Reader Terry is making a Friday dairy buffet brunch for about 25 people in her friend’s home, for bar mitzvah guests coming in from out of town. She doesn’t want to duplicate the bagel and lox brunch planned for Sunday, and asked for ideas for items that can be cooked ahead of time.
First of all, this is a really thoughtful thing for Terry to have offered her friend.
Here is my suggested menu plan. It involves a limited amount of items that Terry will have to prepare herself. She may want to enlist paid or volunteer help with preparing the vegetables.
- A double recipe of Marcy Goldman’s Quiche-In-A-Loaf. Rich with a lot of ingredients but festive and no need to roll out a crust. Make it on Thursday or even Wednesday and keep in the fridge. Then you can freeze any leftovers.
- Fresh crusty rolls or bread, crackers.
- Two vegetable platters.
- Two fruit platters.
- Pasta or quinoa salad, lasagna, or another starchy dish.
- Two to three spreads, like chumus, eggplant, egg or avocado salad.
- Cold and hot drinks.
- One or two cakes. They can be cut, frozen and defrosted the morning of the event.
If Terry isn’t on a tight budget, she could serve a cold whole salmon like I enjoyed at a bar mitzvah kiddush yesterday. No one will object even though lox will be served on Sunday. Another option is a platter of cheese or salted fish. Vegetable platters will be served Sunday too, presumably, but as they will be catered they will look different. I wouldn’t worry much about this, especially since you are first. 🙂
More tips for planning this event:
- Go over the general menu with your friend to avoid surprises, like a family member’s aversion to one of the items.
- Vegetable and fruit platters can be prepared the day before, fish even earlier.
- You can buy the spreads and cakes to save time.
- Order bread and rolls and arrange for pickup the morning of the event. If this is impractical, buy (or bake) in advance and freeze.
- Place spreads other than avocado in serving bowls the day before.
- Prepare garnish like parsley, radishes, and olives in advance but decorate platters and spreads just before serving.
- If you go with tossed salad, prepare (or buy) dressing in advance and use packaged, washed greens.
- Prepare and count out all serving and eating utensils in advance.
- Calculate your refrigerator and freezer space carefully.
- Calculate your oven and hotplate space for warming.
- Make a schedule reminding you when to put drinks in the refrigerator, pull out frozen items, and so on.
- Put whatever you can at your friend’s house in advance, and use her oven and refrigerator if available.
- Plan to set up food for easy access. With a big table buffet of 25 shouldn’t be hard to manage, especially if guests are not all eating at the same time. Place drinks and desserts on a separate table.
- Cut tomatoes don’t keep well overnight so skip them or use cherry tomatoes.
Do you have other ideas to help Terry’s event run smoothly?
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By the way I think we were 38 in the end!
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