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Need a fresh menu for older people, two couples, special dinner.

My parents just moved from their long-time house to a nearby condo. I’d like to make an “inaugural” dinner for them and their two best friends. So 4 total – I’ll be cooking, serving and fiddling with the music – I want to cook & wait on them hand and foot, not dine with them.

I’m just tired of doing steak, roasted rosemary potatoes and string beans with almonds for an older group.

I live close by so can do most of the prep at home. They have a standard, small kitchen (gas range, single oven with broiler) and an outdoor grill (small 2 burner).

Group: 4, ages 75 - 87
Needs: low sodium, no tomatoes, no onions, no excessive garlic, no legumes/beans, no peppers, no hot spices, and nothing that might require Tums or a wheelchair afterward

Steak, lamb, fish, shellfish are fine. Pork too – but maybe not celebratory enough?

Desert is covered.

I would love your ideas. Thanks.

Answer »
Moi_1
QueenSashy added 11 months ago

It's the king salmon season. How about slow cooked king salmon (225F in the oven, for about 20-25 min, depending on the size) with a lovely sauce, or salsa. Very few things can beat king salmon, and you are serving four, so it is close to affordable...

Pegeen added 11 months ago

QueenS, I like that idea... with an interesting sauce. Thank you!

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lloreen added 11 months ago

This is very sweet of you, but probably they will want you to dine with them, if only for the conversation! If you chose salmon, I love salmon with sorrel sauce, a recipe by mrsweelbarrow way back in the beginning of this website. It is mild, delicious and easy to prepare partly ahead of time so you can be part of the entertainment. Have a great party!

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Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 11 months ago

Amanda's olive oil poached fish or shellfish (maybe attributed to Mark Bittman?) is also wonderful, and you could toss angel hair pasta (my parents-who are the same age- love angel hair pasta) with the seafood flavored olive oil, fresh herbs, maybe some Parmesan cheese. My parents also love spinach salad-- you could make a warm salad by sautéing thinly sliced mushrooms in olive oil and butter, then pouring it all over a bowl of baby spinach and tossing it all together till the spinach is just wilted. Maybe add some crunchy bacon (so it's a play on that old spinach salad that used to be so popular-- or not if you're trying to keep it low sodium-- maybe some toasted nuts or breadcrumbs instead?) and a little sherry vinegar to brighten it. You're a great daughter!

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Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 11 months ago

Here's the recipe: <a href="http://food52.com/recipes/4155-olive-oil-poached-fish-or-shellfish" target="_blank">http://food52.com/recipes/4155-olive-oil-poached-fish-or-shellfish</a>

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EmilyC added 11 months ago

Salmon and olive-oil poached fish, as suggested, sound lovely. Since you suggested lamb, the other thing that immediately comes to mind is the Genius roast lamb shoulder. It's so tender and delicious. You could pair it with the suggested mashed root vegetables and any number of seasonal sides (e.g., sauteed sugar snap peas with mint). Have fun!

rt21 added 11 months ago

How about starting with a cold cucumber soup, then an arugula salad with toasted nuts and goat cheese tossed in their favorite dressing. If you go with the salmon maybe a warm potato salad and some grilled or steamed asparagus

Junechamp

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 11 months ago

King Salmon is a really special dish. Here's a really easy but impressive way to serve it: http://food52.com/recipes....
Another idea might be scallops. This http://food52.com/recipes... -- is my favorite way to prepare them. My folks used to love them!
And since you mentioned lamb, I'll suggest my winning recipe for Leg of Lamb with Garlic Sauce (not spicy): http://food52.com/recipes.... Plus there'll be some left for sandwiches!

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Summer of Eggplant added 11 months ago

I know it's not fancy but nothing says 'welcome home' than a roasted chicken, perhaps stuffed with herbs. That would give you the ability to mingle a little. Maybe served with the sweet potatoes Anna on this sitehttp://food52.com/recipes... And a salad filled with everything good in season.

Bigpan
bigpan added 11 months ago

I have volunteered and eaten with seniors in this age group and agree that you have to go easy on spice, garlic, heat, etc. You said "you" are tired of cooking the same old same old. But, are they tired of it?
I would stick with foods they like rather than what you want to show off doing. (no insult intended, it is "their" night) Perhaps a chicken breast with wing bone on (french style) and tip cut off. Roast with some lemon and herbs. Don't overcook, they like soft food. Maybe a stuffed pork tenderloin. I would stay away from hard to chew foods like lamb or beef. Mashed potato (or turnip) with some gravy made from the chicken drippings. Try a new veg...instead of your beans and almonds, perhaps some stir fried carrot/jicima/asparagus - nice colors. For dessert perhaps a creme brulee.
Start with an amuse bouche of bleu cheese on flatbread with some marmalade on top.
I seen with this age group too many folks sending back food and asking for a plain sandwich and jello because they don't like to experiment too much.

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healthierkitchen added 11 months ago

I noticed that you didn't mention chicken, but Amanda's spatchcocked and braise roasted chicken is really nice and can be dressed up with side dishes. It's asparagus season in many areas so that might be a nice base for a vegetable dish and maybe a risotto alongside?

Bigpan
bigpan added 10 months ago

Another thought is to go italian...spaghetti and meatballs is a favorite for any age group. Dress it up with a nice checkered tablecloth, candles, fancy salad, appetizers to start and tiramisu to end.

Pegeen added 10 months ago

Thank you so much, everyone, for all the lovely menu ideas. There are so many good ideas here I can do menus for them for a couple months of Sundays! I’m going to go with the King Salmon – tender and easy to eat, nice to do something “in season,” they love salmon but wouldn’t splurge on it for themselves. Torn between Mrs. Larkin’s Watercress and Sorrel approach and ChefJune’s Falafel-Crusted (maybe have to omit the cumin), but if the Watercress & Sorrel, might try pureeing most of the greens into the sauce so they don’t compete with… the warm spinach salad! (Bacon crumbles on the side for those who dare mess with sodium.) New peas with shredded mint, a touch of butter. And maybe as contrast to the tart salmon sauce, spinach salad and green peas, the sweet potatoes Anna or regular pommes Anna.

Thanks again everyone for the thoughtful ideas – truly appreciated! I think they’ll love it.

Pegeen added 10 months ago

I forgot to say: I loved the idea of the cold cucumber soup to start but I fear I have too much green. Will look into a very light borscht, with a baguette with something creme fraiche-y for dunking. Served in my grandmother's tiny bouillon bowls, so that my Mom feels some reward for schlepping boxes to the new place.

amysarah added 10 months ago

I do a light, cold borscht that's a bit unusual: saute some chopped carrots/onions until soft, then add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook it down. When cool, puree the mixture with the beets/liquid (fresh, or honestly, canned beets are fine here) s&p, a pinch of sugar if you like, and then whisk in some buttermilk, until it's the shade of pink and shade of creamy you like. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, and sprinkle of chopped chives. Gorgeous colors and very tasty (also best made a day or so ahead, so good for entertaining - just give it a good whisking before serving.) My dad - who grew up on old school borscht - loved it.

Junechamp

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 10 months ago

recipe, please AmySarah!

amysarah added 10 months ago

Ok, will try! Will need to make a batch first to document real measurements – I’ve been making this for ages, and frankly, it’s all by eye/taste! Apropos, this is always my problem with submitting my own recipes – the best ones evolve over years … and if anything is written down at all, it tends to be very minimal (i.e., ‘add splash of’ or ‘saute a few’ or ‘reduce a little’…i.e., very scant details on measurements/timing.) Also, this borscht began with a recipe in a magazine many moons ago - but no recollection where. Over time I’ve tweaked and adapted it, but I can’t claim complete ‘ownership’ either…I’m never sure where that line is to be honest.

Hilary_sp1
Hilarybee added 10 months ago

I love the King Salmon idea and the warm spinach salad. I am somewhat concerned about the sorrel. Might not be a good choice, due to its propensity to wreak gastrointestinal havoc on some. Not everyone has the stomach enzymes to break it all down--and like some other very green vegetables--can cause after effects best left unspoken.

Pegeen added 10 months ago

Hilarybee, thank you for the heads-up about sorrel. (Whenever I hear sorrel I think "cows," and figure if they can eat it, I can. But wait a minute... ) I'm guessing Mrs. Larkin's sauce would be just as tasty if I pureed the sauce only with watercress and omitted the sorrel. Thanks.

Pegeen added 10 months ago

amysarah... Great. I'm going to make that ahead of time double-batch because I think I'll want to keep half of it myself. You should submit it here. Thanks!

Sit2
Sam1148 added 10 months ago

If you go with the Falafel crusted salmon. How about a bread course of flat bread, herbs, and Babaganoush; and a chilled cucumber/dill soup with fresh dill and greek yogurt garnish? (ah, I see you going with another chilled soup--good call).

Pegeen added 10 months ago

Sam, I love your food suggestions. But I fear Babaganoush = gastrointestinal \ postcards for people over a certain age.

I thank you for the dill reminder. Adding it to the salmon sauce. And some beautiful dill feathers as garnish on top.

Pegeen added 10 months ago

Wish we could edit our posts. I would have said, "But I fear Babaganoush for people over a certain age" and would have deleted everything else. Sorry.

Sit2
Sam1148 added 10 months ago

I'm not sure about that. It's one of my Mother Out Law's favorite dishes..and she's 75; no humus or bean dishes tho. The cumin in the felafel crust of the salmon might be too spicy for her tho so I'd have to adjust that for her.

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healthierkitchen added 10 months ago

sounds like a lovely dinner!

delectable.s. added 10 months ago

Roast chicken with a green salad

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cookinginvictoria added 10 months ago

Pegeen, your menu sounds lovely. I can vouch for mrswheelbarrow's Salmon With Sorrel Sauce recipe. It is one of my favorite recipes on this site. However, if you are worried about any possible digestive effects of sorrel, I can recommend one other delicious salmon recipe on food52 that I have made many times. It's especially good for dinner parties: thewimpyvegetarian's Grilled Salmon with Garlic Basil Butter for Easy Entertaining (http://food52.com/recipes...). In this recipe, the garlic is sauteed so the finished dish does not have a raw garlic flavor. The compound butter can be prepared ahead of time and the salmon cooks quickly, leaving lots of time to focus on other dishes and to mingle with the guests. What are you serving for dessert? :)

Pegeen added 10 months ago


"Mother Out Law." Sam, I love that. I love Babaganoush but I alas know their digestive tracts better than I know my own. (Sorry to put so fine a point on it.)
Roast Chicken has come up several times - truly a delicious comfort food. You've all reminded me to bring one over, so they can have a couple meals from it while they continue to unpack. I’m aiming for several courses, so we can use lots of my grandmother's china, so my Mom will see that she can still use it in this smaller space and it doesn't have to be dinner for 25-30, which she served for so many decades. These major life changes are HARD.
Cookinginictoria - Dessert is chocolate mousse with either (or both) raspberry sauce (seedless! no denture problems) or vanilla cognac sauce. And a bunch of messy cupcakes that, if lined up correctly, will spell out Happy New Home (assuming the grandchildren I paid handsomely for the task get it right).

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inpatskitchen added 10 months ago

I know I'm late to the party but when tomatoes and basil are at their peak this summer, consider Dad's Favorite Seafood Stew:
http://food52.com/recipes...
Broth can be made ahead so it's just a matter of throwing the seafood in just before serving. And with a green salad and crusty bread, it's a perfect summer and celebratory dinner!

Pegeen added 10 months ago

Cookinginvictoria - the Salmon with Garlic Basil Butter sounds lovely (keeping it for another time) but I've committed to the watercress sauce, omitting sorrel, maybe subbing some dill, or something. It's an awesome piece of salmon, want it to shine on its own. inpatskitchen... love your Seafood Stew recipe. This is what I'd want someone to make for me. Alas, no tomatoes and not much garlic allowed. But thank you!

paseo added 10 months ago

A side of polenta and it goes well with salmon

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themissingingredient added 10 months ago

Wild Salmon season is here and I have it at least 2 to 3 times a week. Why not make a casserole like pasticio or lasagne? Then everyone gets the gift of leftovers to enjoy the next day and they don't have to cook.

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krusher added 10 months ago

I have been a member of Food52 for some years. I have learned a great deal from enthusiastic cooks. I have read Hotline almost every day through that time and laud its presence. To me this thread is the way it should always be. A real question from a real person who has a real issue. Loving and generous responses flowing in daily from our Food52 activity community. No hectoring or lecturing - just sharing. I am sure your meal will be wonderful Pegeen. Your parents will be delighted for sure.

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krusher added 10 months ago

I have been a member of Food52 for some years. I have learned a great deal from enthusiastic cooks. I have read Hotline almost every day through that time and laud its presence. To me this thread is the way it should always be. A real question from a real person who has a real issue. Loving and generous responses flowing in daily from our Food52 activity community. No hectoring or lecturing - just sharing. I am sure your meal will be wonderful Pegeen. Your parents will be delighted for sure.

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krusher added 10 months ago

I have been a member of Food52 for some years. I have learned a great deal from enthusiastic cooks. I have read Hotline almost every day through that time and laud its presence. To me this thread is the way it should always be. A real question from a real person who has a real issue. Loving and generous responses flowing in daily from our Food52 activity community. No hectoring or lecturing - just sharing. I am sure your meal will be wonderful Pegeen. Your parents will be delighted for sure.

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krusher added 10 months ago

I have been a member of Food52 for some years. I have learned a great deal from enthusiastic cooks. I have read Hotline almost every day through that time and laud its presence. To me this thread is the way it should always be. A real question from a real person who has a real issue. Loving and generous responses flowing in daily from our Food52 activity community. No hectoring or lecturing - just sharing. I am sure your meal will be wonderful Pegeen. Your parents will be delighted for sure.

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krusher added 10 months ago

Sorry not sure how that happened.

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cookinginvictoria added 10 months ago

Pegeen, tonight for a family b-day dinner, I made mrswheelbarrow's Salmon in Sorrel Sauce with fresh sockeye salmon. This has got to be one of my favorite food52 recipes -- so delicous and really highlights the flavor of fresh salmon. Subbing watercress is a great idea. Your parents and their guests are sure to love it. Your desserts sound great too. Please report back and let us all know how the dinner went. :)

Pegeen added 10 months ago

Friends - The dinner for my Mom & Dad last night, and their best friends, was delicious and a big success. Of course the fireworks for my Mom & Dad were the grandchildren and the cupcakes.
I so appreciated your thoughts and advice on menus. I've been a little weary helping them move, so your thoughts were so helpful and saved me some tasks. A few of you asked to know how it turned out, so I'll leave a post soon.
Cheers, everyone. There are so many celebratory occasions for younger people - nice to do one for older people.
Thank you again! - P.

Pegeen added 10 months ago
Voted the Best Answer!

My Mother thanks you, my Father thanks you, and Fred & Ethel (their best friends) thank you! You all rock. Thanks to your considerate ideas, the “congratulations” dinner at my parents’ new home/condo was wonderful. No polite little piles of uneaten food on anybody’s plate – all happy.

They got a kick out of hearing how the menu was “crowd sourced.” When I tried to explain it, my mother said, “Oh, you mean like women gossiping after church?” I wish I could have used all your ideas – so many good ones – plenty of ideas for many more dinners.

I think I mentioned a key intention was to use as much of my grandmother’s china as possible, as packing it up made my mother weep. We Do Not Like Mom Crying. Very hard to leave the home where you raised your children and hosted every holiday, every year, for decades, for extended family. I wanted her to know it is perfectly OK to use china for only four – doesn’t have to be twenty-four or forty-four.

I didn’t serve hors d’oeuvres. This age group gets tired earlier and they don’t have huge appetites. And I didn’t want to run the risk of smacking anyone upside the head with the frying pan if they told me, “I’m just so full already…”

Starter was amysarah’s cold borscht in petite bouillon bowls with tiny ears. Needed something that wasn’t green, made ahead, could be served cold. (Also, Fred & Ethel have Russian roots, so the borscht added points, in case anything went wrong later in the evening.) Dollop of crème fraiche and chopped chives to serve. I worked with amysarah’s recipe above, guesstimated the measurements (have made a lot of soup in my day). Thank you, amysarah, it was delicious. I know ChefJune and others join me here and in the Features piece on borscht, badgering you to post your recipe. :-)

The price of the King Salmon caused me to faint. But a dashing social technology entrepreneur, standing behind me in line, caught me as I fell and then proposed marriage, so all’s well that ends well.

I went with Mrs. Larkin’s salmon with watercress and sorrel, except I subbed more watercress for the sorrel – Hilarybee mentioned sorrel can be hard on the stomach. And I pureed the watercress with the dressing to make a green sauce, so as not to have another salad – used Barbara’s idea for warm spinach salad. The crumbled bacon served on the side disappeared. EmilyC’s idea for sugar snap peas and shredded mint (tear the strings off the peas, cut on the bias in thirds, steamed, touch of butter, shredded mint). My grandmother’s Pommes Anna, the standard recipe I think you’d find in Joy of Cooking or Julia Child.

Dessert – Ina Garten’s chocolate and orange mousse. Plus the grandchildren for a surprise visit with their cupcakes that spelled out “Happy New Home.” And a little champagne in my GREAT grandmother’s remaining teacups.

Thank you, everyone. I’d tell my mother about Food52 except I need one place to go where she can’t find me.

amysarah added 10 months ago

First, please tell me their names really are Fred and Ethel - if you say your parents' names are Ricky and Lucy, the jig is up! What a lovely dinner -it all sounds wonderful, especially with the china and the grandkids' contributions. So glad you liked the soup - it's very flexible (I probably never do it precisely the same twice) so I'm sure your guestimated version was great. But fyi - I did post the recipe here yesterday - had to make a batch first to actually measure the ingredients (it's usually all by eye.) See what you think! Btw, the inspiration for that recipe was my grandmother, who was Russian like Fred and Ethel ...'balsamic' would have meant nothing to her, but she made a hell of a (more traditional) borscht.

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krusher added 10 months ago

Fantastic post. Thank you for sharing. I am smiling and chuckling as I am typing this. Simply wonderful.

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EmilyC added 10 months ago

Wow -- what an awesome menu and experience! Thanks so much for circling back!

Abby A added 10 months ago

wondreful update. Wishing your parents lots of happiness in their new home! The menu sounds fantastic!

Pegeen added 10 months ago

amysarah, re Fred & Ethel, they’ve been known by those names forever, because they’ve always been the perfect understudies. They are indeed Russian. Next time I do dinner again for Mom, Dad & them, will check out your new borscht.

Cheers everyone and thanks for your help and kind thoughts. If you’re able, do something nice for older people. Getting older is not for sissies, takes courage.

No need to email me as additional
answers are added to this question.