A Bountiful Buffet Holiday hosts can entertain simply, informally

December 23, 1992|By Tom Setzer | Tom Setzer,Contributing Writer/Universal Press Syndicate

In yesterday's food section, the exact sugar measuremen was inadvertently deleted in a recipe for cheese casserole bread. The recipe requires 2 tablespoons of sugar.

The Sun regrets the errors.

The phrase "groaning board" comes to mind at this time of year, when a festive outlay of holiday goodies is de rigueur.

But all too often, the groaning comes from overburdened hosts struggling to keep up with the season's demands and the prospect of endless hours in the kitchen.


An informal Christmas brunch buffet is one solution for easy holiday entertaining. With a little planning, the spread can be made up of dishes prepared largely in advance. Or, the host can provide a main dish or two and ask guests to bring side dishes -- a plan that also guarantees good variety.

Too many people think that holiday foods have to be complicated and expensive. Seasonal menus can be accented by such simple items as cheese and fruit trays or stuffed grape leaves.

Hosts should provide the main dish and more expensive items on the menu, and the guests could bring the complementary things. The host might buy or cook a brisket, for example, or a ham.

You don't want to do any cutting, chopping or spreading at the last minute. It should simply be a matter of setting it out on the table.

Prepare dishes that can be left in a low oven until serving time, and make use of the microwave to warm such items as breads.

With these ideas in mind, here are some suggestions for a holiday spread centered around a meat entree.

Remember you can always tailor your menu to guests' dietary or health preferences.

Yogurt dip

Yield: about 40 servings

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

1 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons dried dill

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 small clove garlic, crushed

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Combine all ingredients. Serve with raw vegetables. For a festive Christmas touch, make a red-and-green vegetable tray using cherry tomatoes, radishes and red bell pepper for the reds, and broccoli florets, cucumber slices, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, celery sticks and snow peas for the greens. Makes about 2 1/2 cups, or 40 1-tablespoon servings.

Per serving: calories: 46; fat: 5 grams; cholesterol: 4 milligrams; Sodium: 73 milligrams; calories from fat: 92 percent.

Source: "The Farm Yogurt Cookbook" by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg (Camden House)

Cheese casserole bread

Yield: 1 loaf

tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 packages active dry yeast

About 5 cups all-purpose flour (divided use)

2 1/4 cups milk

1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, yeast and 2 cups of the flour. In a 2-quart saucepan over very low heat, heat milk and cheese until very warm (120-130 degrees). The cheese does not need to melt.

With mixer at low speed, beat the liquid mixture into dry ingredients until just blended. At medium speed, beat for 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in 1 cup of flour to make a thick batter; beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the bowl often. Stir in enough additional flour (about 2 cups) to make a stiff dough that leaves the side of the bowl.

Cover bowl with towel and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush loaf with melted butter. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Per serving: calories: 259; fat: 6 grams; cholesterol: 18 milligrams; sodium: 444 milligrams; calories from fat: 21 percent.

Source: "The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook" (Hearst Books)

Creole rice salad

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

3 cups cooked rice

4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 cup crisp fried bacon, crumbled

1/2 cup chopped sour pickles

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup chopped shallots

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl; chill before serving.

Per serving: calories: 273; fat: 19 grams; cholesterol, 95 milligrams; Sodium: 410 milligrams; calories from fat: 63 percent.

Source: "La Bouiche Creole" by Leon E. Soniat Jr. (Pelican Publishing, 1981)

Yams and apples

Yield: 6 servings

6 medium yams, cooked, peeled and quartered

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup apple cider

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix yams and apples in a large bowl. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cider and spices and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the yam-apple mixture, cover and simmer. Stir occasionally, until apple pieces are tender but still firm.

Per serving: calories: 373; fat: 12 grams; cholesterol: 29 milligrams; Sodium: 126 milligrams; calories from fat: 27 percent.

Source: "The Joy of Christmas" by Helen Feingold and Mary Lee Grisanti (Barron's)

Sauteed caraway cabbage

Yield: 6 servings

1 small green cabbage

1 teaspoon caraway seed

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons salad oil

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