Catering Exploration


Very, very nervous.

I’ve been asked by 30 Minute Abs and his roommate, Britannia, to cater their apartment warming party this Saturday. This will be the first time I’m preparing food at such a posh event. I whipped up some dips and such for my brother’s college graduation party, but this will be a whole new level of cooking and presentation.

The assignment is to make some light (re: semi-healthy) appetizers that don’t require plates/forks.


Please send any food (and how to figure out quantity) suggestions. Bonus points if you can find something on ES that I’ve already made and can just recreate.


PS—Don’t worry, I will not be attempting anything that looks like the picture above.

Photo: Prague Hotel Extol Inn

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  • 80 Proof September 27, 2007  

    Gansie’s World Famous Chicken Tenders

    Nuff said.

  • Mariah Carey September 27, 2007  

    OK, let me start off by saying this is not my own recipe. I saw it on some food network party show and not Sandra Lee (my favorite, big breasted blonde ever).

    It’s not a finger food but it’s SUPER easy to make and the biggest hit EVER at every party I’ve brought it to. Feel free to sub the dried cherries out for dried figs, cranberries, apricots, etc.

    Baked Brie with Dried Cherries and Almonds:

    1 (7 to 8-inch) wheel brie cheese
    1/4 cup dried cherries
    1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
    3 tablespoons brown sugar
    2 sheets (12 by 18-inch) puff pastry
    2 eggs, beaten

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Using a warmed sharp knife, or unflavored dental floss (See Cook’s Note 1) cut the wheel of brie in half horizontally and separate the top half of the wheel from the bottom half. Sprinkle the bottom half of the brie with the dried cherries, toasted almonds, and brown sugar. Replace the top half of the brie and apply pressure to secure the stuffing. Working on a well-floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so that it will fully cover the brie. Place the brie in the middle of the puff pastry and fold the excess pastry around the wheel. Put the wheel aside. Roll out another piece of puff pastry and cut out a circle the same circumference as the top of the brie. Save the trimmings for decorations. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg on top of the brie in the puff pastry and place the circle on top. Brush the top of the circle with egg. Cut out decorations using cookie cutters or a small knife on top of the brie. Brush the entire top side of the brie with the egg and place the brie on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pastry begins to turn golden brown, then turn the temperature down to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve on a pretty platter. See Cook’s Note 2.

    Cook’s Note 1: Instead of using a knife to cut the brie, use a piece of unflavored dental floss. Make an initial cut half way down, along the outer side of the brie with a pairing knife. Then, take a long piece of dental floss and wrap it around both hands. Starting at the front of the wheel at the initial cut, work through the wheel with the floss, separating the top half of the wheel from the bottom.
    Cook’s Note 2: The brie can be made, wrapped securely and stored in the freezer up to a month ahead of time.

  • JoeHoya September 27, 2007  

    I’ve got some thoughts, but I have a few questions first:

    1. About how many people are you doing this for?
    2. How long will the party last?
    3. Any other food/beverages going to be there?
    4. Is there a budget you’re working with?
    5. How many different options do you want to offer?

    Lots of minutiae, I know. But I promise to help with suggestions if you wastetake the time to answer.

  • gansie September 27, 2007  

    This “catering” is really just meant as snacks, and not too feed guests dinner (and yes – of course drinks will be there, I’m not in charge though.) Going off the evite, I’d say about 60 or so people will walk in and out thru the night. Haven’t talked budget yet, but this isn’t intended to be super extravagant. Not sure how many options, I guess it depends on the amount of time I have. Right now, I’m just looking for some ideas and then I’ll cull it down.

  • Britannia September 27, 2007  

    Gansie, perhaps I can respond further for JoeHoya…

    One thing which had been previously omitted but might explain the “semi-healthy” requirement, this is being catered for an almost all gay affair, you know how we can be! The party should last a few hours, there will be lots of alcohol, I’d have to say a lot of vodka… Anything to compliment this, nothing too overwhelming? I think Gansie had the budget covered, although “30 Minute Abs” is handing over his credit card so perhaps it can be an extravagant affair!

    Thanks for your help!!

  • JoeHoya September 27, 2007  

    Okay, that definitely helps. Sounds like finger foods and snacks are the order of the day.

    I stopped by the Penn Quarter farmers’ market today, so I’ve got the following suggestions based on what seemed to be prevalent:

    1. No need to reinvent the wheel – go with BS’s spanakopita, but lay out the filling in little mounds and then close each one off with the phyllo that covers it. Then slice along the separations to make individual ravioli-like spanakopiti.
    2. Cucumber rounds (preferably English/seedless) topped with slices of small balls of fresh mozarella and cherry tomato, drizzled with olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar.
    3. Crostini like the ones you described here or topped with:
    a. A bruschetta of coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
    b. A tapenade of finely chopped olives, eggplant, or artichoke hearts.
    c. A creamy spread made with goat cheese and chives or other fresh herbs.
    4. A dip of some kind – homemade hummus and spinach dip both work well with chips, crackers and cut fresh vegetables.
    5. Spicy sweet potato chips using the recipe here and cutting them crosswise instead of lengthwise. The chips won’t get as soggy and would probably be better cold than fries would.
    6. Your feta and tomato guacamole or E-dub’s fresh salsa…or both.

    Sounds like a good start to me. You could also go with traditional apps like prosciutto (or ham or turkey breast) spread with Boursin (or a similar herbed cheese) and rolled around spears of asparagus or slices of cooked potato topped with creme fraiche (or sour cream) and smoked salmon or bacon.

    Just a few thoughts. Let me know if I’m hot, cold, or way too into this.

  • gansie September 27, 2007  

    wow – i just sent a draft menu that is more or less exactly like this. i added deviled eggs w/ chipotle for something kinda cheesy classic, but w/ a twist.

  • JoeHoya September 27, 2007  


    My apologies – I was working on my post and didn’t see yours go up. Since you obviously rule (sorry…couldn’t help the pun), I would alter my recommendations as follows:

    1. Lose the spanakopita. It’s good, but not quite “semi-healthy.”
    2. More salty/briny stuff – olives come to mind – to complement the vodka.
    3. Suggestions 2-6 should probably still work.
    4. Turkey breast around the asparagus spears…though prosciutto can be a nice treat.
    5. Smoked salmon, chives or fish roe (preferably flying fish or mackerel, as they are smaller and cheaper than salmon) on the cooked potato rounds (purple potatoes would add a nice touch, by the way).

    And I have some more ideas for “apps in a snap” if these aren’t striking your fancy yet.

  • Britannia September 27, 2007  

    Wow… Apparently throwing a party with chips and dip just doesn’t cut it anymore. Gansie’s draft menu and JoeHoya’s suggestions, GREAT. Our guests are going to be flawed, I mean, I host all the time but nothing as fancy as this. I’m loving the crostini and the chips, the draft menu has garlic eggplant chips which sound super… Who am I kidding, all of it, I want it all.

    (As for the pun, we can discuss that another time!!)

  • MonkeyBoy September 27, 2007  

    Mini-meatballs, probably turkey or lamb if you want to be healthier than normal. If you keep them small they’ll cook faster and won’t need as much tending in the pan.
    If you want a variation for the tapenade you could do little cucumber cups instead of the crostini. Cut them 3/4 to 1 inch thick and then scoop out a little cup.

  • gansie September 27, 2007  

    cucumber cups sound darling, but time consuming, no?

  • BS September 27, 2007  

    whatever you do, don’t serve salmon mousse on cucumber slices. Hung did that on the yacht episode of top chef and padma flipped her shit…apparently it is sooooo 80’s – who knew?

  • sheila September 28, 2007  

    doesn’t look like you need any more suggestions, but I’ll give one anyway – if you’re going to serve goat, boursin or such cheese, or even smoked salmon, I’d suggest serving them on endive leaves.

  • JoeHoya September 28, 2007  

    Mmmm….sweet peppery endive. Good stuff! And if you’re going to use it, I’d recommend buying it at Trader Joe’s – they sell it in packages of three heads (two red and one white/yellow) for much less than you’ll find it anywhere else.

  • Maureen September 28, 2007  

    i think you should make your Tomato and Goat Cheese Toasts with Rosemary Olive Oil from your Infusion Confusion Post. It looks delish and I dont think you need a fork to eat it!! Do I get a bonus point????

  • gansie September 28, 2007  

    AWARD: bonus points to maureen!
    and obv – joehoya

  • Jeb September 28, 2007  


    Don’t forget your damn Chicken Tenders!!! And remember that you and Anna did a damn good job catering my house party last Feb(I think)…You have experience.

  • BS September 29, 2007  

    my bro told me about this thing where you put a tray of cherry (or grape) tomatoes in the freezer, and cover them with vodka, so they become bite-size bloody marys…sounds like something the gay drunkards might be into.

  • gansie September 29, 2007  

    holy shit – that’s brilliant.
    will totally try.

  • dad gansie October 1, 2007  

    like the frozen bloody marys we’ll have to try when you come home, good luck love dad gansie
    might want to try some of the warmed cheese we got at wegmans
    i’ll keep thinking

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