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Unfussy reception buffet for two dozen.

Family celebrations tend to get into high gear soon. There will be the season's graduations and weddings with related festivities such as suppers and showers. A reception at home often seems appropriate to these very personal occasions. But it requires good planning if the hosting household is to enjoy the event, too.

One solution is a cold, make-ahead buffet like the one we show here. The meal is good-looking, festive, and easy to prepare and present. Designed for 25 guests, the menu consists of several major dishes that can be managed in any home kitchen--not fussy foods that require excessive attention. If you are planning a larger party, the make-ahead reception menu can be multiplied to serve 50, 75, or even 100 guests. However, you should plan to repeat preparation of the dishes rather than multiply the recipes.

Some of the foods can be prepared as much as a month in advance; others will hold for a day or two. But nothing requires last-minute attention. You can have all serving pieces, linens, and table decorations ready the day before. On the day of the party, the only remaining chores are to rinse the fruit, set the table, and set out the food.

The meal begins with an iced soup to sip, while the main-course buffet waits. The dessert may be determined by the occasion. For weddings, a cake is mandatory. For other occasions you might choose a fancy dessert--a grand torte, a big cheesecake, even carrot cake--that you can make ahead of time or order from a bakery. Give the honoree some options.

For a beverage, have chilled dry white wine such as Grey Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, dry Chenin Blanc, or a brut or extra-dry champagne, allowing at least 1/2 bottle per person. But also include a non-alcoholic beverage such as sparkling apply juice, sparkling water, or a fruit punch.

If you do not have refrigerator space to chill beverages, you can buy or rent a large tub or use heavy plastic garbage bags. About two hours before your party, partially fill the tub or bags with ice and push the bottled beverages deep into the ice. Remove beverages from ice as you need them during the party. Make-ahead reception buffet

Chilled Crookneck Bisque with Chives

Baked Salmon with Fish Mouse

Basil Mayonnaise

Three-Vegetable Salad with

Walnut Dressing

Pepper Bread

Orange Butter Pepper Butter

Fresh Fruit Basket with Apricots,

Nectarines, Strawberries,

and Seedless Grapes

Reception Cake

Champagne or Dry White Wine

Fruit Punch

In setting up a work schedule, plan time for shopping. If you need extra dishes, flatware, cups for soup, and glasses for beverage, arrange as much as a month ahead to borrow or rent them (lookin the yellow pages under Party Rentals), or decide if you want to buy a few pieces or use disposable dishes and flatware.

If desert is to be a special cake from the baker, order it now, too.

You can also bake the bread and prepare the butters for the freezer.

Order your salmon at least two weeks ahead; if you purchase a frozen fish, you can store it at home.

Two days before the reception, make the soup, mayonnaise, and salad. The day before, cook the salmon. If you have refrigeration space, mix the punch (but save any sparkling beverages to add just before serving). Chilled Crookneck Bisque with Chives

In an 8- to 10-quart pan over medium heat, combine 1/4 cup salad oil and 4 chopped large onions. Cook, stirring often, until onion is limp, about 20 minutes. Add 3 quarts regular-strength chicken broth; cover pan and bring to boiling on high heat.

Add 4 quarts (about 4-1/2 lb.) thinly sliced crookneck squash. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer until squash is tender when pierced, 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour about 1 quart of the mixture at a time into a blender. Holding lid down tightly, whirl until the soup is very smooth; return to pan.

When all the vegetables are pureed, add 2 cups (1 pt.) half-and-half (light cream), 1 cup minced chives or green onions, and salt and white pepper to taste. Cover and chill until cold, about 4 hours or as long as 3 days.

Serve the soup in a container nested in ice; you can improvise, using two large bowls, one bigger than the other, with ice in the larger one. Or set a large heavy plastic bag in a basket, put ice in the bag, and work the serving bowl well down into the ice. You can camouflage the space between the soup bowl and ice with greenery such as parsley, ferns, or flowers. Pour soup into the bowl and garnish with a spray of chives. Ladle soup into cups or tumblers for sipping. Makes about 6 quarts, or 25 servings of 1-cup size. Baked Salmon with Fish Mousse

Purchase an 8- to 10-pound whole salmon including head and tail, or a 6- to 8-pound fish without head and tail. Have your fishman clean and fillet (but not skin) the fish.

Also purchase 1-3/4 pounds boneless firm white-fleshed fish (such as sole, lingcod, or rockfish).

Cut the white-fleshed fish into 1-inch cubes and whirl in a food processor until finely ground (or force through a food chopper with a fine blade, then place in a blender).

Add 3 cups whipping cream and 3 egg whites; process or whirl until very smooth and well blended. Add 1/2 cup minced chives (or green onions), 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste), and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper. Process until combined, then cover and chill.

Cut 2 pieces of heavy foil several inches longer and wider than salmon fillets. Lay each piece of foil in a 12- by 17-inch pan thaths at least 1 inch deep. Butter foil heavily and set a salmon fillet, skin side down, on top of it in each pan.

Spoon half the pureed fish mousse mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch star (or plain) tip. Pipe all the fish in a decorative layer down the center of the salmon fillet, leaving the edge of the salmon exposed (as shown in top photograph on page 207). Repeat to coat remaining salmon fillet with the mousse mixture.

Pour 1-1/2 cups dry white wine into each pan. Bake salmon, uncovered, in a 350[deg.] oven for 10 minutes. Loosely tent pans with foil, without touching topping, and continue baking until mousse is firm when gently touched and salmon is opque in thickest part (make a small cut in thick end to test), 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove fish from oven and let cool, then cover lightly and chilluntil cold, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Tilting pans carefully, pour off the wine. With a sharp knife, trim foil flush with salmon edges. Using the foil to help support salmon, lift it with your hands and moved to a serving tray or to a flat basket covered with plastic wrap.

If desired, to divide into equal serving portions, cut salmon lengthwise down center, then crosswise into 2- to 3-inches slices. Lift pieces from foil (and skin) with a spatula. Top portions with basil mayonnaise (following). Makes 25 servings. Basil Mayonnaise

In a blender or food processor, combine 6 egg yolks, 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup minced green onions, and 3-1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves (rinsed and dried); whirl until pureed.

With blender or processor running, slowly add 2 cups salad oil in a thin stream to form a thick mayonnaise. Season with salt. Serve, or cover and chill as long as 2 days; stir before using. Makes about 3 cups, or 25 servings of 2 tablespoons each. Three-Vegetable Sales with Walnut Dressing

3 pounds Chinese long beans or Blue Lake beans

3 pounds baby carrots or slender carrots

3 pound small red thin-skinned potatoes (2-in. size)

Walnut dressing (directions follow)

Break off stem ends of beans; rinse beans. Peel carrots; cut slender ones into 2-inch lengths.

Scrub potatoes.

Lay half the beans, curving longest ones to fit pan, on a rack in a 6- to 8-quart pan. Cover and cook over rapidly boiling water until tender to bite, about 5 minutes for long beans, 5 to 15 minutes for Blue Lakes. Lift from pan and immerse in cold water until cool; drain and set aside. Repeat to cook remaining beans. Use beans or put in a large plastic bag and chill up to 2 days.

In the same covered pan on rack over boiling water, steam carrots, then potatoes until tender when pierced, about 8 minutes for carrots and 15 minutes for potatoes.

Let carrots and potatoes cool; cut potatoes in half. Place vegetables in separate bowls and pour half the dressing over each, mixing gently. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or as long as 2 days; mix occasionally (dressing may color potatoes).

As much as 4 hours before serving, arrnage beans parallel (or twist them lightly to get a braided look) around edge of a large platter (at least 50 inches in circumference). Mound carrots and potatoes separately within the wreath of beans. Pour dressing from bowls over all the vegetables. To make beans easy to serve with a spoon, cut them into 2-inch lengths with a sharp knife. Serves 25.

Walnut dressing. Place 1 cup walnut havles in a 9-inch cake or pie pan. Bake in a 350[deg.] oven until lightly brown under the skin, about 10 minutes.

Pour onto a towel and rub gently to remove as much of the skin as you can; discard skins. Coarsely chop nuts. Mix nuts with 1 cup salad oil, 1/2 cup sherry wine vinegar or white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup walnut oil or salad oil, 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pepper Bread

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110[deg.])

1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine

2 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 eggs

About 9 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine

1 cup sliced almonds

In a large bowl, stir yeast with water and let stand 5 minutes. In a 1- to 2-quart pan, combine the butter, milk, sugar, and salt. Heat to 110[deg.] (butter need not melt completely). Add butter mixture to yeast mixture with the pepper, nutmeg, eggs, and 4 cups flour.

If using a dough hook, mix in 4 cups more flour and knead until the dough pulls cleanly from side of bowl, adding about 1 cup more flour if required. Cover with plastic wrap.

If mixing by hand, stir in 4 cups more flour until moistened, then scrape dough out onto a board coated with about 1 cup of the remaining flour. Knead dough, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top, and cover with plastic wrap.

Let dough (kneaded by either method) rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 1-1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, smear the 2 tablespoons soft butter over bottom and sides of a 5- to 6-quart straight-sided Dutch oven with ovenproof handles. Press almonds onto buttered surface.

Punch down dough and knead briefly on a floured board to remove air. Shape into a smooth ball. Place dough, smooth side down, in the almond-coated pan; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until dough doubls in volume, about 1 hour.

Bake, uncovered, in a 325[deg.] oven until bread sounds hollow when tapped and is a rich golden brown on top, about 1-1/4 hours. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert bread on a rack and cool completely. Serve, or wrap airtight and store at room temperature 1 day, or freeze up to 1 month. Let thaw, wrapped at room temperature for about 8 hours.

To serve, cut bread into quarters, then cut each quarter into thin slices. Makes 25 servings. Orange Butter

Beat 2 cups (1 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature, with an electric mixer until very creamy. Gradually mix in 1 jar (10 oz.) or 1 cup orange marmalade until well blended.

To shape butter, spoon mixture into a 3-cup heart-shaped (or other) mold smoothly lined with plastic wrap. Press in butter, smoothing top; fold plastic over butter and smoth more, if needed. Chill until firm. Remove from mold. U se, or wrap and chill as long as 5 days or freeze up to 1 month.

Pull off plastic wrap and serve cold. Makes about 3 cups, or 25 servings of 2 tablespoons each. Pepper Butter

Beat 2 cups (1 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature, until creamy. Shape as directed for orange butter, preceding. Chill until butter is firm, then unwrap and sprinkle surface with about 1-1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper; prss lightly so it will stick to butter.

Serve, or seal in a plastic bag and chill up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month. Unwrap and serve cold. Makes about 2 cups, or 25 servings of about 1 tablespoon each. Fresh Fruit Basket

To serve 25, you'll need about about 3 pounds each small ripe apricots and nectarines, 6 pounds seedless grapes, and 3 to 4 quarts large srawberries. Rinse fruit and let dry on paper towels at room temperature as long as 6 hours ahead: to reduce the likelihood of spoilage before you serve the berries, they should not touch. To present, mound fruit gently in a large basket.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1984
Words:2279
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