Crowd Pleasers and Teasers
Crowd Pleasers and Teasers
When the doorbell rings and they are expecting a lovely dinner....arrrggghh, where from there?? You invited them after all!
Recurring nightmare; Thirty people show up for dinner and I have to whip something up in less than an hour. Apparently I am not the only one who gets anxious when feeding a crowd, as this is one of our most popular questions.
What do you feed a crowd when you (accidentally) invite the entire extended family/neighbourhood for brunch, lunch or dinner?
Attending a party should be as much fun as catering for one am I right? (Not quite, but it shouldn’t reduce you to the foetal position, curled up in the corner!)
Planning is Critical;
Write your menu based on all the knowledge you have on hand. Is great Aunty Letty dairy intolerant? Is your neighbour epi-pen dependant around nuts? Is gluten intolerance a thing you should be aware of? Who is the vegan/vegetarian that you need to cater for?
An ambulance out the front of your house on the night you are entertaining is never a good look. Just saying!
Write your recipe list down, and then answer the following questions about each recipe.
Can it be frozen?
Can it be prepared 1,2,3 days, or up to a week in advance?
Can everyone eat it? (list the intolerances that may be attached to each recipe.)
Do you really truly need to make it from scratch? Will a bought version do? I’m thinking croissants for example. If you are having a brunch and are determined to make your own croissants, you will literally be up all night and no good to anyone at the event. So choose your ‘home made from scratch’ items wisely.
Don’t Over Cater;
If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is the host who is the only person worrying about how much food there is or is not at the event! You have your menu organised. Look through it again and toss one thing out. There. That was easy wasn’t it? You just saved yourself time, money and anxiety.
Simplify the Menu;
Drop the Pinterest cute finger food. Unless you plan on an actual caterer, mini amuse bouche are on a restaurant menus and Pinterest boards for a reason. They are the death of calm in your kitchen before a crowd descends. Go for hearty pass around food that your guests can help themselves to, like dips or veggie platters. Alternatively, save the day entirely by preparing a grazing platter. Top it with cheeses, crudites, olives, crackers, breads, dried fruit, fresh fruit and yes, dips and pates! An artful display, is not only appetising, it is delicious to have lots of smaller bites of yum available throughout the beginning of the evening.
It is always a good idea to be liberal with the drinks at the beginning of the event as that is when your guests are less relaxed as are you. So have a drink yourself then launch in to sharing your amazing cocktail recipe liberally until everyone is laughing and relaxed and well on their way to a good time.
There is absolutely no point in trying something for the first time on a huge crowd! Make sure what you are making is tried and true. Use recipes you are familiar with, that you have cooked more than once and that you know are crowd pleasers.
Stay away from the crazy stuff unless you are cooking for the local foodies club. Stick to common foods that are widely recognisable and think twice before serving the garlic snails, durian or even over applying herbs such as coriander which can be quite overwhelming if you are not a fan.
Make Dessert First;
I’m saving the best for last...This is an old tip from my days as a caterer to the family occasions, many and often. If you get dessert sorted (which usually can be made well in advance anyway) then you have a wow factor saved for the end of the evening with little chance of anything going wrong! It is easy to cater to larger groups by working on a 2 small dessert servings per guest basis. So go wild, leftovers are never a bad thing when it comes to dessert. I always like to add a fruit platter to dessert for a crowd as well, it goes a long way and many people appreciate it rather than (shock, horror) my chocolate laden desserts! Whilst we are discussing chocolate, a huge rustic piece of couverture chocolate, accompanied with nuts, berries, freeze dried orange pieces is pretty spectacular as a help yourself dessert.
Now you have all the information needed to host the party they will be discussing for years, I think it may be time to send out some invitations...don’t you?
Here are a few of my favourite crowd pleasers that I know will work every time.
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Tenina Holder is a wife, mother of five and grandmother, who started cooking in the olden days before Thermomix was even a thing.
Tenina has become the premium go to source for all Thermomix expertise and of course fresh and easy recipes that work. Her cooking classes and foodie trips are sold out in literally hours, her cookbooks appear on the Australian best seller lists and her social reach is in the millions. She believes chocolate, butter and salt are health foods. Her food positivity mantra is, eat everything, just not all at once!