Feeding a Big Crowd Without a Big Hassle
A finger food buffet for 60 people may seem like a daunting task, but it's really just a matter of mathematics – and food, of course. That's a lot of mouths to feed, but you really just have to calculate the number of bites needed and divide that number over the different menu items you'll provide. This process takes a bit of art and a bit of science: Once you know how many pieces you need, you'll also have to make educated guesses about which menu items your guests will find most appealing and which they'll eat the most enthusiastically. Include as many selections as possible that can be served cold, so you don't have to worry about warming or hot-holding for such a large crowd.
Breads and Spreads
Baguettes are ideal for finger food buffets because they give you smaller slices than other types of bread, such as sandwich loaves. Mini baguettes work even better if you can find them: The smaller the slices, the more pieces you can put on your finger food buffet. Slice the bread thinly and, if you have the time, arrange the slices on a cookie sheet and bake them at 375F for a minute or two, until they're crispy on the surface but not hard all the way through. Alternatively, simply buy a box or two of your favorite crackers.
Use soft cheeses and meaty pates as spreads, or roast root vegetables with olive oil and fresh herbs and puree them in a food processor until the mixture is soft enough to spread. Putting the spreads on the slices or crackers first takes some time, but can help you manage congestion at the buffet line.
Make your meats easy to handle without utensils. Roll slices of cold cuts and secure them with toothpicks. You can also arrange chunks of meat on skewers, alternating with cheese or vegetables of you prefer. Use small skewers to create appetizer-size portions. Vary the selection of meats, cheeses and vegetables that you put on each stick. Marinated shrimp make perfect finger food as well. You can skewer them, but it's really not necessary because your guests can hold them by the tails.
A raw vegetable plate makes a healthy and colorful finger food buffet selection. Choose vegetables such as zucchini, carrots and peppers that you can easily cut into sticks, or veggies like green beans or asparagus, which practically come ready for dipping. Broccoli and cauliflower, as well, break apart easily into pieces that are just right for dips. Alternate colors for maximum visual appeal when you arrange vegetable pieces on a platter. Use hummus or tzatziki as a dip, or add fresh herbs or a seasoning mix to sour cream or cream cheese.
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Devra Gartenstein is a self-taught professional cook who has authored two cookbooks: "The Accidental Vegan", and "Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes". She founded Patty Pan Cooperative, Seattle's oldest farmers market concession, and teaches regular cooking classes.