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Food making parties


Shalmanese
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So I'm thinking of doing a food making party event with friends with the following concept: We all get together and make a seriously huge batch of a particular recipe. Then, it gets portioned out and each person takes home a dozen or so individually sized portions which they can then freeze and have a ready meal for when they need it. However, the end goal is more social than anything else. The food is there as an excuse for people to hang out and a way to have people make something together.

There are a couple of requirements for foods that would be ideal for this:

1. It has to be scalable to ginormous quantities

2. It has to be able to freeze with minimal quality loss

3. It has to be difficult enough that the average person probably wouldn't attempt it on their own

4. It has to have enough labor involved that everyone feels like they're contributing

For the inaugural party, I was thinking a ragu bolognese would be perfect. I've made the full blown traditional version only a couple of times in my life since it's such a production but, with a group, I think it could be manageable.

The only other solid idea I've had is Chili. I thought I would throw it out to the ingenuity of egullet to brainstorm some other ideas. Would potstickers freeze & thaw well? What about mole? That's something I've never made before. Any other suggestions?

PS: I am a guy.

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Chris beat me to it...pierogies or other dumpling would be good too

tracey

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Bolognese takes a long time to cook and the effort other than stirring occasionally is pretty minimal.

I've done fondue things in the past, where everyone is prepping a separate veggie or fruit. Couple of different kinds of fondue.

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Shalmanese I think that's a wonderful idea.

My large extended family gets together and prepares traditional Middle Eastern foods for our holidays. The food is labor intensive and it is fun to work together at preparing these dishes. It's as much a social event as a anything else. We all work hard but have a lot of fun. I have hinted at the exact proposal you presented. Getting together to make something and then taking it home for later preparation. Your 4 requirements are right on target.

A couple of things we do for holidays are stuffed grape leaves and squash as well as soup kibbeh. All require a fair amount of time to prepare and the extra hands are great the bonding even better. Many Middle Eastern dishes are labor intensive. Fried kibbeh, Lahm Bi`ajeen and sambousek (a kind of empanada) all come to mind

The suggestion of tamales, pierogies or other dumpling is excellent. They meet your 4 requirements to a T.

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Ravioli is always a winner. You can make several different stuffings, and people can take home some of each. A soup swap, where you make three or four different kinds of soup, (and people can also bring some from home) and everyone takes home several quarts of different soups, is fun as well.

Edited by kayb (log)

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Tamales are a traditional item for this sort of thing around Christmas. My grandmother-in-law would make a thousand or two with other women at her church.

Right. And this traditional food-making party even has a name: A "tamalada."

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I've certainly taken part in a tamalada and it is a lot of fun. I speak very little Spanish but know enough to laugh at the jokes - and there are many - and contribute a bit myself.

Empanadas are another possibility and I have also joined in a party in which these are made in huge quantities - sweet dessert types and savory snack types - various sizes and shapes, although the half-moon is the most popular, a triangular one works nicely for fillings that are chunky.

I've hosted blintz parties - hosting as many as twelve cooks - many with non-cooking mates so there would be perhaps twenty people total.

As there can be many fillings, both savory and sweet and the blintzes can be frozen for future use, it's fun to decided on a "menu" and see what the guests bring to contribute.

I have a collection of crepe pans and as they are very quick to make, it doesn't take long to have several stacks ready for the next step.

I have three of the portable induction burners and the steel pans are perfect for use on these so it isn't difficult to arrange "stations" for the people who are making the crepes.

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I still recall the perogi making party I held a number of years back - many hands make light work and it was a wonderful social event.

Potstickers would be another good one - any sort of stuffed things. And indeed they do freeze well.

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Wow, these are all some great ideas.

A question about pot stickers: They're meant to be frozen on a sheet pan and then bagged up correct? If so, whats the best way of transporting them to people's houses without them sticking into one huge mass before they get to the freezer?

PS: I am a guy.

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Like you suggested, moles freeze well and have lots of jobs to do in their creation. Carnitas, like a whole huge bunch? Or even a selection of salsas. Kimchee is often a group project, though not freezable, really.

I have also had much fun at canning parties--lots of folks are intimidated by the canner so it's nice for them to see someone else do it first. Not really farmers' market season in my hemisphere, but it's marmalade-making season and cutting up all the rind can be really fiddly.

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Oh! Or limon/orange/bergamotcello. If everyone brings their own zester, you could make massive quantities without the usual wrinkled fingers at the end. Then in a few months when it's ready, you can get together and sample. Sorry if this veers too far from your original question. I should have a party, I guess.

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Or how about sausages - I was making them this morning and thinking how much more fun it is when I'm making them with other people around - extra hands are useful there too.

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It only takes an hour or so for the potstickers to freeze on the cookie sheet. Make your potstickers, then cook some and eat--by the time you are done, the take-home product will be ready to package.

Could you invite me, too? I know how to make the wrappers!

sparrowgrass
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A question about pot stickers: They're meant to be frozen on a sheet pan and then bagged up correct? If so, whats the best way of transporting them to people's houses without them sticking into one huge mass before they get to the freezer?

Or you could just put them on paper/foil trays lined up, then bag or cover the tray. As long as you keep the trays flat on the way home, they should be ok. I've seen some dumpling makers dust their dumplings with a little cornstarch. This has the added benefit of creating that great dumpling crust in the pan when you make gyoza.

With Lunar New Year coming up in early February, you could have a party to ring in the year of the Tiger.

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What fun! This topic is making me consider a mid-February pierogi fest. Erin's cornstarch idea is good for all stuffed goodies that have to wait: potstickers, ravioli, pierogis. Just let guests know to bring their own sheet pans for back home transportation.

Gee, it could be fun to plan the decorations/cocktails/food to sustain guests during their labors. Empanadas=tango? Pierogis = polka and Chopin mix? Margaritas and tamales? Red lanterns for Tet?

Edited by maggiethecat (log)

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Wow, these are all some great ideas.

A question about pot stickers: They're meant to be frozen on a sheet pan and then bagged up correct? If so, whats the best way of transporting them to people's houses without them sticking into one huge mass before they get to the freezer?

I brought them to a New Years Eve party one year. I cooked them first, and layered them lettuce, pot stickers, lettuce, etc in an oven proof pan w/ cover. Popped it into the oven till they were warm. The lettuce provided steam and physical seperation between layers.

Tom Gengo

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In China, we do dumplings, zhongzi, and spring rolls. All of those freeze well.

With dumplings, my mom would just put them in a ziploc and freeze. When you cook them, don't thaw them, just put the frozen ones directly into the boiling water.

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Or how about sausages - I was making them this morning and thinking how much more fun it is when I'm making them with other people around - extra hands are useful there too.

I've done this before. It's definitely useful to have some extra hands, and as not many people are likely to make sausage on their own, it's a little exotic. Make two or three different kinds and send folks home with an assortment.

Plus, there is an added benefit in the giggles you get when inviting people to a "sausage party." Hee!

Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)
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There was a thread here not long ago (maybe a few months) about this same concept - well, not about throwing a big party specifically for people to make food to take home (which i think is way cool) but about foods that work well with extra hands and are fun to make. Several of these suggestions came up, as well as some others.

Don't know what you could search for to find that thread, but it might give you some more ideas (though some of the ideas there, like pizza, may not work so well for take-home-and-freeze).

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