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updated 12/22/2006 8:06:53 PM ET 2006-12-23T01:06:53

Lifestyle expert Donata Maggipinto's latest cookbook is “Christmas Family Gatherings,” which features holiday recipes, and ideas on how to make the holidays memorable for you and your family. Here's her suggestion for delicious Christmas day meal, plus her advice for handling the cooking on the big day. All of these recipes can be prepared in advance so you don't miss out on the fun.

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Donata's Advice for Preparing Christmas Dinner…

Clean as you go! Sounds like extra work (why not leave everything for a broad sweep at the end?) but clutter gets in the way of efficiency and only slows you down. Wash bowls for reuse or put in the dishwasher, wipe cutting boards and knives for reuse, and wipe counters as you go along, You'll be a quicker, more efficient cook. You'll enjoy yourself more, too.

Set the table in the morning.  If it's the big day, this is a task perfect for delegating to an older child.

Plot out your dinner table.  Set out serving dishes and place a sticky-note in each one indicating the dish that will fill it.

Don't spend time in the kitchen alone! People love to congregate in this “most popular room in the house.” While they're there “keeping you company,” delegate!

Recipe: Roast Prime Rib with Horseradish Whip Cream (on this page) Recipe: Individual Yorkshire Puddings (on this page) Recipe: Green Beans with Shallots and Lemon (on this page) Recipe: Wild Mushroom and Potato Gratin (on this page) Recipe: White Chocolate Peppermint Stick Ice Cream (on this page)

Recipe: Roast Prime Rib with Horseradish Whip Cream

The meal's centerpiece is a roast prime rib with horseradish whip cream. This is a "stately" dish that is easier to cook than people think! 

Why prime rib?  By now, you've probably had your fill of turkey and ham from Thanksgiving and every holiday party in between!  Donata says the Prime Rib adds sophistication to an already very traditional holiday meal!

Many people believe that cooking a roast is difficult. It isn't. The size may be large and therefore intimidating, but a roast is one of the easiest things to cook. All you do is season it and put it in the oven. And if you have an instant-read thermometer, you're golden! It's the surefire way to ensure a perfectly cooked roast.

Roast prime rib of beef is sometimes called standing beef rib roast. Here the roast is seasoned with thyme and cracked black pepper and served with savory Yorkshire puddings. To ensure the roast cooks evenly, bring it to room temperature. Allow 2 hours for it to come to room temperature before roasting.

Horseradish is a classic accompaniment to roast beef. In this recipe, I combine horseradish with whipped cream to complement the horseradish’s flavor and tone down its piquancy for the children. It looks pretty on the table, too.

  • Prime Rib
  • 1 prime rib of beef roast, about 6 lbs. (4 ribs), at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • Horseradish Cream Whip
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup prepared horseradish, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • freshly ground white pepper

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 475°F.

In a small bowl, combine the thyme, black pepper and salt. Put roast, rib side down (the ribs act as a natural rack), in the center of a roasting pan and rub all over with the oil. Press the thyme mixture into the beef.

Roast beef for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hors more, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 115 degrees. Transfer the beef to a carving board, reserving the pan juices, and let stand 25 minutes (Meat will continue to cook reaching about 130 degrees for medium-rare).  (When you remove the roast from the oven, increase the temperature to 450°F to bake the Yorkshire Puddings.)

While the meat is resting, make the pan sauce and the Individual Yorkshire Puddings.

To make the sauce: Before proceeding with the sauce, spoon 6 tablespoons of drippings from the pan; reserve.

Place the roasting pan with the drippings of medium heat. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.  

To make the horseradish cream whip:

In a bowl. Using a whisk or an electric mixer set on medium speed, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Stir in the horseradish, lemon zest, and white pepper to taste. Spoon into a bowl and pass at the table.


Look for prepared horseradish in your market’s refrigerated section; it will be fresher than the one you’ll find in the condiment aisle.

Serving Size

Serves 6-8

Recipe: Individual Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire pudding can be made in a single pan but preparing it in individual puffs gives it a special holiday presentation. The secret to a good Yorkshire pudding that is golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside is to have both the pan and the fat very hot when you pour in the batter, and no peeking while they’re in the oven. The hot pan immediately cooks the batter as it comes into contact with the pan and puffs up the pudding nicely. Serve Yorkshire pudding immediately after removing it from the oven, as it will quickly deflate.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons fat from roasting pan

In a blender, combine eggs, milk, flour and salt until just smooth. Chill 30 minutes.

Remove the roast from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Put 1 teaspoon fat in each of 16 standard metal cups (1/3 cup) and place in the oven until very hot, about 8 minutes.  Spoon 2 tablespoons cold batter into each cup. Bake until golden and puffed, about 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serving Size

Makes 16

Recipe: Green Beans with Shallots and Lemon

Green beans add crunch and color to a rich meal such as roast prime rib of beef.

  • 2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add the green beans and cook until crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. (Can be prepared up to this point, up to 4 hours ahead.)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through, about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Serving Size

Serves 8

Recipe: Wild Mushroom and Potato Gratin

Potato gratin is the classic accompaniment to roast prime rib of beef. Here, the addition of wild mushrooms updates the dish and tones down its richness. Another plus: the dish can be made 2 hours ahead.

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces assorted fresh wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Generously butter an 11x7x2-inch baking dish. Peel and cut potatoes Arrange 2 layers of potatoes in prepared dish. Lay 1/3 of mushrooms over potatoes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Repeat 2 more times with potatoes, mushrooms, salt, and pepper.

Carefully pour cream over potatoes. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.

(Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Uncover and continue baking until golden brown and set, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serving Size

Serves 8

Recipe: White Chocolate Peppermint Stick Ice Cream

A refreshing end to a rich meal, this festive dessert is as pretty as it is delicious.  If you choose to make homemade ice cream, add the candy and chocolate towards the end of the processing, just as the ice cream becomes firm.

  • 1 quart best quality vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed peppermint candies, candy canes or peppermint sticks
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate
  • chocolate fudge sauce
  • peppermint sticks, for garnish

Place the ice cream in a chilled large metal bowl. Add the peppermint candies and white chocolate and stir until combined. Place in the freezer until firm.

To serve, spoon the ice cream into individual bowls. Top with fudge sauce and garnish with peppermint sticks.  

Serving Size

Serves 8


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