Entertaining, Holiday, Seasonal

Savor the Season

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Christmas is right around the corner, and perhaps you’re thinking that you’d love to gather some friends together for some festive fun, but maybe it’s too late…

Wait! We all know that spontaneity is the spice of life. Here are two last minute ideas to consider…a day AFTER Christmas party and an intimate holiday tea.

The December 26th tradition in my family began just like this, proving to be a wonderful chance to extend the holiday cheer. The centerpiece of this party was a delicious curry, which surely was a creative way to use up the rest of the Christmas dinner turkey. And then, like any good and well-received idea, the curry became the staple of a supper buffet that my parents hosted for at least 35 years.

Bettie Pardee Xmas Turkey Curry-40

Bettie Pardee Xmas Turkey Curry-38

The recipe (included at the end of this post) is a winner, for so many reasons – it’s comfort food at its best, easy to make, cost-efficient, can be doubled and tripled to serve a large group and the curry can be eaten with just a fork, making it a simple choice for a buffet that may require eating on one’s lap. It’s a good, old American recipe, long before Thai food became the rage. Oh, did I mention that it freezes well, too?!
An added plus? The long list of condiments can make for a festive and photo-worthy presentation that will tempt even the fussiest eater.

Bettie Pardee Xmas Turkey Curry-7

One last detail…use interesting little serving spoons for the condiments (here, I used ones whose handle and bowl are crafted from white shells.)

Bettie Pardee Xmas Turkey Curry-6

In the days, my mother served this turkey curry with:

A Chinese salad, whose “dressing” was Hellman’s mayonnaise spiced with soy sauce, ginger and some pineapple juice and Virginia ham, sliced tissue-paper thin.

The Holiday Tea around the fireplace can be offered in many variations which is what makes “tea” such a versatile entertaining option. And there’s something so romantic and civilized about this age-old tradition, slowing down the pace of life for a short, precious time with family or friends.

Bettie Pardee Christmas Tea-93

For this year, I chose to go with an all-sweets menu for my Holiday Tea and include the first recipe from my single-girl days, entertaining on my own. Like the curry (with which it can be paired) Crème Caramel is fail safe and has withstood the test of time.


Turkey Curry Recipe


  • 2 lbs. cooked white meat turkey
  • 1½ sticks butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 2 large green apples, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 Tbs. curry
  • 1Tbs. lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Make cream sauce: melt 1 stick of butter, over low to medium heat; gradually add flour and whisk until smooth.
  2. Add curry and mix well
  3. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add broth, whisking continuously.
  5. In separate pan, saute’ onions and apples in ½ stick of butter until soft.
  6. Add to curry sauce and boil ‘til slightly thickened, stirring frequently
  7. Reduce heat, add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
  8. Add turkey and mix well
  9. Simmer for 1 hour
  10. To present, pour the curry into a deep, heated serving platter or chafing dish.
  11. Serve curry with rice, a favorite salad and your choice of the many condiments ( listed below)
  12. Cooked curry can be frozen. To reheat, place curry in an oven-proof casserole. Cover tightly. Place in a preheated 300° oven until piping hot (about one hour )


  • Chopped peanuts
  • Sliced scallions
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Dried raisins soaked overnight in port
  • Diced banana
  • Diced pineapple
  • Diced tomato

  • Toasted coconut
  • Chopped egg
  • Diced mango
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Chutney
  • Chopped, candied ginger
  • Pine nuts

Crème Caramel Recipe

Serves 8


  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. Melt 1 cup sugar over low heat, stirring constantly, until all lumps are gone and it turns a light-colored liquid caramel
  3. Coat bottom and sides of 1 ½ quart round Pyrex dish with the caramel
  4. Heat milk and cream over medium heat until bubbles appear at edge; do not boil
  5. In large bowl, beat eggs slightly
  6. Add ½ cup sugar, salt and vanilla and stir well
  7. Gradually add hot milk/cream mixture, stirring constantly
  8. Pour into Pyrex dish
  9. Place dish in a pan filled ½ way with water
  10. Bake 1 ¼ hours or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean

– Refrigerate overnight –

When ready to serve, run a flexible knife around the inside rim of the dish to loosen the crème.

Place a serving platter over the dish and flip the dish to release the dessert; the caramel sauce will coat and surround the crème.

Sprinkle candied ginger on the top before you serve, or decorate the custard with small shards of a nut brittle, like pistachios.


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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

8 thoughts on “Savor the Season

  1. Merry Christmas! These recipes sound delicious! Only wish I had the beautiful china! Can’t wait to see you again at the Dallas Woman’s Club!! Elaine

  2. Oh how I remember those fabulous curry dinners the day after Christmas, it was the best party of the season. Everybody got a chance to doll up wearing new Christmas finery and eat a REAL meal that not only looked exquisite in presentation, but was satisfyingly delicious after so many rounds of party food. It is still my favorite “one fork buffet.”

    1. In my home country of England ..December 26th has of course a different name
      “Boxing Day”….We try to carry on all the traditions here in America..But it is always a time for family and friends and slowing down (if only for a few hours)..English Crackers are a bit hit with the younger set of my husbands very large and diverse family…Curry is also a tradition due as I am sure you know to “The Raj”..The table settings you show are just lovely …Cheers G

  3. Merry Christmas, these recipes look wonderful, makes me want to have that little party I never got to do this year. I just started reading your blog and love it.

  4. We are serving turkey curry on Saturday next when my English family comes for the day. Bettie knows that I have made this curry for years! We love it!!

  5. Oh Bettie, Bill and I so loved those wonderful parties at your parents home on the 26th!! I am so thrilled to have the recipes!! Everything you do is gorgeous! So happy you are doing this blog Merry Christmas and much love

  6. Bettie, this looks so. Beautiful!!! I can’t wait to treat my family and friends!! Love !

  7. Loved looking at this beautiful presentation. I printed the recipe and plan to use it as soon as I eat up all the leftover tenderloin from Christmas .!!
    I didn’t have this particular meal with your parents in Atlanta, but it was still a very memorable evening….Roy loved your dad!
    Come see me in Madison, Georgia.
    PS Happy New Year to you and Neale!!

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