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December Celebrations - Beyond Christmas

Gisele Perez

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December is the time for festive celebrations. Of course, most of us excitedly look forward to digging into our traditional Christmas Roast Turkey or Prime Ribs. But why not invite friends to something a little different in honor of multiculturalism, and begin some new traditions. Here are some other celebrations (along with their great menus) to ponder and salivate.

For Hanukkah Dinner, start with tray passed Mini Cheese Blintzes topped with Warm Blueberry Maple Sauce.

Then there's nothing like a Slow Braised Brisket (you don't have to be Jewish to love this special treat) with Potato Pancakes and Chunky Apple Compote, accompanied by Roasted Winter Vegetables.

Desserts for the kid in all of us- Hanukkah Cupcakes, decorated with blue and silver sprinkles and Stars of David, and the updated version of jelly filled doughnuts, Beignets sprinkled with Powdered Sugar and served with a Tart Cherry Compote.

Celebrate family, culture and community with a first-fruits Kwanzaa party. Put out a spread of selections from the African Diaspora.

Start with Jamaican Jerk Chicken Skewers and Cod Fish Cakes- full of flava', mon. . .

Then a buffet of West African Roast Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Okra, Fried Catfish, Fresh Corn Pudding, Candied Yams and a Melange of Collard, Mustard, Spinach and Turnip Greens Sautéed with Garlic inspired by the American South.

And to finish-what else but Pecan Pie?

To pay tribute to our neighbors from the up North and across the pond, how about a Boxing Day Brunch serving Quiche Lorraine, Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Poached Apples and Canadian Maple Syrup (of course).

For dessert- a Fruit and Rum Trifle.

This year we have a weekend to recover after all the ringing out of the old and in with the new year. How about a “Hair of the Dog" Champagne Brunch showcasing an Omelette Bar with All the Fixings. Spring for a young culinary student to come in and do the cooking honors, If that's not in the budget consider Frittatas, which are basically open-faced omelettes, which can be baked ahead of time in the Pyrex pie dishes and taste great at room temperature. Add some Fresh Salmon or Crab Cakes and French Toast, which your guests can dip and then cook themselves on an electric griddle set up on the buffet.

There's no better way to get the New Year off to a great start than sharing a wonderful time of feasting with family and friends.

Gisele Perez is the owner of small pleasures catering in Los Angeles, CA where she specializes in creating wonderful feasts to help her clients celebrate the holidays. Please visit her at where you can delight in more special menus. She is also the author of a new E-book, the ultimate step by step guide to hiring the perfect caterer for all your special celebrations, available at


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