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I'm drawing a blank on completing this dinner...

I'm excited because we're having friends over who love food. I've wanted to make gougeres forever so that's where I started the planning. I've decided to do Coquilles St Jacques (aka scallops au gratin), gougered, green vegetables to be determined when I see what looks good that day. For appetizers, I'm doing shrimp wrapped in bacon w/ her special spicy jalapeno jelly because she loved the idea when I was telling her about it. So, where I'm stuck is:

1) I need one more thing to serve with dinner. She made pasta and cheese for kids when she had us over and I have the feeling her son is picky. So, I need one kid friendly dish. I was thinking possibly meatballs stuffed w/ gravy and lingonberry sauce that DQ and MMRuth worked on. It doesn't quite go but would work with gougeres. Any other easy kid friendly ideas?

2) Dessert. This is my favorite thing to make but they love cheese so I think I'll do a cheese platter and something small on the side. I have a ton of ideas but nothing is popping out at me. Do you have anything that would go w/ a fruit and cheese platter?

3) Wine pairings. I'm not a huge white wine fan, don't like chardonnay for the most part but it seems to fit with the menu. Anything? I can go for my stand bys but would love to venture out. Thanks!

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  1. for dessert, how about individual fruit tarts with blackberries. That will be a nice counterpoint to the sharpness of the cheese. Serve with sauternes (and maybe use a bit in the tarts as well).

    For the wine, how about an un-oaked chardonnay or a dry reisling?

    And for the kid, maybe a call to her will help spell out how picky he really is. When I was a kid, I loved simple steamed shrimp, and maybe he does, too. That and some buttered noodles may be all you need.

    1. Hi! Sounds very delicious!

      1. Not sure I can help you here--only to say I agree you should keep it simple/basic so there's something "less adult" on the table. ;)

      2. Mine, too...I keep coming back to a really nice brownie. Fruit and chocolate are complementary. I love the Ghirardelli recipe (on the sweet ground chocolate can) with raspberries or strawberries (with or without white chocolate chips) added in--about 1/4 cup of each.

      3. I was going to say Sauvignon Blanc. Here's a handy pairing guide. Maybe one of these options will strike you:
      http://www.novusvinum.com/pairings/fi...

      Have a nice dinner!

      1. 1.)How are you serving the scallops? Are you plating in the kitchen, or putting it all on table family style? Are the geen vegetables going on the main plate, or served as a separate course?

        2.) How about tiny brownie bites. I make the triple choc. brownie recpie from epi, glaze the top w/ ganache, refridgereate it so it stays fudgey, and then cut it into very small squares (maybe 3/4 inch). Decorate the top w/ a small twist of orange rind (or whatever suits your fancy) They are decadent, but not as filling as a big dessert if you can control yourself quantity-wise.

        3) I'm not much of a "pairings" person, but my two favorite whites right now are Kim Crawford Sauvingnon Blanc(NZ) and Montinore Gerwerztraminer(Oregan).

        6 Replies
        1. re: danna

          I'll keep an eye out for Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc--thanks for the suggestion. I wanted something on the dry side so that might work. I hadn't thought of a gerwerztraminer (that's a hard word to type out) but that might work well for dessert. Thanks!

          I haven't tried the triple chocolate brownies from epicurious but am going to check it out now! Sounds amazingly decadent.

          1. re: chowser

            Kim Crawford Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are two of my regular go-tos for dry, unoaked whites.

            1. re: chowser

              btw, the gerwerz is not sweet...I'm not so sure I'd do it with dessert...but then again, I'm no expert.

            2. re: danna

              Okay, there are two triple chocolate fudge brownie recipes from Gourmet on the epi site but neither have chocolate ganache. Are you talking about one of these:

              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

              1. re: chowser

                funny, those appear to be the same, just double in one instance. but, YES! that's my recipe, clipped a long time ago. You're on your own with the ganache...just melt some choc and pour in enough cream and/or butter to make it pour and then reset.

              2. re: danna

                Thanks for the Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc suggestion, Danna and LindaWhit. We tried it last night and enjoyed it. The screwtop threw me at first, in trying to open it because I had tried the foil cutter and cut the top instead before seeing the ridges. But, I think it'll be perfect. It's a little stronger than other sauvignon blancs I've had but I like the pear taste.

              3. Do you gratinee your Coquilles with cheese? If so, perhaps gougeres with cheese would be too much. A wonderful French bread is always good, especially if you're having even more cheese for afters.

                This may sound daft -- but you could save leftovers from your earlier meals of the week, and then offer the kid a "menu" and let him choose... "Billy, would you prefer Spaghetti Bolognese, Meatloaf, Chili, or Chicken Vindaloo?" :D

                1. Desert, this is kid and adult friendly. I love it because it has some sugar for the sweet tooth, brownie for kids and fresh fruit. A little alcohol in the sauce makes it flavorful and the sauce you can split so some for kids and some for adults.

                  Brownie Parfaits with fresh fruit.

                  Brownies: About 2 cups of brownies, I break up, not sliced or crumbled but just lightly broken up. I make a standard cake brownie, your own recipe, boxed or store bought. I have a simple plain recipe I use normally, but it depends what I am using it for so it always changes.

                  Cream: 1 1/2 cups cream cheese, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup sour cream

                  Fruit: 1 1/2 cups raspberry preserves, 1 teaspoon orange juice, 2 teaspoons grand manier (no alcohol for the kiddies)

                  Garnish, a fresh orange slice, raspberries and a chocolate curl or grated chocolate.

                  Make the brownies and set aside. Mix the cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and sour cream and chill. Then heat up the raspberry preserves in two bowls (Micro is fine for this, OJ for the kids and OJ and grand manier for the adults.

                  Now the parfait. I serve in large wine glasses or small glass bowls, any glass works great. Brownie, cream, fruit, brownie, cream, fruit, etc. Top with the cream and fresh raspberries for a garnish and a sliver of chocolate.
                  ------------------------

                  Kid friendly, adults love, easy but very elegant

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    yum- i love making parfaits like these. pretty and tasty.. and i'm not usually one for chocolate

                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      I like chocolate but in limits. With the fruit and cream it makes it much lighter. Most kids love it, Just mention brownies, as much as adults do I think. And pretty I did my in champagne flutes once. Too thin, but was pretty. Even small glass bowls work or even a whole glass bowl as a trifel.

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        I like putting the trifle in martini glasses... something about a martini glass..

                        1. re: cheesecake17

                          Very pretty as well, besides nothing wrong with any kind of martini. I had a chocolate martini with a chocolate mint ice stick which was very interesting once. Neat concept. It had a mint foam on the top. Pretty good whatever it was.

                  2. For the main course ... Check with her as to what he eats rather than guessing. Meatballs are good, simple sauce very simple and some butter noodles unless he will eat more than that. Also, fettucini alfredo, most kids like it, but again check. I love the plain shrimp or even simple oven fried shrimp, even quick and kids like the crunch shrimp well some do. That is usually easy.

                    Cheese platter, nice, I like to serve it with chutneys and fresh fruits. I'm hoping the kids like fruit too. Also for kids if really picky. Just freeze some fresh fruit juice in ice cube trays with popsickle sticks. I like to mix ice cream and oj or chocolate with crushed up mint cookies, makes it fun for younger ones. Not sure how young.

                    I like red. I nice pinot noir is good for me with seafood. I visit my local wine shop and my guy is great I just ask, he is amazing and never steered me wrong. He just suggests something when I mention the meal and it has always been good.

                    Also a fruit tart is good for desert. It is very elegant, easy and can use what is fresh. Kids usually love it cuz it looks like pizza but still adult friendly and very light.

                    ONE suggestion. I may do one other simple appetizer, maybe something the younger one can nibble on but also good for adults. But again, see what he likes to eat. But a simple bowl of olives or marinated veggies, just a light small bowl for a light nibble. Maybe just some plain shrimp for the younger one and then something different for the main course. I always like to have a couple of appetizers even if it is just for 4 or 6 of us. Nothing fancy, but a second simple light what I call "nibbles." Olive balls, just a small skewer with olives and tomatoes and cheese all marinated. Just a few to go with the shrimp.

                    Just my thoughts.

                    1. Thanks, everyone. Good ideas. I will have brownies on hand because I often do anyway. I was thinking of a fruit tart, maybe lemon but I could add blackberries, if I can find good ones. It's kind of early in our season. I will be serving the coquilles st. jacques with light cheese in the topping, and the gougeres are the base of the whole menu so I don't want to get rid of them. Personally, I don't know if you can overdo cheese or chocolate (okay, you can but I love them both). :-) I'm on the fence about the kids meal. Buttered noodles would go over fine but I think kids will also eat gougeres so that would be so much starch. I'd like something that would go w/ the gougeres. Steamed shrimp sounds good but I don't want to spend that much since I don't know if he'll eat it. I was thinking some kind of meat thing. I'll think about it.

                      1. regarding kids, keep it simple, I am the father of a 7 and 9 year old, and they do eat adult food, but Ihave found that when we have friends over with kids, the easiest thing to do is serve them first and get them pizza, the kids then can retire to a room to play games, toys or watch a movie. If you do not have kids that will be playing with "their" kids, I would recomend asking the parents to bring a video for them to watch. I would still recommend a pizza.

                        I might recommend simply roasted asparagus or garlicky spinach. Asparagus is always good, and it serves nicely.

                        Regarding white wine, have your tried Conundrum. I am not a big white drinker, but we have always found Conundrum to be an excellent wine. It should be about 20 per bottle. Or you can serve Champagne with dinner.

                        1. 1 - I think you're making the kid thing too complicated. I'd definitely see what the kid might eat, and be prepared with a little pasta or chicken or whatever, but not worry about making it work with your menu. My friends kids are smaller, so (a) their parents seem to travel with snacks, and (b) they'll usually eat a little bread or whatever and be fine.

                          2 - two ideas - some fruit poached in red wine with a cheese. Either pears with blue cheese, or a fruit compote (I really like dried cherries plumped up in red wine) with mascarpone. Simple and delicious. Or, if you're the the type that wants to make a showstopping dessert and are just trying to accommodate them with the cheese, what about a fancy goat cheese cheesecake? or a goat cheese sorbet (recipe at sfgate.com this weekend). I had a Humboldt Fog cheesecake a few weeks ago and I'm still enthralled.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: cyberroo

                            I did a goat cheese pizza with fresh fruit. Very good and simple and excellent.

                            1. re: cyberroo

                              Hmmm, maybe I could do a savory/sweet cheese cheesecake and a regular cheesecake. I love cheesecake. I wonder if I can find the recipe for the Humbolt Fog cheesecake somewhere. Thanks for the idea. Poached fruit sounds good but not decadent enough.

                              1. re: cyberroo

                                Okay, I found the recipe. But I can't get Humboldt Farm cheese. I'll have to ask for an alternative at the cheese store.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Humboldt Fog has a really distinct flavor, but I'd think that any softish cheese that you like the flavor of would be good. You'd probably want something relatively strong, to ensure that the flavor came through.

                                2. For kid-friendly, I might just do some panko-crusted chicken tenders that can crisp up in the oven along with the scallops. Hopefully, along with the gougeres and the vegetables, child will walk out with a well-balanced meal without too much extra effort on your part.

                                  Are you thinking that you need another dish to serve for the adult menu? A shrimp appetizer prior to a meal of Coquilles St. Jacques, gougeres and vegetable sounds lovely! Maybe add a nice salad (e.g. a bright fennel and orange salad) if you really want to gild the lily.

                                  I second the idea of poached pears or homemade chutney (made a few days in advance so the flavors can mellow) for dessert along with the fresh fruit. Maybe some homemade granola would make a nice topping for the poached fruit at the end of the meal, or it can be packed up as a nice take-home breakfast treat for your guests!

                                  Have a lovely dinner!

                                  1. Perhaps it's me, but I think of gougeres as perfect appetizer fare, and I get the idea you're planning to serve them with the main course. I think gougeres and the shrimp would be great for appetizers, then you don't need to worry as much about what the other dish with dinner is and whether you're redundantly starchy. I echo others who say you should ask the kid's parents about his level of pickiness.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      I second the gourgeres as an appetizer but I love little appetizers and a lighter main course with a salad. I love to pick and nibble and then sit down to a lighter dinner so I can then relax and eat a nice desert. Just me but that is how I plan most dinners.

                                      Mine and my exes family when I had them and others for dinner always liked appetizers, fancy or not, I always put little trays of olives, cheeses, skewers, shrimp, anything that people could "nibble" on. And even continue to during dinner if they wanted to. I used to make my olive soaked tomatoes and olive balls and phyllo dough baked with a pesto and cheese stuffing, simple but good to munch on. All easy, room temp but a simple dish. But your dinner sounds good. Lets us know what you make.

                                    2. 1) I echo suggestions to ask Mom rather than attempt to guess. Maybe tiny hamburger patties to go inside your gougeres? =)

                                      2) How about a lemon mascarpone mousse? It's nice and light, includes cheese... goes well with more cheese.

                                      3) Main course, it wouldn't be unheard of to serve pinot noir with scallops if you do not like white wine. For my tastes, I'd rather have a crisp white wine like fume blanc. Or something sparkling (which would be nice with the gougeres, too). Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla, a very dry, crisp sherry, goes really well with seafood. I've only served it as an appetizer, but it could be done with a main course, too.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: cimui

                                        I just thought of those little hamburger patties this morning, too, and making sliders with them with the gougeres. Sounds like a winner. Thanks!

                                        Lemon mascarpone mousse does sound nice and refreshing. Do you have a recipe for it? I could have an entire dinner of just desserts, if I wanted. I was going to try the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc this weekend and see how I like that. I was thinking crisp white wine, too, not heavy or sweet.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          i pulled these recipes, separately, from somewhere online and i'm sorry i'm not able to attribute the original sources. =( i would not refrigerate overnight, as i've noticed the egg whites tend to collapse and the mousse gets a little watery. refrigerating for three or four hours works well for me.

                                          Mascarpone mousse au citron with lace cookie garnish

                                          16 oz. Mascarpone cheese
                                          2/3 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar for the egg whites
                                          3 lemons
                                          zest of 1 lime
                                          5 eggs, separated

                                          1. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they are very pale.
                                          2. Beat in the mascarpone cheese, the lemon juice and the lime zest until very well combined.
                                          3. In a clean bowl, with clean beaters, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
                                          4. add the 1/4 cup of sugar into the whites and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
                                          5. Gently fold the whites into the mascarpone/lemon mixture until no streaks remain.
                                          6. Divide among 6 ramequins or other decorative bowls and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

                                          Lace Cookies

                                          1 c. oatmeal
                                          1/4 lb. butter (1 stick)
                                          3/4 c. sugar
                                          3 tbsp. flour
                                          1 tsp. baking powder
                                          1 egg

                                          Melt butter; add sugar and egg. Fold in dry ingredients. Drop onto oiled shiney side of foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes until light brown. Cool before removing foil, about 15 minutes.NOTE: Egg Beaters can be substituted. Baking time varies 5-8 minutes.To serve:Serve cold with an additional sprinkle of lime zest and a lemon peel twist.

                                          1. re: cimui

                                            Thanks--I'm going to try out the mascarpone mousse this weekend!

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              my pleasure -- hope you enjoy!

                                      2. Suggest you add a carb to balance the cheese in the main course - rice or other pilaf. I agree with others that the gougeres would be a better app or served as the main course for a light meal with a salad (more lunch-type meal). There is no reason you can't have more than one app.

                                        1) unsure on the age of the child - young one's like pasta (often plain buttered) and chicken pieces - nothing complicated. Those a bit older may like the scallops as well. I wouldn't plan a separate complicated meal for a child who wouldn't eat what the adutls are eating, but I would have some easy to finish backups just in case. Or you could ask your guest if their child is picky and what they prefer.

                                        2) The apps and main are very rich - I'd go light and fruity to complete the meal. I like a previous posters recommendation for poached pears. Even a sugered mixed fruit bowl with a creme anglais would be good. Are you also serving a cheese course?

                                        3) I bow to others since I have strong preferences/dislikes. . .

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: alwayscooking

                                          Thanks. At $30 a pound, I don't want to waste scallops on a child who won't appreciate it. It's a frugality in me. I'm making little gougeres and as it's the base of the whole menu for dinner, I don't want to change it. I do think it's starchy enough to carry off the meal, esp since the Coquilles St. Jacques has a breaded coating, too.

                                          I think I'll ditch the cheese course I had originally planned for dessert and do the humboldt fog cheesecake and lemon mascarpone mousse suggested above and some fruit. I will serve tiny portions for dessert. I'm a big dessert person and usually spend my time on that part. The rest of dinner is actually more of a side note for me. Or, I can consider everything up to desserts as an appetizer...

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            Just a thought - even at $30/lb, it would only be a couple of dollars to serve a child. How will that child grow into a CH without exposure - they're be 26 and be talked about here on CH about only liking fried chicken tenders.

                                            Lastly, I wouldn't make a distinction for any other guest seated at the table if I felt they weren't able to appreciate the dish ('hey - I know your DH's palate is nonexistent so I'll fry up some hamburger instead') . I would have an alternative on hand if the child tried a single scallop and didn't care for it (although this would depend on the child's age). If your friends love food, chances are that their child will as well.

                                            I'll repeat, call your guest and ask for their child's eating habits and, while you're on the phone, be sure that everyone call eat shellfish - a very common allergy.

                                            1. re: alwayscooking

                                              I did ask since my daughter has allergies so it's always on my mind. They've recently had us over for dinner and made crab souffle. They didn't serve it to kids so I was assuming the child didn't like seafood in this type of form. I raise my children the way I see fit and leave others to do the same. While I like food, I don't think someone who only likes chicken tenders is living a lesser life any more than I would someone who doesn't run marathons just because I do. We all have different enjoyments in life. But, I do make distinctions for guests' eating habits. If I know they're vegetarians I will make sure there's something for them. If I know they don't like cheese, I make sure to have cheeseless food. In this case, I'm making a distinction with making seafood and the appetizer and cheese dessert because they're something I think the couple will like. I think it's part of being a hostess. No, I don't pointedly say, "I made this just because you're picky." I just serve it.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                I should say I'm planning on serving family style (will have enough ramekins for everyone to have at least one) and everyone is free to take scallops so I'm not going to be telling people what they can or cannot have. I just want to make sure there's something there that everyone can eat.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  Personally I love that. I find everyone is much more relaxed and doesn't feel pressured to eat something that they don't want to which I served. Good plan for me. There is a time for more formal and those times for a bit more informal.

                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                    Exactly. And people can eat what they want and there isn't as much waste. I learned my lesson when I've seen kids throw away big plates full of food. Just because you plate it doesn't mean they'll eat it. I should say it's not just kids, too.

                                                2. re: chowser

                                                  i think it's very thoughtful of you to do something different for the kids. i personally would've run away screaming from scallops or any other seafood at that age... probably up until the middle of college, actually! and gougere burgers are pretty classy, if you ask me. might want to offer some to the adults, too, in case they get jealous... ;)

                                                  impressed you're doing TWO desserts, btw. phew.

                                          2. Too rich, too much cheese. Would never serve gougeres alongside coquilles st. jacques! Also would definitely not serve meatballs with the scallops. Grilled veggies with an interesting dip would be a good starter. Salad and French bread along with the scallops. (Thought the chicken tender advice above was good.) Maybe a fruit crumble or cobbler for dessert. I firmly believe that CSJ should not be bracketed by cheese in any form.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              Good thing I didn't invite you or any food critics, just good friends!;-)

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Chowser - you've asked opinions on your menu and you've gotten lots of various responses as expected. But, I bet if you invited pikawicca, s/he would be on their best behavior at dinner and enjoy your meal - and might even become a good friend. But it was a good and reasonable post (and menu).

                                                1. re: alwayscooking

                                                  But, I didn't ask for opinions on the menu and explained why I was doing what I was. I just had specific questions and have gotten a lot of helpful feedback. To go into the reasons further, the appetizer doesn't go with the menu and I know that but I really want to make it because she makes this great jalapeno jelly that she's shared with me. I had told her about this appetizer I made with it and she and her husband loved the idea. She's thinking of marketing it and I suggested a cookbook of ideas to do with it, like this appetizer. I briefly touched on it but didn't think I needed to go into it in detail. So, while roasted vegetables sound good, I don't want to add another appetizer or change it. As I said, I wanted to make gougeres which precipitated the whole menu so I don't want to change that either. The CSJ is an afterthought to the gougeres. I hope it doesn't come off as my not being appreciative of advice and I do appreciate everyone's feedback. It's been a pet peeve of mine on this board that people will ask a question and be told everything is horribly wrong with it and why would anyone serve xxxx with yyyy and to change it all. And, all I can think is, she just wanted to get a recipe for rolls, not for her menu to be torn apart... And, maybe I'm being defensive because I've been really excited about making gougeres and the csj just sounds so good, too, so I do want to keep those. Subconsciously, I was probably responding to the "would never serve gougeres alongside coquilles st. jacques!" (gasp, horrors!) when I said it was a good thing I didn't invite him or a food critic to this dinner because it sounds like he thinks this will be a horrible dinner. I added the smiley because I didn't want pika to think I was upset with what he said. It's his opinion, that's fine and I respect it. But I didn't ask for feedback on those parts because I'm pretty set on it and thought I'd expressed it and it sounds like it wasn't read/received.

                                                  Pika, thanks for the feedback on the CSJ. I was wavering between two recipes, one from Emeril that had cheese, and one from Epicurious which doesn't have cheese. Since my friend is a self-identified cheese-holic, I was leaning towards Emeril's but I will rethink it. When I host, I'm more about what the guests will enjoy than what is "right."

                                              2. re: pikawicca

                                                Let me try this again, and apologize for how snarky my response sounded. My menu is set for the most part, for many reasons (not because it's a perfect restaurant menu which I realize it's not). My friend is the type who believes there is no such thing as too much cheese. I've decided against the meatballs. You've made some good suggestions that I'll consider and I apologize that I responded out of frustration instead of waiting. And, thanks, alwayscooking, for bringing it to my attention. I really didn't mean to sound snarky and realize it could have been seen that way.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  No problem.
                                                  The written word sometimes seems stronger than intended - emoticons or not.

                                                  1. re: alwayscooking

                                                    Especially with a glass of wine, no excuse though.;-)

                                              3. Rule of thumb for me. Just my way of planning. Guests I need to know what they like, just in a broad sense, seafood yes or know, vegan or not, any allergies. If I don't know them really well, I don't think it is wrong is asking is a tactful way. Also with kids, ask what they like by all means.

                                                Next I pick a main course that both will eat or something for the kids I can easily make
                                                along with my dish without too much difficulty.
                                                Than I usually pick a side I like, something I want to make, then another I feel that will be
                                                good for the adults, then something maybe special for the kids so they feel special. A
                                                small little side prepared just for them. Usually it takes no work but makes them feel
                                                special. And you can add some cooking touches so It isn't just plain but a bit unique,
                                                but still ok for them to try.
                                                Then I like a salad I like a small serving, but nice, classic but with a twist that highlights
                                                the dinner.
                                                Appetizers. 2 nice bites each then a few things they can nibble on. These can also be
                                                placed at the table for them to eat during dinner if they want.
                                                Desert. Depends. I like small or lighter, I think it should be something kids and adults
                                                both like. Many times kids like nothing more than a brownie. So I have even just
                                                bought 1 or 2 brownies just for them if the adults had something different. I didn't mind

                                                One time the kids loved peanut butter ice cream. Well I took 1 small pint of vanilla and let it soften and added 4 double packs of recees peanut butter cups crumbled up in it and some nuts which they liked and refroze. How simple is that for a desert. The kids gobbled it up. I served it in wine glasses like every one else and they thought it was so cool.
                                                Drinks, I always make sure kids get both cocktails and coffee. Simple variations of
                                                kiddie cocktails and sparkling water and sodas. I used sparkling soda, some fresh
                                                juice and grenadine with a skewer of just some oranges and cherries. Nothing much
                                                and hot chocolates or ciders are perfect. Rather than plain marshmellows, dip them in
                                                cocoa and put a piece of a candy cane or simple pepermint candies, or candy bar,
                                                easy and fun for kids and nothing hard. Milk cocoa powder, vanilla. I made mine
                                                ahead and just reheated in the micro.

                                                My son used to love to be at my parties with me and so did other kids that came. They felt like the party just wasn't for adults but for the whole family. A few simple things and it made them feel special too. I also found this helped them build a confidence to try new things. I had a party for a family a couple of months ago. Both kids ... picky beyond belief. I made them some unique for them but in the same theme. Well this is the third time they have been over and this time they tried my main dish. They like it so much they hardly ate theirs, they ate salad for the first time and tried a sauted spinach and bean dish. Although they didn't like it, they picked out the beans and loved them. They never would eat a bean before this.

                                                So with a little creativity or just a few extra touches it really helps kids learn to enjoy food.

                                                1. I need to thank you all for your feedback on this. I ended up inviting more people to dinner so it came in handy. We started w/ the shrimp appetizer (which is always the biggest hit, as easy as they are) and Alan Ducasse's gougeres which were excellent but I could have used more salt and nutmeg.

                                                  http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/al...

                                                  I made french bread, so rather than making sliders, I just used some to make french bread pizza for the kids since I had sauce and fresh mozzarella. Also popular. Unglazed quarry tiles are excellent, btw, which I needed since I only have a round pizza stone. The smaller ones were 45 cents per and I needed 8. The Coquilles St Jacques from Emeril was okay. I think it could have used a higher scallops to sauce ratio:

                                                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...

                                                  I used diver scallops rather than bay scallops. The kids who ate it had the right idea when they added the shrimp appetizer to it (but the adults didn't notice or we would have grabbed them first). And, people loved the lemon mascarpone mousse--will definitely make it again. The combination of lemon and lime made it taste almost like key lime. I made supernatural brownies which the kids loved. Everyone enjoyed the Kim Crawford SB. So, thanks to everyone who helped me pull this together. I have more people coming over Thursday so I might be picking your brains again soon...

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Thanks for reporting back - I'm glad it turned out well!

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      Thanks for reporting back. It sounds like you made some terrific choices.

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                    2. I just came across this thread. Regarding the gougeres, were they the "starch" component of your meal? Did people eat them with their fingers or knife and fork? Did you make them bigger than normal? You mention the kiddies' sliders; did you put the burger inside the gougeres? I've only ever had or made them as an appetizer so am having a hard time visualizing. I'm sure it was great party.. Thanks

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        No, I ended up making them as appetizers. No sliders. Made french bread pizza out of the french bread I made for dinner.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          I had gougeres for an appetizer on Friday night (out for dinner) and thought of this thread. ;) So delicious!

                                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                                            They are so good! The problem I had, as I always do, is that w/ two appetizers, the shrimp were eaten but I had a lot of gougeres left over. I'd originally hoped that if I served them w/ dinner, as the starch, they'd go (they seem a little like yorkshire pudding to me). As it turned out as a second appetizer, people had just one and I just threw out a bunch of them yesterday.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              Oh, how sad! Those are far too fabulous to waste. Definitely need a new game plan for next time (or for me to be your neighbor--just knock or ring, I'll be happy to eat your leftovers). HA HA! ;)

                                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                I agree--heartbreaking to have to waste those!

                                                                ~TDQ

                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                I've learned from previous threads that baked gougeres can be frozen, then put right into the oven to be re-crisped.

                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  I thought I remembered doing that decades ago but wasn't sure if my memory was failing. Well, I know it's failing but.... Thanks for stating this cause i'd hate to throw out. Actually I wouldn't throw out. I'd reheat even if it was contraindicated.

                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                    Thanks. I thought we'd finish them the next couple of days and made a decent dent in them but they were stale by then. I'll have to freeze them next time.