or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Advice pls: cooking for my in laws
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Advice pls: cooking for my in laws

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
i have my in laws over for dinner on the weekend for the first time and really want to impress. they dont like anything to extravagant, but i dont want the meal to be simple either and not sure how many courses to prepare. im am going crazy trying to decide and my boyfriend is not much help with ideas. any suggestions would be helpful thanks
post #2 of 18
Could you give us some sort of idea about what they like and don't like?

Wouldn't do, for instance, to provide, say, a crackerjack recipe for a shrimp appetizer if they don't eat shrimp.

Also, what are your cooking skills, particularly your ability to juggle multiple courses? Can you handle 5 courses? Or would 3 be better for you?

Were it me, I'd be looking at this kind of menu:

1. Appetizers. Perhaps a mixed tray, served with drinks? Or just a single starter course?
2. Salad.
3. Main course (protein with two sides?)
4. Dessert.

If it were later in the year I would probably include a soup as well.

Within that framework, here is a menu that, coincidentally, I had just put together for some friends in a similar situation:

Starter: Shrimp & Canteloupe with Mayonaisse Charles
Salad: Orange-Onion with Cumin Vinaigrette
Entree: Grilled Marinated Flank Steak, Sweet Potato Mash, Roast Asparagus
Dessert: Capuchinno Pana Cotta

What makes this menu special is that it looks fancier than it really is, and much of it can be done ahead of time. What's more, depending on your desire, it can be either plated or served family style.
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
Reply
post #3 of 18
I wouldn't try anything you've not done before, it's bound to go wrong. It's nice to impress but in my experience you can try just a bit too hard and it never quite comes off.
A relaxed atmosphere is what's required so you can enjoy each others company. With that in mind you must have a couple of dishes that you absolutely know you can do and they turn out perfectly every time? Remember, they are coming to see you for a nice evening, not to judge your cooking skills.:)
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
thanks for the reply and ideas. your question about my skills: i have been a chef for some years, i am no five star chef by all means but i know my way around the kitchen. just looking for thoughts for a menu plan. i thught i would do appetiser, main and desert i was thinking of something with either lamb or chicken, seafood would be off the menu. i will use your panacotta idea. but i am stuck on appetiser ideas
post #5 of 18
My apologies! I hadn't noticed you cook for a living. My favourite starter is a salmon, scallion and baby beet fishcake with a baby leaf salad and balsamic vinaigrette.

EDIT; Just seen no seafood. How about I just shut up and keep out of this one?:blush:
post #6 of 18
Short of overcooking it, it's hard to beat a rack of lamb to impress guests. Always puts me in mind of that great line in one of the Nero Wolf stories. Archie Goodwin is narrating, and says, "I found Nero Wolf sitting in front of a very large platter of very small lamb chops."

Lately, however, I've gravitated more to the thicker loin chops with the little T-bones, rather than the lollipops. One version I like is Virginia Willis' recipe for Pecan Lamb Chops, which are breaded with a mixture of ground pecans and fresh thyme, then pan fried. Very tasty. And something you definately don't see every day.

Recently I tried Gerald Hirigoyen's Lamb Loin with Kumquat Chutney. It was another winner. More to the point, it got me to experimenting with the boneless whole loin, something I'd not done before. This, too, makes for a nice presentation, and you can run all sorts of changes on the whole loin idea.

Too bad seafood is out, because it lends itself so well to starters.

I think that I'd start with individual tapas platters: three or four or more different small bites (depending on how much time you want to spend on prep) arranged on serving plates. This would serve several functions. It will show off your skills as a cook. It will provide a variety of taste sensations. And you can skip having to bother with lots of snacks with pre-dinner drinks.

Some possibilities:

1. Pears & blue cheese in mini-pastry cups.
2. Tomato/watermelon kebabs.
3. White gazpacho shooters.
4. Crostini with assorted toppings.
5. Mushroom puffs.
6. Zucchini fritters.
7. Sausage-stuffed fried olives.
8. Baby empanadas with chicken filling.
9. Tortilla Espanola.
10. Ham croquettes.
11. Miniature hot browns.
12. Quail Scotch eggs.

Well, the list goes on and on.
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
Reply
post #7 of 18
I'm a home cook, but I've been in your position before vis a vis the inlaws. :) This is a menu I served to my very, very picky inlaws. A lot of it can be made ahead.
  • Apps ideas: Rice wrapper spring rolls with dipping sauce; spanakotiropetes (can be baked off from the frozen state at the last minute), or similar made with mushroom duxelles or any filling, really; fricos made with parmesan, aged cheddar, or any other fairly hard cheese
  • Main: veal, turkey or chicken piccata or marsala; roast beef tenderloin rubbed with olive oil and herbs (I couldn't use garlic at all for them!); marinated turkey tenderloin kabobs
  • Sides: risotto or spaetzle (I bake the cooked spaetzle with butter and parmesan cheese); ratatouille or similar with seasonal veggies
  • Dessert: profiteroles filled with ice cream, with or without strawberry, raspberry or chocolate sauce; fresh fruit tart; rustic tart
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
love your ideas i will steal your lamb rack i may give it a herb crust or stuff with herbs and fetta cheese; any suggestions for sides i dont want basic roast spuds or mash
post #9 of 18
If you're Brussels sprouts eaters that would be one. Split them, remove the cores, and separate the leaves. Lightly saute in butter.

Haricot verts.

Stir-fried baby bok choy

Root veggies, alone or in conjunction with potatoes, to produce mashes that seem familiar but provide a taste surprise. Try, for instance, half spuds and half celeraic. Or rutabaga. Or even carrots.

Winter squash prepped any of a dozen ways.

Molded and fried polenta or grits.
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
Reply
post #10 of 18
I always find fondant potatoes look impressive on the plate, extremely tasty too! If you are doing the lamb, potato dauphinoise will compliment it perfectly.
post #11 of 18
What about a simple risotto?
post #12 of 18
One can never go wrong with Risotto.
How about roasted endives, baked beets stuffed with corn and bacon , spaghetti squash with butter and maple syrup....

I researched a few sites with september vegetables in mind and I just thought this site might be of interest to you.

www.bbc.co.uk/food/in_season/september.shtml

They have everything right down to desserts using everything we would find in a market right now. Since you are a seasoned Chef, I just know you will whip up something wonderful.
Can you let us know what you finally decided to serve when the time comes ?
Petals

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #13 of 18
post #14 of 18
I checked out the website you posted and I loved the topic "food for a fiver". It is amazing what one can do without having to spend alot.

Petals

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #15 of 18
My husbands family are so easy to cook for since i stopped trying so hard. They are all good, simple cooks, but would appologise whenever we ate at their homes and say they couldnt compete with me. Being a chef n all. Must admit, i used to really push the boat out...I was out to impress...But it bothered me that they thought that way.

So now i keep it really simple. I make a huge effort, but keep it quite "competable with"

Tomorrow we have the clan over.

Starters are in the living room with drinks:-

The usuals crisps, nuts n salsa/ dips.
Raw veg
Humus
Chicken satay n satay sauce
Mini samosas n chilli sauce
Toffee popcorn ( must have for ancient relative and OH)

Dinner in the dining room

Steak and ale pie
Roast baby new potatoes
Mashed potatoes (Smothered in butter)
Glazed carrots
Braised savoy cabbage
Home grown french beans

Dessert is served in the dining room, but often brought through to the living room

Tomorrow its v v simple

Meringues
A big bowl of whipped cream
Sliced mango, pineapple and strawberries
Raspberry & passionfruit sauce
Lots of lovely cheese with oatcakes and walnut bread
Liquours, tea and coffee

Most of it's prepped so tomorrow'll be easy.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
Reply
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
Reply
post #16 of 18
First of all, stick with what you know. this is not the time to try out new recipes or techniques. Even "ordinary" foods become elegant when you dress them up with your best accessories and fresh flowers. If you want something extra special, settle on just one outstanding dish...the appetizer or maybe the dessert...but the main thing is to be comfortable with what you are doing, so your guests will be relaxed as well. Whatever you do...do not apologize or say things like 'this is all I really know how to make'...every good cook had to start some place...and practice makes perfect. If his folks are nice people, they will appreciate the invitation, and the effort. I hope it works out well for you.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
Reply
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
Reply
post #17 of 18
some crowd pleasers from my kitchen:


twice baked potatoes:

refill freshly baked potatoes using a pastry bag filled with:

potato (duh!)
shredded sharp cheddar
chopped scallions
freshly ground black pepper
heavy cream
top with grated parm. reggiano and reheat in hot oven til browned


watermelon salad:
assemble just before serving

chunks of watermelon
feta cheese
fresh sweet basil chiffonade
balsamic vinegar
post #18 of 18
What do your in laws prefer having? Well, I suggest that if you want serve a dish with a little bit of class, here's an italian recipe.

Roast Beef with Spicy Parsley Tomato Sauce


Roast Beef:

* 1 (2 to 2 1/2-pound) sirloin tip or chuck beef roast
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 Roma tomatoes, cut in 1/2
* 2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spicy Parsley Tomato Sauce:

* 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 2 garlic cloves
* 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
* 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

To make the beef roast, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.

Place a medium, heavy roasting pan or Dutch oven over high heat. Heat the olive oil. Sear the beef over high heat on all sides. Turn off heat. Place the seasoned tomatoes around the seared beef and place the pan in the oven. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees F. for medium rare, 135 for medium, about 30 to 40 minutes. Take the roast out of the oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the meat should rise 5 degrees F more and the juices will redistribute into the roast.

To make the sauce, place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, red wine vinegar and the roasted tomatoes from the beef pan and process until pureed. Add the olive oil in a steady stream with the machine running.

To serve, slice the roast and place on a serving platter. Drizzle a little sauce over the meat. Serve the remaining sauce in a small bowl alongside.


Cook Time : 40 min
Level : Easy
Yield : 4 to 6 servings
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Advice pls: cooking for my in laws