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Menu Help Needed for Tricky Eaters


santo_grace
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Hi All,

We are having three friends over for dinner on Saturday. We have some food restrictions in the group and right now I'm feeling a little uninspired on what to make. I'm hoping some egulleters will help with that. We have some food restrictions to worry about.

Friend A - vegetarian, but will eat fish and most shellfish

Friend B - meat eater, but is allergic to fish.

Which puts us to shellfish or a vegetarian meal maybe pasta. Except...

Friend C - is lactose intolerant, sugar free, and moderately gluten free (could eat pasta, bread, but not in large quantities). She will eat meat (restrictions there also), but it's a non-issue since I have a vegetarian in the group.

I would rather not make a whole lot of different dishes. Generally, we are up for the challenge, but like I said I'm just not feeling it right now.

Pre-Dinner Appetizers - I'm thinking:

- shrimp cocktail

- roasted eggplant and red pepper dip (will buy some gluten free bread/crackers)

- cheese plate with some fruit

Dinner

- Roasted Tomato Soup

- Salad - winter salad of fennel/citrus/watercress

Dessert

- poached pears

I haven't really gotten much into the entree.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

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Since your appetizers are quite substantial, and you are serving soup as well, your main course could be rather light. Mujadarrah (spelling?) popped into my head -- a simple but delicious dish of rice and lentils with lots of crisp caramelized onions on top. You could do dolmas (stuffed grape leaves, with or without meat) as well. As both dishes are rice based, there's not a gluten issue.

How about something dark chocolate with those pears? Korova/world peace cookies or just some good-quality chocolate...

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I'm having to deal with some of the same issues for xmas eve dinner--although in the case of my family, there are some vegetarians, some cholesterol watchers, and someone who can't eat tomatoes. So much for lasagne, for your guests or mine!

I agree about going light on the entree. Since your menu sounds vaguely mediterranean, you could do a polenta dish. You can cook the polenta ahead, then cut it into squares to be sauteed or baked and topped with perhaps a simple pesto type sauce; that would be nice plated with the fennel salad. If you don't use cheese in your pesto, your lactose-free guest will have no issue there. I actually prefer my pesto vegan (whether basil, spinach or any other green)--w/toasted pine nuts and no cheese. Serve a little dish of freshly grated pecorino on the side.

For the apps, give your gluten-free guest a choice of fresh crudites instead of crackers; carrots sticks, kohlrabi, etc can be dipped. The roasted tomato soup sounds yummy.

You could also remove the shrimp from the apps and serve them over polenta--sort of an Italian version of shrimp 'n' grits. Personally it's my theory that people don't eat as much polenta or grits as they could, and that the gluten-challenged are all very sick of rice.

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Entree- Grilled Portabella fajitas with a cornmeal polenta made with vegetable stock. Corn tortillas chips on the side. Salsa, Guacamole'.

My 1st thought was a polenta stuffed chili Relleno.

Edited by RAHiggins1 (log)
Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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My 1st thought was a polenta stuffed chili Relleno.

Why reject it? Or maybe a bean and cheese-filled Relleno? Of course you would usually cook the beans with some kind of pork product, but you could toss in some anchos instead. They are also easy to make ahead, so are good for dinner guests.

ETA: Light on the cheese, for the lactose-intolerant friend.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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They can all eat eggs

My standby for occaisons like this is a roulade, for example a spinach roulade with a tomato salsa and a mushroom filling

or a souffle (spectacular but really quite easy).

or fried polenta with lentils etc

or lamb with haricot, and the veggies just have say fried polenta instead of lamb

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I absolutely hate to give my signature recipe away but... its an amazing dish, extremely flavorful, vegetarian, and will be loved by anyone who eats mushrooms. A carnivore would even love this dish beyond any meat dish.

*************SEANDIRTY's GNOCCHI with Essence of Mushroom ************

First off, poke holes in a few russet potatoes, if your serving 4 people you could probably get away with about 5 potatoes, maybe even 4 regular sized ones.

Bake in the oven at 350 until its fork tender (a fork should pass through it without any resistance)

Take them out, peel the skin off, and pass through a ricer, if you dont have a ricer use a seiv and push the potatoes through to airate.

form a well in the mound of potatoes, add some flour add 1 egg yolk, you can add a tablespoon of olive oil if youd like, or herbs, salt and pepper. Work the dough just so it starts coming together and that you can roll it into logs, add flour as needed. But DO NOT OVERWORK the dough. You want it super light, and very tender.

Now cut it into 1 inch long logs. You can cook them off and freeze to reheat later, or flour a pan and keep them on the side until ready to cook, which shouldn't take more then a minute or two to finish, in salted boiling water.

For the sauce.

Your going to need mire poix

(Carrots (smallest amount) Onions most of, Celery in between the two.

Mushroom scraps if possible, if not its ok.

Dried shitaki mushrooms about a cup or more. (i do things in my mind so no quantities just flavor i want to put in...)

Anyhoo, you can use a dab of butter to saute the mirepoix, sweat it out a few minutes until veggies get soft. You can throw in the mushrooms near the end of the sweat or even after you add the water whichever you want, it makes no difference.

Now you want to put enough veg to make about 1 gallon of stock... or even 1/2 a gallon.

Well let the veg stock cook for approx 45 minutes, at which point you strain. DO NOT SEASON, no salt or pepper should have gone in yet. You can add herbs to the veg stock but its not entirely necessary, but i'd add thyme and maybe a VERY small amount of rosemary.

Strain the stock, and put the liquid back on the fire.

Now reduce reduce reduce. You want your stock to become a glace. meaning it should be thick, much like honey consistency.

Now vegetables dont have much protein if any :) so unlike a meat stock which would get thicker much quicker a veg stock takes alot of stock to produce the same amount of liquid you need for the sauce.

Now when you have that thick glace of mushroom essence, you put that into a pan, and add about 2x the amount of butter to liquid. USE COLD BUTTER, and whisk the two together until they emulsify. (meaning they become a silky buttery mushroom rich sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, (id use white pepper)

Now you can mix it together with your gnocchi and serve it as is, and it would knock anyone out tasting it. OR you can garnish.

Cut Green onions on a bias sprinkle it over. You can remove the now cooked soft shitakis out of the stock slice it into strips from cap to end and pat them with a paper towel. Now add some butter to a pan, and brown them, crisp them up, and sprinkle them with the green onions.

You could Optionally add Truffle Butter, or Truffle Oil.

Now if you cant have butter. Add some corn starch instead.

I guarentee you if you made this dish, you will fall in love with it.

Ive actually been able to refine my actions of making this dish, producing it in an hour or less from start to finish....

************SEANDIRTY's GNOCCHI with Essence of Mushroom.**************

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

I may be in the gutter, but I am still staring at the stars.

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

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Paella!  All of your other dishes are easily modifiable to become Spanish themed.  And if you wanted to keep chorizo, don't they make a soy chorizo that is readily available at grocery stores?

Speaking as a carnivore, I'd be as offended by soy chorizo as a vegetarian would likely be by a real chorizo. :wink:

The souffle is a swell idea.

Someone upthread suggested that the gluten-free are sick of rice (and I am strong on on the polenta -- why not sprinkle it with Gorgonzola, cool it and fry it for serving? Side it with something green and Italianish or maybe sauteed Kale and serve some excellent Italian sausages for the meat-eaters. A little tomato concasse never hurts) but mushroom risotto makes my vegetarian friend damn happy and the meat-eaters never miss a thing. Thomas Keller's got a recipe that uses a mushroom stock, cream, mushrooms and truffle oil. Also truffles, but you can just use plain old 'shrooms.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Hi All,

I'm still enjoying all the ideas. Thanks.

Some of them could work if modified slightly - would have to remove the cheese and cream from the risotto.

Paella sounds good. I could stick to shellfish since I have a fish allergy to worry about. A seafood stew was one of my first considerations. I would probably leave the soy chorizo out altogether for this friend. She isn't one of those vegetarians that misses the taste of encased meats or cured meats (much to Trotter's dismay when they accidently gave her a bacon dish).

SeanDirty - thanks for the recipe. It just confirms that I need to ask for a ricer for Christmas.

I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

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Most lactose intolerant people can eat aged/hard cheeses like parmesan.

Edit: Here's what Wikipedia has to say on lactose levels in cheeses:\

Cheeses. Traditionally made hard cheese (such as Swiss cheese) and soft ripened cheeses may create less reaction than the equivalent amount of milk because of the processes involved. Fermentation and higher fat content contribute to lesser amounts of lactose. Traditionally made Swiss or Cheddar might contain 10% of the lactose found in whole milk. In addition, the traditional aging methods of cheese (over 2 years) reduces their lactose content to practically nothing.[1] Commercial cheese brands, however, are generally manufactured by modern processes that do not have the same lactose reducing properties, and as no regulations mandate what qualifies as an "aged" cheese, this description does not provide any indication of whether the process used significantly reduced lactose.
Edited by emilyr (log)

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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Hi All,

I'm still enjoying all the ideas.  Thanks.

Some of them could work if modified slightly - would have to remove the cheese and cream from the risotto. 

Paella sounds good.  I could stick to shellfish since I have a fish allergy to worry about.  A seafood stew was one of my first considerations.  I would probably leave the soy chorizo out altogether for this friend.  She isn't one of those vegetarians that misses the taste of encased meats or cured meats (much to Trotter's dismay when they accidently gave her a bacon dish).

SeanDirty - thanks for the recipe.  It just confirms that I need to ask for a ricer for Christmas.

You could also finish risotto, set a serving aside and finish the rest with the cream, (which Keller whips, for lightness) but I'm not sure that's even necessary. Cheese can be served on the side.

I think it's totally unfair for you to have to deal with three types of finickifications at once. One of your guests needs to take on e for the team.

Also, sorbet with a nice fruit sauce and a cookie make a fine, non-controversial dessert, assuming you have a machine. Maybe Meyer Lemon infused with thyme and served with a mango/lime puree.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I think it's totally unfair for you to have to deal with three types of finickifications at once. One of your guests needs to take on e for the team.

I like this word. Changed my mind (woman's perogative of course) I :wub: this word May I steal it?

PS to seandirty

I also think that recipe is a definite keeper. What a great sauce idea. Kudos to you.

Edited by Soupcon (log)

"Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt. Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon. Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi."

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh

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I think it's totally unfair for you to have to deal with three types of finickifications at once. One of your guests needs to take on e for the team.

I'm actually fine with cooking for this group. Two of the people I've cooked for many times and somehow have them convinced that I know what I'm doing. :rolleyes:

It is the person who is lactose intolerant/sugar free/gluten free that I've never cooked for before. I'm sure like many people in her situation she is hoping that I won't go to a lot of trouble.

I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

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I use pecorino romano cheese in my risotto all the time for my lactose intolerant dinner companion. Sheep's milk is usually OK with people who have problems with cow's milk, and it is also a hard, aged cheese, so you are doubly safe. I can also say from experience, that people with dietary restrictions don't tend to mind if you ask questions, so you could check to see if that would be OK.

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I think it's totally unfair for you to have to deal with three types of finickifications at once. One of your guests needs to take on e for the team.

I like this word. Changed my mind (woman's perogative of course) I  :wub: this word May I steal it?

PS to seandirty

I also think that recipe is a definite keeper. What a great sauce idea. Kudos to you.

Yeah back in my Pro cooking days, i worked in a kitchen with Cedric Tovar, he taught me the use of vinegars and i owe him everything for it. There is a vinegar for every dish... and you should add either chardonay vinegar to the gnocchi dish, or some form of acid that complements it, the vinegar would lighten the very heavy gnocchi dish, and add a new level of flavor.

As for the sauce, yes thank you, its one of the few dishes i came up with myself, and its by far a winner on every level...

I also have an award winning chili recipe.... (no fillers!!) i won about 500 at the Culinary institute of America with the chili recipe :)

But hey, please try my recipe its amazingly good. Once you make it a few times, you will get the gnocchi right... and a few times after that you will be able to cut down cooking/prep times. Again i can do the whole dish in about an hours time... and it is a very gourmet meal :)

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

I may be in the gutter, but I am still staring at the stars.

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

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re: lactose intolerance.

From what i remember reading in one of Jeffery Steingartens books, there are no cheeses that someone with lactose intolerance cant eat due to the large part of the lactose going during the cheese making process.

Edited by CalumC (log)
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re: lactose intolerance.

From what i remember reading in one of Jeffery Steingartens books, there are no cheeses that someone with lactose intolerance cant eat due to the large part of the lactose going during the cheese making process.

I am moderately(?) lactose intolerant.

I can eat small amounts of hard, aged cheeses but *cannot* handle milk, cream, ice cream, and soft cheeses such as ricotta.

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re: lactose intolerance.

From what i remember reading in one of Jeffery Steingartens books, there are no cheeses that someone with lactose intolerance cant eat due to the large part of the lactose going during the cheese making process.

I am moderately(?) lactose intolerant.

I can eat small amounts of hard, aged cheeses but *cannot* handle milk, cream, ice cream, and soft cheeses such as ricotta.

Fair doos, i'll try and find the original article, must be around here somewhere.

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