I recently hosted a bridal luncheon at my place for 23 ladies. My friend that is getting married lives in Charleston, so I decided that it would be fun to play off her new Southern roots. When feeding this many people, I really try to make elegant, yet easy. I cooked many of the components the day before and just assembled the day of (except that I baked the biscuits the day of, as per my previous Biscuit Bake Off post, biscuits do not have a long shelf life). I also bought a pre-sliced honey baked ham to serve with the biscuits and accompanied it with some fancy mustards and honey from the market. In addition to the below I made the Petit Cheesecakes for desert topped with fresh berries.
Shrimp Salad on Endive
makes about 15 appetizers
adapted from Foodnetwork.com - Paula Deen
Make Ahead: Make the salad the day before and assemble just before serving
2 cups cooked, peeled and diced shrimp (about 1 lb)
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon minced green onion
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I actually used more of this as I tasted)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (you could substitute yogurt if you want to lighten it up)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
15 Belgium endive leaves pulled from fresh bulbs (buy an entire bulb, slice the bottom off and pull leaves off)
Combine all ingredients except the endive, season to your taste, adding more lemon, salt or pepper as necessary. Lay out endive leaves on serving platter and spoon shrimp salad into leaves. tada!
Make Ahead: Day before, cover well with plastic wrap and serve cold
Simply hard boil eggs (bring eggs and enough water to cover eggs in a pot and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat source once boiling and let sit, covered, for 17 minutes. Chill in ice bath until cooled and ready to handle, peel) and cut in half carefully. Place egg white halves on serving platter and yolks in bowl.
Combine the yolks with a few spoonfuls of mayo, Tabasco, salt, pepper and minced celery all to taste. Once it is the consistency and taste you like, place yolk mixture in plastic Ziploc bag. Close bag and snip just the tip off of the bag to create a make-shift pastry bag. Squeeze mixture into white halves and top with a few chopped green onions and a sprinkle of paprika.
I used these from Jenna's post. So easy and I made them 2 days ahead! Just store in layered parchment paper in air tight container.
What can I say? The Barefoot Contessa just knows what people enjoy and how to make cooking easy. I used Ina Garten's recipe from foodnetwork.com. I made the entire dish the day before and popped it in the oven an hour before eating. I would maybe use the same ratio of gruyere to cheddar next time, but only because I love extra sharp cheddar.
To see how I got to this recipe, click above. I found a heart shaped cookie cutter and this copper heart mold to serve it in. Totally cheesy, but we are at a bridal shower here. I cut then in half after they cooled slightly then served sliced ham, mustards and honey with it so everyone could make their own sandwiches.
I tossed in segmented oranges, toasted sliced almonds, hearts of palm and shallots in this salad. Then I tossed it in a simple red wine vinaigrette (whisk together, red wine vinegar, dijon, minced shallot, salt, pepper. Stream olive oil into bowl while whisking together until taste is right for you). Serve in a nice salad bowl and suddenly you are a culinary star.
Just remember that with any party you are throwing to make it easy for you to get done and not stress out. Do what you can in the time that you have. Plan ahead, even make a time table for before your guests arrive to organize (ie: 9am set table; 10am set up bar; 11 am bake mac & cheese; 11:45am arrange appetizers; noon guests arrive). It helps so much to think ahead and leave some extra time for last minute details. I hope this menu can inspire you!