Wow your guests with Baked Brie garnished with candied nuts and pomegranate seeds. Move over, mini-burgers. Try Braised Beef Sliders With Pickled Onions for something fancier. If you don’t want to make dessert, buy an assortment of sweets from a local bakery.Small bites make a complete meal with this holiday menu with, clockwise from back, Braised Beef Sliders With Picked Onion, Caesar Salad in Toast Cups, Smoked Salmon Mousse in Phyllo Cups and Potato Poppers.
Recently, friends and I were musing about holiday parties, how many there were in the past and so few now. None of us has big ones anymore. They have become so expensive, we all agreed. And can be stressful.
So when thinking about a holiday entertaining story, I decided to do one with a menu that wasn’t expensive — about $10 per person — and could be done mostly in advance, keeping things low on the stress scale.
My go-to protein for a crowd has always been a roasted beef tenderloin, sliced and served on rolls with horseradish sauce. Yikes, it’s a pricey cut. Plus a side of smoked salmon, a big cheese tray, a platter of tiny heirloom vegetables. Yikes, yikes and yikes again. Instead, we’ll have a rich pulled-beef sandwich made from chuck roast, smoked salmon blended into a mousse and packed into crunchy phyllo, a tiny Caesar salad served with croutonlike toast cups and a round of lush, melted cheese with candied nuts. Plus baked stuffed mini-potatoes. Desserts stress me out the most so I bought an assortment of pastries from a bakery. Quantities are designed for 12 people with at least two bites of each item for each person.
This menu still has a luxurious feel but it’s more casual (hence, I kept my silver trays in the cabinet, eliminating the need to polish them). No cutlery is needed. It’s simple and direct but has some whimsy and surprise. It’s a party I actually look forward to hosting.
How I arrived at the cost-per-person estimate of about $10: I didn’t assume you have more than the basics such as salt, pepper, sugar and oil. Maybe red wine vinegar. So I factored in your buying almost everything but prorated some of it because, for example, you won’t use an entire bottle of white balsamic vinegar and can use the remainder for future salad dressings. But I estimated up rather than down, even factoring in several bottles of good but inexpensive wine. Your guests will probably bring more!