I am hosting a 35th anniversary party for my parents. We are expecting 40-60 guests. It is on a Sunday from 2-6 pm. Actually, the date ended up being on Mother's Day (I know). My first question is should I serve heavy hors' doeuvres thoughout the party or should will people be wanting an early dinner?
I am trying to utilize Costco and Sam's as much as possible on this one, but I need some good ideas. There are a few challenges that I am facing besides the large number of people:
1. My dad and some guests are vegetarians.
2. The venue does not have a stove or oven, so dishes must be cold or room temperature.
3. Partially catering may not be an option of Mother's Day.
In short, I need some recipes for some elegant foods that are not too involved, and don't need
to be served hot. I was thinking some cherry tomato and mozzerella skewered caprese, cold shrimp from Costco tossed in a light dressing, a nice cheese and fruit selection etc. Anyone have any easy fabulous recipes?
Any idea for simple fancying up of pre-made dishes? I would like not to resort to sandwich platters and the same old stuff.
If you don't want to serve dinner, I would make sure that the invitation states that you will be serving appetizers, so people can expect not to be fed. If I were being invited to an event for 2-6, I would probably expect to be served an earl supper, even if it is finger food on a buffet.
I would have a few stations of finer food set up and leave it at that, unless you have seating arrangements and large tables. This gets people to move about and if they want to congregate by the food, there will be a few spots, instead of a single buffet. It also frees up labor to bus dishes and restock the tables, instead of passing trays.
Costco has a wealth of options available. The caprese idea is a good one, and they also have a chicken salad, Chinese chicken salad, and pasta salads that can be put out. For the non-meat eaters, you can do two versions of the Chinese chicken salad, one without the chicken. You can probably also pick up a few bags of specialty mixed greens, toss in some hearts of romain and/or butter lettuce, slice up some tri-color peppers and cherry tomatoes and leave out a few ramekins of various dressings. You can pick up the shrimp platter and pair it with the sushi platter. It is not the best sushi around, but it is not bad either.
I love mini sandwiches, and you can dress them up to make them high end, not just the same old platters. I really like the King's Hawaiian Bread mini buns, and you can also use mini-croissants and dinner rolls. Cook up a leg of lamb a day or two beforehand and slice it for sandwiches with some caramelized onions, get specialty bacon for BLTs (double cut applewood smoked...), you can even do a veggie stack with cucumbers, avocado, a little arugula, those caramelized onions (do them in oil, not butter). I love tri-tip as a beef option... It really depends on how much time you want to spend preppng the few days before. Slice it all up and serve it cold. Leave out a few bowls of high end mustards and some garlic aoili. If you plate them right and put them out with hand written descriptions on slates, no one is going to confuse them for the sliced subs you get at office functions.
A cheese station, maybe with some cold cuts as well and fruit salads can round out the options.
Older people tend to eat earlier, but they tend to eat less than young adults. if you go with some subtsantial hors'doeuvres - something with protien, you probably don't need to do actual dinner fare. Not sure what part of the country you are in, or how adventurous your guests may be. Here in Honolulu a party like that would definitely include a tray or two of asian style noodles (chow mein style) some simple sushi (with or without fish) maybe some summer rolls (spring rolls are better served hot) maybe some beef or chicken teriyaki sticks (i've seen it done with seitan too.) And I wouldn't necessarily shy away from the sandwiches completely. Someone at church last week made some great sandwiches using seafood dip from costco that were gobbled up.
Couple of quick thoughts: would any guests be willing to bring a dish? Preferably non-mother guests?
Also, talk to the people at Costco and Sam's. Tell them exactly what you told us, and compare their answers, and go with the best and easiest options for you to transport. Re the guests comment above, you'll probably need to recruit help to transport everything.
I agree that the food should be as nice, elegant, and substantial as possible. Since it's Mother's Day, the moms and grandmoms among the guests will be willingly sacrificing part of their day--and possibly a nice dinner out at a venue with an oven--to honor your parents. You're cutting into the dinner hour, and should give a nod to that with your offerings.
Because it is spring, i would utilize asparagus and strawberries, which kind of lends itself to a vaguely French provincial theme. Maybe a nice cheese platter with some nuts and olives, a caramelized onion tart, blanched asparagus with aioli, poached or grilled salmon served room temp, lentil salad, green salad, baguettes, fresh strawberry tarts (or a mountain of strawberries) , maybe some chocolate truffles,macarons or palmiers. Everything can be broken down into appetizer size servings, or served as a meal. These items can mostly be prepared the day before
and served at room temp. You can use store bought puff pastry for onion tarts and bake on 1/2 sheet pans, which makes them fast and easy to cut into small servings. Vegetarians can just skip salmon. There are many variations on this theme -- I would scour Costco/Sam's for available ingredients, and build a menu around what's available.
am not sure why you think catering wouldn't be an option? they work 365 days per year.
unless you specify that this is only going to be a cocktail reception, i think you need to offer something more substantial than just hors' doeuvres, but i don't know what your capacity at home is for producing food for 60 people?
will this all be stationary? or will you have people passing trays? can you rent chafing dishes to serve some stuff hot?
roasts, ham, beef or chicken, can all be served room temp.
spanakopita can be served room temp.
sesame noodles can be served cold or room temp, with or without a meat on it.
dips, like hummus, tapenade and roasted red pepper can be served with read or crudites
smoked or poached salmon with traditional accompaniments can be cold or room temp
platters of marinated veggies are a nice change from crudites
fritattas and quiches can be served room temp
cous cous or barley salad with lemon and lots of herbs
lemon ginger chicken, either on skewers or as drumsticks, is good room temp
steamed asparagus with an orange aioli
can you rent crockpots? soups, chili, sausage and peppers all can go in there...
am assuming there is a cake? but some people might just want fruit. a platter of fresh berries with whipped cream on the side is pretty.
Thanks for the great suggestions! I will look into caterers as well, but it is the single busiest restuarant day of the year. I would probably need to go with someone that only does catering, and I don't know of a good one. Also, I have not priced this option and it may be a bit costly if we have as many people as I think.
I forgot to specify that I don't think I can use chafing dishes as the venue will not allow open flames. Definately looking at buffet style. The crockpot is a great solution. I should try a party rental place for that?