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Please, please comment on Christmas Lunch/Dinner Menu that has to be sans meat, seafood, and mushrooms

Any suggestions on my Christmas menu? Please keep in mind that I'm cooking for vegetarians and people who don't like mushrooms. The guests are arriving noontime and have other family and probably other meals to attend to that night.

starters:
crudites with ina garten's herb dip
Artichoke-Olive Crostini

main meal:
choice of individual mushroom galettes OR caramelized onion/blue cheese galettes
roasted squash (possibly with cranberry glaze or as a goat cheese gratin- too much cheese?)
haricot verts with herb butter
simple french salad

dessert:
vanilla brown butter pear crisps with ice cream
I'll also have a ton of homemade Christmas cookies out

Any suggestions or additions would be MUCH appreciated. This is my first time hosting Xmas dinner. Thanks!!

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  1. Wow! what a challenge.

    Your menu looks great. I agree that the goat cheese gratin might be too much for some, so, the cranberry glaze sounds better to me, or, if i may suggest, a maple glaze would also be yummy.

    I like the mushroom/onion choice, but, if someone doesn't like the mushrooms, that means they are stuck with the caramelized onion/blue cheese combination. so, i would see if other chowhounds have a suggestion for a different galette flavor.

    how many people are you cooking for?

    1 Reply
    1. re: hala

      it's a small party of 5

      the maple glaze sounds really tasty

    2. Have you thought of perhaps having a soup course? Perhaps a minestrone soup or a corn chowder? (You're already roasting squash; otherwise I'd suggest a roasted butternut squash soup with ginger or something like that). I also like hala's suggestion for a maple glaze on the roasted squash. You could also add carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes to that mix with no problem.

      As for the galette, unless you're sure everyone likes blue cheese, perhaps a simple potato galette seasoned with rosemary and caramelized onion?

      7 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit

        I'm kind of scared of doing courses since I will be doing all of the cooking myself and I'm a little rusty on hosting duties.

        I really like the potato, rosemary and caramelized onion idea. do you happen to know of a recipe?

        1. re: rararachel

          The soup can be done far enough in advance that it can sit on the back of the stove keeping warm for plating. Doesn't need to be a lot - just a small bowlful as a starter. Just a thought.

          As for the potato galette, perhaps a riff on this one, adding a bit of caramelized onions?

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

          1. re: rararachel

            Not to push you into anything you don't feel comfortable doing, but just do encourage you, remember that a soup can be made a day or two ahead, and there are so many recipes, that you can make as complicated or simple as you like. For example, to go the easiest route, you could purchase one of the better prepared vegetable stocks in the box and add to it one of those fresh vegetable- or cheese-filled pastas, like a tortellini or tortelloni. How formal is this gathering? If it's informal, you can simply put it in a tureen or a French or Dutch oven and have guests serve themselves. If you all know each other well, family or close friends, you can even have them serve themselve the soup from the stove. That's what we do at my girlfriend's for our annual Christmas Eve soup get-together, but mind you, it is an informal gathering, practically all family by now. Just mentioning these things to remind you that there are ways to tailor things to make them less of a burden on you.

            I agree with Linda re being sure that everyone likes blue cheese if that is your only alternative to the mushroom galette, since you know already that at least one of your guests doesn't each mushrooms. Blue cheese is a strong flavor and seems to be one of those things that people either love or hate. ;-)

            There are other vegetarian entrees you could make earlier this week, freeze even and heat that morning, maybe something like a shaped pasta with peas in a Sherry sauce (to dress it up, considering the occasion) or that galette with the potatoes, rosemary and caramelized onion does sound good. (Sorry, no recipe here.)

            And, listen, if you feel a little nervous and rusty, don't be afraid to ask one of your guests to help you serve drinks, apps, etc. People are more than happy to pitch in to do little things, I find.

            The menu sounds lovely and delicious. I don't think you have a thing to worry about! Merry Christmas.

            1. re: Normandie

              thanks for the recommendations!! just double checked and found out that a guest doesn't like blue. thinking about doing caramelized onion and possibly goat or cheddar cheese. I would like to be able to roll out all of the galette dough ahead of time and do 2 simple fillings. Hence the onion + cheese combo....

              1. re: rararachel

                I think the caramelized onions and goat cheese (maybe one with herbs? or get plain goat cheese and sprinkle in some rosemary and thyme) would be a good mixture.

                Good luck - I'm sure the dinner will be wonderful!

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  thanks! I'm leaning towards caramelized onions and goat cheese with either rosemary and/or sage.

                  now off to make the shopping list!

          2. re: LindaWhit

            Roast beets to add to your salad?

            I LOVE this simple, elegant soup. Saute red pepper pieces in olive oil, add garlic cloves towards the end of the saute so they cook but don't burn. I little brown on the peppers is ok. Add stock at the end. I use chicken, but you could use veggie stock. Simmer just a bit, puree in the blender reserving most of the liquid and adding to get the right thickness. For a nice dinner I'd then run thru a fine sieve. Adding cream is certainly a nice option, but taste first. This soup tastes rich without cream. Better yet, and a few drops of thinned out sour cream to the top and run a thin knife thru to make a cool design. Obviously check for salt and add as necessary. A nice red soup for Christmas! Make it early and keep in a thermos to make things even easier.

          3. Frittata or strada. The choices are endless. Can be made ahead and reheated, or served room temp.
            A winter salad of endive, frisee, dried cranberries , blue cheese and walnuts. A festive vinaigrette such as pomegranite and shallots.
            Roasted winter vegetables glazed wtih honey, mustard and mollases.

            1. If you're comfortable with this menu, I think it looks absolutely excellent. Your instincts are right on the squash: 86 the cheese.

              1 Reply
              1. re: dmd_kc

                I agree. I think the menu is wonderful as is. OK, I despise blue cheese, so I was happy to see the OP switch that to goat later on. Will you make enough so that little piggies like myself could have one of each? Once the blue is gone I would have a hard time choosing!

                I agree, maple is great on roasted squash, and you never know when a picky eater will have a dislike of goat cheese.

                I wish I were coming. Good for you!

              2. I love the encouragement and suggestions you're getting here rara...
                but an extravagant vegetarian dinner for five people--some of whom are bound by personal food "dislikes"? Jesh, your cooking in your kitchen, not a mid-scale restaurant.

                6 Replies
                1. re: RedTop

                  I think as a hostess and cook, she's doing a wonderful job in being aware of what her guests can/will not eat. Why serve an entire dish that is all about mushrooms if none of her guests like mushrooms?

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Exactly. It's a lot of work to put out a lovely meal such as the one rara has planned. It's a needless waste of time, money and food if guests cannot eat it, due to allergies, special diets for health reasons, or aversions. I wish I'd always had the opportunity to know ahead of time my guests' personal dislikes or special dietary needs for health reasons. Makes things much simpler, in the end, once the planning is done.

                    1. re: Normandie

                      Her guests are vegetarians, not martians. I don't think that's all that uncommon. And one aversion to mushrooms. Incomprehensible to me, but not earth shattering. I can't image why you would think it a waste of time to cook for people with these relatively mild eccentricities. It could be MUCH worse.

                      1. re: danna

                        I'm not sure where you got the idea that I think it's a waste of time to cook for people with mild eccentricities. I think you misinterpreted my post. I can and do (happily) accommodate any of my guests preferences, aversions, allergies and health concerns, as long as I'm able to know about them ahead of time. That was my point. Much better to prepare things guests do like and can eat, then the opposite, and it's really not difficult with a little thought to find things most people can enjoy.

                        1. re: Normandie

                          Oh, then I do beg your pardon. I read it to mean you thought the OP was wasting her time on her guests, which seemed pretty harsh ;-) Upon re-reading, I find it was my comprehension that was sadly flawed.

                          1. re: danna

                            LOL, yes, that would be harsh--not to mention hypocritical of me, considering my own (serious) food allergies, which my friends accommodate. :-D

                            No problem, danna. Glad we got it straightened out, and I appreciate your considerate post.

                2. For your roasted squash dish, here is another Ina recipe that I really like:

                  Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

                  The only changes I make to the recipe are to use more arugula, or sometimes spinach, or sometimes a combo of arugula and spinach, and I don't use as much grated parmesan on it. I typically have a wedge and grater on the table so people can add as much as they want (or not).

                  1. BE sure to let us know what you ended up doing. It all sounds like it's going to be delicious. I wish you could send us a virtual taste of it :)

                    I would love your galette recipe by the way, if you don't mind posting it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hala

                      I use Deborah Madison's mushroom galette recipe. It is heavenly and foolproof. As for the onion and goat cheese recipe....well, I'll be making that up tonight.

                    2. thanks for all the advice. the menu worked out great! no doubt because alot of it was prepared the day beforehand! which i know realize is key to hosting. cant wait for the next dinner party

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rararachel

                        Glad to hear it went well, rara. Couldn't agree with you more re doing as much as possible the day ahead. I don't always do as well as I should in that regard, but I'm trying to become more disciplined about selecting my menus with that in mind, and it does make a big difference.