This year I decided to host a 7 Continents Dinner on Christmas Day. The theme was A Culinary Trip with Santa Around the World. Adults can enjoy the spirit of Santa with kindness and food from around the world. My parents, friend Carol, and her adult son Mike attended the meal. I spent a lot of time thinking and planning over the last few months. My goal was be better at plating and table decor than in the past. There is always room for improvement but I think that I achieved my goal.
- I like the look of place mats on top of a tablecloth.
- These centerpieces were low and perfect for the table. My friend Carol gave me some holly to put on the table.
- I made the jingle bell napkin rings with jingle bells and wire. It would be safe if you used thin elastic but my adult guests did not get injured.
- I bought the Christmas Crackers from Marshalls. It is a family tradition to have them on our Christmas table.
- I made the Mt. Fuji chopstick rests from clay and a Mt. Fuji cookie cutter. I baked them for about 15 minutes.
- Earth – 7 Continent Dinner Rotating Earth Menu. (If I spent more time on it, 2 pages would fit on 1 page and there are other improvements I would make. I am including the word document here if you want to modify it for your own purposes.) I came up with the concept months ago. It is possible that my co-workers and everyone I know are tried of my talking about my menu cards. It is not perfect but my guests enjoyed turning the wheel to go to the next continent and read about the next course. I bought the silver place card holders at Michael’s.
I planned the menu to include some make ahead and freeze and make ahead and refrigerate items. I made the gyoza a week ahead and put them in my freezer. The peanut soup was made a day ahead and refrigerated. The fruit sorbet was made 2 days ahead and stayed in my freezer. I scooped the sorbet and put it in mini serving glasses and put them back in the freezer a few hours before the meal. I made the empanada filling and dough the day before my meal. We took a break after the 4th continent so I could prepare and bake the empanadas. I only needed to cut and plate the cheese course. I baked the reindeer cookies 2 weeks before and froze the pieces. I frosted with caramel buttercream the morning of the party and assembled while plating. The chocolate cake was baked the day before. It was cut and frosted a few hours before the meal. I baked the cheesecakes the day before. I added whipped cream and strawberries a few hours before the meal. Everything was under control (I even had a guide for myself to tell me how to plate each course), I thoroughly enjoyed it and feel that it was a success!
ASIA – Appetizers
Vegetable Gyoza – I made my own with store bought dumpling wrappers. I shredded cabbage, carrots, snow peas, scallions, and fresh ginger separately in my food processor. I added sesame oil and soy sauce.
Served with Trader Joe’s Gyoza Dipping Sauce (sprinkle of sesame seeds) and edamame in the pod.
AFRICA – Soup
West African Peanut Soup – I added only 4 cups of vegetable broth and 1 can of coconut milk, halved the ginger, and used spinach instead of greens.
Served with chopped peanuts, parsley and a cherry tomato slice.
AUSTRALIA – Vegetable
Garlic Hasselback Zucchini – without the Parmesan
Served with Macadamia Nut Sauce – (I had the coconut oil but forgot and used olive oil, shallots instead of the green onions, and vegetable bouillon) with diced tomatoes.
ANTARCTICA – Intermezzo
Fruit Sorbet – I used blueberries and blackberries since I wanted an dark color.
SOUTH AMERICA – Entree
Black Bean & Corn Empanadas – black beans, corn, cumin, Cotija cheese with pastry.
Served with avocado sauce (blended avocados, fresh lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a food processor) with salsa.
EUROPE – Cheese
French Brie, Italian Asiago, Scottish Cheddar w/ dried fig and salted truffle almonds
Served on red holiday doilies and made flag picks from printed paper glued onto toothpicks. I made a choice to use the St Andrew’s Cross or the Saltire flag.
NORTH AMERICA – Dessert Trio
3D Reindeer Cookie – homemade sugar cookies cut with a 3D cookie cutter, frosted with Caramel Buttercream – I did not exactly follow this recipe, I used butter, powdered sugar, and some Trader Joe’s Caramel sauce.
North Pole Chocolate Cake – boxed cake mix with a layer of homemade strawberry jam from my friend Kathy, whipped cream on top and a Chocolate Hazelnut Pirouette cookie (to stand in for the North Pole – I wanted a red and white peppermint one but difficult to find and I decided not to make my own.)
Served with Chocolate Ho Ho’s – melted chocolate chips piped into letter shapes (the day before) onto aluminum foil and kept in the refrigerator.
My critique of the meal:
I know that my 7 Continent Dinner Rotating Earth Menu could have been more exact since when they turn, it is not always exactly lined up.
I have been making gyoza since I was 19 so they were not new to me. My Dad enjoys Trader Joe’s Gyoza Dipping Sauce so I served that instead of making my own.
My guests raved about the West African Peanut Soup. I think that it will go on my regular soup rotation.
This was my first time making Hasselback Zucchini. It was enjoyed by all and I would make it again.
It was my first time making blueberry and blackberry sorbet. I prefer other types but it suited the purpose of this meal. Scooping ahead and keeping in the freezer was very helpful.
My empanadas were cracked and not folded properly but I did not take the time to learn how (it was my first time making them). I would use a different pastry next time. The filling was delicious!
I am not sure how much my guests liked the dried figs but the cheese course and salted truffled almonds were a hit! I had a consult at the Pittsford Wegmans cheese counter a few weeks before and they were extremely helpful with planning the course.
My theme for the dessert trio was “Elegant Santa”. My reindeer cookie is not elegant – she is sort of rustic. A peppermint striped Pirouette cookie would have been more suitable for the North Pole. But I think that my guests were impressed. I did hear some sounds of surprise and awe when I put out the dessert trio.
I am being overly critical since I think the meal was a huge success!