Planning a New Year's Day get-together? Keep it simple and make it a buffet. Do a main dish with a salad on the side, rolls and a dessert. Or go with a collection of nice cold cuts, a pasta or potato salad, a selection of breads and condiments, plus a dessert.
I think a great buffet would feature a whole, smoked salmon, purchased via the Internet, a collection of snack crackers. On the side you could have spinach dip in a shepherd's bread bowl, homemade potato chips, a nice Caesar salad and a favorite dessert.
Spinach dip can be purchased ready-made at most grocery store deli counters today, but it is fairly easy to make.
1 box or small bag, frozen, chopped spinach
1 large block of cream cheese
1 carton sour cream
Lemon juice or vinegar
Chopped nuts, optional
1 medium-sized loaf shepherd's bread
Thaw and drain the spinach. Cream the cream cheese and sour cream together with enough liquid to make a smooth, dip-like mixture. Add spinach and nuts and mix well.
Hollow out the bread to make a bowl, tear bread pieces into dipping-size chunks.
Put dip into hollow and chill until ready to serve. Cover or bag bread pieces to keep soft until ready to serve.
Homemade Potato Chips
Firm, well-shaped potatoes
Cold water to cover
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste
Wash and pare potatoes and shave into very thin slices.
Soak potato slices for one hour in cold water, then drain and dry on a towel.
Fry in deep fat, heated to 395 degrees, a few slices at a time until light brown, keeping them in motion with a skimmer.
Lay them on soft paper to drain.
Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve.
Store-bought Caesar salad mix or head of romaine lettuce
Garlic and Parmesan croutons
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Favorite Caesar dressing
A Caesar salad can be a meal all by itself. If using a store-bought salad mix, make sure all the greens are free of brown edges and of edible size.
If using a head of fresh romaine lettuce, separate the leaves, wash, drain and tear into edible sizes and put in a big bowl.
Wash mushrooms lightly and add to greens. Add croutons, cheese and sunflower seeds. Toss well and serve with dressing on the side.
That's the food, now for the set-up.
If only six to eight people are expected, the buffet can be from a breakfast bar or a table placed up against a wall. With a bigger crowd it may be necessary to arrange for two serving lines.
Dress up the table, but arrange it carefully. Place a stack of large dinner plates at the point where guests are to start, with the napkins and silverware where they will be picked up after the plates are filled.
Beverages can be set up on a separate table, away from the main table so as not to have the traffic colliding.
The idea of a buffet is to serve people quickly and informally, allowing for a nice, relaxed atmosphere for conversation, companionship and enjoying the game on television.