Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mexican Clam Dip, Tips for Serving Utencils

   During my years of consulting and helping plan DIY wedding receptions I accumulated a large assortment of recipes.  I found the following dip recipe in a catering book with the notation that this unique dip was fabulous and there were never any leftovers.  So, I shared the recipe with a friend I was helping with a party.  She served this dip, and other appetizers, with drinks, prior to serving a full buffet, which was then followed by desert.  After dinner the  guests moved to her living room for a musical program and I started to clear the bar.  But oh, there was still half of a bowl of dip left.  I moved everything from the bar back into the kitchen, thinking - oh well, so much for that.  Just then one of the guests came into the kitchen -asking for the dip, and the chips that went with it.  She grabbed both and disappeared back into the living room.  When the bowl was returned to the kitchen it looked like someone had licked it clean. Don't let the ingredients fool you....the combination of ingredients seems to be addictive.

Planning a winter wedding?   I found these bronzed gourds on Martha Stewart - wouldn't they be stunning with the rich deep colors of winter? 


Back to Planning for a DIY Buffet

Having large serving platters and bowls will ensure the buffet line will proceed in a timely fashion.....hungry guests really don't like you to interrupt their trip down the buffet line to replenish an almost empty salad bowl.  I previously covered the sizes of all those platters and bowls needed for a let's look at the utensils you will need.   Plan an having two large forks for each dish you are serving.  Most major grocery chains and discount stores carry nice stainless steel pieces for less than five dollars a piece.  Although they are plain, they are very functional and can be used at home after the event (a nice starter set for the new kitchen?).  Plan on purchasing several small ice tongs; they are ideal for picking up pieces of cheese or relish tray items.  If you are serving a green salad I highly recommend using the one piece combo salad servers...they allow the guests to serve themselves salad without putting down their plates to pick up separate serving pieces.  And again, plan on one for each side of the buffet.

Where is the plate?

This one item will keep the buffet service humming right along

If you want a very formal presentation more elaborate serving pieces can be rented.

The most important thing to look for in a serving piece is a long handle.  The bowl of the spoon or fork tines don't need to be oversized, but a long handle will enable your guests to reach food in dishes that might not be close to them.

I will be demonstrating a buffet set-up in a future blog and will provide a template for the chart provided in Frugally Fabulous Wedding Receptions that enables you to list each dish you are serving and determine how many serving dishes and utensils you need for each.   But we have to cover other topics first.........

I have introduced the serving pieces at this time so you can keep your eye out for suitable items at thrift shops, garage sales etc. 

After schlepping all the serving pieces & utensils  (plus buffet tables and linens etc.) from my office to receptions and then back again I can offer the following advice.   Let the food be the focal point of the buffet.  So many people seldom eat a home cooked meal any more;  you don't realize how they are going to appreciate visually appealing delicious food.  I used a mix of glassware, plastic, china and baskets for serving pieces; in addition to the chafing dishes of course.  Numerous photographers and DJ's told me that usually buffets looked awesome but tasted mediocre, or vice versa, but that my clients' food was presented beautifully and tasted even better than it looked.   


Fruit Presentation

If the client served fruit I presented it in a very large elaborate shallow fluted glass bowl.  It was very heavy and awkward to transport to and from functions, but it added an elegance to the buffet.   It was similar to this bowl but had a larger base area. 


Next to it might be a large plastic pebble bowl that was filled to the brim with salad greens.  No one every noticed that the salad bowl was plastic - all they saw was the beautiful colors of the vegetables it contained.

The last several blogs have had references to renting some of the items you might need; from tables, linens, dishes, silver, glassware to serving pieces and chafing dishes.  One question is going to come up.

 If you rent, should you pay the extra fee for delivery and pick-up of the rental goods?  Don't think twice about it.....DO IT! 

This will be one less thing to worry about on the morning of the big day.  I have watched the volunteer crew standing around waiting for the best man to arrive with the linens so they could get the tables set-up...forty-five minutes before the wedding was to begin.
And it is one less thing to worry about at the end when everyone is exhausted and can't face one more thing that needs to be done.  Specifically finding someone with enough room in their car, and then loading all the bags of linens, trays of glasses and tubs of dishes.  And by now all these items seem weight three times as much as they should. 
If the budget is tight and delivery isn't an option have one person responsible for picking everything up - but not the Best Man please.  At the end of the evening have one person responsible for getting all the rented items loaded in a vehicle and ready to go back to the rental facility the next door.  Note:  Count everything to verify the delivered quantities are being returned.  If there is a shortage you will be charged very inflated prices for the replacement.

Coming Next:  Serving a crowd if there isn't room to set-up a buffet and insider tips about planning for wine, drinks and champagne. 

Order your copy of Frugally Fabulous Wedding Receptions to have all this information, plus recipes, planning tools and much more at your fingertips at

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