Monday, February 18, 2008

A little help, please...

I have to compose a small buffet, for about 40 people. The limits are like this:

-It must feel American. The people eating won't be American, but the theme of the meeting is the US election.
-It must be served at room temperature - there's a tiny kitchen and no chance of re-heating anything.
-It's not a full dinner, more of a filling snack

What I know so far is this:
-bagels with cream cheese, smoked turkey or salmon, sliced red onions and tomatoes
-cole slaw
-pickles (possibly?)

and cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies with coffee.

but I really, really need suggestions for what else I can add - maybe some salad? I'd love to hear your thoughts here, and if you have any favorite recipes, I'll gladly hear those, too. (Cheesecake and bagels will be ordered - I'm NOT baking this time. Just the cookies.)


Jessica said...

devilled eggs?
fingerfood or more foodish?
I love jumping devils but then I suck at making a buffet, I make taste directions too disperse.

Anne said...

Devilled eggs is an idea, but I forgot to mention one constraint - everything needs to be prepared fairly in advance, since there's no prep space at the location. And I don't know, eggs can't hold up very well, can they? Fingerfood is good though, definitely a plus! What's jumping devils? (Off to google.)

Anonymous said...

1. Um...gotta have apple pie!

2. How about potato salad? I know, it sounds Swedish, but to an American, it's American. Get an American recipe, which probably uses more mayonnaise.

3. Maybe you can find some sourdough bread - very San Francisco - and slice it for sandwiches.

Anonymous said...

I went to a similarly themed buffet last year and they served these great mini hotdogs in little buns and mini beef burgers. They were delicious and bite sized.
Or you could go red white and blue - star spangled and all that with mini cakes
Good luck

Catofstripes said...

New York deli style foods, I don't want to recommend meat but sandwiches with rye bread, sour cream, Liptauer cheese.

Or maybe a more Southern theme? Gone with the Wind style?

Anonymous said...

I hosted an election buffet for the Kerry / Bush race - and prepared chips and guacamole for the Rep. side and a more sophisticated selection of cheeses, parma ham and blinis with caviar for the Democrats. Needless to say, the chips were polished off in no time, so a great guacamole would be my tip, whatever your political orientation ;)

Anonymous said...

What about cupcakes? They can be made in advance, you could even freeze them and let them defrost on the way.

Apart from desert ones you can make them with cheese (cheddar, blue cheese) bacon, ham, olives, sundried tomatoes, jalapenos etc.

As for salad, maybe a chicken and bacon salad?

Or a fruit salad where you put the fruit in "snaps glas" or something similar. With different layers, like raspberries, blueberries, dragon fruit or that pear that has a white (ish) colour, don't know what it is called.

Jennifer Pearson Vanier said...

How about a couple of vegetable dips? It's all in the prep and no heating required. Little plates, a spoon for serving the dip onto the plate and a napkin are all that's needed. Something savoury, something sweet. Something spicy. Not too messy either. They are always popular with our guests. A variety of vegetables, some Pita triangles and crusty bread sticks or crackers should please every palette.

Anonymous said...

Every American celebration that I have been to has had this cake
I'm American and I reall can't figure out why. Just remember if you want anything remotley posh the only thing I can recommend is the california roll

Anonymous said...

I love making a frittata for brunches. They keep really well (make the night before and store in the fridge), and are pretty easy to make for large groups, as long as you have a big skillet. A salad is a must. How about a yogurt coleslaw, or just a simple mixed salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato, olives, feta, red onion, carrot) with a vinaigrette?

Anonymous said...

Lite inspiration...

Alsike Mat och Vin said...

Something very American is shrimp cocktail. You can make them in small glasses with some lettuce, or small lettuce leaves filled with some shrimp and sauce for finger food or just have a bowl with cocktail sauce and some peeled shrimp or scampi to dip hanging over the side. The cocktail sauce is basically what is called chilisås in Sweden spiced up with horseradish and Tabasco sauce(why doesn't anyone use Tabasco sauce anymore in Sweden?) Marc

Alsike Mat och Vin said...

Make a political statement and put out some raw brussels sprouts. When people ask why brussels sprouts you reply: Well, George Bush senior won his election because his opponent Michael Dukakis claimed in a debate that farmers could start growing brussels sprouts to adjust to the reduction in farm subsidies Dukakis was suggesting. Before the debate Dukakis was way ahead in the polls. After the debate he was seen as a stuck up intellectual with no connection to reality. The result, Bush senior won the election. If his father had never won, George Bush Jr would never had become president either. No George Bush Jr would have meant no war in Irak. he brussels sprouts prove how something so stupid can fuck up a US election and the rest of the world.

Unknown said...

It's also traditional to serve capers with your lox & bagels. Deviled eggs are always a very popular party food. They will be fine if made the day before.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

America is the "great melting pot" of many diverse cultures...anything goes. Mini quiches stand up well. Bruschetta is the perfect finger food. Mini hogies, mini pizza, strawberry shortcake, tortilla wraps and rolls (very pretty too),fried chicken (maybe just nuggets on a toothpick)....anything goes:D

Unknown said...

Also, caesar salad is always a big hit at buffets.

Anne said...

Thanks guys, definitely some brilliant ideas there! The challenge is to make something that makes people think "ah, American food!" rather than "ooh, this looks tasty!" although a combination of both is of course the ultimate. :) Guacamole and salsa with chips - pita triangles and doritos (if I can find them) is definitely an option! Dessert is easier - cupcakes would be fun, as would a big flag cake, but I think ready-made cheesecake is the route we'll have to take.

What I didn't mention is that this is all for work, and I'll be very busy preparing for the meeting itself, so the food has to come in second place priority-wise. (Not easy for me to do, so I'm trying to find a good middle way!)

I *do* want to make something with brussels sprouts - that'd be fun. Some cold salad..? Hmm.

Debbie - capers, great! Big ones, or small? And caesar salad, ooh.. possibly!

Alsike Mat och Vin said...

you could make the cole slaw with brussels sprouts but I don't know if people will recognize that you used brussels sprouts. Why not just have raw brussels sprouts on toothpicks. It's bound to lead to the question your hoping to get. And why not add some Heinz ketchup to the deal so you can talk about how Dukakis'clone Kerry managed to get Bush reelected in the middle of the Irak war. Kerry's from Massachusetts, just like Dukakis. Even though Kerry was a technocrat with no emotions like Dukakis he probably would have won without the added weight of a wife who was an heiress to a ketchup fortune. Americans just don't vote for people they wouldn't want to share a beer with.

Anonymous said...

Doritos finns på konsum, tror även ICA har dom. om inte annat har garanterat Grays det. lägg till lite grönsaker till dippen (guacca och blue cheese) också, framförallt selleri och minimorötter är ju populärt i usa. sen skulle jag även rekomendera räkor som ngn sa ovan, fast det kan ju va svårt om du inte har ngr kylmöjligheter. majsbröd kan vara gott. skulle nog välja macaronisallad över potatissallad, och kanske kycklingklubbor till det om det är lösbart.

Anonymous said...

Hello, American from the Midwest here, which is about as American as you can get! Potato salad was the first thing I thought--very American picnic food. Also, a macaroni salad could work.

Pigs in a blanket could be fun! Very easy to make and work well at room temperature.

As for dessert, in the Midwest at least, nothing beat a Heavenly Hash fruit salad--just Google that phrase and you'll find a recipe! My mom used mandarin oranges, grapes, bananas, apples, and pineapple in hers, and of course you can't forget the mini marshmallows! Using whipped cream in a dessert is very American. :)

Anne said...

Haha - you guys are the best. I seriously need to have an American party at home this summer, definitely for fourth of july. :) Blue cheese dip with celery is a *great* idea, I really need to make that! Will check up on pigs in a blanket and heavenly hash, too. But raw brussels sprouts? I'm doubtful. :)

MargaritFox said...

Pasta salad! Don't forget pasta salad. I like the sundride tomato dressing add it to the curley kind pasta and add you favorite veggie. It taste awesome.

Oh and I always make a cheese ball. In fact pass up making something yummy and go with Phidelphia Cream Cheese Veggie Flavor. Roll in a ball or what have you add some crushed pecans or walnuts and everyone will think you slaved over it. Don't forget the crackers

And finally, a veggie/cheese tray is always acceptable at any party if you ask me.

PS if you do the deviled eggs try to put them ontop of an ice tray or something. You don't want anyone getting sick off of eggs or mayo.

Hope it goes well, sounds like FUN!

Maria Abrahamsson said...

Chips and spinach dip! Ärligt talat, just spenatdippen är något som jag aldrig fått innan jag flyttade till USA, och dessutom är den så otroligt, fantastiskt god, och det uppfyller alla dina krav tror jag :-)

Anonymous said...

å pretzels, hur kunde jag glömma pretzels! du måste ju ha pretzels! (kanske inte det godaste enligt mig men amerikanskt så det skriker)

Anonymous said...

All of the american food I can think of is bad for you...
But I agree with the potato salad idea, it's typical Independence Day fare. I like it with sweet pickle juice, instead of dill. Also, you could do a red, white, and blue layered gelatin salad, my family always has one.
Here, (in Michigan) we call "has salad" ambrosia. Which also definitely works.


Alsike Mat och Vin said...

The celery idea reminded me of a few things from growing up in the 60's in the US. Celery, fill the curve with Philadelphia Cream Cheese top with paprika powder. Ritz cracker or some other small saltine type of cracker with peanut butter and grape jelly (if you can't find grape svartvinbär can sorta work as a substitute. And finally a real classic, Ritz crackers with Philadelphia cream cheese and grape jelly.

Anonymous said...

DEFINITELY CUPCAKES!!!! They are really in style her these days. Also, Sandwiches and cole slaw and potato salad would be very typical. (Rye Bread/Corned Beef/Mustard or Roast Beef/Horseradish/Cheddar or Bacon/Lettuce/Tomato or Turkey/Avocodo/Tomato and Lettuce. Potato Chips.)Bagels and lox would also be typical but probably more at a morning event.

By the way, I'm enjoying your blog a lot!

Unknown said...

Small capers, like these.

I don't care for salmon, but the lox and bagels would be the first thing my husband would run to at your party! Any time of day...

Anonymous said...

what about chicken wings? easy to prepare beforehand, good as finger food, and good cold too...and very american!

Anonymous said...

Having moved to the US 2 years ago, the one thing I have never seen elsewhere is cobb salad with blue cheese dressing. Now its to die for (terrible for you really, but good!). A good alternative to caeser salad and quintesentially American as far as I can see.

Oh, and if you can, serve Dr Pepper (totally gross I think, but its very American!)

Ann-Louise said...

I recently watched the super-bowl at a friend's place in NY where there was tons of delcious food! Chili with cornbread, Doritos with guacamole & salsa, mini pigs in a blanket, cheesecake, brownies etc. Other desserts which you can also make which are VERY American are rice crispy treats & Jello.
If you would like to have some veggies to dip with, cellery sticks are quite common in America. Maybe a Cesear Salad would also be tasty...
Good luck!

David T. Macknet said...

Reading this ... I realize that America is a country which is 2000 miles across, 1000 miles top to bottom, and full of all manner of people. I can't say that I'd eat many of the things suggested, but they certainly do say 'American' ... kinda like Lutefisk says 'Swedish' to Americans ... i.e., in a very stereotypical manner.

Good luck with it.

David T. Macknet said...

California Rolls (sushi) might hold up all-right, as they're constructed with cooked crab, avocado, cucumber. They don't need to be chilled, per se, but if you're going to leave them out for any length of time I'd say to dip the avocado in lime juice, to prevent browning.

Will you tell us what you end up making?

Anonymous said...

southern fried chicken--served COLD
potato salad
baked beans
Coke, served in the can, from a cooler
bags of potato chips
big pickels
they pack these at a local store in a box and people take them the the Indinapolis 500 (a track pack)
Hershey bar?

love your blog


nonizamboni said...

Guacamole for sure. Caesar salad Brownies. What fun!
[I check your blog every day, speaking of fun.]
Mary Ann

Anonymous said...

I've always thought fried chicken to be one of the quintessential American foods. Delicious at any temperature, easy to make and easy to pack for a picnic. Both coleslaw and potato salad are perfect accompaniments.

Kitty in NYC

Anna Banana said...

Don't forget diet coke in a can!

Unknown said...

Does cheesewiz( don't know how to spell it) exist in Sweden. If so, spread that on cut up pieces of celery. That is very american to me. You can also make "ants on a log" I think it's called. Again, cut up celery with peanut butter and raisins. Brusselsprouts baked in oven with garlic, maple syrup and coarse salt is always good. Good Luck with this!

Bean said...

Baked beans - served cold.
Or beans-n-weenies...baked beans with cut up hot dogs.
Cold fried chicken is another good one.
We always go to the diner on election night and then I stay up way too late watching election returns and obsessively hitting refresh on my browser.

Anonymous said...

You should make buffalo chicken can assemble the ingredients in a crock pot at the party and plug in the crock pot there! it so easy!!

Anonymous said...

Lots of great ideas here. Re the brussel sprouts: you can just roast them quickly in the oven before hand. Then toss at room temp with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Simple and tasty.

Sternkind said...

taco salad is really great and easy to make.
lettuce, tomatoes, ground beef, doritos, and grated cheddar cheese, with italian dressing. everything is tossed together in a big bowl. delicious! holds up pretty well at room temp. feeds a lot. :)

Jason said...

Hi Anne...You can use my Macaroni Salad recipe, it's always a huge hit and the recipe can be easily doubled.
Good Luck!

Amelia Ames said...

Well, Anne, on my food blog, I have lots of recipes that would work. I recommend my in-law's recipe for Pink Salad. You don'a get more middle America than that. It's cottage cheese, strawberry jello, cool whip, fresh strawberries, and bananas. It is really tasty.

Also at almost every football party I've been to they have cocktail weenies. Just go to the Hillshire Farms website to get recipes for the sauce. The most famous is a combo of a jar of mustard and a jar of grape jelly. It sounds gross but is totally delicious. You can keep them hot in a crock pot if you have one. Nachos are another classic american favorite.

How about peanut butter and jelly sandwich bites? LOL! Every American kid eats those.

I've got a bunch of other stuff on my blog that would be suitable I think. Good luck! And please post pictures of whatever you make!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne,
I had a crab lui with romain lettuce tonight, it was good. for finger food you could serve a small slice of romain with a piece of crab and some thousand island dressing.

Another idea would be small Rueben sandwiches (good warm or hot)

Rye bread (toasted), thousand island dressing, hot pastrami, and melted swiss mmm good

Anonymous said...

Classically American:

tortilla chips with guacamole and/or salsa
cheese dip or hummus with cut vegetables
tortilla chips and bean dip
pasta salads (or potato salad)
potato chips with onion dip
shrimp with cocktail sauce
devilled eggs
pigs in blankets
dill pickles
antipasto tray
cheese and crackers
hero or submarine sandwiches
macaroni and cheese
barbecued beef or pork

Anne said...

Oh wow - I had no idea this was such an engaging topic :)

Cornbread is do-able.. but hard to do in advance, it's definitely tastier just made, and that's just not possible.

Amy & Jason, I'll check out those recipes on your blogs, thank you!!

As for sandwiches, I've pretty much got my heart set on those bagels!

I'd love to do fried chicken, but I won't have time to fry them beforehand. Besides, I'm hesitant to serve them cold. For a summer picnic, yes. For February in Sweden? Well...

Crockpot would have been lovely - unfortunately, they're not sold here. So I don't have one. :)

Great ideas for the brussel sprouts! :)

TorontoAnna - sorry, no cheezwiz. :)

Drinks will definitely be coke and.. some American beer. Dr Pepper is hard to find. I think I'll get a case of Mountain Dew if I have the time, there are a few stores that sell it. :)

In any case - yes, of course I'll report from the party! :)

Jessica and Betsy said...

hi anne .. is it too late? as an american, i can advise you to have some sort of gelatin salad or marshmallow fluff type salad. everyone groans about it that it's low class, but everyone eats it! the gelatin salad would be with fruit flavored gelatin, with fruit chunks in it -- pinneapple, grapes, berries -- and could have layers of whipped cream. the marshmallow fluff stuff is made with dry packaged fruit gelatin mixed with cool whip, cottage cheese, and canned pinneapple. sounds horrendous, but it's kind of tasty. don't tell anyone i said this :)

Anne said...

There's plenty of time! The party isn't for another two weeks :) I do agree with some kind of jello-marshallowy salad, it's scary but I'm sure people would find it fun. And tasty, too! Serving is an issue, but I imagine I could easily do little individual servings in plastic cups.

Alsike Mat och Vin said...

I've seen root beer in some stores but I've never met a Swede who doesn't think it tastes like toothpaste.

Jessica said...

For Emma way up the comment thread: grays is altogether closed up.

Alsike Mat och Vin said...

Not surprised. Last time I was there about 4 years ago 90% of what they were selling was US products that were well past the expiration date (probably bought at a huge discount) at prices 4 times what they would cost fresh in the US.

Amelia Ames said...

Ok, I'm thinking up some more things for you. I must second the suggestion of rice krispie treats. And a vegetable plate with ranch dressing. You don't get more American than Ranch dressing.

It's funny trying to think of some quintessential American things. At my buffet parties, I usually try to do more foreign things. LOL. But at football parties, I try to do classic American.

Corn dogs are all American. If only you could see me laughing. Too bad you don't have a way to keep them warm.

It's too bad, it seems that since America is such a melting pot, the recipes and foods that are truly our own and not borrowed from our forefathers aren't exactly the most healthy things are they?

oohhhh!!! HOw about a BLT crostini? ARen't BLT's American? At my Christmas Eve party, I took a pre-made melba toast type think put on some ranch dressing, a bit of shredded lettuce, chopped cooked bacon, and chopped tomatoes. My nieces loved them!

Anonymous said...

hi Anne,

How about California Cobb Salad?

On a bed of lettuce, you can arrange some crumbled bacon, sliced eggs, avocado, blue cheese, asparagus spears, and diced tomato. Drizzle the entire thing with a simple vinagrette of olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.

For dessert, try making some simple apple pie.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I don't like eating cold pies but it seems to be usually done in America. So make some apple pies & freeze them ahead of time. Pecan, lemon & Key-lime pies are other American favorites. I don't envy you this project. But I think you'll come up with a plan.

Honeybee said...

Maybe this has alreday been said but what about chicken wings or thighs with a soutern style coating? They could be eaten cold. Check out for suggestions or maybe Kraft Foods has recipes using Philadelphia cream cheese on their website.

Raw brussel sprouts - I'm as doubtful as you, Anne...

Lotta K said...

I read the comment about root beer and that made me laugh. I;ve finally learned to enjoy it. Took me 12 years. I was reminded of milk shakes and floats, though. It doesn;t have to be root beer floats, 7up and vanilla ice cream is good too. That;s American to me.

The most interesting thing here, though, I think, is that there is a difference between what is American to Americans, and what is American to the Swedes. It;s all about perception and image, right?

And oh how about caramel corn? Tasty and easy to prepare and I've never seen it in Sweden.

Anonymous said...

I understand your requirements, so I'd like to other this suggestion.

Just grill or boil or broil a bunch of hot dogs in advance. Grill marks are nice, but not necessarily. Cut them into thirds and refridgerate.

Then just serve them, with toothpicks stuck in them a serving bowls of ketchup, mustard, onions, kraut, etc., so people can serve themselves and experience all of the different American combinations.

No bun is necessary.

Anne said...

Lotta - caramel corn! OH! That's a fun idea! I'll definitely think about it! :)

Unfortunately, hot dogs are also quite Swedish so I don't think people would feel "oh, American" at that :) And cold hot dogs..?

Anonymous said...

I must not be a typical American...because I've never eaten most of these things. The rice krispies are a good suggestion, though I've been unable to find plain old rice krispies here (the multi grain ones are sweetened). I like the deviled egg suggestion, and the crudites platter would be great.

What about a baked artichoke/spinach dip with Ritz and pita chips? There's a great recipe on Epicurious. You could also go to their "Holidays" page and pick quintessential American holidays (superbowl would be more winter, obviously, than Fourth of July)

Ahoy! said...

Hi! Been a lurker in your blog for quite a time now, love it!

They sell Dr. Pepper at City Gross, at least here in Norrköping (they actually have an "American section" down there, although quite small). Doritos, as someone already mentioned, are available at Coop Konsum. :-)

Anonymous said...

Daglivs at Fridhemsplan has a fairly large selection of American ingredients, I think some of the stuff you miss from the states. Taa!

Andrew Jacoel-Robertson said...

Lots of comments so may have already been posted but what about doing a big pot of chilli? That is really American. You can make a big batch of it and have lots of bread to eat with it. If there is no stove to reheat, can you buy one of those disposable bbq's and heat it up outside? :)=
Aussie in Sweden