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Feb 1, 2014 04:58 PM

Large cocktail party with heavy Hors d'oeuvres


I am anticipating approximately 50-60 guests for cocktail party in my home for a 50th birthday. I'm thinking everything can be prepared ahead of time and served room temp. All foods are meant to be eaten without a fork. My menu ideas are:
--Thinly sliced beef tenderloin on small rolls (I bought a whole tenderloin from Kroger and plan on roasting it myself a day ahead), served with a horseradish sauce. I'll have the guests prepare their own at the buffet table.
-- wondering if there's enough meat (don't want to spend more money on another beef tenderloin). What about pork loin (not tenderloin) sliders? Would they be easy to eat? Or should it be a pork tenderloin vs loin roast.
--deviled eggs
--smoked salmon (from Costco) on those little pumpernickel squares that one finds in the grocery store, served with creme fraiche. Again, allowing guests to assemble their own.
-- shrimp cocktail (I'm wondering if this might be too expensive given the amount of guests.
--vegetable crudités with various store bought dressings or dips
--cheese platter with crackers
--hummus and spinach-artichoke dip and pita chips (all from Costco)

Here's my question: I don't know how much of the above I need to prepare, and whether I should modify my menu. I don't want to overdo it, but I also don't want to run out of food!

Thoughts? Suggestions?


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  1. This all sounds yummy. I might instead of a pork tenderloin or loin roast do pulled pork - you can use a cheaper cut, do it in a crockpot all day and just shred and sauce.

    The only thing I would be wary of with your plan is having people assemble things at the buffet table. Seems like a way to create quite a traffic jam. If you have the space, I might set food out in a few places - the build your own sliders in one area, the cheese & crackers in another, the things with dips in another. I would get very frustrated if I had to stand behind people building themselves little sandwiches!

    I myself wouldn't do shrimp because I'm not a shrimp eater, but it is expensive AND you're left with all those little tails on your plate. I prefer cocktail food that leaves me with a clean enough plate to go back for more. Having shrimp tails or bones from chicken wings etc. just makes me want to hunt for a garbage can!

    Good luck!

    1. I would still consider some type of seafood if you delete the shrimp (which would be expensive for that many people). What about a crab & shrimp cream cheese spread. Serve with crackers. And a clam/cream cheese spread is also very good. Both would go a long way and are delicious.

      I would also consider swedish meatballs - I make them every year for Christmas Eve and people love them. Also easy and go a long way.

      Make a lot of the vegetable crudites - you definitely need vegies in the menu. And I'll probably get bashed for this - but the Knorr vegetable soup mix spinach dip is great. Everyone loves it - another favorite of my family. It's much better than anything you can buy at Costco or anywhere else and very easy. Recipe on back of the package. Perfect for the vegies.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Jeanne

        Thanks Jeanne! Do you have an easy recipe for the swedish meatballs? i.e.: maybe using frozen? I can't imagine hand rolling a hundred meatballs!

        1. re: Yankeegirl28

          Costco has Italian style meatballs in a big bag that are just fine. Put them in a big crock with marinara or Ragu and have little Italian rolls along side. I do this routinely for big gatherings. Always a big hit.

          1. re: Yankeegirl28

            Yankeegirl28 - my "recipe" is one I made up years ago - will write it down and then post it here. I do it by instinct and habit. Something I came up with when I was a poor post-graduate and have been making them ever since. Don't see anything wrong with toothpicks - and no I wouldn't use frozen meatballs - but that's me.

            1. re: Yankeegirl28

              I have always used pre-frozen meatballs and if you put your energy into the sauce nobody will much notice if the meatballs aren't hand-rolled sirloin. You can do a curry sauce, or sweet-and-sour, or barbecue, or ?

            2. re: Jeanne

              I love Swedish meatballs, but then you are either using toothpicks or forks...

              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                you could use thin pretzel sticks in place of the toothpicks.

                1. re: Vidute

                  Great idea! No toothpicks in the carpet.

                2. re: Jerseygirl111

                  Toothpicks are fine. Just trying to avoid forks!

                  1. re: Yankeegirl28

                    Yankeegirl - below is the "recipe". I apologize for the disorganization of the recipe - I've been making these for over 25 years and as I've said this is something I came up with and have never tried to write it down. Not at all gourmet - but very good.

                    Swedish Meatballs

                    4-5 lbs ground chuck
                    6 eggs
                    1 smaller package (12 oz?) Peppridge Farms bread stuffing mix – mix until texture is correct – stop at ½ bag and go from there if necessary
                    12 oz fresh crimini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
                    About 2 tsp salt and 1 – ½ pepper
                    3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
                    1 large chopped onion
                    3 cloves chopped garlic

                    4 heaping tablespoons all purpose flour
                    2 cups water
                    4 cans beef broth
                    At least 16 oz sour cream (I sometimes put in 2 16 oz containers) – to taste

                    Mix all meatball ingredients well. If the mixture is too soft/moist, add more stuffing. Roll into 1 -1/4 inch balls, place on cookie sheet. Bake in 375 oven until slightly brown – about 15-20 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. Can be baked ahead and frozen. Thaw to continue.

                    To make sauce;
                    Combine flour – adding water a little at a time until all is added – making a flour slurry. Mix well to make sure it is mixed without lumps. Heat beef broth in dutch oven, add slurry a little at a time, mixing constantly with a wire wisk. When it has reached the desired consistency, cook on low a few minutes and then add sour cream – again to taste.

                    Put meatballs in a crockpot and add sauce. Cook on high for 4 hours. Turn to low – can cook for 4 more hours or overnight. (I usually set them on in the evening and cook overnight. I normally set them in a crockpot I have that will change from high to warm when set correctly). Serve warm.

              2. It all sounds great.

                I think I'd do pulled pork rather than loin sliders. Easier to serve and tastier.

                You are right , I think, about the cost of shrimp. But it is fast and easy.

                Devilled eggs are a whole lot of work if you are making them yourself. A whole lot of work.

                1. Do you have a slicer for the tenderloin or are you cutting by hand?

                  Mini quiches are always a hit if you decide to trade off the deviled eggs. They are fine at room temp and hearty for people. Can buy frozen or make a day or two ahead.

                  Also are you running the kitchen/serving, etc? If finances permit, think about hiring a girl for the night to help out. It would give you more time to enjoy your guests.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                    Slicing by hand:( most of my prep will be done the day before. I should be able to slice the meat in the afternoon before the party.

                    1. re: Yankeegirl28

                      How many sandwiches do you think you will end up making?

                      1. re: Jerseygirl111

                        Jerseygirl: I saw a recipe on for beef tenderloin cocktail sandwiches, where you put sliced tenderloin on of those big, long baguettes and slice into one inch slices. I'll probably do about 60 - 80 of those sandwiches. And then probably 30 pork loin sliders, cut in half to make 60. I can cook and slice the meat the day before and then assemble them a couple of hours before the guests arrive. I have a fried or two to help with prep work. and I have a bartender. I have a college age daughter who can help (trying to get a friend of hers as well)!

                        1. re: Yankeegirl28

                          I think you are not really wanting hors d'oeuvre, but just party food. That opens a whole host of ideas!! Loaded baby red potato skins, wings, Tostito cups with salsa and sour cream, etc. The sky's the limit, really. I think of food at a cocktail party differently than at just a gathering with drinks and apps. To me, if you assemble a submarine sandwich and cut it into small sandwiches, this isn't hors d'ouvre, it's party food. Which is great and serves the purpose, but just... different from delicate foods served with cocktails. If you are going to have wine, too, then really, it's just a party with alcohol and food and you don't have to worry about constraining yourself with any particular pre-conceived ideas. No matter what, as long as you are a good host, everyone should have fun, which is the objective. Good luck!

                  2. I think your ideas are delicious.

                    Maybe a torta espanola or a frittata or mini quiches would be good for eating out-of-hand, esp the last two, and much easier than deviled eggs.

                    Also agree that cocktail shrimp for 60 or so guests would be too $$$.How about some oldies but goodies (the Swedish meatball suggestion put me in the mindset).

                    Devils on horseback?
                    Pigs in blankets?

                    And dishes of nuts and olives everywhere.