A bright & light holiday buffet Essay

One of the glories of Christmas we all look forward to is the burstof beautiful colors. The tree, the decorations, the giftwrappings–allso merry and bright. Here is my contribution to the brilliant paletteof Christmas dining–light and delicious hors d’oeuvres, appetizersand a soup resplendent with the greens and reds and snowy whites ofyuletide.

And to toast the season–one of my favorites, Old EnglishMulled Punch. All are light and nutritious, and best of all, they won’t fillyou 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 chickenbreasts, skinned and boned 1 package (9 oz.) frozen artichoke hearts,thawed 1/4 cup each lime juice and oil 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped 1/2teaspoon each basil and oregano leaves, crushed 1/4 teaspoon thyme,crushed 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons pimiento, chopped Limewedges Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes; mix with cut artichoke hearts.Combine lime juice, oil, parsley, herbs and salt. Pour over chicken andartichokes; turn to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

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Cook in skilled 4 to 5 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.Add pimiento. Garnish with lime wedges; serve with picks and high-fiberwheat crisps. Variation: Scallops or shrimp may be substituted for the chicken. Lime-Marinated Vegetables (Makes 12 servings) 2 cups each cherrytomatoes, cauliflowerets and sliced cerely 1/2 cup lime marinade (above) Combine vegetables and marinade. Cover and refrigerate severalhours or overnight. Creamy Broccoli Bisque (Serves 4-5) 2 tablespoons corn oil 1/3cup shallots, minced, or combination minced shallots and onions 4 cupsfresh broccoli florets (1 large bunch) 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar2-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, preferably homemade 1/2 cupunsweetened apple juice 1 tablespoon regular cream of wheat 1 tablespooncurry powder 1/2 teaspoon mutmeg, freshly grated Salt to taste, ifdesired SEveral sprigs parsley tied into bundle with white thread 3tablespoons evaporated milk 2 tablespoons carrot, grated for garnish Heat oil in heavy-bottomed kettle until hot. Saute shallots untilwilted but not brown and stir often.

Add broccoli and saute for 1minute. Add vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Then add chicken broth andapple juice. Bring to boil. Sprinkle with cream of wheat. Stir in curry powder, half of nutmegand salt, if desired. Drop in parsley bundle.

Reduce heat tosimmering. 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 1/4teaspoon nutmeg and puree until smooth. Return to kettle. Whisk inmilk. 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 lemonjuice 1 tablespoon frozen orange-juice concentrate 3 tablespoonsevaporated skim milk 1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, crumbled 4 dashesground red (cayenne) pepper 1 pound halibut (1 slice), boned and skinned8 large, sweet red peppers 8 large, sweet green peppers 8 large, firmmushroom caps, wiped clean 3 tablespoons shallots, minced 1 tablespoonsweet butter/margarine blend, cut into small pieces 3 tablespoons gratedDanish Havarti or Swiss cheese. Combine first 5 ingredients in bowl, stirring to blend. Cut fishinto 16 1-1/2″ chunks.

Marinate in orange juice mixture for 30minutes. 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 amountsof shallots onto each skewer.

Dot with butter-margarine blend. Broil 6inches from heat for 8 minutes and turn once midway. Sprinkle withcheese. 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 inhalf) for halibut. Crunchy Shrimp with Piquant Sauce (Makes 4-6 servings) 1 poundmedium shrimp, unshelled 1 bay leaf 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar 2sprigs parsley 3 sweet red peppers 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil1/3 cup onion, minced 1 tablespoon garlic, minced 3 tablespoons freshparsley or dill, minced 5 teaspoons each fresh lemon juice and red-winevinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt Saltto 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 slowboil. Partially cover and cook for 6 minutes. Drain immediately.Shell and devein. Chill. To prepare dip: Preheat broiler.

Placepeppers on rack on broiling pan and char on all sides. Turn often.Transfer to plastic bag and seal. Let stand for 15 minutes. Cutpeppers in half. Seed and peel (skin will peel off easily). Coarselychop. Place in bowl.

Heat oil in nonstick skillet. Lightly sauteonion and garlic until translucent. Combine with peppers. Add parsleyor 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 incenter. Pineapple-Nut Cheese Spread (Serves 8) 1/4 chopped walnuts 1tablespoon minced parsley 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese u/3 cup crushedpineapple, packed in unsweetened pineapple juice, drained 1/2 teaspoonground ginger 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 1/2teaspoon lemon rind, grated 1 tablespoon chopped orange peel Combine all ingredients except orange peel in blender or foodprocessor. Blend until smooth.

Transfer to jar and chill several hoursor overnight. Spread on whole-grain flatbread crackers or thinslicedpumpernickel and sprinkle with orange peel. Three-way Eggplant Caviar (Makes 6-8 servings) 1 pound eggplant3/j pound ripe tomatoes 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1/2 cup onion orshallot, minced 2 tablespoons fresh dill or parsley, minced 2tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar 2 teaspoonstomato 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 andbake in preheated 400 deg. F.

oven for 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel anddice. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 1 minute. Core and peel.Let cool. Dice.

In bowl, combine diced eggplant and tomato. Addbalance of ingredients, one at a time, and stir gently after eachaddition (do not mash). For fully ripened flavor, store overnight intightly sealed container.

As an hors d’oeuvre, spread on thin,whole-grain crackers; as a first course, serve on bed of crisp lettuceleaves; as a relish, serve along with main course. Old English Mulled Punch (Serves 8) 2 sweet apples, cored andcoarsley chopped 2/3 cup pineapple tidbits, packed in unsweetenedpineapple juice 1-1/2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice 2 cupsunsweetened apple juice teaspoon cardamon seeds, lightly crushed 2cinnamon sticks 8 whole cloves 4 cups strong mint herb tea 3 tablespoonsunfiltered honey Combine first 8 ingredients in sauce-pan. Heat tosimmering. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Stir in honey. Let stand 5minutes. Strain and serve hot with cinnamon sticks.

afreshly gratednutmeg a6 dashes ground red (cayenne) pepper a2 tablespoons plaintoasted awheat germ a1 small egg a1 teaspoon Oriental sesame oil,aor dry sherry a1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard a2 tablespoons low-fatplain yogurt a2 teaspoons corn oil a1/2 lemon Coarsely grind first 5 ingredients in food grinder. Turn into bowland add spices and wheat germ. Blend well. Set aside.

In cup combineegg, sesame oil or sherry, and mustard. Beat lightly with fork. Stirinto chicken mixture. Fold in yogurt. Cover and chill in freezer for10 minutes. With moistened hands, shape into 26 balls. Oil largenonstick skillet, and heat. Saute balls until lightly browned.

Sprinkle with lemon juice and arrange on warm serving dish. Pierce withcocktail picks and serve at once. Savory Cheese Dip (Makes 1/2 cup) 1 cup dry-curd cottage cheese1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt 1 shallot, minced 1 small onion, minced 1/2teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, crushed 3 dashes cayenne pepper 1teaspoon parsley and dill, freshly chopped 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4teaspoon dry mustard dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon water 1 tablespoon tomatojuice Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.

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