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Cook Talk

Afternoon Open House for 75
JJ
04/05/14
I am hosting an 55th wedding anniversary open house for my parents. Probably 65 people, but I am planning for 75. It will be a backyard garden party, but will be decorated a little more formal (tablecloths to the ground, organza overlays, floral centerpieces, renting white chairs). While it's an open house, I expect many people to stay the whole time. I have table seating for 44, in the backyard, plus a conversation set that seats 6.

Because it will be warm, I don't want to serve a lot of heavy foods, but am needing help with the menu.

This is what I am thinking of, but am not sure:
bbq pork, but with an Asian style bbq, served with some type of bun/roll
Chinese chicken salad (I have an amazing recipe)
marinated shrimp (again, with an Asian style marinade, sweet and spicy)
a Moroccan style shredded carrot salad
maybe fruit skewers?

I am planning on appetizers-only passed. Keeping in kind of the Asian fusion theme, this is what I have so far as ideas:
Glazed bacon water chestnuts
Asian cheese spread-a little sweet, with ginger and soy sauce, served on crackers or mini baguette slices
watermelon square topped with blue cheese and a balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an adaption of a very favorite salad of mine-not really in the them but really good and unique)
mini crab cakes?
some kind of stuffed mushroom?
some kind of stuffed pea pod?
an Asian "spread" served on won tons

a dessert bar with mini treats, including little shooters, etc. My cousin, who is a pastry chef, will be in town to help with this (lucky me). Not sure at all what to put on here.

My co-host (my brother) is deathly allergic to nuts, so nothing using any kind of nuts or nut product will be served.

We will be preparing the food on FRI and SAT. Doing any assembly or last minute stuff Sunday morning for a 1pm event. We have 8 adults for this and set up, running errands, etc.

During the event, I have 2 friends who will take care of all the food and my kids (all young adults) to be bartenders and servers.

How does my menu look? It's extremely important to me that the food be good and generous. It's equally important to me that the food be more unique (I don't want anyone to say, "hey, I love ______ from Costco or Trader Joes") Nothing against those places-we use their food all the time, but this event is extremely special to me.

I would appreciate any help or advice.

JJ

JJ
04/05/14
I forgot to add, I need an idea for a starch for the buffet. Maybe a wild rice kind of salad? A pasta salad doesn't seem to fit and I don't want to serve noodles (too messy).
JJ
04/06/14
A couple more appetizer ideas I have come up with:
Prosciutto-wrapped arugula
Caramelized Apples with Gorgonzola served in Belgian Endive Boats
Savory shortbread

Also another salad idea: maybe something made with jicama or fennel?

JJ

ellen
04/06/14
I can see you are planning a very nice party, and I have a few suggestions for tweaks to reduce your pre-party workload.

bbq pork, but with an Asian style bbq, served with some type of bun/roll- 1 pound raw boneless per 4, 5 smallish rolls per pound
Chinese chicken salad (I have an amazing recipe)
marinated shrimp (again, with an Asian style marinade, sweet and spicy)- 3 gallons
a Moroccan style shredded carrot salad- 2 gallons
maybe fruit skewers? fruit platters or trays are easier to make and eat, keeps better, and the leftovers are more usable.
How about an Asian noodle salad, there is a good recipe on this site, end of the page:
www.ellenskitchen.com/bigpots/plan/salads1100.html

I am planning on appetizers-only passed. Keeping in kind of the Asian fusion theme, this is what I have so far as ideas:
Glazed bacon water chestnuts- OK, 2-3 per
Asian cheese spread-a little sweet, with ginger and soy sauce, served on crackers or mini baguette slices, 1/4 cup per person, 3 breads
watermelon square topped with blue cheese and a balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an adaption of a very favorite salad of mine-not really in the theme but really good and unique), 34 pounds whole makes 1/2 cup per person
mini crab cakes- 2 per
some kind of stuffed mushroom?- 2 per
some kind of stuffed pea pod?- skip, fussy

a dessert bar with mini treats, including little shooters, etc. My cousin, who is a pastry chef, will be in town to help with this (lucky me). Not sure at all what to put on here.
see the dessert bar page for help on amounts. Basically people like 3-4 per person.

Do consider a donation to the site, if it fits your plans.

ellen
04/06/14
Argh, the chicken is 3 gallons, the shrimp about 15 pounds.
Also, of course, skip the nuts on the Asian noodle salad- could you use sunflower seeds?
JJ
04/06/14
Thanks for your guidance.

I will nix the fruit skewers. I;m thinking of not using a fruit platter. I will have the watermelon appetizers and was thinking of adding chocolate dipped strawberries to the dessert menu. We can get amazing fresh strawberries here.

I;m still not sure on the noodle salad....I feel like noodles will be too messy.

I will also eliminate the stuffed pea pods.

I am feeling like 6-8 passes appetizers is more than enough.

One more question...when you are referring to "gallons" for the salads, I find it confusing. I look at the quantity of the main item needed. I am thinking 10-15 pounds of carrots and 15 pounds of lettuce for the Chinese chicken salad. Does that sound correct?

ellen
04/07/14
A gallon weighs about 8-12 pounds, depending on what salad it is, if that helps.

For lining lettuce under salad, 1 pound per 8-10 is plenty unless they are voracious salad eaters.

How about a wild rice and brown rice mixed salad? Start only about 3 pounds total.

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