Need help with inspiration for a party menu [Moved from Manhattan board]
I hope this isn't too off-topic, but I need my foodie friends' help. We are throwing our 10th anniversary party. Having 40 people for an open house with bluegrass band. Atypically, I have no inspiration for what we should serve. It will be from 5-9pm. Cocktails and champagne. Since it's fairly large I don't want to go overboard on food costs. Can prepare food or buy prepared. Any menu ideas will be gratefully accepted. Thanks!
We've moved this thread here to help the poster get general help with her menu planning.
mrsseigerman - if you are interested in specific recommendations for prepared foods available in Manhattan, you are welcome to repost there, and if you end up wanting some recipes, please post on the Home Cooking board.
Get a very large whole ham. Bake it. Use a glaze if you like. Slice a bit of it and then put a knife there so people can slice their own as the party progresses. I'm assuming a bit of informality since you are having a bluegrass band. People think it's sort of fun to whack at a large piece of meat. Make (or arrange to have made) small biscuits or rolls for the ham and put out a selection of mustards and relishes to go with the ham.
I suggest Burgers Country Smokehouse City Ham. The leftover bone makes the best beans or soup you'll ever have. They also have fabulous smoked turkeys. I've ordered both for parties and they are the easiest things in the world for successful events.
Bluegrass music, absolutely your menu suggestions are spot on. I'd make a fancy hoecake laced with greens and bacon and smear it with a cream cheese and relish. Hand pies, and Ozark pudding. Cat head biscuits with butter and honey, Stuffed Mirlitons, fresh string beans. And for dessert a caramel cake with caramel frosting.
Mint julep martinis!
I love to do a *huge* antipasto plattter with a variety of salty, cured meats (ham, prosciutto, cappicola, salami), cheeses, olives, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, cooked shrimp, roasted red peppers, etc. Serve with a nice loaf of crusty bread and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side. I've also served a crockpot full of meatballs in red sauce with some nice rolls for sandwiches--kind of casual, but easy and cheap. Chili is also a good choice for the crockpot. This past weekend I went to a party where they served a big ol' vat of homemade mac 'n cheese. That was really good, too. You definitely want something that people feel comfortable going back to after it has sat out for awhile if you are not going to keep it heated the whole time
I would specifically *not* do that for your anniversary. I think there are few things as gauche as a party hosted by someone visibly uncomfortable without their Yankees cap and #1 Finger where the only thing on offer is "mootzadell," "gabagoo" and various other "classy" cold cuts. Anything that has to be described as "classy" usually is not.
If you're having a bluegrass band (which I love!) why not stick to a classic Americana theme? ChefChicklet and MakingSense have great suggestions. Some other economical ideas include:
Mini ham biscuits
Mini po' boys
Sweet potato puffs
Mini corn cakes with crumbled sausage "caviar"
Cheese platters are also a great way to please a crowd with minimal fuss
buy those spinach feta pies from trader joe's or costco or sam's or the like... defrost, bake, slice, serve :-)
cheese platter is also easily in order
nice platter of a variety of roasted parmesan vegetables
meatballs w/ dipping sauces... sweet'n'sour, marinara, etc.
deviled eggs (just so classic)
baguettes spread w/ different spreads, then baked or broiled and sliced... i.e. bell peppers, goat cheese and basil; or, tomatoes, basil, balsamic, and garlic, etc.
cherry tomatoes stuffed
Thanks everyone. Great suggestions. We're going to go with the ham and little rolls or biscuits, relishes, olives, cheeses, deviled eggs, a potato pesto salad, green beans, and if we find them I'll pick up some spinach feta pies especially for our veggie friends. Very much appreciated. That made my life easier.
I will again recommend Burgers Smokehouse City Hams. I've used this company for years and many people on Chowhound swear by them as well. They'll UPS that ham right to your doorstep, ready to eat or you can pop it right into the oven if you want to serve it warm. You can get them spiral sliced or unsliced. I usually skip the glaze because the ham has terrific flavor just naked.
Honestly, the best party hams I have ever bought.