Recently, a group of friends got together to celebrate our friend Julie’s 40th birthday at the Russian River, in Sonoma County. As co-host, I was responsible for shopping for food and cooking meals for twelve people at a house that wasn’t my own. That’s a tall order in and of itself, but get this: I only had a budget of $250.
This got me thinking. It can be a daunting task to prepare and cook for so many people, Here are the recipes and menu that I put together for the weekend:
Friday Night Dinner:
Marinated Harissa Tri-tip
(which I made last year for a Memorial Day BBQ)
Dilled White Bean and Grape Tomato Salad
(a perfect complement to both the tri-tip and salmon)
Saturday and Sunday Breakfast:
Scrambled eggs and home fries – luckily, my friends Drew and Ethan took charge and left the kitchen looking brand new! These guys knew the secret of a delicious, easy breakfast: keep it simple.
Ina Garten’s Sliders
(the meat was tender and juicy, the secret was the mustard! The brioche buns added to the decadence)
Grilled Chicken (a couple of pounds of boneless, skinless thigh meat. I seasoned the chicken with olive oil, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and cumin, and then tossed it.)
Julia Child’s Caesar Salad
(I love how Julia makes the dressing without mayonnaise. Instead, she simply combines a “one minute” cooked egg, olive oil, and lemon juice as the dressing, with freshly baked garlic croutons to add the perfect crunch)
Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad
(slow cooked roast potatoes smothered with tarragon, parsley, coarse mustard, lemon juice and boiled eggs.)
Pizza plus spaghetti and meatballs (we ordered in!)
Leftover time. This is when you use your leftovers. We had a buffet feast!
What did I learn that I can pass on to you? The secret to cooking for a large crowd is choosing simple recipes, but with potent flavor profiles, and only making two or three items per course. Having sous chefs in the kitchen also helped, so knowing how to delegate is critical! So don’t be intimidated if you get delegated as the weekend cook for a large group. Use some of my recipes below, jump in, and have fun.
P.S. I doubled all the recipes except the tri-rip to cater for a group of 12 people.