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Cocktail Party for 75 - help

So I am having a party for 75 people. Cocktails and heavy hors d'oeuvres. I am hiring people to serve, bartend etc etc. But I love to cook and want to make some itmes too. What would you make? There is no food allergy issues.

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  1. I just came up with some new ones for NY's Eve. My favorite was Lobster BLT...cut up brioche in small squares, grill till toasty. Top with pesto mayo, arugula leaf, slice of tomato, chunk of lobster meat, square of crispy bacon...it was so good I want to make a whole sandwich of it! I also made potato nests...I cooked then grated the potato, baked it in mini muffin pans, topped with smoked salmon slivers, a little creme fraiche and chopped chives. To make an even more decadent version, I skipped the creme fraiche but put a fried quail egg on top. Also tomato bruschetta on crostini...I like to spread a little boursin cheese on the toasted crostini before topping with the tomato mixture...adds some flavor and also keeps the tomatoes from falling off! I could go on...

    1. I find that a mix of simple things with more time-intensive things makes for a delightful but reasonable spread. For simple stuff, sliced warm sausages (think lamb sausage, different flavors of chicken sausage, etc) with a variety of dipping sauces (curry and mixed herb are good options) make meat-eaters happy with no real work other than slicing and heating the sausage and mixing the dips. Also, I have done what I call antipasti skewers. Get about 6-inch skewers and spread out in front of you small mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, pickled mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sliced salami, olives, etc. Create assorted skewers by piercing four items, mixed and matched. Sprinkle with a faint amount of salt, perhaps serve with pesto for dipping. People can choose skewers that have what they like (ones without salami are great for vegetarians).

      For more time-intensive, a good stuffed mushroom recipe (use your favorite) will double, triple or quadruple well and will reheat well. A good dip - perhaps a caramelized onion dip (just caramelize onions, deglaze with a splash of wine, mixed with cream cheese with a touch of parmesan (or goat cheese), salt and pepper and warmed) - is a nice addition.

      1. The most popular items at my last cocktail party spanned the high-low spectrum: tuna tartare on wonton crisps (i served the tartare in a bowl over ice and the crisps on the side, like a chip and dip) and mini pizzas from pita, tomato sauce mixed with sun-dried tomato tapenade, cheese).


        1. Here are a few recipes I do for such parties. You can make these before hand, freeze them, and then reheat them the night of. The sausage wontons might sound a bit odd, but believe me, they are so tasty, people love them.


          This is the Alain Ducasse recipe many of us have been raving about. Make as many as you like, cook them, let them cool, then freeze them. They reheat wonderfully.

          Note: I use only milk, not milk and water, lots of salt and pepper and a little extra cheese. Sublime.



          This is just wonderful. And very pretty. Can be served both as an appetizer or a salad.

          2 lbs peeled, cooked shrimp
          11/2 cup olive oil
          1 cup red wine vinegar
          4 T chili sauce
          1/2 cup Creole mustard (I like to use a mustard that is NOT smooth; one with peppercorns, for instance
          )1 cup chopped celery
          1 cup chopped green onions
          2 bay leaves
          red pepper

          Mix all the ingredients, except the shrimp, to create the marinade. Add shrimp and marinate shrimp over night in refrigerator.

          Serve with toothpicks in pretty bowl as an appetizer. Be sure to take out of the fridge an hour before to let the marinade ‘unthicken’.


          (If you want to make these ahead of time, freeze them just before the baking stage.)

          1 lb sweet italian sausage
          1/2 cup grated monterey jack cheese
          1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
          1 4oz. can chopped green chilis
          1/2 cup unchuncky salsa (I usually use Pace Medium; be sure to use a chunky version)
          Pre-made won ton wrappers

          - Remove the sausage from the casing and brown in a large skillet, breaking up into small pieces.
          - Drain the fat from the pan and crumble the sausage with a fork even more, if need be
          - Mix in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes.
          - Place one dollop of the mixture in the middle of a won ton wrap. Dab a bit of oil on each of the four corners of the wrap and bring all four corners to the center and press together to enclose the mixture.
          - Repeat for as many servings as you want (This mixture can make anywhere from 30-50 depending on how full you make them) and place them on cookie sheets lined with foil, without them touching.
          - Bake at 350 for ten minutes and serve (you can serve them with sour cream for dipping if you like)

          1. Easy one: balls of ripe cantalope wrapped in prosciutto di parma. My favorite one, that I got off of CH and did over the holidays: Home-made crostini topped w/ a thin slice of mebrillo (quince paste), prosciutto di parma, a shave of manchego & a sprinkle of good olive oil and parsley. So unbelieveably good!

            I often do sausage stuffed mushrooms from Epicurious too. Everyone always raves about these and I used to serve them when I did caterings. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            Good luck and remember to have fun... don't get bogged down in the kitchen, like I always do! I usually end at the end of the night going in my bedrm and lying down for a few minutes periodically... cuz I work too hard!

            1 Reply
            1. re: lynnlato

              This all sounds amazing!! Thanks for all of your good suggestions.

            2. I just did a party for 50 and thanks to some friends suggestions, I didn't do anything that was served individually. It made it a lot easier. I made a red pepper pomegranate dip, hot Creole crab dip, two sides of salmon with an herb sauce, Korean short ribs, Sesame noodles, edaname, spiced nuts, cheeses and cheesecake with raspberry puree for dessert. It was still a lot of work but it went well.

              1. I just had my first caterers for a big reception for a retirement party. I bought the food- heavy hot hors D'ouerves, tons of cheese and crackers, a huge antipasto, veggie trays .(700 bucks worth)., Another person bought the wine and beer and hired the caterers. The caterers served hors dourves beautifully, bartending was superb, but while the speeches were being given, they threw everything but the booze out!
                They said it had been out for 3 hours. We aren't sure if they threw it out or took it but as nobody had discussed this we were out of luck and we were counting on the cheese and crackers for a reception the next morning. Cheese can hang out in a cool room for 3 hours and crackers don't spoil. Be sure to discuss what you want done with the leftover food!

                3 Replies
                  1. re: ginnyhw

                    yeah, sure, the veggies and cheese went bad after three hours!
                    i would have opened a large container of whoop=a**!!!

                    1. re: ginnyhw

                      Not cool. Most reputable caterers would have asked.

                      1. just did a fab NYE party with the following - all could sit room temp + be cool, plus, not crazy to prep etc! also, if plated right, they all look beautiful.

                        spinach balls w/ spicy mustard sauce (hit of the spread)
                        smoked salmon on blinis w/ craime frache
                        bacon/scallop dates
                        chipotle lime shrimp
                        spicy italian sausage bites
                        fancy endives
                        caprese skewers
                        procuitto wrapped breadsticks
                        stuffed mushrooms
                        hoisen chicken bites
                        assorted meats/cheese + crositinis w/ bowl of bruchetta toppings

                        HAVE FUN!!

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: jenniewk

                          If you don't mind telling, what was in the spinach balls? Sound like a nice change from spanakopita.

                          1. re: Gin and It

                            Gin: there are lots of recipes out there, but here's one from my mother that's been around since I'll bet at least the sixties! Tried and True.

                            1 10-oz package, chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
                            1 cup Pep Farm herbed stuffing mix, crushed
                            1/2 cup grated Parmesan
                            2 eggs
                            6 T butter, room temp
                            1/2 t pepper
                            1/8 t ground nutmeg

                            Grind stuffing mix to crumbs. Mix with other ingredients. Roll into bite-sized balls (a tablespoon portion scoop works well). Bake at 350 until firm, 15-20 minutes.

                            Serve with a tomato- or mustard-based dip.

                            1. re: nemo

                              similar spinach parmesan balls. supposedly was one of the host's mom's family recipes -- always requested for family gatherings:

                              two notes:
                              do not substitute butter for the recipe's margarine (spreading/grease factor);
                              can freeze ahead....

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Thanks both nemo and alkapal- I am definitely making these for the Superbowl!

                              2. re: nemo

                                thanks, just made a double batch and they are in the freezer ready for Sunday. When I was trying to narrow down my superbowl list with hubby, he wanted to take them off the menu but i vetoed him. tonight when he sampled a few he was glad I didn't listen to him:) These seem really adaptable, as I was making them I was thinking I could add walnuts, feta, pesto, etc...have you played around with this recipie at all? thanks again!

                                1. re: geminigirl

                                  If I can get my hands on it, I might add bits of crisped guanciale, sub cooked Arborio rice for the breadcrumbs, and dip in egg and roll the breadcumbs on the outside. Maybe spray the outside with olive oil.

                                  1. re: Gin and It

                                    please tell us when you bake them if you used butter or margarine, and how it affected the "spreading/grease" factor....

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      I used Nemo's recipie and I used butter - I wanted the butter flavor vs marj. They maintained their shape perfectly but there was a little butter pooling, not a ton, and it did not affect their texture - they were firm/crunchy, not at all mushy from the bit of butter they were sitting in...and I thought they might make the plate I transfered them to greasy and would have to drain them on a papertowel first, but they were fine from oven to plate without draining. I think I will serve them with the chipotle dip I was going to make anyway...

                                      1. re: geminigirl

                                        thanks for the report -- i, too, would prefer to use butter. glad it worked out fine.

                                        how many did the recipe yield?

                                        now, i want some. problem is, i'd eat half of them, probably! spinach, parm and pepperidge farm stuffing -- you can't beat that combo!

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          I doubled the recipie and got about 45. I just made gougeres and they are setting in the freezer unbaked for Sunday as well, but I will of course have to bake a few tonight and try them out - they were very easy to make so I'm hoping I like them, but then again, they are butter, cheese, eggs and milk...:)

                          2. For NYE I did mini quesadillas- I made the fillings in advance- veggie and chicken- and cut out the tortilla rounds. That night all I had to do was assemble them and bake. I forgot that I had a panini maker which would have made the whole thing faster and easier...

                            In terms of filling- you can do almost anything to fit with the other foods you are serving. Brie and apples, crab dip...

                            1. I would suggest that you not do anything that needs to be assembled ala minute (right before), such as crostini. Those work great if yer a caterer and are hanging out in thte kitchen all night, but if you plan to also enjoy the party, i'd make sure that everything could be done far in advance and just heated for service.

                              In gourmet's 2007 chistmas issue, they had some neat ideas for sushi-like appetizers using procuitto, green beans, thinly sliced carrots and the like. They all looked fabulous and would allow you to do the prepwork ahead of time.

                              1. how formal is this party?

                                1. For "heavy" hors d'oeuvres in addition to the wonderful suggestions you have already received I would also serve a few pasta dishes that could serve as dinner for the participants. Something like penne and pink/vodka sauce with green peas for the vegetarians in your group -you can also add sausage ( like turkey sausage for this) or procuitto for a non-vegetarian group.

                                  Another option is based on a traditional Italian dish, but I lost the original recipe so we just call it "pasta and bacon". Serve with an interesting pasta shape such as fusilli, rolitini, cirali or chioccoile.

                                  Pasta and bacon:
                                  1 tablespoon olive oil
                                  6 to 8 slices bacon chopped
                                  one large onion roughly chopped
                                  1 to 2 teaspoons dried basil
                                  1/2 to 1 teaspoons hot pepper flakes (depending on taste)
                                  1/2 cup white wine
                                  28 ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes.
                                  Salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper

                                  Heat pan over medium high, add olive oil and heat. When oil is hot add bacon and cook, stirring often until it starts to turn brown. Add chopped onion. Cook onion and bacon, until onion begins to brown 7 or 8 minutes. Add dried basil and pepper flakes, stir. Add white wine and cook for a minute. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour. Add salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to tastes. Top with fresh basil. This recipe covers a pound of pasta, double more for more people.

                                  1. I like the look of the presentation for this one:


                                    And these!:


                                    I tried something like this at a fundraiser restaurant tasting menu thing:


                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: im_nomad


                                      the lentils "spoons": don't people have a hard time eating them? don't they have to stick out their tongue to lick the contents? doesn't seem like the lentils would "flow" from the spoon.

                                      second, vanilla with shrimp? tell us about that....

                                      finally, on the eggplant dip, have you tried cilantro with eggplant? just curious!

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        no different than eating wonton soup with the same spoons (i'm pretty sure that's what they are)..but i'm sure it could be presented in an easier manner.

                                        as for the vanilla shrimp, yes it was a lovely combo when i tasted it, but i was far more wowed by the lobster with white chocolate sauce at the same tasting....just haven't found a similar recipe for it yet :(

                                        hmm eggplant and cilantro..not sure....but i did just buy both at the grocery store, do tell !!