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Preparing for cocktail party

Hoping you guys can help me. I'm trying to prepare as much as possible the night before the party and I'm wondering on a couple of specific things.

1. Lotus root chip - If I fry this the night before, will it get soggy the day after?

2. Chilled soup (I'm thinking pea) - How long do you think it'll be okay sitting at room temperature? (Real estate in the fridge is an issue)

3. Quail Eggs - Are they very hard to work with? I always have a hard time peeling boiled eggs. They always end up looking mangled.

4. Cheese plate - Does it make sense to serve at the beginning of a party or at then end with fruit?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I'm not sure about lotus root as I've never worked with it but if it has as much starch as a potato or Yuca, if you fry them well and drain completely, they should be okay in a zip top bag. The pea soup will be okay at room temperature but if you want it chilled, you can place your bowl or pitchers of it in an ice bowl or cooler

    I'd serve the cheese plate at the end with fruit if that's the only sweet component of the meal. Quail eggs, are you boiling them? If so, it helps to add salt to the water

    1. I just made Scotch Eggs last night using Quail Eggs. http://cookwithcare.blogspot.com/2009...
      (Funny b/c my sister and I just had the discussion regarding the difficulty of peeling quail eggs this morning.) It was a pain but I got better as I went along... She said the trick is IMMEDIATELY after you boil them, drain them, put them back in the pot and then shake it around so the shells crack and then they're easier to peel. ?? (Never tried this...but you may want to give it a try!)

      1 Reply
      1. re: care11

        I'll try the shaking thing, thanks!! I'll buy an extra dozen just in case a few become messy!

      2. Let me just put in this word: It may be that all of my friends are just slobs, but I have never known guests at a cocktail party to go for the fancy stuff as enthusiastically as they go for the plain & simple stuff. My best thing to serve at a big party is always a baked ham (or buy a cooked spiral cut) and warm it through) and put it out with a basket of tiny rolls split nearly through and several different kinds of mustard and a sharp knife---people make their own miniature sandwiches. Or a big pile of shrimp and some dipping sauce. Or a big pile of vegetables for the non-ham and non-shrimp people. Little bitty new potatoes, served hot, and stuff to roll them around in (sour cream, chopped chives, grated Parmesan, crumbled bacon). If you're near a Trader Joe's, their exquisite frozen pineapple (with toothpicks). Retro things like devilled eggs and cheese-stuffed celery. Those have been what I have seen guests gobble first, while the exotically crafted things that took me two days to make are left.

        23 Replies
        1. re: Querencia

          I completely agree with you. Also OP said it's a cocktail party but then asked about serving cheese at the end with fruit. That made it sound like a dinner party. I'd have everything out the entire time probably and refill as necessary.

          1. re: c oliver

            it is a cocktail pary with just appetizers. I was trying to come up with things that doesn't require cutlery and can easily be eaten standing up as the party will be standing room only. I actually thought about doing a ham but again, I don't know how well that will work with so many people. This started out as an intimate holiday party and I was planning on doing a brisket and turkey and it got completely out of control!

            I like the ideas of the potatoes, I think I'll add that to the menu. Thanks!

            1. re: hotsauce28

              So how many people are you talking about? I'd think trying to do the little potatoes or anything else of that ilk and keeping it hot could be problem. If a turkey or a ham or a brisket are going to be problems, then I think big platters of "stuff" are the way to go.

              1. re: c oliver

                40 plus.. and still some looking for baby sitters =)
                Most of the menu is fairly simple. Edamame, cheese plate, charcuterie plate, couple of pates. quail eggs/caviar, shrimp ceviche.. I was also thinking of doing the chilled soup in shotglasses.
                Too much or not enough??

                1. re: hotsauce28

                  IMO it's not the number of dishes but how much of each you need to have. And on the very few occasions I've had that many I've erred big time on the "aggressive" side. Better to have TONS of leftovers than to not have enough. That's why some kind of "joint" of meat and breads is good. Also what time of day? I assume early evening but how early? Is this going to substitute for dinner or just a snack before going out to dinner? And chilled pea soup? I got deleted for saying that a particular dish didn't sing to me but a chilled pea soup in the winter wouldn't be high on my list. Not trying to shoot down that dish just giving my opinion. (Lordy, it difficult to please CH powers and still be helpful!) I'd still go with a big hunk of meat with small rolls and then do all the other things. No more work and you're covered and not a lot more money.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    LOL! I think I saw that thread yesterday! I thought because of the green in the soup, it might be a bit festive.. maybe it should be tomato? =)

                    Party starts at 7:30 so dinner-ish. I always end up with leftovers but I also have friends that bring their own tupperware to a party.
                    I don't mind the food being labour intensive, I actually enjoy it. The only thing is, I want as much done as possible the night before so I'm out of the kitchen during the party.

                    1. re: hotsauce28

                      With 40 people, why not a hot soup in a slow cooker? I wouldn't dream of doing quail eggs for that many people and I'm pretty masochistic :) I think everything you have in mind sounds terrific. But to do it for that many people? Not for me but I'm pretty old!

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I'm such a moron. I just bought a slow cooker last week. =)
                        Thanks for your suggestions!
                        And as for the quail eggs, I've recruited some friends to help peel. It should be okay to cook and peel the night before, yes? Then I'll just cut and put a drop of caviar just before serving.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          i agree about having a warm soup. chilled pea just sings spring to me.

                          the lotus root will last overnight if you fry it very crispy.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            awesome, thanks!! I was concerned about the grease smell in the house if I fried the day of.

                            any warm soup suggestions? it'll be in shot glasses so nothing "chunky". And tomato soup is kind of blah..

                            i suck at this!

                            1. re: hotsauce28

                              How about Bullshots ... I saw this recipe on line but we used to make these drinks using Beefamato - a tomato juice and beef broth cocktail juice. All I see now in the stores is Clamato Juice.

                              * 8 cupsBeef Broth (regular, Lower Sodium or Certified Organic)
                              * 4 cups (32 fl. oz.) V8® 100% Vegetable Juice
                              * 1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
                              * 1 cup (8 fl. oz.) vodka

                              Serve hot or cold.

                              1. re: hotsauce28

                                mushroom or sweet potato, or potato leek. garlic almond is good too.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  those sound good, but difficult to consume in a shot glass. too thick!

                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                    The problem w/ hot soup in a shot glass is the glass will also get hot and hard to handle. And, if it sits out, will cool quickly.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Better than shot glasses. I thought the OP had shot glasses and wanted to use them. I'm trying to think if there's a way to keep soup warm in small cups like that during a cocktail party without overheating the serving cup. I'd probably just use the crockpot and let people serve themselves. Maybe save the shot glasses for single servings of shrimp cocktails or bloody mary shots.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          ya, i just went out and bought 50 shot glasses. =)
                                          Maybe i can use them for the ceviche.. The Chinese tea cup idea is cute but what do I do with 50 of them after the party? =\

                                          1. re: hotsauce28

                                            Warnings about shot glasses: they're a real nuisance at big parties unless you have waiters. It's hard for guests to ladle soup into something so tiny.
                                            I have a big collection of them (pretty, vintage, tacky souvenirs, etc.) that I use for oyster shooters with a bowl right next to them on the table for used ones. When I tried using them for other foods, and at bigger parties, people carried them away from the buffet table and we were finding them for a week - under chairs, behind radiators, on bookshelves.
                                            It really sounded like a lot better idea than it turned out. Some people also weren't comfortable just knocking something back from the shot glasses.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              I don't have a "waiter" but I have a lady coming to help me dish out the food. And I have an oyster shucker come in but I doubt he'll be too thrilled if i asked him to put them in shotglasses. =)

                                              Well.. if the soup doesn't work, I guess we'll by some tequila.

                                              1. re: hotsauce28

                                                Lucky you to have an oyster shucker. Nope. Not in shot glasses! I get the guys at the dock to open a bushel and then I can stick them in the shot glasses.

                                                The only comment I would make is that you might has too many different things. When I do parties myself, I follow the Rule of Five: five things, two hot, three cold. A major item like a roast or ham that is partially sliced, served with buns or biscuits, and something in a chafing dish. Then three things on trays. I have second trays of the cold things as back-up so that when the first trays look like the vultures have gotten them, I can switch them out. When the second trays get low, I replinish from the leftovers from the first trays. Nothing ever looks too shabby that way.
                                                Even when I have help or caterers, I stick to a limited number of things. Never more than 6 or so. Some light, some hearty.
                                                And always, always something sweet like cookies, small brownies, or petit fours. Gotta have some sugar!

                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  It's too much? Part of the problem is that I have both carnivores and herbivores as guest. I wanted to make sure both groups were well fed..

                                                  As for sugars, it's poison! =)
                                                  I don't keep it in the house so it's the only thing I'm asking guests to bring, if they want.

                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                    Great idea, the Rule of Five. I'm going to keep that in mind this holiday season.

                                  2. re: hotsauce28

                                    How about onion soup with a bowl of very cheesy small croutons next to it?

                2. I have never done lotus root, but I have never found fried things to sit well, they always seem better when freshly fried.
                  I second the idea of a bowl of soup on a bowl of ice. Also, coolers are great and can be hidden away in another room, then refill the bowl on ice from container stored in cooler.
                  Peeling boiled eggs - supposedly easier if you take them out of the hot water & plunge in cold water immediately.
                  If the fruit is dessert, I would pair it with the cheese. If you have sweet desserts, I'd put it out first.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: elfcook

                    Ina Garten advocates making potato chips ahead and then reheating/recrisping in the oven before serving. Maybe that would work with lotus chips as well?

                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                      Yes, I think I'll definately make the chip ahead of time. If it doesn't work, oh well... I just feed the people more booze so they don't notice.

                      1. re: hotsauce28

                        "I just feed the people more booze so they don't notice."

                        Always an excellent policy. ;-}

                          1. re: hotsauce28

                            And you have the 50 shotglasses now, too!

                            1. re: chowser

                              what if i scrap the soup in shot glass idea and instead use pomegranate seeds "marinated" in vodka in them instead? Do you think that would work?
                              Mix in some mint leaves for a nice Christmasy look?

                              this party is going to be the death of me.

                              1. re: hotsauce28

                                I don't think many people want a straight shot of vodka plus it could be a problem keeping it cold and, if not cold, hardly anyone wants a shot of vodka :)

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  i think you and i have completely different friends. mine will drink nail polish remover if it was in a martini glass with an olive. =)

                                2. re: hotsauce28

                                  This idea has potential. Know what would look nice? A pretty glass pitcher filled with your homemade pomegranate-cranberry vodka, garnished with mint leaves, set in a big bowl of ice. Your shot glasses on a silver tray to the side. Maybe some highball glasses, too, and soda/tonic water. This way, your vodka stays chilled.

                                  I think you'd be wise to avoid shots of soup, for all the reasons mentioned above.

                                  1. re: hotsauce28

                                    So use the shot glasses as shot glasses?;-) Your idea would be pretty. My concern would be doing shots with choking hazards in them (pomegranate seeds), especially if someone has had more than one. What about something you'd sip and not throw back?

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Yes, shot glasses as shot glasses. Genius I am. =)
                                      Chocking hazards?? You guys think of everything! LOL!
                                      I'm thinking more vodka flavored pomegranate rather than pomegranate flavoured vodka. I have a bunch of little spoons.. I like where this is going.. It'll be gorgeous on a silver platter and ice!

                                      1. re: hotsauce28

                                        The chowhound's version of Jello shots... ;)

                      2. I've found that people really go for small Thai shrimp salad rolls. Cut them on the diagonal and stand upwards on a pretty plate. You can put the dipping sauce in the middle with a small spoon, or you can put a little sauce in each roll. I cook the rice noodles in shrimp stock to give them more flavor. I put mint and cilantro in each roll with really pretty red lettuce leaves.

                        They look really beautiful and appealing. They are labor intensive though.

                        For parties I usually have a ice chest a day or so before hand to keep things cold that don't fit in the refrigerator. I put the less critical stuff in the ice chest.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Rhee

                          that sounds like a lot of work! but pretty!

                          1. re: Rhee

                            i always hope for very cold weather and put stuff on my deck. i am amazed the seagulls have yet to carry anything away after 4 winters of parties here, lol.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              my facebook status yesterday: "my balcony is like a walk-in fridge..awesome!"

                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                lol. yeah if only i could rig hooks and hang stuff for more storage!

                          2. If you're looking for another protein, this Bloody Mary shrimp cocktail recipe is fantastic and easy:


                            My only change is to use cocktail sauce instead of ketchup (ick). I've served this in Chinese soup spoons and also in a Belgian endive leaf. People love it.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: TorontoJo

                              That would probably work in the shot glasses, too.

                              1. re: chowser

                                Yes, absolutely. And with this recipe, you'd get an appetizer and vodka all in one!

                                1. re: TorontoJo

                                  that looks delish :)~ I think I'll do this at my next brunch!