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Nov 22, 2011 10:53 PM

Dinner Party - help please!

I'm hosting a dinner party for the girls this weekend and I need some help! We are all in our 20s, there are 6 of us, and one is lactose intolerant.

It's not very formal since we are all close. I have only hosted a few dinner parties before and I'm bad about always trying to do too much. (Overachiever)

Trying to do something more simple ths time.

So far I've thought of doing:
- Spinach and artichoke dip
- Roasted butternut squash soup and curry condiments (from Ina Garten)
- Puttanesca with shrimp (from Jamie Oliver)

Originally I wanted to do Jamie's honeycomb cannelloni as that is quite an impressive dish to serve to guests and I have done it before. However, one guest is lactose intolerant and though she insists she can eat cheese and is fine with a little dairy, I thought it would be best not to make her uncomfortable?

Suggestions? I worry the puttanesca is too homely (it is a prostitue's pasta after all! But good for a laugh). Not doing dessert as the girls are helping to bring that.

Thank you!

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  1. Knock their socks off. FINGER FOOD! It's girls, night so let those fingers to the talking! Do tempura-fried pinapple pieces wrapped in Prosciutto! Simple, fast and has a huge impact. I do this for parties and they are a massive hit.

    Get a fresh pinapple (should be fairly yellow or slightly orange) and 1/4 pound of good prosciutto. Cut pinapple into bite sized chunks, wrap with a slice of prosciutto and secure with a toothpick. These can be done hours beforehand or even the day before. A bit before your guests arrive, mix up some tempura batter (use ice cold water or better yet ice cold seltzer water). I don't personally use Alton's recipe but you can't go wrong with it:

    Just give the pieces a quick deep fry - only 4-5 pieces at a time in canola oil at 375 degrees - so that your temperature stays near constant. I use my dutch oven as it's heavy cast iron really holds the temperature .... but any small pot can work. Hopefully you have an appropriate thermometer to monitor the oil - I use a candy/fry thermometer.

    As for the puttanesca, you might consider using spaghetti squash instead of pasta. It's a great base for nearly any sauce and is utterly guilt-free while being super easy to do. Also, for salt - just stick w/ kosher salt or sea salt. Toss out the iodized stuff. And ... fresh ground pepper! And fresh lemon for the shrmp. The little touches are what makes a world of difference.

    Enjoy and have a great party!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jkling17

      I think in keeping with the simplicity angle, your menu sounds perfect. I love the spaghetti squash suggestion, especially at this time of year. If you go with it, remember they're impossible to cut into raw, or damn near, so you could simply bake the whole squash and spaghetti pull the contents once it's cooked. It's not as quick as pasta, but requires little extra effort if you're not needing your oven for other things. Sounds like s fun party!

      1. re: csparker

        csparker is correct - it can be tough to cut a spaghetti squash when it's raw. If you don't have a sharp chinese cleaver and a hammer, I'd forget about skinning it, etc as I do it. You can use your microwave OR oven for the spaghetti squash - whatever you like.

    2. Your menu sounds very tasty, but I would miss some crunch - all of your courses are pretty soft foods. I think a green salad would be a better choice than the soup. Puttanesca is delicious and a fine choice for a casual dinner party - I would serve it at any dinner party, actually, if I wasn't vegetarian!

      1 Reply
      1. re: jennymoon

        That's a good point. Chopped almonds or walnuts or pinenuts would be a fine addition to the soup and/or puttanesca. Some people have nut alergies so just be aware of your crowd.