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My brain is dead - menu help needed

Dinner Saturday night - all good friends. There will be 7 of us. Not formal.

I seem to be fixated on some kind of seared scallop first course. Maybe served on an aruguala salad of some kind. And the only other thing I have decided besides that is maybe a creme brulee (possibly chocolate) for dessert. I am completely stuck on the main. I was thinking either a really nice pasta dish (I can get beautiful fresh pasta) or something meaty. If this was your dinner what would you do? Isn't this stupid? I'm totally not able to think of a single thing to cook.

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  1. Any dietary restrictions? Preferences (red meat vs. poultry vs. seafood)? Budget considerations?

    5 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      No restrictions. I've gotten rid of all those friends.

      1. re: Nyleve

        In that case, I would do something that fits the weather - here in the chilly NE, a rich ragu over fresh pasta sounds perfect. Duck? Short ribs?

        1. re: Nyleve

          Oh man, I have to follow your lead - this whole vegetarian, gluten free, kosher mambo I've been pulling is exhausting!

          1. re: emeats

            From the late Laurie Colwin: "An easy solution to this problem is to change friends immediately and find some red-blooded chowhounds with few scruples and no interest in health."

          2. re: Nyleve

            Friends don't let friends forgo flesh?

        2. Cover both bases...a nice ragu of pork or beef with some fancy veg in it served over papperdelle...

          2 Replies
          1. re: tonifi

            Oh this could be good. You don't think that would be overkill? I could definitely do a nicely cooked-to-death ragu. It would be great to have a main that was mostly done ahead. Some sauteed rapini on the side...

            1. re: tonifi

              I was going to suggest a really meaty ragu as well... my favorite uses short ribs though!

            2. What I would do is walk around my local grocery until I felt an ingredient was speaking to me, telling me that I had to use it.

              5 Replies
              1. re: FoodPopulist

                So I'm not the only one who does this?

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Walking around the grocery store for an hour is better than walking on a treadmill for an hour.

                  1. re: FoodPopulist

                    Except that on a treadmill I can read.... I like reading as much as I like eating, so it's a toss-up ;)

                  2. Thai Coconut-curry roasted white fish w/ crispy shoestring potato topping ! Make it last weekend-Wow!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: hetook

                      Could you post your recipe, please?

                      1. re: almond tree

                        I went in with no recipe, but will guide you thru it. 1) Mariade fish in Red or Green Thai curry sauce w/coconut milk .(good recipes found on the net) 2) Roast Cup of sliced mushrooms and1/2 C of halfed grape tomatoes w/ splash of oil , s&p on 400* for 15 mins 3)Roast shoestring spuds with s&p and touch of oil for 5-6 mins ( 2 potatos) and then remove. 4)Remove mushrooms and tomatoes from oven, add remainder of curry sauce to pan,lay fish fillet on top( of mush/tom curry mixture). 5) Place shoestring potatos on top of fish and roast at 400* for 30 mins. Check after 20 mins of cooking time to test doneness of fish. 6) Let rest a few min and serve on a fluffy bed of Jasmine rice. It was easy,and i have only cooked fish once before this.

                    2. i've made an appetizer of a seared scallop on a pea puree - frozen baby peas, heat in a little chicken stock, let cool a bit, add a little minced mint maybe, puree, heat again, add a little butter, more chicken stock if it needs to be thinner, but you want the scallop to sit in it. it's a very nice looking appetizer, and the sweetness of the peas really complements the scallop.

                      and from fellow CH-er, nomadchowwoman on the WFD thread, comes this recipe, paraphrased from somewhere else:

                      "chunks of lamb shoulder go into the tagine (no browning, though I think I would
                      brown if using a regular pot [I USED A REGULAR SKILLET AND I DID BROWN FIRST]) with olive oil, chopped onion, minced garlic, s&p, ground ginger, turmeric; all are tossed to coat. A cup each of drained, canned tomatoes and water are added, and the whole is brought to a boil slowly.
                      Heat is reduced, pot covered, and the stew simmers for 2 - 2 ½ hours. Then a
                      mix of minced parsley and cilantro and a cup of raisins (previously drained
                      after a hot soak) are added, and the stew cooks, uncovered another 30 minutes
                      until sauce is reduced and meat tender. The uncovered pot then goes into a 325
                      oven (before the preheating if using a clay tagine) and bakes until the meat
                      is glazed (not sure this step is really necessary; not sure my meat ever got "glazed" - [I DID THIS STEP, THE MEAT DID GLAZE]). Just before serving scattered over dish fried (pre-blanched--PITA, that step) almonds [I BOUGHT PRE-BLANCHED ALMONDS, SO, NOT A PITA AT ALL], black pepper and minced parsley or cilantro for color."

                      the edits in caps and brackets are mine. we LOVED THIS DISH. very warm and homey, i served it over pearl couscous, but it would go well over pappardelle, mashed potatoes, rice, etc. i served it with a salad of romaine, sliced yellow peppers, tomatoes, scallions, carrots, with a raspberry vinaigrette and a sprinkle of aleppo pepper for a little spice/heat.