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Fancy birthday buffet for 30 people (some food snobs) - help!

Having Birthday buffet for 25 adults, about 8-10 older kids - with a french theme (the honoree lived in France and worked in a French restaurant for 10 years). Food doesn't have to be french, although all the wines i've purchased are really lovely french wines. Many of the invitees are -well, not food snobs exactly - but let's say they know their way around the best restaurants in 30 miles. So far the only thing I have come up with is a salmon platter & baked brie for apps, a Greenberg smoked turkey, mini-quiches and roasted asparagus for the buffet table (and the requisite birthday cake for dessert) . . . . .anyone have any ideas for apps/sides or a main dish for those that don't go for the smoked turkey? any suggestions welcomed!

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  1. Would it be feasible to have some cups of homemade French onion soup as a starter, with Gruyere topped croutons? Light, but pretty festive as well. And, this isn't fancy, but a nice pot of boeuf bourgignon or coq au vin served with egg noodles is a litte "haute" but very earthy as well. A nice chunk of country pate with cornichons would be a nice addition to apps and can also fill in as a main supporter.

    6 Replies
    1. re: berkleybabe

      I like the onion soup idea - and there's a cheese shop fairly nearby that does a nice pate which will save time - thank you for the ideas!

      1. re: KJaser

        Tres bien! I read down on your comments and you're BUSY! Costco is your friend for those mini-quiches, they're just great. And a spiral ham from there is delicious - our go-to for holidays, all you need to do is heat and throw glaze on in the last ten minutes. Skip the turkey, in my opinion....and remember, they're coming to see people and have fun, not do an Iron Chef judging on the cuisine.

        1. re: berkleybabe

          I'll have to go to Costco - everyone says they're so much better with food than Sam's Club (which, of course, we belong to). Turkey already ordered - but no law against having turkey and ham at the same meal, especially since there are quiches, roasted veggies and what not for the few vegetarians! thanks!

          1. re: KJaser

            `Costco is light years ahead of Sams on quality, selection, everything. AND Costco is clean.

            1. re: KJaser

              You know what... I'd slice the turkey in thin slices, the ham will already be sliced, lay them on a platter and have a bunch of good baguettes, some whole, some sliced in chunks and halved --have good Dijon mustard, mayo, some kind of plum or apricot jam as condiments maybe, a couple bunch of radishes with tops for garnish for the platter. Voila -- sandwich de jambon. Easy and it'll be really pretty too. Plus the leftovers will freeze beautifully.

            2. re: berkleybabe

              Plus get a couple of good chunks of cheese, esp. blue, brie and maybe Jarlsberg, surround with a big bunch of grapes and put next to the pate, and throw a baguette next to this. Always goes over well.

        2. How about a lovely Duck/goose/chicken Liver pate served with toast points and cornichons? That screams french to me and it is surprisingly simple to make.

          1. My first thought was thinking of 30 people for dinner/party - you need do ahead things.

            Duck rillette (or pork) - so tasty, very french (and I've just finished a batch of confit so I was thinking of doing it myself). Easily done a few days ahead and not something most people have frequently.

            Aioli - again french, but I love a really garlicy aioli surrounded by roasted/steamed/raw veggies (a la your asparagus). Its an easy thing to do and a I think a bright note - the aioli could also cross to your salmon platter or turkey if people wanted . . .

            Instead of a french onion soup (which I love but is a bit labor intensive for a 30 person party) - could you do a veloute (could be asparagus if you wanted in which case I might nix the roasted asparagus) - lighter soup and can be done the day of and reheated.

            I've done a cute "finger" food veggie that is essentially haricot vert tossed with a vinaigrette - take 3-4 beans a few leaves of arugula (call it rocket for the french party) and wrap with prosciutto. They are very tasty, can be done the morning of the party (I've done them the day before but if I do that I put the vinaigrette in a squeeze bottle and essentially squirt a little into the beans the day of so they don't go to grey and mushy).

            Some ideas at least.

            3 Replies
            1. re: thimes

              am going to try the haricot vert w/arugula and prosciutto - sounds lovely - can I assume that you cook the beans just a little bit or are they raw?

              1. re: KJaser

                cooked for this. roasted is even better than steamed.

                1. re: KJaser

                  Yes, I do cook the beans first - I usually either steam or even boil - but roasting would be yummy too.

              2. Do you live near Trader Joe's? Their pastry bites with feta and caramelized onion are insanely good. You bake them from frozen. Head and shoulders above other frozen hors d'ouevres, if that's what you are thinking about when you say mini-quiches.

                Lots of people dislike smoked turkey. You'll definitely need another main. How about choucroute garni, or a cassoulet?

                2 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  yum, yes I do live near TJ and that will save some time (I should have mentioned that I own a 20-employee company and have 2 kids, so am extremely limited on time and the party is in two days !)

                  1. re: greygarious

                    I love those appetizers as well.

                  2. Has everybody forgotten the cheese course? For 30 people, no more than 5 types and a total of 10- lbs. Or go metric and get 5 kilos and get a 10% boast.

                    1 Reply
                    1. How about gougères as an app? Can be made ahead of time and rewarmed in a low oven.

                      What is a "salmon platter"? You could poach salmon, then make a mousse of it with whipping cream, dill, etc, and pipe it onto toasted baguette.

                      1. you could do mini Croque Monsieur
                        Coq Au Vin
                        I Ina do a Roasted Salmon Nicoise Platter on Food network once that would be great!
                        maybe a gratin
                        some radishes worked in
                        assortment of French pates and charcuteries
                        mini quiche

                        1. Spanish Nibbles: Hot Olives with Citrus and Spice, Marcona Almonds, Paprika Toasted Chick Peas
                          4 cups mixed good quality olives
                          3 to 4 strips orange peel
                          3 to 4 strips lemon peel
                          1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
                          1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1/3 palm full
                          2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                          2 cups Marcona almonds (available in bulk food section of your market) or, toasted peeled whole almonds
                          2 (15-ounce) cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
                          2 teaspoons smoked paprika
                          Salt and pepper
                          Make a double layer pouch of foil for the olives. Add citrus peel, red pepper flakes and fennel seeds to olives then top with olive oil. Seal the pouch and shake it to distribute the spices and oil. Place in hot oven at any temperature or on outdoor grill to heat them through.
                          Place the almonds in a small decorative serving dish.
                          Place chick peas in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook 15 minutes until crisp and dry. In the last 5 minutes, season the chick peas with paprika salt and pepper. If you season them up too soon, the paprika will blacken and become bitter. Place the cooked chick peas in a small serving bowl. Place the olives on a platter and cut the pouch open to expose them. Place the small serving dishes for nuts and peas on the platter alongside olives. Place a ramekin or other small cup out to collect olive pits.

                          San Francisco Chicken

                          4-6 Boneless chicken breasts (or boneless pork chops)
                          3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
                          4 T. soy sauce
                          3 T. brown sugar
                          1 1/2 c. chicken broth
                          1 T. cornstarch

                          Lightly brown chicken breasts in a small amount of oil. Remove from pan and add garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and 1 c. chicken broth. Stir to mix and return chicken to pan and cover. Simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is done (15-20 minutes or so). (This is where I add the snow peas for about 2 minutes.) Add remaining broth which has been mixed with cornstarch. Bring to a boil to thicken. Serves 4. Simple and delicious!
                          Broth can easily be doubled if you want to.
                          CORN FLAN (CUSTARD)
                          (FLANS DE MAIS)
                          1 cup milk
                          4 level tablespoons flour
                          2 eggs
                          pinch of salt
                          2 tablespoons peanut oil
                          10 ounces cooked kernel corn (frozen or canned)
                          pinch of grated nutmeg
                          pinch of cayenne
                          12 individual molds
                          Mix milk, flour, eggs, salt and oil with a fork until you get a smooth batter. Add the corn and seasonings. Preheat oven to 500°. Oil the molds generously. Put them in the hot oven for five minutes. Take them out and fill with the corn mixture three quarters full. Bake in the oven 12 to 15 minutes. Test with a thin bladed knife. Unmold to serve. This is a rice side dish with any kind of roast. Serves 12.

                          Cherry and Brie Salad

                          1 cup cider vinegar
                          ½ cup sugar
                          ¼ cup olive oil
                          1 cup ground mustard
                          1 ½ teaspoons poppy seeds
                          2 Tablespoons butter
                          ¾ cups sliced almonds
                          3 Tablespoons sugar
                          8 cups torn romaine
                          8 oz. Brie or Camembert cheese (rind removed and cubed)
                          (note ~~ can also use 8 oz. Swiss cheese cubed)
                          1 package (6 oz) dried cherries
                          Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until sugar is
                          completely dissolved.
                          Melt butter in skillet, put in almonds and sprinkle with sugar.
                          Cook and stir for 4 minutes.
                          Combine romaine, cheese, and cherries in salad bowl.
                          Pour dressing over and toss.
                          Sprinkle with candied almonds.


                          Asparagus Gruyere Tart
                          • Flour, for work surface
                          • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
                          • 5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
                          • 1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
                          • 1 tablespoon olive oil
                          • Salt and pepper
                          1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
                          2. Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

                          1 Reply
                          1. Here's a quick, easy one that everyone seems to really like:

                            Sauté diced onion till softened and cooked through. Throw in cooked sweet peas and diced prosciutto to warm though. Serve in mini tart shells.