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Critique my menu please

Having ten best friends for dinner Saturday.
Draft menu

White fish dip
Apple and caramelized onion tarts in puff pastry
Hogs in blanket
Cukes w dill dip

Ina 's grilled Shrimp
Rack of Lamb
Would like a veg like roasted beets
Israeli Couscous with turmeric, caramelized onions, and tomatoes from Food 52
Need a great new salad

All comments welcome

Souther living Blackberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream?

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  1. What is dipped in the whitefish dip? Is it a mild fish flavor or will it be too assertive at the beginning of a meal...?
    The roasted beets sound very "fall", not sure where you are located but grilled corn with an herb butter, or green beans with almonds,and grilled squash with a raw salsa all feel more "summery" than a roasted veg.
    I make this salad constantly with a few changes- half the oil, and massage the dressing into the salad ahead of time to soften the kale. I often swap out the brussels sprouts and use all kale- a few serious veggie haters have become converts from this dish!
    A simple side of sliced heirloom tomatoes with sea salt and a drizzle of good basalmic is classic
    I make a summery green salad using a mix of arugala and spinach, raw sweet corn off the cob, diced cucumber, super thin fennel, chickpeas, sliced toasted almonds, currants/raisins and a basalmic black pepper vinegrette.

    The menu sounds very chic and sophisticated but the hogs in a blanket stick out to me as retro-y and disconnected with the rest of the menu. Even if you omit that dish there will be plenty of options.

    1. Looks great so far. In terms of a salad, what about tomatoes, basil, and burrata? Tomatoes are fantastic right now. You could also do that over romaine or arugula to incorporate a lettuce.

      I love beets but perhaps a veggie that's in season right now could be more special.

      Where are you from? That piece of information could help us give you better suggestions since we'll then know what's realistically available to you.

      Good for you for hosting a great dinner party! Cheers.

      1. Sounds wonderful if you are having lots of cocktails to go with all of those salty hors d'oeveurs (sp?). even so, I would skip the white fish, as much as I love it. how about just putting out some cheese and crackers along with the other heavy appetizers? then with dinner, red wine and perhaps potatoes and like others have mentioned corn or other summer veg. along with that a salad- greens with mint perhaps. I put arugula, mint, a little boston lettuce and feta in my salad the other day. have fun!
        and dessert sounds great.

        1. Lucky friends! Do you know that all are ok w/ seedy blackberries in the cobbler? If not sure, perhaps have some simple shortbread cookies for folks to enjoy with the ice cream, too.

          For salad - have you tried Roxlet's Green Goddess dressing?

          or this lemon caper dressing by April Bloomfield?

          Either one will make your standard salad greens/raw veg mixture outstanding.

          If you add a couple spears of roasted asparagus atop each salad, that's also a luxurious touch.

          1. Pls. no fish dip, or Hogs in blanket are unnecessary, Blueberry and Spinach salad with artichoke and lightly cooked peppers, with a light sweet dressing will do fine

            1. i would skip the hogs in blanket.
              the rest of your menu sounds pretty delicious and sophisticated, the hogs in blanket not so much.

              you will have plenty of food without it.

              1. pigs/hogs in blanket are great and I find them at even the fanciest places because people love them (as long as they eat pork). Sheesh. If they don't seem fancy enough to some, serve them and call them summer sausage in puff pastry or better yet, cochon dans une couverture.

                1. Where are you located? Frankly, this sounds like a fall menu instead of something for high summer. Yummy, but maybe a bit hearty for August?

                  The apple and onion tart seems too heavy for a summer starter, I would be tempted to move it to dessert!

                  I'd lighten the couscous by making it with peas or pea shoots and scallions, and a bit of lemon to go with both the shrimp and the lamb.

                  For veg I would get some green beans, steam them and serve with a big bowl of hollandaise, (which I would sneak onto the shrimp and lamb! But then I sneak hollandaise onto just about everything!)

                  How about a platter of sliced tomatoes on top of arugula instead of a salad?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sheiladeedee

                    Previous posts from sarahmchugh indicated that she is in France. I do not know that it still the case.

                  2. I'm not quite sure how all of the elements on your menu work together. Will the main course be served buffet-style? If not, I don't think you need two proteins - choose either shrimp or lamb. What sort of seasoning were you going to do for the lamb? The couscous with turmeric sounds vaguely Indian or Middle Eastern - were you going to echo those flavors in your other dishes? Instead of beets, I would choose a green vegetable of some type, roasted or sauteed. I also don't think you need a salad since the couscous is salad-like (especially if it's heavy on the tomatoes).

                    I also agree with the other posters that hogs in blankets stick out as being a little retro/lowbrow for this menu, although I do enjoy them. If you really want both lamb and shrimp, why not serve the shrimp as part of your appetizer course instead of the piggies - that sort of makes that your "surf" course, with the whitefish dip, and then the main can be your "turf" course.

                    So, your new menu might look like this:

                    White fish dip (with toast points or other cracker/bread?)
                    Apple and caramelized onion tarts in puff pastry
                    Ina 's grilled Shrimp on skewers
                    Mixed crudite w dill dip

                    Rack of Lamb
                    Green veg dish (roasted broccoli with garam masala, sauteed kale with sesame, etc.)
                    Israeli Couscous with turmeric, caramelized onions, and tomatoes from Food 52

                    Southern living Blackberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream

                    1. If you are thinking of salad as a course then I think a Cobb Salad might go very well.

                      1. too many appetizers. That's a common mistake many Americans make. The appetizer (singular, unless it's a cocktail supper) is meant to whet the appetite. Too often a whole meal is served BEFORE the dinner, and the diner is not hungry for the piece de resistance! Don't show yourself up. Choose ONE of those -- two at most, and don't serve too many of them, either.

                        I would do green beans in place of the beets. and I'd do a simple mixed green salad (make it "wild" with snipped fresh herbs among the lettuces) with a mustardy vinaigrette. Great palate cleanser.

                        1. Thanks for great ideas. Dear friend is bringing the whitefish dip so that cannot change. Will ditch the apple onion puff pastry and hogs in blanket. Last time I served lamb one guest didn't eat lamb so that was why I wanted two proteins. See your point about the beets, maybe green and yellow beans better. Will see what looks good at the farmers market. Was in France in June, but now in Ohio. temperature is slated to be 80 Saturday, should be 70 by dinner time. Really appreciate the suggestions. Merci

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sarahmchugh

                            Also didn't think about seeds in blackberries, will do a peach cobbler instead.

                            1. re: sarahmchugh

                              i'd also offer something non-dairy alongside the whitefish and cuke/dill dip. can be something simple like salty olives or nuts. i don't like dairy before a meal, it deadens the palate.

                              OR just serve a tomato tarte tatin, instead of the other tart, cuke dip and dogs. pretty and seasonal.

                              i agree about picking your veg at the market. see what looks best. :)

                            2. Good decision on the apps - if you want to do beets, GRILL em, they are beautiful on the grill and it's a very summery dish. Otherwise I would possibly grill some broccoli since you already have the grill going for shrimp.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                Never grilled beets...how would you suggest?

                                1. re: sarahmchugh

                                  I have not grilled beets either but roasted baby beets and turnips earlier in the summer and not only they were delicious, they looked and tasted seasonal. Not sure why others are discouraging you to roast beets. I did mine very simply with s&p, olive oil, garlic cloves still in their skins and deglazed the pan with a bit of sherry vinegar - not a veg left :)

                                  There is another poster hosting dinner party that was asking for menu opinion a day or two ago. I love her 3-5-3 system for number of dishes for appetizer, main and dessert. I often do the same without thinking for the first two courses but offer just one dessert; three sounds so much better :)

                              2. I love sauted corn, zucchini and mint. I cook it with a little onion and garlic and it is delicious.