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tammylc

Dinner for 40

288 posts in this topic

Yep, or something with ground meat. It'll be at least 4 months before I have to decide, though...


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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And you'll want something quick and easy as you'll be busy with the new little one. :wink:


Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Trying to get all my cooking committments done before I have a baby, so I'm on deck again this Tuesday. Having decided simpler is better, and because asparagus has come into season, I'm making one of my favorite dishes - a pasta with portabello mushrooms, asparagus and Boursin sauce from Food and Wine's Quick from Scratch Pasta book.

It's a recipe I've made many times and it's fast and easy, so this should be an low key cooking night. One of my assistant cooks is taking charge of dessert, so I don't even need to think about that. I need to hit Zingerman's bakehouse tonight or tomorrow for bread.

So the only thing I need help on this time is the salad. Last time I made a variation of one of my standard house salads - spinach with goat cheese, pecans and dried cherries, with balsalmic vinaigrette. In honor of spring, I was planning to use a nice spring mesclun mix, but I'm trying to decide what else to do with it. I could just do a green salad, but since it's a vegetarian dinner, some cheese or nuts for the extra protein seems advisable. I often make the spinach salad with fresh strawberries, which my husband adores, but I don't want to do goat cheese again. What do y'all think of mesclun/feta/strawberries? Any other ideas?

Thanks!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Trying to get all my cooking committments done before I have a baby, so I'm on deck again this Tuesday.  Having decided simpler is better, and because asparagus has come into season, I'm making one of my favorite dishes - a pasta with portabello mushrooms, asparagus and Boursin sauce from Food and Wine's Quick from Scratch Pasta book.

It's a recipe I've made many times and it's fast and easy, so this should be an low key cooking night.  One of my assistant cooks is taking charge of dessert, so I don't even need to think about that.  I need to hit Zingerman's bakehouse tonight or tomorrow for bread. 

So the only thing I need help on this time is the salad.  Last time I made a variation of one of my standard house salads - spinach with goat cheese, pecans and dried cherries, with balsalmic vinaigrette.  In honor of spring, I was planning to use a nice spring mesclun mix, but I'm trying to decide what else to do with it.  I could just do a green salad, but since it's a vegetarian dinner, some cheese or nuts for the extra protein seems advisable.  I often make the spinach salad with fresh strawberries, which my husband adores, but I don't want to do goat cheese again.  What do y'all think of mesclun/feta/strawberries?  Any other ideas?

Thanks!

I like spring mix with red grapefruit sections and toasted nuts (I use pine nuts, pecans or walnuts - although pine nuts are my favorite). Top with a sweet vinaigrette (I use Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette - but if that doesn't fit into your budget - I suspect you can whip up a reasonable facsimile). I recommend Costco for nuts in bulk (the nuts are good - and they're relatively cheap). Robyn

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Long time no posting! But the baby has been keeping me from visiting eGullet as much as I might like. But I just got a PM from someone who'd been missing this thread, so here's the latest installment, from a meal I cooked a couple of weeks ago...

Back to the kitchen for my first head cook shift post-Liam. I paid one of the neighbor kids to play with him in the common house while I cooked, and that worked really well. She's still too young to babysit on her own, but the "mother's helper" thing worked great and was $7 well spent.

The menu was ham for the meat eaters, stuffed squash for the vegetarians, and scalloped potatoes, carrots, salad and pie for everybody. All told I think I spent around $150 dollars on food, for 44 adults/teens and 16 or so kids. I had my assistant go shopping at the farmer's market yesterday morning, and we saved a bunch of money that way, not to mention getting nice fresh local produce. Here's what it takes to cook dinner for 60:

1 8-lb ham

1 gallon apple cider

15 acorn squash

2 loaves Zingerman's bread

6 onions

2 celery hearts

1 lb walnuts

1/2 lb pecans

2 pkgs Craisins

veggie stock from bouillon paste

15 lbs potatoes

6 leeks

1 1/2 gallons milk

1 lb butter

7 lbs carrots

1 bag of mixed greens

2 heads of lettuce (leftover from last night's meal)

7 tomatoes (leftover)

1 cucumber (leftover)

5 cheap storebought pies

The timing was tricky, but in the end it all came out perfectly. I cooked the squash and cubed the bread last night. Started cooking around 3:30 today, cleaning and slicing potatoes in the food processor. When my assistant cooks came at 4 pm we finished the potatoes, sliced up the leeks, and set to layering the potatoes in 8 bakers. Got them in the oven by 4:30, four to an oven. Brought the ham over to my house to heat up in the apple cider - not enough oven space in the common house. Took a break to nurse Liam while my assistants sliced the onions and celery and sauteed them. Mixed up the rest of the stuffing - bread, nuts, craisins, poultry seasoning, pepper. Added the cooked veggies and mixed it all up with veggie stock to moisten. Stuffed 30 squash halves. An hour had elapsed in the cooking of the potatoes. Took off the lids and consolidated all the potatoes in one oven, raising the temperature to make sure they'd be done in time. Loaded the squash halves into the other oven. Put together the salad. Set the tables. Sliced and plated the ham. Plated the squash. Took the scalloped potatoes out of the oven. Plated the carrots. Sliced the pies. Took some excess liquid off the potatoes. Got them to the tables, and called for a kid to ring the bell and let the hordes descend at 6:15 on the button.

It was fun. And tasty! The ham was still a little cold in the middle, but it was pre-cooked, so no biggie there. The scalloped potatoes had too much liquid and too much black pepper - easy things to fix if I do it again- but were done (my biggest worry - they were in the oven for about 90 minutes all told) and tasty. The squash came out great and was a big hit. Carrots were perfectly done and wonderfully sweet - that's what fresh from the market will get you!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Well, if anyone's still reading this thread, I'm looking for advice. I've put Jambalaya on the menu for Sunday dinner, and I'm looking for thoughts on methods.

I need to make both veggie and meat eater versions. I can't use shrimp or shellfish of any kind due to allergies, so I'm planning chicken and sausage for the meat Jambalaya, and probably tofu and some sort of fake sausage for the veggies.

Most recipes I've seen for Jambalaya have you cook the rice in the liquid in a pot on the stove. That seems like it wouldn't work well in quantity. So my current thought is this: Cook the sausage, then brown the chicken (thighs and legs on the bone, I'm thinking) in the sausage fat. Saute the veggies in the same pan. Add my liquid, bring it up to a boil. Distribute chicken and sausage and rice in casserole pans (we serve family style, so there will several small casseroles), top with liquid/veggie mixture, put in the oven and bake.

Do you think that would work? It's sorta like baked chicken and rice, just with extra stuff... How long do you think it would need to bake? Any other ideas or suggestions?


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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I am still reading this thread!

I've never made jambalaya, but your baking it idea sounds much easier. How big will the pans be?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Hey, I'm here, too. :wink:

Even though you might lose some flavor, I'd cook the rice with the vegetables all together, and the meats/tofu separately, only adding them just before serving, or maybe even keeping them entirely separate, so that you don't run into a problem with having the right proportions of each.

As for baking: a recipe I have for 50 portions (4 ounces each) of pilaf that uses 1 cup of olive oil, 2 cups minced onion, 3 cups slivered almonds, 3.5 pounds of converted rice, and a gallon of stock. Cook the onions and almonds in the oil until tender; add the rice and stir to coat. Transfer rice mixture to a 12 by 20 by 4-inch pan. Add the stock; bring to a boil on the stove top, cover. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes, "or until liquid is absorbed." Fluff before serving.

Then you could serve it from several smaller casseroles with the meats and/or tofu. How does that sound?

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Thanks for the suggestions. I just did some looking, and there are a bunch of baked Jambalaya recipes out there, so I'm not the first person to think of it.

I'll report back on how it turns out!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Here's how you make Jambalaya for 40 (28 meat eaters, 8 vegetarians, and a bunch of assorted kids).

Spent $110 on...

3 lbs onions

2 celery hearts

4 red pepper

4 green peppers

1 bunch parsley

2 qts chicken stock

1 qt veggie stock

5 lg cans diced tomatoes

2 lbs andouille sausage

34 chicken thighs

6 lbs rice

4 pkgs tempeh

1 bottle liquid smoke

4 heads lettuce

3 pkgs grape tomatoes

1 pkg frozen peas

2 lg cheesecakes

1 jar sour cherry preserves

In addition to the above ingredients, I used some garlic and spices that were already in the kitchen and a bunch of thyme from the common house herb garden.

Trader Joe's rocks. Got most of my ingredients there really cheap, not to mention the cheesecakes, which everyone raved over. I can't *make* a 3 1/2 pound cheesecake for $8 - I'll be buying that for common meal dessert again for sure.

Dinner was good. The liquid smoke definitely helped make the vegetarian version have more of the spirit of the meaty version. I shouldn't have put back the extra package of chicken that I had in my cart - I know there were people who wanted more than one chicken thigh per person, and I was worried about budget - didn't realize how little I'd spent until I checked out. And I should have bought more lettuce - even throwing in the extra package I had at home, they were still pretty skimpy salads.

I decided not to go the baked route, and for the meat version I instead cooked the rice separately and combined it at the last minute. Worked really well, and we didn't have to worry about it taking too long to cook, or getting burnt on the bottom, etc. For the veggie version, we just cooked it on the stove, since we were only cooking it for 8 people. It burnt a little on the bottom, but that was okay.

Cheap and pretty easy. We weren't stressed for time at all. I think this'll go into my regular repetoire.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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.

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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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\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.

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.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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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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.

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!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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?

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...


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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"

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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?

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.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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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

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

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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?

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

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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