Dinner party menu, please critique
I am planning a birthday menu for 8 for this weekend. The only constraint is that most of the work will have to be done in advance as I will be out with our guests in the afternoon and we will all be arriving at my place together. Here are my ideas so far...
Cauliflower soup with seared scallops, lemon oil
Persimmon, pomegranate, and arugula salad
Fennel rubbed pork tenderloins with pan fried ricotta gnocchi
birthday cake ideas?
I prefer to make a tenderloin over a larger roast bc my MIL is squeamish about anything that hasn't been cooked well done. At least this way it will still be tender. Or maybe I would be better off doing a braise of some sort?
My other thought was to simplify things by making a salad and a pork cassoulet that I could throw into the oven upon arriving home.
Any thoughts/opinions are welcome!!
I like your menu and personally, I'd go with the pork, which you can sear off before going out in the afternoon then finish in the oven while enjoying your first two courses. Oven time should take no more than 20 minutes, if that and the only time you'll be taking away from guests is time to cut & plate. As for the cake, do a simple layer cake and fill with ice cream of choice between the layers then frost with fresh whipped cream. Send the entire thing to the freezer for several hours before serving with fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, etc) garnish. You can make this a day ahead. Easy & delicious.
both the scallops and gnocchi cannot be made ahead, but will require cooking right before plating. will the pork be cooking while you are out of the house?
i think your idea of either a braise or the cassoulet is better, since they can be made several days ahead and just re-heated. keep the salad. you can make potatoes for the starch, either roasted or mashed and reheat those as well.
Yes, I was thinking of searing the scallops while reheating the soup on the stove. The gnocchi would be fried while the pork, is resting. My husband is in charge of clearing plates, etc between courses. I think the seasoned tenderloins should take less than half an hour, so I don't imagine that would be a problem.
It looks like it will work fine to me, as long as your guests enjoy hanging around the kitchen and no one is going to spaz if there are a few minutes between courses. (my OCD husband goes berserk).
I love your first two courses...i'd order those in a restaurant! If i were to change anything, I might drop the pork. I would think about just sauteing some wild mushrooms in advance, and then warming them us and serving w/ the gnocci and a little cheese. You already have some protein in the scallops and a little in the gnocci from the ricotta. Seems like that would simplify a little.
As for birthday cake, I'll be eating mine tomorrow, and it's yellow cake w/ choc frosting, because in the end...what can be better? ;-) I would seriously suggest a butter cake because they improve w/ age, store best outside the fridge (where space may become premium) and you could go ahead and do it tonight.
Thanks for letting us enjoy your menu!
There definitely won't be a rush, and in the past have they seemed to enjoy a long leisurely dinner while the kids will probably be in the den for the soup and salad. I really don't want to skip the soup, as the guest of honor is a soup lover. The mushrooms are a good idea, I could add some prosciutto as well, though I don't know if the kids are okay with mushrooms.
I love yellow cake with chocolate frosting as well, definitely my favorite. And Happy Brithday to you danna!
Is this the kind of party where you will all be eating in the kitchen? If so, then it looks great to me. Otherwise, you have create a first and main course that requires a good ten minutes in the kitchen for last minute frying. It would certainly be easier to make the pork cassoulet, but I wouldn't get rid of your salad since you can dress the fruits with the dressing ahead of time and just add the arugula you washed ahead at the last minute. If you do the cassoulet, what would you have for a starter? Still the scallops?
No, it will be a plated dinner. I have an open floor plan, and some will be hovering out of curiousity. I guess I don't like the presentation of the cassoulet. If I did the cassoulet, I would 86 the soup and serve the salad first, then bread with the cassoulet. I want to be sure we can still fit in cake!