My friend Becky was hosting the BBW Bash – Fort Lauderdale in mid October. She is active with this group of women that have world wide events for Big Beautiful Women. This was her first time hosting the club in her home town. She asked me to cater two parties at the conference, one Friday night and the other on Saturday night. It was held at the Hilton Gardens Hotel in Dania, Florida.
So, was I nervous? Hell yes! I just reminded myself that prior planning prevents piss poor performance and I got to it. I tested all my recipes before I even suggested them to my customer. I came up with appetizers I could make in advance, freeze and reheat. I had taste testers come over and sample the reheated treats. If you want to become one of my taste testers, leave me a message and I’ll see what I can do.
Becky was having between 50 and 75 guests and she wanted butler-served, one bite appetizers for both nights. The first night was called, Club Night and it was a fancy cocktail party. The second night was a costume party in honor of Halloween. We ended up with the following menu:
- Crab and Shrimp Tartlettes
Puff pastry squares with creamy crab and shrimp filling
- Greek Inspired Spinach and Feta Strudel
Spinach, feta and dill in a flaky pastry pinwheel
- Bruschetta with Ricotta and Sun Dried Tomatoes
Thin slices of French baguette, lightly toasted and topped with a mixture of creamy ricotta cheese, sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil
I topped the bruschetta with a blend of cream cheese and ricotta cheese with chopped fresh basil. I topped each one with some sundried tomatoes. They were a big hit.
For the crab and shrimp pastries, I used several different types of crab; claw meat and leg meat. The claw meat has the most “crabby” flavor. I added salad shrimp to stretch my spread and save a few dollars. I used puff pastry sheets that I cut into small squares, stuffed, then baked.
For the spinach and feta strudel, I used crescent roll dough. The filling is my standard Greek spanakopita recipe, which is spinach, feta cheese, cream cheese, chives, fresh dill and an egg to bind it. They were my favorite appetizer.
COSTUME PARTY – Halloween Theme
- Creamy Salmon and Dill Finger Sandwiches
Combination of soft pumpernickel and white breads with salmon spread. Sandwiches can be Halloween shape cut-outs. The orangey spread and the dark bread supports a Halloween theme.
- Sweet and Spicy Meatballs
Wickedly delicious red sauce coated warm meatballs can be labeled, “Bloody Balls” if you want to highlight the Halloween theme. They are delicious, whatever you call them.
- Antipasto Kebabs
4 inch kebabs with cold cuts, cheese and olives, marinated in Italian dressing
Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of the salmon finger sandwiches, they were a sight for sore eyes, just beautiful! I bought two large skinned and de-boned salmon fillets from Sam’s Club. I roasted them with an herb infused vinaigrette, then blended the meat with cream cheese, chives and fresh dill. I used a combination of soft dark pump and pump and rye swirl breads. I used a Halloween cookie cutter to cut out small flutted circles with a pumpkin shaped hole in the middle. They were adorable. The salmon spread was delicious.
I over-estimated the amount of salmon filling I needed, so I had to get very creative with the leftovers. After the catering job was over, I turned some of it into salmon quiche, I made salmon chowder, salmon quesadillas, and finally salmon won tons. This was all made for David and I, so by now, you can imagine I wouldn’t be sorry if I didn’t see salmon for a while.
Oh, and all those bread scraps I had left over, I turned those into croutons, breadcrumbs and a fabulous rustic sausage, fennel and sage dressing to go with a roasted chicken I made. You’ll read all about those recipes in next week’s post.
The meatballs were Sam’s club meatballs warmed in that classic old recipe, one can of cranberry sauce and one jar of chili sauce. So easy, but so delicious. Those little buggers went as fast as I could dish them up.
I didn’t get any pics of the antipasto kebabs either. But you can imagine, Halloween themed appetizer picks, each one with a slice of salami folded in quarters, a cube of good quality cheese and topped off with the most gorgeous olive you have ever seen. I have to talk up the olives because I also over bought those. I bought a case from Whole Foods and spent more than my dear husband could understand. I wonder how olive won tons would be?
My friend Julie helped me the first night. She has done catering before, in one of her past lives. She helped to keep me calm. We ended up not having much to do because we were scheduled to serve food from eight until ten, but the guests didn’t show up until eleven o’clock! By then, all we could do is put everything out buffet style for them. Becky told me they ate every scrap and loved it all.
The second night, I went alone and a bit later than the night before. Wouldn’t you know it, the guests all arrived on time and hungry. So I had to hustle to get everything heated, trayed and served. It was not too much to handle, everything went smooth, smooth, smooth.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in the kitchen of the Hilton. I thought it was going to be empty and I was being allowed to use it. No, it was in full swing with Chef Jorge Cardona cooking for other hotel guests. At first I thought he would be so annoyed at having to let me into his kitchen, but I will tell you, he couldn’t have been kinder. He allowed me to use his extra large trays, his work station, his ovens, whatever I needed. He helped with the oven which was large and a little unwieldy. He put my trays in, he set the timer, he pulled them out and handed them to me. He was an ANGEL!
Jorge told me he doesn’t have the staff to handle the occasional night catering work, so he was glad to have me take care of it. I’m hoping he can help me get more jobs at the hotel.