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Cook Talk

Afternoon Reception for 120
Linda Jones
Hi Ellen,

I just made a donation! I have learned so much, and thank you for this wonderful site. Your site is more than worth the price of a cook book!

My event question:

A few ladies in our church are giving the wedding reception for a young lady who grew up with us, and whose mother, a dear friend to all of us, died two years ago. The bride is on a tight budget, so we are trying to DIY as much as possible. We had to rule out full catering, but are going to buy a couple of the main dishes from a local caterer, who will deliver to our reception location the day of the wedding. Our thought is to do just a few items, but do them well, and have plenty. I would appreciate your input on the menu and amounts.

Event Details
Wedding, 1 PM, with reception following in the church hall. About half the guests will be driving in from about 2 hrs away, so we feel we should have more than punch and cake. There will be room for a few tables, and chairs can line the wall, so we want the food to be fork-edible, rather than something that requires a knife.

Cheese board with grapes (purchasing at Costco)
21 lbs cheese
12 lbs grapes
10 lbs crackers
6 lbs nuts (asst salted and flavored)

Cold, poached salmon, CATERED
Roasted vegetables with hummus and honey goat cheese CATERED
Couscous salad with pine nuts and golden raisins 10 GAL?
Wedding Cake and Grooms Cake (the groom wants Texas sheet cake?!? it is a "thing" with him. Has to be made with cinnamon.)
Coffee for cake, 2 lbs regular
Flavored waters (cucumber, lemon, & strawberry) with 10 lbs ice

My questions:
1. I think we need another protein or substantial dish. I can't think of an elegant way to serve ham or turkey without needing a knife to cut it. How about country ham biscuits? Could they be made ahead, frozen and served at room temperature? Thought about a chicken salad, but can't imagine how much I would need, or which recipe. I think if I go with a chicken salad it should have some kind of green or vegetable in it, and that seems like something that would not hold up well if made ahead.

2. Are flavored waters enough? Do people still drink punch? (usually goes to waste at my parties) Maybe 10 gal of sweet tea?

3. The wedding cake will be cut and served on individual plates. How in the world do I make the Texas sheet cake look lovely, and how do I serve it? Self-serve? Reading the recipes, these cakes sound like they are usually served out of the pan. How can that be made attractive?!?

4. I have two people designated for the beverage table and ice. 3 people plus myself as kitchen help/servers. Am thinking about adding another 2 people when the cake is cut.

5. I plan to have the cheese board out for the early arrivals and nibblers, ~2PM, and wait until the bride arrives 3 PM (after pictures) to put out the rest of the food. Cake served toward the end of the reception, around 4:30. We are doing a photo booth, so that will be the entertainment until the bride arrives.

Thank you so much!

Linda J.

Hello, Linda,

This is excellent timing for a low cost reception, as most will have eaten lunch and won't be ready for dinner, reducing amounts about a quarter and allowing light foods.

Cheese board with grapes (purchasing at Costco)
21 lbs cheese- OK, some could be dips or spreads, maybe some left
12 lbs grapes OK, might go 15
Consider adding strawberries for color and flavor, about 2 largish per person, a quart will serve about 12
10 lbs crackers- OK
6 lbs nuts (asst salted and flavored)- maybe go 8 if not too many peanuts

Cold, poached salmon, CATERED
Roasted vegetables with hummus and honey goat cheese CATERED
Couscous salad with pine nuts and golden raisins 10 GAL?- way too much for 120, about 5 gallons

Chicken or turkey salad (people can't tell the difference) would be a fine choice, you want about 3 gallons. F0r 3 gallons, you need about 30 pounds whole bird= 30 cups, or 15 pounds boneless; celery, 1 pound diced makes about 4 cups, and I use equal volume, so about 7-8 pounds, and chopped parsley, bit more than 1 ounce per cup, so about 2 pounds, chopped, and about a gallon of really good mayo, or combo of mayo and Italian or you favorite. Made with turkey, this was the famous chicken salad at a Los Angeles deli, and it keeps fine. Can be dressed up with nuts and fruit, but doesn't need it. Add about 6 pounds cocktail bread slices or more crackers

Wedding Cake and Grooms Cake. The groom wants Texas sheet cake?!? it is a "thing" with him. Has to be made with cinnamon.
This is no problem. For this size party, make 2 full sheets (which is 8 9x13 pans). You could him if it would be OK to stack them, but they will be handsome and impressive just as is. You can put a paper ruffle (party store) around the edge of the pan.

Coffee for cake, 2 lbs regular- just 100 cups. Add a pound of decaf and a hot water kettle/pot with assorted tea bags.
Flavored waters (cucumber, lemon, & strawberry) with 10 lbs ice; at least 30 pounds ice-you might consider a punch such as the apricot pineapple punch at the top of the punch thread- about 8 gallons

Thanks for your donation, it helps me keep the site going...

Linda Jones
Ellen, thank you so much for your help. I was GLAD to donate. I thought I should donate at least the price of a cook book in exchange for what I learned from your site. However, NO ONE book could EVER provide the level of detail and information as your site! Plus your personal assistance! Priceless.
Thanks, both the praise and the donation are much appreciated.
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