New Castle News

November 2, 2013

Culinary Conversation: Tasty dishes fit for a restaurant buffet

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — My first recollection of visiting a buffet restaurant was for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.

That was a long time ago, and I don’t remember much except that there was a large group of us and the restaurant was somewhere in Boardman.

Eateries that serve buffet-style meals seem to ebb and flow in popularity, but at tourist destinations such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, hotels abound with buffets that tease with foods and desserts not generally served at home.

That’s the good and bad about them—  all in one fell swoop.

I’m not particularly a fan of buffets, but recently was at a hotel and another location where the buffet was a busy place. At the hotel, the food was good but surprisingly, there were limited selections of entrées and side dishes. At the second place, the buffet was superb — a salad bar with an interesting mix of ingredients, at least 10 or 12 vegetable dishes, breads, meats, and cakes, pies, cookies and other over-the-top desserts. I had self control. I walked past most of the sweet stuff.

But I did fall in love with the rice pudding and wheat berry salad at the hotel’s buffet. I don’t make rice pudding at home because my husband has issues with anything custard-y, and the wheat berry salad was a whole new culinary experience and very pleasing. It had texture, crunch and great flavor.

Today’s selections of rice pudding, sugar snap peas with red peppers, wheat berry salad and French silk pie were all featured at the buffets, and the recipes for crab cup party appetizers and baked glazed ham would be sensational for a home buffet. With the approaching holidays, we’re always on the look-out for recipes to feed a crowd of hungry people.

If you have some great party or buffet dishes, share them with us at Culinary Conversation.

It’s an understatement that Lawrence County knows how to cook.

Rice Pudding

Bring 11⁄2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; stir rice into boiling water. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a clean saucepan, combine 1⁄12 cups cooked rice, 11⁄2 cups milk, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in remaining 1⁄2 cup milk, beaten egg and raisins; cook two minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Sugar Snap Peas With Red Peppers

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat a large sauté pan with sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, snap peas and red bell pepper. Sauté for five minutes. Add sesame seeds and honey; season with salt and pepper, and sauté for another minute. Transfer to bowl and serve hot.

Wheat Berry Salad

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, combine the wheat berries and enough water to come 2 inches over the wheat berries. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for one hour, or until tender. Drain and let cool.

Toast the walnuts in a medium dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, walnuts, celery, dried cherries, scallions, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

French Silk

Chocolate Pie


1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box


Heat oven to 450. Make pie crust as directed on box for one-crust baked shell, using 9-inch glass pie plate. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat; cool. In small bowl with electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cooled chocolate and vanilla until well blended.

Add eggs one at a time, beating on high speed two minutes after each addition; beat until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Pour into cooled baked shell. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate curls. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

Crab Cups Party


Dice the green onions and then sauté them in butter until soft. Add all remaining ingredients to the onions and stir slowly so that the cheese melts and mingles.

Add crab meat, cooking for two more minutes. Set aside.

Next make the cups using the wonton wrappers. Put these into a mini muffin tin (one each) and brush them with a little butter.

Bake in a 350-degree preheated oven until golden brown. Fill with the crab mixture. May be served hot or cold.

Baked Glazed Ham

Preheat oven to 500.

To make glaze, in a saucepan bring the apple cider, orange juice, 3⁄4 cup brown sugar and cayenne to a boil. Cook down by more than half until it has become thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

To make ham, using a small, sharp knife, score the ham from top to bottom on a diagonal in one direction, then in the opposite direction to a diagonal to make diamond shapes.

Place a baking rack over a foil-lined baking sheet.

Rub the Dijon mustard all over the ham, then pack 1 cup of brown sugar all around it. Stick all the cloves into the ham.

Place ham on the rack in the baking sheet and put into the oven for 5 to 8 minutes to crisp the skin. Lower heat to 325 and baste with the glaze. (A lot of the brown sugar on the ham will drip onto the baking sheet. Add 1⁄4 cup of hot water to the bottom of the baking sheet to loosen the sugar.)

Remove ham from oven and baste with more glaze. Cover with heavy foil and insert an oven-proof meat thermometer all the way through to the thickest part of the ham. Bake for two hours until the ham has reached the internal temperature of 140.

Raise oven temperature again to 500. Drizzle the honey all over, then brush with the glaze and bake 15 to 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and brush on the remainder of the glaze.

Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

(*Note: recipes have not been tested.)