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Jul 11, 2006 04:43 PM

how do i cook for 3 hounders and one very picky eater

and still keep everybody satisfied?

having another couple over for dinner this weekend and am struggling to come up with a menu that would fit. both of us and one of them love food and are very adventerous eaters, h/w the 4th member of our party is a very picky meat and potatoes/pizza-type eater.

help me figure out a menu that i can be proud of and everyone will enjoy! btw: i do have access to a gas grill but am a pretty unexperienced griller.

thanks in advance!

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  1. Do Rib Eyes and Garlic Mashed Potatoes (which no one can really argue against! Especially if you get nice quality cuts and do REALLY good potatoes!) and then you can go wild by having another interesting side, appetizers and dessert.

    I have mixed parties all the time (Foodies, Veggies, Low Carbers, Lolipops) and I usually make at least one dish that the 'special' guest will be happy with and won't make them feel like they 'ruined' the dinner for everyone or spotlight their 'issues'. I look at it as more of a challenge than anything else. Also, I tend to give my guests a heads up on the menu a day or two ahead of time, so we can start 'negotiation' privately and before hand so if I give, I also have enough time to change and prep for it.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Dommy

      You can't go wrong with rib eyes and mashed potatoes. Forgive my ignorance, but what is a lolipop?

      1. re: Junie D

        You know those Impossibly Skinny Actresses with the big heads? It's caught on in L.A. to some of the general population as well... :/ I always have fresh RAW veggies in the appetizer set up for this particular GF...


    2. Honestly- don't plan your menu around the picky eater. He/She is the minority and since I assume they are friends are not going to b*tch about what you serve.

      So in your case why not start w/ some basic nibblers to have w/ cocktails- hummus, cheese/crackers, nuts, cured olives, etc. Offer a few wow cheeses (stinking bishop, truffle etc) for the 'hounds and a few basics for the picky.

      Then how about "make your own" pizza's. Lots of options and fun to do. You could have the dough ready to go and pre-cooked on the grill. Then offer a melange of toppings: roasted garlic and red peppers, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, assorted meats (prosciutto, roast chicken, grilled steak, assorted cheese (goat, mozz, fontina), assorted sauces (red, white, pesto) etc. The hounds can go to town and the picky one can keep it simple.

      A simple salad served on the side would be great.

      Dessert could be simple berries w/ creme fraiche and cassis or my favorite oh so simple tart:

      I have made this apple to and both are improved w/ the addition of crystallized ginger.

      good luck!

      1. It seems to me that comfort food often satisfies everyone. My best friend's husband is above and beyond picky, but even he will eat things like fried chicken, apple pie, etc.

        The pizza idea is great! My dad's side of the family is very picky, and we did make your own pizzas a couple of weekends ago and it went over better than everything we've ever done. We've decided we're going to stick with the make your own theme for every occasion... make your own tacos, make your own baked potato, make your own sundae, etc., etc.

        1. Part of the reason why American home cooking has gone downhill are all the parents cowing to the appetites of their picky children. End the cycle. Make what you want to eat and let the picky eater enjoy or starve.

          Negotiating the menu with your guests (unless they're paying for the food too) is so juvenile.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Bearnaise

            Wow. Now I know never to go to dinner at Bearnaise's house! Negotiating a menu with your guests may be juvenile, but planning it with complete disregard to their tastes is inconsiderate. If you don't care if people like the food you serve, then you shouldn't invite them to a meal. It's a waste of time, money and goodwill to prepare food people are going to leave on their plates. I agree that parents kowtow (not "cow") too much to their kids' tastes, but there a lot of ground between kowtowing and letting your guests "starve."

            Back to the original question .... being a hound doesn't necessarily mean being adventurous. It means appreciating the best, and that can mean making "simple" food with top notch ingredients (super fresh veggies, premium meat), or making familiar items with a "twist."

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I simply think stuckinschool should please him or herself and the adventurous eaters and not let the prospect of the picky eater worry him/her too much. Picky eaters are a drag. We don't know what kind of equipment stuckinschool has or what kind of dishes stuckinschool is dying to make. Stuckinschool, don't use the grill to prepare food for dinner guests until you are comfortable with it, or your guests are indulgent in case any mishaps happen.

              My suggestions, and yes, go buy the cookbooks:
              1. appetizer - baguette + chicken liver pate, made the day before (from Nigel Slater's APPETITE) + olives
              2. main course - Pan Roasted Veal Breast with garlic, rosemary and white wine (from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian cooking - btw, this book has great menus in the back.) Feel free to make the rib-eye steaks, but that will be one expensive dinner if you're going to make enough for four and not want to look like a miser.
              3. Green salad - Good mesclun leaves olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette
              4. Cheeses - a good gorgonzola, Rouge et Noir's camembert, Keen's cheddar.
              5. Dessert - if you have the foresight to buy nectarines and mangos a few days in advance so they get ripe in time for your party, do so. Otherwise, your favorite cake or pastry from a store.

              And don't forget the wine. Go to a good wine store like Kermit Lynch and talk to the salespeople about what food you are going to serve. And don't forget to get great bread. Voila. I think 80% of your time will be spent shopping, and getting great ingredients.

              1. re: Bearnaise

                I love that you say stuckinschool shouldn't worry too much....but go buy these four cookbooks! :)

                Stuckinschool perhaps lives in the Bay Area (guessing from other posts). If you can make it to Berkeley, definitely to go to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants on San Pablo blvd for wine. You will get excellent wine at a very low price.

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                I totally agree...Cooking is about making those you are cooking for happy, and if you're not doing that...get out of the kitchen.