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A simple and stylish holiday buffet

Posted: December 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.

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The key to a successful holiday buffet is a menu that can be prepped in advance, so you can enjoy the party and mingle with your guests. It’s also important to make sure that the buffet table looks as beautiful as the food. For more holiday menu and décor ideas, visit www.vons.com.

Sweet potato-acorn squash gratin
Makes 4 to 8 side dish portions
    4     tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
    1     cup onion, medium dice
    2     tablespoons garlic, minced
    2     cups heavy whipping cream
    4     sweet potatoes cut into 3/4-inch slices
    1     cup acorn squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
    2     sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thymeKosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
    1/4     cup Asiago cheese, grated
    1/2     cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Heat large heavy bottom pan over medium heat.
Add 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and garlic, cooking until golden brown.
Add cream, potatoes, squash, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low simmer. Cook until potatoes and squash are tender when poked with a skewer or knife, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Assembly: Butter a 13 x 8-inch cas­serole with 2 tablespoons butter. Add cooked potato-squash mixture, then drizzle with reserved cream. Finish by topping with Asiago and breadcrumbs, cover with aluminum foil.
Heat oven to 385°F. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until heated thoroughly. Remove foil and finish baking for 10 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven, garnish with fresh herb sprigs, and serve.
Note: If preparing in advance, strain potato-squash mixture from cream, cooling cream and potato-squash mixture separately. Reserve chilled until ready to assemble.

Rancher’s Reserve® holiday red wine roast
Makes 5 to 8 entrée portions
Marinade
    12     ounces red wine
    1/4     cup light brown sugar
    8     to 10 cloves garlic, smashed or rough chopped
    2     medium red onions, peeled and cut into thick slices
    1/4    cup olive or vegetable oil

Roast
    1     tablespoon all-purpose flour
        Oven bag
    1     Rancher’s Reserve® 3 bone prime rib Roast (6 to 7 pounds)
        Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning
    6     to 8 long sprigs fresh rosemary

Marinade: Mix together red wine, sugar, garlic, onions and oil with a whisk; stir well to dissolve sugar. Pour over top of roast, cover and store chilled for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 36.
Remove roast from refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before roasting, allowing
it to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Put 1 table­spoon flour into oven bag, shake, then place bag into large roasting pan.
Remove roast and onions from marinade. Season roast with salt and pepper; lay rosemary sprigs across top of roast, and tie on with butcher’s twine.
Put onions in middle of roasting bag and place beef onto onions. Insert an instant read thermometer into meat. Seal bag and put roast into the oven. Roast for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until beef reaches an internal temperature
of 135°F, which is medium rare; if you want well done, leave until desired temperature is reached.
Remove from oven and allow to rest 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Carve slices across grain of meat, and serve with roasted onions.

Cheesy beer fondue with amber ale
Makes 4 to 6 servings
    2     cups grated horseradish cheddar cheese, approximately 1 pound
    2     to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1     to 2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2     cup minced onion
    1     tablespoon freshly minced garlic
        Pinch of thyme or rosemary, fresh or dry
    6     ounces amber ale
    1     to 2 drops Tabasco
          Chives for garnish
    2 to 3 tablespoons goat cheese
        Pinch of kosher salt and black pepper
        Fresh baked artisan bread, cut into cubes or slices

In large resealable bag, combine cheese and flour. Close bag tightly and shake until cheese is coated with flour, set aside. Warm oil over medium heat in heavy bottom sauce pan; add onions, garlic and thyme, cooking until colored golden brown. Add beer and bring to boil; reduce heat to low. Begin adding in cheese slowly, stir­ring with whisk or wooden spoon until melted and fully incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in Tabasco, salt, pepper and chives.
Garnish with crumbled goat cheese. Serve with bread.

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