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Dinner for 40

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#61 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 20 November 2004 - 07:26 AM

Remind us again what your goal is for food cost per person? You spent less than $3 pp ($120). I've found that when shopping/cooking for a large crowd like this you shouldn't feel so budget constrained at the store. Even if you had splurged on two more packages of chicken and the extra salad veggies, I doubt you would have even reached $4 pp ($160). Keep that in mind on your next shopping trip for the group dinner -- actually try to spend your full budget.

Also, I didn't see any hot sauce listed in your ingredients. If you didn't add it to the pot(s) because you wanted to keep it kid friendly, next time you should at least have it on the side. Personally, with Jamalaya, I like Cajun Power Garlic Sauce in the dish, which isn't hot at all; and Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce on the side.

#62 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 20 November 2004 - 07:52 AM

I was reading through this thread from the beginning and had some more thoughts on the budget.

How exactly is the payment handled? Do people pay at dinner, once a week or month? Do you get reimbursed immediately? by cash or check? I was just thinking that you guys should establish a set price for dinner, perhaps $5 pp, $3 for kids under 10. Keep the food cost pp in the $3-4 range and alot the extra $1 pp to a kitchen equipment fund, if things are still needed.

Now that the cohousing Dinner project has been operating for about eight months, how is the kitchen equipped at this time? It sounds to me like you are chopping everything by hand (lots of talk about knife skills). Do you have a food processor? An extra large one from a restaurant supply store might be a good investment, for example.

#63 tammylc

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 08:15 AM

\Also, I didn't see any hot sauce listed in your ingredients. If you didn't add it to the pot(s) because you wanted to keep it kid friendly, next time you should at least have it on the side. Personally, with Jamalaya, I like Cajun Power Garlic Sauce in the dish, which isn't hot at all; and Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce on the side.

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There was ample hot sauce on the side. And the andouille I used had a bit of bite to it. I do try to keep things on the mild side, since it's easy to make things hotter at the table, but impossible to tone them down.

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#64 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 10:21 AM

Hey Tammy! How are things going with the baby and the co-op dining? Have the number of participants remained high? What have you all made lately?

#65 tammylc

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 12:37 PM

I was reading through this thread from the beginning and had some more thoughts on the budget.

How exactly is the payment handled? Do people pay at dinner, once a week or month? Do you get reimbursed immediately? by cash or check? I was just thinking that you guys should establish a set price for dinner, perhaps $5 pp, $3 for kids under 10. Keep the food cost pp in the $3-4 range and alot the extra $1 pp to a kitchen equipment fund, if things are still needed.

Now that the cohousing Dinner project has been operating for about eight months, how is the kitchen equipped at this time? It sounds to me like you are chopping everything by hand (lots of talk about knife skills). Do you have a food processor? An extra large one from a restaurant supply store might be a good investment, for example.

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Cooks post their menus as far in advance as they are able. People sign up if they'd like to attend. Sometime before the meal, usually the night before, the meal is "closed" to further sign up and the cook goes shopping for the number of people who have committed. Receipts are submitted and food costs plus a 12% "pantry fee" are divided up amongst the people who signed up. Adults are charged for a full portion, teens 3/4, and kids 1/2 price. They get a bill at the end of the month with all their bills on it. Cooks can choose to be reimbursed, in which case you get a check in a couple of days, or to have the balance applied to their meal account.

There's no set budget to work from. But people will vote with their pocket books - if you consistently make $6 or $7 meals, some people will stop coming. The sweet spot seems to be between $3.50 and $4.50. But people are always pleased when a meal comes in low - especially if it's a really good meal. I usually don't have a problem meeting that - as you mentioned above - I actually tend to underspend.

As for kitchen stocking - we've got a bunch of pots and pans, some pretty good knives (especially since I sharpened them last time I was cooking - they're probably due for it again). We killed our first big rice cooker and had to replace it - hopefully this one will do better. There's a small crappy food processor and a random blender. I bring my Kitchen Aid food processor over when I need one, and we are investigating purchasing a new one for the common house - the difference in price between good household and commercial is huge, though, so not sure if we're going to fork over the $1000 for a commercial one. There's also a KA stand mixer.

Tonight I'm revisiting the very first meal I made - pasta with italian sausage marinara sauce. I'm really glad that I've been recording some of my meals here, because it made it easy to devise my shopping list!

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#66 tammylc

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 12:41 PM

Hey Tammy! How are things going with the baby and the co-op dining? Have the number of participants remained high? What have you all made lately?

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Baby and cohousing are both going wonderfully. Sorry I didn't see your posts earlier - I think I wasn't getting notifications for a while, and baby means I'm not on the board as often.

Participation in the meal program is still great. And I've been getting lots of great feedback - people telling me that they make a point of signing up for my meals, etc. So that's nice.

I've made a few things since I last posted to this thread - I wrote most of them up for my LiveJournal, so I'll just go ahead and crosspost them for the record...

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#67 tammylc

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 12:42 PM

Moroccan Night at the Common Kitchen (12/27)

Last night I reprised my Moroccan theme meal from my first month of cooking, with a few new twists. I kept the Chickpea and Carrot Stew (still a huge hit, and oh-so-easy) and the Cabbage and Orange Salad, and added some chicken, some tempeh, and some Moroccan cookies. It turned out really well, was pretty simple, and people seemed to really enjoy it - I think I'll put this on a once every couple of months rotation.

I was especially pleased with the chicken. I had promised "spiced baked chicken" on the menu, but hadn't really decided what to do until yesterday. I looked up a bunch of recipes online for ideas and improvised some really tasty chicken. I sliced onions into thin semi circles and spread them over the bottom of a baking pan greased with a little olive oil. Then I took chicken pieces and placed them on top of the onions. I sprinkled cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and paprika over it all. Then I placed lemon wedges between the pieces of chicken and baked it in the oven until it was done (about an hour at 375). To serve, we put the chicken on platters, scooped out on the onions and lemons and some of the collected juices and dumped those over the top, then garnished it with some nice green olives and some chopped cilantro. It was really quite tasty. Next time I'll use more onion and lemon, as the lemony chicken-fatty onion bits were my favorite part and there really weren't enough of them.

The cookies were also really good. It was a simple sugar cookie recipe with ground almonds and cinnamon sprinkled on top. Tasty, and just different enough to be interesting.

Note to self - next time, don't make so much couscous.

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#68 tammylc

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 12:46 PM

Beef Burgundy (12/30)

Long, busy day today. The baby and I went to playgroup this morning, then for lunch with the other moms, then came back here and started cooking. I had decided to make Beef Burgundy and written it in the book, without thinking that stew needs to, well, stew, and that takes time. Usually I start cooking between 3 and 4. My assistant cooks don't come until 4. But I needed to get the stew stewing by 3:30 so it would be done by 6. And before that I had to brown the meat, etc.

I started at 2:30. A sequence of neighbors and friends took turns looking after Liam all day, but he didn't get enough naps and was quite pooped by the end of the day. I feel bad. I should not have gone out for lunch and instead come home and given him a nap, as was my original intention. Bad mama.

Dinner turned out really excellent. I had never actually made Beef Burgundy before, but I did a bunch of web research and ended up preparing something that was a slight variation on the Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen version. I had 24 meat eaters, 5 vegetarians, and 12 kids of assorted ages. I started by cooking some bacon, then browning 12 lbs of cubed beef chuck in bacon fat. Chopped up some onion and carrot and put those in the pot with the meat, plus a bouquet garni of parsley, thyme, garlic and bay leaves. Then I melted some butter and added flour and cooked it until it was a brown roux. It was very nearly a black roux, but I managed to save it before it burnt. Put that in the pots (I was making two pots at once) and added a bottle and a half of $7 Pinot Noir from Trader Joes to each pot. Apparently Beef Burgundy is actually improved with better wine, but I was on a budget. Then onto the stove to stew by about 3:45 - not bad.

When my assistant cooks arrived I assigned one of them to make "Beans Burgundy" (a vegetarian variation I found online) while the other one and I did various things like setting the tables, slicing fruit for dessert, etc. She had to run out to pick up her son from daycare, which was handy because I'd forgotten to buy the bread, so would have had to send someone out for it anyway. Meanwhile the stew stewed away. Near the end we cooked some pearl onions and browned some button mushrooms and added them to the stew before serving.

Dinner was: Beef or Beans Burgundy, salad, peas, and baguette, with baked brie in puff pastry with apples and grapes for dessert. I also bought a better bottle of wine (actual Burgundy) and gave people the option of signing up and paying me separately for wine. I had three takers in addition to my husband and myself, and a couple of other people brought their own wine with them.

It was really, really tasty. Rich, flavorful, hearty, warm - perfect food for a winter day (ignore the fact that it's 50 degrees in MI today). It got lots and lots of raves - this was probably the meal where I had the most people commenting on the food. The vegetarian version was also really good - two people were fighting over the leftovers at the end of the night. A couple people mentioned that they always try to make sure to sign up for my meals because they know they'll be good - that was very nice to hear! It's nice to be appreciated.

It went over so well that I feel like I should do it again sometime. But I'd have to find a way to make the timing work better. Do a little bit of prep the night before, maybe - I could have chopped all my veggies and gotten the bouquet garni ready - although really, I just worked on those things while the beef was browning, so it wouldn't really gain me anytime. Get my assistant cooks to come early, if possible. Figure out how to get it done the night before, maybe. If I do it again I'll do it on a Sunday so that Liam can be with his dad, who'll make sure he gets naps as needed.

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#69 tammylc

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 12:48 PM

Stuffed Squash, redux (01/30/2005)

Cooked common meal again on Thursday, and decided to bring back the stuffed squash meal that earned me raves in October. This time I made stuffed squash for everybody and just got a little bit of ham for the obligate meat eaters. And to help with the oven crunch, we made mashed potatoes instead of scalloped potatoes. I'll probably do this meal once a season in the winter months - it's really easy, especially given how much people like it. It's kid-friendly, so I don't have to do anything special for the kids. And it's cheap - well under $4/person, even buying all organic produce and way too expensive ham (because that's all the grocery store I was at had, and I didn't have time to go to another one). Speaking of buying - I bought every single acorn squash in the grocery store, and ended up having to buy a few small butternut squashes to make up the difference. Pound for pound, this is probably my heaviest meal.

Notes to myself for next time: In October we made 15 lbs of scalloped potatoes for 60 people and had lots of leftovers. I only had 50 people on Thursday, but knowing mashed potatoes would go over better, I made 15 lbs of those. Which was not enough. I need to make 20 lbs next time. As mentioned above, the only ham the store had was expensive, and in these little tiny Black Forest Ham "nuggets." Which were actually nice in that they didn't take much time to heat up and were easy to carve and portion. In October, without the squash for everybody, we went through an 8 lb ham no problem. This time, I bought 3 of the little hams, with a total weight of about 5.5 lbs, and there were tons of leftovers. I probably could have got by with 2. But people took the leftovers, so it was no big deal. I did cookies for dessert this time, since I would have had to go to a different store to get pies, and I was worried about the cost because of buying the organic produce (needlessly, as it turns out, as I could still have turned out a $4 meal even buying the pies). Cookies worked just fine, but it is worth noting that there is lots of slack time in this menu (we sharpened all the knives in the kitchen and started doing the dishes), so there is time to make something more elaborate. As long as it doesn't need to be cooked in the oven.

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#70 tammylc

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 12:50 PM

Okay - all up to date now. I'll try to remember to cross post in the future, so I'm not doing it all at once!

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#71 snowangel

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 01:07 PM

Thanks, Tammy, for updating this. I always enjoy reading about your menu selections and the trials and tribulations of the prep.

There is no reason not to make the Beef Burgundy the day before. It's one of those dishes for which a long stand in the fridge does no harm, and can actually improve it, but I would wait and add the onions and mushrooms closer to serving time.

For the chicken, what pieces of chicken? Thighs? Legs? Breasts?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#72 tammylc

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 06:43 PM

Thanks, Tammy, for updating this.  I always enjoy reading about your menu selections and the trials and tribulations of the prep.

There is no reason not to make the Beef Burgundy the day before.  It's one of those dishes for which a long stand in the fridge does no harm, and can actually improve it, but I would wait and add the onions and mushrooms closer to serving time.

For the chicken, what pieces of chicken?  Thighs?  Legs?  Breasts?

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The biggest reason not to cook the Beef Burgundy the day before is that I don't have any assistant cooks that day! If I want to do that, I'd either have to do it all myself (ugh) or make special arrangements with them. Plus we only have a standard refrigerator, so making space to store it overnight could also be an issue.

For the Morrocan chicken I used "pick of the chick" packs of cut up pieces, so thighs, legs, breasts and wings.

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#73 tammylc

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 07:17 PM

Tortilla Soup

Another spin through the common kitchen. When I made this soup for dinner with friends a few weeks ago, I immediately began plotting to cook it for common meal, it was so good. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated magazine.

This ended up just a little more expensive than my usual meals. I lay the blame on buying 10 quarts of organic chicken stock at $3 per package. It would certainly be way cheaper to make the stock myself - but there's just not time. Not to mention that the chicken was free range and almost all the veggies organic. And I'm still probably less than $5 per person, so I'm sure I'm the only person who cares (I like to keep it around $4 if possible).

I had 26 meat eaters and 6 vegetarians, plus 8 kids. The original recipe serves 6, so I multiplied it by five for the carnivores and did a single modified version for the veggies.

My shopping list, with notes for next time:
For the soup:
7 lbs chicken (bone in thighs and breasts, fat and skin removed)
10 quarts chicken stock
2 quarts veggie stock
8 large white onions
12 tomatoes
2 heads garlic
1 bunch cilantro
1 pkg fresh oregano
1 can chipotles en adobo

The garnishes
2 pkgs corn tortillas (6 dozen)
2 pkgs grated cotija cheese (really wanted about 4 pkgs, but this was all they had at the Mexican Market)
1 1/2 lbs montery jack (because I didn't have enough cotija)
6 limes (didn't need that many)
1 bunch cilantro (needed more - 2 next time)
8 avocados (these were pretty small, and I should have had more - but you can never have enough in this crowd)
3 jalapenos
2 16-oz pkgs sour cream

2 lg bags mixed greens
2 pkgs grape tomatoes

Dessert
4 lg pkgs instant chocolate pudding (probably could have gotten by with 3 or even 2)
1 gallon milk
1 sm carton whipping cream

Making the soup is a multi-step process. But one of the nice things about it is that there's almost no chopping - you do a lot in the food processor. First, enrich and flavor the packaged stock by bringing it to a boil with 3 onions (quartered), 10 whole cloves of garlic, 1 bunch of cilantro, the oregano, and the chicken. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Strain the stock and reserve the chicken.

Puree the rest of the onions, as well as the tomatoes (cored and quartered) the rest of the garlic (12 cloves or so), and just two chipotles until smooth. This is way less chipotle than the recipe calls for, but I pureed the rest of the can and put it out as a garnish so that people could spice up their bowls as desired. The two that I added were enough to provide some flavor and depth to the soup without any heat, so I guessed right. The tomato puree gets cooked over high heat in a frying pan until it darkens in color (about 10 minutes) - I had to do it in three batches, then gets added to the soup and simmered to blend the flavors.

While that's simmering, the chicken gets shredded into bite-sized pieces and gets added back into the soup for a few minutes before serving.

For the vegetable version, I enriched the veggie stock in the same way, just leaving out the chicken. I usually try to have a veggie protein source, but I figured the cheese garnishes would fill that gap. And then I split the tomato puree between the two pots. The veggie version was no where near as good as the chicken, but after the garnishes, I'm sure it was still very tasty.

The tortilla strips are just done in the oven. Slice the tortillas into strips, toss them with a little oil, spread on a cookie sheet and cook them in a 425 degree oven for 7 minutes, toss, then cook for another 7 minutes (several batches, obviously, to crisp this many chips!).

I usually serve my meals family style, but this one really did lend itself best to serving buffet style, so that's what we did, complete with little instruction signs: Step 1 - Put chips in bowl, Step 2 - Add one ladle of soup, Step 3 - Garnish! As noted in the ingredients list, I didn't have enough cilantro and avocado, and too many lime wedges. Did a quick salad on the side, because it's nice to have something green.

For dessert, I doctored up some instant chocolate pudding. For half of it, I added just a tsp of cinnamon - good for the kids and the timid. For the other half, I added a tsp of cinnamon and about 1/4 tsp of cayenne. Both got topped with a little whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon. The spicy chocolate pudding turned out nice, although it had perhaps a little bit more heat than ideal (didn't stop me from eating 3 bowls, though!)

Another well received meal. Tim, who was sitting next to me, had 3 bowls! It's nice because it's so customizable - people like being able to add their own toppings. And pretty quick to make - it took 3 of us just 2 reasonably easy hours. I think this will go into the rotation.

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Dinner for 40


#74 TJHarris

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 08:33 AM

Tammy,

It sounds as though all is going very well for all your meals. I was wondering though, how to find out more about co-housing communities. Does your community have a web site?
Tobin


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#75 tammylc

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 03:30 PM

Tammy,

It sounds as though all is going very well for all your meals.  I was wondering though,  how to find out more about co-housing communities.  Does your community have a web site?

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Our website is at www.gocoho.org. Feel free to PM or email me with questions. I see you're in the neighborhood, so if you want to come by for dinner and a tour some time, just let me know!

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40


#76 TJHarris

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 04:14 PM

Tammy,

It sounds as though all is going very well for all your meals.  I was wondering though,  how to find out more about co-housing communities.  Does your community have a web site?

View Post


Our website is at www.gocoho.org. Feel free to PM or email me with questions. I see you're in the neighborhood, so if you want to come by for dinner and a tour some time, just let me know!

View Post


Thanks, I will PM if I have questions.
Tobin


It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.


#77 tammylc

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 10:38 AM

So Thursday I recapped the jambalaya I described earlier, and it was even better than last time. I'll share details later, but right now I have a request. My assistant cooks and I are planning a Thai feast for Sunday's dinner, and I'm looking for your favorite recipes for Thai Beef Salad. It seems like one of those recipes that has tremendous variation from cook to cook, so I'd like to see where the similarities and differences lie.

Tammy's Tastings

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Dinner for 40


#78 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 05:45 AM

I use the recipe in Hot Salty Sour Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. If you don't want to buy it, check your local library. I'm assuming that you're serving the beef on the side so the veggies can have at the salad too? Fried & marinated tofu would be a viable option for them.

#79 tammylc

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 07:49 PM

The menu is the Thai Beef Salad for the meat eaters, Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce for the vegetarians, and then a vegetable curry with rice for everybody. I want to do sticky rice with mango and coconut milk for dessert, but it seems like sticky rice is tricky to cook, so I might just do some mango ice cream or sorbet or something (store-bought).

Tammy's Tastings

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#80 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 03:08 PM

It really isn't. I've made it a bunch of times. It's basically a rice pudding. In fact, when I haven't had the correct Thai rice, I just make rice pudding and serve with diced or sliced mangos. Make a rich rice pudding, with egg, and use some coconut milk for flavor.

#81 snowangel

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 04:06 PM

Tammy, yes to what Rachel said. No, it's not difficult. But, it you want to be safe, make rice pudding with coconut milk. This is definitely the way to go if you can get ripe mangos.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#82 Della

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Posted 29 March 2005 - 01:33 PM

I just came upon this thread today and I have to say it is very intriguing! Thanks for posting.

#83 tammylc

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 07:25 AM

Okay - way behind again. I never did get around to writing up my jambalya redux, and it's too late now - I don't remember anything. Plus I managed to lose my receipts.

My Thai meal turned out pretty well. The salad (which was the reason I decided to make the meal in the first place) was just great, fabulous, words can't say. I also found a great quick and easy peanut sauce recipe online that I used to top fried tofu for the vegetarians. And I made a vegetarian curry with rice for everybody. This didn't turn out so well - I misjudged the timing and my veggies got mushy. And of course, because I was trying to accomodate the vegetarians, I couldn't use fish sauce in the curry, and Thai food just doesn't taste the same without fish sauce. If I do something like this again I'll probably make separate curries for the meat eaters and veggies.

The shopping list:

For the salad:
4 lbs steak (I think I ended up with flank steak, can't remember exactly)
3 cucumbers
4 tomatoes
2 red onions
1 bunch green onion
cilantro
4 romaine hearts

For the curry:
2 heads cauliflower
2 lbs green beans
4 green peppers
2 cans bamboo shoots
2 bags frozen peas
5 cans coconut milk
1 can green curry paste
basil

Assorted flavorings:
serrano chiles
garlic
red curry paste (for the peanut sauce)
palm sugar
lots of limes for juice
fish sauce
2 cans coconut milk
fresh ground peanut butter

Lots of rice

I can't remember how many people I had for this meal - I'll have to check that and come back and edit thee poste so these numbers will be useful for the future. We ended up having to borrow a can of coconut milk for the curry because we didn't have quite enough, and I should also have bought another can of curry paste - the curry didn't really have the right balance of flavors.

Tammy's Tastings

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Dinner for 40


#84 snowangel

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 11:47 AM

If you can find them, buy the tubs of curry paste. What's amazing is that the cans are $.79 for 4 oz. and the tubs are $1.19-$1.49 for 14 oz.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#85 tammylc

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 02:14 PM

Still catching up...

Last Sunday I revisited one my earliest meals - Middle Eastern night. I was foodblogging last week, so I did write it up promptly and just need to crosspost it over here. I recalled the falafel being a lot of work last time, so I decided to skip them this time and make baba gannoush instead. This was a mistake - I should have done the falafel. We had hummus, tabouli, baba, yogurt and cucumber salad, lamb kabobs, pita bread and feta cheese.

First, my shopping list:

2 lbs dried bulgar wheat
4 tsp dried mint
4 bunches of parsley
2 bunches green onion
12 cucumbers
4 tomatoes
8 cans of chick peas (I could save a lot of money by using dried, but it's too late now)
4 c of tahini
8 lbs eggplant
3 lg containers yogurt
4 1/2 lbs lamb or beef for kabobs
1 pkg fresh oregano
4 heads of garlic
a bunch of olive oil
enough lemons to make 5 cups of lemon juice
some feta cheese (how much will depend on how my budgets coming together)
8 packages of pita bread
2 trays of baklava

I had 17 meat eaters, 10 vegetarians and 5 kids signed up for dinner in advance, and got another 7 adults and 2 kids through late sign up slots.

It was only okay. t wasn't bad, just not very exciting for the work required, and I think by the time dinner came around I just wasn't in the mood for the food.

I headed into the kitchen around 3 and put the bulgar on to cook, then pierced the skin of the eggplants and through them into the oven to roast. When the bulgar was soft I spread it out on a sheet pan and put it into the fridge to cool. Then I proceeded to hack up the lamb I'd found.

Ideally I'd have liked a nice simple boneless loin to work with, but I didn't have time to run all over town to get one. So I just grabbed a 5 1/2 lb leg piece from Kroger and cut the meat off the bone. Trimming it took quite a while, and I'm sure I didn't do the most professional job of it... I made a marinade of garlic, olive oil and oregano and set it aside to soak.

I set Keith, one my assistant cooks, to juicing up the 20 lemons I'd bought. They were nice juicy lemons, so we ended up with about 8 cups of juice - more than we needed, but it's nice to have extra. Meanwhile, I tasked Hope with cutting up all of the veggies for the tabouli - parsley, green onions, tomatoes, cucumber. Unfortunately, she cut the parsley a little to course for my preferences, but I didn't realize it until we were mixing it all together and it was too late. Here's the tabouli all plated up and heading out to the tables.

I worked on the hummus, giving frequent tastes to Keith and Hope until we got the right balance of flavors, then put it in the fridge and moved on to the next thing. We garnished it with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled it with a little paprika and parsley.

Hope scooped out the eggplants and mixed up the baba ganoush. I don't particularly like eggplant, so I wouldn't have been the right person to judge the correct balance of flavors. Speaking of that, we used the cookbook Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd as the starting point for the hummus, baba ganoush and tabouli, mostly to get a sense of proportions, but mostly did it all by taste.

We chopped up a whole mess of cucumbers and mixed them with full fat yogurt, salt, cumin, garlic and a bit of lemon juice. This is one of my favorite Middle Eastern side dishes.

Keith finished skewering the lamb and went off to set the dining room tables while Hope was finishing the baba ganoush. I waited to cook the skewers until just about 15 minutes before service, so they'd still be hot. They'd have been quite nice on the grill, but firing one up would have been too much work, and they turned out great with just a couple of minutes per side under a hot broiler. There was only one skewer per meat eater (I was approaching the meat as a condiment, not as the center of the meal), so rather than putting a few on each table, I piled them all up on one plate and left them on the counter for the meat eaters to collect. I've done similar things with a special vegetarian item, when it doesn't make sense to spread it out. But I wish I'd made more - they were my favorite part of the meal - juicy, tender, nicely medium rare. Mmmm. I'd do these again, with some different side dishes, but go to a butcher who could cut them up for me.

We put out some halved pita bread and bowls of crumbled feta cheese, and we were done. It was never frenzied, but we did have to work steadily to get everything done on time. The nice thing about this meal is that because so much of it was served cold or at room temperature, there was no rush to get everything out to the tables at the last minute.

Dessert was store bought baklava, and it was nummy.

(The original foodblog post has pictures.)

I spent $117 at Arbor Farms, which included $24 for a 3 L container of EVOO that will be charged to pantry costs rather than my meal. Then another $34 or so at Kroger (I've managed to lose the receipt - doh!). My assistant cook spent $24 on two pans of baklava and four packages of pita bread. Total: $151.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40


#86 tammylc

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 02:21 PM

Alright, now that I'm caught up I can move on to planning Thursday's meal. By popular demand, I'm going to make the tortilla soup again. eGullet's own CaliPoutine is joining me as guest assistant chef, and I believe she'll be making peach/raspberry crisp for dessert (with her own home canned peaches, no less!).

I'm a little bored of plain green salads for sides, so this time I thought I'd make something different and go for a roasted corn and red pepper salad, or something like that. I haven't looked up recipes or developed a plan yet, so your opinions are most welcome. I'm figuring to roast frozen corn and probably just use jarred red peppers, and mix it up with a lime cilantro vinaigrette. Maybe add some black beans? Finely chopped red onion? Tomato? Normally I'd do avocado, but I'll need a ton of them as garnish for the soup and they're expensive, so I don't want to buy them for the salad as well.

Please post any ideas or recipes!

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40


#87 snowangel

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 02:33 PM

Thanks, Tammy, for keeping this up. I'm doing a couple of do's this summer for crowds of about 40, and this is great info and food for thought.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#88 SushiCat

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 11:08 PM

Tammy, thanks for sharing so much info on your cooking escapades. I'm going to be cooking for a large crowd this summer - possibly more than 200 people and am always looking for recipes that can be increased. You chickpea / carrot stew sounds intriguing as do some of your other ideas/recipes. Let me know you thoughts.

Of course I am open to others opinions too!

I'm doing breakfast and lunch - lunch is the big meal. Dinners will likely be a combo of things we can make during the day including a vegetarian main dish, a salad and then we will likely have a meat dish that is cooked in a commercial kitchen and brought in. Ideas for anything are most welcome including easy cakes / treats as I will also serve a snack at about 4 p.m. and usually that needs to be sweets, although sometimes we hack up watermelons.

I'll be sure and post what the plans are and how it turns out - but meanwhile I'm just starting to think of what might be fun to make!

#89 tammylc

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 07:14 AM

Tammy, thanks for sharing so much info on your cooking escapades.  I'm going to be cooking for a large crowd this summer - possibly more than 200 people and am always looking for recipes that can be increased.  You chickpea / carrot stew sounds intriguing as do some of your other ideas/recipes.  Let me know you thoughts.

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That stew is definitely one of my favorites. It's really easy to multiply for large groups, and it's really cheap. If you're not trying to cook organic, you can just buy chick peas in the giant #10 cans, or to be even cheaper you can use dried beans.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40


#90 tammylc

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Posted 16 April 2005 - 11:07 AM

Tortilla Soup, Redux

I think I could make this meal every time I cook (twice a month) and still have people breaking down the door to get it. It's very popular.

Thursday nights we alternate hosting meals with our neighboring community, Sunward. So between our members and theirs, Thursday night dinners can be large. This week I had 23 meat eaters, 18 vegetarians, and 12 children of assorted ages, for a total of 53.

I decided to make 4 recipes each of the vegetarian and meat version of the soup (figuring meat eaters could have the vegetarian if they wanted extra, but not the other way around). I shopped at Meijer this time instead of going to Arbor Farms like I usually do, for a couple of different reasons. One, I didn't indicate that this would be a mostly organic meal, so I didn't feel compelled to buy as much organic as I usually would. Two, I needed ingredients that I couldn't get at Arbor Farms, but didn't have time to go to three stores (I also needed to go to the Mexican market).

Doing the shopping at Meijer reduced the cost of the meal quite a bit, as did a key discovery. Last time, I bought cartons of stock, but at $3 a carton it added quite a bit to the cost of the meal. But I didn't have the time or energy to do stock from scratch, which would have been cheaper. This time, I was looking through the latest Cook's Illlustrated and noticed that Better Than Boullion stock concentrate came out second in their chicken stock tasting. Looking on line, I noticed that it came out second in the vegetable stock tasting too! At $4/jar, this made for a huge cost savings to the meal, and no sacrifice in quality from the liquid stock I used before.

eGullet member CaliPoutine was visiting the area and offered to assistant cook. She was did a great job and was a fabulous help - thank Randi! She brought along 4 jars of home canned peaches to contribute to a peach berry crisp that she made for dessert, plus she smuggled in four avocados from Canada, where for some reason they are much cheaper than in the US. And good thing, since Meijer didn't have enough ripe avocados and we would have been seriously short without them.

Shopping List, with notes for next time

Soup
1 jar Better than Bouillon Chicken
1 jar Better than Bouillon Vegetable
8 large white onions
3 heads garlic
16 tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro
1 pkg oregano
3 chipotles

Garnishes
2 pkgs (6 dozen) corn tortillas (needed more with this number of people, we ran out after the first pass)
2 pks Cotija cheese
1 3/4 lbs Montery Jack
3 limes
2 bunches of cilantro (I stole a little bit for the salad, and we ran out again)
16 avocados (That's what I wanted - we ended up with Randi's 4, and 9 from Meijer, one of which was bad. One can never have enough avocados in this crowd. 16 would have been better.)
3 jalepenos
Chipotle sauce (the rest of the can, pureed in the food processor)
2 1/2 cartons sour cream (there were some leftovers in the fridge, so I just bought one more 750 ml size from Meijer)

Salad
Instead of a green salad like last time, I decided to make a corn salad. I cooked the corn and then rinsed it in cold water to start chilling, chopped up all the other ingredients and mixed it all together with the dressing. I thought it turned out pretty well.
4 lbs frozen corn
3 jars roasted red peppers (Alessi brand - could have used more)
1 red onion, finely diced
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, minced fine
6 limes, juiced
Olive oil (about 1 1/2 times the quantity of lime juice)
Salt
Black pepper
Cumin
A little fresh oregano from the garden

Peach Berry Crisp
These are ingredients in addition to the four mason jars of peaches Randi bought, and the whole wheat pastry flour, oats, cinnamon, etc that were already in the pantry.
1 lb butter
2 lbs frozen peaches
7 lbs frozen mixed berries (Meijer had a big bag of frozen berries on sale)
1 pkg slivered almonds
brown sugar (because the common house pantry was out)

Big tub of cheap (Dean's) vanilla ice cream

Best part has to be the price - $129.30! So it'll be about $3.50 per person. Compared to almost $6 last time! Part of that has to do with the ratio of meat eaters to vegetarians (I had to buy more chicken last time for fewer total people). I meant to buy tofu to have some protein for the veggies, but forgot. Oops. The stock made a big difference, plus there were some economies of scale - I still only needed one pkg of oregano and one bunch of cilantro for the soup. for example. This was just about the perfect number of people in terms of maximizing the value.

Just another comment about the soup itself. One of my neighbors was asking me what the broth was, because it's so flavorful. And it's a tricky recipe - the soup looks pretty much just like plain broth, but as one of my neighbors said, it has layers and layers of flavor - "Where," she asked "did that come from?" You start with stock, then enrich it with chicken and aromatics, then puree tomato and onions and garlic and chipotle, saute them, and then add them into the broth for something that's deep and delightful.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40






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