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Thoughts on this Christmas Day Menu

We're hosting 8 adults (2 are vegetarian) and 2 kids. Early dinner (or late lunch) around 3pm.

Goat cheese and pesto torts
parmesan pinwheels
assorted olives and crackers

Pomegranate, walnut and pear salad (blue cheese on the side), with a mustard vinaigrette

Caesar encrusted beef tenderloin

Wild mushroom bread pudding (make day before)

Should I add another vegetable or side? If so, any suggestions? My parents are bringing dessert. Should I add a soup course? If so, any good vegetarian suggestions? I just feel like maybe something is missing? TIA!

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  1. How Chow are the kids? The apps seem quite adult, to me.

    Love the salad, main and bread pudding, but again, would the kids be on board (hey, even Mr. Pine wants that blue cheese "on the side" so he can ignore it, so that seems right!).

    The vegetarians aren't getting much as the entree--maybe another item that could be a side to the meat eaters, but the main for the vegs? I do a "stain-glass" polenta that could work (but it might be too close to the mushroom bread pudding.)


    1 Reply
    1. re: pine time

      my five year old granddaughter scarfed up the olives, cheese and crackers that we had at Thanksgiving. I think the appetizers are fine for kids, personally.

    2. I would add a vegetable, maybe brussels sprouts since they are in season. I would not use mustard in the vinaigrette but maybe consider some walnut oil?

      1. Make that 9 adults. I'll bring some wine.

        I think it sounds terrific!

        I would be tempted to add an interesting vegetable or vegetable-based side mostly for the 2 vegetarians. Maybe a vegetable-based app. too.

        1. Is the salad being served as a separate course? If so, I would certainly add at least one other side -- probably something that included green vegetables -- to the entrée course and perhaps 2, given your vegetarian guests.

          As to apps, unless the kids have particularly sophisticated palates, I'd add some cut-up veggies (carrots, sweet pepper strips, etc) and a dip -- say humous -- to the apps.

          3 Replies
          1. re: masha

            I think also that you need something else green, Brussels sprouts , roasted green beans.
            I'd also add something more for the veggies, like a gratin with winter squash .

            1. re: magiesmom

              I have not made this myself but I recommended it to a friend for her Thanksgiving dinner and she said it came out great. It just might be too heavy in addition to the bread pudding since it has bread too.

              Roasted Root Vegetable & Gruyere Gratin


              1. re: valerie

                Do these vegetarians eat cheese? If so, this wouldn't work...

                Also, you've got three dishes with cheese, which IMO is too much with little else to round out the menu. Plenty of vegetarian options online; check out www.vegetariantimes.com

                If you took the salad out, the vegetarians would pretty much be looking at a soup if you add one, and bread (as in the pudding.) Keep the salad & add a main dish veggie.

          2. I agree with the others that you definitely need a vegetable side with your main, so that the vegetarians can treat the bread pudding as their main. A soup course could be nice as well, if you want to make a more elaborate event of it. I like potatoes with beef - maybe a small cup of potato leek soup, with extra available for the vegetarians if they want a heartier portion to compensate for the fact that they're not eating beef?

            1. i'd ease up on all the cheese. you have 2 apps, a salad and main dish that all have cheese. does the bread pudding also have cheese?

              how strict are the vegetarians? it can be a broad spectrum. will they eat deviled eggs?

              maybe roasted dates or prunes stuffed with spiced almonds?

              cherry or campari tomatoes stuffed with tapenade, chopped almonds and golden raisins?

              instead of salad, roast a vegetable and puree it for soup. carrots, squash, leek, red peppers, etc. all can be roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, then whizzed with some veg stock. you can finish with a drizzle of basil or mint oil. it's warming and will feel rich without dairy. it also adds color, since your main course is all brown.

              right now, those vegetarians are only eating bread pudding for dinner? i'd roast some green beans or braise some leeks as an additional side. also consider making some black lentils in a very rich veg stock too. they look like a pile of little gems and you could garnish it with some dried apricot, chopped watercress and orange blossom water.

              3 Replies
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Why would a vegetarian not eat eggs? No vegan, right.
                I was not assuming that the bread pudding did not have cheese, do they usually?

                I like the idea of the lentils, but disagree about eliminating the salad; something raw is nice IMO with all that cooked richness.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  There are other variations on vegetarian though. An ovo-lacto vegetarian will eat eggs, but I know plenty of vegetarians, not vegans, who are only ovo-vegetarians or only lacto-vegetarians. While I generally prescribe the philosophy "words have meaning", I find that more so in the veg*n community than others that there is a wide variety in what one holds to be their acceptable range of veg*n-ism. There's a lot of "I get to define what it means for myself" that goes on vs. something like the laws of kashrut, where "being kosher" pretty much is definitively defined. The point being, it's always best to check.

                  1. re: amishangst

                    While that may be true I live in a vegetarian heavy region and beyond the vegetarian/ vegan distinction I have never ever seen anyone get really picky at another's home.
                    That said, when cooking for vegetarians, intend just to go vegan, which is easy enough and covers many bases.

              2. Room for another guest? That sounds like a beautiful menu.

                I do agree that you should add another vegetable since you've got two vegetarians. How about a Mulligatawny soup after the salad, and/or a potato dish?

                1. A vegetable terrine might be nice. I saw this on tv the other day and printed it out. It would be a pretty side for the meat eaters and something unusual for the vegetarians.


                  1. What about rearranging some of what you already have planned? Serve the pomegranate, walnut pear salad on endive as appetizer (leave off the blue cheese and go w/ a lighter dressing). Serve the goat cheese and pesto tort for dinner so vegetarians have more choices for dinner. And, add a side green whether it's brussel sprouts, broccolini, green beans.

                    1. Thanks all. You've confirmed my own feelings. Definitely need another vegetable side. I think I'm going to go with a roasted brussel sprouts and apples side dish (usually made with bacon but I suppose we'll survive without it). I'm going to keep the salad as it's my mom's favorite. And I'm going to try and think of another vegetarian friendly appetizer/hors devours that doesn't involve cheese but is easy to just pick at - we'll be snacking on that stuff all pretty casually.
                      Happy Holidays everyone!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: momnivore

                        Something like spiced roasted chickpeas can be made ahead of time. It will also add some non-dairy protein for the vegetarians (I'm just assuming the mushroom bread pudding pretty carb-heavy and lacking in the protein department).

                        I know you decided to do roasted brussels sprouts for a side, but roasted veggies are actually pretty good at room temp and could be served with a white bean dip for a spin on the usual crudite and hummus (I was recently at a retirement party where they did a platter of roasted veggies at room temp - I think there was zucchini, mushroom caps, red peppers, red onions, and carrots).

                        Kale chips would also provide something veg and crunchy that's not carbs.

                      2. A ginger-roasted butternut squash and apple soup would be nice for the vegetarians.

                        I made this for a New Year's Eve gathering several years ago, and it went over very well. (Yeesh - I see my notes said I made it in 2005 - that's more than several years ago! LOL)

                        Use a vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock, obviously.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          It may be a good thing that you mentioned the vegetable stock. I was vegetarian for decades, and had people say "I didn't know broth made a difference." And they were shocked when I said no chicken or beef stock.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Oh, Linda. Love the suggestions of the soup. I keep bags of squash in the freezer. May just have to do more of this myself.

                          2. FYI ... Some vegetarians won't eat Parmesan because of the rennet.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              I haven't heard that before. What is if?

                                1. re: momnivore

                                  Something to keep in mind that it's not just parmesan though. In fact, most cheeses, including the blue and the goat cheese probably use rennet.

                                  Soft fresh cheeses (paneer, cream cheese, ricotta) generally don't, and you may have some luck finding some chevre that doesn't use rennet. But this can often be a sticking point for even ovo-lacto vegetarians. However, there are a wider variety of cheeses these days that use either a microbial or vegetable based rennet. And there are some cheeses that only use animal-based rennet.

                                  I would recommend consulting with this guide

                                  I would also recommend purchasing your cheese somewhere like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods to be on the safe side - I have found that they tend to be pretty diligent about the labeling of the rennet source on their cheese (though I'm sure there are other stores as well - I'm just going based of what is generally in my neighborhood). I know that Trader Joe's lists it on their website, too.

                              1. I think that your main is crying out for caponata(my favourite), ratatouille or roasted cherry tomatoes. I think that something saucy will add vibrancy to the beef and bread pudding. I would finish any of these with lots of parsley. If you make the caponata, you could also serve it on crostini. I third that no cheese should be included in this side.
                                I have found slow roasting a beef tenderloin far better than high heat method. I usually roast a 4# roast for 2+ hrs at 250. You could broil the crust at the end. I always let it rest for 30 minutes. My favourite part is always a sauce. Fine Cooking has lots of great sauce options in this month's issue.

                                1. I would suggest to swap the mushroom bread pudding for this mushroom stew- the carnivores can have it as a side, and the vegetarians can have the stew ontop of polenta or noodles as a main.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                    That looks amazing, Ttrockwood! I love the idea of serving that on top of noodles or polenta as well.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      I made it as the main dish with a side of kale/apple/fennel salad for a mixed omni and veggie crowd and everyone raved (i loved it too!).

                                    2. re: Ttrockwood

                                      I'm no longer vegetarian, but when I was, ate a lot of polenta with various "stuff" over it. May need to give this a try, thanks.