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Dinner menu - I could use a bit of help...

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Having a few friends over for dinner on Friday and for some reason, I'm feeling a bit uninspired for ideas. Here are my thoughts so far -my classic bbq'd leg of lamb (with a honey mustard apricot jam glaze) - or maybe a roast leg of lamb - and a warm chevre salad. That's as far as I've gotten. I've seen a recipe for Greek style baby potatoes with lemon and thyme that may work well and I could do something simple like roast green beans to round out the menu but I'm not married to any of these ideas. It might be fun to have a light but elegant starter - maybe a bisque or a little pasta? For dessert, I was thinking of "chocolate sponge kisses with strawberries", a recipe in the new Donna Hay mag - bascally sliced strawberries and double cream sandwiched between 2 layers of chocolate sponge cake.

Due to allergies and aversions, I need to avoid gluten, coconut, coriander, mushrooms, blue cheese and cauliflower. I'm working most of the day on Friday so while I can dedicate a few hours to prep, I can't go too crazy.

What do you think of the menu so far? Any suggestions? Many thanks in advance - even before I've gotten any responses, I already feel better knowing I've got the 'hounds on the case.

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  1. Leg of Lamb is always good. Roasted potatoes are a nice touch as is asparagus.

    Sometimes we just steam it or roast it in the oven with a drizle of olive oil and basalmic and a little coarse salt and pepper.

    Cesear salad is always a good starter.

    Have you thought of doing a beet/cheve salad as a starter. You can roast the beets the night before and have them waiting until you get home. You can try to be adventourous and create a stack salad. Use a small can, ie tomatoe paste and shape the beet., slice it thin. Using the can, put a slice of beet, a little cheve and a leaf of greens, repeat several layers. This is much easier than it sounds. Place the stack on some greens and drizzle with a honey mustard and maybe a few candied nuts. The red, white and green colors are very nice too. If you use red and gold beets, the colors will be very fun.

    I find when roasting a leg of lamb, less is more, a simple rub of garlic, salt, pepper, sage and oregano is perfect. Roast fat side up.

    1 Reply
    1. re: normalheightsfoodie

      Mmm, your beet and chevre appetizer sounds lovely (and beautiful). Forgot to mention that 2 of the guests don't like beets, sadly, but I'm going to try it another time. Thank you.

    2. Boned and butterflied leg of lamb marinated with lots of garlic, olive oil, chilies, Mexican oregano, toasted and ground cumin and grilled makes wonderful fajitas. Grill veg to go along with, peppers, onions etc. fresh warm flour tortillas, beans, guac, salsas etc. Simple and easy and people can build to suit them sleves.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        Definitely sounds fun but a bit more casual than what I'm looking for with this group. Just curious about one thing you mentioned, though - Mexican oregano - I've only ever bought regular dried oregano. What's the difference?

        1. re: peppermint pate

          Greek Oregano which is sold in most spice sections in grocery stores has a very different flavor than Mexican. I get mine from www.penderys.com Order a bit and taste the difference. Mexican is my prefered oregano any more. I cannot discribe the flavor difference you just have to taste it. Mexican is milder and rounder if that helps. Greek is more in your face.

      2. How about making a "strawberry shortcake" take-off using those delicious brownie cookies you made, raspberries and/or strawberries and whipped cream? I think this would be seriously yummy food. Pretty, too.

        1. Since you are barbequing, you can keep the gathering casual and a bit interactive/participatory for your guests by grilling your vegetables. It's a favourite of my friends and family when I grill lamb chops:

          eggplant - cut thick (1/2 - 5/8" rounds)
          zucchini - cut lengthwise
          yellow crookneck squash - cut lengthwise
          red onion - cut into wedges (6 wedges per onion)
          large mushrooms - portabella, crimini, button
          red and yellow pepper - cut lengthwise, 1" wide

          Coat all vegetables in olive oil prior to grilling; season to taste (S&P, or desired seasonings) as veggies grill. Slice squash and eggplant into diagonal strips. Serve around lamb on platter or in separate dish. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if desired.

          Quick, gluten-free apps: waffle cut veggies (e.g. carrots, jicama), and thick-cut potato crisps served with hummus and tapenade. Include a variety of olives.

          If you are serving wine, be careful pairing reds with asparagus. The asparagus won't show the wine to best advantage (hence the other vegetable selections).

          1. Another side dish option - caramelised shallots. REALLY good and shallots are in season. The recipe I use is in an Ina Gartner (Barefoot Contessa) cookbook. Very easy.

            1. How about potatoes in a gratin w/ cheese? Then you can roast shallots as a side dish. Perhaps room temperature green beans boiled green beans (take out and dry on towel) tossed w/ shallot vinaigrette and grape tomatoes?

              1. If you have time to cook tonight, briami is a Greek vegetable stew you can cook ahead and reheat for your meal. I usually make mine in a clay pot - here's a version (but it's very forgiving of variations). You can also skip the bit about sauteeing ahead of time:

                1 eggplant
                2 lbs zucchini
                4 medium potatoes
                2 green peppers
                1 red pepper
                2 medium onions
                1 cup olive oil
                4 medium tomatoes
                2 cloves garlic
                1 tsp sugar
                salt and pepper to taste
                PROCEDURE
                (1) Prepare the vegetables: Cut the eggplant, zucchini and potatoes in bite sized chunks (do not peel the zucchini or the eggplant). Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and slice them into strips. Peel and slice the onions. Dice the tomatoes.
                (2) Sauté the vegetables except the tomatoes in the olive oil in small batches. Sauté each batch for 2 or 3 minutes, then remove from the pan, trying to drain some of the oil so that enough
                oil is left for the next batch. When you're done, most (if not all) of the oil should be gone from the
                pan.
                (3) Place the sautéed vegetables in a baking dish and toss them briefly so that you won't get only one kind of vegetable in one place.
                (4) Add the tomatoes into the pan and sauté for a couple of minutes. Crush the garlic and
                add to the tomatoes. Add the sugar, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for another minute. (5) Pour the tomato sauce on top of the vegetables and bake at 350 deg. F or until the vegetables
                are tender