A very good friend and neighbor has is hosting a New Year's Party and I volunteered to do the food. I'm planning the menu, helping with the shopping, and will do the preparation; he and his co-host will assist final preparations and fund it. I love cooking and when he told me he wanted to do something different this year (this is the 3rd year he's had his party) I offered my help - they do a great party, but neither of them can cook!
I figure there will be at least 50 people dropping in over the course of the night, maybe more. The party is casual dress although I'm sure some will come dressed up. We want it to be elegant but we'd all like to enjoy ourselves during the party and not worry about cooking once it's started. Furthermore, his house is fairly small and the party generally centers around the baby grand piano (the hosts and their friends are musicians) - which is right next to the kitchen area. In prior years running the oven to heat up the horderves has been annoying since it heats up the area where folks are mixing drinks and hanging out - we could do it again, but I think it'd be best to avoid
In prior years he's had a hodgepodge assortment of dips, spreads, salsas etc bought pre-made, boiled shrimp, mini eggrolls. My thought was to have a big crockpot with a savory stew that the guests can dip into when they need something hearty and warm, plus an assortment of cold appetizers that we can prepare in advance. I didn't want to have too many dishes nor too much variety - both to keep the preparation more simple and because there isn't a tremendous amount of serving space. This is my tentative menu... please tell me what you think. Is a beef stew really appropriate for this setting? Is there enough variety in the offerings?
Assorted cracker tray
Cheese balls/logs - I thought we would prepare 3, one with blue cheese, one with a little smokey/spicy flavor, and one "classic"
1-2 seafood spreads or dips
Relish tray with assorted olives, various kinds of little pickles, pepperocini, celery, radishes
Beef stew made with potatoes, carrots, shallots, wine
There will be an open bar
Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!