The menu for a New Year’s Day open house might look like this:

Assorted cheeses with crackers and pear slices

 Crudité platter with curry dip

 Lox on mini-bagels with scallion-lemon cream cheese*

 Big bowl of cashews

 Blue corn chips with pico de gallo salsa

 Spiral-sliced glazed ham

 Mini-potato rolls

 Party rye

 Custard mustard sauce*

Chopped green cabbage and red apple salad*

 Dessert spread of leftover Christmas cookies and sliced pound cake

As you can see, this is a relaxed, informal, fairly non-labor-intensive buffet, one to which items could easily be added or subtracted – if guests insist on bringing a contribution, for instance.

Most of the ingredients/dishes can be bought or made ahead. Buy a spiral-sliced ham (so tasty and so practical), which you can bake in the morning, glazing with a mixture of brown sugar and apple juice for the last half hour or so. The ham – in fact, all the food – can sit out at room temperature for the duration of the party.

The custard mustard sits beside the ham, along with mini potato rolls and/or party rye bread, so guests can make their own little sandwiches, and a pretty platter of cookies and sliced pound cake graces a side table next to the coffee. Happy New Year to all!

(* recipes included)

LOX ON MINI-BAGELS WITH SCALLION-LEMON CREAM CHEESE

If you run out of time, simply put out the components in bowls and invite guests to assemble their own canapes.

Makes about 36 canapes

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

¼ cup finely chopped scallions or chives

9 plain small bagels

6 ounces very thinly sliced lox or other smoked or cured salmon

About 1 tablespoon drained small capers

Coarsely ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, lemon juice and zest, and chives. Stir well to blend. Let stand at least 30 minutes to blend flavors or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before using.

Split each bagel in half, then cut each half into 2 pieces to make 4 canape bases from each bagel. Spread each piece with about a teaspoon of flavored cream cheese, top with a thin piece of salmon, and press a couple of capers into the cream cheese. Grind pepper over the top. Arrange on a platter. (Can be assembled up to 3 hours ahead; remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.)

CUSTARD MUSTARD SAUCE

This sauce is so yummy that people have been known to eat it plain, with a spoon.

Makes about 1½ cups

¼ cup Coleman’s dry mustard

½ cup distilled white vinegar

¼ cup dry white wine or vermouth

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar and vermouth. Cover and let soak at room temperature for at least 6 hours or overnight.

In the top of a double boiler or in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar and salt. Whisk in the mustard mixture. Cook over barely simmering water, whisking every 5 minutes or so, until sauce thickens to consistency of a thinnish mayonnaise, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally as it cools. (Sauce will thicken as it cools.) Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for up to 3 days before using.

CHOPPED GREEN CABBAGE AND RED APPLE SALAD

If you can find a cabbage with loose dark green outer leaves, reserve leaves and use them to line the serving bowl or platter for a pretty presentation.

Makes about 20 buffet servings

CREAMY CELERY SEED DRESSING:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon celery seeds

CABBAGE AND APPLE SALAD:

1 medium-large head green cabbage

1 cup dried currants

¾ cup chopped red onion

3 crisp red-skinned apples, such as Empire

To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

To make the salad, cut the cabbage in half, remove core, and shred in a food processor or by hand. Toss in a large bowl with the currants and red onion. Toss with enough of the dressing to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 8 hours.

Up to 3 hours before serving, core the apples and coarsely chop; stir into the cabbage mixture, adding more dressing if necessary. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon onto a rimmed platter or bowl and serve.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She can be contacted via Facebook at: facebook.com/brookedojny


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