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Are you making a specialty food?

Critique my menu.

escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 08:10 AM

I'm having a dinner for 6 tomorrow evening. One is a vegetarian, one eats chicken and fish, the rest of us eat anything. I don't want the menu to revolve around any meat.

Fried zucchini and goat cheese toasts with drinks

1st course Cold corn and coconut milk soup

Main course -- served on large platters
Rabe pizza with Romano--fresh out of the oven
Falafel with tahini sauce
Sauteed peppers/onions
Roast asparagus with Parmigiano
Green beans
Fresh tomatoes on arugula
Roasted little potatoes
Italian bread

Dessert will be cherry clafouti

What do you all think?

  1. e
    escondido123 Aug 3, 2013 09:32 AM

    Reporting back on dinner. Weather was perfect with great company. Started with wine and the bite-size zucchini toast--big hit. Sat down to the cold corn soup--everyone cleaned their bowl. (Coconut milk and chipotle made it a more complex flavor without being strong.) Then everything else. Rabe pizza was gone first. Green beans turned out very flavorful (I tossed with with Trader Joe's mustard aioli while hot and it made a very mellow sauce) The tiny roasted potatoes with pesto were also a big hit. The olive-oil poached albacore with capers was one of the least favorite. Only forgot one item--the feta for the Middle Eastern platter.

    The clafouti was yummy--I served it with whipped cream. All in all a very successful evening with great conversation--people lingered until late.

    1. e
      escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 06:31 PM

      We've decided to eliminate the proscuitto and add a nice piece of olive oil poached tuna on a separate plate with lemon and capers as well as a chunk of feta on the Middle Eastern platter. Thanks all for you comments and suggestions on this. Will report back over the weekend.

      1 Reply
      1. re: escondido123
        hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 06:38 PM

        the tuna is a great idea. :)

      2. r
        rjbh20 Aug 1, 2013 02:22 PM

        Nice antipasto -- what's for dinner?

        2 Replies
        1. re: rjbh20
          escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 04:37 PM

          I've made variations on this menu many times. When I went to a more standard menu once the couple asked why I hadn't done the platters. So it works for my group of friends.

          1. re: escondido123
            weezieduzzit Aug 1, 2013 05:10 PM

            I'm a really big fan of this style dinner and it's been the most successful for me when serving large groups. Everyone can have what they like and not what they don't without being uncomfortable or it being an issue at all. Plus, it's still really warm out here on the lower left coast, most people aren't looking for anything heavy.

        2. WhatsEatingYou Aug 1, 2013 10:24 AM

          I agree with some of the other posters that the falafel seems out of place.
          Possibly you could make chicken meatballs, since they are a finger food they won't take over the spread as the star.

          1. firecooked Aug 1, 2013 09:49 AM

            It all sounds wonderful, and personally I don't think meat is needed (but it depends on the guests... if my dad was coming i might suggest a chunk of meat...). My only input is that it's a lot of different things... I wouldn't have enough room on my plate to try everything! With the apps, soup, and dessert, I think 3 things ... Pizza, salad, veg would be plenty!

            1. i
              INDIANRIVERFL Aug 1, 2013 09:28 AM

              I am a huge meat and fish omnivore. And I would be overjoyed to be invited to this dinner without any changes. But thanks for the opportunity to provide input.

              1. hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 09:12 AM

                i didn't see the corn/coconut soup before? that really doesn't seem like it goes with the rest of the food.

                coconut milk and then romano cheese?

                7 Replies
                1. re: hotoynoodle
                  escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 09:19 AM

                  Odd I know but the soup is already prepped and it is wonderful.

                  1. re: escondido123
                    tcamp Aug 1, 2013 09:22 AM

                    The soup sounds delicious. What about doing it shooter style rather than bowls since you have such a bounty to follow?

                    1. re: escondido123
                      hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 09:25 AM

                      am quite sure it's delicious!

                      1. re: escondido123
                        viperlush Aug 1, 2013 09:27 AM

                        Can you post the recipe for it? It sounds perfect for a hot evening.

                        1. re: viperlush
                          escondido123 Aug 3, 2013 06:24 PM

                          To serve four: Lightly boil 4 ears of corn. Cut kernels off cob and scrape out milk. Make corn stock using cobs, a white onion and a carrot. Save a quarter of the onion and the carrot, add kernels to stock and stir for a minute. Whir in blender along with carrot and onion. Sieve and return to low flame for five minutes. Add 3 T. coconut milk and 1 t. of chipotle sauce (from can) plus s & p. Chill overnight, adjust seasonings before serving.

                        2. re: escondido123
                          Violatp Aug 1, 2013 09:33 AM

                          Agreed that this soup sounds delicious!

                        3. re: hotoynoodle
                          RetiredChef Aug 1, 2013 10:18 AM

                          I agree, the soup seems out of place and doesn't go with the rest of the meal. Other than that it looks super yummy.

                        4. j
                          jpc8015 Aug 1, 2013 09:10 AM

                          That is a great appetizer spread.

                          1. viperlush Aug 1, 2013 09:01 AM

                            I agree with the posters about maybe adding chicken sausage. Or adding more cured meat and possibly some cheeses to go with the proscuitto? Maybe add a sauteed mushroom topped toasts to go with drinks?

                            But really it does sound wonderful as is and I wouldn't be disappointed.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: viperlush
                              critter101 Aug 1, 2013 09:05 AM

                              Please remember that most chicken sausage is in a pork casing, unless it's skinless.

                              1. re: critter101
                                cleopatra999 Aug 1, 2013 01:40 PM

                                Very good point critter101, did not think of that.

                                Braised chicken thighs might be a good sub that would still work nicely with the peppers/onions.

                            2. i
                              Isolda Aug 1, 2013 08:52 AM

                              The only thing that's missing is my invitation to your dinner party. It sounds great, just the kind of eclectic menu I like!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Isolda
                                escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 05:04 PM

                                Thanks so much. These are people I have never cooked for so I'm trying to provide all sorts of seasonal flavors without anything too heavy.

                              2. hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 08:43 AM

                                what is the pesto for? just the bread?

                                since 5 out of 6 eat fish, i'd offer some poached salmon or roasted shrimp or something. you could top either with the pesto.

                                with pizza and bread, i don't know that you "need" potatoes too, but you know your guests better than i do.

                                19 Replies
                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                  escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 08:48 AM

                                  The pesto is for the potatoes--one of my favorite--and my husband is not really fond of fish, esp. salmon and shrimp. So you guys think I need a protein?

                                  1. re: escondido123
                                    hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 08:52 AM

                                    yes, i'd serve a real protein, since even the meat eaters will likely only eat a few slices of the prosciutto.

                                    another option is paula wolfert recipe: fry some cumin and dried ginger; add that to lots of lemon juice and yogurt and marinate chicken pieces for 3-4 hours. no more or the chicken will get weird. roast at 400. very delicious. or a simple rosemary/lemon rub would work too.

                                    1. re: escondido123
                                      tcamp Aug 1, 2013 08:55 AM

                                      I'd be totally happy with what you propose but if you do decide to add a meat, I like the idea of chicken sausages sautéed along with the peppers. Cut them into chunks and put on the same platter.

                                      I'd want some pita to stuff with the falafel, potatoes, and pesto but I do see you have plenty of other bready things already.

                                      1. re: tcamp
                                        escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 08:57 AM

                                        I fully understand that idea but I don't really like to serve a fully prepared food--like chicken sausage--that I would never serve otherwise.

                                        1. re: escondido123
                                          Violatp Aug 1, 2013 09:01 AM

                                          Ah. Hmm. Is a different chicken dish an option? Don't get me wrong; I love falafel! But something a bit more Italian would fit better...

                                          1. re: Violatp
                                            escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 09:05 AM

                                            I always struggle with adding meat to a vegetarian menu since I don't want to make it the star. And this will be a cool menu for a warm night and so my struggle continues.

                                            1. re: escondido123
                                              hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 09:10 AM

                                              how are you serving all this? on big platters? or plated? if the former you have lots of options and only 1 would be the chicken, so hardly the star.

                                              roasted chicken can even be cooked ahead and served room temp. i do that often for summer parties.

                                              1. re: escondido123
                                                Violatp Aug 1, 2013 09:14 AM

                                                Okay then. But you did ask our opinion, right? If an Italian menu with falafel is what you want, then great! Falafel is delicious and I'm sure it will be eaten right up. It's incongruous but if you and your husband are happy and your guests are happy, then all is well.

                                                If it was me, and adding a meat dish was out of the question, I'd drop the falafel altogether. You've got a hearty, extensive menu w/o it and it won't kill anyone to not have a specific protein for one meal. (I'm not counting the prosciutto as that;s just little bits of a meat.)

                                                1. re: Violatp
                                                  escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 09:18 AM

                                                  Oh yes I am interested in opinions. As I have said, I find the falafel odd but if I put that on a platter with the tomatoes, maybe some feta and a tahini sauce that could be the Middle Eastern platter and the other Italian?

                                                  1. re: escondido123
                                                    viperlush Aug 1, 2013 09:27 AM

                                                    I like that idea. Do you have an eggplant dish that you can add to the Middle East Platter? Or add some olives? Make it more of a 50/50 split between Middle East and Italian?

                                                    1. re: viperlush
                                                      Violatp Aug 1, 2013 09:35 AM

                                                      Good idea. Both lend themselves to meze (sp??) and antipasto styles.

                                                      Ha - I am suddenly really craving falafel. :-)

                                                      1. re: viperlush
                                                        escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 10:58 AM

                                                        I got two eggplants at the Farmers' Market Tuesday--great idea!

                                                        1. re: escondido123
                                                          greygarious Aug 1, 2013 03:08 PM

                                                          Deborah Madison's Stir-fried Roasted Eggplant is hearty, delicious, and vegetarian. Leftovers are versatile; they can be a cold side, hot pasta sauce, bruschetta topping.

                                                          Though it contains some Asian ingredients, it also has tomato paste and chopped tomatoes.

                                                  2. re: escondido123
                                                    Dcfoodblog Aug 1, 2013 05:15 PM

                                                    I'd marinate chicken breasts in a lemon vinaigrette. I sear it on both sides and then roast it for 20 minutes. You can serve it sliced and cold and it tastes wonderful. This might be pricey but if you fry Halloumi in a dry nonstick pan, and then drizzle some evoo and chopped chilies, that makes a "meaty" vegetarian dish.

                                            2. re: escondido123
                                              Ttrockwood Aug 1, 2013 03:55 PM

                                              The proscuitto is more than enough as a "protein". The falafel does seem like an odd pair with the pizza and the rest of the menu feels italian...maybe a more italian feeling bean dish like those gigante beans in tomato sauce or a lentil salad. Or poched eggs are lovely with asparagus. With the pizza and rolls the potatoes feel duplicative, maybe the pesto can be a dressing for the green beans?

                                              1. re: Ttrockwood
                                                escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 04:36 PM

                                                I realized as I read comments that I plan on this being a summer menu as much as possible. I just was at the store. Asparagus not in season so $4 pound, will stick with the green beans. I'm going to split this into two platters, one will be Italian with the pizza, beans done with garlic aioli, roasted peppers and onions, the potatoes and proscuitto. The other will have the falafel, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, arugula and some tahini sauce. Plate of Meyer lemon wedges to use as desired.

                                                1. re: escondido123
                                                  hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 04:42 PM

                                                  roasted green beans can be served room temp or chilled too.

                                                  have fun!

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                    escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 05:03 PM

                                                    I will serve them room temp tossed with the aioli. I've also decided to add a wedge of feta to the Middle Easter platter. Oh, and there will be lots of wine.

                                                  2. re: escondido123
                                                    viperlush Aug 1, 2013 04:43 PM

                                                    Sounds awesome

                                            3. v
                                              Violatp Aug 1, 2013 08:39 AM

                                              The falafel seems a little out of place. Is there a special reason for it? Is it your protein?

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: Violatp
                                                hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 08:45 AM

                                                i thought that too, but it would be nice over the arugula.

                                                1. re: Violatp
                                                  escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 08:46 AM

                                                  I agree. My husband suggested it to have something kid of "meaty."

                                                  1. re: escondido123
                                                    weezieduzzit Aug 1, 2013 08:48 AM

                                                    Something with mushrooms would give you something "meaty" too.

                                                    1. re: escondido123
                                                      Violatp Aug 1, 2013 08:56 AM

                                                      As mentioned elsewhere, I would do a chicken Italian sausage instead. There is plenty of food to satisfy the vegetarian and a chicken Italian sausage would both fit the menu and be something everyone else can eat.

                                                      1. re: Violatp
                                                        hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2013 08:58 AM

                                                        lol, except i have never had a delicious chicken sausage. sorry.

                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                          Violatp Aug 1, 2013 09:00 AM

                                                          Ha! Yes, pork is better, but one does what one must. :-)

                                                          1. re: Violatp
                                                            biondanonima Aug 1, 2013 02:16 PM

                                                            The Premio brand spicy Italian chicken sausages are really pretty good. For chicken sausage, I mean. :)

                                                          2. re: hotoynoodle
                                                            C. Hamster Aug 1, 2013 03:33 PM

                                                            I have.

                                                            Smokehouse in Norwell.

                                                            I'd add it to the platter as well.

                                                    2. c
                                                      cleopatra999 Aug 1, 2013 08:34 AM

                                                      sounds lovely, but I do feel I would miss some meat, any chance of some nice Italian sausage in with the sauteed peppers/onions? could be done separate, or choose a chicken sausage so all but the veg could enjoy? You are making the chicken/fish eaters vegetarian that night, are they ok with that?? I would also love some fresh buffalo mozza with the ripe tomatoes and arugula, but that is just me at this time of year!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: cleopatra999
                                                        escondido123 Aug 1, 2013 08:39 AM

                                                        I have never worried about meat eaters having to be vegetarian for a night but I have included proscuitto for those who have to have some meat.

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