Holiday parties are all about getting together with family and friends and enjoying the company of one another (have you sent out your party invitations yet?). But let’s be honest, food plays a pretty big role as well. There’s nothing better than combining good conversation with a delectable spread of holiday dishes. When crafting your menu for the big event, think beyond the traditional Christmas ham. Including these food trends in your menu will ensure a diverse and beautiful mixture of flavors and textures:
1. Mixing and matching
Think about your favorite fall foods, such as apples and mashed potatoes. Instead of enjoying them all separately, how about combining them into one flavorful meal? The apples will give your fluffy potatoes just the perfect touch of sweetness for a dish that your guests will want seconds and thirds of.
Apple mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
8-10 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, put all the potatoes in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of cold water. Once the water starts boiling, add salt to taste and cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes. Next, put the garlic cloves in an aluminum foil boat and season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Seal the foil together and roast for about 30 minutes – the garlic should be nicely brown and caramelized. Pour the half-and-half into a saucepan and put on the stove over low heat until hot. Drain your potatoes, pouring them back into the pot to allow them to finish cooking. Then add the butter and roasted garlic along with the half-and-half to the potatoes. Fold in the apples, and season with salt and pepper as you see fit.
2. From the forest
Now, I’m not saying that you have to gather mushrooms and fungi for your dinner table, but foraging is one of the popular holiday food trends of 2014. Think rustic, outdoorsy meals packed with flavor, like stuffing filled with fresh chestnuts and wild mushrooms. You can even apply the foraging trend to your dessert menu by crafting mushrooms out of white and bittersweet chocolate and arranging them on top of your cake for a unique decoration.
Apple chestnut stuffing
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 large onions
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 large eggs
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 Jonathan apples
5 large celery ribs
1 stick unsalted butter
2 pounds challah bread
2 cups cooked chestnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On three large rimmed baking sheets, spread the challah on the surface and bake for 15 minutes. Take the bread out, then turn the oven up to 400 degrees. After letting the bread cool, transfer it to a large bowl and add the chestnuts. Melt the butter in a skillet, adding in the celery ribs, onions and parsley. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, then transfer to the bowl with challah. Toss in sage, thyme and apples. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs and 2 cups chicken stock with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the challah and stir. Add another 1/2 cup of the stock to keep the stuffing moist. Spread the stuffing into two shallow glass baking dishes and bake for 20 minutes.
Think about all of the foods that might be on your holiday dinner table, like vegetables, roasted turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc. How delicious would all of these foods be stacked into a sandwich? For a more Christmasy take on this trend, try topping your favorite sandwich bread with fresh honey ham, Gruyere cheese, some butter and a sunny-side-up egg.