Jun 8, 2012

Reinvent standard Wedding foods to go upscale on a budget

Everyone's been to the wedding that has the standard cocktail hour fare.  The cheese, crackers, chips and dip in a giant pile on a table.  All the guests idly pick, waiting for the good stuff to come out....

You need to feed your guests and your on a budget. What is a bride to do?

When items like bacon wrapped scallops are out of your price range, what do you do?  It's simple, just take the boring old stuff and make it exciting.  It's all about turning the ordinary into the extraordinary to make your guests remember your wedding.

If you're having an at-home wedding reception you can save big time on costs.  One of the most expensive parts of your wedding will be feeding and liquoring-up your guests. Doing something low-key and at home will reduce costs significantly when you remove the rental fee.  Now, what to do about that boring food display?

One of the coolest ideas I recently stumbled upon was turning everyday h'ourderves and food displays into cosmopolitan foods that your guests will clamor for.  The best part is it's completely within your budget and looks high-end.

Uncle Bubba's Crab Martini

Idea 1: A Salad-Tini Bar
What you'll need: disposable martini glasses, Salad stuff (lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, etc.), a mixologist (this can be your neighbors kid that wants $50 for the night), a large cocktail shaker, pretty bowls and a makeshift bar (just cover any high table with a tablecloth or rent a portable bar.
What to do: Have guests get in line and have them point out what items they'd like in their salad.  The mixologist will add the items to the cocktail shaker, mix it up and pour it into a martini glass.  Viola! you have an amazing looking display your guests won't stop talking about, and it's just salad.

Idea 2: Cocktail Fruit (or how to get your guests drunk on a budget)
Shelling out the money for booze is up there in the budget buster for a wedding.  You've already heard about the one signature cocktail or limiting your alcohol to just beer and wine, but what else can you do to bring down the costs and slow the line down at the bar?

What you'll need: Waiters/bartenders, cocktails, fruit, martini glasses, toothpicks & napkins.
What to do: Have 1-2 waiters walk around with trays topped with multiple martini glasses.  If you want to get fancy, dress up the glasses to represent their cocktail.  Paint green apples on the Apple Martini glasses, fill the glass with mini fake plastic apples and dip the foot of the glass in glue and then coat in green glitter.  the possibilities are endless.  Once you're done decorating, cut up the appropriate fruit for the glass.  Mix your normal cocktail mix for a green apple martini and soak the apple slices in the mix overnight.  Place the slices on the rim of the glass and have servers offer up the alcohol-soaked treats to your guests.  A variation of this would be to get mini martini glasses and fill them with mini portions of signature cocktails and top them with the alcohol soaked fruit.

via JSTK

Idea 3: Jello Shots (or another way to get your guests drunk on a budget)
Ok, so I know you're probably saying Jello Shots are for Frat parties.  Well, I'll tell you it depends on how you do it.  If you're going to just pour some vodka into a jello mix and toss it into plastic cups, then yeah it's for a house party.  If you're going to get fancy gourmet molds, high end cocktail mixes and quality gelatin , then you have gourmet jello shots that are wedding or event-worthy my friends.

What you'll need: cocktail recipes, fruit, gelatin, molds, plates or spoons (depending on how you'd like to serve the shots) & napkins.
What to do: Have plates or spoons laid out for guests topped with a jello shot display.  I'm including shots from a great blog called Jelly Shot Test Kitchen, where I've gotten photos and recipes.You don't just have to use the recipes on this site.  I've seen lots of sites showing cocktail recipes for jello shots.  I've included the recipe for the "Bramble" jello shot below.
Recipe by Toby Cecchini and reprinted from the NYT Magazine Blogs
For the float:
6 ounces crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur)
7 grams (1 packet) Knox unflavored gelatin
1 package (3 ounces) grape-flavored Jell-O gelatin
1 cup hot water
In a small mixing bowl, sprinkle the gelatin and the Jell-O into the hot water and stir until completely dissolved, 5 to 7 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir in the crème de mûre. In a small, nonreactive baking dish or loaf pan, pour a few drops of cooking oil (grapeseed works well) and wipe out with a paper towel, coating the entire vessel with the barest layer. Pour blackberry float mixture in and set to chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, making certain it is level.
For the gin sour:
1 cup gin (lemon infused) (Note: vodka may be substituted!)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
28 grams (4 packets) Knox unflavored gelatin
1 cup hot water.
Juice enough lemons to give you 2/3 cup juice, keeping the hulls as you squeeze. Roughly chop the squeezed hulls and put them in a coverable container along with the gin and the lemon juice. Leave at room temperature for at least 2 hours. It’s a good idea to do this before starting the float, so that by the time that has firmed up, your infusion is ready to go. When the float layer is firm, bloom the gelatin in the hot water by sprinkling it slowly while stirring, and continuing stirring until fully dissolved. Add the sugar and stir until that is also fully dissolved. Strain the gin mixture off from the lemon hulls through a fine sieve or chinoise and add it into the gelatin mixture, stirring well. Over a spoon, so as not to gouge a divot in the float layer, pour the lemon sour mix onto the float layer and return to refrigerator, again checking for levelness. Chill overnight. When ready to serve, cut into squares, or use a cookie cutter for shapes, and pull up carefully, using a cake spatula to get under the float layer. Garnish with a blackberry and/or a thin wedge of candied lemon. Or simply slurp.

Cosmopolitan Jelly shot from JSTK


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