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What’s your favorite menu to serve a party of 6??

Im looking for some new ideas- My brother and sister in-law come for dinner all the time and this time I would like to make something different- I was wondering if you would like to share your favorite menus for entertaining- We love all kinds of food- Italian, Middle Eastern, French, American, Eastern European, Indian etc. etc. Maybe a themed dinner?
Thanks in advanced!

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  1. This time of year I love to make a big pot of Cioppino... you can do so much ahead and then you're only in the kitchen for 15 minutes the night of.

    A side spinach mushroom salad with big homemade garlic croutons and a balsamic vinaigrette... and some nice crusty bread to sop up the soup.

    I can post my fool proof recipe if you like.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jennalynn

      I would like your Cioppino recipe, please. Thank you in advance! mary

      1. re: marycarol

        Here you all go. It usually gets eaten to the last lick.

        MY CIOPPINO - Should serve about 4 -6 depending on appetite.

        1 medium bulb of fennel... save the hairy fronds, lose the long stalks
        4 large garlic cloves, minced
        2 medium onions, finely chopped
        1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
        1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
        1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
        1 1/2 teaspoons salt
        1/2 teaspoon black pepper
        1/4 cup olive oil
        1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
        2 tablespoons tomato paste
        1 1/2 cups white wine
        1 (28- to 32-oz) can crushed tomatoes
        1 cup bottled clam juice
        1 cup chicken broth

        The Fish! ... use what's on sale. Do NOT use salmon, tuna or swordfish (too oily).

        1 (1-lb) crab legs, precooked... if on sale
        18 small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams (1 1/2 lb) such as littlenecks, scrubbed or mussels
        1 lb skinless red snapper, cod or halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
        1 lb large shrimp whatever size you like, shelled (I used precooked frozen shrimp)
        You can also add calamari or scallops or Lobster!!! or almost anything.

        In a heavy dutch oven… If you have a mandoline, shave the fennel bulb very very thin. If not, use your knife skills to cut it very very thin.

        Cook fennel, garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions and fennel are softened, about 5 minutes.

        Add bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about (almost) half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. I usually add a tablespoon or two of sugar if the tomatoes are a little acidic.

        DONE! You can now put this in the fridge for up to two days.

        When you're ready for dinner, bring the "soup" up to a low boil and add the clams/mussels first... let them cook until just barely open. Add the fish and the shrimp and it should only take another 3–5 minutes. Garnish with parsley or cilantro if you like.

    2. I enjoy a nice pork loin with berry/balsamic reduction sauce. For a vegie, I enjoy combining my favorites with a nice shredded cheese, fav. herbs and a couple eggs (whipped), then rolling the mixture in several layers of phylo dough (little egg wash on the outside - browns up nice). When ready to serve, you just slice it - nice presentation. Then add a nice herbed brown rice or whole wheat coucous. With a simple salad with greens, strawberry's, almonds or walnuts and nice vinergarette. You're Good to go!!!

      2 Replies
      1. re: lexpatti

        Just curious lexpatti about an egg wash on the outside of phyllo dough. I have only brushed on butter or olive oil. Have never heard of brushing on an egg wash. Is this on top of butter or olive oil?

        1. re: Deborah

          no, just egg wash - gives it a nice glazed finish - pretty! i sprinkle few herbs after the egg wash too

      2. I love Italian, and it's sooo easy I always fall back on it for a small dinner party. Lasagna, baked ziti, shrimp scampi, fettucine Alfredo, or chicken parmesan are all tried and true and afford a wealth of time with your guests. Add a green salad and some crusty bread and you're in business. The meal itself never has to be complicated since it's the time you are spending with those you've invited that matters. Good comfort food never goes wrong in my home...

        2 Replies
        1. re: diablo

          These are all such great meals! The Cioppino recipe would be great although I will have to whip it out at another party because i have some non seafood lovers- However please still post becasue we are seafood lovers! :) Thanks!!

          1. re: gastronomy

            will everyone eat chicken? cacciatore is a terrific filling winter meal that's easy to throw together for a crowd.

        2. Hi! Last night I made NY strips with "southern" sides.... yummy macaroni and cheese + collards! And while that was quite successful, my Coq au Vin seems to be the most requested (Julia Child's recipe). J'adore coq au vin!

          My Tenderloin steaks with cranberry sauce and Gorgonzola (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...) is requested almost as much.

          What do you make often for your dinner parties? I would like some new ideas myself (TY, Jennalynn for the Cioppino recipe!)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tehama

            What brand of Port do you use in making this sauce? I want to try it, but was confused by too many choices and range of prices of Ports. Thank you in advance.

            1. re: marycarol

              Hi MaryCarol! I have never used an expensive bottle of port before for this recipe, but some of the ones that I have used off and on through the years that come to mind are Hardy's "Whiskers Blake"; Yulumba's "Clocktower"; and Penfolds "Special Club". I hope this helps. This recipe is a little indulgent, but yyyuuummmmm..... we do love it!

          2. For a dinner party this time of year, of course! Osso Bucco! It works well for a more formal setting, and for a group of friends thats fairly stress free. On the other hand, I love to also to make pizza. I love to make a couple of pizzas and serve it with a terrific salad and dessert for a fun evening. Or you can serve the salad on the pizza its wonderful!
            Beer, or wine works nicely.

            My other favorites would be Mexian and Greek, and that could range from Camarones Diabla, or Mousakka.

            1. These are great recipes, thanks, I needed new ideas too.

              Another great one recently was a greek style leg of lamb, really easy too - lots of garlic, lemon and oregano. Couscous was one of the sides, can't remember the vegitable (maybe roasted asparagus)

              1. Don't have a favorite, but last Friday night for five: miso soup using my fish stock with red tilapia, arugula, dried Asian mushrooms from Vietnam; Lao beef and a bit of tripe laab; a good local blue and a Vermont cheddar cheeses; paired with Concha y Toro Carminere and Sauvingon blanc.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  hmmmm.... im getting hungry! :) You know I forgot about the great osso bucco! or short ribs!!! Boy some descions need to be made.... Along the same lines there is lamb shank and couq au vin- I see a comfort food theme here :) You know I always wondered how the best way to serve occo bucco is- do you plate it or serve it in a platter?
                  Some of my usuals for these types of dinners:
                  Baked zitis (all kinds of variations), Roasted pork loins, beef tenderloin, shrimp scampi, roasted chicken, rack of lamb-
                  Mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, grilled or roasted veggies, big wonderful salads, good french bread etc.
                  I love chow- You are all full of such great ideas!

                2. Cut-up chicken and mushrooms in a Romertopf, with slices of brie on top.

                  1. We just had a few friends over the other night for a big pot of japanese curry with beef, carrots, celery, onions and potatoes over steamed rice. Of course, you could put just about anything in the curry and it would taste good. Used the S&B boxed curry mix like we always do. Great on a cold night. For the sides we just got some fresh banchan from the korean grocery: spinach salad, bean sprout salad, marinated fernbrake, cubed radish kimchee and spicy korean pickles.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: soypower

                      Back home, my friends and I would spend hours laughing and joking when we got together, and always made a huge pot of this curry when we realized we were famished. Always eaten with loads of kimchee and soju. We were all so busy and now scattered throughout the world, that these gatherings, and even the humble curry, serve poignant now. Thanks for the memories :)

                    2. My winter favorite is braised short ribs of beef. They take hours to cook and there is no last minute fussing in the kitchen. Everybody loves them and they are a good comfort food. And you don't get them every day.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: slofood

                        Okay we have a turn of events! I went to bed last night dreaming of making short ribs or osso bucco with a creamy risotto or polenta- Then my sister in law called this morning to remind me that she is trying really hard to lose some weight.... Can I please make something healthy.....
                        Okay I Can do this- Healthy dinner party ideas??

                        1. re: gastronomy

                          The Barefoot Contessa has a recipe for Paremesan Chicken that is pretty light. You saute the chicken (and there is a bit of breading) but you put greens over it and it's basically a one-dish meal.
                          Or, there's always roast chicken. Simple but always satisfying. You could do it the Marcella way--wth lemons inside. And a couple of veggie sides.

                          1. re: gastronomy

                            Poached pears in wine is so elegant and so light. There are a million recipes. You can add lemon zest, a cinnamon stick, a vanilla bean, a mint spring (well, a little off-season for that last).

                            Link to a bunch of epicurious recipes with pears and wine: http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searc...

                            Note: a lot of them have things like crusts and chocolate. If you really want light, just go for the simpler ones, like poached pears with sweet wine and fruit confetti, poached pears in red wine with anise and lemon, champagne-poached pears, or poached pears with marsala, cinnamon, and vanilla. And I wouldn't shy away from reducing the sugar in a few of those, myself.

                            Good luck!

                        2. You can stay (comparatively) healthy and do a Indian-themed meal. Most of the dairy is actually yogurt, with finishing touches of cream (that can easily be subbed w/ half and half).

                          I made a tomato-onion chicken curry the other day, or butter chicken .. find a good curried veggie recipe, make some naan or chipatis, a raita (yogurt sauce), buy a chutney, and you are good to go! I have an Indian cookbook, and it does a nice job of telling you which dishes go together well.

                          Rice pudding or something lemony always goes well for dessert.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: aletnes

                            That does sound like fun- Im going to research some good Indian recipes today- If you know any (like that tomato-onion chicken please share! :)

                            1. re: gastronomy

                              i think this indian idea is your best bet for healthy and tasty. if you don't want to go the curry route, you can even do a simple tandoori preparation, or chicken tikka masala [just go light on the oil in the marinade & sauce].

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Goodhealthgourmet- I love your name! :) Do you have any recipes for Chicken Tikka Masala??

                                1. re: gastronomy

                                  thanks, it's the name of my company :)

                                  here's a healthy chicken tikka recipe i really love. it's not the most authentic/traditional one, but it's really delicious! i've doubled my recipe for you to yield 8 servings because it's amazing the next day, but i doubt you'll have any leftovers anyway...

                                  Chicken Tikka Masala

                                  For the chicken:
                                  2 cups low-fat plain yogurt
                                  2 T lemon juice
                                  1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ground cumin
                                  2 tsp. ground cinnamon
                                  2 tsp. cayenne pepper
                                  1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
                                  2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
                                  1 tsp salt
                                  6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
                                  8 metal or soaked bamboo skewers

                                  For the sauce:
                                  2 Tbsp. butter
                                  2 cloves garlic, minced
                                  1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
                                  1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ground cumin
                                  1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. paprika
                                  1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. garam masala
                                  2 cups [16 oz.] crushed tomatoes
                                  2 cups fat free evaporated milk
                                  ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

                                  steamed basmati rice for serving

                                  In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if possible.

                                  Preheat grill or broiler for high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill, or broil on a rack, until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

                                  Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Add cumin, paprika, and garam masala. Stir in tomatoes and evaporated milk. Simmer uncovered on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken from skewers, add to sauce, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve over steamed basmati rice, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

                                  a couple of tips: this is moderately spicy, so if you or your guests don't like too much heat, be sure to remove the ribs & seeds from the jalapeno, or cut back a little on the cayenne. also, if you can plan/prepare ahead, it really is better to marinate the chicken overnight.

                                  enjoy, and please let me known how it turns out!

                          2. I just did a relatively healthy Asian-fusion cocktail party where we served: mini banh mi sandwiches and a cheese platter (pear and ginger Wensleydale, star anise chevre, aged gouda and camembert) and of course cocktails. Dinner service was: green tea bean cakes, dumplings, watercress salad with mandarin, tofu cake, deboned and stuffed whole chicken with paella vegetal and oxtails in peanut sauce (perhaps the one nod to my unhealthy preferences). I will just omit the dessert before people realize how we used up our saved calories.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: JungMann

                              LOL I know what you mean! That sounds like a wonderful party! I think im hooked on this Indian theme for this week.... However I would love the recipe for the deboned and stuffed chicken for another night!
                              Sounds fabulous!

                              1. re: gastronomy

                                Debone a 5 lb. roasting chicken without breaking the skin (or have the butcher do this for you). Marinate overnight in 6 T soy sauce, 2 T sugar and juice of half a lemon.

                                Seperately combine 3/4 lb ground ham, 1 lb. ground pork, 3/4 lb. ground chicken, 3 oz. raisins, 2 T lemon juice, 3 T soy sauce, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 1/2 T garlic powder, 1/3 c. finely chopped onions, 10 oz. sweet relish, and bind together with about 4 T plain bread crumbs and 3 raw eggs. Stuff into the chicken along with 3 hard boiled eggs, 6 Vienna sausages and 2 chorizos bilbao (or substitute spicy chorizo) reforming the shape of the chicken. Bake for about 1.5 hrs. at 350 basting often with butter. A sauce can be made from thickening the drippings and seasoning with garlic powder, soy sauce and lemon juice.

                                Cutting into the chicken should reveal a meat stuffing punctuated by hard boiled eggs and a bright red chorizo in the middle.

                            2. funny, you should ask that- i just had a dinner party for six this past weekend. we started off with a sweet green pea soup served with a finishing dollop of heavy cream as i was out of creme fraiche. then i made one of my most favorite easy but impressive chicken meals-called chicken dijonnaise. it consists of lightly sauteed chicken breast in a sauce made of onions, mushrooms ,cut up artichoke hearts, wine and dijon mustard and finished off with some cream to smooth it all out. i served it with haricots vert and acini. the end was a tarte tatin that went wonderfully well. everyone went home satisfied...
                              i can post the dijonnaise recipe if anyone is interested but can't do it till next week as i am going away tomorrow for the remainder of the week

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: alienor

                                This is a great thread, I love all the ideas everyone is sharing! I would like this recipe, it has all my favorites in it! Thank you in advance!

                              2. Paella with seafood, chicken and sausage. Something for everyone and it can be very impressive with high end items if you want to do it. Serve it with a salad with crisp lettuces and a red wine vinegrette. You can do chopped olives and roasted peppers on crostini for an appetizer. Try also asparagus with serrano or prosciutto wrapped around it. Great bread is a must. So is a great Rioja.

                                1. A couple things could work from my Sunday night dinner this weekend that are also fairly healthy - roasted pork tenderloin. Marinade two tenderloins in 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/2 c pinot, 1 c preserves or chutney of your choice (i've used apricot, blackberry and cherry as well as a prepared apple chutney), 3 cloves minced garlic and a couple tbsps of chopped thyme for 1 hr on the counter. Remove pork, reserve marinade, dry and season w/s&p, sear on all sides over med-high for about 5 mins. Cook in oven with marinade in pan at 375 for about 15 mins for med-rare; baste every few mins as it cooks. Pull out the pork, tent w/foil for 15 mins and slice just before serving. I usually cook the sauce from the pan a tad longer on the stove and finish with a knob of butter (you can skip this for the noted health concerns). A simple side that I did last night was pan steamed haricot vert w/carmelized shallots and lemon zest. This certainly isn't the indulgence of short ribs w/polenta, but it's still very tasty.

                                  1. This is a GREAT dish I ripped from Hamersley's Bistro in Boston. The dish was served with pan roasted potatoes (baked in skins, cooled, cut into cubes then pan roasted in olive oil) and peas with a cream-wine sauce. I'll give just the salmon since the sauce has cream & butter. I've made this numerous times, often doubling the recipe, sometimes with no sauce (which is spooned onto the plate with fish resting atop), sometimes with a crab butter cream sauce ala Paul Prudhomme (very rich). Served on a platter with potatoes scattered around. Yum!

                                    Roasted Salmon with Horseradish Crust

                                    Preheat oven 350
                                    2lb center cut salmon fillet with skin

                                    In a bowl combine:
                                    3/4 C fresh white bread crumbs
                                    3 shallots, sliced thin
                                    1/2 t freshly grated lemon zest
                                    1/4 C coarsely chopped walnuts
                                    1 6-oz bottle horseradish, drained & squeezed dry (about 3/4 C)
                                    1/4 C chopped mint leaves
                                    1/4 t fennel seeds lightly crushed
                                    1/4 t red pepper flakes
                                    1/2 t minced garlic
                                    2 T olive oil

                                    Arrange salmon, skin side down, on well-greased baking sheet, press the horseradish mix onto it, pressing gently to make it adhere, and bake the salmon for 25 to 30 min or until cooked through.