Menus and Party Planning
Menus and Party Planning
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Most recommend that when the guest lists exceed 15 or 20, depending on your space situation, it is usually best to seek some outside help. Help can range from renting plates to hiring a bartender for your event. Renting plates, glassware and flatware makes sense when entertaining a large crowd.

 

Party rental companies can determine the quantities you need based on your head count; be sure to arrange the details a few weeks in advance. They deliver everything the day of the party, and all you have to do is return things to their original crates for pick up the next morning. You can also rent larger items such as coat-racks, tubs for wine and beer, and industrial – size trash cans for the kitchen.

 

Prices vary, but full supplies for a party of 25, including delivery and pickup, typically cost several hundred dollars. If the supplies are already covered, hiring a small staff can help set your mind at ease. A bartender keeps the drinks flowing during cocktail hour and can help serve food and clear plates at dinner. A waiter can help set up the bar or heat and pass hors d’oeuvres. If you are unsure on how many waiters you will need, call a catering company and describe your party.If you end up with more than one, assign them specific jobs, they are there to assist you! You can hire professionals from a catering company or enlist.

 

If you are on a budget, you can hire a few college kids in the neighborhood to help you out. Either way, plan to pay $20 to $30 per person per hour, for four to five hours, and don’t forget to tip 15 to 20 percent in cash at the end of the night.

When I attend dinner parties, sometimes the place setting can seem cluttered and I can get a bit overwhelmed with which utensils to use first. A good idea is to usually work your way from the outside in.

 

Another trick I learned was from my mother, she taught me the acronym B.E.D. B stands for “bread” meaning the bread dish will be to your left. E stands for "end of dinner"; anything that will come at the end of dinner, such as dessert utensils will be in front of your plate. Finally, D stands for "drink;" all your glasses will be to the right of table setting. Now you will have no reason to confuse yourself on which glass belongs to you, or your neighbor.

 

Below is the standard for setting a semi-formal / formal place setting. Use this guide for your next dinner party.

 

1. Put down a plate.

 

2. To the left of the plate, place forks (typically just salad and entrée forks) in the order in which guests will use them, with the first one farthest out.

 

Below are basic techniques for folding napkins . If you want to add a little creativity you can tie a ribbon or colored twine around a folded or rolled napkin, you can even slip a flower or a spring of herbs underneath it.

 

Cylinder

 

Start with a small rectangle or square. Fold it length-wise into thirds and place it folded-side down on the center of the plate.

 

Rectangle

 

Fold the napkin into a small rectangle and place it to the left of the forks.

Below is a checklist of essential kitchen gear that will make you the new known chef in no time.

 

Pots and Pans

8 and 10” nonstick skillets

3 cup saucepan with lid

2 and 3 quart saucepans with lids

3 quart sauté pan with lid

6 or 8 quart stockpot

7 quart Dutch oven that can go from the oven to the table

Roasting Pan

Knives and Chopping Boards

All purpose 6” chef’s knife

4” paring knife

 

The table is always the center of attention. The table needs to be inviting, not too busy and a clear reflection of your personal style. The table top and style need to work with the mood of the occasion.

 

Make sure to stock up on these tableware essentials, which will accommodate for most dinner parties (12-16 pieces).

 

Dishes

-Bread -and- butter plate, six inches or small in diameter

-Salad plate, eight inches in diameter. Suitable for salad, dessert and cheese

-Dinner plate, or the main plate, measures nine to 10 ½ inches in diameter

-Soup bowls measure six to 10-inches in diameter; ideal for soup, pasta, stew and chili 

 

Flatware

 

Basic place setting:

-Dinner knife (substitute steak knife if necessary)

-All-purpose “place” spoon (smaller than a tablespoon and larger than a teaspoon)

-Standard dinner fork (seven inches long)

 

Clueless about beers? I am!

 

One of my favorite places to go to is the Beer Garden in Williamsburg. I like the atmosphere a lot, and even though I am not a big beer drinker, it is a great place to hang out with friends and try something different. Also if you bring your date here, it is sure to score points with your man.I have never heard a complaint about this place!

 

There are two types of beers – lagers and ales. Lagers are pale, dry, light and refreshing. Ales are robust, loaded with fruity and spicy flavors, and higher in alcohol content than lagers. I always end up order a type of Ale. To make the best selection at your party, below are different types of lagers and ales and the foods they go best with.

 

Lagers

 

Dark Lager

Tastes like: flavored with roasted barley or malt, it tastes rich, malty and sweet.

Goes best with: Roast chicken or sausage dishes.

 

When choosing the linens for your table, it is important to factor in the look of your dishes, glasses and flatware, plus the décor of your dining area and the color scheme you are using.

 

It is best to start with a neutral tablecloth (white, ecru or biscuit), then branch out with more vivid colored or patterned ones; the same applies to runners.

 

Similarly, buy several sets of place mats and napkins in different hues and patterns, and then combine sets in different ways to create different moods.

 

Think about textures too; smooth weaves go well with porcelain and china; coarser cloths better suit pottery and stoneware.

If you are hosting a wine and cheese party, or simply want to serve a cheese platter at your next party, below are some basics every future cheese connoisseur needs to learn.

 

Serve only about three to five cheeses when entertaining, anymore and the cheeses will begin to compete. Take cheese out of the refrigerator half an hour before you serve it to let your flavors unfold.

 

Type of cheese: fresh and fresh- ripened

What they are: Mild, slightly tart fresh cheeses are uncooked and unripened, and range in texture from thick and creamy to moist and curdy. Fresh-ripened cheeses are briefly ripened, slightly pungent, white in color and have no rinds.

Examples: Fresh cheeses -Italian mascarpone, ricotta and soft mozzarella. Fresh – ripened cheeses – Boucheron and Montrachet.

 

Type of cheese: soft-ripened (bloomy rind)

What it is: Rich, creamy cheeses that have a high butterfat content and semisoft consistency. Molds are applied to their surfaces, causing them to ripen from the outside in (the moldy exteriors are edible).

Examples: Brie, Camembertm and double and triple creams like St. Andre

Planning your party menu can give some an anxiety attack. Thinking if everyone will enjoy the foods you picked, remembering everyones preferences, health concerns, and diets can become overwhelming.

 

Below are some general rules that can make the beginners of party planning at ease.

 

Shop early – buy groceries and dry goods (paper towels, soda, alcohol) in advance. Groceries 1 -2 days before; dry goods as far in advance as possible.

 

Use fresh ingredients.

 

Decide how your guests will eat – at a table, buffet, standing up, etc…

Below is a list of all the essential snacks and desserts everyone should have in their cabinets, just incase the unexpected guests arrive; you will always be prepared to offer your guests something to munch on while they visit with you.

 

Snacks

Smoked or spiced nuts

Oil-cured black and green olivers

Crackers – stay crisp and fresh for three to five days once the seal is opened (after those days toss). Plain or flavored, crackers can be served with fresh meats or cheeses. Sliced baguettes- freeze them in resealable freezer bags. To serve, defrost and toast.

Cheese stars

Dried Fruits - serve with cheese and nuts

Charcuterie – cured salami can be stored in the refrigerator for up the three months.

Cheeses

Mustards

Wasabi peas or frozen edamame

 

Desserts

Biscotti

Scottish shortbread

Cookies

Pound cake

Chocolate hazelnut spread

Brandied cherries Ice cream, gelato

Chocolates and chocolate-covered preserved fruit

Toffee or brittle

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