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May 18, 2009 09:28 AM

casual summer menu help

so i'm having a couple of people over for an afternoon/evening/night/early AM of lounging, imbibing and food. one friend has requested my scallop ceviche so i have to use this as a starting point, served in avocado bowls. i'll also have the obligatory chips and salsa but i'd like to have a few other 'nibbler' dishes so there's a constant onslaught of small dishes being brought out. oh, and i'm also making a prosecco sangria - ideas?

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  1. Cut up an assortment of fresh fruit (pineapple, orange, etc.) and skewer them. Combine equal amounts of honey, sugar, and water (maybe a touch of mint) and heat to make a glaze to brush on. Chill and serve.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      A co-worker brought these fruit skewers to a pot luck function...they were beautiful!!! Fresh pineapple chunks, watermelon cubes and whole strawberries threaded onto wooden skewers--everyone snatched them up! I don't believe there was any glaze (certainly not needed in this particular case) but they were so refreshing!

    2. Asparagus is in season - the now ubiquitous prosciutto-wrapped asparagus is always an easy finger food - drizzle it with some aged balsamic.

      Figs stuffed with goat cheese and a Marcona almond.

      Cherry tomatoes stuffed with a garlic-herb cheese.

      Chicken satay on skewers with a peanut sauce.

      And Mark Bittman had a "101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less" article in the NYT awhile back that would probably give you more than enough ideas!

      11 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit

        I love the asparagus. I love a light roasted asparagus salad. in a spring roll. A combo of red pepper, scalions and asparagus lightly roasted tossed in a light vinaigrette and wrapped in spring rolls. Pretty light and finger food

        Olives soaked in vodka, old standby but a nice assortment and easy and just something nice to nibble on.

        Figs great idea, in season, I like mine baked with gorgonzola and drizzled with honey, can be room temp too.

        I like to marinate steak but you can use chicken too. skewers, My steak bites marinate in a bloody mary mix and then grilled and served with a blue cheese dressing. Room temp is also fine, but you can cook right in the oven in hardly any time.

        Salad scoops. Small lettuce leaves stuffed with a fresh shrimp or crab salad. My shrimp salad has mango, avacado, black olives, scallions and a light dressing and served right in the lettuce leaf. A one bite appetizer.

        Crock pot is great for this. I like an apple sage sausage cooked with onions in a spicy sweet maple sauce. Just serve in a bowl with tooth picks for quick one bite snacks. They are easy and savory but not too heavy.

        I also love smoked salmon rolled around asparagus just blanched. Even smoked salmon on it's on on small party pumpernickle slices with a light sour cream and dill spread is a wonderful simple light appetizer.

        Sweet and spicy shrimp wrapped in bacon is always great and simple and is great cold or served hot from the oven
        Last one. I have a recipe for an amazing pork tenderloin with cilantro, soy, brown sugar, etc (I can look it up if you want). Grill early that day or the night before. Slice and serve. It is just as good cold as it is warm. It is great on a toasted baquette with a light aioli for a sandwich.

        1. re: kchurchill5

          I would love your pork tenderloin recipe. Going to a dinner tomorrow night and would love to bring a dish like that! What kind of aioli would you make? Maybe cilantro based? TIA!

          1. re: care11

            Pork tenderloins are best for this not the loin which is thicker. If using a loin just marinade longer.

            Pork tenderloin: This makes enough sauce for two. Just mix all in a baggie, add the pork and squish everything around to coat the pork. Just let sit in the fridge. That easy.
            1/4 soy; 3 tablespoons cilantro chopped; 3 tabelspoons brown sugar; 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 dried mustard (you can use dijon if you don't have dried);
            1/2 teaspoon paprika; 4 teaspoons minced garlic; 1/4 cup olive oil

            Cilantro Aioli: Mayo (you can make you own or just use a good quality mayo which I do most times. 1/2 cup mayo, 1/8 cup cilantro, 2 teaspoons fine diced shallot, 1 teaspoon garlic, s/p to taste. Just mix and chill.
            You may need to double that depending on how big the pork loin is.

            Marinade all day is best or you can make tonight grill in the morning and perfect. Grill to medium. It is great hot, warm, room temp or cold Thin slice when needed.

            Serve with a cilantro and shallot aioli on a good Italian bread, chibata, baguette, or your favorite. I love some fresh arugula with this but any lettuce will do. My best friend loves this but he like bibb with it. Just depends on what you like.

            It is great just on it's own or on the sandwich without the aioli. It is a standby at my house all the time.

            You can also top with a sliced tomato if you want, equally as good.

            Hope you enjoy!

            1. re: kchurchill5

              Great, thanks! This was the inspiration I needed! I am going to get
              the pork in a few minutes...everything else, I already have! I am going to make a light & fresh orzo salad simple roasted asparagus too. THANKS AGAIN!!!!!!

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  Okay, I put it in the marinade yesterday morning, husband grilled it around 6pm...OMG....Sooooo delicious!! He cooked the tenderloin perfectly with help from the trusty meat thermometer (took off grill at 154, covered w/foil), walked it over to our friends house (with a pitcher of homemade mojitos I might add), sliced the pork there and served w/aoli recipe you sent too. It was so moist and flavorfull!!! Everyone devoured it! My only mistake was that I didn't make enough! Thanks kchurchill!!!!!!

                  1. re: care11

                    Glad you enjoyed. It is my absolute favorite and it is never bad, hot or cold.

                    Your welcome and glad you like it!
                    Mojitos ... always a good thing!

                    1. re: care11

                      yum! i'm def going to incorporate this tenderloin into this weekend's menu - thanks kchuchill!

                      1. re: jmullen1251

                        Welcome, glad I could help. May be on my weekend menu too. My Dad want it so I just may have to grill it.

            2. re: kchurchill5

              are we related??? Can I come to your parties?? Love your ideas!

              1. re: lexpatti

                The more the merrier.
                And thank you. I love dishes you can serve, various ways.

                Related, last name not churchill huh? LOL

          2. Since it's going to be an all day lounge about eating kind of day, your dishes should all be made ahead and served room temperature or be warmed in a a medium oven (you'll want stay and play with your friends.

            In line with the ceviche, I'd offer Mexican meatballs in chipotle and tomato sauce (or small braised pork ribs in a roasted chile-tomato sauce), latin-style bacon wrapped garlic shrimp, wild mushroom empanadas, marinated grilled chicken drumettes, corn and pepper salad, pork tamalito with mixed vegetable filling, pupusas. Have plenty of tortillia chips (make your own of both corn and flour) and dips (guac, pico de gallo, verde, roja) - serve a vegetable platter for nibbling.

            If you have a grill at your gathering, there are so many more possibilities.

            Recipes on request.
            Happy eating!

            6 Replies
            1. re: alwayscooking

              Oooh - your corn and pepper salad is like the Cedar's Edamame Salad I saw in a BJ's ad....the ingredients seem to be edamame, corn, roasted red peppers, cilantro, minced onions, and a light vinegar dressing.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                If I were to make that salad (which I may, it sounds good!), I think I'd make the dressing with lime juice to complement the Southwestern flavors. And I'd use red onions, perhaps marinated in lime juice for a bit.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  I like the idea of lime juice in this mixture (although I'll be passing on the cilantro, as I can't abide it). And here are the ingredients I wrote down when I went to inspect it at BJs - in order:

                  Edamame, corn (I'd use TJ's roasted corn), chopped roasted red pepper (I'd use fresh vs. roasted), onion, dried cranberries, oil, vinegar, cilantro, sugar, cayenne and those ever-present "spices". :-)

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Thanks, that does look good. I agree that fresh red peppers would be tastier, and I'd probably skip the dried cranberries in this combo. Fresh corn in season is great in salads, just blanched, but otherwise I like TJ's roasted corn as well.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      and for presentation you could put a tablespoon in those phyllo cups. or a tortilla scoop chip

                  2. re: LindaWhit

                    When I make it,I start to carmelize the corn with olive oil, salt (and sugar depending on the corn), add some water and steam it when the corn is tough, then throw in diced onions, diced red peppers, jalepenos, chili powder and complete the carmelization. Since I start with enough oil, I only enhance the dressing with lots of lemon and/or lime juice and cilantro. I'll serve this hot or room temperature as a salad with the addition of black beans. When I make it hotter, I top it with a fresh cheese. This also makes its way into appetizers - I fill parboiled zucchini 'cups' with the mixture and top with cheese and cilantro.

                    Edemame would be a great relacement for the black beans.

                2. HOT OLIVES W/CITRUS AND SPICE
                  4 cups mixed good quality olives
                  3 to 4 strips orange peel
                  3 to 4 strips lemon peel
                  1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
                  1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1/3 palm full
                  2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                  Make a double layer pouch of foil for the olives. Add citrus peel, red pepper flakes and fennel seeds to olives then top with olive oil. Seal the pouch and shake it to distribute the spices and oil. Place in hot oven at any temperature or on outdoor grill to heat them through.

                  MARCONA ALMONDS
                  2 cups Marcona almonds (available in bulk food section of your market) or, toasted peeled whole almonds
                  Place the almonds in a small decorative serving dish.

                  2 (15-ounce) cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
                  2 teaspoons smoked paprika
                  Salt and pepper

                  Place chick peas in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook 15 minutes until crisp and dry. In the last 5 minutes, season the chick peas with paprika salt and pepper. If you season them up too soon, the paprika will blacken and become bitter. Place the cooked chick peas in a small serving bowl. Place the olives on a platter and cut the pouch open to expose them. Place the small serving dishes for nuts and peas on the platter alongside olives. Place a ramekin or other small cup out to collect olive pits.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: laliz

                    these chickpeas sound great. do they stay crisp?

                  2. Jmullen- I make a salad that I love that I think would paire well with what you already had (I made it for dinner on Friday along w/ sangria). Combine:
                    1 can corn (can use fresh/frozen/whatever you like)
                    1 can white or yellow hominy (drained, rinsed)
                    1 red bell pepper, chopped
                    1 orange bell pepper, chopped
                    1 red onion, "
                    1-2 advocados, "
                    bunch cilantro, "
                    juice of 1 lime, to taste

                    This is my go-to side in the summer. I love it w/ seared flank steak sliced and served over some greens. I sometimes omit the lime juice (usually 'cause I forget to buy a lime), but it does brighten the flavors. If you let the salad sit about 1-2 hours in the frig it'll make it's own dressing too. Sometimes I throw in a tomato, sometimes I omit the hominy, sometimes I use A LOT of corn. Really colorful and pretty too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mjhals

                      i love hominy, and i want to try this salad, mjhals. it looks right tasty!