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I need ideas, plz....cooking for 18 next Sunday!

Hi guys:

Thanks so much to all of you who've helped me with my previous 2 sunday dinners. Today's menu of Pastitsio, Arugula/Watermelon/Feta sald w/ citrus vinaigrette was a hit! My 18 companions inhaled all of the food. I was literally in shock. OMG! I even baked anise/lemon zest biscotti. Just too unreal.

Anyway, I will be cooking for the next two Sundays and I need ideas. Please remember that my budget is tight and include links to recipes, if possible. Also, give me some ideas on prep times, substitutions, make ahead advice etc.

Thanks in advance for the suggestions!

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  1. Are you a pulled pork fan - you can't get much cheaper than pork butt right about now. Serve with rolls, cole slaw and potato salad and you have a easy to make-ahead dinner right there.

    8 Replies
    1. re: NE_Elaine

      He/she just served Arugula/watermelon/feta salad and anise lemon zest biscotti. Do you really think she is interested in pulled pork?

      1. re: Hank Hanover

        That's not necessarily a given...lots of people like that salad & biscotti but doesn't mean they wouldn't be interested in the pork. It would be helpful, however, if perhaps the OP could let the posters know what she's not interested in or is off limits so that it would be easier to make suggestions.

        1. re: Cherylptw

          Agree with Cheryl - just because someone ate the Pastitsio doesn't mean they wouldn't like pulled pork and the fixings.

          However, I'm curious as to why the OP is feeding 18 people every Sunday or every other Sunday. There doesn't seem to have been any mention of why there's a gathering at her/his house every Sunday and why s/he is doing all of the cooking, especially being a sel-professed beginner cook. Just the requests for recipes/links with little else. Just curious.

          Googling comes up with several links that would be helpful to the OP:

          http://www.ellenskitchen.com/bigpots/

          http://lotsofinfo.tripod.com/ - this is Growlies for Groups' site - one I've seen mentioned on various food boards I participate in on AOL. The stipulation the owner of the site has put on 99% of the recipes is that they must be able to be made ahead of time, to some degree. Always helpful.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            More questions that would be helpful is how much prep/cooking the OP wants to do, the type of weather (as mentioned below), what "inexpensive" means, if there are dietary restrictions, how adventurous the guests are. I love doing pulled pork--you can make it better by making your own sandwich buns, doing a nice rib before, making your own corn bread, etc.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              If you read her previous posts, there is stuff that doesn't make sense. It makes even less sense seeing the final menu. For the pastitisio she insisted on using canned parmesan and said that she wasn't going to use any wine even though that was listed on the pastitisio recipe. But for dessert she makes anise/lemon zest biscotti. Her first post was making roast chicken for 18 with about three days notice. So color me perplexed.

            2. re: Cherylptw

              Yes, it's possible that she would be interested in serving pulled pork. She could be interested in ham hocks and beans, skillet corn bread and strawberry shortcake for dessert.. It just isn't very likely.

              The two dinners before were pretty highbrow. There is no indication she wants anything less this time.

              Yes, it is making an assumption and probably an accurate one.

            3. re: Hank Hanover

              Hey, I'm a chowhound, Hank - and I can go from high-end to lowbrow in zero time flat. The presence of one set of "likes" doesn't denote one's whole food-love spectrum. Both menus just sound great to me. At the end of the day, it's about preparing well and quality of ingredients, not how highbrow they are.

            4. re: NE_Elaine

              I like the pulled pork idea. You could go more Mexican though...serve with tortillas, beans and salad.
              This looks like a good recipe, and it's easy to adjust the number of servings on this website:
              http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/mexican...

              Oh, and if you don't have a slow-cooker, you can just use a dutch oven/heavy lidded pan in your oven on low for a long time. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/393709

            5. Has anyone suggested chicken marbella in past posts (it's recommended here often)? You can make it with chicken thighs and drumsticks, marinate the night before. You can substitute some of the pricier ingredients but overall, is inexpensive to make.

              If you like to cook, moussaka or eggplant parmegiana is easy to do in advance and inexpensive, too.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                I'd take a look at Julia Child and Company. Then a lot depends on how "creative" you want to be. When I am faced with large crowds, I don't pull out a recipe for something unfamiliar. In general, I would stick with braises. For example a pork shoulder braised in milk or braised in vermouth with a mirepoix and mushrooms herbs. You can braise it the evening before, slice and serve it with the sauce. Oven roasted vegetables would go well with it. I'd probably make a simple pilaf (in a pinch you can cooked packaged pilafs in a rice cooker). For a salad, I'd suggest orange and sliced fennel--blood oranges are nice--or citrus sections with cherries and perhaps tawny port served with bib lettuce. Add toasted nuts if you like. For dessert, see the apple dish in the current Cook's Illustrated. Or simply pie and a good ice cream or sorbet. That said, the Chicken Marbella is always nice. Or any similar braise of chicken parts. For example: with onions, dried apricots, strips of ham, fresh herbs and some broth and wine for the braise liquid. Good luck.

                1. re: chowser

                  If capers and/or olives are something you wouldn't ordinarily use up, you can instead buy a jar of tapenade (Trader Joe's has an affordable one) or Goya's alcaparrado, which will take care of the capers, olives, and vinegar called for in the Chicken Marbella recipe.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    make sure that the alcaparrado does not have olives with pits.

                2. No profile, Dinner, so I can't tell where you are or what the weather's like, but am assuming a Summer menu. One thing I like to do on the cheap is pork butt, yes indeedy, but to get away from the bbq'd pulled pork thing, I season with cumin, garlic and lime zest, and roast the hell out of it, till it can be shredded and piled on a platter with some crumbled queso fresco. With hot corn tortillas, fresh salsa, and chopped avocado and onion, plus a bowl of crema blanca, this is just outstanding, a "rollyerown" taco bar. Good sides for this: rice of course, cooked off in chicken broth with a bit of garlic, topped with chopped cilantro, and black beans, and if you want to get really jiggy wid it, fry up some bananas and dress them with a squeeze of lemon juice.