We are celebrating spring, rebirth, renewal, and Easter this weekend with a large gathering to decorate eggs, have an egg hunt, and of course- EAT.
I had gotten some messages about how to go about planning the meal for your gathering- so here are my tips to get started- throughout this week I am going to be snapping pictures of our process and sharing our party with you!
1. Guests: Think about how many people you are having over, and how many children. You probably don’t want to do a plated sit-down formal dinner for 30 people; but for 6 you could pull that off if you wanted to.
- A family style meal (with the main course and side dishes on the table with you) works for less than 15 people. More than that, and someone misses out on a dish!
- Do a buffet for 15 or more people. You can do a buffet for less than 15, but I personally don’t because passing the dishes and discussing them with family and friends is fun.
- I am doing a buffet, since I am having more than 15 people and several children over.
2. Main Course: Are you serving meat? Fish? Both? I am doing a lamb and a ham (haha that rhymes!)– and I am figuring on about 1/3 lb of protein per guest. Not 1/3 lb. of each meat, 1/3 lb total for both. I am having a lot of people over on Saturday, so I wanted to offer a variety. Clearly, you can do 1 main course. When we celebrate at my Mom’s house we frequently just do 1 beef roast.
Tip: It is easy to add a ham to whatever you are making (this is something my family does often… Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving)- you won’t run out of food, and just in case you have a picky eater, ham is usually something kids will eat! Because hams are usually pre-cooked/smoked, and once you have slathered it in some type of honey glaze and thrown it into a low oven, it waits for YOU to be ready, vs. being on a set schedule.
3. Sides: My meat poundage (haha) factors in that I will be doing some grain salads, veggie salads, and other sides. I also have friends and family with various dietary restrictions, so I tend to do A LOT of side dishes. You almost can’t have too many.
How to pick sides? I like color and variety in texture and flavor. You will want some complimentary flavors throughout- for example, if your main has an Italian flair, you may want to pick side dishes that are also Italian, or that feature similar herbs or seasonings that you used in your main dish.
- Rule of thumb: something green, another veggie that is a different color (carrots, radishes, corn, etc), a starchy veg (potatoes, smashed cauliflower, sweet potato, turnips)
- For example, an herb crusted leg of lamb goes nicely with peas that have been tossed with some of the same herbs that went into the lamb; many herbs go nicely with citrus, so you could do roasted carrots with an orange vinaigrette; which could then get carried through to a large tossed salad simply dressed with lemon, oil, and salt & pepper
Appetizers? First Courses?
I always always always have appetizers ready for when people walk in the door. Drinks are on ice, cups/glasses are out and waiting next to the drinks, and something to pick on is arranged and near the bar set-up.
How to pick? I am the queen of doing too many apps because I can’t pick. Ideas:
- A fruit platter filled with finger-fruits (such as grapes and berries)
- Warm dip or warm cheese (baked brie served near the cheese with apples and pears and some crusty bread, anyone?)
- Roasted shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, make or buy a cocktail nut set, etc.
- Do not overlook the cheese/deli section of your supermarket- have some salamis and prosciutto fresh sliced for you and do some anti-pasti!
- If one of your friends/family has a dip or spread that they are famous for- ask them to bring it!!
- In general- if you want to get fancy with the appetizers (mini crab cakes, YUM!) pick things that you can do ahead (like the crab cakes)- and heat up in the oven.
Dessert: Do something you make ahead. We are having the Cadbury Ice Cream. And maybe some carrot cake cupcakes. And maybe some marshmallows. But we’ll see how much time we have.
I promise- more tomorrow. And less jumbled. And more of exactly what we are doing!
For more guidelines: