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Dec 11, 2006 02:17 PM

help! side dish suggestions

Hi all-- I am stumped. We're having my in-laws and my husband's 80+ grandmother for an early Christmas brunch this Saturday. They are not adventurous eaters and slightly Puritan, if I can use the word, in their eating habits. Since I come from a Mediterranean background, I have to think a little harder about what to serve them.
Appetizers will be the standard shrimp cocktail, a nice honey goat cheese (sweeter for the morning, I thought) and sliced baby potato topped with creme fraiche, caviar, and chives. (This I know they like.) For a main, I'm having a cheese and mushroom tart baked in a pastry crust, so a salad is an obvious side. What else goes with that? Asparagus? It sounds good but I feel weird serving it in the middle of winter. Green beans-- is that too "dinner time-ish"? Maybe glazed carrots?

Dessert is a spicy gingerbread cake, some fruit salad, and I think I'll roast some chestnuts. Any ideas? I'm at a loss.


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  1. brussels sprouts roasted with pancetta.

    better yet, mixed roasted veggies. carrots, sweet potato, parsnip..

    1 Reply
    1. re: C70

      both of these options are amazing, but i think that since your making the potatoes with caviar already, i think that the mixed roasted veg might be a little too starchy. i think the brussel sprouts and pancetta would be lovely!!!

    2. Sounds like you have enough and don't need more but a nice roll might be welcome

      1. I had thought of the brussels, but, when I say they are not adventurous eaters, I really mean it! We love them cooked just that way, but I KNOW the FIL will not be happy with the "gassy" reputation of the sprouts (I know, but trust me, it doesn't matter how I prepare them, he has his ideas) and also, the fat and salt in the prosciutto will be another bone of contention. After I cook for these people I feel ready to win an elimination round on Top Chef.

        2 Replies
        1. re: michelle71

          I agree with the brussels assessment. Despite their popularity with people who love to cook and eat well, I can vouch for the fact that people who are not food adventurous, generally will not touch them. There are exceptions, of course, as always, but my experience is that they are left untouched and there are many upturned noses.

          1. re: michelle71

            My extended family are "canned & frozen" people. Every year, we all fly in for a big Thankgiving Dinner. The menu that hasn't really changed in 30 years.

            About 6 years ago, my husband introduced a new dish and each year he makes more and yet its always first thing to disappear -- its brussel sprouts. Often, as soon as we arrive several people come up and ask eagerly "Are you making brussel sprouts again this year? (I used to make a different dish every year just to f*&k with them.)

            Slice them thin (or thin-ish), saute them in butter until they are nicely carmelized (its pretty hard to overcook). Finish them with salt, pepper, roasted pine nuts & a squeeze of lemon (to balance the butter). They don't taste at all "cabbagey" or produce gas because they aren't steamed, the slicing releases all their flavor potential.

            Note: I know this isn't really helpful since your FIL is set in his ways. But I did want to share my "recipe" because if you can sneak it into a buffet, you will convert some people -- I did and it was shocking.

          2. I'm down with glazed julienne carrots. I think you need a vegetable because you need a vegetable and because you want the color.
            Grilled vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash, onions etc would be nice. Maybe too starchy as has been mentioned. Of course, you know these folks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: yayadave

              I don't think anyone mentioned Marcella Hazan's braised carrots. They are amazing, especially when you are tasting them for the first time.

            2. I love this menu, and I'd finish it with sauteed or roasted cherry tomatoes: olive oil, salt, shredded basil.