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Appetizer Question...Open to All

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Okay, this may seem like a dumb question but Im gonna ask anyway.

I can usually come up with a pretty good main dish with side and a dessert but can't figure out what appetizer should go with it. I mean, is there a certain way to do this? Do you pair a seafood appetizer with a meat main dish? When I think of a seafood appetizer my mind automatically says.....Pasta!

I can never figure out what to put before my poultry or meat main dish other than a veggie appetizer. Can I put seafood before meat? Or use a meat appetizer without it being overkill? I don't think other people have trouble with this. Am I just delving too deeply with this? Thinking about it too much maybe? I just don't want to be...god forbid...boring!

Very confused cook. :confused:
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #2 of 23
Are you going to offer the meal as a 'fixed price' with aps included? If not, then just do some assorted aps and the customers will pick what they want. When I've done aps with catering, I don't necessarily think 'seafood with meat', but think of the main course - if it's heavy, I do a lighter appetizer; if it's a lighter meal, then I suggest an ap that's got a little more heft to it.
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post #3 of 23
Hmmm...THIS is a very stimulating question!:)
I have always thought that coupling the various courses of a meal is one of the funniest things of cooking. Are you talking about professional meals in a restaurant, or homecooking? I don't know the organizative problems you can have in a restaurant and can give just the opinion of someone who cooks for friends and relatives...but these are my thoughts.

As you know, I'm Italian, what means I have the great atout of innumerable pasta dishes that in Italy are not considered a main course, but usually served before it. So, the appetizers are usually quite light as they're supposed to be followed by a pasta course AND a main course with side AND the dessert (in the lighter meals the pasta course is substituted with a soup).

Generally speaking (but this is a personal opinion!) I never serve a fish appetizer or pasta dish if the main course is meat. If I'm planning to serve some fish, all the meal will be fishy! Probably, I'll not serve a "real fish" as appetizer, but some other swimming creatures like seafood or shellfish or octopus...not only as a pasta sauce but also a salad (with or without veggies), or stuffed and baked shellfish, or seafood croutons.

When I serve a meat main course I generally choose between two options: a "heavy" appetizer and a soup, or a "light" appetizer and a pasta dish. As for the pasta, if the main course is very heavy I choose a vegetarian pasta, if it's lighter I can also serve a pasta with meat sauce.

As for the appetizers...if you can find a good shop, what about a selection of special cheese and salumi, with good bread and focaccia and pickles and accompanying sauces (in example, a sweet/sour or sweet/piquant fruit relish)? This is the most typical Italian starter and has always a great success with everybody. Otherwise, croutons with veggies or patés; quiches and pies; stuffed vegetables.....

Pongi
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

So I am on the right track!?

In our little diner the appetizers are listed on a separate page. I just want to serve something other that boring "soup or salad" with our specials and some entrees. I also believe that if my entree is meat do not serve seafood or fish. The taste will be all messed up. I think pasta, soup, salad or a light meat appetizer is appropriate. I did not know that pasta was considered more of a first course than main dish. The things you learn. You are giving me ideas. :)

Thanks
Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #5 of 23
Jodi -- remember that apps are a great place to "dove-tail" -- use the scraps and trimmings from prepping your other, more expensive items. And excess product from the previous day. Only edible bits, of course (I don't have to tell you that)! Since it's (I assume) included in the price of the dinner, you want to make it as economically as possible. A couple of examples: slice your leftover Italian/French bread into croutons and serve them topped with chopped tomatoes or other vegs or even beans as a "bruschetta"-type of item. Or a soup: puree of whatever veg you've got a lot of. Virtually no-cost apps!

I'm with the side that says "consider the weight of each course" AND the textures as well. I'd have something light before a heavier main, something crunchy before a soft-ish one. To me, a cheese app is always a little on the heavy side; but I could see it before a light fish main. And I think soup is almost always a good possibility -- unless the main is a soupy/stewy item with lots of liquid.

Besides, what's "boring" to us is "consistent and comfortable" to a LOT of other people!;)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #6 of 23
I couldn't agree more with Susannes last post. But if your looking for opinions I'll add my vote. In a diner (not a traditionally fancy restaurant) I really want a GREAT cup of soup. It's boring only when it's not really great tasting or when you use the same seasoning in every soup that you make... only changing the meats, veg. and starches. I don't know of any one who doesn't enjoy a good bowl of soup.

A appetizer is a really cool idea too and maybe if that was an option then you might get people hooked on something and they'll eventually order the ap with their pre-fix meal.

my 2 cents

P.S. Man, your place sounds wonderful. You obviously care so much. Where is your diner? Have you gotten any write-ups and such??
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #7 of 23
I'm sorry about the mis-spell Suzanne....I just got my nails done... next thing is a brain touch up.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
The diner was great before I got there Im just looking for ways to make it better. For the location we are in we should be getting way more customers than we have. None of our diners except for a select few seem to notice the overcooked shrimp & scallop dishes, the bland mashed potatoes, the greasy fried chicken fingers or the tough chicken or beef teriyaki. :(

Why do I notice all this stuff? I want our food to be fabulous. I want us to have more customers than this! We are popular, yes I know that. We have people coming from as far as England just to eat at our "fifties style diner". We've been in movies (Jersey Girls & Boys on the Side) and countless commercials (Tums, Charmin etc.) and photo shoots. Saturday Night Live was here a few weeks ago doing a spoof on sanitary napkins. Arrrgh! Im beginning to feel chained to my bed. Dumb bed rest. I wanna get back to cooking.

Here is a link to the website I designed and put up. Just remember that it is still under construction. Only click on the links to our menu, maybe I can update some of the pages for you. I have to delete the links to the gift shop since no one ever sees this page anyway. I haven't got around to printing new business cards yet.

The Bendix Diner - New Jersey

Oh well, Im still the Pastry Cook. I don't consider myself "chef".
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #9 of 23
Oh, Jodi, I'm in awe of you!!!!!!! The site looks incredibly great!! And truly, I am NOT extravagant with my praise. (But being the editor/etc. that I am, I do have a few comments on the wording of the menu, which I'll send as a PM later.:look: )

There are diners and there are DINERS! Yours looks like the classic! So of course you want the best food you can have. The main thing, though, is WHAT DO YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT? If the majority of them are happy, the most important thing is to make what they like as good as it can be. You can try to become a destination, but most of your business could still be your current base -- and you really want to keep THEM happy.

At least your current (personal) situation gives you time to sit (lie?) back and just THINK about things to do.

Well, I'm rambling (probably the pre-dinner cocktails :blush:) . But this is all so exciting!
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #10 of 23
:eek: If this is a 50's diner, gotta have a shrimp and a crab coctail with lemon, and tomato/horseradish sauce; grapefruit with a 1/2 cherry in the middle. Doesn't matter what comes next (meat, fish, chicken, whatever) if you start with the shrimp or crab.
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

I will NOT be defeated!

Well.....I just got out of bed and went to the diner today. ( Don't worry...I came back home and am back in bed. :rolleyes: )

Sometimes I wonder why I bother talking to our line cooks. I was explaining how more efficient and better flavored our Chicken Teriyaki would be if we pre-cooked (blanched) the veggies and precooked, cubed, portioned and refrigerated the chicken during the morning shift. That way it could be used for the chicken teriyaki, chicken broccoli and chicken with alfredo sauce. I was told that doing all that prep work was way too much trouble. It was like talking to a brick wall. Like the time I dared to suggest that maybe they were overcooking the shrimp a tad too much. Do you cook your shrimp for 10 MINUTES??? (I guess he likes the food to have the texture of SHOE LEATHER!) Even my MIL has problems talking to these guys and she owns the place! :eek:

My hubby says that the way the line cooks operate is to wait until you do it a few times, watch how you do it, and then suddenly they come up with a "brilliant" idea. Well....you get the drift. Okay, I believe that he knows these guys better than I do. Especially since they have that "chauvanistic male" mentalitiy (Im just the lil woman, what the heck do I know) and all.

Suzanne,

Thanks for the compliment regarding the website. Im looking forward to the critique. Even I have issues with the site that I am working on. Wish I could show you the take out menu I created. Do you have Adobe Photoshop??

Jodi

PS

To answer your question about what our customers want. Grits for one. I get a lot of that from the truckers. :lol: The older folk love the fact that I have brought back their childhood desserts and if I don't know how to make it on that visit, they will get it on the second. Nearly all of the customers hate the "lemon butter sauce" that our cook puts on the fish or seafood. Its really just a pond of clarified butter with a squeeze of lemon juice. Our cook wouldn't listen so now I personally cook all this one guy's meals. Grilld Halibut with Herbed butter and vegetables tastes oh so much better don't you think? :) So it all comes down to personalizing my dishes to suit my customers. I had one lady go on and on about how good my salad was, then tip my five bucks for it. Our cook also does the salads and doesn't cut anything into bite sized pieces and then drowns it in salad dressing. :rolleyes: Lord Help Me. The weird thing about our customers is that they love to see our family at the diner. They say it makes them feel comfortable.
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
Reply
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #12 of 23

Re: I will NOT be defeated!

Please "think" before you post.
Thank you
cc
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
CC.

I did say "stereotypical". Being part spanish I can't go insulting myself you know. That just wouldn't do. ;) But I do understand your point and it is a point well taken.

Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

We'll save you a table...

Sounds like you'd fit right in at our little place. :) Everyone is like family and I like to ask our customers what they are allergic to so I can customize the meal to them. Ive made a separate batch of brownies for a customer because he was allergic to nuts.

Our place is the only place where the customers are so comfortable that you'd actually find a poker game going on in the back. :lol: As long as they eat!
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #15 of 23
It sounds to me like the line cooks are running ur business and no offense to anybody but i was taught along time ago that the kitchen was a dictatorship and normally runs the smoothest that way
drink,eat, and be merry
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drink,eat, and be merry
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post #16 of 23
Jodi,
did I mis something on the menu? I'm wondering what type of pies you make. I drove half way down the turnpike when I was a kid to have lemon merengue pie, it was 6"tall. With all that seafood you need key lime pie.no?
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hey Panini,

Yeah we have Lemon Meringue Pie. Should I list everything online? We also have 24 hour breakfast. Anything you want any time of the day! :) Let's see.....we have:

Blueberry Pie
Cherry Pie
Apple Pie (of course)
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie
Boston Cream Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie
Banana Cream Pie

Im sure Im forgetting something else here! :rolleyes: Oh yeah, the fruit pies are staples along with the Banana Cream and Chocolate Cream Pies. My MIL and one of our cooks makes those. The others are rotated in from the bakery. Although my MIL will sometimes make the Lemon Meringue pie. I make the Ganache Covered Brownies, Coconut Layer Cake, German Chocolate Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Palm sized Oatmeal, Walnut, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, Double Chocolate Cake and a few things I can't remember right now. My hubby makes the Egg Cremes.

Except for a few things everything in cooked/baked in house.

Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
Reply
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
Reply
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hey FunnyTummy!

One of our customers recently turned 100 and the whole diner sang him the happy birthday song. As soon as we were done he smiled and said " I can't believe Im gonna spend my birthday staring at your ugly mugs." We laughed and served him his regular.

Its so nice to know we are loved. :lol:

Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
Reply
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
Reply
post #19 of 23
If you ever want to break away from MIL. We could make a fortune here in Tex. with a good diner. I've yet to see one. We do have truckstops, not even a close 2nd. corse we'd have to have lots of grits. on second thought it probably wouldn't fly, we start off our mornins with a large Dr.Pepper and a Krispy Kreme. gosh, your last post made my crave!!!!!!! I just dropped 30lbs, but I gained 2 lbs just reading the list of pies.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #20 of 23
MMMMMMM I just got done eating a Krispy Kream!!!!!:D :D
drink,eat, and be merry
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drink,eat, and be merry
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post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Is that like a twinkie?? :confused: I have no idea what that is. You know Ive actually never heard of a brownie until I came to this country...all we eat for dessert in Barbados is cake, icecream, sugarcake and pone. Sweets are for christmas.
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
Reply
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #22 of 23

Krispy Kreme

Oh, ShawtyCat, we just have to teach you everything!;)
Riverrun is talking about a donut!! It's a franchise that started in the South, and has spread like crazy even up here. They make a big deal of having Hot, Fresh Donuts right out of the fryers. You have to see the complicated conveyor-belt machinery they use; really fascinating. To me, seeing that is much better than eating the donuts. I find them too sweet and greasy; but at least they're small. If you want to see something really bizarre, check this out: Krispy Kreme story
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #23 of 23
Krispy Kreams are GREAT. Like little sugary pieces of lovin. One thing Suzanne failed to mention is that they actually have neon signs that they turn on when the doughnuts are hot out of the fryer. You'd be surprised how much of a motivation it is to get you to stop when you are driving by. Also they make a ton of money by doing fund raisers with schools and organizations. More than a few times I've been stopped driving into my neighborhood by a parent or child selling the things at $3 a box. I'm a sucker for warm yummy doughnuts.

Matt
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