon juice (need 1/4 cup)
    • Salt (need about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, plus more for seasoning) •Cracked black pepper (need 1-1/2 tablespoons, plus more for seasoning)
    • Granulated sugar (need 3 cups)
    • Brown sugar (need 3/4 cup)
    • All-purpose flour (need 1/4 cup)
    • Cornstarch (need 1 teaspoon)
    • Honey (need 1 tablespoon)
    • Vanilla (need 3/4 teaspoon)
    • Ground cinnamon (need 3/4 teaspoon)
    • Ground nutmeg (need 3/4 teaspoon)

    Specialty Grocer

    • 6 ounces whole hazelnuts (need 3/4 cup)
    • Fleur de sel (sea salt)

    Produce

    • 3 heads butterhead lettuce
    • 2-1/2 pounds haricots verts or other thin green beans
    • 3 medium avocados
    • 1 bunch carrots (need 2 large)
    • 1 bunch celery
    • 4-1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
    • 2 yellow onions
    • 9 shallots
    • 1 lemon (for peel)
    • 3 oranges
    • 1 (16-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
    • 2 bunches chive
    • 2 bunches thyme
    • 1 bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley
    • 1 bunch sage

    Grocery

    • 3 (9-ounce) packages chocolate wafer cookies (need 82)
    • 1 (1.5 liter) bottle natural, pressed apple juice, such as Martinelli’s
    • 1 (64-ounce) cranberry juice
    • 1 (1 liter) bottle club soda
    • 2 (one 48-ounce plus one 14.5-ounce) containers or cans low-sodium chicken stock

    Bakery aisle

    • Herbes de Provence
    • Nonstick cooking spray
    • 4 (4-ounce) bars good-quality milk chocolate (need 15 ounces)
    • 1 (4-ounce) bar good-quality semisweet chocolate
    • 1 (8.45-ounce) bottle hazelnut oil (need 1 to 2 tablespoons)

    Meat department

    • 1 (12 to 14 pound) turkey

    Dairy

    • 1 quart whipping cream (need 2-3/4 cups)
    • 1 (8-ounce) container whipped cream cheese spread

    Bakery

    • 2 (8x8-inch) corn bread [or two (15-ounce) packages corn bread mix plus ingredients required to prepare them]
    • 1 large brioche
    • 1 loaf white bread (need 4 cups cubed)

    Cheese counter

    • 3 (4-ounce) logs goat cheese (chèvre)

    Alcohol

    • 1 bottle dry white wine
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    Christmas Menu

    Holiday Butter Lettuce Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Parmesan

    Christmas Crown Roast of Pork

    Christmas Stuffing with Wild Mushrooms

    Holiday Green Beans with Pancetta

    Holiday Mashed Potatoes

    Chocolate Ganache Tart With Raspberry Sauce

    Shopping list

    We’ve organized two shopping lists to make shopping for these holiday menus easier. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

    Christmas Shopping List

    Order the crown pork roast about one week ahead of time for pick up one or two days before the holiday. Ask the butcher to french (trim off fat and meat) the upper portion of the bone for you.

    Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

    • Eggs (need 1)
    • Unsalted butter (need 3 cups plus 5 tablespoons, or seven sticks)
    • Olive oil (need about 1 cup)
    • White wine vinegar (need 1/4 cup)
    • Lemon juice (need 1/4 cup)
    • Salt (need about 3 tablespoons, plus more for seasoning)
    • Cracked black pepper (need 1 teaspoon, plus more for seasoning)
    • All-purpose flour (need 3 tablespoons)
    • Granulated sugar (need 1/3 cup)
    • Cornstarch (need 1 teaspoon)
    • Vanilla (need 3/4 teaspoon)

    Produce

    • 3 heads butterhead lettuce
    • 1 medium butternut squash
    • 2-1/2 pounds haricots verts or other thin green beans
    • 1 pound carrots
    • 4-1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
    • 1 (10-ounce) bag pearl onions
    • 2 medium onions
    • 5 shallots
    • 1 pound mixed mushrooms (such as cremini, chanterelle, shiitake, button)
    • 5 (6-ounce) containers red raspberries
    • 1 bunch chive
    • 2 bunches thyme
    • 1 bunch sage
    • 1 bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley

    Grocery

    • 3 (9-ounce) packages chocolate wafer cookies (need 82)
    • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken stock or broth

    Bakery aisle

    • Herbes de Provence
    • Paprika
    • Nonstick cooking spray
    • 4 (4-ounce) bars good-quality milk chocolate
    • 1 (4-ounce) bar good-quality semisweet chocolate
    • 1 (6-ounce) container whole almonds

    Meat department

    • 1 (7- to 8-pound) pork crown rib roast (about 12 to 13 bones)

    Dairy

    • 1 quart whipping cream
    • 1 (8-ounce) container whipped cream cheese spread

    Bakery

    • 1 large brioche or challah
    • 1 loaf white bread

    Specialty cheeses/meats

    • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese
    • 12 to 16 ounces pancetta

    Alcohol

    • 1 bottle dry white wine
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    Thanksgiving Sparkling Apple Cider

    • 6 cups apple juice (all-natural and pressed)
    • 3 cups water
    • 1-1/2 cups sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 liter bottle club soda, chilled
    • Ice cubes (4 cups)

    In 4- to 6-quart pot or Dutch oven combine apple juice, water, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Cool. Transfer to 2-quart pitcher and chill at least 4 hours.

    To serve, in large punch bowl combine apple juice mixture, club soda, and ice cubes. Makes 12 servings.

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    Holiday Butter Lettuce Salad

    Tender butter lettuce is the consistent ingredient in this salad that transitions nicely from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

    Dressing:

    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence, crushed
    • Pinch each salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    For Thanksgiving salad:

    • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
    • 12 ounces goat cheese (chèvre)
    • 3 heads butterhead lettuce, torn (about 16 cups)
    • 3 medium avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into wedges
    • 1/4 cup fresh chives, coarsely chopped
    • 6 tablespoons Dressing
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    For Christmas salad:

    • 1 medium butternut squash
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
    • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved

    For dressing, in screw-top jar combine oil, vinegar, lemon juice, herbes de Provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover; shake well to combine.

    For Thanksgiving salad, in shallow dish combine 1 tablespoon pepper and lemon peel. Roll goat cheese in lemon peel mixture, pressing to adhere mixture to outside of goat cheese. Slice goat cheese into 12 slices. Set aside.

    In very large bowl combine lettuce, avocado, and chives. Drizzle with 6 tablespoons dressing. Toss well to combine. Season salad with salt and pepper. Divide among 12 salad plates; top each with slice of goat cheese. Pass remaining dressing.

    For Christmas salad, omit goat cheese and avocados. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Peel squash. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange squash on 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine. Spread butternut squash in even layer. Roast 25 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, turning once halfway through roasting time. Place pan on wire rack; cool.

    Add roasted butternut squash, almonds, Parmesan cheese, 6 tablespoons dressing, and chives to lettuce leaves. Toss; serve with any remaining dressing. Makes 12 servings.

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    Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Glaze

    You’ll want to plan ahead: Brine the turkey 12 to 24 hours before roasting. Roast the turkey for 3 hours and let rest 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

    Brine:

    • 2 gallons water
    • 1 cup salt
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 orange, sliced
    • 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
    • 1 (12-14 pound) turkey

    Turkey:

    • 2 large carrots, cut in thirds
    • 1 stalk celery, cut into thirds
    • 1 yellow onion, quartered
    • 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
    • Salt and ground black pepper
    • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • Cranberry Glaze (recipe follows)
    • Pan Gravy (recipe follows)

    For brine, in container large enough to submerge turkey, combine water, salt, sugar, orange, and 1 bunch thyme. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove neck and gizzards from turkey. Rinse turkey in cold water. Submerge turkey in brine. Cover; chill 12 to 24 hours.

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Rinse turkey in cold water; pat dry. Place carrots, celery, onion, and 1 bunch thyme in neck and body cavities. Skewer neck skin to back. Tuck drumstick ends under band of skin across tail, if available. If there is no band of skin, tie drumsticks securely to tail with 100 percent cotton kitchen string. Twist wing tips under back. Season turkey with salt and pepper.

    Place turkey, breast side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Rub butter over skin. Season turkey with salt and pepper. Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into center of inside thigh muscle (thermometer should not touch bone). Pour chicken stock into bottom of roasting pan.

    Roast 2-1/2 hours, spooning juices over turkey every half hour. Pour white wine over turkey and roast 10 minutes more. Baste turkey with Cranberry Glaze; roast 15 more minutes. Baste again with glaze; repeat until turkey is done (175°F in the thigh). Remove turkey from oven. Cover with foil; let stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

    Transfer turkey to cutting board for carving. Serve with Pan Gravy and remaining Cranberry Glaze. Makes 12 servings with leftovers.

    Cranberry Glaze: In medium saucepan cook 1 tablespoon minced shallot in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 cup cranberry juice, 1/2 cup sugar, juice of one orange, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, and 1 tablespoon honey. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until  cranberries begin to burst. Press mixture through fine strainer; discard solids.

    Pan Gravy: For gravy, pour pan drippings from roasting pan into large measuring cup. Scrape browned bits from pan into cup. Skim fat from drippings; reserve fat and drippings. Pour 1/4 cup of fat into medium saucepan (discard remaining fat). Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. Add enough chicken broth to remaining drippings in measuring cup to equal 2 cups. Add broth mixture all at once to flour mixture in saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper.

    Note: Test temperature of bird at 3 hours. If temperature is close to reaching ideal temperature of 175°F, lessen time in between basting with cranberry glaze.

    Note: To ensure proper food safety, use a clean spoon or baster each time you spoon over pan juices.

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    Thanksgiving Stuffing

    This basic stuffing gets a bump up to wonderful by using three different types of bread.

    • 4 cups corn bread, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
    • 4 cups brioche, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
    • 4 cups white bread, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 cups finely chopped celery
    • 1 cup finely chopped onion
    • 8 small shallots, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
    • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
    • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
    • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
    • Nonstick cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread corn bread, brioche, and white bread on two baking sheets. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until dry and slightly toasted but not browned; set aside.

    In very large skillet heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add celery, onions, shallots and salt to skillet. Cook 10 minutes or until tender.

    In very large bowl combine bread cubes, vegetable mixture, chicken stock, parsley, chives, sage, and cracked pepper. Toss to combine.

    Coat 3-quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Transfer stuffing mixture to baking dish. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes, or until heated through and top is crisp. Makes 12 servings.

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    Holiday Green Beans

    Change up your holiday green beans with the addition of hazelnuts for Thanksgiving and pancetta for Christmas.

    • 2-1/2 pounds haricots verts or other thin green beans
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 3/4 cup whole hazelnuts (for Thanksgiving)
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil (for Thanksgiving)
    • 12 to 16 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (for Christmas)
    • Cracked black pepper (for Christmas)

    Rinse beans; drain. If desired, trim tips off beans. Bring 6- to 8-quart pot of water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt to water. Cook green beans 6 to 8 minutes, a little more than al dente texture. Cool beans in ice bath; remove from water. Dry beans on towel or paper towel. Set aside.

    For Thanksgiving beans:

    In 12-inch skillet heat hazelnuts over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove hazelnuts from skillet; place in clean towel. Rub hazelnuts with towel to remove as much skin as possible.

    Lightly crack hazelnuts with your hand, mallet, or rolling pin. Place  hazelnuts back in skillet. Add butter; melt over medium heat. Season hazelnuts and melted butter with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook a few minutes until butter starts to turn caramel color.

    Add green beans to skillet; toss with hazelnuts. Cook 3 to 5 minutes more or until heated through, tossing occasionally. Season to taste with additional salt. Drizzle beans with hazelnut oil before serving.

    For Christmas beans:

    Omit hazelnuts and seasoning cooked beans with additional salt. In very large skillet cook pancetta over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Coarsely crumble pancetta. Add cooked pancetta to cooked beans. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

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    Holiday Mashed Potatoes

    These mashed potatoes are deliciously rich and creamy. The recipe is sure to become your go-to version.

    • 4-1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
    • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
    • 3/4 cup whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
    • 1 tablespoon minced chives (optional)

    Bring large pot of water to boil. Add potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt. Boil about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain; return potatoes to pot. Return to medium heat 1 to 2 minutes to dry out potatoes.

    Meanwhile, in medium saucepan heat whipping cream and butter over medium heat, cooking and stirring until butter is melted and cream is warm but not boiling.

    Press potatoes through ricer or food mill, or mash with potato masher to desired consistency; return to pot. Stir in warmed liquid mixture and add remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. To serve, sprinkle with chives, if desired. Makes 12 servings.

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    Christmas Crown Roast of Pork

    • 1 recipe Herbed Butter (follows)
    • 1 (10-ounce) bag pearl onions
    • 1 (7- to 8-pound) pork crown rib roast (about 12 to 13 bones)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 small bunch fresh thyme (reserve 1 teaspoon for Herbed Butter)
    • 1 small bunch fresh sage leaves
    • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into thirds
    • 3/4 cup dry white wine
    • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    Prepare Herbed Butter; chill. In medium saucepan bring water to boil. Add pearl onions; simmer 3 minutes. Drain. Place onions in bowl of ice water to cool. Peel exterior skin of onion; cut off growing end. Set aside.

    Place roast, rib side up, on rack set in large roasting pan. Brush roast with olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper, rubbing spices in with fingers. Place thyme and sage bunches in middle of roast.

    Roast, uncovered, in preheated 325°F oven 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 hours or until internal temperature registers 145°F, adding pearl onions and carrots during last 1-1/2 hours of roasting. Brush roast with some of the softened herb butter for last 5 minutes roasting time. Remove roast and vegetables from pan; cover to keep warm. Let stand while preparing gravy.

    Add wine to hot roasting pan, scraping up any browned bits. Place roasting pan on stovetop over medium heat. Simmer wine until reduced by about half. In bowl, gradually whisk together chicken stock and flour until smooth. Add to roasting pan, whisking constantly. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more.

    To serve, toss desired amount of herb butter with the carrots and onions. Serve with pork roast and gravy. Pass remaining herb butter. Makes 12 servings.

    Herbed Butter: In small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 tablespoon each snipped fresh chive and parsley and 1 teaspoon thyme. Cover; chill until serving time. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

    Tip: For extra flavor, you can stuff the pork roast with Christmas Stuffing (see recipe) and cook it for the same amount of time.

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    Christmas Stuffing

    A variety of mushrooms make this stuffing exceptional.

    • Nonstick cooking spray
    • 6 cups brioche or challah, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
    • 6 cups white bread, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
    • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 cups finely chopped onion
    • 5 shallots, finely chopped (2/3 cup)
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
    • 6 cups mixed mushrooms (cremini, chanterelle, shiitake, button) coarsely chopped (about 1 pound)
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

    Preheat oven to 300°F. Coat 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray; set aside. Spread bread cubes in two 15x10x1-inch baking pans. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until cubes are dry, stirring twice; cool. (Cubes will continue to dry and crisp as they cool.) (Or, let bread cubes stand loosely covered at room temperature 8 to 12 hours.)

    Increase oven temperature to 350°F. In very large skillet melt 6 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and shallots to skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from skillet; set aside.

    Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil to skillet. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mushrooms; cook without stirring 4 minutes. Stir once; cook 4 minutes more or until golden brown. Stir in onion mixture and thyme.

    In extra-large bowl combine bread cubes, chicken stock, and egg. Fold in mushroom mixture and parsley. Transfer stuffing to casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes or until heated through. Makes 12 servings.

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    Holiday Chocolate Ganache Tart

    This rich ganache is super satisfying and the individual portion is just the right size for enjoying after a big holiday meal. The warm color of caramel makes a lovely topping for Thanksgiving, while the bright red of raspberries adds Christmas flair.

    Crust:

    • 4-1/4 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies (about 82 cookies)
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 3 tablespoons whipped cream cheese spread
    • Nonstick cooking spray

    Ganache:

    • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
    • 15 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, chopped
    • 3 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped

    Toppings:

    • 1 recipe Caramel Sauce, finely shredded orange peel, and fleur de sel (Thanksgiving) or
    • 1 recipe Raspberry Sauce and fresh red raspberries (Christmas)

    For crust, in large bowl stir together crushed cookies, melted butter, and cream cheese spread. Place twelve 3-inch tart pans with removable bottoms onto large baking sheet. Lightly coat pans with nonstick spray. Place about 3 tablespoons of crust mix in prepared tart pan; press onto bottom and up sides of pan. Repeat with remaining crust mix and pans. Place tart pans in freezer to chill while preparing filling.

    For ganache, in large saucepan bring whipping cream, butter, and vanilla just to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add both chocolates (do not stir). Let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Divide ganache between chilled tart crusts. Chill at least 3 hours before serving.

    Before serving, remove tarts from pans. For Thanksgiving, top tarts with Caramel Sauce, orange peel, and fleur de sel. For Christmas, pool Raspberry Sauce on dessert plates. Add one tart to each plate; top tarts with fresh raspberries. Store leftover tarts and sauce in refrigerator; serve within 48 hours. Makes 12 tarts.

    Caramel Sauce: In heavy medium saucepan stir together 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1/2 cup butter, and 2 tablespoons light-color corn syrup. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally; reduce heat to medium. Boil gently 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

    Raspberry Sauce: Measure 3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries. Thaw berries, if frozen. Do not drain. Place half the berries in food processor or blender. Cover; process or blend until berries are smooth. Press berries through fine-mesh sieve; discard seeds. Repeat with remaining berries. (You should have about 1-1/4 cups sieved puree.) In small saucepan stir together 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Add raspberry puree. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill at least 1 hour before serving. (Cover and chill any leftover sauce up to 1 week.)

     
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