Delia's cold buffet for 12
What I’ve done here is devise a cold buffet menu that can all be prepared in advance – but I do think that in winter, particularly, it’s essential to have just one hot item, so I’ve included some crunchy jacket potatoes. It’s a truly delightful feast of flavours and textures that is bound to please – and still leave you blissfully free to join in the party yourself without ending up a nervous wreck.
Curried Chicken Salad
Mini Yorkshire Puddings with Rare Beef and Horseradish-and-
Mustard Crème Fraîche
Caramelised Onion Tartlets with Goats’ Cheese and Thyme
Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Dried Cranberries
Jacket Potato Wedges with melting Cheese
Thai Pork Satay Kebabs with Peanut and Coconut Sauce
Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake
Up to a week ahead
Bake the Yorkshires, cool and freeze in a lidded container.
The day before
Prepare all of the ingredients for the salad, then put the spring onions into a small plastic food bag and store in the fridge. Put the toasted almonds into a small lidded container and store in a cool place. Mix together the chicken, apricots, raisins and dressing and refrigerate. Prepare the coriander leaf garnishes, put them into a small plastic food bag with a wet piece of kitchen paper and pop in the fridge.
Seal and roast the beef for the Yorkshires, cool and refrigerate on a plate, covered. Prepare the watercress garnishes, put them into a plastic food bag with a piece of wet kitchen paper and chill. Mix together the sauce ingredients and store in the fridge, too.
Make the pastry for the tartlets and allow it to rest. Pre-heat the oven, then line the patty tins, prick the bases and brush with beaten egg. Bake, then cool, cover with a clean tea cloth and store in a cool place overnight. Prepare and cook the onions, then cool and refrigerate. Whisk together the egg, cream, mustard and some seasoning and chill in a small plastic box. Prepare the 24 thyme sprigs, mix them with the oil and chill in a plastic food bag.
Make the rice salad, mix with the dressing and dried cranberries only, then cool, cover and refrigerate. Prepare the cucumber, tomatoes and pepper and refrigerate. Put the spring onions into a small plastic food bag and pop in the fridge, too (separated from those for the turkey salad). Toast the walnuts, put into a lidded container and store in a cool place.
Wash the potatoes and leave in a cool place to dry. Grate the Gruyère, snip the chives and refrigerate separately from each other.
Make the marinade/sauce for the satays. Pour half into a large bowl for the pork, then add the peanuts to the remainder in the food processor and pulse the mixture once. Transfer the sauce to a lidded box and chill. Refrigerate the reserved coriander in a small plastic food bag. Cut the pork, add it to the marinade in the bowl and stir well, before transferring to a suitable container in the fridge.
Make the sponge bases and roll them up in baking parchment, as in the recipe. Then, when cool, wrap them in clingfilm and keep them in a cool place. Make the Mascarpone cream filling and the lemon curd and chill separately in lidded containers in the fridge.
Make the cheesecake, cover and chill overnight. Make the chocolate curls and store in a box in the fridge.
On the morning of your party
Assemble the chicken salad, arrange on the salad leaves, cover and keep in the fridge.
Prick the potatoes and rub with sea salt.
Mix the salad with the prepared cucumber, tomatoes and pepper, add two-thirds each of the spring onions and walnuts, cover and refrigerate.
Soak the skewers for the satays. Chop the reserved coriander, add to the sauce and refrigerate until later. Pre-heat the grill and line the grill pan with kitchen foil, then thread the pork on to the dried and oiled skewers. Place the pork skewers on the grill rack and brush with some of the marinade. Grill for 15-20 minutes, turning the skewers over and brushing them with some more marinade halfway through cooking. Cool the satays, then arrange them on a serving dish, cover and store in the fridge until later.
Spread a third of the Mascarpone and a third of the lemon curd on to each of the sponges, then roll them. Arrange them on serving dishes. Make the icing and decorate the roulades. Push 5 cocktail sticks into each of the roulades to stop the clingfilm touching the topping. Cover and refrigerate. Mix together the remaining Mascarpone and lemon curd, put into a serving bowl and chill this, too.
Unmould and plate the cheesecake, decorated with the curls, then cover with clingfilm and keep in a cool place.
Two hours before your guests arrive
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
Crisp the Yorkshires in the oven (from frozen) for a couple of minutes, or until heated through. Slice the beef ready to top the Yorkshires, cover and store in the fridge.
Slice each of the goats’ cheeses into 12 slices for the tartlets. Divide the cooked onion between the pastry cases, then the egg mixture and then the cheese slices. Top each one with the prepared sprig of thyme, sprinkle with cayenne pepper, then bake, then cool. As soon as the tartlets are ready, increase the oven temperature to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C), ready to bake the potatoes. When the tartlets are cool, arrange them on a serving plate and cover.
While guests are having drinks on arrival
Put the potatoes in the oven and bake for 1-1½ hours.
Before calling your guests to the buffet, finally garnish and arrange the food on the buffet table:
*Top the Yorkshires with the sauce, beef and watercress.
*Garnish the satays with the lime wedges and put the sauce into a bowl.
*Uncover the chicken salad. Sprinkle with the remaining spring onions, almonds and coriander.
Mix in the apple and garnish with the spring onions and walnuts.
*Allow the roulades to return to room temperature.
*Split the potatoes, top with the Gruyère and return them to the oven 15 minutes before serving, then sprinkle with chives.
When you’re ready for dessert
Remove the clingfilm and cocktail sticks from the roulades and serve with the lemon curd/Mascarpone cream from the fridge.
Dust the cheesecake with a little of the cocoa powder and pour the cream to accompany it into a jug.
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