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Critique my menu...

I'm doing a buffet for a mid Saturday afternoon quasi-child's birthday party for about 12-15 people. Most of the people will be adults, but there will be some young kids there. This is a self-professed "health" crowd but God forbid I cook anything with bacon in it because if past history is any indicator, they'll be eating it in double handfuls.

I'm usually good at assembling these kinds of meals but I'm just not comfortable with this menu. Too many carb dishes? Too much food? Thoughts? BTW, someone else is bringing the birthday cake.

Tomato Onion Cheese Tart

Sauteed Gnocchi with Tarragon Tomato Sauce http://www.latartinegourmande.com/200...

Grilled Vegetable Platter

Cucumber Salad - I need a recipe!

Whipped Chickpea and Potato Crudite

Crab Cakes With Red Chili Mayonaise

Shrimp Kebabs With Cocktail Sauce

Other contenders
Tortilla Espanola with Aioli http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

Sushi-Roll Rice Salad

Mango-Curry Shrimp Salad in Wonton Cups

Chicken Sates

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  1. Hmmm ... I'm not sure about two tomato dishes and possibly two shrimp dishes plus crab cakes. I'd drop the gnocchi for sure and add the chicken sate, or do the mango-curry salad with chicken instead of shrimp. The whole menu seems kind of unfocussed to me, and a little fussy, especially for kids. If I were going to add another dish, instead of another Asian flavor I'd add something Mexican, maybe something that would take advantage of the end of the season corn.

    What's for dessert? You can't have a birthday party without dessert!

    1. It loks good. only thing i'd say is that I see a lot of dishes involving some form of mayo, and since i'm not a big fan of the stuff, and it's hot, and maybe outdoors, i'd cut one of em or substitute mustard

      1. I made the tomato onion cheese tart a few weeks ago, and it was really good.
        For a cucumber salad, you can go simple- cucumbers, red onion, dill, oo and red wine vinegar. We love this salad with cucumber right from our garden. WE usually add garden tomatoes, too, but it looks like you have the tomatoes covered. If you want a little somthing more, some cubed harvati cheese would be a nbice addition. But I would add the cheese right before serving.

        5 Replies
        1. re: macca

          This recipe for the cucumber salad is similar to what macca mentioned...and very easy and good.


          I'd skip the gnocchi, and the grilled vegetables in favor of the cucumber salad. Also, as other have mentioned, no need for 2 shrimp dishes, but if you want to use mango, maybe this Mango Salsa would work. I love it and it's very tasty with tortilla chips.


          Oh, and I'd skip the crabcakes in favor of the Chicken Sates. My (almost) 3 year old happens to eat everything, but not all kids so, so having a chicken dish might be good.

          1. re: valerie

            Never thought to add sugar- but may try it nrxt time we pick our cukes. Don''t think I would add 3 tbls, but weet and sour may be a nice change.

            1. re: macca

              The cucumber salad I make has sugar too ... in fact it has only sugar. I peel, halve lengthwise, seed, and slice the cucumber (quarter to third of an inch, not too thin). Halve grape tomatoes, sprinkle with superfine sugar, stir, let sit for ~15 min to create its own dressing, stir again. Just enhances the natural flavors, very fresh.

              1. re: foiegras

                Thanks. Will have to try it. My recipe is from my dad- he was diabetic. Maybe that is why there was no sugar.

                1. re: macca

                  The Epicurious recipe is really not that sweet, but the sugar just cuts some of the "sharpness" of the vinegar. It's a good balance.

        2. Seems like a lot of work for 15 people. I'd cut the number of dishes in half. One shrimp dish. Gnocchi or rice. Grilled veggies or cuke salad. Looks gorgeous though!

          1 Reply
          1. re: southernitalian

            Yes, I agree. A lot of food for 15 adults and a few children. Southernitalian's selection seems well rounded.
            I'm borrowing some of those links though. The recipes look *veddy* interesting.

          2. Asian pickled cucumber salad: Peel cucumbers & slice thin. Toss with salt and drain in colander for at least an hour - they'll lose a lot of water. Rinse, drain well, and dress with white or rice-wine vinegar, sweetened to taste (I even do it with Splenda), a shot of soy sauce, and a shot of toasted sesame oil. Refrigerate overnight. Also good with the addition of thin-sliced sweet onion and/or radish.

            1. I didn't make myself clear. The menu I'm considering ENDS at "Other contenders". The recipes BELOW "Other contenders" are meant as possible substitutes for what appears ABOVE "Other contenders".

              My apologies and please keep the recs coming.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Scagnetti

                Does gnocchi keep well with a buffet? That recipe looks great but looks like something that should be served warm and immediately after cooking. You could leave that one out, especially since they're pretty time consuming to make and require so much last minute prep. You're already going to be pan frying crab cakes. I'd pick either crab cakes or shrimp and exchange a chicken sate. Both crab cakes and shrimp will take last minute work and you'll be working furiously trying to get both done, especially if you're considering gnocchi. Chicken would be easy to eat and shrimp that needs to be peeled would be hard w/ kids. I would leave grilled vegetables and cucumber mostly because I love vegetables and never get enough.

                I'm just giving suggestions from the way I like to entertain which is almost all of the prep done early so I can enjoy a party and not be exhausted doing last minute cooking. If you enjoy that then the recipes you've chosen sound good...just schedule a nice massage for the day after!

                1. re: chowser

                  I'm a BIG BELIEVER in choosing recipes that can be made beforehand and just put out otherwise I get way too panicky.

                  Although it looks great, I think I'm going to follow yours and other recs to drop the gnocchi. But don't they look fantastic in the pictures!

                  Everybody always loves the peanutty chicken sate things so I'll go with that.

                  Other than the salad, everything will be served at room temperature, because after all, I'm only one person and cooking is work!

              2. One of my favorite cucumber salads. Peel and quarter the cucumber lengthwise then cut into half inch pieces or so (bite size). Add cherry tomatoes or larger tomatoes cut into quarters or eighths, chopped green onion tops, whole or halved kalamata olives, finely sliced basil leaves. Toss with a little EVO and splash of white balsamic vinegar or juice of 1/2 a lemon. Crumble or cube some feta cheese over the top just before serving.

                1. Since everone is concentrating on cucumbers, I thought you might wish to try some cucumber soup shooters instead of another salad. It's easy to make and delicious with Pavel's or Straus' whole milk yogurt, lots of Persian cucumbers, several peeled and pureed with the yogurt and more skin on, chopped into the soup. Other ingredents to be pureed with the yogurt cucmber base are green onions, garlic, lemon zest and juice, an avocado and a small amont of sour cream to balance and of course some salt and fresh dill. Toasted chopped walnuts are a great last minute addition to this refreshing soup. It keeps for days, is beautiful served from a pitcher on ice into tall shot glasses or small clear cups. Just a thought. Your menu looks delicious.

                  1. Another cucumber salad (Japanese and with all due respect to WNYamateur): zebra peel cukes, half both ways, remove seeds and pulp, cut each quarter lengthwise into eighth's; soak in lime juice and soy sauce.