A Holiday Feast Comprised of Our All-Time Favorite Recipes
Just in time to inspire your Christmas menu, our food editors share the Martha Stewart Living recipes they simply adore and have to make every December.
The food teams at Martha Stewart Living have collectively created three decades' worth of holiday meals for the magazine—we're talking hundreds of hors d'oeuvres, too many mains to count, appetizers galore, plus a dizzying array of desserts. For our 30th anniversary issue, a holiday issue to boot, the current crew share the recipes from our archives that they cook again and again when off duty in December.
They also share some of the backstories to these now-classic recipes and what made them perennial favorites instead of other holiday roasts or spectacular desserts. Some of the selects are obvious, like Martha's almost infamously boozy eggnog. Others deserve to be better known, like the Alastian Potato Pie that has become a tradition. Our editorial director of food, Sarah Carey, says, "Former editor, Heidi Johannsen Stewart created this recipe more than a decade ago, but a more recent alum, Laura Rege, made it into a yearly tradition."
"When we use a recipe from an old colleague, we always think of them when we make it," Sarah says. The prime rib recipe, perhaps the quintessential holiday entrée, was developed by Jennifer Aaronson, our former editorial food director, in 2007. "She brought some incredible holiday classics to the table, and such magic to our pages," says Sarah.
Another former colleague Nora Singley, a longtime chef on The Martha Stewart Show, created the salmon with mint-caper pesto for a 2013 story, and it's now a must-make holiday recipe for assistant editor Riley Wofford.
Deputy editor Greg Lofts recalls how his all-time favorite holiday entrée came to be: "One of my first freelance assignments for Living was helping Lucinda Scala Quinn, then executive editorial food director, develop a capon recipe for the December 2012 issue. She was a great mentor, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since."
Ready for dessert? We have options! Greg is all in for a cheesecake Laura developed in 2014. "The juicy, sweet-tart citrus balances the creamy filling. Served cold from the fridge, it's a refreshing, unexpected dessert to cap off a big feast," he says.
Take your pick of these greatest hits—some recent, others old (but so, so good)—to make your own unforgettable menu.
Art direction by James Maikowsk; food style by Frances Boswell; prop styling by Tanya Graff.
Martha's Classic Eggnog
No holiday fête at Martha's would be complete without her famous eggnog, whipped into a cloud of foam, showered with fresh nutmeg, and served in a silver bowl "the size of a bathtub," says editorial director of food Sarah Carey. While many recipes call for rum, brandy, or cognac, Martha's has all three, and the liquors' complex flavors help cut through the richness.
Prime Rib and Oven-Roasted Potatoes With Bay Leaves and Sage
In editor at large Shira Bocar's home, this standing rib roast rules. "Crumbled bay leaves, fresh sage, and orange zest create a savory crust," she says. Parboiling and scoring russet potatoes with a fork before roasting results in burnished, crispy spuds that round out the centerpiece.
Alsatian Potato Pie
Nicknamed "four-hands tart," this appetizer is an annual ritual in the test kitchen. It's made of puff pastry wrapped around a potato, leek, and Comté-cheese filling, and comes out of the oven 10 minutes before it's done for an infusion of heavy cream (the pastry would get soggy were that in the filling from the start). "While four hands aren't actually required, we make this a fun group activity," says Shira. "One person pours the cream through a funnel into a vent in the pastry, and another tilts the pan to distribute it. The sauce becomes super-velvety."
The best pairing for the potato pie? Glasses of another Martha perennial: pomegranate punch, a sweet-tart elixir amped up with ginger and apricot nectar.
Low-Country Pickled Shrimp
Pre-dinner nibbles should awaken the appetite without filling you up. These pickled shrimp, which deputy food editor Greg Lofts made for a 2015 story on regional American flavors, are bright and fresh, with a piquant heat. "I use medium-size shrimp and serve them on crostini with a little aioli," says senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell.
Martha's Favorite Potato Pancake
Labneh Dip with Caramelized Onions and Fennel
Lauryn's take on French onion dip is downright cosmopolitan, thanks to fennel and labneh, a creamy yogurt cheese.
Warm Marinated Olives
Another easy favorite is olives warmed in olive oil with dried chiles and a few herbs. "This quick trick elevates a pantry staple in just minutes," Sarah says.
Roasted Salmon with Mint-Caper Pesto
Acorn Squash with Mixed Grain Stuffing
Roast Capon with Fig-and-Pancetta Stuffing
Ile Flottante with Caramel
For something even more ethereal, whip up Martha's legendary île flottante. The dessert is typically made in individual portions and floated on crème anglaise, but she creates a single giant meringue in a Bundt pan and sets it on caramel. The light, fluffy meringue is balanced by the slightly bitter edge of the caramel, and served with the crème anglaise on the side.
Birch de Noël
Our yuletide spread isn't complete without a magnum opus, like this "birch de Noël" from a December 2000 holiday story. It's constructed from chocolate génoise cake rolled with white-chocolate mousse and covered in soft, fluffy seven-minute frosting. The decorations—meringue mushrooms and sugared rosemary stems—evoke a crystalline, ice-covered forest, and flavors of rum (brushed on the cake) and coconut (on top) add a hint of the tropics, even if it's snowing outside. At the end of a year that's been full of challenges, assembling this holiday treat, perhaps with the help of loved ones, can put hope for the future right in your hands.