Cooking "summer/picnic" food for 45 Chinese students.

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pengyou

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Feb 14, 2011
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409
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Beijing
It is not only the end of the year but also the last time I will be teaching in this school. I will be changing schools this summer. For both of these reasons, as well as to introduce my students to some western foods I would like to prepare a meal for them. My first thoughts of what to serve:

barbeque chicken thighs
corn on the cob
spaghetti - though I wish I had a good recipe for mac and cheese casserole (with corn) to substitute for it *
cornbread
fruit salad
a large jello parfait (not individuals, although individuals would be impressive)
potato salad
sloppy joes
deviled eggs *
apple pie and/or homemade ice cream - i have a homemade ice cream maker.

The items with a * are those that I am not sure I can do en masse for 45 people. I will have to do this all again for 30 people the next night!

I would love to do ribs but they are a bit expensive. The ribs alone would cost almost as much as the other parts of the meal here! I am considering tuna fish on crackers as a finger food.

I would appreciate any suggestions you have for what I have listed, along with ways to make the food more presentable...and any simple kinds of finger foods you might know about. It is probably best to stay away from cheese, though one dish might be ok - my students like pizza but most other cheese tastes are pretty new to them. It is likely that it will be served buffet style...also 80% of my students are female, all about 20 yrs old.
 
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justplainbill

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If the corn on the cob were freshly picked (within the last 3 days), never refrigerated, and not over-cooked (just brought to a boil and then left to steep in the hot water); the corn, some shrimp or lobster salad, and a couple of NYC Chinese style spare ribs would be a treat for me. Abalone?
 

BigAL

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Not a chicken fan so I'd scratch that and make smoked pulled pork sammies with slaw and bbq baked beans, also on the smoker. I would think that would be cheaper, too. Just an idea.
 

purple.alien.giraffe

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I think what you have sounds great. If you're doing buffet style and cheese is new to them, you might just serve mild sliced colby and cheddar. That way they could sample small pieces of cheese and if they like it, get more, and if they don't, it was just a small piece. That would also keep the cost lower because it's in small slices. A green salad might also go well with what you've got or even just a veggie tray with like, cucumber slices, celery sticks, carrot sticks, etc. You could provide honey and/or jam to go on the cornbread.

To make things more presentable you could use simple garnishes. For example, you're already making a fruit salad so maybe you could take a couple pieces of fruit cut in a pretty shape and place them in a decorative manner on top of the parfait. You could also garnish the top of the potato salad with celery leaves fanned out to create a floral like shape. If you make the deviled eggs they look good with a little chopped or dried parsley sprinkled over top. If you use fresh parsley then you could also place a few sprigs around the serving tray.

Are you looking for specific recipes for these items or just general ideas?
 

betterthanabox

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Pennsylvania
I would suggest burgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, a green salad, along with your fruit salad, cornbread, deviled eggs and desserts. It is simple, and classically American.
 

pengyou

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Beijing
Thanks! I am in Shanghai, China. I am looking for any suggestions - I have done Thanksgiving for 20 people before, but never have cooked for 45. I am also open to creative little appetizers....or anyone who wants to fly to Shanghai next Tuesday to help me prepare all of this food :) A good moist cornbread recipe would be helpful...i can't seem to find the one I usually use.
 
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purple.alien.giraffe

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Here is my favorite cornbread recipe. I think it's pretty standard but it tastes good.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tblsp honey
1/3 cup sugar (or preferred sweetener)

Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and mix gently until batter is smooth. Pour into greased cake pan (round or square). I think we used a 10 inch but don't remember for sure. Bake at 400F until golden on top. You should be able to stick a butter knife into it and have it come out clean.
 

spork

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Looks good, pengyou. Your students will appreciate the farewell American-style buffet! I'd consider skewering and kabobbing the bbq chicken in the oven. It'd include a few more vegetables to your menu. It'd better accommodate the majority of your students who have manicured nails. As for even more finger friendly food, I don't know, hard to beat Chinese dim sum... maybe a stuffed mushroom.

I assume you can explain the name "sloppy joe"...
 

giggler

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I agree with the "Pulled Pork". This is very easy to make, and keeps well in refridgerater. So you could make it ahead of party, then re-heat as needed for 2 days.

And also make Cole Slaw for the Sandwiches, which is very Western.

Also, don't forget that you don't want your guests to go away hungry.. some of these ideas may be very "Foreign" to them....

so I like the Spaghetti Salad, and perhaps some Pickled Vegetables, like Kimchee, that will be more familiar to your young students..

What Fun! You are a very wonderful Teacher!

Eric, Austin Tx.
 

pengyou

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Feb 14, 2011
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409
Location
Beijing
Thanks for the ideas! I love the pigs in a blanket idea but I am not going to be able to keep things warm, unless I take my electric oven over there - it is a little bit big! The baked beans, and sloppy joe filling can be kept warm in a crockpot or electric chafing dish - those are easy to move. I am going to ask the school kitchen to cook the corn for me. The fruit salad should be cold. The chicken can also be kept warm in some kind of electric pot - maybe even a rice cooker - I only have one crock pot, one chafing dish and one rice cooker :) That is a big consideration for me - the logistic part of this all. I would like to do burgers but beef here - to make a real burger - is expensive, ground beef is twice the cost of ground pork and chicken is cheaper than pork - and I will not have access to cooking facilities.
I appreciate your comments about making the meal more "asian" friendly. A part of the process for planning a meal is to consider the variety of colors on the table as well - fruit will have to make up for that....hmmm..maybe I can take my oven there...and cook dessert before their very eyes...any suggestions for the best kind of dough to use for the pigs in a blanket? Also, the way that I usually make sloppy joes - a simple way - is with a ketchup, onions, a little garlic, Worcestershire sauce and ground pork. It ends up look almost exactly like my spaghetti sauce. Does anyone have a recipe for sloppy joe fillings that is more brown than red? If I could do that, i could make both dishes and ask the kitchen to do the noodles for me. Hmmmm maybe...chili.... boy, the possibilities are mounting!

Note: should i let the dough rise before putting it around the dog, or put it around the dog and then let it rise? Are there any secrets to making these? What is the key to making tasty blanketed pigs? I will probably use little sausages to make them bit size and, maybe more appealing to those who have never had one.

Any creative suggestions for drinks? not overly sweet is the best rule. Besides Coca Cola, is there any drink commonly drunk in the summer? Lemon aid? ice tea?
 
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Chief Longwind Of The North

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Thanks for the ideas! I love the pigs in a blanket idea but I am not going to be able to keep things warm, unless I take my electric oven over there - it is a little bit big! The baked beans, and sloppy joe filling can be kept warm in a crockpot or electric chafing dish - those are easy to move. I am going to ask the school kitchen to cook the corn for me. The fruit salad should be cold. The chicken can also be kept warm in some kind of electric pot - maybe even a rice cooker - I only have one crock pot, one chafing dish and one rice cooker :) That is a big consideration for me - the logistic part of this all. I would like to do burgers but beef here - to make a real burger - is expensive, ground beef is twice the cost of ground pork and chicken is cheaper than pork - and I will not have access to cooking facilities.
I appreciate your comments about making the meal more "asian" friendly. A part of the process for planning a meal is to consider the variety of colors on the table as well - fruit will have to make up for that....hmmm..maybe I can take my oven there...and cook dessert before their very eyes...any suggestions for the best kind of dough to use for the pigs in a blanket? Also, the way that I usually make sloppy joes - a simple way - is with a ketchup, onions, a little garlic, Worcestershire sauce and ground pork. It ends up look almost exactly like my spaghetti sauce. Does anyone have a recipe for sloppy joe fillings that is more brown than red? If I could do that, i could make both dishes and ask the kitchen to do the noodles for me. Hmmmm maybe...chili.... boy, the possibilities are mounting!

Note: should i let the dough rise before putting it around the dog, or put it around the dog and then let it rise? Are there any secrets to making these? What is the key to making tasty blanketed pigs? I will probably use little sausages to make them bit size and, maybe more appealing to those who have never had one.

Any creative suggestions for drinks? not overly sweet is the best rule. Besides Coca Cola, is there any drink commonly drunk in the summer? Lemon aid? ice tea?

Put the dough around the "pig" and then let it rise. The dough should be thin, as if your were making fry bread. It will thicken as it rises. Also, let it rise on the cooking sheet. so as not to deflate it when you try to move them. Bake until golden brown.

If you can purchase frozen bread dough, use that to save time. Just roll it thin, and cut it into squares just big enough to roll around a sausage of hot dog. Roll, pinch the edges together, place on the baking pan, seem side down, let rise, and bake until golden brown.

Sloppy Joe's Goodweed style:
This recipe is taken from my cookbook - "You Can Be A Great Cook With Beef". Enjoy.

[FONT=Courier New, monospace]Sloppy Joe's[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]Before I met my wife, I was going out with another young lady who lived at home with her parents. One day I was at her place and she said “Ya want some lunch”? Of course, being an [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]exceptionally slender twenty year old, with an ultra high [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]metabolism (whatever happened to that metabolism anyway), I [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]said “Sure”.[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]She went into the kitchen to find a can of store bought Sloppy Joe sauce and some ground beef. To make a long story short, she had no sauce and was at a loss for something to make. I replied that peanut butter and jelly would be fine. She complained that her heart was set on Sloppy Joe's.[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]I said “Well let me see whatcha got.” She had ketchup, brownsugar, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, etc. I quickly [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]threw together a sauce with fresh chopped onions and green [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]peppers added for texture and flavor. She was amazed. I was [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]amazed that she was amazed. But I was the culinary hero (a [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]dangerous thing for a twenty year old whose head swelled [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]easily). I wasn't yet a very good cook. But this seemed pretty [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]elementary to me.[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]The point of this is that with a little imagination, you cancreate almost any recipe you desire. And remember, if you makeyour own, you can tailor it to your tastes. [/FONT]
This is the original “meal in a pan”. As an example of the[FONT=Courier New, monospace]tailor it to your taste” principle, my wife's idea of Sloppy Joe Sauce is completely different from mine. Hers is [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]really good, and exceptionally easy to make. However, this is [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]my book so your going to get my sauce. After you get the idea, [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]you can make your own, modified to fit your family's tastes. [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]You can even use the store bought stuff if you like it. I won't tell.[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]*[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]Ingredients:[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]1 4 oz. can tomato paste[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]1 6 oz can Tomato Sauce[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]1 12 oz. can dark red kidney beans[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]½ clove minced garlic[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]½ medium yellow onion, diced[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]3 heaping tbs. chopped green pepper[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]1/4 cup dark brown sugar (for Diabetics, substitute an equal [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]amount of Splenda brand sweetener and a tsp. of molasses)[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]1 tsp. Chili Powder[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]½ tsp. Salt[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]1 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]1 bay leaf, crumbled[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]2 tbs. olive oil[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]1 lb. ground beef[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]Place ground beef into a 12 inch covered frying pan and place over medium heat. While the pan is warming, add the olive oil to a 1 quart sauce pan and apply medium heat. Add the garlic, [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]onion, and bay leaf to the oil and saute until the onion turns [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]translucent. Add the remaining ingredients, stir until well [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]blended, cover and turn down heat to simmer.[/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]Lift the lid from the ground beef and break up the meat into [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]bite sized chunks. Lightly salt the meat, stir, and cover. [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]Check the meat and stir the sauce every five minutes until the [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]meat is cooked through. [/FONT]
[FONT=Courier New, monospace]Drain the meat into a suitable bowl and place the juice in the refrigerator for later use. Combine the meat and sauce and serve over hamburger buns.[/FONT]

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
 

purple.alien.giraffe

Executive Chef
Joined
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Messages
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Mostly in my head
Ooooooh, lemonade. Yum. And there are lots of things you can do with it. You can make it sweet, sour, somewhere in between. You can add grenadine or cranberry juice to make it pink. Lemon-limeade is really good. I've had lemonade with strawberry juice and lemonade with maraschino cherries and a little of their juice in it. And you can add carbonated water to it to make a lemonade fizz. Lots of options.

I would think iced tea would go over well. I love the herbal fruit teas iced. Really good on a hot summer day.
 
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