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Help with Italian Menu.....Any Ideaspost #1 of 177/15/07 at 8:29pmThread StarterI'm goin to see a friend that I have not seen in while am going to cook an italian meal for her. Well I was think bout grabing some bread, chesse and sliced apples and pears and some wine to start the meal. Not Good with wine any ideas(her last name is espazito think bout trying to find a wine of her heritage). Now i have to Cook for two to six maybe seven people. I need a Main coarse and desert that Can feed that maybe people. All ideas welcome thanks. And hello to everyone this is my first post.post #2 of 177/16/07 at 9:33amIf this is to be an Italian meal, then the fruit and cheese would be a course to be served after dinner.
Most Italians would be content to serve only the fruit and cheese; a sweet, rich dessert would be served much later, as your company has sat and visited around the cleared table for awhile, if at all, and still after fruit and cheese. Add some melon, or strawberries (seasonal, fresh fruit) and a very nice biscotti, or offer a nice Italian cookie tin assortment and you would have dessert. At this time offer coffee, port, anisette.
(Don't under estimate, the Italian cookie..... we did my daughter's wedding this June. Our cookie table was 24 feet long stacked with traditional cookies, on brass trays, crystal tiers, etc. Two of the old aunts flew in early and baked for a week. A great source of pride for the older generation)
What are your cooking skills? This dinner will be much easier than you are thinking. What will be important is that you plate it or serve it well. Present it on the platters by laying out very, nice and little garnish, don't dump in a bowl helter-skelter and take to the table. Plan your work.
Think about a nice tomato bruschetta for the first course. It's seasonal and can be done a few minutes ahead. You can whip a half cup of softened butter with a can of very good white albacore tuna, a tablespoon of capers and cracked black pepper; serve with a nice crusty bread. Or some salami, provolone, and a good crusty bread.
Something seasonal would be nice, grilled fresh fish and a vegetable; grilled chicken, with lemon and herbs. If you are thinking pasta, you can grill or oven roast vegetables and Italian sausage and toss with a pasta and cheese. Pasta with a sauce would not be the main dish. It's a side or first course. We wouldn't serve spaghetti and meat balls to company in July and August.
Think, fresh and seasonal for the fish/meat and vegetable; use olive oil, lemons, garlic and herbs to season and cook both......and now you are cooking summer Italian!
A nice lighter red will see you through the meal. A Merlot or Cabernet would be to heavy.
More questions?post #3 of 177/16/07 at 10:45am
Italian foodsHey Hulk welcome aboard!
When you gotta cook for lots of people, the key to a good Italian meal - especially if you are not a professional chef - is lasagna. You get the wow factor of a nice large centerpiece type dish (like a thanksgiving turkey) and you also get the added factor that you will most likely not have anyone who doesn't like lasagna.
And don't just think meat and cheese here - think about mushrooms, spinach, and fresh sliced tomatoes (since they are in season...). You can make all kinds of additions and modifications. It is almost impossible to mess up so long as you don't overcook it.
There are no-cook lasagna sheets out there which are not bad (not great either) if you really need a shortcut here, but if you can get fresh sheets and boil them a little before laying out your layers, you'll have a much better product.
As for dessert - the crowd pleaser always seems to be tiramisu. (Cannolis are great, but time-consuming...) Lady fingers, soaked in espresso layered with sweetened mascarpone cheese (throw in some Sambucca of course) and a layer of fresh summer berries in the middle there - you'll be sure to have a hit!
Hope this helps as far as some ideas. Good luck!post #4 of 177/16/07 at 6:03pmAnother great dish is manicotti. easy to make and I have found it to be a huge crowd pleaser. best thing about lasagna and manicotti is that it can be made 2-3 days in advance easy and just bake it when the time is ready.post #5 of 177/16/07 at 7:36pmLasagne is a great one for crowds, as per above posts. Whatever wine you use in the meat sauce, could be served to drink with the main. (Make it a good one :) )
Have you thought about a course of anti-pasto to start the meal? There's endless things you can put on a platter for this, Kalamata olives, pepperoni, roasted bell peppers, salami, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, chargrilled egg plants, anchovies, etc etc, most can be bought prepared already, you could just make up a couple of big platters and serve with stacks of Italian style breads, and bowls of EVOO with a little balsamic vinegar poured into the middle of it for dipping the bread into. Pair it with a sparkling white wine.
Maybe a minestrone as a soup course - easy to make lots of it. Although it could be a bit heavy with the lasagne.
As for a sweet course, tiramisu sounds great. Or maybe a fig pizza for a twist...
fresh fig dessert pizza recipe | italian dessert recipes | pizza recipes
If you want a wine for the dessert, try a Muscat to pair with it.
Good Luck! Let us know what you end up with :)
DCpost #6 of 177/16/07 at 8:14pmThread Starter
for the helpOk so I have narrowed it down I am goin to use alot of all of your ideas so thank you so much. The chose's are Lasagna or manicotti, Chicken/Fish, or pizza. I will do some sort of pasta if I chose the chicken(Grilled chicken Alfredo) or Fish(haven't cooked alot of fish so any help???). So for the first I will do a Salad with a garlic bread then second maybe a light soup but not really sure what would go well with the main course. Then one of the four courses above. Now for dessert I have never try'd to make tiramisu that matt suggested or the Fig Pizza that DC said. And after the dessert I think we are goin to watch a movie so I think I might use Matt/iamone ideas on laying out some fruit,veggies,chesse, and bread to snack on through the movie. Thanks for the idea and all the help.post #7 of 177/17/07 at 11:46pmIf you are doing 4 courses, and doing the lasagne as the main, I really don't think you'd need anything to go with it, it will be enough on its own.
Maybe if you want to try the fish, go for a parmigiana style dish, with a nice meaty fish (not sure what fish you can get in your area), it should hold in a low oven fairly well if you have a juicy tomato sauce on it.
I've never tried the fig pizza before either, but I thought it sounded tasty, and thought figs may be in season there. Or you could go a gelati :)
But good luck and enjoy - glad to be of help.
DCpost #8 of 178/10/07 at 1:47ampost #9 of 178/7/10 at 10:04am
Hulk fish is far easier to do than you think..Just don't be scared:) See what you get get in the area something easy to bake or broil in the oven with a nice summery sauce... also Caprese salad:) MMMM who doesn't love the best salad of summer and so easy to make. Canoli's for desert are always good. Find a local italian deli and they should sell shells which is the most difficult part to the canoli's. We have this great Italian deli here that also sells wine we always get a suggestion from the owner who actually travels to Italy a few times a year to find the wines himself..Must be rough:)
post #10 of 178/7/10 at 1:53pm
Check out any cookbook by Mario BattaliChef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume).
Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...post #11 of 178/7/10 at 2:25pm
Don't put lasagne and pizza in the same meal. Lasagne is flour and tomato, pizza is flour and tomato. Moreover, lasagne is a festive first course, for a holiday or a special sunday dinner, while pizza is a cheap fun dinner"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"post #12 of 178/7/10 at 2:59pm
When Siduri talks Italian, you should listen. .......... A nice Bottle of Red Barolo Wine, Antipasto, with bruschetta, Chicken Parmesan with Penne, sauteed Zucchini & Mushrooms, a nice Gelato for dessert.............. Ciao, ChefBillyBpost #13 of 178/7/10 at 5:28pm
This idea may or may not fit in with the scheme of things you have in mind, but with 6, 7, 8 people it can be fun - a build your own pizza party. When I've done this in the past I've made a supply of pizza dough in advance, the evening of the dinner had it divided into balls of dough suitable for making an 8 or 9 inch pizza. A good size - some couples share, some don't and not everyone is a couple. Having a bunch of amateurs in the kitchen slapping dough around can get messy, but depending on the group is usually quite entertaining.
You can provide premade crusts and focaccia, like Boboli products if you don't want to go the fresh dough route. Have lots of various meats, veggies and cheeses prepped and ready for the assembly line, and of course a pot of sauce. Or two, if you want to offer both a red and white.
If you are looking for more of a sitdown type dinner then yes, a lasagna, a pan of chicken parm or a batch of chicken picatta would be more appropriate. Check out the recipe forum at wasatchfoodies.com for my sausage and tortellini soup, than might be a good starter. [ I *really* need to get more recipes written up and on there! ]
If doing a green salad, consider making fresh croutons. It isn't difficult, and they are so tasty. Details can be provided if needed.
mjb.post #14 of 178/9/10 at 6:53pmpost #15 of 178/10/10 at 5:31am
Welcome to Cheftalk
My thoughts are much along lines of Nowlamone,
Not only that but also in that order. It is summer and keeping with that thought the foods you pick should be light. Heavy pasta dishes are wonderful but you can have all the savory Italian flavors but with lighter dishes (in season vegetables and fruits).
Wine ? Franciacorta....wonderful starter to a classic summer Italian meal.post #16 of 178/10/10 at 1:52pm
Start off with a cold antipasto ...... sliced dry sausage, sliced soppresata, small cuts of reggiano parmesan, assorted olives, roasted pepper, mozzerrella balls and a nice italian dressing. Put some bread sticks on the side.
second course ..... orchiette (sp?) with brocolli rabe and cheese and parsley sausage. Make sure you dice up the garlic small and take the cheese and parsley sausage out of the casing and crumble it into the brocolli rabe mixture.
main course ...... your standard chicken or veal parm. Can't go wrong with this crowd pleaser and it's easy to do. A potato croquette on the side of the parm would be nice.
dessert ........ amaretto cheese cake and some espresso or cappachinopost #17 of 178/11/10 at 12:57pm
You've gotten a lot of great ideas. I would recommend keeping it simple. If you haven't seen your friend for a long time, you want to spend time enjoying the meal together. Plan to serve something where most of the work is done before the dinner. (I speak from experience. I have learned this the hard way.) You could pick a region and cook from that region. This would help you pair foods and select a wine.
I'd start with a cool, refreshing salad.
A baked pasta like lasagna would make things easier for you since it could be made ahead of time and baked at the last minute. Or you could serve spaghetti or whatever your favorite shape is. If you made your own pasta, you could freeze it and just drop it in the water at the last minute. Or serve dried pasta from the box. (Even Italians eat dried pasta.) You would get to show your culinary skills by making the sauce yourself (ahead of time.). Check out the book Bugialli on Pasta for some unusual sauces that your friends will have not eaten unless they have traveled in Italy.
For dessert, you could serve a ricotta tart.
If you know what region your main dish comes from, then you can find a wine. All you'll have to do is go to your local wine shop, and say, "Can you recommend a wine from Abruzzi?" Or there are some online wine shops that allow you to search for Italian wines by region.
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