6 Showstopping Recipes That Eliminate the Need for an Elaborate Centerpiece
Including a vivid pink soufflé.
Updated May 7, 2019 4:31 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
The boldest centerpiece doesn’t involve flowers or even candlesticks. All you need to set the scene is one large-format dish, dramatically presented in the middle of the table for everyone to dig into, family-style. When the food looks good, who needs busy settings? We tapped Camille Becerra to create six truly showstopping (seriously—the dessert is served with a hammer) recipes perfect for your next get-together. Break bread and pass the punch.
Onion & Wild Herb Flatbread
- Frozen pizza dough
- Your pick of herbs (Becerra used scallions, chives, and spring onions), including the stems
- Marigold and fennel blossoms
- Olive oil
- Black lava salt
- For the base, use frozen pizza dough or make your favorite pizza or flatbread recipe. Before baking, place scallions, chives, or spring onions on top to resemble a wildflower bouquet or windblown grasses. Finish with marigold and fennel blossoms, good olive oil, and flaky black lava salt.
- Bake to desired crispiness.
Chicken & Freekeh Pastilla
- 1 cup freekeh
- 1 bunch cilantro or parsley
- ¼ cup coconut oil, plus additional ½ cup for phyllo preparation
- 1 ½ tsp. cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. green peppercorns
- 2 lbs. ground chicken
- 2 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. vinegar
- ½ box of phyllo
- Cook freekeh as you would pasta: Fill a medium-size pot with water and season well with salt. Bring to a boil and add freekeh, cooking until al dente (approximately 15 to 20 minutes), and then drain.
- Chop cilantro, separating chopped stems from leaves.
- In a large pan, warm ¼ cup coconut oil. Add cumin seeds and sauté until they begin to darken in color, and then immediately add the chopped cilantro stems, garlic, and peppercorns. Stir while cooking for 2 minutes. Add the chicken, salt, and cinnamon.
- When the chicken has cooked through, add the vinegar. Allow it to cool completely before moving to the next step.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Warm the remaining ½ cup coconut oil until it’s liquefied. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil using a pastry brush. Begin laying out the phyllo dough onto the pan, allowing for 3 to 4 inches to hang over (you’ll want to work quickly, as phyllo has the tendency to dry out and then tear easily). Brush the dough with coconut oil between each layer. After you’ve gone through all the sheets, fill them with the chicken mixture. Bring the overhanging bits in to cover the top, brushing again with coconut oil in between layers.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- Cool and invert onto a large serving platter. Garnish with powdered sugar, ground pistachio, and rose powder. Make a graphic pattern by using a sheet of paper or sprinkle all three together for a more free-form look.
Goat Cheese & Beet Soufflé
- 2 beets
- 12 oz. goat cheese
- ⅓ cup butter
- ¼ tbsp. flour
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tsp. salt
- 12 egg whites
- ½ lemon
- In a small pot, cover beets with salted water and allow to cook through. Then remove from pot and reserve water. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into wedges.
- Combine beets and goat cheese in a blender and process on high, adding a tablespoon at a time of the beet cooking liquid to help the blender along. Buzz for 1 to 2 minutes until extremely smooth.
- In a pan, melt butter until foamy, add the flour, and stir well to combine. Once well-combined and starting to bubble, add the milk, stir until smooth, and let simmer for 1 minute. Turn off the heat, add the yolks, and beat the mixture, mixing well.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a large ovenproof dish (approximately 11-by-13-inch) by buttering and dusting with flour.
- In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with the juice of half a lemon to form medium peaks—test to see if they stand at a 45-degree angle to be sure. Mix half the egg whites into the beet mixture and combine well. Add remaining whites and gently fold until well combined.
- Add to prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is brown and the soufflé feels set inside. Present straight out of the oven.
Baked Whole Fish With Rice Cakes & Black Sesame Chili Sauce
- 12–18” whole fish, gutted and scaled
- Salt to season (for fish)
- ½ cup black sesame seeds
- ½ cup safflower oil or other neutral oil
- ¼ cup vinegar
- 2 tbsp. Aleppo or chili flakes
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- ½ tsp. salt
- For the fish: Clean the fish and season with salt, both inside and on the skin. Wrap in parchment paper, wrap again in newspaper, and tie. Soak the whole wrapped fish in water, and then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes until steamed.
- For the sauce: Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender, adding a tablespoon of water at a time to help the blender along.
Sparkling Turmeric Sangria with Thai Basil
- ½ cup fresh-pressed turmeric juice (about ½ lb. fresh turmeric root)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup honey or agave
- 1 bottle sparkling wine
- 8 oz. sparkling water
- 1 bunch Thai basil
- Mix the juices and honey in a pitcher or punch bowl; stir until the honey dissolves.
- Add the wine and water and use half the basil to garnish the punch. Just before serving, place ice and remaining basil in individual glasses.
Violets & Dark Chocolate Ganache Shortbread
For the shortbread:
- 3 sticks salted butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup sugar
For the dark chocolate ganache:
- 1 cup cream
- 7 oz. dark chocolate
- ¼ cup jet-black cocoa powder (regular cocoa can be substituted)
For the garnish:
- Candied violets, colorful nonpareils, orange zest, and gold leaf or dust
- Butter a 9-inch-by-12-inch baking tray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Start by allowing the butter to fully come to room temperature, and then add the salt and mix well. Mix the flour and cornstarch together. Add the sugar to the butter and combine well. Add the flour mixture, mixing until a dough is formed, and then press it into the baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Allow the shortbread to cool before inverting and make the ganache in the meantime: Warm the cream to just under a boil, remove from heat, add the chocolate, and stir until melted. Add the cocoa and stir well.
- Spread the ganache onto the inverted shortbread and garnish. Pro tip: Serve the shortbread with a little mallet—it’s fun and interactive for people to break off their own little piece.
See more ways to master this entertaining season: I Never Decorate for the Holidays—Then I Saw Ferm Living’s CollectionTreat Your Table to Technicolor NapkinsThis Is Hands Down the Easiest Drink to Make for the Holidays