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Please help with a bridal shower salad buffet menu & cooking theme

Hi, chowhounds, thanks so much for being such a great resource!

So here's my project du jour...I'm having a bridal shower in less than two weeks and it has a cooking theme. Of course, for me, any event is all about the food, so I'm going to force feed my guests from the minute they get here til they leave! ;~}

I'm thinking of starting with champagne cocktails of some kind and some apps like maybe gougeres and....? The main course will be a salad buffet. So far I'm planning a green salad with field greens, thinly sliced sweet onion, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, feta and a sweet balsamic dressing. I'm going to do some kind of fruit salad/tray/skewers. I want to do a fancy-schmancy crab salad served in endive leaves - does anyone have a good crab salad recipe for this?? I was also thinking of some kind of a rice salad - again I was thinking of a dried fruit/nut/cheese/crunchy (probably green onions) combo, but now that's sounding too much like the green salad, so does anyone have any ideas for a starch-based salad that isn't pasta? (I'm the queen of the pasta salad at all family events, and we're heading into pasta salad season, so don't want to do pasta here.) I'll also serve a nice bread basket and lots of butter. I might want one more salad, so does anyone have ideas?

For dessert I'm planning an assortment of purchased bite sized yum yums from the nice bakery that makes you drool just to walk in the door.

Any other ideas of help with recipess? Also, I need help with the dread bridal shower games - ! I'm going to do the ol' put a bunch of cooking tools and stuff on a tray and show them for 30 seconds and see how many the guests can list. Any other cooking theme game ideas?

Thanks everyone!

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  1. I agree that the rice salad you mentioned is too similar. Maybe a quinoa and wild rice with dried apricots, scallions, red pepper, carrots and an orangey/cumin dressing? It'll get the sweet complement without being redundant. And then there IS a lot that is sweet there, so I'd consider a more savory salad, perhaps butter lettuce with Green Goddess?

    For the other appetizer, Ina Garten's parmesan thyme crackers are fantastic, but maybe too similar to gougeres. Perhaps crostini with apple, fig jam and brie? That sounds suitably girlie.

    1. What abouta tabbouleh or wheat berry salad instead of pasta salad?

      1. A potato/haricots verts salad with a lovely vinaigrette might work for your no-pasta offering. If you like the taste of anchovy, you could incorporate that into the vinaigrette, and then lay some anchovy over the top as a garnish. A salad of half white/half sweet potatoes works beautifully for this. Another grain salad might be an option: quinoa, freekeh, bulgur - and another thought is to make a modified Fattoush: Tomatoes, cukes, onions and bell peppers with toasted pita squares tossed with it, dressed with a lemony vinaigrette and sprinkled w/ sesame seeds. Enjoy your party. A fun game is, "what's the missing ingredient," where you give your guests recipes with an ingredient missing, but you have to make sure it's a fairly significan ingredient: Molasses cookies sans molasses; chicken marsala minus the marsala. You get the idea. Oh and another game is the egg race, you know: an egg (you can hardcook it to avoid mess, but it's more fun if you don't) on a tablespoon that needs to be held aloft and make it to the finish line without being dropped.

        1. This is really simple but delicious and the color would be nice on your buffet. It is a tomato, basil and brown rice salad.

          And I went to one shower where they took the labels off spices and put them on a tray and you had to smell or even taste and see how many you could get right. They did some obvious for those who may not cook much, cinnamon and ginger etc., then some that were more difficult like cardamon and ground sumac.
          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

          1 Reply
          1. gougeres and a champagne cocktail are plenty for starting the party. st. germaine or a good quality peach or pear liqueure are wonderful added to bubbly. (look for the mathilde brand)

            i am not a fan of leafy lettuce salads at buffets. the leaves take up lots of plate space and are difficult to eat without cutting. chopped salads are bite-sized forkfuls, crunchy, refreshing and generally more colorful. use some sturdier lettuce like romaine and iceberg, perhaps some arugula or cress for contrast. the cranberries can still add a hint of sweet (and don't need to be chopped), but i'd go for a tangier dressing, like a dijon vinaigrette. crumbled blue cheese instead of feta.

            rather than a rice salad, perhaps cous- cous with lots and lots of fresh herbs, like mint, cilantro and parsley. cucumber, tomatoes, olives, candied lemon or orange peel and roasted red pepper. insert feta cheese here. :)

            good quality crab doesn't need much adornment. i'd put a dab of remoulade in the endive leaf, toss the crab with some lemon and olive oil, s & p, and spoon some on top of the sauce.

            instead of another salad, i'd strongly suggest another protein, like quiches or fritattas. these can be made ahead and are fine at room temp. fillings nearly infinite.

            is this a brunch-time kind of party? yogurt and berry parfaits are pretty and easy.

            smoked salmon over melon, either slices draped over the fruit or together on toothpicks are good also.

            instead of just pastry for dessert, a fresh fruit platter will be a nice presentation and a lighter finish.