Best of … feeding a crowd
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
Contributed by Info Guru Aurora LaJambre
Making food for a large group of people is intimidating if you’re not used to it.
But if you enjoy having people over, feeding a crowd often goes with the territory. Nobody wants to miss all the fun because they’re busy in the kitchen. The simplest way to avoid this is to ask for a little help and prep everything you possibly can the night before.
Even the best of us get a little frazzled in the kitchen when there’s much to do. Whether you’re serving dinner for a few hundred guests or hosting a massive family reunion in the backyard, try a few of these ideas to keep things running smoothly.
Double Up on Appetizers
Everybody loves cheese
People tend to munch on starches, meat and cheese at parties. If you’re throwing the kind of party where most people stand and mingle, set out an assortment of cheeses. Better yet, have several tables in different areas and mix up the offerings on each table to keep people circulating. Gourmet food stores have a mouth-watering selection of hard and soft cheeses and every type in between. Chop the cheeses a few hours prior and pair them with crackers, hunks of bread and oil, strawberries or specialty meats.
Keep it simple
Serving up burgers, hotdogs, ribs or kebabs hot off the barbeque is a treat for guests, but it means someone will need to man the flames. In addition to grills, a good outdoor living store will have every grill accessory you need for feeding a crowd from thermometers and grill lights, to warming racks and branding irons.
Try the vertical BBQ skewers set pictured above to double the amount of kebabs you can cook at a time. Set up a food station a good distance away from the grill to avoid a bottle neck in case everyone gets hungry at once. Place any vegetarian food on the top part of the grill to prevent juices from the meat dripping on top.
Add a fanciful touch
Your guests may be eating off of paper plates, but a few fanciful touches will have them feeling like they’re at a gala, flip flops and all. Use bright, bold serving bowls for a dramatic presentation on the buffet table. Use the largest platters you can find to reduce trips to the kitchen for replenishments. Big pitchers, giant colorful bowls and canisters for condiments can help you set the buffet for an army.
Infused Olive Oils
Impress with a burst of flavor
Infused olive oils are a hit at parties, particularly those with many hungry people. An array gourmet olive oil from your pantry will satiate your guests until you’re ready to sound the dinner bell. Black truffle oil, Italian pepperoncini and artisan infused lime olive oil are just a few varieties that are perfect for dipping bread in. To serve, fill small bowls with each type of oil and arrange them around platters of bread. Sprinkle Parmesan on top of the oil for an extra treat.
Spice It Up
Buy ingredients in bulk
Bland food happens when the cook is worried about over-seasoning, but fear not. Used in moderation, spices add nourishment and enhance the flavor of just about everything, including grilled veggies and garden fresh salads. Bulk Foods has almost every spice you could possibly want in bulk so you can stock up and never worry about having to run out to buy garlic the night before the party. Check out their apple pie spice blend for desserts, fajita seasoning for your next fiesta or ground ginger for an Asian inspired tasting.
The grand finale
Sometimes feeding a crowd successfully comes down to deciding where you want to focus your efforts, and where you prefer to let someone else do the work. If baking isn’t your strongest suit, meet Mrs. Prindables, an online gourmet market with the most extravagant chocolate covered and caramel apples, as well as a line up other sweet treats. Load up a tray with their mini apples and candy coated pretzels and send the chocoholics into their happy dance with a pyramid of chocolate delights. Order lots – you’ll save so much time! As some guests will want tea or a good cup of coffee, consider renting a 10- to 30 cup coffee maker from a restaurant or local caterer.