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Help fluff up my menu, please

Informal. Outdoors if weather permits (which I think it will). About 12-ish people, depending on who reads their email (grrrr). All good friends, so no futziness.

The main course will be beef tenderloin, done whole on a gas grill, sliced and served with Italian salsa verde. Also POSSIBLY a smoked chicken, if I get ambitious. Baby potatoes from the farmers market. Big green salad from my garden. Maybe a plate of grilled vegetables, depending on what's ready in my garden and at the farmers market. Oh and I have a bag of cipollini onions - maybe grill them? And no end of fresh basil, parsley, Swiss chard, nice cheeses...etc.

Dessert will be the Creme Fraiche Cheesecake with Sour Cherries which was in the NY Times this week.

I need an appetizer or 3. Not too last minute preppy, but summery. Any other suggestions to fill the gaps?

Thanks all - I'm drawing a blank here.

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  1. I don't see any summer tomatoes or corn on your menu. Could you invent an app using both -- maybe a salsa? No melons either - prosciutto wrapped melon (made ahead)? Freshly made summer cheese w/ fresh herbs? Gazpacho shooters?

    Personally, I like to have a platter app ready & waiting in the fridge so there's no last minute business, especially when grilling for 12 guests.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sherri

      Yeah - no corn or tomatoes here in Ontario yet. And I won't buy imported corn (firm rule of mine). But I'm starting to think antipasto platter for a starter. I can get a bunch of things and make a bunch of things...could work.

      1. re: Nyleve

        Oops - I should have looked at your profile. Mea Culpa. I live in the US, in Arizona, and our tomatoes are almost finished because of the heat. That's my frame of reference and I should have done some research.

        Since it's not yet tomato/corn time, it may not be melon time either. How about asparagus wrapped in prosciutto instead?

        I'm all for combining your baby potatoes & cipollini onions into something wonderful. Grilling skewers of them w/ a fresh herb marinade? It would make sense to use the (already hot) grill in some way.

        1. re: Sherri

          OOh yes - potatoes and onions. Good idea. Grilled cipollini with steamed baby potatoes or possibly done in a foil packet on the grill.

          I know I know - we have good corn for a total of 15 minutes every summer. And tomatoes for, well, maybe a couple of months. Mine are still a good 3 or 4 weeks away from the first one ripening. We can get decent US melons now and I'll buy them if I must because our local melons are so fleeting they barely even exist. But I do have prosciutto - maybe will wrap something in prosciutto as part of an antipasto platter.

      2. re: Sherri

        Do you think your guests would enjoy deviled eggs? I usually make them for our get-togethers of 8-16 people. I change it up each time - the favorite so far has been with pickled veggies mixed into the yolks (carrots, sweet peppers, onions) and garnished with capers. Other variations have been topped with tobiko and wasabi and another time homemade smoked pork chunks mixed in. I boil eggs the night before and finish up the next morning.

      3. How about fruit kabobs with a nice yogurt honey dip or pineapple coconut dip?

        2 Replies
        1. re: FoodChic

          Do you have a recipe for the pineapple coconut dip? That sounds incredibly fun.

          1. re: Vetter

            Sure!

            2 cups low-fat sour cream
            8 tablespoons crushed pineapple (with a little of the juice) or half a pineapple lenght wise with the fruit removed (crush up to 8 tbs in blender)and save the half shell.
            8 tablespoons cream of coconut (lI use coco lopez)
            1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I usually add 1/4 cup and then add tsps to taste)
            1/4 bag of shredded coconut toasted

            Mix everything but the shredded coconut until the sugar disovles. Refrigerate at least two
            hours. Serve in the pineapple half and top with toasted coconut.

        2. Greek or Caprese salad kabobs
          Grilled artichokes
          Stuffed endive leaves

          1 Reply
          1. re: enbell

            + 1 for caprese on a stick

            Also, this Pea Dip with parmesan is always a hit, served with pita chips. I cut back on the mint or omit completely, just my preference.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/din...

          2. Grilled country bread with caramelized cippolini, basil and bleu cheese
            Grilled halloumi with mint, lemon and chilies
            Spicy pickled green beans and snap peas with pimento cheese
            Zucchini carpaccio with mint and parmesan
            A simply made compound butter with fresh herbs would also be fantastic as a starter with bread

            1. How about either duck, rabbit, or pork rilletes? It would definitely mix the menu up a little, possibly give guests something they haven't had before. AND they're one of those things that taste better when made a day ahead.