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Help with menu for casual dinner this weekend? Sorta Southern themed

Need your help, gang…

I just realized this coming weekend is our weekend to have houseguests and a bunch of people for dinner Saturday night (we do this twice a year, in conjunction with our local sighthound field trials). The date got away from me....

Last time, I did a big seafood feast and it was fabulous, but cost nearly a fortune. That isn’t happening again this weekend. So, I was thinking maybe a good ol’ Southern dinner. Here are my thoughts:

Baked ham
Scalloped potatoes (from the Les Halles cookbook...not really Southern, but good!)
Field peas (I have two bags of purple hulls still in the freezer from last summer)
Roasted cherry tomatoes (one of the guys LOVES these)
Cornmeal yeast rolls
Maybe some deviled eggs (just because I love them?)

I need ideas for:

Before dinner snacks: folks are always munchie coming in from the field, but I don’t want anything too heavy, as we’ll be having a relatively early dinner.

A cold/crunchy side to go with dinner… I could turn the field peas into a salad… Or do them the traditional way and make something else?

Dessert… I have a TON of frozen peaches I put up and haven’t used. They aren’t the best… they were a little over-ripe when I put them up. So, nothing that requires pretty peach slices. Need something easy.

Wine to go with ham and the Southern sides?

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  1. The peas as salad sounds interesting, I've never had them so am not sure about it, but is intriguing. Peach cobbler sounds good, could do individual ones in wide mouth canning jars (smaller ones).
    As for appetizers.... something with toasted, spiced pecans? Pimento cheese?
    check out this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/284528

    3 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      I do field pea salad/salsa a lot... just have to decide if I want them cold or not.

      Why didn't I think of pimento cheese? I'll do some of that for snacks, with some little bread/toast rounds.

      Don't want to do anything fiddly for dessert... I can always do peach crisp... or maybe just make them into ice cream topping?

      1. re: onrushpam

        yep, either. The crisp is good, in a big dish, it's pretty easy and not fiddly. With ice cream. The ice cream with a peach compote would be delightful, too.
        Your dinner sounds yummy.
        On that other thread, someone mentioned pickled okra, too. Easy peasy. Just buy it.

        1. re: onrushpam

          I have been served pimento cheese in celery and thought that was a great appetizer. Tasty, but light.

      2. You menu sounds very satisfying and fun! Why not move the deviled eggs to the pre dinner snacks? Deviled eggs are SOOOO good and would be good with pimento cheese and toast rounds - maybe the pickled okra mentioned below as well.
        As for the cold crunchy thing - have you thought about homemade coleslaw? Especially made with red and green cabbage it would be pretty and, I think, in keeping with the spirit of your menu.

        1. I am loving your menu - it sounds ultra delish! I also think that the devilled eggs would be great as an appetiser. Another thing that I see a lot at dinner parties here in Austin is a spicy cheese ball. They are fantastic, albeit a bit on the heavy side.

          1. This menu, and your pantry, call out for peach cobbler or crumble; or a compote which you can roast the peaches ahead, and then macerate with rum or bourbon; vanilla ice cream (which you won't make).

            1. Your menu looks good! Can you make the rolls ahead, freeze them, and rewarm them?

              Appetizer ideas: Cheese straws, spiced pecans.

              Salad idea:

              Cucumber Salad

              1/4 cup rice vinegar
              1 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
              3 T. sugar
              1/2 t. salt
              1 t. minced shallot
              l/2 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
              1/4 cup cilantro leaves
              2 cups cucumber slices

              Mix dressing, add cukes. Serve right away.

              This salad would be a nice contrast to the richness of your meal.

              Peach cobbler would be amazing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: sandylc

                Living in the south I think peach cobbler would be great. What about sweet potato biscuits? Definitely deviled eggs for appetizers and some kind of cheese dip. Also I like the cole slaw idea and for the south yes to okra. Look to Paula Deen or Southern Living for other ideas.

                1. re: sandylc

                  I second the cucumber salad idea. So simple and delicious! I usually use tarragon vinegar but I will have to also try the rice vinegar!

                2. Definitely stick with Peach Cobbler. Here is a link to the recipe that Rick Bayless' grandmother used--it is from Saveur Magazine and is my go-to version for feeding lots of folks....it says it feeds 10, but they must be heartier eaters than my family/friends!

                  It is very forgiving as to the source of peaches-fresh, frozen, even rounded out with supermarket canned and recipe survives.

                  I often add 3-4 generous slices of chopped crystalized ginger to spike things up.


                  1. Thanks to all!!! I'll do the big shop tomorrow evening and stop at a different store Thursday for the few things I can't get at my regular market (plus, DH is going to Costco tomorrow for cheese and a few other items). Here's what I think I'll do:

                    Deviled eggs
                    Pickled okra and green beans
                    Pimento Cheese (choice of bread toasts or celery)
                    Mixed Nuts or cheese straws (couldn't find the good cheese straws I usually buy)

                    Baked ham
                    Scalloped potatoes
                    Field peas
                    Roasted cherry tomatoes
                    Either cucumber salad or broccoli slaw with a vinegar dressing
                    Cornmeal yeast rolls

                    Dessert will be a peach/cherry crisp, with vanilla ice cream (it's a recipe I've made before and it was really good...y'all jump started my brain to remember it). My peaches are really a bit dodgy (they were really ripe when I froze them). They taste okay, but look ugly. I figure mixing with the cherries will help on that front! :-)

                    Is this too much food??? If so, what would you eliminate?
                    I'll do the pimento cheese tomorrow night.
                    Field peas and roll dough (can be refrigerated for a couple of days) Thursday night.
                    Potatoes, slaw, eggs Friday afternoon/evening (company doesn't arrive until late)
                    That doesn't leave too much to do day-of...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: onrushpam

                      Unless you already have the tomatoes, then I would eliminate them, if you want to get rid of a dish.

                      1. re: onrushpam

                        It's not too much food, especially since it's a Southern theme :) A good old coleslaw would fit in nicely (and it's SO inexpensive!) & could provide good color with a mixture of red & green cabbage. And you can make it a day ahead (just mix in your dressing an hour or 2 before- vinegar & oil or mayo based). I also shred carrots for my slaw for additional color. And keep the roasted tomatoes. Tomatoes are often served one way or another for Southern meals.

                        Enjoy & make sure that pimento cheese has a good kick to it. A real good kick! Yum....

                      2. Thanks to y'all for the help! Dinner turned out great. We had really horrible weather yesterday, so I didn't even bother going to the field. I had a lazy day, making the slaw and the crisp. Everything else was already done. The stalwart field trial warriors returned mid-afternoon, sopping wet. Everybody chowed down on the snacks (though I think I'm the only one who ate any of the pickled okra and green beans). I only have a bit of the pimento cheese and one or two deviled eggs left over. We watched a movie while I baked the ham, potatoes and rolls. The rolls and potatoes were HUGE hits. I'm going to make another pan of potatoes tonight because there were none left! My peach/cherry crisp turned out very watery (I kinda winged it, not following a recipe and should've added more flour or cornstarch), so I had to serve it with a slotted spoon, but it tasted good on top of vanilla ice cream. We all had ham on rolls for breakfast this morning. I'd made those cornmeal rolls before, but forgot how good they are... pillow light, but with a bit of texture from the cornmeal. So good!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: onrushpam

                          Sounds wonderful! Thanks for the report.

                          Forgive me if I missed upthread....but could you please share the recipe for the rolls?

                          1. re: onrushpam

                            I would love it if you could post the recipe for cornmeal yeast rolls-- they sound just delicious!

                            1. re: berkleybabe

                              The roll recipe I used is from Chickens in the Road: http://chickensintheroad.com/cooking/...

                              I did them in my KA mixer... used 2 t of yeast instead of one and more salt (still needed more). I think they could also do with a bit more sugar. I used stone ground coarse cornmeal and KA bread flour. I think it only took about 3 C of flour. (When it comes to bread, I only use recipes as a starting point and go with what feels right.) I made the dough and did the first rise Friday evening, made out the rolls (I got 20 in a 9x13 pan), then refrigerated them. The second rise, yesterday, took a couple of hours. I nearly let them go too long!

                            2. re: onrushpam

                              Happy it turned out so well. If you're looking for the next use for those pickled okra and green beans they are great in bloody marys.

                              1. re: onrushpam

                                Terrific! Those cornmeal rolls sound fantastic!