1956 Christmas Buffet: Part Two

Yesterday I talked about the the first part of this buffet which was the cookies and candy. Like I said in that post, I am following a 1956 Christmas buffet they called “The Open House Snack Table”. This is from a little booklet called A Merry Christmas at Your House. Today I will be talking about the savory portion of the buffet which is the nut dip, the watercress dip, tomato aspic and the cranberry punch.

First up is the nut dip which essentially is a cheese ball which is what I will be referring to it as hence forth. This was definitely my favorite of the recipes I will talk about today. Not surprising because I will always and forever be part of Team Cheese Ball. It is the one appetizer that I amazed went out of fashion and it is one I will definitely lead the charge to bring back to the main stream. But I digress, this is a super easy recipe that comes together quickly. For this recipe, all you need is cream cheese, some decent blue cheese, walnuts, onion and parsley and you have yourself a nice appetizer.

The next is the watercress dip. It is a mayonnaise based dipped that mixes in a few herbs and is served with cucumbers. Though any vegetable really could work. I ran into two glitches with this recipe. First they gave no measurements for this recipe AT ALL. I did my best to work out the correct ratio but I will admit I did not do extensive testing on it. Second, watercress is just not an ingredient that is so easy to find in supermarkets these days. I personally substituted arugula for it as they have a similar flavor profile.

Now on to the tomato aspic which is just fancy speak for savory tomato gelatin mold. This is a simple dish made by heating up tomato juice with some seasonings, straining it, mixing in some gelatin and then chilling it. Some of you might find this shocking but I did not hate this dish. I grew up on tomato juice and this is just basically that in gelatin form. Though a little does goes a long way and I couldn’t eat too much. I am amazed that the creator of this recipe showed shocking restraint for a mid century dish because there is nothing crazy mixed in. The mid century sometimes has a more is better mentality when it comes to these congealed recipes. This one was served with shrimp and mayo on the front cover so that is what I did as well.

Last is the cranberry punch. Nothing fancy and very similar to the Christmas punches I posted about last year. You can read about them here if you are interested in more. Just like many Christmas punches, it uses cranberry juice as a base and mixes in orange juice, lemon juice and ginger ale all served in a pretty punch bowl. By the way if you don’t have a punch bowl, check out your local thrift stores. You can usually find one there for quite cheap. If you don’t have one and don’t really want one, a large mixing bowl can work in a pinch or pour the punch into pitchers. I did have one snafu with the punch. I somehow forgot to make it the day I took the pictures of the food. Therefore I do not have any pictures of said punch. After the holidays I will go back and make it again to get proper pictures.

Blue Cheese Walnut Cheese Ball

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple cheese ball made with blue cheese and walnuts.

source: A Merry Christmas at Your Home (1956)


  • 1 8 oz pack of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 oz blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion or chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Crackers for serving


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, blue cheese, onion (or chives) and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Mold into a ball and place in fridge to firm up for about an hour.
  3. Roll ball in the chopped parsley.
  4. Place on a serving dish with the crackers and serve.

Watercress Dip

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple 1950s dip.

source: A Merry Christmas at Your Home (1956)


  • 1 cup of mayo
  • 1/4 cup watercress (arugula can be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • Veggies for serving – I used cucumbers and grape tomatoes


  1. Mix together all the ingredients. It can be served immediately or put in the fridge till serving time.
  2. Serve in a bowl surrounded by veggies.

Tomato Aspic

  • Servings: 10 to 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A recipe for the classic tomato aspic.

source: A Merry Christmas at Your Home (1956)


  • 2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Optional: shrimp and mayo or cocktail sauce for serving


  1. In a small bowl, soften the gelatin in water.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium high heat, stir together the tomato juice, bay leaf, onion, celery, salt, cloves, peppercorns and sugar to a boil, Then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the liquid in large bowl and add gelatin stirring until it is dissolved.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and then for into a large ring mold (individual ring molds can be used).
  5. Chill until firm and then unmold onto a platter.
  6. Optional: Serve surrounded by shrimp with a bowl of mayo or cocktail sauce in the center.

Cranberry Punch

  • Servings: 20 to 30
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An easy holiday punch from the 1950s.

source: A Merry Christmas at Your Home (1956)


  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cups ginger ale, chilled
  • Ice cubes


  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in the boiling water.
  2. Stir in the cranberry, orange and lemon juices and chill in fridge until cold
  3. Before serving, pour mixture into a punch bowl with ice cubes and stir in the chilled ginger ale.


5 thoughts on “1956 Christmas Buffet: Part Two

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