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Newbie 'caters' reception for 40-50


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Here's the scoop:

My roommate and I are both in grad school. She's having her graduate composition recital in March, and has asked me to make most or all of the food for the reception. We've estimated that there will be about 40-50 attending, and we'd like to feed them somewhat substantially (not a full meal perhaps, but you know how students are - they are ALWAYS HUNGRY).

Limiting factors:

- not a ton of scratch to spend (she's budgeted about $200, so no prime rib)

- no kitchen facilities on-site (although I think refrigeration is accessible). We could probably bring in a microwave and beg/borrow/steal a crockpot or two, but that's it. The majority of it will probably be cold.

- time. Most if not all of this needs to be prepped ahead, because there's no way in hell I'm missing the recital.

- inexperience. I've never done something quite this large before. Not sure how much food I need to plan for.

We're thinking dips, spreads, crackers, cheese, breads, vegetables, some sweets, all the usual nibbles. However, I'd also like to kick this up a notch from the standard "ranch dip with carrots and celery" or "spinach dip in a bread bowl". Nothing wrong with the standards (and I'll definitely include some of them), but it would be cool to have a few special "somethings", given the importance of the occasion.

Whew. Any guidance? I do have about a month to plan and prep, which is good.

Nikki Hershberger

An oyster met an oyster

And they were oysters two.

Two oysters met two oysters

And they were oysters too.

Four oysters met a pint of milk

And they were oyster stew.

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My suggestion is to pick a theme and go with that, e.g., Asian food. You could do a sesame noodle salad (always popular), rice salad (Molly Katzen has a great recipe for Sri Wasano's Infamous Indonesian Rice Salad that tastes better if made ahead), summer rolls with assorted fillings (cheap and easy), cucumber and fruit salads, and then maybe bring in some satay skewers if you want something hot.

If you do a nice presentation (lining serving trays with banana leaves, for example) people will be really impressed. My sense is that flavors that are typically Asian (sesame, ginger, soy, garlic, etc.) are always popular at parties. For good reason, of course. :wub:

But if you don't like that idea, you could pick another theme, such as Mexican, Retro, High Tea, or whatever. I just find that picking a theme at the beginning makes it easier for me to plan a menu for a crowd.

Totally OT, but what is your roommate's instrument? I've always wanted to figure out how to make a cake shaped like a violin. And there are some really cool old sets from Wilton for making a grand piano cake.

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Well....for my friends wedding reception tomorrow night I am doing the app/cocktail snack course, he is having dinner Pasta Chicken etc catered.

I am making

deviled eggs


crudite with hummus

cheese board

ham gougeres (puffs)

sliced steak on crostini with garlic mayo and roasted pepper garnish

and tostones with fresh salsa and lime cream

I better get moving :biggrin:


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers


Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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I received some good ideas from Society members after posing a similar question.

Check out this thread.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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The themes idea is good...why not Middle Eastern? You can make lots of salady type dishes and appetisers ahead of time. Home made dolmades, hummus, baba ganoush, couscous salad, that kind of thing.

We've done that several times when we've hosted birthday parties for various elderly relatives. People drop in any time from 11am-5pm and there's a wonderful spread laid out for them that doesn't need any reheating or last minute prep. Buy (or make, if you have the time) some Middle Eastern sweets and you have a full meal! An extra plus is that it's exotic but also quite familiar to most people nowadays. Pretty much everybody seems to enjoy it.

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In addition to various make-ahead dips and spreads - things like humuus are cheap to make yourself! - why don't you shop around a couple of days beforehand and find some marked-down hard cheeses, bulk veggies or special deals on chicken, ham, etc, and then whip up an assortment of quiches? If you find inexpensive cheddar and tomatoes, just add some sauteed onions. If there's a deal on mozzarella and chicken, add some onions, pesto and zucchini. Ham? Bang. Quiche Lorraine. They can be the 'main event' on the buffet table, seved at room temperature, and even pre-sliced. You'll also save a bunch of $$ if you make your own simple pastry, which can be done well ahead of time. Or buy a bunch of mini-shells and make individual bite-sized tarts.

For desserts, poached fruit like apples caramelized in a bit of butter and sugar are delicious and cheap when you buy in bulk. Not sure if you need everything to be finger food though . . . .

Laura Fauman

Vancouver Magazine

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