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Culinary student making 6 course Greek meal... need a palette cleanser

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm brand new to this site, and to forums in general but I find myself in a pickle and hope someone out there can provide me with some good ideas .  But to make this short I'll go right into the problem: by Tuesday the 6th of April I need a whole six course dinner planned (down to the lighting and music) for 80 people, I have a budget of 18.60 per person (just food cost and table decor, I DO NOT have to worry about making a profit).  I have most everything planned but can't seem to settle on what to do for a palette cleanser, here is my meal so far.
  • Dolmades
  • Hearty lentil soup w/ a greek yest bread (olive oil and honey)
  • radish and feta cheese salad
  • ??????
  • Braised rabbit with onions peas carrots celery
  • Honey tart (more like a greek cheesecake) with Mastic ice cream
I've found a few recipes for greek inspired sorbets such as
Lemon Sorbet  Lemon Thyme Sorbet | Andrea Meyers
But I'm reluctant to have a frozen sorbet as my palette cleanser when the desert is featuring Ice cream already.  So if anyone has any ideas what I could do for a palette cleanser or any insight I would gladly accept it.  Any criticism is welcome to the whole menu, I don't want to limit your ideas to just my sorbet.  I really want this meal to go perfect.
-Thank you

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post #2 of 28
My dad lived in Greece for a while, so I know a bit about greek food and like it alot. Serve a tzaziki ( dip made with yoghurt, cucumbers, garlic, add some cilantro, and a bit of lime juice) with some cucumbers. I know it's cucumbers twice, but it's really good because all that refreshing light juice from the cucumbers goes right into the sauce.
post #3 of 28
Use a small melon baller and ball out some fruit.  Macerate in Ouzo with a little sugar and grapefruit juice.

Maybe serve a Granita, or (nice idea MG) cucumber gelee.
post #4 of 28
mgchef - nice idea for a refresher.  Just might steal that one....

Chefinprogress - another idea - what about a shot/glass of chilled gazpacho?  Good to prep ahead, keep it cold, and you can spice it up
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post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Wow, thank you all for the quick responses.  mgchef I really love that idea, I think I'm going to go with that.  thanks again, I think I'm really going to enjoy this forum.
post #6 of 28
Thanks. Also, for dessert, try out baklava. It's layers of phyllo, honey, and nuts( almonds typically). It's just a suggestion, try both see what you like. Good Luck.
post #7 of 28
A real greek tzatziki is not a palette cleanser... it's a raw garlic invasion so stay away from it.  We greeks we like it fine, but many people can't deal with raw garlic because it changes how everything else tastes.

What kind of dolmades are you making?  Are you putting meat in them?  Your first 2 courses seem to be vegetarian.  You could use a touch of seafood in there.  Lentil soup is not traditionally a soup that is served at dinner parties.  We eat it a lot during lent but it's not a spectacular food for guests.  I don't know who you're catering to but if it's greek people they'll be disappointed.

Instead of the soup you could try stuffed squids or grilled octopus.  One of my favorite salads is made with grilled calamari rings, grilled octopus, fennel, microgreens, and balsamic lemon vinegraitte.

I like the idea of a gazpacho as a palatte cleanser, but make it a greek salad gazpacho (tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, etc.) 

Goodluck.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #8 of 28
Can I ask when this meal is supposed to be served? You menu plan is awfully heavy. So it would best served during cold weather. If it's for a spring or later time, I would lighten up a bit.

Also, have you costed out the items yet? Don't know how it is by you, but around here rabbit sells between 6 & 7 bucks a pound. At that price you could serve lamb---which most people would consider more traditionally Greek.

A big question, too, is who you are serving. Is this going to be an introduction to Greek food for people who are not Greek? Or a party for Greek people? Or something in-between? This can affect not only what you serve, but how it is prepared.

If you use Koukouvagia's idea of a salad gazpacho, a nice touch is to serve it in cucumber shooters. To make those, cut cukes into sections about 2 inches long. Hollow them out, leaving at least a 1/4 inch bottom. Fill with gazpacho. The idea is that folks drink the soup, then eat the "cup."

Your menu crys out for seafood, either as the appetizer or first course. Were it me, I'd go with either vegetarian or meat-filled dolmades as the appetizer, then a seafood dish; either a salad, as KK suggests, or something else. Octopus with Wine & Green Olives is a great first course. I would use baby octopi in this application only because it's more dramatic on the plate.

Salt cod with garlic sauce would be nice, too, except it requires frying a la minute, which might be a problem? If you opt for the salt cod, most assuredly do not serve the tzatziki, as that would constitute a significant garlic overload.

If available, something with fresh anchovies or sardines would be ideal.

Instead of the lentil soup you might consider Easter soup. For a catered meal to non-Greeks, I would likely substitute bits of lamb meat for the more usual innards. But it depends a lot on who the 80 will be.
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 #9 of 28
A Lemon Granita with sprig of Mint as a Palate cleanser? There is alot if call for Lemon and Mint in Greek cuisine .....
Hey when is this function? This menu does sound heavy.....Have you considered a marinated seafood salad instead of soup ....(shrimp,octopus,squid,scallops)...and Lamb as a main?  Specially if it is this time of year. No Tzaiziki? A nice light Spanokopita with Tzaiziki  as an opener?...just some thoughts
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post #10 of 28
lemon sorbet sounds like a good clenser and maybe mint. KY i like the direction u are going. dolmas are delicious, maybe put ground meat and rice and some seasoning.
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post #11 of 28
Why not a tzaziki. You don't have to overload it with garlic. From what I've had it's really refreshing, especially served with cucumbers.
Other than that, yea you need some seafood. Try the octopus salad as suggested
post #12 of 28
I don't know as I'm going in any particular direction, Skatz. There are too many open questions. For instance, is this going to be a plated meal or a buffet? Indeed, is it really a meal, or merely a menu-creating exercize? Plus the questions I posed above. And many others.

Me, I'd take a different route altogether.  F'rinstance, assuming it's a plated meal designed for this time of year: For the appetizer course I'd serve mezze platters, each with four or five or even six one-bite treats, at least half of which would be seafood. That would introduce the theme both with the food and with a style of service---although, technically, a mezze table would be the entire meal. With the mezze platters, ouzo of course. Opa!

Next would come a soup; perhaps an avgolemono with small spiced meatballs, thus introducing the quintessential flavors of Greece.

I'd follow that with a Corfu salad. Because it is citrus based, there'd be no need for a separate palette cleanser.

The main course would definately be lamb. I'm thinking  Macedonian Eggplant and Lamb Casserole, prepared in individual ramikins, along with appropriate sides.

The honey tart and mastic suggested by the original poster would conclude such a meal. I'd accompany it with mavrodaphne (sp?) or other very sweet dessert wine.
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 #13 of 28
MGchef, 

You wrote:
Why not a tzaziki. You don't have to overload it with garlic. From what I've had it's really refreshing, especially served with cucumbers.

Tzatziki is primarily yogurt and cannot be a palate cleanser.  The reverse in fact, as yogurt, like most dairy sticks to the palate (located on the roof of the mouth).  Furthermore, tzatziki is seldom served as an independent course.  It's a garnish/side.

Pardon me for being personal, but as a side note this is a good example of why you need to learn to know less.

**********************

Chef In Progress,


On a more general note -- the menu, even with the revisions suggested by KY and Koukou does not need a palate cleanser.  In fact, it seems overly trendy and  gratuitous.

I think the menu would work better if it went more like this:

1.  Selection of Orektika -- (Some of these) Dolmades, small spanikopita, greek flat bread, tzatziki, grilled octopus or sardines, melanosalata (eggplant salad), triokafteri (cheese spread), devilled eggs, radish salad, olives, almonds.  (Mineral water; retsina; ouzo and water; metaxa and soda)

2.  Squid stuffed with artichokes, skorthalia  (White wine)

3.  "Greek Gazpacho." (Red wine)

4.  Braised Rabbit, pilaf.  

5.  Honey Tart. (Coffee)

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 4/3/10 at 1:48pm
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post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Wow thanks for all the responses, that's a lot to think about, but very good points.  This is a full service dinner (no alcohol served though) the dinner starts at 6:30 on April 15th.  I'm in Lincoln NE so this is probably an intro to Greek for most.  I think we are pretty set on serving rabbit, lamb seems to be an overdone theme at our school.  But I do agree I NEED the seafood, I just need to convince my partner of this.  I love the ideas for the salads, but a palate cleanser is required in this dinner.  Thanks again for all the ideas and please keep them coming, looks like I'll be rewriting the menu tonight .
post #15 of 28
Palate cleanser required?  OIC.  Things are less murky now.

Forget the gazpacho. 

Instead:
  • Cold, minted melon soup -- served in a glass.   A cleanser has to be very light and clean -- but doesn't have to be frozen citrus.
  • On the other hand, you don't want to push your teachers' envelopes too far.  Another good choice might be lemonade made with soda (like Vietnamese soda chan), but minted.  In a glass, as a "slush," or frozen.
  • Another possibility along the same lines is a virgin mojito. Also, drink, slush, or sorbet.
  • Or,we can get a little sophisticated with a lemon verbena, lavender, thyme and honey sorbet.  Don't let it get too sweet.
  • Or just lavender and honey ice.  You really want to watch the sweetness with that.
  • There are any number of plays you can do off of iced tea as well. 

BDL   
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post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
It must sound like I'm being picky but there are quite a few stipulations for this dinner, so I probably can't do another soup, and I also think that I'll need something "more" than a drink if you know what I mean.
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
Forgot to say before any ideas to make it seem very "springy" the weather is finally gorgeous here.
post #18 of 28
What an interesting thread..........

a few others just to add to the list could be
Lemon and Rosemary sorbet
Quenelles of Orange sorbet
Apple and Calvados sorbet
Le trou Normand
How about a duo, Pineapple Lemon Verbena and a Raspberry Rose sorbet....

Chef BDL, great choices, Chef Kuan love that idea as well.
 

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post #19 of 28
For the record, rabbit is very traditional, we eat it prepared as the OP suggested although I like to add tomato paste to my sauce, makes it rich.  Believe it or not it is most often accompanied by french fries.  They're perfect for dipping into the cinammony oniony rabbit sauce.

Still don't know what kind of dolmades you're serving so no idea how to advise you on what should follow it.

And KY, speaking of greek easter soup I'm about to partake of some of that after midnight tonight.  It's not for the faint-hearted.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #20 of 28

KYH - I love your idea of hollowed out cukes filled with gazpacho salad.  There seems to be some controversy about the palate cleanser, but the OP has it as a requirement by the sound of things.

What about a Virgin Bloody Mary (as no alcohol is allowed)?

Not sure how Greek that would be, but to me, it seems to suit. I do like sorbets as cleansers, even though there is icecream to follow,  I don't think it would be a problem.

Or a mix of various chilled melon balls perhaps - whatever is in season there now, as you don't want a sorbet or another soup.  Sprinkling of shredded mint and maybe even basil.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #21 of 28

I think tzaziki woul be a nice palate cleanser, I've had it as one before but ok then you're right I'm wrong. Anyway, if you don't want a sorbet, try a sesame seed cannoli or cornet filled with a cucumber espuma or mousse.

post #22 of 28
It's not for the faint-hearted.

Don't I know it. Which is why I recommend for regular folks that pieces of actual lamb be subbed for the usual innards. Let's face it, you start talking heart, tripe, lungs, livers, and intestines to most people and you've lost them.

For the record, rabbit is very traditional, we eat it prepared as the OP suggested

I wasn't suggesting otherwise. My concern is that braised rabbit might be kind of heavy for a spring meal.
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 #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

I wasn't suggesting otherwise. My concern is that braised rabbit might be kind of heavy for a spring meal.

I suppse one could lighten it with a light tomato sauce and spring veggies. 
post #24 of 28

Chez Panisse serves lemon verbena tisane as a mid course palate cleanser...

I'm going backwards.  80 people Greek plated 6 course, 18.70 pp budget for decor and food....

Lemons, lots and lots of lemons for decor...get a case or 1/2 case....raid budding trees for branches.
Pull large pitchers or glass vases from somewhere and fill them with lemons (you can buy lemon
leaves at most floral depts in Hobby Lobbys or Michaels or floral row if you have access)
If you can economically get baby artichokes or even regular size ones, they make a great contrast with the lemons.  Good Will or Churches might have a large assortment of vases for little or no $$.


Print out menus for each guest on cool parchment....1/2 sheet is much nicer than full sheet, play with script that works for your theme, make sure it's legible.

the aisan stores here carry baby octopus & squid at super prices.

Have FUN! great menu ideas.
 

cooking with all your senses.....
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post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
thanks for the great ideas everyone.  I finally picked my menu and I'm pretty happy with it.

-vegetarian dolmades with an avgolemono sauce
-greek gazpacho
-greek village bread
-raddish and feta salad with slow cooked squid
-santorini sorbet served in a frozen hollowed out orange (w/ top of orange acting as a lid)
-rabbit casserole with pearl onions new potatoes and spring veggies (were getting i think 75 rabbits in whole and are going to joint them and serve a joint a person)
-honey tart (agean cheesecake) with mastic ice cream

tables will have royal blue table cloths with white lace on top, with white napkins.  center piece is a square mirror in the middle with a glass bowl with blue flat glass rocks on the bottom filled with water and floating candles on top.

tell me what you think.
post #26 of 28
if you use a baklava i would suggest walnuts, its delicious and it has been the most popular in our family business.  we had one guy buy 50 portions from us every two weeks, i don't know how he has any teeth left after that many sweets
post #27 of 28
My reply's a little late, but you can also alternatively serve a granita instead of a sorbet.  It's a little easier to do and also a little more refreshing.  You can serve your sorbet/granita with a julienne of quince, the quintessential ancient greek "apple"
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post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

A real greek tzatziki is not a palette cleanser... it's a raw garlic invasion so stay away from it.  We greeks we like it fine, but many people can't deal with raw garlic because it changes how everything else tastes.

What kind of dolmades are you making?  Are you putting meat in them?  Your first 2 courses seem to be vegetarian.  You could use a touch of seafood in there.  Lentil soup is not traditionally a soup that is served at dinner parties.  We eat it a lot during lent but it's not a spectacular food for guests.  I don't know who you're catering to but if it's greek people they'll be disappointed.

Instead of the soup you could try stuffed squids or grilled octopus.  One of my favorite salads is made with grilled calamari rings, grilled octopus, fennel, microgreens, and balsamic lemon vinegraitte.

I like the idea of a gazpacho as a palatte cleanser, but make it a greek salad gazpacho (tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, etc.) 

Goodluck.
 
There are people out there who don't like raw garlic?  Say it is not so!! ;-)
"J'aime cuisiner avec du vin, j'ai parfois même mettre dans les aliments je suis cuisson. ""Mi piace cucinare con il vino, talvolta ho persino messa nel cibo sto cottura. ""I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I'm cooking." - Julia Child 
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"J'aime cuisiner avec du vin, j'ai parfois même mettre dans les aliments je suis cuisson. ""Mi piace cucinare con il vino, talvolta ho persino messa nel cibo sto cottura. ""I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I'm cooking." - Julia Child 
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