Twas the night--before dinner


‘Twas the night–before dinner
On Christmas Eve, pull out all the stops with this easy dinner. Start with oyster bisque and graduate to beef tenderloin and baked potatoes with creamy chevre. (Spiced beef traditionally marinates for 14 days; ours takes less than one and one quarter hours to make!)

First published in Chatelaine’s January 1997 issue.
©Rogers Media Publishing Inc.

Wild mushroom-and-oyster bisque

15-g pkg dried sliced mushrooms
2 cups homogenized milk
250-mL container half-and-half cream, (about 1 cup)
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp dry vermouth or sherry
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp each of salt and Tabasco
Pinch of nutmeg
32-oz (907-g) container shucked fresh oysters in their liquid, about 4 cups, or 3 cans (5 oz each) whole oysters
2 green onions, thinly sliced

In a small dish, cover mushrooms with 1/2 cup boiling water and soak for 10 min. Heat milk with cream, roasted pepper, butter, vermouth, bay leaf, salt, Tabasco and nutmeg over medium-low heat until very hot, but not simmering, about 5 min. Stir often.

Stir in fresh oysters and liquid, and mushrooms and liquid. If using canned oysters, rinse with cold water, drain and add. Cover and heat until edges of fresh oysters just start to curl or until canned oysters are just heated through, about 3 min. Do not boil.

Remove bay leaf, sprinkle with green onions and serve. Makes 7 cups Make ahead Prepare soup but do not add oysters or their liquid. Refrigerate for up to 1 day. Just before serving, reheat soup, then stir in oysters and liquid and heat as above.

Nutrients per serving
12.4 g protein, 11.8 g fat, 13 g carbohydrates, 7.9 mg iron, 201 mg calcium, 210 calories

Spiced beef tenderloin

2-lb (1-kg) tenderloin or eye-of-round roast of beef
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp each of salt, cinnamon, allspice or cloves, hot red pepper flakes and mace
1 tsp pickling spice
1/4 cup dry sherry

Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Place beef in a shallow pan. Make a fine paste of garlic, salt and spices. Rub mixture over entire surface of meat. Bake in centre of oven, uncovered, until browned, about 1 hour for medium-rare, or until a meat thermometer reads 140°F (60°C). Cover and let roast stand for at least 10 min. before slicing. For delicious juice, stir sherry into pan drippings. Drizzle over sliced roast. Serves 6

Nutrients per serving
31.4 g protein, 10.7 g fat, 0.4 g carbohydrates, 4.2 mg iron, 10 mg calcium, 241 calories

Easy chèvre baked potatoes

6 small baking potatoes
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
140-g roll creamy herbed goat cheese, about 1/2 cup, or 1/2 cup crumbled Stilton
Parsley for garnish

Slice potatoes in half, lengthwise. Rub surfaces with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place cut-side down on an oiled baking sheet. Bake in 325°F (160°C) oven with roast until golden, about 1 hour. Turn cut-sides up. Top with cheese and parsley sprigs. Serves 6

Nutrients per serving
7.2 g protein, 9 g fat, 31.7 g carbohydrates, 1.7 mg iron, 37 mg calcium, 233 calories

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