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Large party world bite ideas

I'm having a late Valentines party with approximately 30-40 people centered around cocktails, but I wanted to provide delicious homemade treats for everyone. I originally planned on having 10-15 people where I could provide a full meal, but now that the guest list is exploding I need to completely rethink my menu strategy. I want things that can sit out for hours and be picked at throughout the night while still tasting relatively fresh (not fried foods or anything that only tastes good hot)

One idea I had was to do a global street food idea.

Golgappas from India (make all the parts and have them in separate bowls for people to create a plate of their own)
hummus/labne/and other Middle Eastern dips (not street food per se, but can sit out a while)
Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce.
Baked empanadas or alcapurrias.
Little cups filled with some sort of Asian noodle salad like soba or?

What other street food/party food ideas do you have that people may love and could sit out (or I could put in a bowl of ice)? American ideas would be great also! Everything I seem to think of is better right from the stove.

Also, I would like to have a dessert table.
alfajores, maamouls, and other various world cookies.
something with lemon since my tree is exploding with lemons- maybe lemon meringue tart.
something with bananas....ideas?
and I would need something chocolate since everyone loves chocolate. :)

Lastly, about 40 people have RSVP'd to my event, but I notice at various parties I attend here many do not show up or if they do, some don't eat. How is the best way to plan so I don't have an excessive amount of food left over? Thanks in advance.

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  1. You could easily represent Europe with a variety of cheeses (which taste better at room temperature anyway). It wouldn't require much work on your part, since it sounds like you'll be quite busy! And leftovers can be incorporated into various dishes well after the party is over.

    BTW, your party idea sounds lovely!

    1. That sounds like a fun concept. Why not something Scandinavian smoked salmon, a tartar of some sort. Pairings of wine and beer would be fun with your entrees.

      1. How about Vegetable Samosas to represent India? Here is a link to a very good recipe.


        1 Reply
        1. re: PotatoHouse

          On that vein, you could do Ethiopian sambussas as well. It might be fun to do a hand pies across the world - empanadas, samoas, sambussas, Cornish pasties. It's a lot of work but if you had enough lead time, you could make them ahead and reheat.

        2. I'm not thinking anywhere near as fancy as you are.

          a client had a party every time she and her love went on vacation. one year they went to Alaska so that was the theme. food, atmosphere, drink and games all centered around Alaska. that was a blast.

          how many crock pots do you own? how big is your facility where party is being held?
          a 1 1/2 QT size crock pot is perfect for little smokies in sauce. a reg 3 QT crock would be perfect for sweet&sour meat balls and skewers aid in retrieving them. spinach artichoke dip using variety of pita chips/pretzels on a large platter then the dip in lasagna baking dish feeds many. big bowl of home made Chex mix with ice cream scoop or ladle and mini cupcake papers to fill means no hands go in and grab.

          at the end of the day all anyone wants is a good time and great memories made. hope you have a great party, sounds like it'll be fun.

          1. what a fun theme!
            Hand pies from various locales, and global cheeses, cookies, and mini-lemon tarts... sounds as though it could be a nice low-input menu plan. Not all the pies would need to be homemade. And maybe some of your guests would even appreciate knowing where to purchase yummy treats, anyways.
            As for planning quantity/variety in a way that doesn't leave a lot left over, I would start by choosing foods that you personally like. At least, then, if there is left over food, then it's something you'd actually eat :)
            For post-dinner, evening event, you'll probably want 3-4 pieces of "something, 2 bite sized" per guest. Plus 2-3 sweets each. If this party could be construed as "dinner", then you'll want 5-7 pieces per person. plus the desserts.
            Have fun!

            1. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I like the hand pie idea. I will have to make an empanada of some sort for sure and maybe samosas. :)

              I really wanted to do it up a little fanicer than average because I'm actually a pro chef and a lot of my friends have not tried my food before (and are excited to) so I can't put out things I didn't make myself/were too (seemingly) easy.

              1. This sounds like a great party. I haven't done golgappas, but I have made a papri chaat bar by arranging everything on banana leaves so people could scoop up their toppings sort of like Indian nachos. http://www.chow.com/photos/347206

                Other ideas to consider:
                Relish platter (with pickles for various parts of the world: makdous, oi sobaegi, tsukemono, etc.
                )Lettuce cups (i.e. fresh/naked lumpia with garlic sauce, sung choi bao)
                Stuffed vine leaves or chard
                Pizza bianca

                As for the bananas, this would be the perfect time of year for a bananas Foster king cake. I'm extremely impressed if you're making your own ma'amoul!

                2 Replies
                1. re: JungMann

                  Is this a flambe affair? Could be exciting!

                  1. re: JungMann

                    I LOVE your papri chaat display! That's exactly what I'm going for, but with golgappas! :)

                    I also love all of your other suggestions. Thank you very much. It's not very difficult to make your own ma'maoul and they taste so much better than the packaged kind! I'll have to google the banana king cake recipe. Sounds yum.

                    And thanks for Berheenia suggesting American desserts. Done! :)

                  2. 'American ideas would be great also'

                    Americans make good desserts- how about mini pecan tarts and mini cheesecakes with a cherry topping. Maybe tiny whoopee pies or miniature ice cream sundaes.

                    1. I recently saw a recipe for mini corn-dogs. That could be pretty fun and adds a little American flair into the mix.

                      I always make mini lasagnas. I start with a layer of wonton wrappers in the bottom of a muffin pan. I add a layer of the usual lasagna meat sauce, a couple slices of mushroom and a sprinkling of cheese and repeat 2 more times. Once baked and cooled slightly, you can eat them like you would a cupcake.

                      1. Wonderful theme! How about celeri remoulade in either endive or baby romaine leaves. Store-bought mayo should be okay in the dressing.

                        For something fruity from around the world -- mango, papaya, starfruit, pineapple, lichi. Maybe pieces on skewers in a spiral around a plate spritzed with simple syrup, or the skewers in a bowl of simple syrup (I see you will be using plates). Too messy?