I am often asked how many people a recipe will serve. I always respond that is depends on the circumstances. Obviously the more food you serve at one sitting or on one buffet table the more each dish will serve. However, the most important factor is WHAT you use to serve the food. Let me explain.
I have my own theory of buffet mentality. People come up to a buffet table and subconsciously assess the food. If they have never tasted the dish before they will take a small spoonful. If they like the main ingredient in a dish they will dip probably 1-½ times. If they love the dish they will take two spoons or forks full. Now, the size of the spoon and the depth of the casserole are up to you. If you use a long-handled stirring spoon from your kitchen in a deep 3 quart casserole instead of a serving Tablespoon in a 13 x 9 casserole which is more shallow don’t come crying to me that the food never served the 15 people the recipe said it would.
This actually happened to me with my great Corn Pudding recipe (see Side Dishes). I brought it to a party and the hostess served it with this humongous spoon. It’s smell enticed everyone so much that the last five people on the buffet line never got any, and there was leftover corn pudding on a number of plates because the people had taken too much. This situation needs to be avoided at all costs and can be with choosing the proper sized serving utensil. Just don’t go to the extreme as one caterer did. They served a side of poached salmon with a small two-pronged toothpick! Really!
Buffet mentality also applies to finger food. You want your shrimp (I DO have some non-kosher readers!) to go further—leave the tails on. Better yet, make them peel and eat. That really slows ‘em down! No one wants telltale evidence on his or her plates. Want the small cookies, brownies, petit fours and nut clusters to serve more people? Place them in little paper mini muffin papers. NO ONE wants to hold a plate with six papers as evidence of their gluttony! Don’t laugh, it works every time! I’m not telling you to be skimpy. I just want your guests to enjoy your hard work, leave full, and not have you see food wasted.