The winter months are here and although we are not experiencing snow storms in October we can still expect breezy days and chilling nights. Your guests will arrive to your December or January event in winter coats, gloves and scarves in an attempt to keep warm on the outside. Why not offer some seasonal comfort foods to warm them on the inside? Creating a menu using foods that are in season will help to assure a better quality product. Creating selections showcasing seasonal preparation techniques such as braising or roasting will show you put a lot of thought and effort into menu planning for your event.
Consider offering a warm soup course for a platted meal, as an action station or hand passed as “soup shots”. Serving a hearty or chunky soup would work best for a platted meal as guests have the comfort of being seated and enjoying the course with a warm buttered dinner roll or slice of artesian bread. Action stations are fun and your guests can interactive with the chef by choosing from a wide variety of condiments. Think pasta station set up but imagine a steaming aromatic clam stock with thickened seasoned cream poured over crisp maple bacon bits, diced potatoes, vegetables and tender clams, finished with a sprinkle of lemon zest, thyme and parsley. Or quick seared beef tenderloin cubes with pearl barley in smoked onion beef broth. Soup shots call for smooth preparations that are not too thin or too thick such as tomato or butternut squash bisque with a light drizzle of chive sour cream.
Carving stations work well in colder months as roasts can be filled with a variety of ingredients to compliment the season. Pork loin coated with sage, garlic and rosemary filled with dried fruits and cornbread dressing glazed with a port wine demi glaze can be a great alternative for the traditional holiday ham. Tired of turkey but still feel you need a poultry selection? Naturally raised breast of chicken stays moist and flavorful when filled and roasted to perfection. A popular option would be chicken roulade filled with wild rice and chicken apple sausage and a sauce of marsala wine.
Ending the meal with warm desserts as opposed to cake or pastries is also an option. Of course you still might like to have the famous yule log with merengue mushrooms to stay with tradition but you can also offer other creations. Fruit pies or individual warm tartlets topped with ice cream or sweet whipped cream are not only considered true comfort foods but they are also very trendy if that’s your thing. Did someone say smores? If you are lucky enough to have a venue that offers a wood burning fire pit why not. Can you think of a better way to mingle with your guests than gathered around a dancing fire on a chilly night? Sure they might get your hands sticky and you could end up with a dab of melted chocolate on your lips but so will everyone else.
Imagine the possibilities.