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summer dinner party - suggestions?

Planning a seated dinner for twelve, tentative plan...

I like a 3-5-3 balance to a meal, so...

stuffed mushrooms w/sausage and breadcrumbs
deviled eggs
home made pimento cheese on crackers

buttermilk brined fried chicken
potato salad
corn on the cob with lime and cayenne butter (ears snapped in half for easier handling)
platter of sliced heirloom tomatoes w/salt, pepper, oil and a drizzle of vinegar
green beans sauteed with garlic and scallions, room temperature

chocolate cherry chili fudge
tiny lemon curd tartlets

Served with vinho verde, beer, iced tea and some limoncello with dessert

wondering about a peach tart or crisp instead of lemon, maybe a white sangria with summer stone fruit...

I'm trying for something that can mostly be done ahead so I can concentrate on the chicken (fried about 90 minutes ahead, finished in a low oven).

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  1. wow, what a nice menu. Lots of yummy stuff. My only comment, is that the appys seem labor intensive, Even though you can do them ahead, it might be easier on you to go with maybe an antipasto tray that you can buy all the nibbles and just arrange them. Otherwise, if you are up for all that cooking and prep, I wouldn't change a thing!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: momoftwo

      This is my first dinner party since I retired, and I adore having parties. I love to cook and have not had a chance, so I'm busting out with this one!

      I can do a ton of this ahead of time - the pimento cheese, the mushrooms all but broiling, lemon curd and tart shells, fudge, cookies, all can be done ahead. Prepping green beans, peeling potatoes, boiling and peeling the eggs, brining the chicken - all this can be done on Friday. The most labor intensive thing will be the chicken, actually.

    2. That sounds perfect! What time should I arrive :)

      1. I personally would prefer the peach crisp but if I were a guest at that party I don't think I would have anything to complain about.

        1. I think it sounds perfect! Especially the starters!!!!

          1. Where did you say you live? I'll be there in a heart beat. Don't change a thing!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Berheenia

              What Berheenia said. B. and I can carpool to your place.

              1. re: pinehurst

                Pick me upon the way, will you?

                Perfect party food, Sheila, do not change a thing :)

            2. The starters are all on the rich/heavy side, you then follow it up with fried chicken, corn on the cob and potato salad, more gut busting heavy items. I would want appetizers that focus on fresh items from summers bounty of fruits and vegetables, maybe a light chilled seafood dish. In other words wet their appetite, don't kill it.

              If you are set on Fried chicken then lighten up the sides there to. Make a white corn salad with peaches and basil. Make a rice with summer squash and carrots. Keep your tomatoes green beans.

              But no matter what you make people will love it because they didn't have to cook.


              7 Replies
              1. re: RetiredChef

                I agree with the Chef re apps sound a bit on the heavy side.

                The corn salad he described sounds great. I do one with tomatoes and avocado, but you have a tomato dish on there already. If you did the corn salad, I would probably sub a green salad for the potato one.

                And I also like the idea of the white sangria with peaches in it. Then you wouldn't need the limoncello. A cobbler or crisp would be a lovely ending. Or you could even do something lighter like a semi freddo or sorbet, using the ripe stone fruit you find.

                Sounds like a wonderful dinner!

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                  +3 on lightening up the starters. deviled eggs are always a hit for me, so i'd keep them. maybe shooters of green gazpacho and a pallter of zucchini carpaccio instead of the shrooms and cheese spread.

                  with stonefruits and certain berries still going strong, i'd do a crisp/tart/galette with those instead of lemon curd.

                  i'd keep the limoncello as a digestif though. sangria is too sweet after all that rich food.

                  have fun!

                2. re: RetiredChef

                  Could you elaborate on that corn salad please? Sounds lovely.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I was curious about corn/peach salad too, googled and found this one: http://carriesexperimentalkitchen.blo...

                    Really like the idea of white balsamic/basil dressing but think a bit of heat would be nice. Don't like the idea of boiled corn, so this is what I'll do since I have all ingredients on hand. I'll slice kernels off and sauté in olive oil with either fresh thai chili or pepper flakes for 3-4 min, add a peach, diced small, and sauté for another minute. Dress with balsamic, basil and a pinch of salt.

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        Post if you make it and I'll do likewise.

                        1. re: herby

                          I will, might make it either tonight or the next.... I make a lot of salads & light stuff during the week, as I feed my kids leftovers from the weekends....

                3. Only one thing missing---my invitation! That sounds like a lovely menu and I can tell you really put thought into it. Very, very nice! And even though it looks labor intensive, once you break it down a lot can be done in advance. Will be coming to you for advice for our next party (or I might just steal this idea--ha!)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gourmanda

                    Steal away! I used to do a lot of entertaining, and my very favorite is a dinner for eight to twelve, with as much as possible done ahead.

                  2. Hmmm. Maybe I'll swap the stuffed mushrooms for a wilted cucumber salad with a sesame dressing. It's not as tidy to eat, though, but i can save the mushroomsbfor a fall dinner. The corn and potato salad have to stay, it is sacrilege for us to serve fried chicken in the summer without them!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sheiladeedee

                      To replace your stuffed mushrooms, how about bite sized cucumber cups stuffed with a crab salad or some chopped smoked salmon mixed with a bit of creme fraiche and sprinkled with dill?

                      But I think your menu looks beautiful as is.

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        Oh wow, that reminds me of a great Gourmet app I did for a few parties.... Crab stuffed cucumber cups. So refreshing and delightful.

                    2. If anything i would say the apps could be too filling before your awesome main meal- maybe a few "tweaks" like using a ligher filling in the mushrooms (i ususally just do a chopped sautee of more mushrooms and some herbs), with the pimento cheese served with radishes, jicama, cucumber.
                      For a summertime meal the desserts sound a bit heavy, maybe swap the shortbread for thick cold slices of watermelon or a berries and mint salad
                      Sounds really incredible! I hope they all know to come hungry and be appreciative of such an invite!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        I believe it was hotoynoodle who reminded us that apps are to whet not kill the appetite. I struggle with that.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I agree. I then think that that maybe if there is a more casual buffet, some/all of the apps can be served at the same time as the entrée, and thus might not be to filling (in advance).

                      2. Interesting suggestions, thank you all. It is an unusual party where I know all the women and none of the men. I'm trying to recreate a classic picnic meal from my childhood in a seated dinner setting. I'll serve apps on the deck, then seat everyone in the dining room for the main meal, then bring out coffee and an assorted dish of sweet nibbles for people to eat wherever they like.

                        1. Everything sounds delicious but have to agree that I would use more summery foods. How about crostini with ricotta, tomatoes and basil, or with mint and zucchini??? Chips with peach salsa? Can you play around with the potato salad? Maybe a German one? For dessert I would make a peach cobbler, madeleines, cake or semifredo, little chocolates...peaches pair beautifully with almonds or raspberries. It sounds like you are having a lot of fun with it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Gloriaa

                            a german potato salad with fried chicken? sacrilege!

                            1. re: Gloriaa

                              What is not summery? This is classic Southern Summer foods!

                              1. re: LaLa

                                Agreed! And it's not as if the guests will be eating a plate load of appetizers so I see nothing wrong with a couple mushrooms and deviled eggs and some pimento cheese to start. We do love our deviled eggs and pimento cheese here in the South... And you really can't get more southern than fried chicken... Now about the peach cobbler, if you can find really good peaches, I'd go with that rather than the lemon tart only because it's the season for fresh peaches but otherwise, lemon tart with maybe some raspberries would be lovely.

                            2. I favor the peach dessert instead of the lemon tartlets to avoid a lemon double-whammy with the limoncello. Although the tartlets sound lovely. I love your menu. Come cook for me any time.