Purim - Large Foods for Large Crowds
Have taken upon myself to make a Purim Seuda for 40 people BE"H. Never done that before. Any suggestions for a great seuda - things that taste great, look fantastic & take the minimum amount of time to prepare?
I'd appreciate your reply.
Rivka, a Shabbat Shalom reader
What could I say, except "been there, done that!" That’s a lot of lunch for a lot of people, and right there in the middle of the week, too! I had to accept the challenge. In general, for large crowds, I make large food, like big borekas, not individual ones, and cakes, not petit fours, etc.
The ideal mid-week menu for 40 needs to have a lot of things that can be done in advance. That being said, this is a very special Seudah and a great time to have a fine meal with family, friends and community. This is also a year of wallet watching, so I won’t be recommending prime rib either. How about a dairy/pareve meal?
The Eye of Haman bread I told you about last year serves 40. Make that ahead and freeze it if you like. Leave enough time to defrost it (4 hours) and heat it up right before serving, wrapped in foil paper, for about 20 minutes in an oven preheated to about 350 degrees.
For the rest of the menu, how about –
Minestrone soup with parmesan croutons.
Potato and Cheese borekas. (They are gorgeous. You’ll need about 5 or 6 of them.)
Oven Roasted Salmon with barbeque sauce.
Zucchini and Carrots with basil and garlic.
Rice Pilaf (Buy 3 of your favorite box mix, and make according to the instructions on the box, adding 2 more cups of basmati rice and 2 teaspoons of salt to the boxed ingredients, along with 4 more cups of water to the water mentioned in the instructions. Make this ½ hour before guests are schedule to arrive. When cooked, let it cool, covered, for 5 minutes, and then quickly use a large fork to scoop it into a serving bowl. Serve immediately or cover the bowl with foil and keep in a 250 oven or warming drawer until serving.
Pick up a big ice cream cake, decorated with crazy colors and clowns!
Hamentaschen (from the bakery, or maybe from your Mishloach Manot!)
A platter of cut-up citrus and other seasonal fruits.
(c) 2008 Debby Segura. Debby Segura holds an AB in Design from UCLA. She designs dinnerware and she teaches and writes about cooking. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children. Visit her at http://www.debbysegura.com
(Serves up to 40 as a first course)
4 cups cooked or canned great northern or cannellini beans
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
6 quarts vegetable stock
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
4 teaspoons dried basil, oregano
2 cups uncooked basmati rice
2 cups uncooked small pasta (such as orzo)
4 cups diced zucchini
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional
In a non-reactive heavy soup pan (such as stainless steel) over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, parsley and garlic and saute, stirring, for 3 minutes longer. Add the stock, the beans (if using canned beans, drain and rinse), tomatoes, with their juice, and basil and stir to mix well. Cover partially and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Rinse basmati rice and add to pot with the zucchini. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add pasta with an additional cup of water if necessary. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Serve hot. Garnish with parsley. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, mozzarella cheese and croutons for garnishes.
Makes 2 large "loaf" borekas. Each boreka serves 6-8 as a main course, 8-10 as a side dish. For 40 people, I would make 5 or 6 borekas.
1 16 ounce package of puff pastry, in two long rolls, thawed
1 recipe POTATO FILLING (fills 2 borekas – see below), with sesame seeds for on top
1 recipe CHEESE FILLING (fills 2 borekas – see below), with grated parmesan cheese for on top
Egg Wash: 1 raw egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Line a large, sideless cookie sheet with aluminum foil or baking parchment and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Unroll the first puff pastry sheet on a floured surface and roll out the pastry to the length of the cookie sheet. Place to one side of the cookie sheet and make a line of the first filling along the length of the puff pastry, leaving a 1" border empty at each end. Fold the two long sides of the boreka over the filling and roll the boreka to one side of the cookie sheet, leaving the seam side of the boreka down. Crimp both ends closed and fold underneath the boreka. Repeat for the second boreka.
Paint the tops of the borekas with the egg wash and sprinkle each potato boreka with sesame seeds and each cheese boreka with grated Parmesan cheese. With a sharp knife, poke 12 holes on the top of the boreka to create steam vents.
Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the borekas are puffy and golden brown. Allow the boreka to cool for about 30 minutes and then remove carefully from the parchment and cool on a rack until ready to serve.
4 medium-sized russet potatoes and 5 cloves garlic, boiled in lightly salted water 20 minutes
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes with the cloves of garlic in salted water for about 20 minutes, or until softened. Drain and mash the potatoes and the garlic together with two thirds of the egg mixture, and the margarine or butter, adding milk if necessary, to create fluffy mashed potatoes.
16 ounces grated jack or muenster cheese
1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice mixture), optional
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Salt and black pepper, to taste
Roasted Salmon with Bar-B-Que Sauce
Serves 16-20 people
One 10-12 lb. salmon, head and tail removed, skinned, filleted and de-boned, cleaned and patted dry
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
½ cup bar-be-que sauce (your pick)
Preheat broiler, placing the top rack 4" from the flame. Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with Pam. Fit both filets side by side on the sheet. Sprinkle dry ingredients on the fish. Drizzle the bar-be-que sauce on the filets and rub on the fish fillets evenly. Place cookie sheet in the top third of the oven and broil for 5 minutes or until the sauce on surface of fish begins to caramelize.
Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking for another 20 minutes or until the filet, at its thickest point no longer appears raw (or dark orange) when probed with a fork. Remove from the oven immediately. May be served immediately, at room temperature, or chilled, as preferred.
Zucchini and Carrots
16 medium sized zucchini, about 3 pounds
3 pounds carrots, medium sized
5 large cloves of garlic, cut in half lengthwise
3 large sprig of basil
salt and pepper (and if you like it spicy, a pinch of chili flakes)
Trim the ends off the zucchini and cut the zucchini into 3/4" lengths. Peel and trip the ends off the carrots and cut the carrots into 3/4" lengths. Reserve.
Heat a large sauce pan over a medium flame and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic, basil and chili flakes (if using). Heat briefly until the mixture just begins to be aromatic. Add the carrots, and stir to coat. Cover the pot and lower to a very low flame, stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes, adding water a tablespoon at a time, but only to avoid sticking. Add the zucchinis, stir to coat, cover the pan again and continue cooking until the zucchinis are just beginning to soften, another 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.