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Feb 8, 2010 08:53 AM

Open House Menu Ideas (noon-6pm)

My friends are moving to China (form LA) for a year and I've offered to help cater an open house/going away party for them. They aren't exactly sure how many people will be there - but posted on FaceBook they are having an open house from noon-6pm and for people to stop by.

I definitely plan to do a cheese platter, some charcuterie, probably roasted nuts with rosemary, maybe marinated olives. Wanted to have some other nibbles that I could leave out for an extended time or be able to serve at room temp and keep replenishing throughout the day. Maybe smoked salmon on cucumbers with some creme fraiche? I can get my hands on salmon roe so I could do something with that or a tuna tarter. For sweets, Giada made some fudge with cinnamon recently that looked pretty yummy (and easy) so am considering that.

Probably serve bellini's/mimosa's and bloody mary's and/or maybe a big pitcher of sangria.

I don't think I want to do a Chinese theme as I am not real familiar with cooking this style.

Thanks in advance for your ideas.

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  1. I am sure you will get tons of responses, so I will just offer the first one that comes to mind. Why don't you set up a "crostini bar" and have the crostini available with 3 or 4 different possible toppings?

    You might also stop by a Mediterranean market and get some dolmades (stuff grape leaves) which can be served at room temperature.

    You might want to order your sweets from which in, IMO, offers very attractive prices for amazing quality.

    And, I know these hors d'œuvres are not very Chow-like, but the vast majority of party-goers can't ever seem to get enough of either "pigs in a blanket" or deviled eggs, simple and comforting though they are.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tehama

      Thank you for the ideas. Love the idea of a crostini bar and think I will do that.

    2. If you want a heavier variation on the salmon, it's also great on halved, roasted new potatoes w/ creme fraiche, chives, and a quick grind of salt. These keep pretty well as long as most are refrigerated and plated as needed. I'm also a big fan of hummus with above-average crudite (grilled/steamed asparagus/broccoli, red/yellow/orange peppers, grilled flatbread, etc.).

      On the sweets front, I have used a couple of variations on small, relatively delicate cookies (gingersnaps and Maida Heatter's triple chocolate) cookies. You can freeze the dough balls weeks in advance and bake that morning or even to order, depending on the pace of your day. You just throw them on sheets of parchment on cookie sheets for about 12 min. and they're ready.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sholli

        I love the idea of using roasted new potatoes with smoked salmon. Thanks for the suggestion - I am going to steal it :-)

        1. re: Obessed

          I make the smoked salmon & creme fraiche on kettle chips garnished with a snip of chive. So easy and delicious.

          You may want to make a savory tart or two that can be served room temp and cut into skinny wedges or squares. Everyone raves about my leek tart, which is basically caramelized leeks, custard and gruyere on puff pastry. Very easy to make, even can be made ahead, frozen and baked from freezer.

          If she posted the invite on Facebook, you might want to look at how many friends they have, those type of invites tend to get out of hand. To be prepared, I'd have a roasted ham or leg of lamb ready to go. sliced with biscuits or pita triangles, and accompaniments to whichever. Goes over well at large buffets, delicious at room temp, and leftovers can be used a variety of ways.

      2. One thing that always goes over well and can sit out is Greek salad stuffed into tomatoes. I cut the tops off of cherry or halve small romas and then scoop out and discard the pulp (although the pulp can be milled for part of the dressing) with a small measuring spoon. I deseed and chop fine cucumbers usually English; as well as red onion and some Kalamata olive and let them hang out in the dressing while I'm prepping the tomatoes or overnight. If using store bought dressing I usually doctor it with some lemon zest and maybe a bit of lemon juice. I then use a slotted spoon to fill the tomatoes and then top with a sprinkle of crumbled feta or a sliver of feta. Easy, gorgeous and never lasts.

        6 Replies
        1. re: just_M

          These are such great ideas - love the tart idea and the salad stuffed tomatoes. I will start experimenting this weekend; my hubbie is a good guinea pig :-)

          1. re: Obessed

            Just let me know if you want the recipe, it's an old French restaurant's but it is pretty simple and super tasty.

            Have fun experimenting!!

            1. re: Phurstluv

              I'd love the tart recipe -- thanks so much! I think I'm going to do a crustless quiche (with leeks & goat cheese) for this party as one of the hosts can't have gluten so that eliminates puffed pastry. But I will definitely try it in the future - sounds delish!

              1. re: Obessed

                Happy to oblige:

                Tarte de Poireaux
                Serves 8.

                8 Leeks
                4 Onions
                4 Tbsp butter
                2 Eggs
                ¼ cup Heavy cream
                1 Cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
                Salt and pepper

                Line tarte pan with puff pastry and prebake.

                Wash leeks well. Thinly slice leeks and onions. Melt butter and sautee leeks and onions, cooking until lightly browned. Make custard by mixing eggs and cream. Fill shell with leek mixture and season with salt & pepper. Pour into custard and top with cheese.

                Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes.

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  Thanks - I'll definitely give it a try.

            2. re: Obessed

              Have a great, stress free send off. Husbands are the perfect guinea pigs with the bonus that they love it!

          2. Any sweet or savory filling (jams, spread or salad) in a puff-pastry "sandwich". Obviously, you don't want anything in the filling that would be perishable. They're tray stackable for serving and manageable as finger food.

            Cut puff pastry into about 1-1/2" inch rounds (just enough for a couple of bites), bake, split and add spread, meats, cheeses, salads, jams - Garnish.

            1 Reply
            1. re: CocoaNut

              Baked potato and egg frittata with a little cheese, sundried tomato, diced ham & peas is a favorite here.

              If it's a smaller group, I start it off by frying the potato slices on the stovetop in by biggest cast iron fry pan. If it's a big group, I start by roasting the potato slices in olive oil in a big heavy lasagna pan in the oven.

              Then i toss in the ham and other stuff with some rosemary or oregano, and pour the egg, milk, and nutmeg batter on top until the everything is covered. Top with a little shredded cheese and parmesean. Bake until eggs are set.

              It's good cut into thick 2" x 2" squares warm out of the oven or cold the next day.