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Fall Dinner Party Menu

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Hello, I am having a small gathering of about eight ladies for a fall dinner party. My menu ideas are as follows:
App: Crab Salad on Endive
Soup: Butternut Squash Soup
Entree: Salmon with a lime/orange marmalade sauce, Smashed Garlic Potatoes, and Risotto
Dessert: Caramel Apple Mini Cheesecake

I'm trying to be semi-fancy, but I don't want it to be too complicated. This menu isn't exactly what I want, it seems kind of simple. Should I add a pasta or salad course? What changes do you reccommend? This is the fourth dinner party I've had. I'm from Pennsylvania, and I'm 16. Thanks!

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  1. Maybe add some roasted fall vegetables to the main course, but otherwise that sounds like an excellent menu. I think it is classy and delicious. By the way, why is a 16 year-old throwing dinner parties?

    1 Reply
    1. re: allOverthePlace

      Because I want experience before culinary school. Can't start to early...

    2. Your menu sounds delicious. I wouldn't add a pasta course as you already have two starches. A salad course sounds nice -- maybe add toasted walnuts and goat cheese? Also, instead of two starches with your entree perhaps switch out a vegetable for the potatoes or the risotto.

      Don't worry about your menu being too simple. Simple can be quite elegant.

      1. Your menu sounds wonderful. I commend you for being 16 and already having 3 dinner parties under your belt.
        There is no need for a salad because your appetizer is kind if like a salad. You could add a different appetizer. A pasta course isn't needed either, you have already have a starch and risotto which is starch like. Maybe replace the potato with a vegetable. Green beans , glazed carrots or acorn squash.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Living4fun

          Thank you, sounds great!!

        2. Cookinchic,
          I commend you for being such an adventerous cook at your age - I was the same. Subscribed to Bon Appetit, etc. by the time I was 11, and thought nothing of having big dinner parties (with my mom's help and blessing), for 8-10 people at a time, making complicated things like boned stuffed leg of lamb in puff pastry for Easter...
          Your apptz. sounds good if it is being served seated as a first course, really.
          Soup is very nice and fall-ish.
          Perhaps you would want to as some have suggested here, do the risotto OR potatoes, and add something such as roasted cauliflower, or roasted parsnips and turnips to have a more veggie compononent on the plate.

          Another thing to consider, is that Risotto is a time-consuming item that takes you away from your guests DURING the dinner, so since you are host - and chef; perhaps do make potatoes and a veg, and save the risotto for next dinner party's first course? Your guests aren't just coming for the food, but to spend time with you. That can take some time to learn as a dinner party host. The overall experience is key, not just the food:)

          I like your idea of an individual dessert. That is guest flattering..
          Another dessert choice that might be nice, and lighter, would be red-wine poached pears with caramel sauce and a nice tuille on the side?

          report back, and let us know what you did and how it goes!

          6 Replies
          1. re: gingershelley

            Wow, thanks so much for your input! I am going to tweak the things you suggested, and I definitely will let you know how it goes!! Do you think fish, potato, and veg is a little too much home cooked like?

            1. re: cookinchic

              If you do a bitter green as your vegetable it will balance the plate nicely and add another Fall note to the meal. I've never seen risotto served along with another starch and as someone else mentioned, it will keep you in the kitchen for half an hour.

              1. re: cookinchic

                I think so much of the difference between perception of 'home-cooked-like" will be in your thinking through plate presentation...
                Perhaps if you did a roasted cauliflower puree, a sauteed green (good suggestion by Escondido) - maybe kale with ginger, garlic and proscuitto (I know, mixing cuisines, but it is delicious!) and plated with a swipe of puree on the side, potatoes (smashed good new yellow potatoes with lots of butter s&p, served UNDER the salmon, with greens on that, and salmon perched atop with it's glaze, it will have a nice plated-restaurant look. Remember, you ARE doing home cooked, which is what your guests will appreciate, you just want it to have some flair.
                I might also suggest if you switch to something like a roasted veg (puree or not), and greens, you change your salmon glaze - perhaps Orange and reduced balsamic vinagar?

                1. re: gingershelley

                  i like this idea, however there are two whiteish components that may look very ....hmm just not so great together on a plate.
                  squash puree perhaps?

                  1. re: ashleyrar

                    Yes, I agree. Thanks.

              2. re: gingershelley

                "Another thing to consider, is that Risotto is a time-consuming item that takes you away from your guests DURING the dinner, so since you are host - and chef; perhaps do make potatoes and a veg, and save the risotto for next dinner party's first course?"

                I agree. Risotto is a course unto itself and should never be a "side."

                Good luck cookinchic! and Buon Appetito!

              3. I agree, potatoes AND risotto is unbalanced. How about a green vegatable instead?

                Do you have a garnish for your soup? A swirl of creme fraiche and sage croutons would be nice, or a few pieces of sauteed wild mushrooms like chanterelles would make it a little fancier.

                Otherwise, sounds great.

                1 Reply
                1. re: babette feasts

                  Your garnish sounds fantastic, I will definitely be doing this.

                2. I would eliminate the risotto, as others have said.

                  I would suggest sauteed green beans w/almonds.

                  I am also very impressed w/you.

                  1. wow, at 16 i was barely able to get a meal of hamburgers and tossed salad on the table (of course that was back in the middle ages and the fact that a guy would even cook dinner....) Not sure of the background of you or your guests, but 'home-cooked like" is not something to be avoided, maybe just upgraded a bit. You are going to be amazed how many people haven't had good home cooked food in way too long. Convenience food (out of a package in the freezer) and drive thru make up a huge part of many people's diet. Anything made from scratch by a caring hostess is going to be a treat.

                    1. A very ambitious menu for a teenager, and considering your age, you are forgiven for not knowing that serving both potatoes and rice as sides would be a serious faux pas. It tells me that you are unfamiliar with the great foodie movie, "Big Night", which I'd urge you to rent.

                      How old are the "ladies" on your guest list? If they are also teenagers, chances are that most of them will not enjoy a bitter green like kale or broccoli rabe as a side. You already have endive, which is bitter, with the crab salad. I'd go with green beans (maybe almondine) as a side, instead of the risotto.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: greygarious

                        Ok, so NO RISOTTO! I get it people!! Big Night...hm, I'll have to look that up. And no, they're older ladies from my church that inspire me.

                        1. re: cookinchic

                          Hang in there Cookinchic,

                          I got a LOT of feedback when I was young and cooking complicated.... When I was 14, my parents were crazy enough to help me get a business liscense for a catering company. My mom ended up driving me around for the next 2 years delivering quiche, salad, antipasto platters and the like (back in 1978, that ws very cool food:) all over town with hand written receipts to give out (one of which I have framed in my office with my first catering company menu). Enjoy the learning, and ignore those who don't listen to your REAL questions.

                          I heard you many entries here ago, that you would not make potatoes and risotto; you get it. Now just go out and cook your heart out for your guests, who are no 'old ladies' - probably your friends, and/or family friends... cook llike your fearless, and you just want it to be wonderful, and it will be.
                          I am behind you 100%.

                          Age doesn't speak much to cooking; instinct, desire, and effort do. Oh, and talent, which I am sure you have much of. Bravo!

                          1. re: gingershelley

                            Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! What an inspiration! :D

                      2. your menu sounds very nice, with one exception. I feel that your "App" seems a little Springish. I do love this dish, but it very definately not Fall-like. Maybe a canape like crostini, slid in broiler for a min. made with a European ham and maybe Gruyere. Sounds more autumnal to me. Been doing dinner for a living for 32 years in residential settings. Hope it goes well, You have a very interesting future I think.....

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: robt5265

                          having grown up on the west coast, where crab season begins in November, this dish seems very fall-like to me.

                          1. re: robt5265

                            Hmmm, your right. thanks!

                          2. How did it go?

                            1. I'm having a fairly fancy dinner party for 8 people with a fall theme as well.

                              My menu is as follows:

                              Hors d'oeuvres to be served with Bubbly Hard Cider:

                              Mushroom Duxelles sandwich between Puff Pastry

                              Potted Shrimp flavored with Garam Masala in Phyllo Cups & Garnished with Cilantro

                              Smoked Salmon rolled with Gremolata served at English Cucumber Slices

                              Roast Beef rolled with Roasted Garlic Puree Served atop square Daikon Radish Slices

                              Soup: Thomas Keller's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter & Nutmeg Creme Fraiche & Fried Sage Leaf garnish (to be served with a Dry Reisling)

                              Sorbet: Pear Sorbet (featuring puree of pears poached in Johannesberg Reisling)

                              Main: Goose with Port Wine Sauce

                              Ricotta Gnocchi (aka Gnudi--see thread)

                              Red Cabbage braised with Bacon & Red Wine Vinegar

                              (To be served with a Bordeaux or Cab Sauvignon)

                              Salad: Roasted Beet with Arugula, Blue Cheese, Walnuts & Walnut Vinaigrette

                              Dessert: Apple Gateaux made with filling of Sweetened Sour Cream & Apples Sauteed in Butter & Nutmeg, Apple Jack-Soaked Genoise Layers & Whipped Cream Icing

                              (To be served with Coffee and Spirits)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: foodieseattlelady

                                Good heavens!! That sounds like an official White House State Dinner. Be sure to invite the Chinese ambassador.