A bright & light holiday buffet Essay

One of the glories of Christmas we all look forward to is the burst
of beautiful colors. The tree, the decorations, the giftwrappings–all
so merry and bright. Here is my contribution to the brilliant palette
of Christmas dining–light and delicious hors d’oeuvres, appetizers
and a soup resplendent with the greens and reds and snowy whites of
yuletide. And to toast the season–one of my favorites, Old English
Mulled Punch.

All are light and nutritious, and best of all, they won’t fill
you up as most starters do–so you can enjoy the rest of your meal.
Double the recipes if your home is overflowing with friends and family.
Merry Christmas and good, healthful, colorful eating to all!

Lime-Chicken Tidbits (Makes 10-12 servings) 2 whole chicken
breasts, skinned and boned 1 package (9 oz.) frozen artichoke hearts,
thawed 1/4 cup each lime juice and oil 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped 1/2
teaspoon each basil and oregano leaves, crushed 1/4 teaspoon thyme,
crushed 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons pimiento, chopped Lime

Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes; mix with cut artichoke hearts.
Combine lime juice, oil, parsley, herbs and salt. Pour over chicken and
artichokes; turn to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Cook in skilled 4 to 5 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Add pimiento. Garnish with lime wedges; serve with picks and high-fiber
wheat crisps.

Variation: Scallops or shrimp may be substituted for the chicken.

Lime-Marinated Vegetables (Makes 12 servings) 2 cups each cherry
tomatoes, cauliflowerets and sliced cerely 1/2 cup lime marinade (above)

Combine vegetables and marinade. Cover and refrigerate several
hours or overnight.

Creamy Broccoli Bisque (Serves 4-5) 2 tablespoons corn oil 1/3
cup shallots, minced, or combination minced shallots and onions 4 cups
fresh broccoli florets (1 large bunch) 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
2-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, preferably homemade 1/2 cup
unsweetened apple juice 1 tablespoon regular cream of wheat 1 tablespoon
curry powder 1/2 teaspoon mutmeg, freshly grated Salt to taste, if
desired SEveral sprigs parsley tied into bundle with white thread 3
tablespoons evaporated milk 2 tablespoons carrot, grated for garnish

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed kettle until hot. Saute shallots until
wilted but not brown and stir often. Add broccoli and saute for 1
minute. Add vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Then add chicken broth and
apple juice. Bring to boil.

Sprinkle with cream of wheat. Stir in curry powder, half of nutmeg
and salt, if desired. Drop in parsley bundle. Reduce heat to
simmering. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes and stir once midway.
Uncover and partially cool. Discard parsley bundle.

Pour mixture into blender (half at a time), add remaining 1/4
teaspoon nutmeg and puree until smooth. Return to kettle. Whisk in
milk. Reheat to just under boiling point. Pour into serving dishes,
sprinkle with carrot and serve.

Rainbow Fish on a Skewer (Serves 8) 2 tablespoons fresh lemon
juice 1 tablespoon frozen orange-juice concentrate 3 tablespoons
evaporated skim milk 1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, crumbled 4 dashes
ground red (cayenne) pepper 1 pound halibut (1 slice), boned and skinned
8 large, sweet red peppers 8 large, sweet green peppers 8 large, firm
mushroom caps, wiped clean 3 tablespoons shallots, minced 1 tablespoon
sweet butter/margarine blend, cut into small pieces 3 tablespoons grated
Danish Havarti or Swiss cheese.

Combine first 5 ingredients in bowl, stirring to blend. Cut fish
into 16 1-1/2″ chunks. Marinate in orange juice mixture for 30
minutes. Preheat broiler. On each of 8 small trussing skewers,
alternate fish, peppers and 1 mushroom cap. Lay in shallow broiling pan. Pour any remaining marinade over skewers. Sprinkle equal amounts
of shallots onto each skewer. Dot with butter-margarine blend. Broil 6
inches from heat for 8 minutes and turn once midway. Sprinkle with
cheese. Baste with pan juices and return to broiler for 6 minutes.
Spoon with pan juices and serve immediately.

Variation: Substitute 1 pound sea scallops (each scallop cut in
half) for halibut.

Crunchy Shrimp with Piquant Sauce (Makes 4-6 servings) 1 pound
medium shrimp, unshelled 1 bay leaf 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar 2
sprigs parsley 3 sweet red peppers 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup onion, minced 1 tablespoon garlic, minced 3 tablespoons fresh
parsley or dill, minced 5 teaspoons each fresh lemon juice and red-wine
vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt Salt
to taste, if desired

To prepare shrimp: Fill deep sauce-pan with water, bay leaf,
vinegar and parsley. Bring to rolling boil. Add shrimp. Bring to slow
boil. Partially cover and cook for 6 minutes. Drain immediately.
Shell and devein. Chill. To prepare dip: Preheat broiler. Place
peppers on rack on broiling pan and char on all sides. Turn often.
Transfer to plastic bag and seal. Let stand for 15 minutes. Cut
peppers in half. Seed and peel (skin will peel off easily). Coarsely
chop. Place in bowl. Heat oil in nonstick skillet. Lightly saute
onion and garlic until translucent. Combine with peppers. Add parsley
or dill. In cup, blend lemon juice, vinegar and mustard with fork.
Stir into pepper mixture. Then stir in yogurt and salt, if desired.
Chill. Arrange shrimp on decorative plate with cup of piquant sauce in

Pineapple-Nut Cheese Spread (Serves 8) 1/4 chopped walnuts 1
tablespoon minced parsley 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese u/3 cup crushed
pineapple, packed in unsweetened pineapple juice, drained 1/2 teaspoon
ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 1/2
teaspoon lemon rind, grated 1 tablespoon chopped orange peel

Combine all ingredients except orange peel in blender or food
processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer to jar and chill several hours
or overnight. Spread on whole-grain flatbread crackers or thinsliced
pumpernickel and sprinkle with orange peel.

Three-way Eggplant Caviar (Makes 6-8 servings) 1 pound eggplant
3/j pound ripe tomatoes 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1/2 cup onion or
shallot, minced 2 tablespoons fresh dill or parsley, minced 2
tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar 2 teaspoons
tomato paste 1/2 teaspoon curry powder 1/8 teaspoon ground red (cayenne)
pepper 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce Salt to taste, if desired

Prick eggplant with sharp-pronged fork. Place on baking sheet and
bake in preheated 400 deg. F. oven for 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel and
dice. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 1 minute. Core and peel.
Let cool. Dice. In bowl, combine diced eggplant and tomato. Add
balance of ingredients, one at a time, and stir gently after each
addition (do not mash). For fully ripened flavor, store overnight in
tightly sealed container. As an hors d’oeuvre, spread on thin,
whole-grain crackers; as a first course, serve on bed of crisp lettuce
leaves; as a relish, serve along with main course.

Old English Mulled Punch (Serves 8) 2 sweet apples, cored and
coarsley chopped 2/3 cup pineapple tidbits, packed in unsweetened
pineapple juice 1-1/2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice 2 cups
unsweetened apple juice teaspoon cardamon seeds, lightly crushed 2
cinnamon sticks 8 whole cloves 4 cups strong mint herb tea 3 tablespoons
unfiltered honey Combine first 8 ingredients in sauce-pan. Heat to
simmering. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Stir in honey. Let stand 5
minutes. Strain and serve hot with cinnamon sticks. afreshly grated
nutmeg a6 dashes ground red (cayenne) pepper a2 tablespoons plain
toasted awheat germ a1 small egg a1 teaspoon Oriental sesame oil,
aor dry sherry a1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard a2 tablespoons low-fat
plain yogurt a2 teaspoons corn oil a1/2 lemon

Coarsely grind first 5 ingredients in food grinder. Turn into bowl
and add spices and wheat germ. Blend well. Set aside. In cup combine
egg, sesame oil or sherry, and mustard. Beat lightly with fork. Stir
into chicken mixture. Fold in yogurt. Cover and chill in freezer for
10 minutes. With moistened hands, shape into 26 balls. Oil large
nonstick skillet, and heat. Saute balls until lightly browned.
Sprinkle with lemon juice and arrange on warm serving dish. Pierce with
cocktail picks and serve at once.

Savory Cheese Dip (Makes 1/2 cup) 1 cup dry-curd cottage cheese
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt 1 shallot, minced 1 small onion, minced 1/2
teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, crushed 3 dashes cayenne pepper 1
teaspoon parsley and dill, freshly chopped 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4
teaspoon dry mustard dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon water 1 tablespoon tomato

Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.


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