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This year, our entire food department collaborated on a Christmas menu, collecting and devising dishes that express the goodwill and happy times we'd like to share.
Our first course and finale are traditional dishes revised with fresh flavors: crunchy salt crystals on little gougères, and poached cranberries, rich toffee sauce, and rum-flavored whipped cream in a festive trifle.
The main course ― a showy prime rib roast, creamed spinach, and parsley potatoes ― echoes the spirit of Christmas past in the best way.
Up to 1 month ahead: Make and freeze cheese puffs.
Up to 1 week ahead: Cook cranberries and toffee sauce for trifle; cover separately and chill.
Up to 2 days ahead: Toast walnuts for salad; make cake for trifle and wrap in plastic wrap to store.
Up to 1 day ahead: Make creamed spinach; assemble trifle.
About 3 ¼ hours before dinner: Prepare beef.
About 3 hours before dinner: Get roast into the oven; garnish trifle with last layer of cream and slivered dates (chill, uncovered, until ready to serve).
As guests arrive: Reheat thawed cheese puffs.
About 45 minutes before dinner: Cook potatoes.
About 30 minutes before dinner: Reheat creamed spinach while beef rests; finish pan juices for roast.
About 20 minutes before dinner: Mix salad.