Help me with my Saturday lunch menu?
I'm hosting a couple of friends for lunch on Saturday, and for some reason, my culinary brain seems to have atrophied. I seem incapable of guessing whether my plans will go together well or not. Any suggestions and feedback for the lunch would be greatly appreciated, especially in the areas I've put question marks.
There will be four adults eating, with the following constraints:
- no alcohol including for cooking
- no meat, only fish (including stock, gelatin, etc. Arranging good quality halal is too much hassle)
- one guest is pregnant
- rubbish electric stove, and not much time to prepare in the morning
I want to avoid hummus and the more usual Mediterranean/ Levantine mezze, as our guests lived for many years in London's little Lebanon and I am unlikely to be able to compete. Three of the four are of Pakistani origin, so I intend to both avoid Pakistani/ Indian food, while sticking to strong, bright flavours.
At present, this is what I'm thinking:
Starter: ??? [I'm strongly tempted by roasted mushrooms in garlic butter, with crusty bread, but maybe this doesn't fit the meal as a whole. I do love mushrooms, though]
Main: crispy skinned white fish on my favourite pomegranate and walnut salsa mixed with feta and smoky aubergine puree
and ??? [grilled asparagus, perhaps? Or have this as a starter? Or spinach and butter beans?]
and perhaps served on a herby ricotta hotcake??? [would this be a textural or flavour disaster?]
with green salad
Dessert: individual banoffee pies with tea
So.... what do fellow Chowhounds think? Any suggestions would be most welcome indeed.
Thanks to all for the input. It turned out a lovely meal. The ricotta hotcakes, which I was worried about, went very well - I seasoned them heavily, with parmesan, chives, a small amount of dried chile and parsley in the mix, as well as some garlic left overnight and allowed to infuse the ricotta mix. Highly recommended as an easy, quick side that you can do most of the prep for early on. I ended up skipping a starter altogether, and instead had the mushrooms with sourdough bread as a side. Banoffee pies - I like whipping the cream with cognac, but for this no-alcohol meal I used a hint of maple syrup and fresh raspberries whipped into the cream. Not quite banoffee, but the tart raspberries helped cut the extreme sweetness.
I think this all sounds lovely, tavegyl. The only thing I might do differently is to serve the ricotta cake with the bread as a starter (the mushrooms would go nicely with, as a dual starter). I do baked ricotta in individual cups, and eat it with bread quite happily.
And this: "crispy skinned white fish on my favourite pomegranate and walnut salsa mixed with feta and smoky aubergine puree" sounds incredible.
Thanks, onceadaylily -- the pomegranate and walnut salsa is this beauty by Ottolenghi. I make it with feta and charred aubergine instead of halloumi and chicory.
Interesting idea, about baking the ricotta. Does it become gooey, like a baked brie? I was thinking something like an airy ricotta-based pancake with garlic and chives in the batter, to make up for not having rice or bread.
tavegyl, I actually adore that idea of an herbed ricotta hotcake! I was just thinking about making (for breakfast) ricotta hotcakes this weekend. What a great great idea for a savory accompaniment.
This meal sounds great. You could also play around with herbed popovers and some snazzy butters.