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I need some help planning a dinner menu for some foodie friends (I'm only mediocre in the kitchen). Help!

asked by Stephanie 10 months ago
19 answers 2487 views
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added 10 months ago

If you and your friends enjoy fish, you could do some kind of seafood poached in olive oil with a big salad and a homemade vinaigrette. A nice loaf from the bakery would be easy.

Buddhacat
SKK
added 10 months ago

You cannot go wrong with Stephanie G's recommendation. Fresh fish and a salad with the best greens. My question is what do you like to cook? Let's plan from there.

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added 10 months ago

I do love this idea - my husband is a bit iffy with fish. He likes tilapia & halibut but that's it - I can't get him to eat anything else. Do you think these can be made dinner-party-worthy?

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added 10 months ago

Neither of us are great cooks, to be honest. I can't for the life of me figure out how we got roped into this dinner club with such foodies. At home we cook a lot of vegetarian stuff - lentil soups, the amazing beet burger recipe from Food52, kale & quinoa...that kind of stuff. Everyday stuff that tastes good but I can't quite see how to turn that into appropriate dinner party fare.

Baci1
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 10 months ago

Since we're sort of on the subject of seafood, I suggest fish en papillote. Simple with an nice presentation and you don't really need a side dish. For dessert, poached pears.

Fish en Papillote,http://www.cookingchanneltv...

Poached Pears,http://www.foodnetwork...

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added 10 months ago

Oh I love this idea! The salmon looks beautiful but I'd have to use halibut to sell my husband on it. Thank you!!

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added 10 months ago

One more question - I do worry a little that this might not be enough food. Would it be crazy to also include a side dish of some sort? And if I were to add another side...any suggestions?

Baci1
HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 10 months ago

If you want an additional side, a salad, like Stephanie G suggest, would be nice. I also suggest spinach sauteed with olive oil and garlic. Or garlic mashed potatoes (using chicken broth), http://allrecipes.com/Recipe...
(I would add a little olive oil to this recipe for a richness without the dairy).

Patty_marguet
added 10 months ago

make it all ahead so you can relax & enjoy your company:

• appetizer ~ hummus with fresh cut veggies & crusty baguette

• dinner ~ slow cooker entrée served over a pasta or brown rice with a side of beets or brussels sprouts tossed with feta cheese & a little oil & vinegar (starches & pre-cooked veggies can be served at room temp.)

• dessert ~ cookies

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added 10 months ago

thank you! I love the idea of making ahead so I'm not frantic while also trying to entertain our guests. And I love your suggestion for sides - that sounds delicious! Thanks again

Open-uri20131029-15207-1uj2enm
added 10 months ago

I suggest the following:

+ Some kind of stew for main course, you almost cannot go wrong with this. Hunter's Style chicken would be excellent for this (http://www.simplyrecipes...). If vegan, serve vegetable stew (http://food52.com/recipes...). This can be made ahead. Serve over rice/grains/pasta or with crusty bread.

+ As a side, roasted vegetables are fantastic, esp. roasted squash or cauliflower. Or if you are already serving vegetable stew, raw salad or quick stir fried veggies are nice. Baked sweet potato fries are also usually a big hit.

+ Go simple w dessert. Fruit crisps, baked apples, poached fruits, fresh fruit salad, chocolate dipped fruits (provide a bowl of chocolate, melted in the microwave), trifle or parfait are all very good options. And most of them can be made ahead.

You could always them to bring a dish to help out - appetizers, side dish, or dessert. For dinner parties, I rarely make dessert and always ask my guests to bring it.

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added 10 months ago

Thank you! I love these ideas too. Prepping a stew in advance sounds great - and it would take some of the pressure off while everyone is there. Our kitchen is totally open concept so I have nowhere to freak out if things aren't going well!

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added 10 months ago

Braises are always a good idea because they can be prepared the day before and take the pressure off of you on the day of. Think stews--like beef burgundy or Provencal lamb stew. Julia Child's recipes for both of these are lengthy, but Julia will hold your hand every step of the way and if you follow her directions, you won't go wrong. Couscous or tagines are also good choices for a lengthy meal. The recipes may look long, but that's because numerous spices are among the ingredients. Claudia Roden's and Paula Wolfert's books are good sources for these recipes. Otherwise, think some sort of goulasch, which can be made with either beef or pork, or brisket, which you can dress up with pomegranate or other flavors. The main thing, is after you choose your recipe, read and understand it. Do your shopping a day or two before you cook and be sure you have all the ingredients on hand. When you start cooking, follow the directions and don't try substitutions at this point. For that, wait until you have more experience in the kitchen. And enjoy!

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added 10 months ago

This is wonderful advice - thank you. I will definitely look into some of these resources you recommended. Our guests are wine connoisseurs (on top of everything else) so I love the idea of a beef burgundy for pairing with some great reds. Now I just need to master the actual cooking!

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added 10 months ago

Stephanie, if the dinner is far enough into the future, you could cook your choice as a dry run and have a super meal for the family. If you do that, you will feel confident the day of your dinner party. And it wouldn't be such a bad idea to sample some of the wines along with your trial run dinner!

Yo_face
added 10 months ago

Since your friends are foodies, I think they would enjoy a well balanced, thought out meal. Meaning each course compliments each other. For instance, my go to meal is usually a modern take on coq a vin with mashed potatoes. Like many of the other suggestions a stew or braised dish can be cooked way ahead of time leaving you time for the other courses. I would start with a refreshing salad to counteract the richness of the main entree. For dessert something light as well. Maybe something citrusy such as a lemon curd tart or a chocolate soufflé. I know, who makes soufflés? Believe me, they are way easier than most people think and are always well received. Good Luck and most of all relax and enjoy yourself.

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added 10 months ago

These all look like great suggestions! The other thing to remember is that even your foodie friends just want a good meal. It doesn't have to look like it came from a restaurant, it just has to taste delicious. Don't stress too much!

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added 10 months ago

This is an awesome make ahead recipe for your entree - it's better the next day. I've served it with hot buttered noodles or mashed potatoes - so good. http://food52.com/recipes...

Buy a great selection of charcuterie - salamis, prosciutto, pates, maybe a great ripe cheese and serve heaped up on a big wooden board with honeycomb, cornichons, crackers, bread. Looks great and you can set it all out 30 minutes before your guests arrive and just cover over with saran wrap.

Me_in_munich_with_fish
added 10 months ago

This is less of an answer and more encouragement. Be not afraid! It's sad that foodies have the power to terrorize their friends and family--this should not be the case. I'm sure your cooking skills are more than adequate to make tasty food. And that's all that is required of you in this scenario: tasty food. Don't feel obliged to make dishes you aren't comfortable with containing ingredients that will wreck your budget. Just make tasty food.
A good, simple pasta dish is always nice--is it possible to go wrong with spaghetti bolognese or a hearty red sauce? If you're really feeling gracious, make a lasagne, which I personally think is underrated. You could also go the way of the braise, which is a comforting, flavorful way to take advantage of "budget" cuts of meat--coq au vin is a great example of this. I love to serve braises with risotto or a rich polenta.
Or you could even make a from-scratch chicken pot pie. They're pretty simple, especially if you just make one in a baking dish with a top crust only (I think double-crusted pot pies are too doughy, so I love the one-crust approach). And I find them to be irresistibly delicious.
For dessert, flourless chocolate cake is an excellent stand-by. You could even just put together a cheese plate for dessert. Or make cookies--chocolate sablés or nutty biscotti--and serve with good ice cream. The important thing, I think, is to uncomplicate things. Make foods that you like and are reasonably comfortable making, use good ingredients, and have faith in yourself.