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HELP! - Dinner Party Nightmare [moved from Ontario]

I'm hosting a dinner party for 8 people, there are MANY food restictions amonsgt the group, I am so sick and tired of serving chicken at dinner parties (cause it's the safe choice), and I'm so sick of eating it at everyone else's dinner parties, I wanted to do something different, but here's the problem: someone in the group doesn't eat seafood, someone else doesn't eat spicey foods, someone else doesn't eat pork, someone else doesn't eat veal, and 3 people don't eat lamb....WHAT THE HECK am I going to cook, any ideas except for chicken and turkey???

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  1. Braised short ribs, mashed sweet potatoes, baby veg

    1 Reply
    1. re: Main334

      I think this sounds like a great idea!

    2. Go to Bologna Pastifico on Dufferin get Mama Mias home made lasagna theres a veggy variety its very good serve with yummie salad Miranda

      1. Wow 'em with a vegetarian meal.

        1. If you must have meat, it appears beef is your other safe bet. OTOH, why not just go meatless as pine time suggests? Make a fabulous risotto, lasagna with homemade noodles, etc. Or have fun and have people design their own pizzas. Lots of options.

          1. I would go vegetarian. I make a cold rice salad with peppers, and lemon, oil, and ginger. You could make a vegetarian mac and cheese using a tomato cream base with olives, hoping that lactose is not a restriction. Or some Asian vegetarian meals...and at the end have a big fruit tray.
            I understand it is not easy to please people just do your best..
            I recently made chicken marengo from Cooks Illustrated magazine, it was a great recipe and feed many. I know you are tired of chicken but this recipe is quite pretty for a dinner party and served with a nice rice dish as an option.

            1. Maybe heading ethnic would be your best bet, and I'm thinking Greek or otherwise Mediterranean: Grilled vegetable kebabs (marinated in good olive oil, lemon and garlic, touch of oregano) or a ratatouille, either served with spanakopeta or tyropeta. Roast chicken (though I know you're tired of it personally, if you need meat chicken's your best bet here) would do well with this. Start with a nice table of mezze, and you are set!!

              1. I'd make whatever the hell you want, and those special people can bring their own food. But that's just me, beggars can't be choosers.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                  I don't know what is WRONG with people. I would never have the nerve to tell my host what I don't eat, unless it's an honest-to-God, serious allergy.

                  Here's an example: I invited a new friend to dinner at the last minute, she accepted. Later on, I mentioned "i'm cooking venison, i hope you're OK with that." And THAT'S when she said "oh, it doesn't matter, I'm a vegetarian anyway." My point? She wasn't going tell me she was veg. I gather that she knew there would be SOMETHING to eat that wasn't meat, and she was coming for the company anyway. Oh...and she has manners. It's funny how little things sometimes make you think highly of people.

                  Anyhow, given the OP's situation, I would do vegetarian. Pizzas, a vegetable pasta dish (you could have sauted shrimp available for those who want to add it), a big pot of minestrone w/ grilled cheese sandwiches, simple comfort food for people with delicate palates .

                  1. re: danna

                    I would prefer that people either tell me well before (I have family members who won't eat any meats that have what they consider a "gamey" taste and I take that into consideration when I'm cooking for them) or well after, but not as I'm about to put food on the table. That happened once with a last minute addition to Thanksgiving--friend of a friend who I didn't know well--and as the beautifully roasted turkey was carved she piped out with the fact she was a vegetarian and wondered which dishes were meat free.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      Had a friend show up with a extra person for rare rack of lamb dinner preceded by homemade lobster bisque garnished with fresh head-on spot prawns complete with roe. The extra announced she was a recovering anorexic vegan! Unfortunately, we didn't have anything to feed her -- i think we shorted everyone else's veggies to give her something on a plate -- friend learned a lesson.

                      1. re: Stephanie Wong

                        Old friend invited in-laws to be for dinner. Her parents were Jewish but not Kosher at all, so they served lobster to make that point clear. Invited In-laws were Jehovah's Witnesses--who don't eat lobster.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          Didn't know the JW's had dietary restrictions. Are they vegetarian?

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            No, they aren't. They follow Jewish dietary laws, no pork, shellfish etc,; wine is allowed in moderation.

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    Duck came to mind for me, too. So did rabbit.

                    1. re: debbiel

                      And for members of my family, those are two more meats they will not eat...and I think that is true for many picky eaters.

                      1. re: escondido123

                        Of course that's a possibility. But since we didn't know why the guests wouldn't eat some specific items, it seems reasonable to throw out several ideas. Seafood: allergies? Pork: religion? Spicy foods: gastrointestinal issues? Lamb/veal: queasiness of eating baby animals?

                        And that leaves duck and rabbit as possibilities. Interesting that you know folks who won't eat duck. I know folks who don't eat it often, but they don't raise an eyebrow at talk of duck dishes. I can't recall hearing someone say they wouldn't eat it.

                        1. re: debbiel

                          I just went to a site called "Sodahead" where they ask opinions on various topics. For the question Would you eat rabbit? 40% said NO. As to duck, I know many people who have never eaten it because it just wasn't served in their homes. I'm sure that varies depending on age, ethnicity and where you live in the US. Duck has also become much more common in the last twenty years, especially among foodies and people with a higher income unless you're talking duck hunters. But if it was a really common food, I would think it would be available, fresh,nationwide in local grocery stores. I can get duck at the grocery, but it is always frozen. If I want fresh, I have to special order it.

                          1. re: escondido123

                            And still, it seems not unreasonable to have listed these two items in response to the OP.

                            Really, I wasn't demanding she serve these. I offered them up as possibilities, assuming she knew her guests better than us and would make her decision based on that knowledge.

                            1. re: debbiel

                              I didn't say they were unreasonable, I just made an observation based upon the fact that I've grown up around people who are picky about meat. If you asked my picky sister (her name is Debbie) what meat she didn't eat, she wouldn't even think to mention rabbit, venison or an assortment of wild game.

                      2. re: debbiel

                        Some people have issues with eating cute animals like ducks and rabbits.

                        Even though I love to eat duck, I'd only serve duck or rabbit if I knew my guests liked eating duck and rabbit.

                    2. My head is swimming with the possibilities!

                      CREPES - The stuffed, savory kind. All sorts of fillings are possible with these, from spinach, chicken, cheese souffle, asparagus, whatever. They can be served "family style," all packed in side by side in a glass baking dish like French enchiladas, or served individually. Lots of fun types of savory fillings for crepes.

                      PASTAS - Want to make everyone fat? REAL fetuccinni Alfredo; the kind where you mix grated parmesan and butter, then let tons of it melt over the cooked pasta. That'll fatten up before they can push away from the table! Bolognese sauced pasta. Hot naked spaghetti (cooked spaghetti sauteed with olive oil, garlic, paremesan, salt & pepper, and delicious!) Gaxillions of things you could do with pasta.

                      AM-MEX Not the credit card, American-Mexican, as in "border food." Dozens of kinds of enchiladas. No, don't make tamales or you'll be cooking for two weeks. Too much work, and store bought are never as good as home made. If you're not determined for a formal meal, a build-it-yourself taco party can be lots of fun; just put out crispy taco shells and soft warm corn tortillas, then bowls of shredded beef, shredded chicken, several kinds of grated cheese from cheddar to cotija, salsas, diced tomatoes, chiffonade of lettuce, uacamole, sour cream, and maybe a platter of refried beans. These aare the easier AmMex dishes, but f you want to spend a couple of days in the kitchen, let me know and I'll tell you how! '-)

                      GREEK Moussakka! Cant go wrong there! You can go beef or vegetarian with it. Then there is avgo-lemono, in which you boil chicken/chickens whole with (also whole) carrots and onions to make your broth, then take out the whole chickens, brush them with olive oil and roast just until the skin is crispy, take the carrots and onions out of the broth, then add a cup or so of unrinsed rice (you want the starch) for each quart of water (you want a gruel) and simmer until the rice is done, then remove from the heat, whip two eggs and the juice of 2 lemons per quart of stock, temper it wtih some of the hot broth, then stir into the soup to make a thick rich "avgolemono" soup that you serve as the first course, then bring out the crispie roast chicken with the carrots surrounding it, and Opa! A very traditional Greek meal.

                      RUSSIAN Beef Stroganoff, what else? Only five ingredients though! Onions, mushrooms, beef, butter, and sour cream. Well, noodles to serve it over. If the budget will tolerate it, blinis and caviar with ice cold vodka for a first course... Maybe Baked Alaska for dessert, And of course, you could serve your own version of a flaming "Molotov Cocktail" in martini glass, vodka, not gin!

                      STUFFED VEGGIES Tons of possibilities here! Turks and Greeks hollow out veggies like "Chinese" eggplant and zucchini, stuff them with a pilaf that includes onions, pine nuts, and currants and even ground meat (beef or lamb) and steam them, then serve with a tomato sauce. Or cook them in the sauce. Then there are stuffed artichokes. I love buying HUGE artichokes, then holding them by the stem end and smashing their "noses" against the countertop until they begin to "bloom," then hollowing out the inside, scraping out the choke, and stuffing them with delicious things like a savor ricey pudding with veggies in it, or stuffing them with a light meatloaf, or instead maybe a savory souffle of some sort. And a side of drawn butter to dip the leaves in as you peel them with your teeth. Hey, nobody can be stiff and formal eating stuffed artichokes! Then there is a wonderful variation on Japanese chawanmushi, in which small individual pumpkins or acorn squash have the caps removed, the insides scraped bare, then a few choice tidbits are put in the cavity before it is filled with a seasoned custard and baked. Really nice, and a very unique main dish.!

                      RICE Tons of things to do with rice. One of my faves is rissotto. I especially love mushroom risotto with sous vide OR poached eggs on top. Then there is also Spanish rice, or fried rice...

                      Well, I'd better stop now, but the point is; don't let feelings of exasperation over the many picky eaters you have on your guest list get you down! And remember, you can always turn it into a wiener roast and have both meat and vegetarian wieners for them to roast over the bon fire! Have a fun party...!!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Caroline1

                        re the stuffed artichokes - do you cook the artichokes first before stuffing them? I would think so.

                        1. re: Sharuf

                          No! I like to use the biggest artichokes I can find and they provide the most room. I cut the stem end so that they will sit flat and I make sure that I've removed the choke before I do hat because the stem helps you get a good grip when you're wrestling with the raw choke! Then, when they have flat bottoms, I stuff them with whatever and put them on the rack in a steamer and steam them until the artichokes and the filling are done, which is a given. One really large per serving, or if they're smaller, then two.

                          Must be nice to live so close to Artichoke Land...! '-)

                        2. re: Caroline1

                          I'm not the OP, but I'd love to know how to spend a couple days in the kitchen making great AM-MEX food!

                        3. Are you doing this plated or buffet? I'd go with buffet style and offer whatever meat you want and then a vegetarian option like pasta for those people who don't want the meat.

                          1. Halloumi!! Halloumi halloumi halloumi. It's an uncommon ingredient in some places - basically a really firm, juicy and meaty type of feta cheese which you can grill, fry and so on, if you're not familiar with it. You can griddle kebabs made with cubes of halloumi and veg, grill it to make it smoky and crisp, or cut it into thick planks and wrap it in basil leaves and then griddle it. It's so flavoursome and toothsome it's like a steak, and people will think you're exciting. :)

                            1. Oh hell, if everyone's that picky, I say start a new tradition of potluck dinners. :)

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Midknight

                                I also would never tell a hostess of my likes and dislikes unless it was a food allergy. We were vegetarians for 8 years and we just made do.

                                  1. re: doberlady

                                    I would be really annoyed if someone didn't tell me they were vegetarian and I had planned a meat-based meal. I think the polite thing to do is tell your host in advance about any dietary restrictions. (Foods you do not eat as a matter of principle or necessity, not foods you just don't like.) It puts the host in an awkward situation if you show up and there's nothing you're willing to eat.

                                    1. re: Pia

                                      Agreed - I would definitely want to know if someone was vegetarian or vegan or absolutely would not eat something - I would feel horrible if I had invited someone and then had nothing that they could eat.

                                      I have an extensive pantry though, and I would probably come up with something for them on the fly, even if they reassured me that I didn't need to.

                                      I blame being from the Midwest. We bring food to everything, and there must always be more than enough for everyone.

                                      1. re: jw615

                                        I was vegetarian for over 20 years, and of course close friends and relatives knew, but I really tried to convince them not to cook specially for me. I often didn't tell someone I wasn't that close to, since I could just skip the meat dish and eat very well from all the other choices. Didn't want to be that picky, difficult dinner guest.

                                        1. re: pine time

                                          See, it's funny that you say that, because I would feel the same way if I was vegetarian, I would probably just try to get by with side dishes. With my allergies, I often just bring my own food to family functions on my husband's side. Some of them want to cook for me, but most of them don't have any experience with preparing allergy safe food and avoiding contamination and such.

                                          As a guest, I want to be as little trouble as possible. But as a host, I want to make sure that everyone has everything that they could possibly need. Probably can't have it both ways, can I?

                                1. If it were me, I'd read between the lines and just keep away from strong and/or unfamiliar flavors. I love the lasagne (maybe one meat and one veggie), short rib or taco bar ideas, as these are both familiar foods. You could also do a few soups/stews/chilis and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Of course, I'm a little jaded ...

                                  1. WOuld certainly want to know if a guest had a SERIOUS food allergy ahead of time. Luckily, I don't but would hate to make someone SICK cuz of some ingredient that I take for granted. Could easily go meatless, but would probably just make sure there were options for those "picky" (JOKING) eaters. Definitely would steer clear of anything remotely "exotic" (even loosely). I like shrimp & crab, but a lot of people don't. Would have a tough time if I arrived as a dinner guest to find that the main course was gonna be oysters or liver... 2 of a VERY few foods I just don't like. If these WERE on menu, would probably at least give them a try... maybe host has found a recipe where I LIKE them??

                                    1. When I invite people over for dinner, I always ask "Is there anything you don't like?" If they have dietary restrictions or foods they don't like that's the time to say it--and the lists have always been pretty short. Or I might say, "I was thinking of lamb or beet. Which would you prefer?" If someone asks me what I don't like I generally say "really don't like organ meats." If for some reason I don't have a chance to ask, I stick with the basics and stay away from the meats other family members call gamey--lamb, duck, oxtail, game. Once I get to know someone better, then we can begin to figure out what we each really like/don't like to eat.

                                        1. Pot roast with root vegetables. Roast some extra veggies on the side.