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Entertaining 411

The number one question we get from our clients during the event planning process is how much food and beverages they need to serve their guests. The most important factor you need to consider is the type of event; formal (sit down), buffet (self served) or passed (Hors D’oeuvres).

For formal or sit down events, the amount of food is pretty much determined by the number of place settings. However, if you are planning a self served buffet or passed Hors D’oeuvres, there some other basic factors you need to consider.

  • Day of the week – as a general rule; people are more relax during the weekend so they tend to eat more and try new things.
  • Time of the event – the closer to a meal time, the more people will expect.
  • Length of the event – the longer the event, the more you will need.
  • Age group of people – this is a very important one and one most people over look. Single and young people will always eat more. Married couples (especially with kids) are on a daily schedule and they always plan for the “what if”; so there’s a very good chance they will have a snack before showing to your event. The same with the elders; they are on the clock and have a daily plan for their meals and snacks.
  • Type of food – this is a critical one. Themed events, as well as ethic food can turn into a disaster. You know your guests more than anyone else so run down the list to get an idea if a themed event will be a good idea. If so, try to stay within the most popular ones; like Mexican, Italian, Caribbean or American. Combining a couple of them is not a bad idea.

Here are some other tips,

  • Always round-up your estimates.
  • Anticipate which food selections will be most popular and serve more of them than the general portion guidelines suggest.
  • The more choices you offer, the smaller your calculation of individual portion size should be.
  • Assume your guests will taste everything on a buffet, but the tastes will be small. However, overall consumption per individual will be greater than if there were fewer choices.
  • Add “bulk” items to your menu such as bread, crackers, nuts, olives, cheese, etc.

What about individual serving size? Here is basic guidelines caterers use for various foods. Multiply these estimates by your number of guests and, once again, always round-up your estimates.

Portion Size Per Person

Hors d’oeuvre

  • 6 bites when preceding a meal.
  • 4 – 6 bites per hour when hors d’oeuvre are the meal.
  • The longer your party and the larger your guest list, the greater the number of selections you should offer.

The Main Meal

  • Poultry, meat or fish – 6 ounces when you have one main dish, 4 ounces when you offer two or more main courses.
  • Rice, grains – 1.5 ounces as a side dish, 2 ounces in a main dish such as risotto.
  • Potatoes – 5 ounces
  • Vegetables – 4 ounces
  • Beans – 2 ounces as a side dish
  • Pasta – 2 ounces for a side dish, 3 ounces for a first course, 4 ounces for a main dish
  • Green Salad – 1 ounce undressed weight

Desserts

  • 1 slice cake, tart or pastry
  • 4 ounces creamy dessert such as pudding or mousse
  • 5 ounces ice cream
  • When serving two of the above, reduce each by half.

Beverages

  • 1 drink per person every ½ hour for the first hour, then 1 drink per hour for each additional hour.

General Beverages (coffee, tea, juice, water) – 1 gallon = 128 oz or 16– 8 oz cups in a gallon (2 cups per person)

Beer

  • 1 case beer serves 24-12 oz bottles
  • 1 keg beer serves 165.3 –12 oz beers or 15.5 gallons
  • 1 keg = 7 cases of beer
  • 1 pony keg (1/2 keg) serves 83-12 oz beers or 7.5 gallons

Wine/Champagne

  • 1 bottle of wine serves 5 (5 oz glasses)
  • 1 case of wine = 12 bottles of wine serves (60-5 oz glasses)
  • 1 bottle champagne serves 6 (4 oz glasses)

A Few Other Menu Planning Tips

  • Don’t repeat a main ingredient. For example, don’t serve a shrimp appetizer and shrimp main dish.
  • Consider the colors of the food that will be served together and make sure there is variety.
  • Offer both hot and cold foods on a buffet.

Tips when hiring a caterer,

  • Big is not always better. Some big companies sub contract their work to smaller ones. Verify this is not the case with yours.
  • Ensure they have a cancellation policy.
  • Find out when is the last day to provide a final count.
  • If they are serving the food, ask them about their left-over policy.
  • Ask for references.

We hope these tips have been helpful. For more information, please visit us at http://www.piscolabiscatering.com.

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Spicy Coconut Shrimp with a sweet and zesty mango marmalade dipping sauce

Coconut shrimp a very versatile dish that can be served as an entreė or appetizer. Our version has a spicy kick and we serve it as an Hors D’oeuvres with a  sweet and zesty mango marmalade dipping sauce.

Total time – 30 min.

Yields – 1 party tray for 8-12 people.

Serving suggestion – as an Hors D’oeuvres

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup beer
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (adjust heat to taste)
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 24 large shrimps
  • 3 cups oil for frying

Procedure

In medium bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup flour, beer, ground red pepper and baking powder. Place 1/4 cup flour and coconut in two separate bowls.    

Hold shrimp by tail, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess flour. Dip in egg/beer batter; allow excess to drip off. Roll shrimp in coconut, and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees F in a deep-fryer.

Fry shrimp in batches: cook, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, remove shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Sweet and Zesty Mango Marmalade Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. mango marmalade (if not available, may be replaced with peach)
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 3 tbsp prepared white horseradish

Combine all ingredients until well blended. Chill until ready to serve.

Buen Provecho!

For other party trays ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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Arroz a la jardinera (rice with vegetables)

This is a great alternative to white rice and a perfect side dish for grilled steak, chicken or pork.

Total time – about 30 min

Yield – 4-5 servings

Serving suggestion – as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and diced,
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon anniato oil (achiote)
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 handful of string beans, diced
  • 1 or 2 carrots, diced 2 cups diced pumpkin
  • 1 lb uncooked rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Procedure

Saute the onion, pepper and garlic on the olive oil.

Add the water and cooking oil. Bring to a boil.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered until the water evaporates. blend with a ladle, folding the rice from the bottom to the top and vice versa.

Cover and cook over low heat until the rice is tender.

Buen provecho!

For great party trays and dinner packages ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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Latin Pepper Steak

A variation of the Chinese dish with a latin twist.

Total time – 20 min

Yield – 4 servings

Serving suggestion – with white rice and tostones or ripped fried plantains on the side.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1lb. boneless sirloin or flank steak, cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium red and/or green bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 package Brown gravy mix
  • 1/2 tbsp cilantro

Procedure

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown beef.

Remove beef and set aside.

Add red peppers, onion and jalapeno pepper and cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in water, lime juice and Brown gravy mix.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.

Stir in beef and cilantro and simmer for about 5 min.

Buen Provecho!

For great party trays and dinners packages ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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Spring time cocktails

Backyard entertaining season is just around the corner. Margaritas it’s probably the first cocktail that comes to mind to go along with your backyard cookout. However, if you want to try something different this season, here are a couple of spring time pitcher size cocktails that will keep your crowd entertained.

Watermelon and Raspberry Punch

Note: Can be made ahead and can be refrigerated overnight.

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint leaves
  • 1 seeded, cubed watermelon
  • 1 cup strawberry margarita mix
  • 1 cup coconut-flavored rum
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 8 mint sprigs to garnish

Puree raspberries and mint leaves in a blender until smooth. Strain into a serving pitcher. Puree the cubed watermelon until smooth, and strain the juice into the serving pitcher. Stir in the margarita mix, coconut rum, and ice cubes. Garnish each glass with mint sprigs.

Puerto Rican Rum Punch

Note: Can be made ahead and can be refrigerated overnight.

  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 cup gold rum (8 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup Grenadine (2 ounces)
  • One 750-ml bottle sparkling wine, such as Spanish cava, chilled
  • Fresh pineapple chunks, for garnish

In a large pitcher, combine the lime juice and sugar and stir briskly until the sugar is dissolved. Add the rum, orange liqueur and grenadine and chill the rum mixture for about 1 hour. Just before serving, add the sparkling wine and pineapple chunks and serve in punch glasses.

Caribbean Lemonade

  • 2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 4 cups dry red wine
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds and seeded

In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the wine and chill for about 1 hour. Add the lemon slices and serve in punch glasses.

Caribbean Rum Zing

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups guava nectar
  • 1 cup amber rum, such as Mount Gay
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cold ginger ale
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

In a large pitcher, combine the orange juice with the guava nectar and rum. Add the ice and stir until cold; add the ginger ale. Pour into cocktail glasses, add the grenadine and nutmeg, and serve

Watermelon Sangria

Note: Can be made ahead and can be refrigerated overnight.

  • 12 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry white wine
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 3 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • 1 medium lime, quartered
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Place 9 cups of watermelon cubes in a blender; blend on high until very smooth.  Strain juice through a mesh strainer into a large pitcher. Pour the wine, vodka, triple sec, and simple syrup into the pitcher. Stir to combine. Mix the remaining 3 cups of watermelon cubes, the lime quarters, orange sections, and blueberries into the sangria. Chill for 4 hours before serving.

Buen provecho!

For great backyard party trays and dinner packages visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

Ropa Vieja Cubana

The Ropa Vieja (shredded beef in a tomato sauce base) is a Cuban dish from Spanish origin. Very popular in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela.  In some countries is known as carne mechada or pabellon.

Total time –  This recipe uses a slow cooking technique so it can take from 4-10 hrs depending on the cut of meat you use. In this case, we are using flank steak for easy shredding.

Yields – 6 servings

Serving suggestions – with white rice and red kidney or pink beans (stewed Caribbean style) and fried plantains on the side.

Ingredients

  • tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds beef flank steak
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Procedure

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the flank steak on each side, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer the flank steak to a slow cooker. Pour in the beef broth and tomato sauce, then add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, cilantro, olive oil and vinegar. Stir until well blended. Cover, and cook on High for 4 hours, or on Low for up to 10 hours.  At this point, the steak should have shredded by itself; if not, use two forks to shred steak apart.

Buen Provecho!

For great party trays and dinner packages ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

Adobo-rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Mango Mojo

This is modern variation of the popular Cuban dish; Puerco Adobado (adobo-rubbed) pork).

Total time – about 1 hr.

Yield – 6 servings

Serving suggestion –

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup achiote oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 sprigs cilantro, washed
  • 2 pork tenderloin, 12-14 ounces, trimmed

Procedure: To make marinade, place all ingredients (except pork) in a blender and pulse 3 times for 3 to 4 seconds. Place the tenderloin in a shallow pan, pour the marinade over it, and place in refrigerator for 3 hours or, better yet, 24 hours.

Mango Mojo

Ingredients:

  • 1 firm and ripe mango, skinned and diced
  • 3 tablespoons diced red onions
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, washed, picked, and roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced very finely
  • 3 ounces mango juice
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Preparation: In a bowl, mix all the mojo ingredients and let the flavors blend for about 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. In a large skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of achiote oil. Add the tenderloin. Brown well on all sides, place the pan in the oven, and cook for 5 minutes more. Take the pan out of the oven and let the meat cool slightly before slicing. Serve with the mango mojo.

Buen provecho!

For great party trays and dinner packages ideas visit us at www.piscolabiscatering.com

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