Friends, it’s here! The season of cinnamon buns and snow scones, egg bakes and breakfast cake, shortbread and rum balls, ham and mustard sauce, glogg and tangerine spritzes.
This Christmas Eve my mother-in-law, Carole, is making lasagna, a recipe she learned from a friend, one I will have to share with you sometime soon. I tried it for the first time last weekend, upon returning home from a hockey tournament, where my empty fridge led me to scour the freezer, where I found a frozen lasagna Carole had dropped off a few weeks ago.
An hour later, the lasagna was on the table, and about 15 minutes later, it was gone. I wish I could give you more details about the lasagna itself — as I remember, it tasted very classic with layers of sauce, meat, and ricotta — but the pace at which I took my portion down left little room for reflection. I promise to pay closer attention next time.
On Christmas, I’ll make a ham and, of course, my grandmother’s mustard sauce. On the side, there will be potatoes (either these or these or these), my father-in-law’s mother’s red cabbage, and a simple salad. For dessert, I’m thinking about orange and olive oil cake and tiramisu, though pecan pie is always a hit.
I’ve included all of my favorite Christmas Eve, Morning, and Dinner recipes below. This post is very similar to last year’s but I’ve added a few 2022 favorites including this no-peel potato gratin, another butternut squash lasagna, a heavenly one-bowl pound cake, and this salad with apple cider vinaigrette.
PS: If you are in need of some ideas for appetizers and other nibbles, this post might be helpful.
PPS: 30+ Christmas Cookie Recipes
To me, nothing is more Christmas Eve-y than mussels, a meal my mother often served for the occasion. Of course, there’s no better companion for mussels than good bread. My mother’s peasant bread is an excellent choice as is this simple sourdough boule. These oven fries are something the whole family loves, and they’re a great match for mussels as well.
A simple salad dressed in a citrus-shallot vinaigrette makes it a meal.
If mussels aren’t your thing, I can’t say enough about lasagna, which is such a good meal to make for entertaining. I have two butternut squash lasagna recipes I love:
Christmas is not Christmas, at least when I’m with my parents, without Glogg. This is my stepfather’s specialty, something the whole family looks forward to as soon as the holiday season approaches.
“Glogg,” if you are unfamiliar, derives from a Scandinavian word meaning “to glow” or “to warm,” which is just what this hot beverage is meant to do: warm you up, get you glowing. Coming from a land where the sun shines seldom in a long winter season, glogg is meant to work immediately, which is exactly what it does.
In a sort of two-pronged attack, glogg enters the system: as vapors swirl off the hot liquid up into the nose making their way to the brain, the liquid itself — a mixture of red wine, port, and brandy — pours through the bloodstream. This is potent stuff, bone-warming, rosy-cheek inducing, party-starting stuff. It’s impossible not to belt out the Christmas carols with a glass of glogg in hand.
We love serving glogg as a pre-dinner drink sitting by the fire with a few snacks — cheese, crackers, nuts — on hand.
This tangerine spritz recipe, from David Lebovitz’s Drinking French, calls for three ingredients: tangerines (or clementines), sparkling wine, and Campari. It’s like a spritz meets mimosa — and I think it’s a perfect winter holiday cocktail: so pretty! so festive! so citrusy! yay!
Brioche Cinnamon Buns
Prep these buns on Christmas Eve. Rise to frosted brioche bliss. And to very happy humans.
Two cranberry-studded favorites:
Each of these can be prepped ahead as well. The unbaked scones can be stashed in the fridge (or freezer) the night before baking; the batter for the cranberry buttermilk breakfast cake can also be stashed in the fridge.
Overnight French Toast
This is the easiest French toast you will ever make, and I believe it’s one of the best, too. It’s crisp on the exterior and custardy on the interior. It emerges from the oven piping hot, ready for syrup, fruit, powdered sugar, or all three.
I am 95% convinced I love ham because of the sauce: my grandmother’s mustard sauce (recipe below as well). Friends, it’s so good.
This time of year, I love this variation of my favorite shallot vinaigrette: citrus-shallot vinaigrette. In this version, the shallots soak in both vinegar and fresh-squeezed orange juice, the addition of which makes the dressing a little fresher, a little brighter, and a little lighter. It’s so nice this time of year.
I’ve been using it to dress very simple salads: Boston lettuce tossed with endive, arugula, or whatever looks good at my grocery store. If you’re looking for a heartier salad, here are a few more ideas:
Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
This sweet potato casserole is an old family recipe, one I brought back to the Thanksgiving 2021 table, where it was wildly well received.
These brioche dinner rolls are the same as these brioche hamburger buns but here they are made in pull-apart form and, out of the oven, they are brushed with an herby, garlicky butter. If you portion the dough into 12 balls, as pictured above, the buns will be quite large, but they’re perfect for leftover ham sandwiches … decisions decisions.
In my family, this mustard sauce is as essential as the ham on the holiday table. It takes no time to whisk together, and it is so nice to have on hand for leftover ham sandwiches.
Not all dry mustards are created equally, and depending on the type you use, your sauce could taste unpleasantly strong. I don’t have a strong preference of brands here, but in recent years I use the Tone’s ground mustard, which I find at my local co-op.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons dry mustard, see notes above
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Place a strainer over a medium-sized bowl (able to hold about 2 cups of liquid). Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while monitoring closely and stirring often. As soon as the mixture comes to boil, pour it through the strainer into the bowl. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 5
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: mustard, sauce, ham, cream, vinegar, easy