Dubious Idea of the Month: Cold Christmas Buffets
Nothing says "Christmas in New England" as sitting down to two (2!) cold-foods buffets on the same day.
Just shoot me.
I offered to cook-heck, I was real close to the "begging/pleading" line, but my hostess is intent on her scheme of no cooking/minimal cleaning for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast I can handle; bagels for baby Jesus and panettone have been traditional in my family. Yes, some eggs would be nice, and nothin' says "Joyeaux Noel" like canadian bacon, but I can settle. It's the idea of a dinner of completely chilled or room temperature foods that makes me think at least my head should be allowed in the holiday oven.
I can bring anything I want that hews to her ideals. Last night I was thinking a pesto tart would be festive, today I just want to cry. Any ideas? Anyone want to stop by unexpectedly with a crock of summin' hot? hmmmm?
Is she having room temperature ham for the dinner buffet? How about a fruited couscous? I made one this morning from an old issue of Cooking Light. It contains dried cranberries (recipe called for cherries), raisins, and chopped dried apricots plumped in orange juice, sauteed scallions, and minced fresh parsley and cilantro (I skipped the two tablespoons of mint which in a warmer month I would have picked from the garden). 2 1/2 cups couscous, etc, serves 12. I'm going to reheat it in the microwave for tonight's dinner for company but it can be served at room temperature.
Be brave. I can't understand how cold buffets are going to be less work. If people aren't going to cook a roast they should at least have a crock pot of hot meatballs.
Are you an overnight guest or are you arriving for breakfast and staying for dinner? There has to be away around that very bad idea. If you are arrivng the day of you could bring something already prepared and just needs popping in the oven to heat through. That is just heating, you have done the cooking at home in advance so technically that would qualify. Maybe something like a lovely seafood lasagne with spinach noodles and a winy bechamel? You pop it in the fridge or back porch when you arrive and since she is not cooking the oven should be available to heat that up just before timne to eat.
I think her intent is nice, no fuss no muss, everyone being relaxed. Good luck.
We're staying over, unfortunately. I tried inviting them to our house, figuring that double cold buffets are a pretty good indicator that a host may feel overwhelmed, but got turned down flat. My son is threatening to slip out of the house for chinese food. I'm thinking about stashing a crockpot in our closet. The baby asked Santa to bring her frozen peas, so at least she'll be happy.
I know there are tons of yummy foods possible, for sure, (and lots of great suggestions here!) but I just can't get past the idea that none of them will be hot.
You could bring a warming tray with an extension cord so its easier to plug in somewhere. Then you could bring something that is very appealing when warmed. If you don't have a warming tray, you could bring a heating pad that would go under a platter. You could bring a hot drink..like hot spiced cider in a crock pot or electric urn. The fragrance of the spiced cider or wine can be very attractive. If you really want to make no work for the hostess, you could bring a small folding table and tablecloth in case your offering does not fit easily or plug in easily on the buffet table. This is in keeping with the "keep it easy and stress free for the hostess" theme.
Just remember..when you are the host or hostess you can do it your way. As someone who usually hosts, I frequently feel that my guests (his relatives) do not appreciate how much work and expense I go through so they can have a holiday gathering. They arrive full of stories of the hikes and activities they have had that day and the day before.
Nothing says Noel like hot cider, mulled wine. Would your host object to an offer of warmed spirits?
Good at room temperature:
Chile en nogada (what I am having...mmmm....)
Cous cous/ quinoa salads
Glazed roasted sweet potatoes
All sorts of things. If it is done well it can be good, but when I first read the first thing that popped into my mind was the "cold cuts, store rolls sandwich bar...yuk"
Another fun idea is a raclette grill. We have one and put it out at parties. It doesn't require any cooking/hassel for the chef, but it fun for people. It has a "griddle" on top and a spot of heating things up under a broiler. We have gotten so many comments about it.