Make-ahead dinner party ideas needed

I'm planning an 80th birthday dinner for my MIL - 13 to 15 people including two non-meat eaters. Ideally not too spicy or salty (but flavorful!). The one dish I will be making a la minute are the corn fritters from last summer. DD asked for those specifically. I would like to make as much in advance as possible and could use some ideas. Would consider one meat and one fish. Thanks!

Jocelyn Grayson


betteirene April 11, 2011
Yogurt pie: Whip 1 or 2 cups of heavy cream and 1/4 cup powdered sugar into stiff peaks. Fold in 2 cups flavored yogurt. Taste, and add up to 1/4 cup additional powdered sugar if necessary. Pile into a graham cracker crust. Freeze. When solid, wrap tightly in plastic for up to two weeks. Remove from freezer 15-20 minutes before serving. Slice, and garnish slices with whipped cream (optional) and fruit that either matches or complements the flavor of the yogurt or sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs.

You can make this in any size pan. If you make three different flavors in an 8" square pans and cut them into small squares, everyone can have one of each flavor.
innoabrd April 11, 2011
One of my go-to beef dishes for party buffets is beef tenderloin sandwiches. Rare roasted tenderloins at room temp, good rolls and good/interesting condiments and let people assemble their own.
boulangere April 10, 2011
Your menu looks wonderful!
ChefJune April 10, 2011
A whole grilled salmon is really delicious and truly impressive. We like both a salsa verde and a Green Goddess dressing as sauces for it. Even cooler if you can get an Ivory King Salmon!

Equally easy and impressive is a grilled butterflied leg of lamb with lemon and Greek herbs. And because the lamb is butterflied, it takes a really short time to roast it to medium rare. The crusty corners satisfy the "well-done" diners. And although both of these need to be done in antimel manner, you can usually recruit the men in your life to man the grills while you get everything else set out.
Lots of great desserts that can be made well ahead. Frozen souffle, if you like, as well as fruit tarts, cobblers, ples, ice cream, and, of course, the birthday cake.
Jocelyn G. April 10, 2011
I've made a little progress since I last posted. Here's where I'm at:

Corn Zeppole (with lemon or avocado salsa or charred tomato salsa)
Wild mushroom toasts

Crab salad with citrus and fennel

Poached salmon
Grilled boneless leg of lamb with rosemary salt
Baby Artichokes, Asparagus and Potatoes with Herb Mayonnaise
Mint Salsa Verde
(thinking the mayo and the salsa verde could go on either the salmon or lamb as people wanted)

Now I'm looking at desserts that I can make ahead - ideally something with lemon, blueberry and/or raspberry. A frozen souffle maybe?
inpatskitchen April 10, 2011
A cucumber dill sauce works well with cold poached salmon .....and a beef tenderloin, served warm or even at room temperature with horseradish sauce might be nice.
MissyJ April 10, 2011
How about some nice dinner salads, or even a make-your-own salad setup. You could have some pre-prepared salmon (grilled, roasted, etc.), steak, and chicken. And a variety of "italian", "asian", and "california" fixings. I love doing this. I always have for "asian" fried wantons, sugared almonds, a ginger/chili dressing, mandarin oranges, and red onions. For "italian" I have roasted goat cheese croquets, sugared walnuts, red onions, and homemade croutons, and a white balsamic dressing. And for "california", some avocado, cherry tomatoes, sprouts, pecans, and either a ranch or thosand island dressing.

One thing I like about this (as a vegafishatarian myself) is that the vegetarians aren't singled out with a separate meal or entree, and it allows even the meateaters to select a fish.
Jocelyn G. April 10, 2011
There are some interesting ideas here. Thanks to all who have responded so far. (I'll take more.) I do like the idea of a poached salmon with an aioli or salsa or something. Might steer away from short ribs, etc. because it could be warm at the end of April. Anyway, more is more, so bring on more thoughts :-).
amysarah April 10, 2011
For the meat, braised dishes work well as do-aheads; they reheat well (in fact, are often better the next day), and once they chill overnight, you can easily remove the hardened fat from the surface, if necessary. Corn goes well with tarragon, so one idea would be chicken braised with white wine and tarragon (shallots or leeks, garlic, maybe a bit of cream added to the reduced liquid for richness) - also, easy to serve a crowd, cause it's already portioned up (no last minute slicing.)

For the could do a whole roast salmon fillet (or 2) - good do-ahead, because it's equally tasty eaten at room temp. Other fish could work this way too, but corn and salmon have a great affinity - especially if you add avocado to the mix - maybe a fresh avocado salsa to top the corn fritters, or a homemade avocado mayo to serve alongside the salmon.
Ms. T. April 9, 2011
How 'bout poached salmon served chilled with a nice aoili? That would be good with corn fritters. Or a bouillabaisse, where you do everything ahead of time, then just add the mussels right before serving.
boulangere April 9, 2011
And please let us know what your menu evolves into.
boulangere April 9, 2011
Here are a couple of fish cake recipes that look wonderful. They could easily be made ahead, refrigerated, then finished off with their respective coatings just before cooking.

Sam1148 April 9, 2011
Yesterday. made the base sauce from the Seared Scallops recipe posted by lastnightsdinner.

It's so, excellent..a must try. Use leeks if you can't find spring onions (the big baby vadalias). And today, the sauce is still you can make it ahead.
I used talapia, Seasoned with just salt and a touch of paprika and dusted with "Wondera Flour' crust cooked in clarified butter. They'll hold well in a warm oven. I used a bit of lemon and olive oil dots for garnish on the plated sauce.
You can also use the sauce for asparagus. Maybe add some lemon to it.

Carrots sauteed in olive oil and fresh dill. Served on israeli couscous.(tho not a very make ahead as the couscous might get gummy, but the carrots could be made ahead and rewarm with fresh dill and the couscous cooks quickly.).

boulangere April 9, 2011
For your meat, how about braising a beef brisket or pork short ribs? They could certainly be done in advance, then reheated and finished off. Thematically, they would go nicely with your corn fritters.
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