On Chaos Chronicles Podcast 441, I mentioned my Christmas Eve menu breakthrough: the Mashed Potato Bar. I was looking for a meal to serve that satisfied many appetites, could be eaten informally without a knife, and frankly, gave the guests something to talk about because we’d had quite a few family events lately and we needed some fresh topics besides the movie “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” I’d pulled off a Mashed Potato Bar last year — and eaten at many more as they’ve been in vogue here in Pasadena for a good 5 years. But this was Christmas Eve, and my mother has big expectations. Good news! The Mashed Potato Bar passed the Edna Dolan Good Taste Test!
So many of you asked for directions/instructions/reviews, I thought I’d let you know it was a huge hit. No photos from mine, unfortunately, as I was too busy getting out the gourmet toppings to take photos… but I did find others online to give you a sense of what one looks like:
Here are a few details from my Mashed Potato Bar:
Simple Mashed Pots: I went with simple, butter-free mashed potatoes so as not to compete with toppings. I used a combination of russet and Yukon Gold potatoes mashed with chicken stock and low-fat buttermilk. Creamy, but with a crisp bite thanks to the buttermilk. I served them hot, hot, hot in two serving dishes to keep the guests moving around the table.
Martini Glasses and Lots of Glass Bowls: I bought a case of martini glasses ($20) and lots o’ glass bowls to serve the many, many toppings. The table looked sparkly and fun. And now I’m all set to repeat the whole menu over and over again!
Gourmet Toppings: I went for it, knowing that anything left-over would make fantastic dinners, hors d’ouevres or pasta toppings in the day after. Plus, the fun is including topping that you wouldn’t normally eat on mashed potatoes– like crabmeat. Several items were traditional food gifts from family, like the Honeybaked Ham or the Smoked Salmon my brother sends from Alaska every year. My “stations” were:
- Roasted Ratatouille. Made the day before to let the flavors mingle.
- Smokes Salmon and Lump Crabmeat Louis with Chopped Egg, Capers, Chives, Sour Cream and Remoulade.
- The Barefoot Contessa’s Pot Roast for Company, shredded for easy eating. Click here for The Most delicious Pot Roast Recipe Ever! Made the day before for best flavor.
- Honeybaked Ham and Cranberry Sauce
Give Instructions: It was a new experiences for most guests. I had to give an “overview” of the concept, a “tour” over the bar and kept encouraging guests to “return to the bar.” I caught several people trying to use the 7.5 ounce martni glass as a buffet plate! No, no… one topping sttaion at a time, then come back. You don’t have to squeeze the pot roast in next to the crabmeat!
I think I’ve stumbled on a new tradition for Christmas Eve. It would be perfect for New Year’s Eve as well!
Embracing my Chaos, Lian
Holiday Entertaining To Do List