by Kate Heyhoe
A New Year's Buffet to Do Ahead
(Don't miss the Global Gourmet's Holiday Headquarters—your complete holiday planner)
Some folks celebrate New Year's at midnight, with a nearly all-night party. Others host a New Year's Day buffet or open house. Whichever event you do, give yourself a break by doing most of the cooking well before the party. After all, it's the New Year we're breaking in here, not the cook's stamina.
What makes a great buffet? Serving food in stages keeps guests ooh-ing and aah-ing and raises the festivity level.
First, you want some nibbles, little bowls of nuts or crunchies spread about throughout the house. My pick: Toasted Almonds with Sea Salt, slow-roasted almonds that pair well with cocktails, including the classic Champagne Cocktail.
You'll also want more substantial nibbles, to unveil shortly after the guests arrive, such as Cervelle de Canut (a French cheese spread similar to Boursin). If you can stand some last minute baking, serve the Mini Pissaladières, small onion pizzas, hot from the oven. For a more formal event, set out a tray of Emeril Lagasse's Caviar Parfait to kick things up a notch.
When the nibbles are done and appetites are rebuilding, bring out the main buffet. Remember, your nibbles are meant to tame the urgent hunger pangs, and to stimulate the desire for another round of food. Don't let the nibbles become the main course—a few bites per person is plenty.
The Main Event
The main course should include one or two entrees, a couple of side dishes, and some breads. If the guests aren't seated, avoid foods that require a knife. Instead, serve bite-size pieces, like Charlie Trotter's Grilled Beef Tenderloin Cobb Salad. It combines meat and vegetables in one dish, so you can accompany it simply with rustic, hand-made Italian breadsticks or mini-corn muffins.
For a more formal buffet, where guests can dine at tables, consider this Prime Rib Roast recipe, which slow-roasts and then can rest for up to two hours with the oven turned off, until ready to serve. Serve it with a salad, perhaps the Citrus Salad with Black Pepper. Or, pair Crumb-Crusted Honey-Mustard Ham with Moroccan Orange-Walnut Salad.
Keeping it casual? Try a robust Lamb Stew with Pimentos and Chiles, a Spanish specialty, accompanied by White Beans with Rosemary and Cumin, Spanish Style, and a simple mixed green salad. A Spanish sparkling wine, cava, would be the ideal drink.
Whether I'm serving it as a main course or thinly sliced on appetizer breads, my own Salmon Gravlax always makes a holiday appearance. It takes a couple days to cure, but there's no cooking involved and it's always a huge hit—a popular delicacy that's super easy on the chef. Pair it with Vegetable Carpaccio or Eggplant Involtini.
Cap off the New Year festivities with a dessert spread, mixing up several treats on one table. Elevate a platter of bakery cookies to celebration level by including Martin Yan's Coconut Tarts, or the richly decadent Dark Chocolate Madeleines with Mint Chocolate Glaze. People always love poundcakes and cheesecakes, especially thin slices of Lemon-Almond Poundcake and Peppermint Party Cheesecake.
All you need is a spoon for small ramekins of Maple Pudding with Sugared Pecans, a fine ending to a ham buffet. Spiced Caramel Oranges put a citrus cap on the Spanish buffet, and the heart-shaped Coeur a la Crème may also be molded into other shapes, such as a crescent moon or a star.
Remember that all of these recipes are do-able in advance. Some require last minute dressing or warming, so check the recipe before setting up your menu.
Happy New Year!
Do-Ahead New Year Buffet Recipes...
"Here's Looking at Your Kid" Champagne Cocktail
Royal Cup Champagne Drink (Emeril Lagasse's)
Toasted Almonds with Sea Salt
Cervelle de Canut (French cheese spread)
Emeril Lagasse's Caviar Parfait
Melon and Prosciutto
with Goat Cheese and Mint
Charlie Trotter's Grilled Beef Tenderloin Cobb Salad
Christmas Weekend Salmon Gravlax
Crumb-Crusted Honey-Mustard Ham
Lamb Stew with Pimentos and Chiles
Prime Rib Roast
Citrus Salad with Black Pepper
Moroccan Orange-Walnut Salad
White Beans with Rosemary and Cumin, Spanish Style
Coeur à la Crème
Coconut Tarts (Martin Yan's)
Dark Chocolate Madeleines with Mint Chocolate Glaze
Maple Pudding with Sugared Pecans
Peppermint Party Cheesecake
Spiced Caramel Oranges (Spain)
Kate's Global Kitchen for December, 2000:
Gifts to Buy, Gifts to Make, Recipes to Celebrate...
Copyright © 2000, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created 2000 and modified November 2006.