Wrap up your holiday cooking ahead of time

December 22, 1993|By Kyra Effren | Kyra Effren,Contributing Writer Universal Press Syndicate

The best part of Christmas is friends and family gathering to celebrate.

4 The worst part is that someone has to feed them.

With a little planning and cooking ahead, the cook can enjoy the holidays with everyone else.

Here's a game plan for entertaining a houseful of guests for the Christmas weekend, from Christmas Eve through Sunday brunch.

Some of the dishes can be made well-ahead and frozen; others can be made a couple of days ahead and refrigerated.

Plan to bake and freeze the family's favorite cookies and quick breads so they're ready for nibbling. Keep a supply of fresh fruit ++ on hand for snacking and easy desserts.

All recipes make six to eight servings. If you need more, double the recipe, or make two. Recipes follow for the starred items.

Christmas Eve supper

With guests arriving at different times, prepare a simple supper requiring only a plate and a fork. The menu will also wait patiently for latecomers without spoiling.

Spicy chicken casserole *

Chutney

Green salad

+ Ginger pumpkin cheesecake *

Christmas breakfast

Coffeecake *

Fresh fruit

Christmas dinner

Avocado-papaya salad *

Honey mustard dressing *

Standing rib roast

Cumberland sauce *

Oven-roasted potatoes and onions *

Winter vegetable puree *

Brussels sprouts

Eggnog trifle *

Christmas supper

Leftovers

Cheese corn chowder *

Rolls

Fresh fruit

Sunday brunch

Breakfast fruit *

Bread pudding *

Sauteed sausage (leftover from Saturday)

Spicy chicken casserole

Make ahead and freeze for Christmas Eve supper.

2 onions, sliced

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil (divided use)

3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips

1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup rice

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

chutney, sliced bananas, coconut

Saute onions in 1/4 cup oil with ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne until soft. Add chicken strips; saute until chicken turns white. Add tomato sauce and buttermilk; cover and cook 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring stock, rice, 2 tablespoons oil, salt, turmeric and cardamom to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer until stock is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

To assemble the casserole, spread half the rice in a 9-by-12-inch casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Add half the chicken, remaining rice and remaining chicken. Cool and freeze.

To serve: Defrost overnight. Heat in a 300-degree oven. Serve with chutney, sliced bananas and coconut flakes.

Ginger pumpkin

cheesecake

Make ahead and freeze for Christmas Eve supper; serves 10 to 12.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

6 tablespoons melted butter

1 1/2 pounds soft cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

5 eggs

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch cloves

pinch nutmeg

1 (16-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin

1/2 cup chopped glace ginger in syrup (see note)

2 tablespoons ginger syrup

1/4 cup sour cream

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs, dark brown sugar and butter; press into the bottom and one-third up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Place cream cheese and sugars in mixer bowl and mix until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between, then add the rest of the ingredients. Spoon filling into crust in pan and bake about 1 hour, or until center is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Wrap and freeze.

To serve: Unwrap and defrost at room temperature. If you cannot find candied ginger in syrup, pour light corn syrup into a small jar with crystallized ginger; let sit overnight.

Coffeecake

Make ahead and freeze for Christmas breakfast.

3/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons soft butter

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped glace fruits (cherries or pineapple)

1 cup confectioners' sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg and milk, then stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Spread in a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar and fruits. Bake until puffed and browned, about 30 minutes. Cool and freeze.

To serve: Defrost, unwrapped, at room temperature. combine confectioners' sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over cake; heat in warm oven.

Avocado-papaya salad

Christmas dinner

3 avocados

3 papayas

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 head lettuce

1/2 cup honey-mustard dressing (recipe follows)

1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

Peel and slice both the papayas and avocados. Dip or sprinkle with lemon juice. Arrange on lettuce-lined salad plates. Drizzle dressing over and sprinkle with nuts.

Honey mustard dressing: Blend 2/3 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 cup honey and 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard. Keep in a clean jar.

Standing rib roast

with Cumberland sauce

Christmas dinner; makes 12 to 14 servings

1 standing rib roast, about 7 pounds

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

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