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Jul 30, 2008 08:22 AM

Cooking for the in-laws--need help

Hi everyone,

Hoping you can give me some good ideas here. I need to make a vegetarian meal Friday night for my mother and father in law. FIL does not like squash, and both of them are rather health-conscious. Any ideas? I like to make fancy stuff when we have them over because they appreciate that sort of thing.

I wanted to make ratatouille, but then remember FIL's squash aversion.

I thought about homemade ravioli, and that's still not out of the question, but I wanted some other ideas.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Oh, and another thing--I want to make some kind of fabulous ice cream for dessert. FIL loves ice cream. Nothing weird--he doesn't like weird--just fabulous.

    1. Hors d'oeuvres: Cilantro corncakes with chipotle-yogurt sauce; sauteed morels on crostini with goat cheese
      Main: Vegetable paella
      Sides: Asparagus flan; stuffed tomatoes with sherry vinegared rice
      Dessert: Dulce de leche ice cream

      If you want to take a little easier on yourself, I might sub roasted elotes for the corncakes and serve a simple torta of either potatoes, cheese or even leftover pasta drizzled with excellent olive oil and peppadews instead of the stuffed tomatoes. Typically I find pasta a rather pedestrian main.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JungMann

        This is great! Do you have a recipe for the cilantro corncakes, or should I just find a good corncake recipe and include cilantro?

        1. re: IndyGirl

          Take a basic corn cake recipe, though make sure you leave in some whole kernels for textural variety, and add some diced red onion, perhaps a little jalapeno or diced red bell, cayenne, ancho (or aleppo) powder and chopped cilantro. The cilantro flavor will weaken with heat, so garnish with extra cilantro punctuate the flavor. I like heat, so I would top with the chipotle sauce, but an avocado cream would be lovely as well.

      2. Stuff tomatoes with spinach,onions, bread crumbs, mushrooms, a little cheese, and herbs of choice, bake.
        Stuff portebellos with chopped veggies, herbs, and some cheese, bakd.
        Make a pasta primavera.
        Mushroom pate, fritta, quiche
        Grill portebellos like a steak and put a mango salsa over them.
        Slice cauliflower into "steaks" rub with herbs and olive oil and roast.
        Grill fruit kebabs and veggie kebabs.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Janet

          I'm slowly becoming a vegetarian and I am almost always stumped for tasty ideas. Thanks.

        2. Mushroom ragout over polenta (either soft or cutouts fried a bit)

          Vegetarian tempura (too oily?)

          A cold plate with a beefsteak tomato stuffed with orzo salad, deviled eggs with wasabi, watermelon chunks and feta wrapped up in proscuitto on a toothpick, a baby fricco folded like a taco shell and filled with guacamole

          3 Replies
          1. re: nemo

            I am picturing soy-based "proscuitto" and it is not pretty ;)

            1. re: julesrules

              Hahaha! The other ideas were good, though :)

              1. re: julesrules

                OMG did I really say that! I just saw a picture of that on another site and the image was in my brain.

            2. OK. So far, I am definitely making the following:

              Cilantro corn cakes with chipotle cream sauce (or some variation on that--I'll make something up that day)
              (they are light eaters, so only one per person)

              maybe a second SMALL light appetizer--they are light eaters in general

              Vegetable paella (Mark Bittman, maybe? He has a mushroom one that looks good)--does anyone have a tried and true vegetarian paella recipe?

              maybe a side of roasted/broiled tomatoes stuffed with couscous, green onions, feta? or chives instead of green onions--I have fresh ones in my garden..

              Dulce de leche ice cream

              How does all of this sound to you guys?

              10 Replies
              1. re: IndyGirl

                That sounds good, but a little starch-heavy (corn, rice, cous cous). For the side dish with the paella, what about somthing a little lighter -- sauteed vegetables, a salad?

                  1. re: IndyGirl

                    instead of the tomatoes stuffed with couscous, what if I just broiled/roasted baby tomatoes with a little feta sprinkled on top?

                    What about roasted asparagus? obviously not that interesting, but good :)

                    I like the idea of a salad, too---a little composed one, maybe.

                1. re: IndyGirl

                  Sounds perfect. What time should we be there?


                  1. re: IndyGirl

                    The menu sounds good, if you make the paella, would you please post. TIA.

                    1. re: paprkutr

                      It will be this one, unless I screw it up :)

                      Tomato paella


                      1. re: IndyGirl

                        I am characteristically wary of most Bittman recipes, but that does look good. Especially with the addition of booze! My only difference, though, is I like the added crunch of peppers or haricots verts. If you have some bells left over from the corncakes, you might consider throwing them into the paella as well. Mushrooms also do well in the paella.

                        1. re: JungMann

                          Reports online seem to be resoundingly positive, so I guess I feel safe trying it. I've never made paella--not proper paella, so I plan tohave everything prepped by about noon on Friday so I can spend the afternoon being very careful not to mess anything up in that paella.

                          Your note on texture is well taken. I'll think about that some.

                          1. re: IndyGirl

                            I couldn't understand why I couldn't recreate my grandmother's paella until I learned the secret to perfect paella: don't touch it! You will be tempted to stir it, but resist and you will end up with toothsome rice and a crusty soccarat.

                    2. re: IndyGirl

                      Do you know for sure that they like cilantro -- a lot of people don't.