Help me prepare under the radar chow
A group of my friends has decided to start monthly Sunday evening suppers with a different person hosting and providing the food each time. Hubby and I have volunteered to be the first hosts and I am trying to finalize the menu. Here is the issue...
Most of the people in this group are not very interested in food and rarely, if ever, cook. I usually pull out all the stops for a dinner party, but am afraid that serving anything too gourmet or labor intensive would send the wrong impression about these get togethers. We would certainly not want others to feel they need to provide an eleaborate menu in order to host the supper. So, I want to prepare simple food that tastes amazing..nothing flashy or overtly gourmet (I can get more adventurous after we have had a few of the suppers). Currently, the menu consists of:
guacamole and chips
Any suggestions for desserts?
Any other menu suggestions?
I will have one guest who does not eat meat and was thinking about preparing a small dish of cheese enchiladas for her. Is it okay to only offer one person an alternative entree or must I provide the vegetarian option for everyone?
Even if there were no vegetarians, I think it would be a good idea to make some cheese enchiladas anyways... especially if you make a killer sauce you'd like to showcase.
I love meat, but usually when I make enchiladas, meat is an afterthought and often left out. Enchiladas are all about the chile! I have some killer chile sauce recipes if you're interested... you can go with or without tomatoes or roux. Both ways are good. If I'm shooting for Tex Mex, I'll make a roux and use tomatoes, and I'd be more inclined to include some beef. If I'm going for New Mexican, it's all chile and cheese pretty much. Then you have the choice of red or green. Both ways are good. Enchiladas is a very versatile and simple dish. Good choice.
You may also consider making a "hot" and a "mild" batch... that way the heat freaks can get their fix, and others can still enjoy their food.
How about a simple fresh pico de gallo or fruit salsa alongside the guacamole? Doesn't have to be homemade....Whole Foods has a nice mango salsa, or you could doctor some bottled salsa with added ingredients. A fresh, bright flavor would serve as a nice counterpoint to the beans/rice/cheese enchiladas.
To me the non-flashy dessert might either be fried ice cream; or, you could make bunuelos (or even more common might be cinnamon sugar tortilla chips or pita chips from TJ's) served warm with vanilla ice cream.
Fajitas might be an easy one to adapt to meat and non-meat; you might even consider adding tofu to the veggie version.
For easy apps, you could also make a seven layer dip, mini-empanadas, mini quesadillas, spiced nuts, or this great bobby flay dip http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/quesofun...
I always dress minted fruit salads with a combination of equal parts dry white wine and honey (about a tablespoon or two of each for a big big bowl). People always ask for the "recipe" when I serve this, I think because they really like yet can't figure out what the extra flavors are.
I think a nice citrus/melon/mint salad would work fine with this, still keeping the flavors zesty but also light.
You did not indicate how many or how you would be serving. I am thinking that you are doing a buffet? Put the veggie dishes right out wit the others. Or to make it even more fun, and perhaps encourage experimentation; do more of a build it yourself station, using maybe a nice slow-cooked pulled pork with green chiles, sliced grilled chicken, some roasted veggies, cheeses along with the beans and rice.
I don't know how well this goes with your menu, but strawberries are really inexpensive right now, and I made strawberry shortcake for Memorial Day that went over very well but wasn't at all fussy or time-consuming.
I used the biscuit roulade (technically a sponge cake?) from the Cake Bible and cut it into rounds. Assembly was easy; one cake round per plate, a couple of spoonfuls of sliced, macerated strawberries, a dollop of mascarpone buttercream, another cake round, more strawberries, and a big dollop of whipped cream. No reason you couldn't do it as a strawberry and whipped cream-filled roll instead, though.
If I couldn't still taste that luscious strawberries, I'd say go "traditional" with Tex-Mex and make sopaipillas, flan, or vanilla cheesecake.
re: Honey Bee
Here's a wonderful Tres Leches Cake from Mr. Food. It's a shortcut method, but it is delicious and it makes a most wonderful Strawberry Shortcake. Your guests will love it.
TRES LECHES CAKE
Serves 12 to 15 people
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 pint half-and-half
Pinch of salt
2 pound cakes (12 oz.) each (I like the Sara Lee frozen ones)
1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
In a large bowl, combine the three milks and salt; stir well and set aside. Cut the cakes into 6 slices each. Lay the slices tightly in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the cake slices, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and spread the whipped topping over the cake. Chill for an additional 1 to 2 hours. (There will still be some liquid on the bottom of the pan because this is more like a pudding than a regular cake and should be eaten with a spoon.)
NOTE: The cake is wonderful just as it is, but to make it even more special, spoon sliced, sweetened strawberries over each piece of cake at serving time. YUM!
I would definitely make enough of the non-meat dish so that everyone can have some if they would like. I think that A. You don't want to make that guest feel out of place or that she made you go to a lot of extra trouble and B. Just because people eat meat, that don't necessarily want just that if there is another yummy option. If you'd prefer not to make 2 kinds of enchiladas, then just make the cheese enchiladas and skip meat altogether