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3 course dinner party for 8...

HELP!!! Hi there, I'm having a dinner party for 8 people, thinking of making chicken and bacon pasta with a creamy parmesan cheese sauce but, have no clue what to make for a starter? Was thinking of making a fruit pie for dessert but not sure if it would be too heavy after the pasta? Am not apposed to a whole new menu and any ideas would be MUCH appreciated! Thanks :-)

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  1. Your pasta dish sounds delicious and rich,nothing missing for me.I am not so sure I would want or serve a started per se.My leanings would be a salad for contrast.

    Romaine,radichio salad,maybe with walnuts and citrus for colour and crunch.Dress? oil and vinegar,maybe a combo of vinegar or citrus acid and zest.

    6 Replies
    1. re: lcool

      Thanks :-) Hmm that does sound yummy, may even give it a try tonight and see what my other half thinks. Thanks :-) Any dessert ideas?

      1. re: lcool

        Walnut oil is nice with citrus.

        1. re: melpy

          would u cut it in slices to serve or halve it and drizzle the walnut oil over?

          1. re: melpy

            sorry for sounding dense but, when u say citrus do u mean one on it's own or a mixture of citrus? thanks

            1. re: gsxrlinds1000

              I meant when choosing an oil to pair well with citrus in a salad that walnut is a nice choice.

              There are two thoughts with this:
              A. A green salad that includes citrus section
              B. sliced orange rounds without peels with red onion, oil, some heat (touch of smoked paprika or cayenne, maybe some walnuts

              Look up recipes for Spanish orange or Spanish citrus salad.

              1. re: melpy

                I like option B, will give that a try, thanks hun.

        2. Is this a baked pasta dish? If so, I agree with lcool on a salad. Keep it light, maybe add some apple or pear and a few pecans. If its not a baked pasta (so will take last minute cooking of the pasta, etc) I would suggest something people can stand and eat (little bits of salad on an endive leaf) and keep you company in the kitchen.

          1 Reply
          1. re: firecooked

            Hi firecooked. No, it's not a baked pasta dish so, you suggest a salad as well? Looks like salad it is then :-) Thanks! Any ideas for dessert maybe pls?

          2. Unless you are a VERY excellent cook I'd advise you to stay well away from attempting to serve eight people any form of hot pasta as a main. Tricky to get the timing/texture perfect. You may end up with plates of gooey sticky cold pasta and a cooling congealing sauce. Even good restaurants have those problems. I'd suggest you make something that you can prepare in advance....like a extra fancy meat loaf or lasagna or screaming hot roast half split lemon chickens with baked potatoes and roasted whole garlic and some local steamed veg tossed in butter andchopped parsley. Often just taking what seems to be an ordinary Wed night dinner can but elevated by the use of some more expensive ingredients. For instance try making a basic meat loaf but instead of using cheap ground round go to the butcher and get him to grind up a few rib eyes. Or you can very finely chop them up at home. Make your own tomato sauce or buy some really excellent sauce.....that sort of thing. Whatever ingredients you us just make sure they are extra special. I've done this sort of thing for 'fancy' dinner parties and it's always be a hit. You may be surprised at how much your guests appreciate tucking into a big plate of really excellent creamy mashed garlic potatoes and a really great meat loaf and some perfectly prepared veg.
            As for an ap. I'd go for a platter of assorted thinly sliced small sausages, a bowl of assorted olives, lots of fresh thinly sliced grilled baguette erubbed with a clove of fresh garlic, individual little bowls of excellent olive oil with a tablespoon of excellent balsamic vinegar in each for dipping. 'Finger food'. For desert a slice of excellent fancy cake you've bought from the best bakery you know of. Make sure to serve this delicious cake with a self deprecating voice. "Sorry about the desert but I just been run off my feet . I hope you'll forgive me having to buy the cake" You'll get a unanimous "that's OK we understand" while their eyes are telling their brains "WOW this cake looks great. Now if the host will stop talking I can dig in". LOL They'll be taking about 'your meatloaf' for years and all it took was replacing mundane ingredients with only the best. The smallest things can really make a difference. Freshly chopped red peppers instead of dried pepper flakes.......that sort of thing.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Puffin3

              Haha far from it! Well, my original idea was to do a roast but that was before I heard we have to do 3 courses(4 friends taking it in turns to do our own little version of Come dine with me) as thought it may be a bit much doing a traditional roast with all the trimmings plus 2 other courses? I've never done a meatloaf before but I know my friends other halves would enjoy it so may give that a trial run and see if I can do it otherwise will try your roast suggestion. I'm not bad at lasagne so could always keep that as a back up. Forgot the mention the "rules" of our dinner party...no store bought ANYTHING, all has to be from scratch so unless I can find a store bought dessert that will pass as my own (not likely lol) then it's going to have to be something quick and easy I'd say? Thank u so much for your ideas, look forward to trying them out. 

              1. re: gsxrlinds1000

                Here's a as I would do it,salad and dressing quick view
                Romaine 75%
                Radichio 25%
                2 or 3 grapefruit or blood orange supremes per serving
                Preface,I am a vinegar collector,JUNKY may have more than 20 on hand,oil almost as bad
                Vinegar balsamic,palm sugar,brown rice,mango or tarragon champagne
                Oil ?? melpy's suggestion of walnut oil would be lovely here as would peach or apricot kernal,almond and hazelnut

                DESSERT ??? Trifle can be finished early as one large or eight individual.It can offer so many flavour nuances,fruits,sponge or stale pound cake,booze or liqueur,whip cream or creme anglaise .....lots of room to play with convention and presentation

                1. re: lcool

                  since the main has a cream sauce, i'd stay away from a whipped cream dessert. unless you have a defibrillator on hand. :)

                  agree with the above poster that an a la minute pasta entree is a p.i.t.a. for groups. keep the basic idea, if you like, with chicken and bacon and turn it into a baked dish. this will need to rest after baking, freeing you up for other tasks.

                  if guests will be milling about before dinner, have some bowls of olives and gougeres out for them.

                  a sharp salad, with arugula, radicchio, endive, etc. with some spiced walnuts, pomegranate seeds and slivered pears to start. you can also do this as a composed plate, and fill the endive leaves with the salad, plate and refrigerate. drizzle with dressing right before serving.

                  for dessert a mix of cookies, nuts and fruits, for color and textural contrast after a very soft, creamy, HEAVY dinner. the cookies can be made ahead and frozen to spare you time.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Thanks for your comments, not done the pasta dish as a bake before so will give it a go, anything to make the evening a bit less stressfull lol :-) I've just got some nice new cookie recipes so like that idea, thanks.

                    1. re: gsxrlinds1000

                      baked pastas generally do better with shorter, stubbier pasta, vs. long strands. not trying to be pedantic. :) these shorter pastas are also neater to eat making for less messy dining.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        Fab so Penne pasta's prob a safe option then? Thanks a mil! :-D

                        1. re: gsxrlinds1000

                          i'd use something like orecchiette or campanelle for your sauce -- something to really "cup" the bits of bacon and cream.

                  2. re: lcool

                    Fab, thanks hun, got the Ingredients on order for tomo already, going to try the whole meal tomo eve using my mom and sister as guinea pigs *fingers crossed* :-)

                2. re: Puffin3

                  I would stick with your original pasta dish (baked or unbaked, you'll be fine) -- much less stressful than trying to ensure meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and veggies are done perfectly at the same time. Even if each dish is straightforward, bringing it all together at once always turns me into a harried host.

                3. http://foodiewife-kitchen.blogspot.ca...
                  I've made this one and made a point of using all the ingredients listed but when I could I've made a point of using the VERY best of each ingredient I could find. This approach elevates any simple dish to heights heretofore untasted. LOL

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Puffin3

                    My mouth is literally watering...thanks! Hope I can make it as nice as the pics tho lol

                  2. When doing a special dinner party--this sounds like an interesting one--I often stick with one cuisine. For me, that's usually Italian. So if you did your pasta as the main, I would do a first course antipasto "salad" with some roasted peppers, olives, arugula and lemon vinaigrette. Then for dessert, I would consider a lemon panna cotta, which is lighter than many creamy deserts and must be made ahead. If you were up for it, you could make some biscotti ahead to serve as "crunch" for the dessert.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: escondido123

                      Thanks! :-)

                    2. I love pasta - if you use a rugged type like penne you should be okay.

                      Here is a dessert idea- http://www.food.com/recipe/chocolate-...

                      The cake without the ganache. The first time I made it was Christmas day and my heavy cream had turned to butter so we had the cake with some powdered sugar dusted on top and some ice cream. So I had to make it again with the ganache and I thought it was better plain. It would be good with marscapone and raspberries. It is a very nice recipe for the occasional baker like me.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Berheenia

                        Sounds yummy thanks! Got some friends coming over for tea on Friday so will give it a trial run for then :-)

                      2. I don't see why people are freaking about the pasta. Just serve it family style.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: letsindulge

                          not everybody likes serving or eating that way with a large group. i for one do not.

                          1. re: letsindulge

                            Yeah 'family style' pasta with a large group could turn out a bit weird. 'Double dipping'? Someone who slops the pasta all over the table? Someone's brat who decides they want the entire platter?Especially if the guests are not 'family'. I served a huge bowl of hot 'frites' family style to some people I'd never met. A family of two adults and their three children all dug into the frites at one end of the table. Within a minute they had served the entire bowl full to themselves leaving ZERO frites for everyone else. Needless to say the family appeared oblivious and the rest of the guests just blinked and looked the other way. NEVER AGAIN any 'family style' for me.

                            1. re: Puffin3

                              Wow. Only time I had an issue like that was when the college boys ate thirds of the chili on the stove ( it was a sit around the dorm livin room to eat situation) and finished the pot before all the guests arrived. Since graduating to dinner parties they are well behaved and conscious of how much they take.

                              1. re: Puffin3

                                Chicken & bacon pasta for a party of 8 sounds manageable, and pretty casual to me. Not something I would bother to plate individually.

                                1. re: Puffin3

                                  (Puffin3) Oh dear, that sounds awful lol! Thankfully it will be a kiddie free dinner party so the adults can relax :-) So hopefully will be ok.

                                  Letsindulge - If I do go with the family style pasta dish, you reckon I should let everyone serve themselves rather than serve for them?

                                  1. re: gsxrlinds1000

                                    The only reason I say yes is that people want to take certain amounts of certain things. These are adults who should know what they like and dislike or if they are watching their weight etc.

                                    My parents do a three course Christmas dinner for 30 people. The first course is pasta and for that many they plate it . For anything up to ten I would pass the food around the table as much as possible.

                              2. Thank you all sooo very much for your responses and fab ideas, I truly appreciate it! Was kind of dreading this to start off with but I’m quite excited to get started now…going to be one busy week trying out all the lovely recipes  My other half is certainly looking forward to being tester lol

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: gsxrlinds1000

                                  Let us know how it goes! Good luck......

                                  1. re: perk

                                    Dinner party is next Sat 10th (eek!) Will do, thanks

                                2. Dessert: I just made panna cotta for the first time two weeks ago and it was so simple and so delicious I made it again 3 days later. DEFINITELY something SUPER easy and that can be made in advance and tastes divine. I have some parfait glasses so I let the panna cotta set-up in those, but you could use any sort of ramekin or small servers you have.

                                  Martha's recipes (below) make what I consider very skimpy portions for 6 people, so I would definitely double the recipe if you choose to make it to ensure you have enough for 8 people. For the fruit topping, I soaked small mango chunks in DiSaranno.

                                  http://www.marthastewart.com/337686/b...
                                  http://www.marthastewart.com/319286/b...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Tehama

                                    am sorry, but i can't fathom a cream-based dessert after a creamy pasta entree. unless she has an in-house cardiologist, with scalpel in-hand. :)

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      I understand what you're saying, but that particular panna cotta recipe is actually quite light... way more buttermilk than heavy whipping cream and the fruit definitely lightens it up. For example, a definitely think a custard or a crème brûlée would be much too rich to have afterwards.

                                    2. re: Tehama

                                      Thanks that does sound yummy and looks easy enough to make.

                                    3. I agree with the salad idea to start, absolutely. Bitter greens and sharpness will offset your (very) heavy main. I'd keep dessert very plain. Some strong coffee and cookies, or a scoop of a good gelato (lemon?) with a pretty cookie on top?

                                      1. I think Pavlova would be a nice dessert after your delicious but very filling main. I would fill the merengue with lemon curd and place sliced strawberries and kiwi on top. Serve this with strong black coffee and maybe a small cognac just to gild the lily :)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: herby

                                          We're big coffee drinkers in our house so got some really good strong coffee and the good old coffee machine that does like all the different coffee's for you so that's defo an idea. Maybe a dessert made as well in case that's not enough?

                                        2. One of our go to desserts for groups that size is sliced strawberries tossed in a little orange liqueur, with or without a fake Romanoff sauce of yoghurt and brown sugar with a tad more orange liqueur. A contrarian view on the salad is to have light hors 'oeuvres or broth before and have the salad after the pasta. That way you serve the pasta when you, the cook, pronounces it ready. Salads are less finicky and can "hold" better. I had pretty much that meal the other night only the salad was Bibb in a white wine vinaigrette (very light) with blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: tim irvine

                                            Thanks, think a salad as a starter is a definite now, with everyone suggesting it. Just to play around with the different ideas and see which one will suite best :-)

                                          2. Hi all.

                                            I'm pleased to say the dinner party was a success!! :-D

                                            I went with Antipasto type salad starter with grilled mixed peppers, flat leaf parsley, chopped sliced black olives, assorted olives, split cherry tomatoes, only small amount of cubed Alouette Cheese with thinly sliced grilled baguette and balsamic vinegar and olive oil dip.

                                            Family style chicken and bacon penne pasta in creamy parmesan cheese sauce - I made the sauce thicker so it wasn't so sloppy and let everyone serve for themselves which worked out perfectly.

                                            I did do the Martha Stewarts Panna cotta dessert but didn't double the recipe in the end, served in a martini type glass with sliced strawberries to decorate.

                                            I also made some cookies to go with the coffee for after in case that wasn't enough for the guys lol but everyone was sufficiently full :-)

                                            Thank you all so very much and although I didn't use all your fab ideas this time round I now have some lovely ideas for next time :-)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: gsxrlinds1000

                                              Happy here about your success and fun!!

                                              1. re: gsxrlinds1000

                                                Yummm! Sounds like a delish meal and I am sure everyone was delighted with your hospitality!