Making it look easy

The key to making it all look easy is good planning and doing as much as possible ahead of time.  For special dinners, I make a detailed list of every individual component and task.  The menu for tonight is:

Smoked salmon

Beef tenderloin with red wine butter sauce, haricots vert and rosemary popovers


The cookies are all made but I made a detailed task list for everything else.  It looks like this:

Smoked salmon

  • Hardboil eggs
  • chop eggs, red onion
  • make toasts
  • assemble platter with eggs, onion, capers, sour cream, toast and salmon

Beef tenderloin

  • Roast beef
  • Make red wine butter sauce
  • Slice and serve beef

Haricots vert

  • trim and blanch beans
  • chop shallots
  • saute shallots
  • heat beans with shallots

Rosemary popovers

  • Preheat oven
  • Mix batter
  • Bake popovers

Then I look through the list for things that can be done ahead of time and start checking them off.  I hardboiled the eggs last night.  My husband is roasting the beef now.  When he is done, I’ll blanch the beans and refrigerate.  (I may even chop the shallots and the red onion now and refrigerate in containers.) The more that I have done ahead of time, the more I can relax and enjoy being with my company.  (They’ll be more relaxed also!)  All I have to do is mix the batter for the popovers and get them in the oven, make the red wine sauce (which really has to be done at the last minute) and saute the shallots and beans.

The other thing that can be done ahead of time is setting the table.  It’s Christmas so pull out your prettiest things (if you don’t use them at Christmas, when are you going to use them?).  Here are a couple of pictures of the table, ready to go for tonight.

Table all set for Christmas Eve dinner

Table all set for Christmas Eve dinner

All it needs is the food.

All it needs is the food.


About emenuplan
I love to cook and love to eat. I work full time and have a family so managing good meals during the week requires organization. I'm hoping to share my weekly menu plans and recipes to make things a little easier for those who want to follow along.

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