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Gourmet Club Menu Suggestions

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi, serving for 10 and it's my turn to set the menu. here are some thoughts:

Appetizer (served standing with drinks): steamed mussels in broth with some sort of bread decent for dipping

Soup: simple garlic (with croutons and cheese); or maybe roasted red pepper tomato

Salad: something light. not sure about this one.

Main course: lightly breaded chicken breast stuffed with sauteed shallots (or maybe mushrooms?) and cheese, served on top of bernaise on a bed of steamed baby spinach.

Sides: orzo with fresh basil/toasted pine nuts/halved cherry tomato; grilled carrot and asparagus (maybe with sliced strawberries?).

After Dinner Drink: no idea, but these people are perpetually thirsty.

Desert: no idea. something cool and fruity might be nice. (maybe Key Lime tart?)

I have NO experience putting together such a complete menu, but am comfortable preparing any of the above. I have no skills matching wine with anything. I take criticism well, so tell me how you really feel...
post #2 of 20
not a pro here, but I have a couple reactions to the ideas:

mussels in broth served standing up.... might not work out too well, except for the rug cleaner and the dry cleaner. hot (extracted) mussels bedded in a paste on a cracker...? hummus, lobster pate,...

some folk are allergic to shellfish and some folk get turned off at mussels, taste great, not especially good in the eye candy department - might want a Dish B on hand.

"Gourmet Club" and chicken just don't seem to fit. goose, duck? scallops, abalone....
what's the budget? much of the 'other choices' need to fit with the main course.
post #3 of 20
Overall not a bad approach. But I would suggest some changes and modifications:

Appetizer (served standing with drinks): steamed mussels in broth with some sort of bread decent for dipping

Steamed mussels in broth can be a really great dish. But it's not something I'd serve to a standing-up crowd. It gets kind of awkward trying to balance a drink, a plate of mussels, a fork, and a hunk of bread.

For this course I'd go with something more of a direct finger food; something they could pick up one-handed, pop into their mouths, and be done. What about something with oysters or shrimp if you want seafood?

Salad: something light. not sure about this one.

I'd go with something fruity, to help clear the palate and serve as a bridge between the soup and the chicken.

Perhaps an orange-onion salad with cumin vinageraitte? Or even just a simple salad of sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, sprinkle with a little course salt & ground cumin, squeeze a bit of lemon juice, and follow with some extra virgin.

After Dinner Drink: no idea, but these people are perpetually thirsty.
Desert: no idea. something cool and fruity might be nice. (maybe Key Lime tart?)


I think I'd finish with a cheese & fruit platter, and a selection of liquors. If your guests still want cocktails after that, a bar in the corner would serve.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ya, "dinner club" would be more accurate I suppose...
post #5 of 20
Please rethink and rework your menu.
Chicken stuffed with shallots?
Mussels standing up with broth and bread?
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post #6 of 20
Your menu has no viewpoint or theme. Pick a city, a season, a country, a region, or a story. Also, pick one dish you want to really stand out.

You've already taken quite a beating on this one. I might as well pile on.

Steamed mussels are complicated soup. They're not only totally inappropriate for cocktail service, they're redundant. Consider something like smoked salmon cornucopia stuffed with trout mousse, scallop wonton, mini shrimp "kababs," or small slices of oyster loaf. In short, just about anything else. A mini buffet of smoked fish pate, home made chicken liver pate with plenty of cognac, and an olive tapenade would be killer.

Considering we're coming onto spring, how about a nice cool Spanish ajo blanco? Or a gazpacho? Or what 'bout dem moules? Now's the time.

It's spring. Mache or seasonal baby greens with (good) hearts of palms, a little avocado, some grated red onion, dusted with fresh black pepper and some big-crystal sea salt, and dressed with a sherry-vinegar vinaigrette with very best extra virgin olive oil.

Blast from the past: Green Goddess is making a comeback.

It's hard for me to get excited about either of these stuffed breasts -- bernaise or not. And, considering the season, I'd probably go with something simple and grilled rather than baked and served with a rich sauce.

But it's you who know your own tastes and that of your friends. You also know whether you want something that doesn't take much work during the party or if a big to-do with everyone pitching in is a good idea.

Bottom line on mains: Go with something you're very strong at doing. Never do anything for the first time when you're cooking for more than five. And by the way, your garnish suggests lamb to me. Grilled lamb. Would it be too much to suggest rack of lamb with an olive/cream sauce?

And FWIW, chicken is fine. How about bone-out thighs, marinated in a play on tandoori, skewered and grilled over mesquite? Dressed with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and a little hand crushed, dried Mexican oregano as it comes off the coals. Cooked to a perfect spicy juiciness. Plated (on fresh spinach or) along side asparagus. Oh mama, I done messed myself.

Awesome, but ixnay on the strawberries. Hold them for dessert. It's either spinach or asparagus, not both on the same plate.

You could do the asparagus and a hollandaise as a separate course, if you like. However, hollandaise (or bernaise) is a lot of pressure when you're running around doing other things. Maybe chilled asparagus with aoli for your salad course?

How about a fine, aged rum like Pampero or Appleton VX? You get a lot of smooth for the buck in rum. Raki, ouzo or Pernod would work too if you're group are licorice lovers. Then there are those "sec" bubblers.

Y'know, you could do worse than start with Negronis and finish with cognacs.

Not many people do a good key lime. Tough to beat when done right. But remember a tart for ten is really two tarts. I think a mousse of Mexican chocolate would go well with the rum, and the strawberries. A strawberry granita would work well, too.

First things first. Let's nail everything else down before we start pairing wines. As a general rule, if you want to really highlight the food stay fairly simple with the wines.

BDL
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
thanks for your comments. The olive tapenade sounds good. Lamb is too risky for me, I believe. Just to clarify more the situation:

1. still winter here, temps are around -5C/25F in the evenings. I can grill but only outdoors, and in those temps it is a little tough to keep consistent heat but it can be done. There is already enough sorrow in life without standing in snow alone at the grill.
2. the goal of the club is to experiment. complete failure of a dish or two would have little impact on the overall success of the evening. We all have younger kids who play sports together, and the idea is just to get together without the kids and cook, eat, and drink.
3. the couples involved are your everyday family cooks.

I've always enjoyed crab cakes, and remoulade. Do they go together? Could I serve that as a main dish with perhaps a skewered cajun variation of grilled (or roasted) chicken for anyone who is crustacean-averse? Any direction you could offer would be helpful. thanks.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Mussels are out.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank-you, finger food it is. Duh.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank-you very much, that's tremendously helpful.
post #11 of 20
I did a party last week Airline chicken breast stuffed with fresh mango with a coconut and macadami nut veloute.. uest thought it was very good. Served it with polents wedge.:chef:

Airline Breast is a chicken breast, skin on , off the bone except for the small last joint of the wing, it is then slit with a pocket for the filling.
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post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I will be googling many of those words to see just what that is. Making a veloute could give me rock-star status. Just saying it is fun.
post #13 of 20
>I've always enjoyed crab cakes, and remoulade. Do they go together? Could I serve that as a main dish <

Absolutely, OldMan, crab cakes and remoulade go together like ham and eggs.

I usually take it a step further. The crab cakes are served on slices of fried green tomato, and the whole thing knapped with the remoulade.

However, you might consider a variation of that for your appetizer course. Shape the crabcake mixture into balls (about 2 teaspoons makes a good size) and deep fry them. Then put a fancy toothpick in each, and sit them in a pool of the remoulade. Very tasty. And one-handed. I'd put these out with a selection of other finger-foods. Given the rest of your menu, you could go heavy on the seafood here: garlic shrimp (leave the tails on), oysters of any kind, seafood lollipops, etc.

I would also pay attention to BDL's suggestion about developing a theme. Your goal should be to create a wow! factor not only with each course, but with the dinner as a whole. With a theme your guests not only exclaim over each dish, they point out to each other how each dish is tied in with all the others.

With it still being essentially winter by you, I'd also consider a heartier soup.

You seem to be gravitating towards chicken as the main course. Something that might work for you is to serve the main course as if it were a small-plates tasting, with a themed ingredient. Flatten your chicken breasts slightly, so they're all the same thickness. Then use cookie cutters to cut the breasts into shapes. Use a different pan-frying recipe for each one. You could, for instance, bread one shape with chickpea flour, and top it with black olive tapenade, sprinkle with gruyere shavings and finish under the broiler; etc. Your entree would then be "Chicken Three Ways---or Four Ways" or whatever you decide. If you go this route, be sure and include one version that consists of chicken stuffed with chicken, so you can use the scraps left behind by the cookie cutters.

I have a great recipe that uses chicken breasts with mushrooms, meunster cheese and both white and red wine that would work with this multi-ways presentation. I'd be happy to share it with you.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 20
I'd like to get that recipe please! Sounds good...Maybe I need to throw a dinner party!!:D
post #15 of 20
[QUOTE=KYHeirloomer;261839]> If you go this route, be sure and include one version that consists of chicken stuffed with chicken, so you can use the scraps left behind by the cookie cutters. QUOTE]


without sounding really dumb.....HUH? chicken stuff chicken?
post #16 of 20
>I'd like to get that recipe please!<



No problem.

Chicken With Cheese & Mushrooms


4 chicken breasts, skinned, boned, and slightly flattened to even their thickness
Seasoned flour
1 stick (half cup) butter, divided
2 tbls olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
2 tbls dry red wine
Salt & pepper.
12 white mushroom caps, strawed
4 slices Munster cheese

Dredge the prepared breasts in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Saute them in a mixture of ½ stick butter and the olive oil, until browned and cooked through---about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a shallow flameproof serving dish and keep warm.

Deglaze the pan with the white and red wines, stirring in any brown bits clinging to the bottom and sides. Simmer the mixture 3 minutes and add salt & pepper to taste.

In a separate skillet sauté the strawed mushrooms in ½ stick butter until they are just cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Top each chicken breast with a slice of Munster cheese. Divide the mushrooms over the chicken, and spoon the pan juices over the whole thing. Put the dish under a preheated broiler for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #17 of 20
just a quick technical question...define "strawed" for me? it says the mushroom caps should be strawed...i have a guess what it means, but would rather ask before jumping to conclusions
post #18 of 20
>without sounding really dumb.....HUH? chicken stuff chicken? <

The only thing really dumb is having a question and not asking it. Don't ever put yourself down for not knowing something.

Anyway, yeah, you can stuff almost anything with itself, particularly in another form. For instance, take the chicken scraps I discussed below and turn them into a forcemeat. Use that to stuff the chicken breasts.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #19 of 20
>define "strawed"<

Sorry. You probably recognize the technique, if not the name.

Take the mushroom caps and slice them fairly thick. Lay a slice flat, and cut it into jullienne-like sticks. Those are the "straws."

You can skip that step and just use sliced mushrooms. But I feel the straws make a nicer presentation.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #20 of 20
yep, thats what i was thinking...just wante to clarify! Thanks man...i'm gonna give it a try!
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