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Xmas eve seafood dinner- feedback welcome

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My wife and I will be entertaining 8-10 guest Xmas eve. I will be doing the majority of the cooking and tried to craft the menu so that I'll still be able to enjoy my guests company. We have been going back and forth on if we need additional entree's in addition to the lobsters or if it will be too much food or take away from the lobster. The shrimp and fish entree listed are still up in the air. My proposed menu is as follows:

Apps:
Antipasta (olives, roasted pepper, marinated artichokes)
Cold seafood salad- shrimp and calamari (I'll prepare that day)
Shrimp cocktail- homemade cocktail sauce and a remoulade
baked clams
crab dip
fried clamari

Pasta:
Lobster ravioli- buying homemade from pasta store

Entree:
Whole lobster each with butter
baked Shrimp dish- either stuffed shrimp, cocnut shrimp or scampi
fish dish- meditaranian style cod w/capers or filet of sole

Sides:
asparagus
kale
squash

The apps will be pretty easy to pull off as only the fried calamari will need to be done at time of serving. The majority of my time will be spent boiling 10 lobsters for the entrees.

Any thoughts or suggestions on the menu? Right amount of food, or way too much? Thanks

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  1. No Raw Oysters????

    1. Do a different ravioli if having the whole lobster.

      How are you cooking 8-10 lobsters at one time?

      Agree, oysters are a must, preferably on the half shell - if not definitely need something raw

      I think you have too many appetizers - quality over quantity, it's suppose to be an appetizer course so less is more IMO

      Cooking fish (sole) for 8-10 may be a challenge, so might consider something like a casserole (like your shrimp dish)

      3 Replies
      1. re: pegasis0066

        as much as i love oysters, not everybody does and not everybody knows how to shuck them properly.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Everybody may not like baked clams, or fried calamari so you would ax them too?? Offer choices. People will eat what they want....pass on the things they don't. amiright?

          1. re: Uncle Bob

            true, true and the op knows his friends better than we do. :)

      2. how big are the lobsters? even if they are chickens, this is way too much food. do you have stove space to boil/steam 10 lobsters at once? if not, you might want to consider roasting them.

        i don't think you need a shrimp app plus a shrimp entree.

        antipasto, baked clams and crab dip are plenty to start. this also means no fussing with last-minute frying when you will be needing to deal with the lobsters.

        i certainly don't think you need lobster ravioli in here too. if you want a segue course, how about a soup? this might be the time to do the squash? acorn squash and ginger soup? keep the portions small.

        do you really need another entree besides the lobster? you could offer the lobster ravs as a side. i am in new england so asparagus is terrible right now. i'd just do steamed broccoli or roasted green beans and forget the kale and squash as sides.

        what's for dessert? ;)

        1. I would replace the seafood salad with salmon mousse. I would skip the baked shrimp and the crab dip. How about a brandade de morue or salt cod fritters. I would do one of each fish/seafood that you like. One clam, salmon, salt cod, shrimp, lobster, octopus, squid, crab, halibut, mussels etc..

          1 Reply
          1. re: DowntownJosie

            for whatever reason, my demented brain kept reading the op as new year's eve, not christmas. so, "duh" moment here.

            are you doing a seven fishes dinner?

            you could do a cold calamari (solo) salad, baked clams and crab dip to start. oysters too if they are a good fit, lol. can do oyster rockefeller which can be prepped ahead and just run under the broiler to serve.

            next a smallish portion of streamlined bouillabaisse. traditionally it has 5 kinds of fish, but 3 would be fine. choose whitefishes, with some shrimp or scallops as a garnish.

            and i still think the lobster should be the star, without another entree.

          2. The menu was altered when my MIL unexpectedly was offer the lobsters from her job, and I obviously couldn't pass them up. The plan was to boil them in 2 big pots. 2 in each and then put aside in a covered tin. I think they will be fine and the whole process should take me an hour or so.

            The abundance of apps were really if I was to serve the lobster as the sole entree. If I was to make shrimp and or fish I would likely scrap 1-2 of the apps.

            As for the oysters I'd love to do them, but have never had much success shucking them. I appreciate all of the feedback. It's my 1st time cooking that many lobsters for entertaining, but think it shouldn't b too difficult to pull off, though it will b time consuming.

            6 Replies
            1. re: jnab121

              My MIL back in the day used to make at least that many lobsters, and she baked them in the oven over a pan of water. Stuffing optional. For a crowd that may be the way to go.

              1. re: coll

                yeah, irt's like steaming, but in the oven. stove-top cooking in 5 batches will mean some people get lukewarm lobster.

                1. re: coll

                  This is interesting. Did she do it in something like a roasting pan with a rack? Did she split them or put them on the rack whole? For how long and at what temp? I've been trying to figure out the best way to do it. Thanks

                  1. re: jnab121

                    She laid them out whole on trays; one shelf they had stuffing, one plain. A pan of water, probably on the oven bed. I had just joined the family, so I only had glimpses, all I know is she knew how to serve a lobster!

                2. re: jnab121

                  The plan was to boil them in 2 big pots. 2 in each...

                  How big are these pots, how many and how big are the lobsters?

                  1. re: jnab121

                    <<<As for the oysters I'd love to do them, but have never had much success shucking them.>>>>

                    Buy them already shucked! ~ I buy them by the gallon...lesser amounts are also available.

                  2. No need for lobster ravioli if lobster is an entree. Same with shrimp. Maybe keep the shrimp in the appetizer and remove it from the entree.

                    Just throwing ideas out there:
                    Cooking 10 whole lobsters is certainly a challenge. I have never tried this, but maybe break down the lobsters into claws and tails and steam or broil them Serve in a deconstructed style. Use the legs, shells and whatever else is left to make a stock for a lobster bisque, to serve instead of the pasta?? This is a question. I don't know if it would work.

                    Do you have access to a grill? Maybe split the lobsters in half and grill.

                    Are you trying to make seven fishes feast? How about mussels with a garlic/wine tomato sauce. Your pasta dish could be some small scallops quick seared and add garlic, white wine and fresh herbs, (finish sauce with butter) toss with pasta.

                    1. jnab - you HAD to know we'd second guess you left and right -- right?

                      I would whittle down that list. sounds like one heck of a lot of food

                      here's my but, but, buttheaded edit.

                      Apps: but I'd serve more as hors d'ouevres over wine/cocktails/mocktails
                      Antipasta (olives, roasted pepper, marinated artichokes)
                      Cold seafood salad- shrimp and calamari but prepared as a ceviche or a Thai Yum Pla Muk/Goong for ease and served in coffee cups.
                      crab dip???

                      Pasta:
                      ravioli- sure but maybe not lobster, maybe just cheese and spinach tossed in an olive oil/balsamic or sherry vinegarette

                      Entree:
                      Whole lobster each with butter
                      I doubt the fish dish is really necessary, but cod w/capers or filet of sole sounds good and light after all that.

                      Sides: sound good but if the asparagus is looking like crap, brussels sprouts roasted with garlic and pistachios might be a good stand in. (hmm maybe the clams I deleted would fit in there or the oysters others mentioned...)
                      asparagus
                      kale
                      squash

                      1. Is the meal a nod to the Seven Fishes? If so, I love it and don't think it's too much food, IF its plated with small portions, but if you're setting it out as a buffet, guests might fill up and not do justice to your pasta and entrée. I do, however, think the menu needs some changes.

                        First, if you go with the menu as is:

                        1) you'll be having shrimp in three dishes
                        2) you'll be having calamari in two dishes
                        3) you'll be having lobster in two dishes

                        Shrimp in three dishes, I think is overkill. I love your seafood salad; change out the shrimp cocktail to oysters, thinly sliced smoked salmon on crostini with dill cream or some type of scallop dish or other dish.

                        You're doing pasta with lobster then the main entrée with lobster. You are leaving nothing for the guests to look forward to between those courses. IMO, pick one and change the other to another fish or seafood dish.

                        Also IMO, while I would happily be a guest at your table, your dishes are heavy - lobster with butter, lobster with pasta, fried calamari, crab dip - you need something else light, like a salad.

                        And, what? No dessert?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Cherylptw

                          Yeah where's the dessert? Italian pastries or cookies at the very least.

                        2. It sounds like a crazy amount of food to me....

                          I would axe the app that is the biggest pain in your a$$

                          Skip the ravioli.

                          Lobster plus veggie sides, clarified butter to dip the lobster. I have a hard time believing many people would be able to eat a whole lobster plus one or two other mains, plus veggies after the apps spread.....unless you have 10 hungry teenaged boys coming ;)

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            Once a year, that's the tradition in our house though....seven types of fish for all, young and old.

                            If you give your guests 5 or 6 hours, it is quite the feast, and eagerly looked forward to the rest of the year. Not sure if that's what OP is going for, but the abundance can be quite enjoyable.

                            1. re: coll

                              It would be nice to know if a seven fishes meal is what they're aiming for. And, if so, I believe I counted NINE seafood dishes :) I think a whole lobster per person when served with other mains is WAY too much food. As mentioned, I'd deconstruct and serve in pieces. I'm guessing it's going to be a buffet (???) so it could be served cold with lemon rather than butter and people could pick and choose.

                              And to answer OPs question, it really does sound like way, way too much food. If I were your guest, I'd be embarrassed when I couldn't get past the apps. Much less if a whole lobster were put on my plate.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                I count six! Different recipes using the same fish don't count, at least not in my book.

                                It took me awhile to adjust my menu this year, even though there are only three of us so it's not really a big deal like the old days. BIL offered to bring oysters and clams on the half shell, totally untraditional for us, but that inspired me to go for broke, one more (last?) time.

                                1. re: coll

                                  Ah, I didn't know the Italian way of counting :) It sounds like a wonderful meal.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    At least that's how it's done in my husband's family, if you have a little of something left over it goes in the pasta, or with the antipasta.

                                  2. re: coll

                                    So....Lobster 5 ways is only ONE?...... :0)

                                    http://eathere2.blogspot.com/2007/01/...

                                    http://www.foodjunkiechronicles.net/2...

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      To me, yes. It's based more on the invoice from the fish store than what happens in the kitchen....easier to keep track of!

                                      1. re: coll

                                        yup. my family too. at least 7 different kinds of seafood, not just a bunch of dishes using the same thing.

                            2. I would lose the lobster ravioli and do pasta with white or red clam. Very easy. Or you could do a fra diavolo that would include clams/mussels, shrimp, calamari or scallops. Something to add a little zing to the menu.

                              1. I'd add some kind of winter salad; yes, that is more from the Polish Vigilia tradition than the Italian, but it is refreshing and works well if you live in a cold climate.

                                1. I was planning to just do cioppino for my italian in-laws and my family this year, but then when my dad started offering to bring xy&z that he caught on his new boat this year, my meal quickly became a feast of 7 fishes. An easy way to add an additional fish, plus a fairly low maintenance dish is a caesar salad. Anchovies count, no?

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: LaureltQ

                                    Sounds wonderful. Last I checked anchovies were fish :) I'm making cioppino for dinner. I have a recipe but do you have a favorite?

                                    1. re: LaureltQ

                                      Anchovies definitely count. I changed my pasta to aglio e olio with anchovies just to get the seventh fish in.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        I really hate it when people say "yum," but I'm going to say YUM! That sounds perfect, coll.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Thanks, with all the other courses I need something simple, and this is such a quick recipe although so hard to get just right. I tried and I tried, and then a few days after DHs grandmother passed I went to the stove and it just magically came out perfect.

                                          It will always be a special dish for me; and for them too of course, although sad to say no one else has the faintest clue. And to think I almost gave up on it.

                                          1. re: coll

                                            It's my favorite dish on Christmas Eve. Angel hair with anchovies, garlic, parsley & breadcrumbs.

                                            1. re: Snorkelvik

                                              Oh yeah, don't forget the breadcrumbs. A chef I know calls them "sand" but it's so much better than that. Less than 24 hours to go. I bought DeCecco cappellini for the occasion.

                                    2. I suggest you invite me!
                                      Wow, that's an ambitious menu with a lot of items that need last minute preparation. Will you have a sous chef or two? As a retired chef who has planned countless parties I would:

                                      Serve either shrimp cocktail or seafood salad, not both. You might want to add sea scallops and/or octopus to your salad.
                                      I would take away a hot app, probably the fried calamari because it involves more intensive last minute preparation than the clams do and I would add a non-seafood appetizer because not everyone loves seafood.
                                      As someone else said replace the lobster ravioli because it's redundant.
                                      I would combine the whole lobster and baked stuffed shrimp and served baked lobster with shrimp stuffing. For a holiday dinner party, it's nice to have the lobster meat accessible just with a knife and fork.
                                      Are you planning to bake or saute the cod? I would opt for baking it in my gas grill top down to free up oven space and minimize last minute prep.
                                      I find the biggest issue in most home kitchens is keeping everything warm. I have an electric smoker that I fire up set low to hold the sides but try to use sides that hold heat well like casseroles of rice pilaf, potatoes au gratin, creamed spinach etc
                                      What time is dinner? .

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: zackly

                                        Great post with VERY practical advice. And most especially I love the idea of using the electric smoker as a warming oven. Why don't you post that suggestion on the BBQ etc board?

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/93

                                        That's a really brilliant idea and something I'd have never thought of. Thanks.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          The first dishwasher I owned, 25+ years ago,allowed you to turn on the heat (drying cycle) alone. Besides being a perfect "proof box" for yeast dough, I also use it to keep foods warm for a party.