Three New England Holiday Menus | In Season

A selection of our favorite seasonal recipes from the Yankee archives in three holiday menus: Rustic-Modern, Traditional, and Brunch.

By Amy Traverso

Nov 30 2016


Plum Pudding

Photo Credit : Kristin Teig
Plum Pudding
Photo Credit : Kristin Teig

Whenever I’m looking for culinary inspiration—and after fifteen years of writing about food, the well of holiday recipe ideas can sometimes run dry—I head to the bound Yankee volumes lining the shelves in our second floor conference room. I love seeing how New England cooking has evolved over the eighty-plus years we’ve been publishing this magazine.

We might imagine the same static holiday roast with mashed potatoes gracing the table of our great-grands and beyond, but dig a little deeper and you’ll start to notice how history always makes its presence known in the recipe files of home cooks. I witness the economy of wartime cooks substituting honey for heavily rationed sugar in their Christmas cookies and see international flavors creep into menus during the post-War boom. The ‘70s brought the first round of farm-to-table wholesomeness and the late ‘80s and early ‘90s saw the rise of gourmet one-upmanship, with as many fancy-sounding ingredients crammed into each dish as could fit on a page. (I’m looking at you, Viennese beef tenderloin stuffed with bacon, shallots, mushrooms, herbs, dill pickles and breadcrumbs, with Madeira-Burgundy-brandy sauce, circa November 1992.)

And yet even in that somewhat overwrought era, the beef roast remained, with apple strudel and vanilla crescent cookies for dessert. The seasonings change, but the key players remain. I wonder how future cooks will look back on the holiday foods of our era—our farm-to-table earnestness and retro-vintage obsession. But these are indeed the foods that spark our appetites right now, and so we’ve pulled together menus to speak to today’s holiday cooking.


We had been hearing about Jennifer Freedson and Lindsey Wishart’s artful dinners—part of a menu range of services they provide as the co-owners of Chive Catering and Events—for several years before we featured them in the magazine. Not only was their food delicious, their styling like something out of a Pinterest fever dream, but the majority of their ingredients are grown, raised, line-caught, or butchered within 40 miles of their home base of Beverly, Massachusetts. They also recycle and compost all their leftover packaging and food so that Chive events produce zero net waste. With all that in mind, we asked them to develop a holiday menu and they came through with recipes that remain staff favorites, worthy of revisiting each year. These dishes are rustic and cozy, but elegant enough for company. They’re also quite easy to pull off. (Insider tip: If you add just one dish into your usual rotation, let it be the feta-honey-stuffed gourd dip.)

Chive Events

Feta & Honey-Stuffed Gourd Dip

Chive Events

Seed Crisps

Chive Events

Winter Vegetable Salad with Spiced Honey Vinaigrette

Chive Events

Lemon-Stuffed Pork Loin with Thyme & Roasted Apples

Chive Events

Dark-Chocolate Walnut Tart


The holidays are a time when tradition reigns supreme and this classic Christmas menu hits all the essential notes: oysters Rockefeller to start; a standing rib roast that develops perfect flavor and texture with an application of salt and seasonings the day before roasting (and Yorkshire pudding to go with); plus a fresh take on potato gratin and a classic plum pudding.


Oysters Rockefeller


Dry-Cured Rib Roast


Yorkshire Pudding


Sweet-Potato Gratin with Maple Butter


Plum Pudding


Any of the following dishes would make a fantastic centerpiece to a New Year’s Day brunch, and most can be made ahead of time and served warm or at room temperature (only the blueberry Dutch baby needs last-minute prep). Match one sweet dish with a savory one; add a fruit salad and you’re done!


Shirred Eggs

11_Pork Apple Pie

Pork & Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust


Cardamom Crumb Coffee Cake


Blueberry Dutch-Baby


Whole-Wheat Maple-Cranberry Scones