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Make-Ahead Dinner Party: A Cozy Winter Menu for 6

Follow our prep schedule to pull off this elegant, easier-than-it-looks feast.

Photography by: David Malosh

Every cook needs one perfect cozy winter meal in her repertoire. It should be lavish enough for a special occasion yet easy to prepare. This menu hits all the marks. Beef tenderloin is simple to roast whole, and this one’s leek crust ensures that the meat stays moist during cooking. Potatoes Anna is equally elegant -- our version has thinly sliced potatoes baked in a skillet like an upside-down cake. A bright salad adds crunch, and a make-ahead tart closes out dinner in style.



Make-Ahead Strategy


1 week before

Shop for pantry staples and specialty ingredients, such as seeded crackers, panko breadcrumbs, frozen puff pastry, dark chocolate, pecans, and pine nuts.


2 days before

Shop for fresh and smoked salmon, crème fraîche, heavy cream, produce, and beef tenderloin. Make vinaigrette.


1 day before

Prepare salmon spread. Bake tart. Wash and dry salad greens. Toast pine nuts.


90 minutes before guests arrive

Prep beef.


60 minutes before guests arrive

Put beef in oven; make potatoes.



The Recipes

Photography by: David Malosh

Creme Fraiche Salmon Spread

Tangy creme fraiche unites poached and smoked salmon in this quick and easy spread.


Get the Creme Fraiche Salmon Spread Recipe
Photography by: David Malosh

Escarole Salad with Celery and Pine Nuts

Escarole, which has a bit of a bite, is a welcome contrast to the heartiness of the beef and potatoes on the menu. Here, the greens are amped up with crunchy celery, buttery pine nuts, and a zingy shallot vinaigrette.


Get the Escarole Salad with Celery and Pine Nuts Recipe
Photography by: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes Anna

Our fall riff on the traditional French dish pommes Anna calls for sweet potatoes in addition to the usual Yukon Golds. A mandoline is key to getting thin, even slices -- just one of our top tips for making this sophisticated side dish.


Get the Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes Anna Recipe
Photography by: David Malosh

Leek-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin always makes an impressive main dish, especially when covered in panko and roasted until crisp and golden on the outside and incredibly juicy on the inside.


Get the Leek-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Recipe
Photography by: David Malosh

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart

The decadent chewy filling in this tart is inspired by turtle candies. A dollop of unsweetened whipped cream will cut its intensity.


Get the Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart Recipe

Watch Shira make the crown jewel of the meal, the leek-crusted beef tenderloin: