Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best Laid Plans for a Holiday Foodfest

I spent most of my free time this past week coming up with a menu for last night's party. Each year, my friends and I get together to celebrate the holidays. This year I hosted. I started with about 12 people on the guest list. Which quickly turned into 20, somehow. What was to be a big sit down dinner would now have to be reconfigured into something bigger and easier. There is a lot of planning that needs to go into this sort of thing.

With menu decided, I placed a big grocery order to arrive Friday afternoon. I came home and got to work organizing the fridge and making a plan. I felt like there wasn't quite enough, with the guest list still growing, so I ordered a few more things for Saturday morning. It was hard to get a handle on how much food I would need and how to make it all happen. So, I made one of my famous excel charts to plan my time and resources. I have a limited amount of cooking and serving pieces, I mean, we have a bigger apartment now, but it is still NYC. I laid out all the pans and bowls and post-it noted them with the dish they would be needed for. I tend to get confused and flustered when I'm juggling guests and drinks and cooking, so I felt the extra organization would help guide me as things got crazy.

Excel chart plan

As usual, I fell behind on Saturday's cooking schedule right away. The meatballs were pretty moist, and I planned to bake them in bulk, so I browned them in batches before adding them to the giant roasting pan. By the time the first guests arrived, I was only slightly behind schedule, and they were all willing to pitch in. I consulted my friend Todd on the dressing for the heart-of-palm salad and he went to work on it. My friend Mary Laura is always a lifesaver at parties and pitched right in seasoning potatoes and slicing sausages. Kristen topped and managed the baking of the pizzettes. Others drained olives, and plated cheese and jam (I gave up the idea of baking it) while my husband sliced a baguette. My sister-in-laws came with hot samosas and pies.

The plan was put on pause around 8:30, since most of the guests had not arrived. I'm not real sure what happened over the next 2 hours, except that the food took 4x as long as I planned to cook in the oven, but somehow we ended up eating around midnight. I ended up feeding a rather drunken crew of about 25 people who all seemed quite satisfied with the food and not at all bothered by the late hour (maybe that's because they were so busy doing shots of tequila). Food coma sent most of them home before the huge dessert buffet. We were worried we wouldn't have enough food, but we ended up with tons of leftovers and lots of desserts. The clear winners were the puff pastry pizzettes, chicken meatballs and my friend Ryan's Indian Infused Potato Latkes with yogurt sauce. Here is the entire menu:

Assorted olives
Manchego with Fig Preserves
Puff Pastry Pizzettes
Samosas
Crusty bread with Olive Oil

Chicken Meatballs
Beef-less Stroganoff (entirely cooked in crockpot)
Egg Noodles
Hearts-of-Palm salad
Roasted Carrots (I gave up on the sauce)
Roasted Potatoes
Apple Craisin Cole-Slaw
Chicken Apple & Chicken Mango sausages
Indian Infused Potato Latkes (brought by guest)

Desserts - brought by guests:
Oreo cookie pie
Peanut butter cheesecake pie
Berry Pavlova
Gingerbread cookies
Homemade Pizzelle cookies
Kiss thumbprint cookies
Peanut butter cup thumprint cookies
Baklava
Hot Apple crisp

food layover area

chicken apple and chicken mango sausages

Indian infused Latkes

Egg Noodles

Apple Craisin Slaw

Tomato Zucchini Gratin

Roast Carrots

Chicken Meatballs

Samosas

Olives

Puff Pastry Pizzette slice

Manchego and Fig Preserves

Baguette


Heart of Palm Salad

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