Need appetizers for a wedding
September 1, 2004 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Foodies, two MeFites need advice about what to make as appetizers for the wedding of two friends... come on into the kitchen if you want to know more...

The wedding is in mid-September. It's to be held in a backyard, and it's going to be an eccentric, casual, almost anti-ceremonial ceremony. But the brides (there are two!) are fans of good food, and we've offered to make a couple of appetizers for 30 guests as our gift. The main dish will be bbq'd chicken marinated in lemon/garlic/rosemary, and there will be numerous salads. There will be a few vegetarians, but most guests are fearless Quebecois eaters of entrails and such. We'll be cooking several miles from the reception, and transporting the appetizers there. What would you suggest?
posted by stonerose to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I recommend a) for the vegetarians, any recipe from Didi Emmons's Entertaining for a Veggie Planet, b) for everyone else, empanaditas (but I would add 2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the meat filling.

I will share my thoughts on appetizers from 10 years of planning enormous events for my former employers--everything should be able to be picked up and eaten with the hands alone. No forks; no toothpicks, even. No little spoons. People want a napkin and an appetizer, because they want to walk around mixing and mingling while they eat.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:48 PM on September 1, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, Sidhedevil, I'll pick up the book tomorrow. By way of way of a return tip - have you seen "New Vegetarian Entertaining" by Jane Noraika? Good stuff.
posted by stonerose at 7:57 PM on September 1, 2004

Mini-spanakopitas (phyllo triangles) went over very well at my first wedding, and mini-quiches (veggie - broccoli, red pepper) always went over very well for parties thrown at the restaurant where I waitressed. Bonus of both: make in advance, reheat before bash, no last-minute fussing. Plus you can buy teeny quiche pastries and fill them yourself, couldn't be easier. =)
posted by Melinika at 8:38 PM on September 1, 2004

The guacamole recipe linked to here by Miguel is astonishingly good. You probably will not find the pomegranate this time of year but it will still be great. I experimented and added a couple halepenos, garlic, extra everything (once I garnished with caviar). I highly recommend going heavy on the fruit (pears and grapes), they really make the whole thing. I usually make a batch with 7 or 8 avocados and basically live on guac for a few days.
posted by anathema at 8:46 PM on September 1, 2004

Because our friends and family are so scattered, my husband and I had three wedding receptions this year, one of which we planned and executed ourselves. So, I've given the matter some thought.

Of the many different things we ate, my favorite was a salmon mousse served on leaves of endive. I'm guessing this recipe is a good approximation. The author doesn't recommend it as a crudité, but I'm telling you that the contrast between the fresh, crisp endive and the light-as-air mousse was perfect.

The reception we planned had a middle eastern/Greek menu, with hummus, baba ganouj, aijer (all three served with really good, fluffy warm pita), spanakopita, spinach pies, and baklava -- all chosen because they transported well and could be prepared in advance. Most friends, even our entrail-loving ones, liked the menu.

Your can pair just about anything with the main dish you describe, so I don't think you'll go wrong no matter what you do. One thing: even for an informal reception, going through the crowd with trays is a real kindness. It controls how quickly the food disappears, relieves social anxiety about how much food to take that you get with buffets, makes sure everyone who wants something gets it, and is a great way to meet people you don't know (and be instantly liked by them). One of the most welcome things I've ever heard is "Would the bride care for some more?," uttered by a lovely woman at our first reception, who kept bringing me champagne and little delicious things to eat as long as I kept saying yes. So, you might consider doing that. Good luck!
posted by melissa may at 2:34 AM on September 2, 2004

If you are looking for recipes for entertaining, I'd recommend anything by Ina "Barefoot Contessa" Garten. She's a high-profile caterer, speciality food store proprieter and television show host and she's done a series of cookbooks with the "Barefoot Contessa" name [1, 2, 3] that are filled with simple, elegant recipes. She very frequently talks in the books about how to prepare a dish in advance, how to scale it up for a bazillion guests, etc. Her focus is constantly on using a few ingredients of the freshest quality to achieve the best results and still leave you with enough energy to enjoy your own gathering... A wedding reception going on in your own backyard sounds to me like a perfect opportunity to let Garten's experience help you out...
posted by JollyWanker at 5:47 AM on September 2, 2004

Devilled eggs. Not original, but they're the perfect buffet food as they can (and should) be picked up and eaten from one's hands. And almost everyone likes them.
posted by orange swan at 6:54 AM on September 2, 2004

don't forget sweets--yes, it's a wedding and there's cake, but.

my sister is an event planner and she says: never make the mistake of forgetting sweets. after an hour of appetizers, lots of people want a cookie. have chocolate-dipped fruit, non-dipped fruit, chocolates. . .
posted by crush-onastick at 7:57 AM on September 2, 2004

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