Has the stress of the holiday season got you down? Well, don’t despair. In a four-part series on “Today,” Elizabeth Mayhew, style director of Real Simple magazine, offers ideas to help take the hassle out of the holidays. In part three of the series, she shares some tips on what to serve your guests for any type of holiday gathering. Whether you're throwing a casual cocktail party or a formal dinner, the editors of Real Simple magazine have one easy recipe that can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion.
REAL SIMPLE HOLIDAYS
DAY 3: WHAT TO SERVE
ONE FILLET, ENDLESS OPTIONS
When it comes to entertaining, beef tenderloin is always a perfect answer to most menu questions. No matter who’s at the table — boss, relative, friend — a roasted fillet of beef can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. The little black dress of meats, it’s always classic and practically foolproof.
Beef tenderloin is an extravagant cut of meat and will cost anywhere from $60 to $150, depending on the quality and where you buy it. That said, there are no bones to deal with and no waste.
Oven-Roasted Fillet of Beef
1 4-pound fillet of beef
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Remove the fillet from the refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting to bring it to room temperature. Preheat oven to 500º F and position a rack in the center.
Spread the mustard evenly on all sides of the fillet. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over high heat; the oil should simmer but not smoke. Brown the fillet on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place the fillet in oven and reduce temperature to 425º F. Roast about 25 minutes for rare or until a meat thermometer reads 130º F when inserted into the center. (Check the temperature once after about 20 minutes to gauge how far along the fillet is.) Remove the fillet from oven and allow it to rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Makes 36 hors d’oeuvres; 8 to 10 buffet servings; 6 servings for a sit-down dinner
FOR A NEW YEAR BUFFET
Since your fillet requires so little hands-on time, you can concentrate on making colorful and complementary salads and vegetables. With Real Simple’s New Year Buffet menu, the Oven-Roasted Fillet of Beef can be served warm or at room temperature.
Suggested served with: Rustic Sweet Potato Galette; Leeks With Vinaigrette; Red, White and Green Salad With Walnut Vinaigrette. Visit www.realsimple.com for recipes.
FOR A FORMAL HOLIDAY DINNER
If you drizzle a luxurious béarnaise sauce over your fillet, you don’t need much more to make your holiday dinner a success. Béarnaise sauce is best made just before serving, but it can also be kept warm in the top half of a double boiler. Simple steamed broccoli makes a nice addition to this menu.
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1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sancerre or Sauvignon Blanc
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine the wine, vinegar, shallot and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of the tarragon. Cool to room temperature.
Put the egg yolks into a blender and add the cooled wine mixture. In a small saucepan, heat the butter until bubbling.
Blend the yolks and wine mixture. Pour in the melted butter in a slow, steady stream. Add the pepper and the remaining tarragon. The sauce will be thick and creamy. Serve immediately with the Oven-Roasted Fillet of Beef.
Suggested served with: Wild Rice With Shallots; Candied Carrots; Herbed Drop Biscuits. Visit www.realsimple.com for recipes.
FOR A COCKTAIL PARTY
You don’t have to worry about your guests going home hungry when you have these substantial cocktail sandwiches on an hors d’oeuvres tray (or a kitchen counter than can serve as a buffet). Spread different flavored butters on different sandwiches, or serve the butters in small bowls besides the baguettes and have guests make their own.
Blue Cheese Butter
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup crumbled good-quality blue cheese
Place the butter in a small bowl. Add the mustard and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Mash in the blue cheese. Chill the butter until needed, but allow it to come to room temperature before spreading.
Recipes for Horseradish Butter, Roasted-Garlic Butter, Parsley Butter and Red Currant Butter available at www.realsimple.com.
Each month, Real Simple offers beautiful, practical solutions to make life easier and better, guiding readers through the things they have to do so they can spend more time doing the things they want to do. For more of Real Simple's recipes visit: www.realsimple.com.