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Jan 3, 2010 06:02 PM

What do you cook for non-chowhounds?

Having a house guest arrive in a few hours who is a "meat and potatoes" person to the point that they eat the same breakfast every morning and won't try anything that’s not “American”. So I’m naturally at a loss on what to cook for my guest. I’m sure I’m not the only one out here with some non-chowhound friends/family. What do you do try to serve them? Do you try to introduce them to new foods/cuisines? Or just throw up your hands and save the truffles and goat cheese for people who appreciate them? :)

As an example...I had a friend take a beautiful bolognese and dump two cans of red marinara sauce into it because she "likes it saucy."

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  1. When I have guests similar to the ones you describe, I prepare "American" foods but may add a little twist. The guests will still enjoy the foods they know/think they like - such as steak, chicken and pork - but in a slightly different way.

    Here are a couple of my favorite recipes you may want to try ....

    Pan Sauteed Chicken and Mushrooms with Garlic Spinach

    serves 4 - 5

    olive oil
    2 tablespoons butter, divided
    3 large boneless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into 2 thin cutlets each
    2 cups sliced baby portebello mushrooms
    2 bunches of baby spinach, washed and drained and paper towels
    3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
    1 tablespoon flour
    1/2 cup white wine
    1/2 cup chicken stock
    squeeze of lemon juice

    Heat a large saute pan to medium high and drizzle with olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of butter. Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Saute for 3 - 4 minutes per side until lightly browned. Remove cutlets from pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

    In the same pan, drizzle a little more olive oil and add the sliced mushrooms. Saute for 5 - 7 minutes until they begin to brown slightly. Remove from pan and keep warm with the chicken.

    In the same pan, drizzle a little more olive oil and add the spinach in 2 batches. Cook each batch until the spinach is wilted and most of the water has cooked away. Remove spinach to a plate. Add garlic to pan and cook for 1 - 2 minutes until it just begins to brown. Add more olive oil if the pan seems dry. Add back the wilted spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper and toss to combine. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

    In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. When it just begins to bubble, whisk in the 1 tablespoon of flour. Cook for about 30 seconds. Whisk in wine and stock and cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and keep sauce warm.

    To serve, place Garlic Spinach on a large platter. Top with the sauteed chicken and mushrooms and drizzle with the wine sauce. Serve.

    Beef Kebobs with Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

    serves 6

    1-1/2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick
    1 teaspoons coarse grind black pepper
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
    2 cloves garlic, minced

    Dipping Sauce:
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 jars (7 ounces each) roasted red peppers, rinsed, drained, finely chopped
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    2 tablespoons tomato paste
    3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
    1 cup ready-to-serve beef broth (I subbed 1 tsp. beef bouillon in 1 cup water)
    2 teaspoons cornstarch

    Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion and 3 cloves garlic; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is tender.

    Add red peppers, wine, tomato paste and thyme, stirring until tomato paste is blended. Combine broth and cornstarch in small bowl, mixing until smooth. Stir into pepper mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.

    Meanwhile cut beef steak into 1-inch pieces. Combine pepper, salt, paprika and garlic in large bowl. Add beef; toss to coat. Thread beef pieces evenly onto six skewers, leaving small space between pieces.

    Place kabobs on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, about 7 to 9 minutes for medium rare to medium, turning once. Serve with dipping sauce.

    Raspberry Hoisin Glazed Roast Pork Loin

    Serves 5

    2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1 pork loin, about 2.5 pounds
    1 cup red onion, chopped
    2 tablespoon soy sauce
    1/4 cup hoisin sauce
    1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    In a large, oven proof saute pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork loin over medium high heat on all sides until golden brown. Transfer pan with seared pork loin to the oven.

    Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium high heat add 1 tablespoon olive oil and red onion. Saute, stirring occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 5 - 6 minutes. Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce and raspberry preserves and stir until the glaze is combined. Turn off heat and leave sauce on burner.

    Roast pork loin in oven until the thickest part of the roast registers 135 degrees on a thermometer, about 45 to 60 minutes. About 10 minutes before the pork is done (it will register about 110 degrees on a digital thermometer), brush with the pork with some of the glaze. You will have extra glaze to serve with the pork.

    Remove roast from oven and place on a cutting board and tent with foil for about 10 minutes. Slice the pork loin and serve with the extra glaze. Rewarm the glaze if it gets too thick.

    1 Reply
    1. re: eatmyfood

      I'm gonna have to try that first recipe with the chicken this week!

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Make sure you have plenty of things for your guests to eat that they're comfortable with. If you're going to try to expand their culinary horizons, do it in a way that they can avoid the "weird" stuff without skipping the meal or its major components.

        So, for example, don't serve pasta with pesto. (My sister-in-law was appalled at the idea that anybody would eat green spaghetti.) But you can accompany the meal with garlic bread toast rounds and smear pesto on some of them. Your guest may find a new favorite dish, and might even figure out that the stuff would be good on noodles.

        By the same token, if you're a fiend for Indian food, don't serve a biryani. Make a plain roast chicken and accompany it with, say, Gujerati-style green beans. That way your guests can decide on their own comfort zones.

        By all means bring out the goat cheese. Just serve it alongside a nice farmhouse cheddar.

        1. Being a good host means not forcing a guest beyond his/her comfort level.

          Meatloaf - everyone makes it a little differently but most people like them all.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious

            Meatloaf was my first thought as well.

            If you have a 'trashy' favorite, now's a good time to break it out. I grew up eating mac & cheese from the blue box, and today I still have my own way of dressing it up on occasion ...

            No one can accuse either of these of not being American! Pot roast, sloppy joes ... grilled cheese with smoked cheddar.

          2. As counterintuitive as it may seem, we always cook exotic when non foodies are coming over. Our house has become known within our circle of friends and family as the place to go to try new things. Even our kids who have young friends come over almost always find they like something they had never tried. We get the odd scaredy cats and we just lie to them - it is all "chicken":-). We have friends of our children who remember when they were afraid to come over and now they relish it. It is all part of the ongoing education of those around us. Our "crazy food night" are very popular these days.

            Our mantra is that there is no food you don't like...only ways of having it you don't like.

            Teach your children (and their friends) well and they will start to lobby for an invite....bon appetite!

            It is rare to have someone not try and like our offerings...we show them excellent food. Whether it is an odd meat like musk ox or kangaroo or an odd prep (for them) such as carpaccio or Moroccan, people trust us to excite them and we usually do.