December menus: tailgate picnic for a tree-cutting trip. Artichoke, egg, and fish brunch Essay

DECEMBER MENUS



Tailgate picnic for a tree-cutting trip. Artichoke, egg, and
fish brunch. Cake and punch as you decorate the tree



Family gatherings, with a wide range of ages, are a big part of
festivities this month. The challenge in menu plainning is to satisfy
an equally wide range of tastes and dietary needs without a lot of extra
cooking.



Here are three meals that help you tackle this problem. Designed
around uncomplicated foods, they have add-on elements to give the menus
a little sophistication.



These meals lend themselves to a tree-cutting picnic or indoor
buffet, a tree-decorating party, and a weekend or Christmas breakfast.



Two-generation picnic or casual indoor buffet



For children, chicken drumsticks, raw vegetables, and beans with
tortillas make a realistic menu. For adults, spicy condiments turn
these foods into burritos.



Family-style Herb Chicken



Layered Beans with Cheese and Condiments



Hot Chocolate



Purchased or Homemade Pastries



If you plan to picnic, bake the chicken and beans, then pack in an
insulated chest to carry along with the tortillas and chorizo. TPrepare
your favorite hot chocolate and carry it in a thermos.



Family-style Herb Chicken



1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine, melted



1 teaspoon dry marjoram leaves



1/2 teaspoon each dry oregano leaves, dry basil, dry sage leaves,
dry thyme leaves, salt, and pepper


8 chicken drumsticks (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 lb. total)



2 large whole chicken breasts, split (3 lb. total)



Stir together butter, marjoram, oregano, basil, sage, thyme, salt,
and pepper.



Rinse chicken and pat dry; coat pieces with the seasoned butter.



Arrange drumsticks side by side in a shallow 10- by 15-inch baking
pan. Roast in a 400| oven for 10 minutes. Arrange breasts skin side up
in pan with drumsticks. Cook until chicken is well browned and no
longer pink at bone (cut to test), 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold;
to transport hot, wrap in foil and carry in an insulated bag. Serves 6
to 8.



Layered Beans with Cheese and Condiments



2 tablespoons salad oil



2 large onions, chopped



2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed



3 cans (1 lb. each) refried beans



3 cups (12 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese



Raw vegetable basket (suggestions follow)



Warm tortillas (directions follow)



Cooked chorizo (directions follow)



2 cups sour cream



1 can (8 oz.) green chili salsa



About 1 cup fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves



Heat salad oil in a 5- to 6-quart pan on medium heat. Add onion
and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is limp. In a food processor
or blender, whirl onions and beans until smooth; set aside.



Evenly spread a third of the bean mixture in a deep 2- to 2
1/2-quart casserole with lid. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Make 2 more
layers each of beans and cheese. (If made ahead, cover and chill up to
2 days.)



Bake, covered, in a 400| oven until hot and bubbly, 35 to 45
minutes. Serve hot; to transport, put in an insulated bag or chest and
serve within 3 hours.



Serve warm beans either as a dip for vegetables or wrapped in flour
tortillas and seasoned with chorizo, sour cream, salsa, and cilantro.
Makes 8 servings.



Raw vegetable basket. Allow about 1 cup vegetables for a serving.
Choose from whole peeled carrots; celery stalks; bell peppers, cored,
seeded, and sliced; mushrooms; and cherry tomatoes.



Warm tortillas. Stack 1 to 1 1/2 dozen flour tortillas (7- to
8-in. size) and seal in foil. Put in a 400| oven until heated through,
about 20 minutes. Keep warm in an insulated bag or chest.



Cooked chorizo. Remove 1 to 1 1/2 pounds chorizo sausage from
casings and crumble into a 10- to 12-inch frying pan. Cook, stirring
ofter, over medium heat until sausage is well browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
Drain on paper towels. Serve hot; to transport, pack in a covered
container and carry in an insulated bag. If made ahead, cover and chill
up to 2 days. To reheat, stir in a frying pan over medium heat.


A brunch for all ages



To adults, serve eggs on sauteed fish with English muffins; make
fish an option for the children. Offer mild-flavored chili sauce with
both egg stacks and artichokes.



Egg and Fish Stacks



Eggs with English Muffins



Chili Hollandaise



Hot Cooked Artichokes



Winter Fruit Platter



Allow 1 medium-size artichoke for each adult, half of one for a
child. Start artichokes about an hour before brunch.



On the fresh fruit platter, include pineapple chunks, sliced
oranges, bananas, sliced kiwi fruit, and pomegranate seeds.



Have fish ready to cook, toast muffins, make hollandaise, then fry
fish and eggs.



Egg and Fish Stacks



1 to 1 1/2 pounds boned and skinned white-fleshed fish fillets
(such as sole, lingcod, or red snapper)



About 1/4 cup all-purpose flour



4 to 6 tablespoons butter or margarine



2 tablespoons salad oil



8 eggs



Water



Salt and pepper



About 8 English muffins, toasted and buttered



Chili hollandaise (recipe follows)



If fillets are less than 1/2 inch thick, fold in the middle to make
thicker. Divide fish into 4 to 6 serving-size pieces; coat with flour
and shake off excess.



Melt 2 teblespoons of butter with oil in a 10- to 12-inch frying
pan over mediumhigh heat. Add fish to pan without crowding; cook,
turning once, until lightly browned and center of fish flakes when
probed, about 8 minutes total; keep warm as cooked. Repeat until all
fish pieces are cooked; add butter to pan as needed.



Wipe frying pan clean and set over medium heat; melt remaining 2
tablespoons butter. Break 4 eggs into pan and sprinkle each with 1
teaspoon water. Cover and cook until whites are set, about 1 minute.



Cook remaining eggs the same way. Season eggs and fish with salt
and pepper. Serve each egg on a piece of fish or a muffin; add
hollandaise. Serves 4 to 6 adults and 2 to 4 children.



Chili hollandaise. Melt 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine. In a
blender or food processor, whirl until blended 1 egg, 1 teaspoon Dijon
mustard, 1 teaspoon chilipowder, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. With
motor running, pour in hot butter in a slow, steady stream. Serve hot or
at room temperature. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.



A tree-decorating party



The delicate-textured cake, laced with nut streusel and candied
fruit, and the refreshing nonalcoholic punch will serve a dozen tree
trimmers of all ages.



Soft Cheeses



Water Crackers Butter Cookies



Roasted Almonds Winter Apples



Layered Streusel and Fruit Cake



Spiced Cranberry-Orange Punch



Offer several soft cheeses, such as Brie, cherry- or
walnut-flavored process cheese, cream cheese, or Neufchatel; allow about
1/8 pound for a serving. Spread on crackers, butter cookies, or apple
slices.



Bake the cake any time during the day. Assemble the punch, then
heat when you are ready for it.



Layered Streusel and Fruit Cake



1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature



1 cop sugar



2 eggs



1 1/2 cups sour cream



1 teaspoon grated orange peel



2 cups all-purpose flour



1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder



1 teaspoon baking soda



1 1/2 cups mixed diced candied (glace) fruit.



Streusel (recipe follows)



In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar
together until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well
blended. Mix in the sour cream and orange peel.



Stir together flour, baking powder, and soda; gradually add to the
sour cream mixture, beating until batter is well blended; set aside.



To assemble, thoroughly grease a 12-cup plain or fluted tube pan.
Spread a third of the batter evently in pan; sprinkle with half the
candied fruit and half the streusel. Make another layer with half the
remaining cake batter and all the remaining fruit and streusel. Spread
remaining cake batter on top.



Bake cake in a 350| oven until a thin wooden skewer inserted in
center comes out clean and cake begins to pull from pan sides, 55 to 60
minutes. Cool in pan on rack 30 minutes; invert onto a plate. Serve
warm or cool. Makes 10 servings.–Susan H. Bell, Boulder City, Nevada.



Streusel. Mix together 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1
teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 1/4 cups chopped nuts.



Spiced Cranberry-Orange Punch



In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combind 1 bottle (48 oz.) cranberry juice
cocktail, 1 bottle (1 qt.) apple cider, 1 small can (6 oz.) thawed
frozen orange juice concentrate, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 4
cinnamon sticks (each 3 in. long), and 1 teaspoon whole cloves.



Bring to a boil over high heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Pour punch through a wire strainer into a 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-quart serving
container. Garnish with orange slices. Serve hot. Makes 2 1/2 quarts,
or 10 servings, 1-cup size.



Photo: Whrm food for tree-cutting expedition includer herb-roasted
chicken, hot bean dip to go with vegetables or in warm flour tortillas,
pastries, and hot chocolate



Photo: Two-generation brunch features eggs on fish for adults, eggs
on muffins for children. There are artichokes for all; children get
helf

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