I'm dreaming of a white Christmas dinner
December 6, 2009 9:31 AM   Subscribe

White food. I want to serve a Christmas dinner composed exclusively of white food. As white as possible, although I realize there is a limit (and I am not prepared to serve marshmallow-anything). Any recipes you can suggest?

I am pretty capable in the kitchen, and have oodles of gadgets, so feel free to recommend difficult and high-end options. Food preferences and allergies are not an issue.

So far I'm considering:

-- scallops (any suggestions for not making them gold when cooked?)
-- crab or lobster bisque
-- white fish
-- white asparagus (if I can find it) or maybe cauliflower (how to make sophisticated?)
-- risotto
-- a cheese course

For dessert I am almost certainly going with a cheesecake.

The table cloth, napkins, candles, and flower arrangements will all be white. Any other suggestions would be very appreciated, including techniques for maximizing the depth and richness of flavor without adding color to foods, and for veggies.
posted by Capri to Food & Drink (62 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Steamed chicken is pretty much white. I had a marshmallow fluff cheesecake once. I'm aware you said this was not going to happen, but I feel the need to mention it. Ouzo is white.
posted by jessamyn at 9:34 AM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: FENNEL! A wintertime fav.
A risotto of fennel, parsnip, and white asparagus sounds friggin good.
posted by antipode12 at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2009 [4 favorites]

Make a Prison Cake! (just leave it white)
posted by Drasher at 9:38 AM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Oh, ps, *blanch* the scallops to avoid the golden searing crust.

Or, if you know how, you could serve them *cerviche* which would also retain the white color.
posted by antipode12 at 9:38 AM on December 6, 2009

You might try a seafood lasagna, actually. Very tasty.


For the cheese course, look for sheep or goat milk cheeses.

You could do a cauliflower puree/mash of some sort. Back in the crazy-for-Atkins days, I saw it at restaurants pretty frequently as a substitute for mashed potatoes. I actually preferred it.
posted by Madamina at 9:39 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think a cream of cauliflower soup would be delicious! (sorry no recipes)
posted by Sassyfras at 9:42 AM on December 6, 2009

Blanquette de veau.
posted by kenko at 9:43 AM on December 6, 2009

Definitely a pasta with Alfredo sauce. Add chicken or scallops too!
posted by simplethings at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2009

vichyssoise? mashed potatoes?
posted by gnutron at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cheesecake, or any of the many white chocolate cakes/icings/etc. Coconut is also good, and either this or white chocolate can be used in cheesecakes successfully. Rose Levy Berenbaum has a number of good recipes using white chocolate.

Eggnog is white and classic (use white rum).

White pizza (ricotta, potatoes, hide the rosemary under things) is good as an appetizer or meal.
posted by jeather at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2009

White beans, mashed up, for a dip. Add garlic and stuff to make it more hummus-y.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:48 AM on December 6, 2009

Spring roll skins are mostly white looking. You could wrap up something flavorful in them and poach them in water. If you make them small enough to eat in one bite no one will be the wiser of their contents.

For dessert you could make an Angel Food Cake and cut the crust off of them and then top it with a meringue and coconut.
posted by mmascolino at 9:51 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

These simple cookies have wonderful taste and texture.
posted by leigh1 at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2009

Steam/poach proteins and take advantage of cream sauces. I agree with Madamina's suggestion to make mashed cauliflower. I used cream, cream cheese, and butter in mine. You might be able to sneak in some Parmesan as well.

I would argue that cheesecake is not white; it's golden. What about meringue cookies, Stupid Pie, or custard pie? Those are closer to the white color you want.

Which drinks are you serving? I can think of only milk and White Russians. Maybe you can just serve white wine and insist it fits because of the name.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2009

Another dessert, that can partly be made way ahead, which is an advantage - Pavlova.
posted by gudrun at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2009

Parsnip and ginger soup is very nice. And don't forget the jicama and daikon sticks for crunchy munching.
posted by fish tick at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2009

White bean soup. I've also made a white bean puree dip. Oh and a dip with feta cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2009

Saw Tyler Florence make a turnip puree on Food TV yesterday. I'm sure it's no the web site.
posted by Gilbert at 10:01 AM on December 6, 2009

Turkey is pretty white, you could slice it and arrange it on a plate before hand to avoid the color of the skin.

To add flavor to vegetables saute them in garlic and onions?

Another dish that might work is a cucumber salad. My Oma makes a absolutely delicious one for Thanksgiving that is something like this, minus the dill plus some paprika (though you could probably leave that out).

Also, potatoes? Most potatoes would turn out white, it looks like you're aiming for something upscale, maybe scalloped with a high quality white cheese?

(Note: I am not much of a foodie, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt [which is also white, btw])
posted by kylej at 10:01 AM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Rice pudding is a dessert possibility, though depending on the recipe it may be slightly off-white from the spices.

Some mushrooms are fairly white. Preserving the white color throughout cooking may be difficult, though. You might want to experiment with a couple of kinds and a couple of methods.

techniques for maximizing the depth and richness of flavor without adding color to foods

Favor low-heat and wet preparations like boiling and steaming. Definitely get some white pepper; the taste isn't exactly like black pepper but it fills the same role without affecting color. Essential oils and artificial flavorings are typically colorless. Use cream to add richness and buttermilk, white wine, and white wine vinegar to add tartness and acidity. Some brands of butter are much lighter in color than others, so use those if you can. Use garlic juice instead of actual garlic to avoid little off-white flecks in your dishes.
posted by jedicus at 10:02 AM on December 6, 2009

suggestion: i think a whole array of white-colored foods might look less appetizing than you think. think carefully about the china you choose. i would recommend having a few dishes of intensely jewel-colored garnishes or sauces?
posted by acidic at 10:04 AM on December 6, 2009 [9 favorites]

Roasted caulifour. Just put some oil and hot pepper on it then roast it in the oven at 450F until it starts getting crispy. It won't be pure white, due to the browning, but maybe it'll still fit.
posted by hought20 at 10:06 AM on December 6, 2009

Cauliflower. Spelling fail, sigh.
posted by hought20 at 10:06 AM on December 6, 2009

This is extremely delicious.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: You can poach scallops and they'll stay whitish/opaque.
posted by cooker girl at 10:09 AM on December 6, 2009

This may be not what you're looking for . . . but Salt Encrusted Prime Rib Roast. The roast is encrusted totally in salt and cooked. You then break the salt covering off and your roast is all juicy and flavorful (but no longer white)
posted by Sassyfras at 10:15 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

You should try some milksteaks boiled hard with vanilla jelly beans on the side.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 10:15 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mother-in-Law Veal Blanquette
posted by leigh1 at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Appetizer: Toasts with melted brie and honey

Side: Cauliflower puree with asiago (taste & texture is like mashed potatoes, but lower carb and higher fibre)

I agree that jewel-toned condiments will make this meal look more appetizing... A dish of pomegranate bits to scatter over something savoury, cranberry jelly, blueberry coulis, sprigs of fresh herbs, a saffron cream sauce, etc.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:23 AM on December 6, 2009

The whitest thing I've ever eaten was a non-dairy Coconut Ice Cream made with coconut milk. This brand. Both the vanilla and the Naked Coconut flavors were super white. It's vegan, fair trade, low glycemic, etc. if you have anyone there with dietary concerns.
posted by BlooPen at 10:24 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by cropshy at 10:32 AM on December 6, 2009

I am not your dinner guest, but I would suggest a few sprinkles of color, as it'll serve to highlight the whiteness of everything else and a larger choice of dishes (cauliflower for Christmas, really?). Artfully down, it could be really festive and stylish.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:33 AM on December 6, 2009

Also be aware that there are different shades and tints of white and white things can be very sensitive to ambient color i.e. lighting (indoor or outdoor) the color of the guests clothing.

Finally, whatever do you, could you post a picture of the table setting, with food on it, to the web? I'm really interested to see how it all looks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:36 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Divinity is another option for dessert.
posted by kookoobirdz at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2009

White lasagna with bechamel sauce...cheesy, gooey macaroni and cheese...coconut cake...
posted by dzaz at 10:49 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fettuccini (I can't spell) Alfredo!

Milk shakes

Pina coladas

Panni Popo (Samoan coconut rolls)
posted by Sassyfras at 11:06 AM on December 6, 2009

Seconding roasted cauliflower. This recipe is super delicious.
posted by apricot at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2009

At Truman Capote's Black and White Ball in 1966, the Plaza Hotel served this (white) dish at midnight:

Plaza chicken hash (serves 4-5)

4 cups finely diced cooked chicken (white meat only), 11/2 cups heavy cream,
1 cup cream sauce, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper,
1/4 cup dry sherry, 1/2 cup Hollandaise sauce

Mix chicken, cream, cream sauce and seasonings in a heavy skillet. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. When moisture is slightly reduced, place skillet in a moderate oven (350F), and bake for 30 minutes. Stir in sherry and return to oven for 10 minutes. Lightly fold in Hollandaise sauce and serve at once.
posted by iviken at 11:17 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Desert suggestion:

White cake with white raspberries and whipped cream.
posted by paperzach at 11:33 AM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Oh, man, I once read about a full-on white menu in an old cookbook. It might have even been included in Jane and Michael Stern's Square Meals, which your local library *should* have. Off the top of my head I can only recall that the main dish was something in white sauce, such as chicken ala king over rice, served with ambrosia and a composed salad of all-white ingredients, which IIRC included cauliflower and white asparagus.
posted by chez shoes at 11:36 AM on December 6, 2009

Blancmange. It's right there in the name.
Ouzo or absinthe for an aperitif.
posted by zamboni at 12:29 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Greek yogurt with blanched almond slivers, golden rasins and agave nectar.

I don't think it would taste very good but this recipe for Milk Toast in Fannie Farmer has bewildered me for some time.

A general technique would be to splurge on some white truffle oil, and cook with white wine everywhere you can, especially with the risotto and poached seafood. These will add lots of complex flavors, where as milk and cream will just add richness.
posted by fontophilic at 1:16 PM on December 6, 2009

White-chocolate-dipped pretzels (really easy to make yourself). There are actually a lot of things you can dip in chocolate...try Ruffles potato chips!
posted by radioamy at 1:20 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Courtesy of a spectacular friend, I have Keller's new cookbook, with an incredible cauliflower soup recipe. MeMail me if you want it, I'm too lazy to go get it right now.

Other note: a little acid when blanching white vegetables keeps them whiter.

Bear in mind that adding a single splash of colour--beet something, carrot, spinach, pomegranate seeds, blueberry--will be visually stunning and make the whites look whiter by contrast. Might be a great idea with dessert, a flash of colour on an otherwise white plate to finish the meal.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

What a great idea! A delicious and culturally traditional Christmas dish (if you're Polish) would be pierogies. My mother makes them homemade every year and she traditionally stuffs them with a kind of cottage/ricotta soft white cheese, then boils them. Then you just drain them and cover them with melted butter and cracked pepper. It's heaven!!
posted by jennyhead at 2:21 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: re: chez shoes' comment about the all-white menu mentioned in Jane and Michael Stern's : I have that book (it's a great read!), and I just looked through it to find the all-white menu. I found one all-white dish from the "Ladies Who Lunch" section, in the Candlelight Dinner Menu. The recipe is called "Victor's All-White Salad Platter," invented by Victor de Leon, major domo from Patricia Murphy's Candlelight Restaurant.

Here are the ingredients: (white) grapefruit, spears of white asparagus, water chestnuts, cauliflower, peeled apple slices, hearts of palm, artichoke bottoms, cold braised hearts of celery, and white radishes. The recipe also includes pineapple chunks, but aren't those usually yellow? Anyway, the whole lot is arranged artfully on a platter and sprinkled with curls of fresh coconut, then served with "tart French dressing."

Have fun with your white dinner! BTW, I concur with Brandon Blatcher that a few judicious splashes of colour would highlight the whiteness of the rest of the meal.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:32 PM on December 6, 2009

Oops, didn't preview: what Brandon Blatcher and dirtynumbangelboy said about the splash of colour.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:33 PM on December 6, 2009

Baked Alaska!
posted by spasm at 2:50 PM on December 6, 2009

Tofu is white and hasn't yet been mentioned.
posted by cestmoi15 at 3:12 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: I didn't read all of the comments but:

White chocolate & macadamia nut cheesecake is super tasty

Potato leek soup

White chocolate bread pudding (of any variety with liquor)

White bean dip with crust-less crostini
posted by B-squared at 3:15 PM on December 6, 2009

lychees with meringue and cream!
posted by soymilk at 4:37 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Other ingredients that haven't been mentioned: white endive, either for a salad, or an appetizer with cream cheese; and bananas.

Please post your final menu!
posted by gingerbeer at 5:49 PM on December 6, 2009

I absolutely love coconut cake and would crash your party for a piece if you made it.

Anyway, keeping in mind what you have said (I want white food!) and what others have said about the flash of color, a red velvet cake with thick, creamy white icing would be white on your table AND beautiful once cut (and red feels Christmasy to me, too).
posted by misha at 8:40 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This Alice Waters salad: fennel, mushroom and parmesan.
posted by koselig at 10:04 PM on December 6, 2009

Safed Maas is a completely different flavor profile than the other dishes you've listed, but you might be able to adapt the sauce made of pureed nuts and dairy/coconut to some other purpose. I could see it working well as a sauce for fish or chicken, and it wouldn't be quite as heavy on cream as some of your other options.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2009

Best answer: Get some white pepper from wherever you get your spices. It's a little different from black pepper in where it hits your mouth because it does not have the black outer shell of the peppercorn, but it tastes delicious and it will make any white sauces or dishes more flavorful and still keep the whiteness.
posted by Night_owl at 8:43 AM on December 7, 2009

Oh, and nthing please post pictures and a follow-up and your menu!
posted by Night_owl at 8:44 AM on December 7, 2009

I made this cauliflower recipe from the nytimes for Thanksgiving, and it was incredibly popular and quite flavorful, despite retaining its white color. Just don't roast the cauliflower all the way until they brown!
posted by dizziest at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you so much to all of you ... really, I'd favorite all of them if to do so weren't silly. So I've just picked several of the suggestions I'm most likely to use.

I realize that (some) people (very much) want to see some color in the meal, but I want a winter white meal through and through. I also realize that this might flop. It's for only extended family members, and I'll be feeding them complex meals for many nights in a row, so if it flops, oh well. At least one of the other meals will work!

Each year I make a Christmas menu which my husband calls a gimmick; all-white is this year's gimmick. Past gimmicks:
-- each item looked like a gift (seafood in a puff pastry box w/lid + veggies in filo dough wrapped up and with a leek bow + tornados rossini shaped like a hat box with a cream bow on top)
-- each item in the shape of a playing-card shape
-- the whole meal appearing to be backwards but not actually, starting with dessert (a savory cheesecake) and ending with the salad (a sweet salad with cookie croutons)

This is the one day of the year when I embrace risk. So I picked an all-white meal -- the whole rest of the holiday is bright, rich colors. If I could, I'd tell the dinner guests to wear all white. But I think that wouldn't be particularly appreciated.

Pictures will go on flickr by New Years. I'll post a link here, with menu and notes. Oh, and I plan to serve Pinot Grigio (the whitest of white wines) and champagne (and yes, milk, for my daughter).
posted by Capri at 3:27 PM on December 9, 2009

Um, update please!
posted by Night_owl at 12:58 PM on January 3, 2010

Yes, I'm dying to see pictures of the meal as well.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 2:49 AM on January 9, 2010

Soooo pix, maybe, PLEASE?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:03 PM on April 7, 2010

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