vertical dinner party

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Appetizers, Soups, Meat, Grains and Pasta, Desserts, Cocktail Party, Dinner Party, Sources, Posted on June 22, 2013 by Sandy Bergsten

Just taught my first class at DLM’s Cooking School. What a blast! The theme was a “vertical dinner party”. Many of the students arrived wondering what that term actually meant. Truth is I made it up, but it’s my go-to version of a pumped up cocktail party. When you want to entertain a crowd but are pinched for space, time or money instead of a typical sit down dinner or buffet try breaking down the menu into passable appetizer portions and serving it cocktail party style to your standing guests (hence the vertical).

The best part because you’re passing the “courses” you have ample opportunity to mingle with your company. The hidden bonus- all of the components are prepped and made ahead of time so this entire party comes together in a snap and drum roll please…. there are virtually no dishes!

Here’s the menu-

Cold Curried Zucchini Soup

Beef Tenderloin Croutes with Horseradish Cream

Caprese Skewers

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Brownie Bites and Strawberries

(Note per person figure 6 ounces of soup, two tenderloin croutes, two caprese skewers, 2 ounces of pasta, 2 brownie bites and 2 strawberries.)

Here’s the timeline-

Three weeks ahead of time: make the pistachio pesto and freeze. Stock your bar and buy the paper products.

Day ahead: Make the cold curried zucchini soup. Thin the sour cream for the garnish and refrigerate. Buy the brownies. Set out all the trays and label with post-it notes. Set up the bar (wait until right before the guests arrive to put out the ice, wine and garnishes).

Morning of: Cook the beef tenderloin, cool, slice, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Make the horseradish cream, cover and refrigerate. Bake the croutes, cool completely and store in an airtight container. Cook the pasta, toss with the pesto, cool to room temperature, place in large Ziploc bags and refrigerate.

Afternoon of: Rinse the strawberries and place in a decorative bowl, cut the brownies into triangles, place on a pretty plate, and cover with plastic wrap. Tear off the basil leaves for the caprese skewers.

An hour before the guests arrive: Portion the pasta into small plastic glasses, place on a tray cover with plastic wrap. Assemble the caprese skewers place on a decorative tray, cover with plastic wrap. Ladle the soup into pretty paper cups, drizzle thinned sour cream on top, place on a tray and cover with plastic wrap. And last assemble the beef tenderloin croutes.

Now for the cold curried zucchini soup.

cold curried zucchini soup

Slicing the zucchini with a mandolin yields thin uniform rounds.

cold curried zucchini soup

Chop the onion.

cold curried zucchini soup

Sauté the zucchini and onions with a pinch of salt in the butter for ten minutes over medium heat.

cold curried zucchini soup

Add the curry powder. My personal favorite is Zabar’s hot curry.

cold curried zucchini soup

Add the half and half and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes.

cold curried zucchini soup

Puree with a hand blender. Cool then refrigerate overnight.

cold curried zucchini soup

Thin sour cream with half and half for a garnish.

cold curried zucchini soup

Ladle six ounces into a decorative paper cup and garnish with a drizzle of thinned sour cream.

post a comment

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.