Quick Recipes and Easy

Catering From Your Kitchen

OK, so you still have a week left before that huge cocktail party and don’t know what to make? Not only that, the kitchen could use a pot and pan makeover. Before you make that call to the local catering hall, consider using the simplest of ingredients made with high quality cookware to make mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres, savory appetizers and tasty post cocktail treats and confections.

Depending upon the number of people you have to cater to, you can make a well-received feast that won’t strain your budget. Whether sit-down or buffet, simplicity and decor will win the day.
Starting with those pots and pans in the kitchen, a few choice changes can make a huge difference. Well designed kitchenware by top manufacturers and a balance of the appropriate choice of foods for the occasion can turn the amateur into the pro in no time. Heavy gauge stainless steel and cast iron are the two main types of pans, skillets, and pots that should be the basis for any kitchen cooking.

Next is the food. Be creative but be frugal. If you are having a variety of hors d’oeuvres, make sure you allow 6-8 bite-size pieces per person (if dinner follows your cocktail party, drop the number to 4-5 per person). You’d be surprised how anything in puff pastry goes the quickest. It’s light and airy and can be filled with a variety of products from custard to ham & brie (my personal favorite is chicken salad with a touch of béarnaise sauce).

Bakeries usually have inexpensive mini loaves of bread that are just the right size for a quick and simple bruschetta made with salsa, avocado slices and shredded mozzarella. A small container of feta cheese is honestly inexpensive and you can make feta-stuffed cherry tomatoes to liven up that hors d’oeuvres tray. Boursin and brie cheeses (both very soft) can be squeezed through a confectioners’ icing dispenser onto gourmet crackers to make professional looking cheese and cracker appetizers. Sprinkle a small parsley and voila. Fruit trays are also extremely well loved especially those that incorporate a few different types of melons (cantaloupe and honeydew are the most well loved). Strawberries and blueberries liven up any fruit tray.

And don’t forget those serving trays, especially in a buffet situation. A vase of flowers and some creative tablecloth positioning will help but how the food is presented is extremely vital. Stainless steel and silver catering trays are the norm as well as mirror-end trays. The latter is not as well loved for informal parties because each small crumb looks double in size. A tray with a subtle design or a grease less paper doily will look fantastic.
Hopefully these small tips will help with most parties you may choose to give. Excellent luck and excellent eating.

D. Anthony Nicholas is a former catering manager in New York City and runs his own kitchenandcatersupply.com kitchen and catering supply website.

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