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Mar 22, 2010 08:29 AM

Spring dinner party menu

I am looking for feedback on my spring dinner party menu.
so far, I plan to serve
Cream of Asparagus soup,
Napa cabbage & Shrimp spring rolls,
baby spinach & Strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing
Cornish hens??? either stuffed with apricot & wild rice stuffing, or this recipe: which is morroccan roasted.
Dessert: Creme brulee.

My husband is concerned our guests may not feel comfortable picking over cornish hens at the table. I wanted to choose a main course which is spring-y, however not all people like lamb or veal which are the obvious spring fare posted all over anything food & spring. I am also unsure if everyone likes fish.
Suggestions on the hens, or maybe a beef dish????
Any other comments/suggestions on my menu appreciated!!
I should note that we will be serving 8 confirmed, possibly 12 total.

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  1. I like a lot of the dishes you've suggested, but I'm not sure they really all work together. How do you feel about focusing your menu more on a particular region or theme? I really like the soup, spinach salad, wild rice, and creme brulee and think those flavors generally complement each other.

    The spring rolls stick out to me as odd with this menu, which otherwise leans French/American traditional. Instead, how about springy deviled eggs or maybe endive boats with citrus and goat cheese ( Or maybe lemony shrimp cocktail with cocktail and remoulade sauces? Ina Garten's roasted shrimp cocktail is supposed to be great:

    For the main, it depends how squeamish you think your guests will be. I was in a cooking class last week where at least 4 of the grown women refused to eat stuffed quail we prepared because they were too cute/unnervingly small. It was rather odd; reactions are hard to predict. Also, do you have enough oven space to prepare 12 cornish hens at once?

    I like the idea of roast lamb or perhaps roast beef. You could make a nice herb rub to really highlight spring flavors, and serve with a jus or bernaise sauce. Fish tends to be pretty popular, especially if you go for fillets. Or maybe a nice dish of mixed seafood in cream sauce, such as scallops, shrimp, white fish, etc?

    Re: dessert. A pana cotta with berries or berry sauce would be a nice way to highlight the season. (


    It sounds like you'll have a wonderful menu, whatever you choose. Best of luck!

    P.s. what are you planning on serving to drink?

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChristinaMason

      I like your app suggestions, you are right that the spring rolls are kinda left field here. I also like the roast beef with the fresth herb rub.. All of your suggestions are great!

      For wines, I like whites from the Alsace region, which I think will be light enough yet not as grassy or overly citrus like a sauvignon blanc. I have also had some nice Torrontes that will pair well with the earlier courses. For red, with poultry I enjoy Salmon Run Coho Red, a NY wine as it is on the sweeter side. It also works with fish. If I do the beef, I love a great cab of course. I think Stonehedge Alexander valley cab has less tannins and is a bit softer for red drinkers who don't like that flavor/dryness.
      Any great wine pics you had in mind?
      There are some great local wineries here that produce some nice reislings/dessert whites to finish the meal. (Hudson Valley area.)

      1. re: mrsgreer

        Nice! It sounds like we have really similar taste in wines. Torres wineries makes a nice white you might like called Nerola White. It's a little drier than I usually like, but is flavorful and can stand up to food. Something about it---probably the oak---reminds me of almonds and coconut. Have you had their Vina Esmeralda (pref. '08 or earlier)? It's also nice, although maybe better suited to Asian food. Alsatian Gewurz' is another favorite of mine. Back in the States, I usually got Trimbach, but I'd love some recs now that I'm in Germany where the selection is wider. What do you like?

        A couple other wines I like:

        1 -Summer's Andriana's Cuvee Cab. Sauv. (California) --- lush, not too tannic

        2 - Paul Lehrner Claus (Austria) --- Zweigelt/Blaufrankish blend; smooth and not bone dry

        3 - Steele Pinot Noir (CA)

        4- Cederberg’s Bukettraube (2007) --- off-dry white, really juicy peach flavors...delicious!

        5- Weingut Beck Heideboden --- Cab. sauv./St. Laurent blend. The latter lightens it up. A delicious wine and a good value.

        It sounds like it's going to be a wonderful meal. I envy your guests! Don't forget to take photos :)

    2. Your link didn't work, but I think it's a perfectly fine spring menu.

      I served Cornish hens recently, and split them in half for each diner. That way, the guests don't need to pick at them so much. Since plating twelve would be a bit more difficult than the six I had, you can cook them as halves, takes much less time, although you'll need more sheet pans. And instead of stuffed, make the stuffing on its own, and plate the hen over the stuffing for your presentation.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Phurstluv

        Thanks for the great suggestions for the hens! I like the separate stuffing idea.

        1. re: mrsgreer

          If you spatchcock the hens, you remove the backbone and make them much easier to eat with fork & knife. Very easy to do, simply take a sharp chef's knife and run along both sides of the backbone. Give the breast a good "thwack" and you will have a little cornish hen "package" that will cook very easily and be easy to cut. I save the leftover backs and cut off the wing tips as well and use all these parts for homemade chicken stock.

          1. re: Diane in Bexley

            I'm making a trial run tonite for my husband & myself, I did remove backbone and tailpiece. I left the wingtips on, I thought it may look nice for presentation. Should these be cut off, or is that optional?

      2. The only thing I might change is the spring rolls. You might try a sauteed scallop (2 per person) with a roasted red pepper sauce on the plate to dip the scallops in. But this is just my personal opinion.

        2 Replies
        1. re: boyzoma

          I LOVE scallops-but- the last dinner party i hosted, which some of the same guests are returning- my app was a pan seared scallop in a maple bacon drizzle. FANTASTIC! That being said, I wanted to choose another seafood for an app. I do have some smoked steelhead trout on hand that I smoked Friday. I'm not sure that I can get it into long pieces like that store bought kind; we usually use it on canapes or crostini. Any ideas for it?

          1. re: mrsgreer

            I've no great ideas for the trout, but as julesincoq suggested, crab cakes sound like a great idea as well or the shrimp cocktail.

            You could also serve some bruschetta appetizers. There are a lot of ideas here:

        2. With the exception of the spring rolls (I don't think it fits the menu, but I like the idea of seafood as an appetizer) I like the menu. I don't see the cornish hens being any different from say, picking the bones from a whole fish, removing bones from ribs or something along that line.

          Why not consider a shrimp cocktail served on a napa cabbage slaw instead of the spring rolls? You could make a dressing of citrus juices & horseradish to dress the cabbage and maybe reduce some balsamic vinegar to drizzle over the top of the shrimp.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cherylptw

            Yup I like the shrimp cocktail idea better too. Or perhaps crab cakes with a roasted red pepper coulis?

            I don't like cornish hens. I don't like the skin and I don't like dark meat so I would be a bit of a picker at the table to get to the parts I like. I think most people do seem to like them though - seems that way from this thread anyway. Having said that what about stuffed pork tenderloin? Easy to cook, pretty to serve and less fussy. I had a recipe somewhere that was stuffed with apple and served with carmelized onion.