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9 Houseguests on the Way -- for 10 Days

Beginning to stock the freezer and fridge with as many make-ahead items as I can think of. Already in the fridge and freezer: Portioned out duxelles, cooked spinach, roasted onions, potted beer cheese spread/apple chutney, orange butter, salad dressings and a couple of veggie/fruit breads, and a vat of spaghetti sauce. Also have all the dry ingredients for whole grain bread bagged up and in the freezer, and building a stock of baguettes.
Other thoughts on items I can pre-cook now to speed preparations later would be most welcome.
The limitations are severe: We're in Washington, DC, and it will be H.O.T. (As in, chili is probably not a good idea.) The Friend eats only seafood and dairy products, including Happy Chicken eggs, but no beef, poultry, pork, or lamb. (So much for a country ham with all the fixings....sigh.)
We have a second fridge, and the goal is to get a good head-start, not the entire 10 days of breakfast and dinner for 11 people. OH -- 7 of the guests are French, as in coming from Paris.

asked by Melusine over 2 years ago
33 answers 1588 views
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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 2 years ago

Pesto is always a good one to have on hand for quick dinners, be it over pasta, or spread upon a sliced baguette, or even in a salad dressing for greens or a pasta salad. http://thesolitarycook...
Salmon burgers can be served as burgers or over a salad
http://thesolitarycook...
First Night in Florence Spaghetti is a cinch to toss together
http://thesolitarycook...

Most of all, don't hesitate to delegate tasks to willing hands. I'm sure you will have some.

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HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Keep in mind that most French (actually most Europeans) don't like very hot spicy food. They don't really eat eggs for breakfast and they don't do too much sweet stuff, though brunch is starting to get popular. For breakfast, I would offer some baked muffins, biscuits, or bread, some homemade yogurt, and hot coffee or tea & juice.

I would make lots of vegetable and seafood stocks for making sauces and focus on America's secret weapon: fresh summer produce. Europeans are almost always amazed at the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available to us. They think we only eat fast food and stuff that comes in cans. I would plan dinners around what's in season and available at the farmer's market. With seafood, I'm thinking a seafood boil and/or a clambake should be dinner at some point.

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added over 2 years ago

I will never forget my stay in the Midwest , fried chicken , instant potatoes and yes frozen corn 4 days in a row , at the airport we rushed for pizza ., they had nothing else , these is a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables , sadly out of reach of most , including in the country side .

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Maedl

Margie is a trusted home cook immersed in German foodways.

added over 2 years ago

Fresh fruit and veg are not hard to find in the Midwest! I grew up there and even back in the Palaeolithic, we had plenty of seasonal produce straight from the farmer. I can't imagine why anyone would serve you fried chicken, instant potatoes, and frozen corn for any other reason than he or she is lazy and/or highly uncreative.

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amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Yes, this is an unfortunate impression. Of course there are cooks everywhere who don't avail themselves of fresh produce, but it is most definitely not lacking in the Midwest. I've spent considerable time in Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri and Western PA, going back 20+ years - all have wonderful produce. Apologies to my hometown Union Square market, but the best farmer's market I've been to is in Madison, WI.

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added over 2 years ago

These recipes are marvelous to make ahead:
https://food52.com/recipes...
https://food52.com/recipes...

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added over 2 years ago

This would also a great accompaniment for assemble-yourself breakfast tacos or as a side for lunch or dinner:

https://food52.com/blog...

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

I agree with Sam. When I travel, I do not want to eat what I eat at home. I want to eat and absorb the cultures of where I have traveled to.
Also, if I were the friend who had such dietary restrictions, I would insist that you not structure meals around me. I know you want everyone to be happy, but your friend may feel badly if everyone has to eat what she eats.
Frittatas are great for make ahead meals and they are good at room temp. Chopped salads can be fun. You can set them up like a salad bar and include chopped hard boiled eggs, fun salami and cheeses, shrimp and some good bread. Maybe even your beloved ham. :)

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added over 2 years ago

I am a huge fan of livening up routine sandwiches,soups,meals,etc with extra savory and flavorful sauces.Pesto has been suggested,and today on Food52 there is a great Green Green Caesar dressing that works with salads,breads,and crudities.Cranberry/orange sauce can easily be stirred together from canned cranberry sauce and orange marmalade. Both the Pesto and Cranberry/orange sauce can be thinned with mayo for a wrap or sandwich spread.They keep in jars in the frig for weeks.There is also an aioli strongly flavored with lemon and garlic on Food52 that is very versatile.It can swing between seafood,to bruscetta,to dip for crudités,just remember to make double for each recipe as they have such multiple uses on many meal plans.When all else fails,make cheese toasts from a variety of breads,with a variety of cheeses,and put out the special sauces in small conserve cups and let each fix their own favorite blend.

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Showing off all the great seasonal produce sounds like a great idea. Some can be made ahead and frozen.

Amanda's easy, delicious peach tart. But you might want to make 1-1/2 times the dough to serve 10-12. You can use a cookie sheet if you don't have a pie dish large enough. Use a crumpled strip of tin foil to "shorten" the cookie sheet if you don't have enough dough to fill the whole sheet.
https://food52.com/recipes...

Just saw this California Gazpacho:
https://food52.com/blog...

Vegetarian lasagna
https://food52.com/recipes...

Zucchini sauteed with mint, basil, walnuts
https://food52.com/recipes...

Summer Squash Gratin with salsa verde and gruyere (crazy delicious)
https://food52.com/recipes...

Lots of easy strawberry shortcakes. You don't even have to bake biscuits. Buy scones, cut in half. Macerate some hulled strawberries in a little sugar for an hour or two. Spoon over toasted scone halves, spritz with whipped cream, garnish with a little mint.

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

You could easily add some grilled chicken or shrimp to lots of the salads people have mentioned.

A few other ideas:

Summer squash couscous with sultanas (raisins), pistachios and mint
https://food52.com/recipes...

Couscous w Chickpeas, Lemon, Onion, Raisins, Celery & Bell Peppers
http://www.publicradio...

Cherry Clafoutis
https://food52.com/recipes...

Get a bunch of people to help you pit the cherries, then make this to spoon over ice cream or pound cake. (Here's how to use a chopstick or plastic drinking straw as a cherry pitter: https://food52.com/blog....)
Cherry Compote by David Lebovitz
http://www.davidlebovitz...

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

How could I have forgotten corn?

Amagansett Corn Salad w/cherry tomatoes, basil, sugar snap peas
https://food52.com/recipes...

It sounds like your friends eat organic chicken? The Silver Palate's Chicken Marbella is an excellent make-ahead dish for a crowd and the leftovers are great picnic or lunch fare. You can google it up or send me an email and I can email it to you.


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Peter

While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.

added over 2 years ago

As the creator of this salad, I whole-heartedly endorse it. :-)

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added over 2 years ago

Everything they all said and fish tacos. I've made these for guests and served chips and salsa as a starter, and corn salad and beans with the tacos. http://food52.com/recipes...

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Maedl

Margie is a trusted home cook immersed in German foodways.

added over 2 years ago

I would try to get to the DuPont Circle farmers market and get crab cakes from Chris's Crabcakes--don't spring for the jumbo lump cakes. the cheaper ones are better, although it will still be expensive. I don't know if the corn is in yet--might be too early, but try New Morning Farms to see if they have any yet. Corn in Europe doesn't begin to compare to what we grow in the US. and ditto for tomatoes--the small Sun Golds, also from NMF, are always heavenly. And for dessert, blueberries! Perhaps a cobbler, which is easier than a pie. Be sure to pick up cream from the dairy that sells milk--it is thick and yellow and is perfect for whipping.

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sexyLAMBCHOPx

Chops is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Pizza

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sexyLAMBCHOPx

Chops is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Also some stir-fries.

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

BTW I wasn't joking about the Red Solo Cups.

http://www.buzzfeed.com...

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Sam, that's very funny

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amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Big vat of New England clam chowder - very American summer, and enough - with some easily made cornbread or purchased good bread and a salad - to be a meal. Spanish tortillas or frittatas, with any veg's/cheese you like - inexpensive for a crowd and can be made ahead to be served room temp. Cold beet borscht (bad manners to suggest my recipe on this site?) is easily made in quantity. Summer fruit/berry crisps are easy made in quantity - with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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added over 2 years ago

Yikes! I'm in Washington too, and I appreciate your situation. Two things I've made lately with great success: (1) cool salad of cucumber and red onion, sliced on mandoline, with champagne vinaigrette; and (2) julienned summer squash & carrots with a citrus vinaigrette. Try dill or other fresh herbs with either. I also recommend, from Trader Joe's, a bag of "Colossal" frozen shrimp. It is tasty and ready to eat after 10 minutes on a baking sheet at 400. Toss with salt and pepper and a little olive oil first. I'm planning to serve stuff like this to family visiting in early August. Enjoy!

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

I mentioned in an earlier post how you could use a baking (cookie) sheet pan to make a tart when it has to be bigger than a pie dish. Here's a link:

Hacking a Tart Pan
https://food52.com/blog...

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added over 2 years ago

You poor thing. I hope one or two of your guests likes to cook and that all of them take turns treating you all to restaurant. Good luck and don't stress.

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added over 2 years ago

As a Frenchman , I love to sample different foods from the US , we Eat eggs in the AM not the same way as you do , scramble are very slow cooked eggs with cream , omelettes are like souffles , If they are younger generation they will eat spicy food , , you have the home advantage , breakfast extra strong coffee , most of the time we use whole milk which is closer to 1/2 and 1/2 , Don't worry , relax and take your time , have fun ....

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ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

I would bake at least a couple of those loaves of bread ahead and freeze them once they've cooled. Double bag them. They'll be beautiful.

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ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 2 years ago

Make Mrs.Larkin's Ramp Tramp Dressing. They'll LOVE it! It's also a great sauce for grilled fish as much as for salad dressing. I know it'll be hot in DC. I'd be planning lots of grilled fish. And if you have to do it indoors, fish cooks so quickly.

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Peter

While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.

added over 2 years ago

Pesto. Baked french toast. A very simple picnic at the National Arboretum or any one of a dozen other lovely places in DC. And don't forget, the french can eat some very big meals but also eat some very small ones as well. Breakfast could be as simple as some bread and jam and butter, yogurt, granola, and (a lot) of berries for everyone to fix for themselves. (You can make the Food52 Olive Oil granola recipe in advance -- it keeps well and is DELICIOUS.)

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added over 2 years ago

Pulled pork freezes beautifully for make ahead meal.

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Maedl

Margie is a trusted home cook immersed in German foodways.

added over 2 years ago

Speaking of picnics, the US botanic Garden at the foot of the Hill is a lovely place for a picnic. They have tables on their terrace, which is filled with hanging baskets and containers of flowers. if you don't want to cook, pick up your meal at Hill Country--it is on either 7th or 9th St--and get some bottles of beer from one of DC's breweries. The Arboretum is a good idea too, but check their hours. They reduced their opening hours drastically this last year.

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added over 2 years ago

I found that people love lentil burritos made in this way. Cook up 1 large chopped onion and 1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic in a tablespoon or 2 of canola oil. I do this in a 10-inch cast iron pan over medium heat. After 3 or 4 minutes, I add 1 T chili powder, 2 t cumin, 1 t oregano and 1 cup lentils. Stir this for about 30 seconds. Add 2.5 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. This is the filling, enough for six 10-inch burritos. (It can be made repeatedly, or doubled/tripled if you have the right cookware.) The filling can be held in the refrigerator for days. One of these burritos is pretty filling as I sprinkle cheddar cheese on the lentils before rolling it up and then serve it with salsa, guacamole and sour cream. But if you allow 2 for each person, and end up with leftovers, that is a good thing--they are delicious!

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SKK
added over 2 years ago

HillaryBees recipe for quinoa and kale crustless quiche. You can make it ahead by components or the whole thing and freeze it. Amazing for breakfast or lunch. https://food52.com/recipes...

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added over 2 years ago

Wow -- thank you all very much! Low country boil, fish tacos and all the super-fresh corn and watermelon I can get my hands on are already on the plan. Adding salmon burgers, chowder and how could I have forgotten the spinach/potato frittata on this site with Ms. Larkin's fabulous Special Sauce??? Trying out the First Night in Florence pasta this evening on The Friend. Mass quantities of bread dough, roasted onions and garlic are also now in the freezer.

For what it's worth, this is the ONE French family that cannot cook. Not kidding -- we come armed with good knives when we visit, and have stocked their kitchen with a few utensils we always use. They marvel that we can march into the kitchen and cook for 11 people without blinking. We don't tell them it's out of self-defense.

Thank you all -- two weeks and counting!