Group meals are a time-tested art at Sunset. Since we moved to our new home in Menlo Park 30 years ago, we have done much of our business entertaining in-house. Over time, our needs changed, and in 1973 we expanted our facilties. We built a new kitchen, spacious patio, and wine cellar--all to help entertain business guests and host company parties, working conferences, and meetings.
Our dining room is an extension of Sunset's editorial content. Foods served are from recipes in our magazine and books. Those from current issues continually increase our repertoire.
In three decades of entertaining, we have accumulated a wealth of experience and practical know-how for making our guests comfortable. We have learned which recipes work best for groups of different sizes, and which stay popular over the years.
On the following 11 pages, we share a collection of tried-and-true entertainment menus; some of the recipes may already be your favorites, too.
Menus for different occasions . . . for a few or many,
for dinner, lunch, or breakfast, indoors or out
Big or small parties, sit-down or buffet; we have tried them all. Here some of our most successful menus. Quantities vary from recipe to recipe; see page 66 for tips on multiplying amounts.
Walk-around reception for 40
For large groups, a combination of hot and cold appetizers works well. Make cold ones ahead; have extras to replenish dishes. To identify choices, set cards with the recipe names beside. If the food needs directions on how to eat it, put them on the card or have someone on hand.
At the barbecue, you need someone to cook and serve clams and sausages.
To avoid bottlenecks and encourage guests to circulate, set out food and beverages at several stations. Pop-oven Barbecue Clams (page 59) Sausages with Mustard Cream (page 59) Smoked Salmon with Endive (page 58) Artichokes with a Trio of Sauces (page 59) Crudites with Green Goddess Dressing (page 59) Melted Brie in a Crust (page 58) Layered Cheese Torta with Pesto (page 59)
For the grilled clams and sausages, have the go-withs such as bread or sauce placed near the barbecue, along with serving utensils. As guest come and go, cook successive batches so there is a steady supply of hot food. For 40, you might make two batches or clams and sausages.
Western classic for
up to a dozen
This menu emphasizes the glorious food of the West--salmon, wild rice, pears. It's an elegant, good-looking dinner. Red Lettuce Spears and Green Beans with Tangerine Mayonnaise (page 63) Whole Salmon Fillets with Herb Baste (page 60) Barbecued Fennel (page 62) California Wild Rice (page 63) Sourdough Bread Pear Fans with Orange Syrup (page 65) Chardonnay
Barbecue whole salmon fillets with an herb sauce. Use 1 fillet for 5 to 6 servings, 2 fillets for 10 to 12 servings. Grill fennel alongside. The wild rice cooks unattended over low heat. Make the orange syrup for the pears ahead, then complete dessert shortly before serving.
Sit-down lunch for a big
crowd: 75 to 100
With a big group, it's wise to choose a menu of common, well-liked foods. Barbecued beef is a popular choice for our employee anniversary lunches. Borrow extra barbecues for your party, if needed. Spinach Salad with Pine Nut Dressing (page 63) Barbecued New York Strip Roast with Bearnaise Sauce (page 60) Bulgur and Pasta Pilaf (page 62) Buttered Asparagus Sourdough Bread Spiced Pumpkin Roll (page 65) Cabernet Sauvignon
Whole New York strip roast works well for a crowd because it takes fewer cooks to handle three or four large pieces of meat on the barbecue than 75 to 100 smaller steaks. Each boneless strip weighs 8 to 10 pounds; after cooking, cut each into 1/2-inch-thick steaks to feed 22 to 26.
The bearnaise sauce is easy to make in the blender; you'll need 3 or 4 batches. …