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Heavy Appetizers for a Jewish Organization Event

Catering an event for about 30 people for a planning meeting for a local synogogue. I am not Jewish and therefore do not have a kosher kitchen. A couple of the people attending the event keep kosher, so the menu is restricted to what these people can eat. I'm confused by this since I thought if someone kept kosher, all food had to be prepared in a kosher kitchen.

Here are the parameters my client gave me:

No shellfish
No pork
Cheese is OK only if there is no meat

Of course, the obvious choice is salmon. But it's not a sit down meal. And it all needs to be finger food (no utensils). Help!

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  1. Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs
    http://www.food52.com/recipes/3938_sm...
    or smoked salmon:
    http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/...

    1. mini potato pancakes

      1. It sounds as if everyone is okay with kosher by ingredient.
        I strongly suggest going dairy/fish, and avoiding meat and poultry altogether. It will make your life much much easier. Since it will (may? maybe it's in someone's home?) be held in a synagogue, please clarify one last time if it's permissable to cook the food in your own kitchen and plate it on your serving pieces, or if must be prepared at the synagogue itself, using their utensils and equipment.

        Things I might do, depending on the time of day and the season, include: a Mediteranean mezze, including hummus, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, baba ghanoush, pita, olives, pickles, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes; pasta salad or other grain salad, like quinoa or farro or barley; a cold poached salmon and a yogurt sauce on the side; a soup (hot or cold) served in small cups; a cheese platter with crackers, fruit and nuts; smoked salmon and possibly other smoked fish, with cream cheese or creme fraiche, onions, capers and chopped egg, served with small squares of rye bread or with mini bagels; grilled/roasted vegetables; .

        I guess many of these require a fork, but not much more than that. If you really can't do forks, then definitely think toward what can be skewered (tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with a drizzle of pesto) or served in an endive cup, or on top of bread like a canape, things you can stuff in a small pita, or the like.

        And some sort of dessert platter, probably assorted cookies, brownies and fruit.

        2 Replies
        1. re: milklady

          I will be cooking in my own kitchen, as well as in the (non-kosher) kitchen of the host. The guests are aware of this.

          Love love love the ideas. And I agree - I'm going to stick with the fish/dairy thing. Keep them coming!

          1. re: steelykal

            assorted knishes, savory kuges in squares

        2. If there are strict kosher people attending , every single ingredient needs to be made in a kosher kitchen, and every ingredient needs to be kosher. Cheese included. Even the soap needs to be kosher! You better talk to the hosting client/ organization and get very clear instructions.

          If you cook something in a non-kosher kitchen, it won't be acceptable. There are dozens of subtleties and nuances to kosher cooking and excpectations of what is and is not kosher.

          You need to get very clear instructions -- is this a kosher event or not.

          9 Replies
          1. re: cheesehead in recovery

            Absolutely correct! But what about chopped liver, smoked fish, etc?

            1. re: Joebob

              <edit> you may want to re-post this over on the Kosher board (it's in the Topical section)

            2. re: cheesehead in recovery

              and many people have their own definition of what rules they are willing to bend or not.I know more than a few folks that are OK as long as the ingredients aren't complete treyfh so I keep it parve-ish and then again some that keep strict (they don't get to go out much) as far as I'm aware the dairy and meat restriction is the ban on even possibly eating meat cooked in the mother's milk. hence no cheeseburgers. now the kitchen issue is the big one and your clients must be aware that separate stoves, fridges and dishes are either there or not.

              so yeah stick to fish and vegetables. plenty of choices.

              1. re: hill food

                Jewish kashruth doesn't allow you to mix milk and meat, and by extension that means ALL dairy and all meat (including poultry). That's why people are telling you to stay away from meat and create an all dariy menu.

                Fish, however, is acceptable either with a dairy meal OR a meat meal.

                So you are safe if you have fish, dairy, and NO meat, chicken, turkey, etc. Also no shellfish or crustaceans (or shark), nothing without scales or fins.

                Stuffed grape leaves (vegetarian filling), individual stuffed cabbage rolls (veggie filling, use toothpicks), mim-bagels topped with smoked salmon, or cream cheese and smoked salmon, or whitefish salad, or humus, or baba ganoush or other kind of chopped eggplant or eggplant caviar. Stuffed mushroom caps. Artichoke hearts. Mini-quiches (vegetarian only). Small vegetarian skewers.either raw with a dip, or grilled. Spanokopita. Piroshki (savory turnovers made with a cream cheese pastry)--you can make vegetarian ones filled with mushrooms and/or sauerkraut. Noodle kugel in squares. Veggie egg rolls.

                Rugelach (small bite size rich pastry rolls filled with nuts, apricot jam, or chocolate, are the traditional dessert with this kind of meal.

                1. re: femmevox

                  really? I thought poultry was ok, whoops, live and learn. and just in time to edit that out, thanks.

                  rugelach is always cool.

                  1. re: hill food

                    Poultry is considered to be a neutral food in some sects, usually Sephardic.

                    1. re: mamachef

                      Not any Sephardics that I know. Some of the ultra orthodox will not even mix milk and fish. Oh vey

                      1. re: mamachef

                        poultry is a meat by all kosher communities around this particular planet.
                        perhaps the people you know are ...ahem... more "relaxed' in their definition of kosher.

                      2. re: hill food

                        Poultry is considered meat. So just stick to fish and dairy items and vegetables. Be sure if you are making fish that it is kosher. You can't use shellfish, but you also can't you bottom feeders like catfish either. I would stick with what femmevox suggested. If you have a Costco near you, you can go buy herring in jars, whitefish salad, lox and a lot have hummus etc.

                2. I would agree wholeheartedly with the others. Milk, fish or eggs only, don't use lard, bacon fat, gelatin, stock bones, or stock cubes in anything. I have strict kosher people in my family but they will eat vegetarian/fish at a restaurant or catering event not prepared in a fully kosher kitchen.

                  Mini quiches, crackers with fish pates, mushroom vol au vents, small knishes with dipping sauce, cheese dips, mini latkes, cheese straws.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: smartie

                    Can you -- are you willing to -- cook everything in the synagogue's kitchen? This, in addition to dairy and fish, would take a lot of the ambiguity away. I had this problem once catering, and what everyone said was, "If only you'd cooked at the synagogue..."

                    1. re: Jay F

                      The event is in a private home, non-kosher. All attendees are aware that I'm cooking and that I won't be preparing in a kosher kitchen. I will definitely be sticking to the fish/dairy thing. My host contacted the synagogue directly to provide the parameters.

                      I'm reluctant to move this post to the Kosher side because it's really not a strictly Kosher event. It's more about the food than the spiritual. 2 people out of more than 30 people attending the gathering keep Kosher. It sounds like this couple is like Smartie's family - they keep with the food rules outside of their home, but not the strict strict strict Kosher rules. Besides, the synagogue is reform, not orthodox so I'm pretty safe.

                      Thanks for all the food ideas! I was having trouble thinking outside my normal catering box!

                      1. re: steelykal

                        I occasionally make a savory mini-kugel: egg noodles, mushrooms, onions and garlic, bound with egg and cottage cheese and baked in mini-muffin pans, and it's always well received. Ditto with phyllo cups baked off with a spanakopita mixture inside. One fun thing to do is to source the 1/2 pt. containers (cardboard with a wire handle) that they use in Chinese restaurants for takeout and serve sesame noodles w/ veg in them, individually. And this won't help you now, but I'm trying to figure out a take on Shanghai soup dumplings, only using matzo balls instead of wrappers. Hmmmmm.
                        Enjoy your party. Oh, I have a recipe for a cocktail/party snack that contains a bit of feta and goes beautifully as an hor's d'ouevre if you'd like to have it.

                        1. re: mamachef

                          Hey Mamachef, I'd love the feta app recipe. And can you give me proportions on the savory mini-kugels? My mother-in-law has a fabulous kugel recipe, but I can't figure out how to translate it to finger food.

                          Thanks to everyone for the fabulous ideas! I will post final menu.

                          1. re: steelykal

                            Steelykal, I do mini-kugel apps this way - your favorite recipe for sweet or savory kugel. Ensure it is not too runny. Grease some muffin or mini-muffin cups very well. Put in 3/4 of mixture. Bake at 350 for 10-15 min for mini-muffin pans and 15-20 min for muffin pans. You can freeze these in advance and pop into oven to warm just before servings. If you want a kugel recipe, let me know. We like noodle-sugar-raisin-cream cheese for sweet or noodle-egg-spinach-onion-mushroom for savory.

                        2. re: steelykal

                          Basically, what you are doing is referred to as "kosher style". In other words, no treyf (pork, shellfish) or meat/dairy combination, but otherwise relaxed in the rules. I think you have great suggestions here.