Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 11, 2010 06:24 PM

Picky, allergic, downer friends for St. Patrick's Day. Help.

*insert long sigh of exasperation here*

A group of friends will be coming to my house for St. Patrick's day dinner. Most of them are willing and adventurous eaters, except for one couple. She is allergic to black pepper and olives (which means no olive oil), he is allergic to garlic and onions. I sympathize with this, really, and I don't hold it against them. Both of them are also pretty picky, which I sympathize with much less given that they are adults.

These are lovely people, who I adore, but cooking a meal they'll be attending means either a) driving myself crazy figuring out what to cook that doesn't involve olive oil, black pepper, garlic, onions, or anything they just don't like, or b) telling them the ingredients of every dish and letting them sort out what to eat and what to avoid, which means they'll miss out on some of the good stuff. I feel like if I go with A, I'm punishing the rest of the group, but if I go with B, they're getting a pretty raw deal.

Advice? Recipes? Sympathy? Help of any kind is much appreciated.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. Maybe some cabbage braised in butter instead of olive oil.....are red pepper flakes OK? I'm just thinking about how Molly Stevens's recipe from "All About Braising" could be adapted- I bet it would still be good even without the onion, black pepper and olive oil. :)

      Mashed potato cakes- set aside part of the mixture with just salt, maybe some thyme, perhaps sauteed bell peppers? For the rest, add the scallions, pepper, etc. Anything that is coated in panko and sauteed in butter till crisp will probably go over OK with unadventurous eaters.

      You could also bake some salmon very plainly with salt and perhaps some dill....or make simple panko-coated chicken strips (the darling of kids menus) or cutlets. Make a Guinness mustard sauce for the adventurous:
      (May want to cut with mayonnaise, yogurt, etc. instead of serving straight-up mustard


      A nice tossed salad can have a vinaigrette that uses vegetable oil instead of olive oil.

      Irish soda bread should be just fine.....

      What is it that you'd really want to make if you didn't have any restrictions? In some cases, a swap out or melted butter for olive oil could work out fine. But it might be harder to adjust other types of recipes, like meat braises that rely on alliums in the base.

      Good luck!

      6 Replies
      1. re: 4Snisl

        Thanks for your suggestions. I do know that they like fish -- salmon might be a good idea. And I'm definitely planning on making soda bread or Irish brown bread.

        Cabbage, though! I was going to make corned beef and cabbage until I discovered that they both detest it and have always thought of it as something parents force-feed their kids. It never occurred to them that someone might actually *like* it! ;) LOL.

        My second thought was Irish stew, but again, can it be made without onions without tasting totally insipid?

        1. re: LauraGrace

          I'm not sure about a stew without onion or garlic! Leeks are probably off the list as well?

          The braised cabbage dish is absolutely delicious- very entertainment-friendly, since it reheats well, and is prettied-up with the addition of carrots. If I had to have someone change their mind about cabbage, this is the dish I'd use for convincing. :) Since it's totally separate, instead of integrated into a main dish, I wouldn't feel bad about offering it and knowing that they would probably opt out of serving themselves some. More for everyone else, right? :)

          1. re: LauraGrace

            I don't like cucumbers and, when served a salad with them, I just don't eat those parts. Same with cabbage.

            1. re: LauraGrace

              Yes you can make Irish stew with out onions. Lamb,potato and parsnips all you need you could use carrots in place of parsnips

              1. re: LauraGrace

                Since they're turning up their noses at corned beef and cabbage, I think you have invited them to the wrong holiday dinner. Try, say, Easter and give them a souffle or frittata and hope they don't develop an aversion to eggs in the interim.

                For me, a proper St Paddy's day meal consists of corned beef and cabbage with onions, potatoes, and probably carrots, all cooked in my large slow cooker. I would have some peasant-style bread with this. I could cook the potatoes separately if someone wished to avoid them.

              2. re: 4Snisl

                Frankly I don't think olive oil has to be in the food you're cooking all the time. I cut it with butter, or sometimes use vegetable oil. I much prefer it for dipping bread and salads, and to finish dishes. I am making two corned beef, red potatoes,cabbage and carrots.
                One is for my sons to take to their house, and they really could care less about the onions so. I can leave those out. I don't need fresh garlic in the corned beef either, its really about the pickling spices. Granulated garlic will work just find sometimes, can they tolerate that? My suggestion is that there is nothing to compare the cabbage to that's cooked in the broth of the corned beef and the pickling spices. I roast mine so I do do it a little differently using a marinade of mustard, brown sugar and garlic powder. I baste it every hour, and it really makes a difference. The corned beef are not that expensive, you could them their own, a small flat cut one and you'd cover it all. Allergies, and St. Patty's Day.

              3. What do you usually cook for get togethers? I just imagined a lot of dinner menus without olives, olive oil, garlic, and black pepper. And even without onions. I was thinking selected Asian, selected Mexican, selected Japanese ...

                ... so what do you usually cook?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Or, what do they cook for you all??

                  1. re: Sarah

                    We often eat sushi or Japanese when we go out, and I know they're both big fans of that because it doesn't require any of the things they dislike or don't eat. Not very Irish, though, sushi. ;)

                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    As to St. Patrick's Day itself, that should not be too much of a problem - maybe boiled bacon and cabbage or salmon and potatoes, soda bread, lots of appropriate beer and whiskey.

                  3. Well first I give sympathy. First off don't give up on corned beef and cabbage, it's so simple to prepare and your guests who like that type of food will LOVE it.

                    since there is so much difference in what your guests can eat maybe adding a shepherd's pie to go along with the corned beef and cabbage could be good. Or an irish stew, if you make it the night before the omission of onions and garlic might not be so noticeable in flavor. If yo make the stew with beef adding guiness and letting it sit overnight makes it have a really nice depth with malty flavor. Add some irish soda bread and potato rolls and you are good to go

                    What about dessert, like an irish cream bread pudding or and irish cream cheesecake? that would top it off well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yesidid

                      But corned beef is often brined with black pepper and/or garlic, so that would be out as far as allergies go.

                      I think that goodhealthgourmet has some good advice. If they are good friends, it might be best to ask for a suggestion for a simple dish that they would enjoy and be comfortable eating. That way, everyone would be happy. And for potatoes, etc., maybe you could use canola and butter instead of olive oil, and they can partake of that, their requested casserole, and soda bread if they wish.

                      I agree that making everything to their liking isn't fair to you or the group as a whole, but it sounds like you love them and want to accommodate them within reason. What a friend/group mate! Keep us posted.

                    2. I sympathize. It appears that potluck is not the norm in these dinners. In cases like this, I think of making an extra couple of main dishes. In fact, I would call the allergic picky folks up with my own initial ideas about extra foods and see whether they liked them or had further ideas. I would NOT turn away from making the things that I felt were most compelling for the main crowd and theme.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bada Bing

                        Sorry to hear that, LG. That's very annoying, and you are such a nice friend for being so accommodating. Being picky seems so sad and horrible. There is so much good food in the world.

                        It would be helpful to know what they like and dislike. I can think of some ideas that avoid garlic and onions (bacon, mushrooms and thyme are nice together, with maybe a splash of sherry) but I would hate for you to go to all this trouble and have them not eat it. Also, do you need make-ahead foods, or are you going to be cooking right before your friends come over?