wedding menu help
I am getting married soon and I am on a limited budget- it is a lunch buffet we'll be serving with appetizers. Can anyone suggest menu items I can give to the caterer that would be less costly? I am thinking a California fresh type menu. Since we have a lot of guests from out of town it would be nice to show off some of the local fare.
I would recommend giving your budget to the caterer and asking them what they could provide within that budget. They would have a better idea of what costs them more or less to produce. Plus, if there is another event that weekend (or that night), you may get a discount for choosing the same appetizers as the other clients. You can really get some high end items for a lower cost because their staff is already preparing them and has the ingredients on hand.
One of my various kitchen jobs was as second cook for a caterer. My wife and I did our own wedding, so cost was a consideration. We had a couple of nice roasts as a slicing station. An assortment of locally made bread, well grilled local vegetables etc... it went over superbly and all our friends said it was the best wedding they had ever been to.
Depends on the season...if by soon you mean early spring, stuffed mushrooms or something with asparagus would be seasonal and fun. Baby greens are also a good early-spring seasonal, as are baby peas. Fresh spring peas and mint make a lovely, elegant soup.
If you're looking more at late winter, beets (red and golden) have a lot of possibilities, great visual appeal, and cheap, too. Winter squashes like butternut, acorn, buttercup, turban, and delicata have a variety of looks and tastes and are inexpensive through the winter. Also consider parsnips, either sauteed/roasted with another, prettier winter vegetable, in a mash with potatoes and/or carrots, or as chips with beets, carrots, and/or squashes sprinkled with good herbs.
Bread is always cheap--consider crostini with something seasonal like garlic and kale, balsamic-herb mushrooms, white bean spread with rosemary, or asparagus and parmesan. It's not too much more expensive to stuff puff pastry with similar ingredients. Spanikopita is simply spinach, feta, and onions in phyllo. A little good applewood bacon or prosciutto, and/or a little flavorful cheese like a good parmegiano would really make any winter/early spring root veggie or greens a real stand-out. It's easy to make amazing ravioli with super-cheap wontons, seasonal veggies (squash, asparagus, spring peas, baby spinach), a little cheese (feta, parmesan, ricotta), and a simple cream sauce. Polenta is also a cheap base for a variety of flavors. Fresh rosemary and/or sage make any winter dish stand out. Mint, flat-leaf parsley, watercress, and arugula are going to give a more spring-like flavor.
Late winter is also good for citrus in California. Orange-cornmeal cake, greens with citrus dressing, even just pretty-and-edible satsumas in the centerpieces, lots of possibilities.