Please critique my dinner party menu!
Here's the scenario: Casual buffet style dinner party for about 8-10 people, including 2 vegetarians, 1 non-adventurous diner who dislikes spicy foods, and the rest a bunch of adventurous and multicultural eaters.
I am a good cook but not always so good at planning a menu with elements that complement rather than clash. Prefer a mix of cultural influences rather than a theme. Any advice and critiques of my tentative menu will be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Serena
Summer dinner party—MENU
Cold cooked/raw vegetables w/ aioli
Figs with cheese, or bacon, or...?
Soltero (Peruvian bean salad)
Some vegetarian dish (lasagne?)
Aji de gallina over potatoes
Lemon mousse with assorted berries
Almond torte with vanilla ice cream
Figs with cheese AND bacon! Stuff the figs with goat cheese and wrap each with bacon. My friends went gaga when I did it with panchetta and feta.
I like the two desserts in that they're a good contrast, but would agree with Candy that there should be meat (unless you are all vegetarians).
I thought it was blue cheese, pecans, and, prosciutto? Here's a favorite Dallas recipe from Hatties's in Oak Cliff.
8 dried figs, preferably Mission (do not subsitute fresh)
8 pecan or walnut halves
3 ounces blue cheese or goat cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon for
each fig, at room temperature
Thin slices of prosciutto or other imported ham (enough to
completely wrap each fig with one layer of ham)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice figs in half vertically but not all the way through; leave stem on to make a little "handle" for easy eating.
Stuff each fig with a nut half and a bit of cheese. (The goat cheese is a bit milder, the blue cheese strong. To tone down blue cheese but retain flavor, mix with cream cheese.)
Wrap figs in prosciutto and roast for 10 minutes. To caramelize the fig a bit, roast an additional 3 minutes.
Note: May be made a day ahead and refrigerated before baking. Optional: drizzle with rosemary olive oil before setting out.
I assume that the Aji de gallina is a meat (chicken?) dish. I would definitely add more meat to the menu. Figs wraped in bacon sounds good. Maybe a shrimp cocktail to add some seafood to the menu. Maybe another meat dish entree as well. Maybe add some notes of chocolate to your desserts as well.
I think it sounds great--what time should I be there? If you feel the need for more meat (do you?) add some salami/proscuitto to the cheese plate. Maybe a mixed green salad? I usually put out some dried apricots and almonds with the crudite, just to boost the protein opportunities for my vegetarian friends.
If you move the figs and cheese to dessert, as has been suggested, you could use proscuitto and melon to replace them.
Meatless lasagna sounds like a lot of bother. Could you make a manacotti with meatless and meat sauce? One dish with sauce for everyone.
I love almond tort. Does it need ice cream? Could you just skip the tort and have a lemon and a chocolate mousse?
You don't have to pay any attention to my musing.