Monday, June 18, 2007

Catering my first party

The pic is just tiny portion of what went out.
I was so tired that most of my pics are blurry....
Note: Those salads in the glass bowls were soon doubled bowled with ice and kept cold and refreshed with chilled salad from the fridge.

Well, I catered my first party.
Actually, it was more "personal chef" stuff - since it was in the host's home. But, since I'm not a chef...I'll just use the word cater. It was an Open House for my friend's daughter's graduation (and the graduation of her good friend.) Invitations went out. 75 confirmed 25 not-confirmed - grazing over hours, no real sit down - between the hours of 3-8pm. (Actually people hung out till 10-ish, I believe.)

The two grads chose the menu - one loves sandwiches, one loves salads. So, they chose to bypass entrées and include only what they really love.

I provided a menu, and the girls selected:

Cold Appetizers:
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Kalamata olive feta pinwheels
Hummus on pita triangles
Sun-dried tomato cream cheese torte

Tri-color cheese tortellini salad with pesto
Greek Salad with homemade lemon-vinaigrette
Tomato, basil and mozzarella salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette
Hoisin chicken lettuce wraps

Asian wraps with Napa cabbage, shredded carrots and home-made sweet ginger dressing.
Dana's California sammies - Turkey BLT with fresh avocado spread on multi-grain bread
Roast beef with caramelized Vidalia onions and Boursin cheese on French bread
Tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwiches with pesto mayo on Italian bread

Virgin froo-froo drinks complete with umbrellas:
Mojitos with fresh mint
Frozen daiquiris with fruit juice and frozen peaches
Frozen pina coladas with fresh pineapple

Moms provided:
Cheese platter
Potato egg salad
Shrimp platter

The party was a rip roaring success and the two HS grads had a fun time. It was a LOT of work...keeping in mind that I am not a professional, nor do I play one on TV...but it was a blast! I cooked/prepped about 13 hours on Sat and then a handful more on Sunday before the party. According to the host, good feedback on the food is still coming in - she was very appreciative and keeps passing the kudos along. (That feels good.)

So, I learned a LOT.
And I now have an even greater respect for those who actually do this for a living. Thank goodness I had help on the day before for the girls, the mom, and a friend. They jumped into the fray slicing, washing dishes and experimenting with the new blender.

Two dishes were an unexpected hit - one very simple - one more unique. My "California sammy" creation flew off the plate. One high school boy walked right up and asked for one before it was even plated.

The other dish, Hoisin Chicken, was quite the taste sensation. I found the recipe on - I was hoping it would be similar to something I've had in Big Bowl. It was really interesting. We made it the night before and tasted it, enjoying each different hit of flavor. It was quite a mouthful. But, yet it was missing something. One of the girls had seen me add a bit of lemon zest to the tortellini salad and suggested that the chicken could stand a bit of orange. And, that's just what we did. Lots of orange zest (we had made 3 batches) and one orange of juice later we had that tastiest chicken...well that many of use have had in quite a while. That orange was just what it needed. I'll be making that again - with the orange.

BTW, I love my new probe thermo - it allowed me to serve safe yet really flavorful juicy chicken.
(And, the brining didn't hurt!)
Thank you, Alton Brown!

I created a special sammy for the family as a surprise. They really like Boursin cheese, so I smeared some French bread, caramelized some Vidalias and made some roast beef sandwiches for them. The combo was really good. We all made yummy sounds. Who knew such a mouthful of flavor could be so easy?

The umbrella froo-froo drinks ran out way too soon. Maybe because we had to taste so many the night before. ;)

People kept saying they were glad for "real food" - they had been to grad parties for the past 3 weeks and apparently had been served the same chicken, roast beef and mostaccioli. So, that was fun to hear. And, it was great to see people filling their dishes over and over.

Did I mention how much respect I have for people who do this everyday?
;) Pin It

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