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Buffet Dinner Party Suggestions?

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I am having 12 - 14 for dinner next weekend. Since my table won't hold that many I want to do a buffet that does not require knives. The age range is 1 - 70 with all adults except the 1 yo. I'm thinking of beef bourguinon(sp?), Ina Garten's chicken pot pie or paella. Paella usually requires a knife and shells etc. can be messy. I have dessert covered. It's the main course and the accompaniments that have me flummoxed. Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

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  1. I'd start with an easy appetizer that you can prepare ahead. The most popular is pigs in a blanket (liitle sausages wrapped in crescent roll dough) and belgian endive with a olive dip .

    You are right that you want to make a stewed dish that is not tempermental. Beef Bourguinion is a good choice. Paella is way too expensive and time consuming. I'd go with the beef . Serve it with a crusty bread and a simply tossed leafy green salad, It could be as simple as fresh leaf lettuce, bits of dried bread and fresh garlic with a vinegrette.

    Just keep it simple.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ditsyquoin

      Here's an idea - macaroni & cheese. I went to a retro dinner party and this was a big a hit with everyone. You could make two a classic and a "gourmet" version with more adult ingredients like stronger cheese, prosciutto or lobster. For sides a mixed green salad and either green beans with bacon and shallots or brussel sprouts with bacon and garlic.

      1. re: chai

        Hey chai,

        I was going to suggest a mac n cheese and retro is definately the way to go. I'm just wondering how big her sideboard is. If it's the firehouse, 3 varieties of mac will fit. I doubt that a bland version is needed for the one year old but it might be nice for elders-something easy to eat without stuff getting caught in your teeth.

    2. a good lasagna with great veggies, or just a hearty meat sauce...

      chili and cornbread with the usual toppings...

      or do something that is interactive but better without knives and silverware... do a burrito bar! [or a taco bar]

      for apps, i'd do something simple like toast crisps topped with melted cheese and maybe a sundried tomato piece. or spinach artichoke dip served with toasts triangles. you could also do little bited sized cubes of melon wrapped in prosciutto.

      1. My usual meal for this kind of dinner is an offering of coucous (often with apricots and almonds mixed in) a North African vegatable stew (mostly butternut squash, chickpeas and swiss chard flavored with cinnamon and other spices) and a chicken stew similar to but a tangine but not authentic morrocan. This covers vegetarians as well.
        I make the 2 stews ahead, and prepare the mix-ins for the coucous ahead . I have gone out for an event and come home with my guests and we are eating within minutes.
        I also serve a few french bistro non-lettuce style salads with it, A beet, a carrot and a celeric as these can be made ahead and do hold up well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Stuffed Monkey

          I'm currently planning a casual dinner party (about 25 people) and I like the idea of a Moroccan-type stew. My only hesitation is that I don't know everyone's tastes. Morocccan may be too adventurous for some. Do you have recipes for the Moroccan and non-Moroccan stews that you could point me to? Thanks!

        2. I'm doing exactly the same thing this coming Monday. I decided on a Boeuf Bourguinon with buttered noodles and peas. I'll have 12 for dinner, but 15 for drinks and hors d'oeuvres (three have to catch a train). I wanted to make a nibble sufficiently substantial to tide them over until they get home, so I'm going to make a pissaladiere. It's do-ahead finger food, can be cut small or large, will travel if they want to take some with them, and it's always very well received.

          1. Great suggestions so far. Love the chicken pot pie idea. If you do the beef bourguignon, suggest serving it over mashed potatoes.

            1. Thanks for all the responses. I particularly like the couscous idea with the chicken tagine. That said, I might do the beef bourguinon and macaroni and cheese. I'll let you know what I do. Thanks again.

              1. Paella *never* requires a knife. Traditionally It is all cut into bite-sized pieces. I'd make a Chicken Pot Pie on one side and a Shepherds' pie on the other. If you like that sort of things. My personal preference for parties of this size is to make half a dozen different appetizers and a "carving" - a turkey, ham, beef roast, etc. with dinner rolls to make mini-sandwiches Those meat pies and things like Mac 'n' cheese will end up in your carpet because people can't sit normally to eat them. Finger foods are far better from my professional experience. I'd do something like puff pastry empanadas or Chinese style potstickers/dumplings, bacon wrapped water chestnut rumaki, pigs in blankets, stuffed pepper boats, lion's head rice-coated meatballs, that sort of thing, an then a ham or turkey breast with a couple great sauces for the carving.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KiltedCook

                  I had a mac and cheese party, it was fun... I did a Mexican mac and cheese which was a big hit, regular and a crab. All three a bit different, all good, then I did some traditional sides. I did a brocolli raab which is good hot or room temp had another side of some roasted vegetables, mushrooms squash etc. Then did 3 salads to match the mac and cheese. I grilled some romaine heads and served with some chopped bacon and blue cheese dressing, also did a caesar (a favorite with people) then a more traditional but made with a citrus balsamic vinaigrette, some cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese and some traditional veggies.

                  I made a simple shrimp salad and stuffed it in lettuce leaves for an appetizer, also simple skewers of marinated chicken and another of beef, just 1 or 2 bites each. Very easy, just marinated them overnight and then grilled them. Hot or room temp. Did marinaded olives in vodka, Cresent roll stuffed with sausage and pesto and baked, served room temp can be made ahead, just slice in 2-3 pieces.

                  Thats my idea, NO knives. You can even decorate with retro decor with the mac and cheese theme.
                  The party was a hit.

                2. i'm thinking of doing a Rainman party... where everything gets eaten with toothpicks... everything in toothpick stabbable bites :) -- savory miniwaffles filled with herbs and cheese, mini cherry tomatoes wrapped in a basil leaf and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, fish sticks/nuggets, petit fours, tea sandwiches, etc. then have Rainman playing in the background :)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Emme

                    Just to add to the movie titles, you could also "honor" the film Mermaids with Cher and Winona Ryder. Cher is the unorthodox mom.....and Ryder's character, at one point, says "I wish we could have a meal that didn't have toothpicks in it."

                    1. re: Emme

                      Try my stuffed grape tomatoes with goat cheese and proscuitto, recipe on chow. They are alot of fun and easy, stick on a tooth pick and you are good to go, however I eat tomatoes however they are done, :) Enjoy your party!

                    2. Beanodc please give us an update after the party. Would be interested to know what you did and how it worked out. I enjoyed this post - losts of good ideas.

                      1. I'd just like to slip in a plug for Ina Garten's Beef Bourguinion as well. It's absolutely delicious and dead easy to do. It's here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

                        We served it to guests over Christmas and they loved it. Plus it tastes even better if you make it ahead.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: SSqwerty

                          Ditto on that, nice recipe and easy and tasty. Even better later. I do made it during the holidays and will make again

                        2. Wanted to give you an update. We had paella with everything boneless and in small pieces. It was delicious. Green salad with fennel, carrot ribbons, oranges, pine nuts. and a citrus mustard vinagrette. White and whole grain french bread. Appetizers were olives and marcona almonds, hot artichoke cheese spread from Chowhound, mini crab cakes and scallops wrapped in bacon from Costco. Cupcakes for dessert - coconut, red velvet and cheesecake with lemon curd. Everything was delicious except for the red velvet cupcakes that were pretty dry. Thanks for all the suggestions.