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Room Temp Party Food

I am planning an outdoor shower and I am looking for some snack ideas that I don't have to worry about keeping hot or cold without any food safety issues (for about 4 hours.)

Specifically I would like a few different tea sandwich ideas, and then maybe something like a trail mix/chips/popcorn that still looks special and is delicious. Everything will be plated/packaged in individual portion sizes.

Any ideas would be appreciated!

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  1. What kind of outdoor temperatures are you expecting? 4 hours of hot weather will kill just about anything, especially bread for the tea sandwiches.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ROCKLES

      sharing in the weather question here. with 90+ degrees like we have had lately in new england i wouldn't try keeping any real food outside. chips/pretzels, ok, but any produce or protein is too perishable. bread will start to stale in no time. it also makes most normal people feel wilted and unhungry.

      btw, i serve plenty of room temp at parties, so am not a food safety nutzo, but in this weather would err on the side of caution.

      are you someplace south of the equator where the temps are more humane right now?

      btw, i serve plenty of room temp food at parties, so am not a food safety nutzo, but in this weather would err waaaaaaaaaaaaay on the side of caution.

    2. If you've got really hot weather then four hours is going to result in pretty nasty food, even if safety isn't an issue (wilted vegetables, for example). For that, I'd stick with things like nut mixes, or fruit that can be peeled right before eating. Chips and pretzels would work in a dry climate, but not so much if it's really humid.

      I would do a test. Put a slice of cheddar cheese, a piece of lettuce, a slice of cucumber, a piece of bread, and some cured meat (like summer sausage) on a plate. Let it sit at the temperature your are expecting for about five hours. If your cheese or meat are melting or weeping, the lettuce or cucumber is limp, or the bread is soggy or dry, then I think you're out of luck.

      If the food still looks and tastes okay, then I might do sandwiches with a fairly sturdy bread (like rye), with mustard, a cheese like cheddar that's not too soft, and lettuce and/or thinly sliced cucumbers. I think that will hold up better than things like butter, cream cheese, or soft white bread.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

        wilted or shriveled food is not a reliable indication of food safety. you can't see bacteria developing and it happens rapidly in sun and hot weather. at temps around 90 degrees, like we have had here in new england, even food handled in the strictest and safest ways is no longer good to consume after being out less than an hour.

      2. I catered a store opening not long ago (in central TX where it's almost always hot and often humid) where the food had to sit out for 6 hours. I made two savory shortbreads - one with lemon zest and fresh thyme, the other with stilton, rolled of poppy seeds. I also made a ton of roasted pecans, some with sea salt only and the rest were curried. I also made a bunch of quick-pickled french green beans. My goal was to make things that could sit out for hours without risk of spoiling and would accompany alcohol. It all got eaten.

        3 Replies
        1. re: agoodbite

          Nuts sound like a great idea to me. You could also do candied. I'd use a recipe that has you bring the sugar to hard crack, I think this will help make sure the sugar doesn't melt off in the sun. And I think you could store them in the freezer prior to the event.

          1. re: jvanderh

            frozen candied nuts will start to condensate almost instantly.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Like, droplets of water on the surface of the nuts? Does that make them mushy?

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. It will be next Saturday in NH.. Not sure what the weather has been like there lately, but I am thinking hot! right now I am thinking I will just put everything on small plates so I have to replenish it quickly enough that it wont go bad. I am thinking of making:

            Cheese straws
            BLTs on cracked pepper biscuits
            Truffled popcorn
            Fruit kabobs
            Rice Krispy treat pops
            Cupcakes

            I would still like to make 2 more types of finger sandwiches preferable without meat if anyone has any suggestions?

            13 Replies
            1. re: sarahelan

              in the South for finger sandwiches we do cucumber, tomato,egg salad,olive-nut-cream cheese, pimento cheese, or chicken salad. We also do pinwheels that hold up to the heat nicely.
              We also put ice under our platters too...to keep everything nice and cool. Of course we usually set the food up indoors or an inset porch.

              1. re: sarahelan

                I don't know how those Rice Krispie treats will hold up. I was at my daughter's kindergarten end of year party in 80 degree heat and the Rice Krispie squares some other Moms brought were melting in the sun. If you can I'd set the food out in a covered area - even if it means renting/purchasing (there should be end of season sales nowadays) something like this: http://www.target.com/Outdoor-Patio-T...

                1. re: sarahelan

                  Can you just go to Bed Bath and Beyond or a similar store and get a few of those trays with the ice receptacles underneath? For anything with meat or cheese, that's what I'd do. You don't have to use that much ice and you can certainly improvise by stacking two plates with ice in between them if you don't want to buy a gimmicky product. It has been very hot in New Hampshire lately. My son was up at camp on Newfound Lake last week and it was in the 90s every day.

                  1. re: Isolda

                    i was going to suggest cooled trays as well...

                    maybe mini blue corn blinis with guacamole and crema

                    or crab rolls - http://www.thedailymeal.com/asian-cra...

                    popcorn is another alternative to nuts/crackers
                    or different flavors of roasted chickpeas -- i've done a melange of spicy to herby, and people always seem surprised that they like them... go figure.

                    have fun, and stay cool!

                    1. re: Emme

                      What are blue corn blinis? That sounds amazing!

                      1. re: sarahelan

                        make blinis using blue cornmeal :) i can dredge up a recipe i have somewhere if you like...

                    2. re: Isolda

                      I would, but I have a really specific idea of how i want the food to look, and those don't really work :-(

                      1. re: sarahelan

                        sorry, but why do you want to spend the entire party running back and forth replenishing tiny plates?

                        is it possible for you to set up food indoors instead and have people carry plates outside?

                        1. re: sarahelan

                          Yeah, I agree they're ugly, but it's a trade-off. I agree with hotoynoodle that running back and forth doesn't sound all that fun, but if you don't mind it, this does sound like a good solution if you don't want to use the cooling trays.

                      2. re: sarahelan

                        Bruschetta would be good. Pimiento cheese sandwiches?

                        1. re: sarahelan

                          If you're thinking of doing cupcakes, I'd try a mousseline buttercream as it's one of the more heat-stable ones. As much as I hate to use crisco in baked goods, it may be a good option for heat resistance in a frosting if you know how to make it work.

                          1. re: sarahelan

                            have a garden full of zucchini now? take the flowers, stuff with a mix of feta, basil, pinenuts run through the food processor for a beautiful presentation. Take the zuccinis and make a nice nut bread with them, top with a flavored cream cheese.

                            1. re: sarahelan

                              the rice krispie treats and most frostings for cupcakes will melt outside in any kind of hot weather. cookies would have more staying power, and a nice assortment can be very pretty if plated well.

                              for the fruit, why not hollow out a watermelon, submerge it in ice, and keep the kabobs in that?

                              black bread with cream cheese, golden raisins, walnut and watercress will hold well, as would tapenade and goat cheese. it's usually the protein in a picnic meal that spells trouble for food poisoning, so think veggie.

                              the ice packs under platters can be wrapped in linen, btw, so not visible, and will definitely improve your safety net.