Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Set aside a few handfuls of whole cranberries for garnish. Combine remaining berries along with the wine, water, honey, ginger, cinnamon stick, and salt. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan, add 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and then reduce it to a low simmer.
Once some berries have popped (not all), the liquids have reduced down, and the consistency is relatively thick, the sauce is ready. Note that it will become much thicker when chilled, so on the runny side is better. This process should take about 15-25 minutes.
You can add more honey or even 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar if you wish to have a sweeter cranberry sauce. Grind the black pepper into the sauce and then set aside to cool. If too thick before serving, stir in a touch of water or lemon juice to thin it out. Save the remaining fresh lemon zest to garnish individual plates and for the serving bowl.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Sage
Add the peeled and 1″ cubed potatoes to a large pot and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil and then reduce immediately down to a simmer. Allow the potatoes to cook for about 15-25 minutes, or until you can easily stick a fork through them. It’s best to avoid the potatoes cooking longer and getting too mushy.
Drain the cooked potatoes in a colander. Use a potato ricer to create super fluffy potatoes. Fill the basket of the ricer and squeeze into a large empty bowl. Move at a steady pace, making sure the potatoes don’t get cold in the process.
Warm the milk and butter along with salt in a small saucepan, then slowly stir it into the mixture. Add about a half cup at a time, as needed, to avoid the mixture getting too runny. Once the texture is smooth and still thick, add the sour cream. Mix everything until it’s smooth. Finish by adding more salt and pepper to taste.
Add fresh sage leaves on the potatoes to serve, or create crispy sage for a pop of extra green color and texture. To do this, simply coat the bottom of a small skillet with oil, and bring to medium heat. Pinch the sage, leave off the stem, and carefully place them into the skillet with tongs. After just a few seconds of heat, they should be fried. Remove from the skillet and add to a paper towel to cool. Save to place over the individual plates and serving bowl.
Beef Tenderloin with Winter Greens
Preheat the to 475°F. Place the beef tenderloin on a roasting rack and cover with the sugar and salt. Then sprinkle crushed black pepper over the tenderloin, and press into the sides of the meat. Make sure it’s fully covered, this will heighten the flavors.
In a medium-sized skillet, sear all sides of the skillet until browned by rotating every few minutes with tongs. Then, place onto a roasting pan.
Stick and oven-safe thermometer into the middle of the beef. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it reads around 120-125°F (for medium-rare).
Take out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil for 10-15 minutes. Carve into ½-inch to ⅔-inch slices just before serving. Plate the serving platter with layered herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme. Garnish with whole cranberries, uncooked frozen berries, or fresh.
Artful Plating for a Holiday Meal
On a large plate, add the mashed potatoes to one side and evenly swirl it with the help of a spatula. Place a few sprigs of crispy sage on top. On the other side, add 3-4 slices of beef tenderloin. Spoon out the cranberry sauce over the top of the beef, and add a bit of lemon zest. At the beginning and end of the layered slices, add a few sprigs of fresh herbs and remaining whole cranberries. This dish will add a bit of holiday cheer and elegance to any intimate gathering.