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Having Dinner for 8 on Saturday --What do I cook?

I'm throwing a birthday party for a friend this coming Saturday. I don't want to spend a fortune on the food, but would like to make a nice dinner. No polenta, indian food, etc.

Suggestions? I'm begging you!!!

Did I mention it's 105 degrees out?

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  1. gazpacho, salmon balsamico, caprese salad, bread, fresh fruit, sorbet

    1. Do you have access to a grill or will you be cooking inside?

      1 Reply
      1. re: masha

        I can do either. I have a nice size grill.

      2. This feeds a bunch, and because you are flaking it, you can get away with getting a less-expensive salmon. Also, I have made it ahead of time - I just cook down the sauce and keep the flaked salmon separate, then combine everything at the last minute. I've added peas or asparagus for extra color and sweetness in the past.

        1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
        1 tablespoon olive oil
        3 cups chicken broth
        1 cup heavy cream
        1/3 cup vodka
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
        1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
        2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
        1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
        2 cups flaked cooked salmon
        10 oz capellini

        Cook onion in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (but not browned), about 6 minutes. Add broth, cream, vodka, and salt and boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dill, lemon zest and juice, and pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup sauce, then add salmon to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat until fish is just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
        While fish is heating, cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Return pasta to pot, then toss with reserved sauce and cooking water. Serve pasta immediately with fish and sauce spooned over the top.

        1. Grill some Citrus Chicken under a Brick (epicurious.com), gazpacho, pizza bianca, grilled wedges of pineapple, watermelonade, wedge of iceberg lettuce with creamy chive & goat cheese dressing, buttermilk sherbet with the grilled pineapple, frozen margaritas or other fruity drink, sangria, grilled veggies, ceviche, etc

          1. By all means take advantage of the grill!

            Hors d'oeuvres: Fire-roasted tomatillo guacamole, chipotle grilled peaches and cheese
            Main: Pernil with sour orange mojo
            Sides: Green rice, watermelon salad, corn and black bean salad
            Dessert: Sundaes with chipotle-ancho chocolate sauce

            All relatively inexpensive ingredients brightened with the right seasonings.

            1. For a gathering, especially when it is hot, I like to prepare and cook ahead foods that are good at room temperature. One classic dish that fills the bill is the classic party dish Chicken Marbella from the original Silver Palate Cookbook (see below). Everyone LOVES this dish. You just have to prepare the day before and marinate overnight. It calls for chicken pieces but I use either thigh or breast cultlets. I have made this for many parties, never fails me, and super easy. Prepare ahead and let it cool so you can enjoy your guests. Maybe also prepare ahead some grilled asparagus and other veggies and get some good bread. That's it!


              1. hummus with fresh cut veggies

                mesculin grrens with grilled portabellos,roasted peppers,artichoke or hearts of palm,grape tomatoes,red onion.dressing of choice.you can top it with skewers of marinated grilled shrimp

                sweet potatoe fries

                fresh baked bread is always good,maybe a foccacia

                fresh fruit with sorbet

                not real adventurous but very solid and pretty much everyone will like it.

                1. I know what you mean about the heat we are in Dallas and we are on fire with 103-105 the rest of the week.

                  Here is what I like to do when its so hot.
                  little bowls of nice nuts, olives, maybe some wasabe peas. I don't like for people to get to full before the meal.
                  Salad Fresh tomato fresh basil red onion bacon with a nice garlic and basalmic dressing
                  Main Marinate some skirt steak or flank in a basil pesto then grill sever on a bed of arugula or fresh greens serve with sweet potato potato salad and fresh grilled corn on the cob.
                  Dessert if you are not doing birthday cake do strawberry shortcake.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Analisas mom

                    I love sweet potatoes. Would you mind telling me how you dress your sweet potato salad?

                    1. re: Analisas mom

                      analisas mom, would love to have this recipe.

                      >>>sweet potato potato salad <<<

                      1. re: Gail

                        I just boil sweet potato's or you can roast them until done but still a little firm . Let them cool then I cut them into chuncks then I add chopped celery, chopped red onion, chopped fresh pineapple, toasted almonds toasted coconut and a little kosher salt a couple spoons of either honey or brown sugar then toss with mayo. It's really yummy and diffrent.

                        1. re: Analisas mom

                          Wow, that sounds good! Thank you for posting it.

                    2. Lots of mentions for salmon and I agree, I particularly LOVE Ina Garten's Roasted Salmon Nicoise Platter. Feeds a crowd, can be served room temp, and has a delicious dresing. Recipe below:

                      Also, I agree with A's mom - maybe some nuts & olives out to start, or a small veggie platter.

                      For dessert, angel foodcake & fresh strawerries.

                      1. A lot of people mentioned grilling, but personally, when it's that hot, I don't like standing in front of a 600 degree grill and I certainly don't like eating outside. I'd rather be in the comfort of my air conditioning.

                        I would make:

                        Barefoot Contessa's Indonesian Ginger Chicken -- all the prep is done the day before and you just have to stick it in the oven.


                        Basmati Rice


                        And this Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad -- also made the day before.


                        1. I tried something interesting during NY's last little heat wave; I served sorbet (rasberry and lemon) with a sprinkling of fresh rasberries and blueberries as the appetizer-- so easy and everyone loved having something to cool them down before the meal (it was a BBQ/Grilled meal). For the meal I did an assortment of shishkebabs which were marinated the day before, all I had to do was soak the skewers and slide on the ingredients, then throw them on the grill with some pineapple slices and a side of cilantro pesto rice and a tossed salad. Everyone was happy and it wasn't too much of a hassle for the cook!