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Cooking for a Crowd -- simple recipes requested

 
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Lisa



Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Posts: 20
Location: New York City, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:05 pm    Post subject: Cooking for a Crowd -- simple recipes requested Reply with quote

I've got an event coming up at the end of next week. We'll be preparing all our own meals. Breakfasts and lunches will be very simple (bagels, sandwiches, salads, some soup) because people are not available to prepare ahead of time and we will not have much time to eat.

But I'm looking for recipe suggestions or general food suggestions for dinner. Three nights, 25-40 people each night.

I'm looking for recipes that are INEXPENSIVE, SIMPLE TO PREPARE, and REALLY TASTY! It's easy to prepare bland food in bulk but I know it can also be easy to prepare really delicious things!

I was thinking about Dairy_Queen's pumpkin peanut butter soup from the "What's Cookin'?" thread ... any other ideas out there?

Many many thanks!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have done lasagna for 30 or 40. In my opinion it's very easy, especially if you get the "no boil" noodles. It can be done fully 24 hrs. in advance and actually benefits from all the extra time to meld flavors. It can be served quickly with a minimum of fuss. (I put a ladle of sauce on the plate and then a square of lasagna on top of it with a bit of fresh basil for pretty. An attractive if massive salad would go with it nicely. You can also make a whole lot of garlic bread with 5 or 6 loaves of French or Italian bread.

If you don't have (or can't borrow) a couple larger roasting pans, you can get inexpensive yet sturdy lasagna pans at a restaurant supply store. I, personally, would pass on any temptation to get aluminum foil shaped pans. Not nearly sturdy enough. Wish we were close enough -- I still have the 3 restaurant supply lasagna pans I got for the occasion.

If setting up a table for serve-yourself is an option, then I'd also consider tacos/beans/rice. For this you'd set up shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, sour cream, shredded cheese (available already shredded at Costco and probably other similar big-box stores), etc. Simple as can be. The only real prep would be a mound of seasoned ground beef. You might even feel like offering simply broiled white fish & lime as an alternative for folks who would enjoy that option.

OTOH, a hearty soup, a great salad and some wonderful bread and cheese makes a wonderful meal too.

I hope someone is helping you and you have access to a couple stoves or a massive one in a church kitchen or some similarly adequate facility.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 11:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Cooking for a Crowd -- simple recipes requested Reply with quote

Lisa: I posted my "famous" Blue Ribbon Chili recipe for you in the What's Cookin' thread and let me tell you: it's INEXPENSIVE, SIMPLE TO PREPARE, and REALLY TASTY!!

On my writer's site, where we have a Food thread, there was a request for a chili recipe that WASN'T a 4 Alarm fire. I developed this chili recipe when I was 17 years old, and entered it into the Anoka County Fair, where it took 1st prize! Then, I entered it into the Minnesota State Fair, and for that year, 1969, it won the Blue Ribbon there, too. Laughing

As the recipe reads, it makes about 6-7 quarts; technically, I don't know HOW MUCH THAT FEEDS. I freeze almost the entire amount and couldn't tell you how many multitudes it will serve.

But, if I trust my friends and co-workers who have made this: it's a rich-tasting, non-flaming tasty chili. What's good about serving it for a crowd, is that it can be made days and days in advance, only improving with flavour. You can also serve baked potatoes, rice or noodles with this, for those people who like to have chili poured over stuff.

Have chopped onions (both green and white), shredded cheese, sour cream and other toppings ready....along with wonderful pans of Double Corn-Corn Bread!

And believe me....it's damn cheap to make! I'll post the recipe in THIS thread, too, but it's in the other thread for those that read that section.

(PS: I'm delighted that you're making the Peanut Butter-Pumpkin Soup; with a spinach salad and apple crisp, it's tasty!)

BEE'S BLUE RIBBON CHILI

NOTE: I do not like to brown meat in a deep stock pot, because of the trapped heat burning my hand when I'm browning it. Therefore, I brown the meat in a large skillet and then transfer the mixture to a large kettle or stock pot.


BEE'S BLUE RIBBON CHILI

1 Large Spanish Onion, coarsely chopped

1 Large Green Pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

5 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 1/2- 2 pounds of Ground Beef or Ground Sirloin

2-3 Tablespoons EACH of Worcestershire Sauce and Soy Sauce

1) Combine all ingredients in a large fry pan, and saute until beef is nicely browned. If using sirloin, you do NOT need to drain for grease.

(Transfer above mixture to a large stock pot of soup pot.)

ADD THE FOLLOWING ONCE BEEF IS BROWNED:

3-4 Stalks of Celery, chopped

2 Tablespoons of Dried or Fresh Parsley

2 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning

1 teaspoon of Ground Pepper

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar, tightly packed

2-6 ounce cans of Contadina Tomato Paste (MUST BE THIS BRAND)

2 teaspoons of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

2 15 1/2 ounce cans of Kidney Beans or beans of choice

1 28 ounce can of Whole Tomatoes (I chop them very slightly)

1 teaspoon of Tabasco Sauce

1 12 ounce can of Beer (I use Miller or Budweiser)

Stir all ingredients together; cover and simmer for at least 2 hours.
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lisa

When I read your post I immediately thought 'Lasagne', then went on to read Rainey's suggestion below your post. Great minds think alike.

If you have any vegetarians (or even if you don't), you could do a tri-colour lasagne with a layer of cooked crushed tomatoes, one of mushrooms and one of spinach, with whatever you use in your usual lasagne recipe (bechamel sauce/ricotta cheese/mozzarella & parmesan)

Good luck, and please let us know how it all goes
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lee_loreya



Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 30
Location: France

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I could suggest also some big dishes that can be prepared the day before: potatoes are very convenient for this (home made gnocchi
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_30011,00.html, "hachis parmentier" which is mash with beef ragout on top, put in the oven for 30 minutes, or a crustless quiche with mashed potatoes, eggs, garlic, herbs and shredded smoked salmon put in the oven, home made potato croquettes http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/4511?epiSearchPage=http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/find/results?search=potato+croquette in which you can put some pesto/mozzarella filling etc). Pasta is quite tricky since it's very fragile, it needs constant heating. However, I did a Pasta with mushroom sauce once and I had all the ingredients measured and chopped so you just need to put them in a large pan at the last minute: (in that order)

2 red onions
500g mushrooms
300g orechiette
10 cl white wine
10 cl chicken stock
20 cl creme fraiche
parsil and coriander, chopped
1 head garlic
parmesan

As for little munchies beforehands, you have the stantard cherry tomatoes, that you can fill with tapenade, some grapes with pecorino cheese (a big chunk in which each guest can cut a little bit), savory mini muffins, etc. And for dessert, you can make a large batch of brownies the day before because anyway they get better with time.
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melinda



Joined: 01 Oct 2004
Posts: 256
Location: Richmond, VA, usa

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in the same boat last week and turned to my old stand-by jambalaya....it's really cheap, feeds a crowd & is best when made a day or so ahead....i usually do chicken & spicy sausage version, add salad & garlic bread & voila......this time I did bourbon bread pudding for dessert....(also very cheap & everyone loved)
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wasabi



Joined: 29 Nov 2004
Posts: 32
Location: Salt Lake City, UT

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 11:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Cooking for a Crowd -- simple recipes requested Reply with quote

Hi Lisa, with spring coming on and the ease of soups, i'd say go for a nice vegetable soup--in the tradition of a hearty minestrone or soupe au pistou (sans pistou, of course). you can make it a bit more hearty for the chill remaining in the air by adding some parmigiano-reggiano rind or the heel of a prosciutto to the stock--it's better to use water anyway, so that way you'll get a more savory broth and save some dough and energy hauling cans of good stock from the market (or making your own for that matter). you can use that sort of flavored stalk to stew some beautiful borlotti, pink eye, rattlesnake, or canellini beans as well. just serve over bruschetta and drizzle with good evoo for a glorified beans on toast accompanied by a bitter green salad (my dandelions are already popping up and since i haven't treated the grass, i'm starting to use the young leaves in salad Shocked )

if you have large sheet pans you can't go wrong with tarts/quiches. phyllo is a great option for quiche (cheaper than puff pastry) or you can't go wrong with a batch of dough or short pastry for pissaladiere.

in line with lasagna you can make a great moussaka the day before and bake before serving--layers of zucchini, eggplant, and potatoes with a bechamel and ground lamb. baked ziti is great with a variety of grated cheeses.

good luck!
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sobodda



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 5
Location: Providence, RI, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 7:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Cooking for a Crowd -- simple recipes requested Reply with quote

A couple of side 'salads' that keep well and are great for a crowd. I made these when I was catering for a movie set. Ok, there were only five people there, but still Wink

I don't know the exact quantities but there is a lot of room for change in these. They're also pretty inexpensive, especially the second one.

Orzo Salad
Cook the orzo, mix with generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside to cool. When cool, mix with chopped tomatoes, chopped arugula, and chopped basil (or other herb of your choice). This is SO GOOD.

Carrot Salad
My mom always made this one and I haven't met anyone who doesn't love it. Shred a lot of carrots. Make a 'dressing' from sugar and lemon juice with quantities to taste. Mix carrots, dressing and raisins.
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brighidsdaughter



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 233
Location: Canton, TX USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a good website for quantity recipes:
http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/quantity/

Sometimes it's good to have a plain meat dish as a change from casseroles and stews. Slightly more expensive, but the prep is minimal and very little attention is required during cooking.

Baked chicken is always popular. Hindquarters bought in quantity are reasonably priced, or you may be able to get small whole chickens by the "chicken box" full from a warehouse-type supermarket or poultry distributor, and quarter them in advance. Use a seasoning blend like lemon pepper, garlic & rosemary, whatever sounds good. Bake covered @ 350F for 1 hr or til tender, uncover & brown under broiler.

I think the orzo recipe sobodda posted would be a great side dish. Add green salad, and an easy make-ahead dessert like brownies or fresh fruit and a sinful cookie.

If you're cooking for a nonprofit or educational group, some stores will give additional discounts.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

brighidsdaughter: Just having that link that you supplied was worth joining C & Z! I love to make large quantities of food and then freeze them for later use, but I get tired of the same old recipes and doing all the math.

There's a massive selection on that link; who knew! I won't be feeding a crowd of 40 anytime soon but I sure will be using the recipes supplied by that link; a BIG thanks!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thought, depending on what your budget for this affair is, is to get something like a HoneyBaked ham that's cooked and sliced. Make it the centerpiece of a buffet with the kind of salads and sides that sobodda suggests. You can concentrate on a few prepare-ahead things and forego all the cooking that takes you away from the event.

Or how about a few turkey breasts that you can slow roast? Probably 1/4 lb. per guest + a fudge amount would be enough and would fit in a single oven. When they're done you can pull the keelbone away so you can present them on a large tray that guests can slice their own from easily. Across the breast from neck-end to tail-end works beautifully. I would imagine leftovers would come in handy too.
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Lisa



Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Posts: 20
Location: New York City, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hiya! This post is a big crushing bear hug of thanks to everyone for helping me get perfectly in the mindset for the big crowds this last weekend --

It was by and large quite a success -- I used lots of the ideas here. We had a great taco spread to kick the weekend off (per Rainey's suggestion), also Dairy_Queen's pumpkin PB soup and chili, and sobodda's orzo salad, and Clotilde's carrot mint soup. Everything made the transition toa bulk amount quite handily. And http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/quantity/ was a super resource several times during the weekend. I used a couple of my own recipes for side dishes as well, which I'll post over at What's Cookin'? when I remember to. As someone who eats meats only very very rarely, I did learn I have a thing or two to learn about judging quantities of cold cuts that will be necessary ... ah well.

I forgot to mention our seriously spare oven space when making my original plea -- that's why we didn't do lasagna, ziti, baked meats, etc.

So again, MERCI and I hope one day we'll be having our own Chocolate & Zucchini worldwide dinner party and cooking for one another! I suppose that could quite easily start happening on more local levels ... but that's a thought for another time and another thread Smile

Big thanks --


Last edited by Lisa on Wed Mar 23, 2005 6:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lisa wrote:


So again, MERCI and I hope one day we'll be having our own Chocolate & Zucchini worldwide dinner party and cooking for one another! I suppose that could quite easily start happening on more local levels ... but that's a thought for another time and another thread Smile


Man! Wouldn't that be WONDERFUL!?!?!?!?!
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lisa: I'm so glad that your party worked out so wonderfully! So often, when someone asks for help in a thread, at ANY site, there's such a lack of feedback that posters can become jaded in responding to requests.

You had a lot of plates spinning in the air and it sounds like you pulled it off perfectly...Hip-Hip-Hooray for Lisa! Very Happy

And how cool would it be to have a Global Party?!
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