Recipes for Entertaining
I'm interested in this as well, on a more general level since I usually spend weeks trying to decide what to fix for guests. Of course, that's what makes it fun, but I love to hear how others put a menu together as well.
I often like to do themes--like Italian, Mexican, BBQ, seafood, etc. That makes it easier for me to narrow down choices. Like the others mentioned, a lot will depend on whether you will do a sit down or buffet, whether you want something fancy or relaxed, etc.
I usually plate my first course, which is often soup (like gazpacho, vichyssoise, iced pea soup, shrimp and corn bisque, gumbo), salad, and dessert but serve the main course and sides in serving dishes on the table.
I made an awesome braised short rib recipe a few weeks ago for guests--inexpensive but wonderful and all do ahead. They were served on top of gorgonzola polenta and roasted brussel sprouts.
If it's a fish friendly crowd, pan seared red snapper is a good choice that can be surprisingly easy to pull of for 7-10 people. Buy a 1 1/4 lbs snapper for each 2 guests you have, and get the fishmonger to scale and fillet them for you. About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve them, use a non-stick pan to fry the fillets 2 at a time only on the skin side for about 5 minutes. Transfer the fillets, skin side up to a baking tray. When ready to serve, place the fillets in an oven pre-heated to 350 for about 5-6 minutes to warm them back up. This will finish cooking the side you didn't fry.
For the sauce, I recommend a grapefruit butter. Add the juice of 1 grapefruit and about 1 cup of white wine to a small sauce pot with some roughly cut shallots. Simmer until almost dry then strain. Add 1/2 lbs cold butter, one cube at a time over low heat, whisking constantly. Keep on a very low heat until needed
For veg, get some asparagus and/or green beans. Blanch them in boiling water until tender then transfer them to ice water. When ready to serve, warm the veg in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil.
This is a good dinner party dish, because you can have your sauce made, your veg blanched and your fish seared all well in advance. With that all done ahead, you can relax with your guests until you sit down to eat. When it's time to serve, just pop the fish in the oven, warm the veg and you're done.
Hope this recipe works for you, you can find it on my blog: www.derekskitchen.blogspot.com
pinehurst beat me to it with some of the questions :) in addition to those, it would be helpful to know:
- would you prefer something elegant or rustic?
- should it be a family-style or individually plated dish?
- are you planning to make it ahead or just before serving?
- are your cooking skills advanced or more basic?
- how much time will you have to prepare the dish?
- do you have a budget for ingredients? how well stocked is your pantry?
the more we know, the easier it will be to provide useful & appropriate ideas.
This past Christmas, for an employee party, my manager made a baked open-faced sandwich that everyone raved about.
You start with a long bread loaf (baguette type), cut it lengthwise. Spread artichoke dip on each half and some grated parmesan cheese and bake it a bit. She then cut those into 4 inch or so pieces.