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Apr 24, 2013 06:22 PM

Ok I need some help/inspiration! very excited!

I have recently become reacquainted with some old friends from high school. We have not seen each other in close to 30 years. We are all going to be in the same area and I have invited them for dinner. It will be in June so dining al fresco is an option. As is grilling, and other outside options.

There will be 6 of us. Arrival time will be close around 5 so cocktails and and apps a must.

No one has far to travel (3 will be staying with me) so wine with dinner is good too.

WHAT IS THE MENU? I want impressive without being showy. Yummy but easy to eat so we can keep talking… but enough attention in case the conversation lags..

couple of things if it helps: no food allergies or diet restrictions

South of boston so a little early for great local produce (ie corn and tomatoes) but lobster and seafood are easy. Also means weather could go either way…

I can cook pretty much anything but am not an accomplished baker. However key is conversation so make ahead, or guest involvement in the kitchen would be great. Don't want to be sweating a ton of last minute details.

Money is not a huge issue but needless to say this not a $500 bottle of wine, caviar, champagne kind of night. Lobsters for 6 could I can manage.

So what your dream menu (within reason) for catching up with old friends??

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  1. I love planning parties - so much fun; anticipation is the best part :)

    I would definitely do lobster - either tails on BBQ for a more formal presentation or a messy affair with the whole boiled in seawater, bibs on .... Start with a crisp, tangy salad and finish with Pavlova. For appies, there is a wonderful fava dip in Goin's book and everyone loves Ina's grilled shrimp with mango salsa.

    1. In my opinion, Lobsters require too much concentration to eat for a reunion. Also, if you want make ahead, you need to think braised. How about a Middle Eastern menu, with a main course tagine? Lamb shanks (or chicken), preserved lemons (you could get a good head start on making your own), olives, dates, carrots, golden raisins. Some Chinese broccoli on the side would be a good match.

      You could start out with an baba ganoush, beef kebabs (easy to make) braised in a tomato based sauce (there are Turkish recipes for eggplant that I think are seasoned mostly with coriander), finished with yogurt.

      While it requires last minute frying, many years ago, I did an app of shrimp bisteeya spring rolls (filling of chopped shrimp, almonds, a bit of sugar, garlic, cinnamon, bound with egg whites).

      2 Replies
      1. re: sbp

        I agree. I probably wouldn't want to pick apart a whole lobster while I am trying to catch up but if you want to have lobster be part of the meal, what about lobster salad in endive leaves as a starter? If it's June and possibly may deal with heat, what about a Middle Eastern Mezze? Hummus, baba ganouj, shrimp on skewers marinated in pureed preserved lemons and paprika, roasted peppers with feta. It can be all out on the table with a great rose or sparkling wine. I agree with a pavlova for a finish.

        1. re: Dcfoodblog

          I think whole lobster is a bit complicated too. So maybe an option of lobster salad like others have posted would be easier.

          I know that for me, peeling shrimp is a no brainer, but the last time I had whole lobster I got brains on the wall and my head hurt a bit.

          If you serve whole could you cut them a bit? I know some places do that to snow crab legs.

          Have fun with your classmates!

          If you are going to be outside some grilled fruits might be fun.

      2. I'd love a mixed seafood grill, lobster would be great! If I was visiting from elsewhere and not able to experience the seafood from your area, it would be a treat. As for lobster being too complicated, well, I think it would be a blast, messy, casual, putting people at ease.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wyogal

          Wyo- how did I miss this post? A mixed grill might be the perfect balance.

        2. I love this idea because I had the best experience a person can have in high school. most fun 4 years of my life. the friends, the sports, the singing, the drama, all experiences (well almost all) realized.
          you are all going to have a great night.

          the menu has my mind running in all directions. at this tired moment, I can't decide. for dessert I know I'd make a 5 fruit pie baked in my 14" cast iron skillet&fresh vanilla ice cream out of my ice cream maker.

          hope you get some great ideas for the meal.

          10 Replies
          1. re: iL Divo

            <<head slap>> I make a mean ginger icecream! Maybe a strawberry/rhubarb pie to go with it.

            Can I cheat and buy the pie from a local baker?? :)

              1. re: foodieX2

                I, too, make a mean ginger ice cream and more often than not serve it with apple pie hot from the oven. But you'll want something more springlike or summery. I'd be concerned that strawberry/rhubarb would have too many flavors and would compete with the ice cream so I'd probably go with peach, either pie or a cobbler type dish. The ginger ice cream also pairs spectacularly well with both chocolate (brownies, molten chocolate cake, chocolate syrup) and fresh fruit salad (although it may be a bit early for that).

                1. re: foodieX2

                  "Can I cheat and buy the pie from a local baker?? :)"
                  no, sorry, it's not allowed :;-/

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    There goes your invite!!

                    LOL!! :)

                    1. re: foodieX2

                      foodie, wahhhhh ;(
                      I'll make it/bake it/bring it.
                      now please may I get my invite back :)))

                      1. re: iL Divo

                        Well since you offered to make pie....


                        1. re: foodieX2

                          you're funny foodie :)
                          was asked to bring dessert to a high school mini reunion at a gals house about 4-5 years ago. most of the food was already being taken care of by others but she'd sent me an email asking for a dessert. I love pie, pretty much any kind of pie and since my heritage is from bakers, thank you gramma, I decided to do a huge one and make it special. had never done it before but went to the store and grabbed fruits that sounded like they'd work, of course wasn't really sure-went about it blindly and shot from the hip ;:-/
                          mango papaya peach apple pear.....................
                          formed and baked and brought in my grandpa's huge cast iron deep skillet, so good.

                          1. re: iL Divo

                            You are killing me, that sounds wonderful, great flavor combo. I bet it was huge hit!

                            Now what is your address so I can send the invite??


                            1. re: foodieX2

                              oh you're so sweet.
                              our best friend from high school saw me take it out to the patio where we all were.
                              with excitement (he's a huge dessert freak) he gazed as I took the foil off so it could be displayed. he says "oh 'bleep' you said you brought a pie, that's a cobbler." I told him to cool his jets as I cut him the first slice. he then saw and tasted this was NO cobbler.
                              thankfully it disappeared with a blink. sometimes I even amaze myself :)

              2. Lobster rolls, lobster pie or lobster mac&cheese would be good, make-ahead food that is easy to eat. Corn in June? Not local in the greater Boston area. Tomatoes yes, but just, IF it ever warms up reliably!

                Have you ever seen/had the individual clambakes they do at Summer Shack? They must be in one of Jasper White's cookbooks, probably the lobster one. Can't get more regional than that. You'd need a couple of really large pots but you might be able to put them on a grill if you have a big, powerful one.

                Or how about upgrading the traditional boiled dinner by simmering the corned beef, then roasting wrapped in foil with a brown sugar mustard glaze,
                while steaming the cabbage but roasting the carrot, onion, rutabaga, and potato. That's a great meal, and doesn't smell up the house the way boiled cabbage does.

                5 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  I do have my dad's HUGE professional steamer that can easily hold a a whole lobster boil for 10. That's the first thing my husband suggested. My dad did it with layers of lobsters, steamers, linguica, chicken, potatoes and then served cooking liquid in steaming mugs along with the meal. Really good loaves of crusty bread, melted butter and big salad made the meal until August. Then a whole layer of the steamer had fresh ears of corn from our garden.

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    This is exactly what I would want if I was visiting a friend that had access to fresh lobster.

                    1. re: foodieX2

                      I'll ditto wyogal's comment - this sounds PERFECT for a re-gathering of friends!

                      1. re: foodieX2

                        I agree, similar to the MD crab feast it is a great social activity which encourages lots of talking.

                      2. re: greygarious

                        I was about to suggest lobster. We made them for a boat outing on Long Island Sound a few years ago and they were a huge hit.