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Holiday buffet help & What is the difference between frutti di mare & seafood fra diavolo?

MsBees | Nov 29, 201108:31 AM

Hi all, I really could use your expert advice, but first a little background. I apologize in advance for the length of this post ☺.

Our college age sons attend and live in the dorms of a University in our town. Our senior has often brought home his college friends for dinners, parties, etc. These kids have become part of our family. For the past few years he has hosted a sit down holiday party at our home for about 18 friends. We also would put out a live large tabletop tree for them to decorate. Since this is our seniors last year of school he wanted to include more friends. So instead of a sit down meal it will now be a buffet for about 40 people. We still will continue with putting a small live tree out for them to decorate but this year we will also include putting out our ornaments for them to help decorate our large tree. With this party I’ve decided I want to start a new tradition in our family and serve a combination of all our families’ traditional Holiday foods. My husband is Jewish so we celebrate Hanukkah with latkes, homemade applesauce and other fried foods. And I remember very fondly celebrating Christmas Eve at my parents/grand parents house with my large Italian American family and the feast of 7 fishes. One of my very big problems in combining our traditions is that my husband is severely allergic to seafood. I do not cook fish when he is home. The only fish I typically serve when he is present is lox and caviar. He grew up in a house where his parents cooked a lot of fish so it isn’t that he can’t be around fish it is just that he doesn’t like it in his house. But I’ve decided since I love seafood he can deal with my making it part of a buffet menu once a year. The only things that I know would truly bother his allergies, besides eating it, is the frying of fish and dealing with shells.

Here is the beginning of our menu with some note and questions. (anything with a question mark is something I’m not sure if I am serving.

Beverages – Almost everyone is 21 and those who aren’t do not drink. All the kids that come here know I am a stickler about designated drivers.
-asst sparkling waters with citrus wedges
-asst soda
-Seasonal sparkling wine cocktail ( does anyone have a favorite for the Holiday’s)
-Seasonal Holiday cocktail (does anyone have a favorite for the Holiday’s I can make in batches? Not a punch)
-Beer & wine (not our responsibility)

Hors D Oeuvres - The largest portions of food will be on the dining room table but smaller plates will be spread through out the house.
- Crudités & hummus
- Cheese & crackers
- Nuts
- Lacy Potato Latkes, Applesauce, Sour cream
- ?Lox (Could be counted as part of the 7 fishes. But I don’t think Lox is necessary with this group)
- ?Trader Joes Parmesan Pupps ( I want to serve a meat and my son suggested these)
- ?shrimp cocktail (Could be counted as part of the 7 fishes. My son associates shrimp cocktail with Christmas Eve but the shrimp tails could be problem because of Hubby. )

Main Course – When I serve the main course the crudités, cheese and crackers & nuts will remain through out the house. Should I also leave them on the dining room table?
-A creamy, bacon maybe chicken pasta ( The kids who come here love a roasted garlic, bacon mac- and-cheese that I make . But I will be using the oven for the latkes so don’t want to bake this mac-and-cheese. Also my younger son likes a creamy chicken bacon carbonarra I make. I may combine the two recipes. )
- Seafood Fra Diavolo ( This dish is one of my biggest concerns and hopes for success. As I already said I typically don’t cook fish but I really would like to continue my families 7 fish tradition. I think by putting it all in this one dish is a way for me to do that. I do have a few questions. First what is the difference between Fra Diavolo and Frutti Di Mare? If possible, and if I don’t serve the shrimp as a hors d oeuvres, I would like to include all 7 fishes in this one dish. Is there a way to serve this with out the shells that you would typically see in a dish like this? I know that spaghetti or linguini is normally served with this but I’m thinking of using penni. Does anyone have a favorite recipe for a crowd?
-Green Salad
-?Basil garlic oil foccacia

Dessert – The main course and crudités will be put away but I will still leave out the cheese and crackers, and nuts.
-fruit- to serve with the cheese
-Assorted lindt chocolates
-peppermint bark
-candy canes
-?andes mints ( or andes mint brownies)
-crispella (fried knots)
-?tiramisu(Does anyone have a great recipe for a crowd)
-?gingerbread cookie, dark chocolate, mint marshmallow smores
-?cannoli (hubby requested these but it seems like an awfully big production for 40 people.)
-Hot chocolate (with and without peppermint schnapps)

Hopefully our freshman son will continue the tradition of gracing our home with his college friends.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

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