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Suggestions for a Dinner Menu


tedwin
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:blink: I have a Kazak friend whose VISA expired and must now leave the US. I'd like suggestions for a multi-course farewell menu. The problem is: one guest is lactose intolerant (no milk, cream, cheese, etc) and two are vegetarian. I was thinking of starting with a demitasse of apple-turnip soup followed by a Cesar salad in a parmensan bowl (I'll serve the lactose-intolerant guest his salad on a plate). Beyond the starters, I'm struggling for ideas. Any suggestions?
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I once cooked a meal where two people were vegans, two were vegetarians and one of the vegetarians didn't eat onions or garlic.

For the main course, I made a recipe from Daniel Boulud's Cafe Boulud Cookbook -- eggplant like a pizza. Instead of a bread crust, the bottom layer was very thinly sliced eggplant, dredged in flour, and then deep fried, and then arranged in overlapping slices in a round on the baking sheet. The "pizza" topping was sauteed green peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, roasted red and yellow peppers, tomato confit or sun-dried tomatoes. There was a final topping of sauteed red onion slices, roasted garlic, nicoise olives and parmigiano and feta cheese, so I just divided the pizza into imaginary segments -- some got the onion and garlic with cheese, some without cheese, and some with cheese but no onion and garlic. It was very beautiful to look at and everyone was happy. (I suppose I could have made 2 smaller pizzas, but it never occurred to me at the time.)

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If you want to serve a pasta course, I've got a recipe for a walnut/zucchini sauce that's quite tasty -- doesn't even need cheese, although it makes a nice addition:

To sauce 1 pound of spaghetti:

1 cup oil (half and half olive and something mild; you might even add a little walnut oil if you have it)

2 cups toasted walnuts

1/4 cup chopped onion (any kind works)

1 clove garlic (more if you like)

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chervil, or 2 teaspoons dried (if you don't have any, that's okay)

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste (especially if no cheese)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1 cup cooked, sliced zucchini

(1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan -- I've made it without and it's still good)

Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat until just below a boil. Pour over pasta and mix. Serve. (Add cheese separately if desired)

edit to add question: do the "vegetarian" guests eat anchovies (the Caesar has them)?

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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May I suggest for future reference, getting a couple of vegetarian cookbooks. They'll help you in your menu planning should this situation arise again. A good starting point, although this is not a veggie cookbook per se, is "Chez Panisse Vegetables". I'm sure other posters can recommend a few more.

Along the lines of a dinner menu, here are a couple of guidelines:

Make all soups and sauces with vegetable based stock if possible.

Try to make the same dish for all three people, this way you won't have to overreach yourself and it won't be too much work involved. (I am of course assuming your veggie friends are lacto-ovo veggies, since those are the most common of all vegetarians, in this case, all you would have to do would cut out any dairy.)

I am generally not a fan of tofu/seitan/gluten dishes, as I find them cheap backouts for vegetarian cooking. They may be effective, but they're too easy to sacrifice taste for utility.

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Roasted Winter Root Vegetable Soup with Apple Butter (this is a take on your original idea with a few twists. its basically roasted carrots, turnips, and parsnips, along with a potato for added body. you could add maybe some roasted onions and/or garlic for sweetness. the apple butter would be a garnish to the soup -- just apples, honey, nutmeg and/or cinnamon cooked down to a sort of chunky applesauce)

Wilted Endive and Watercress Salad with Shaved Fennel, Pears, Crispy Shallots, Pecans and Roasted Garlic-Tahini Viniagrette (wilt endive and watercress in a heated saute pan with some EVOO; divide among salad plates, toss with shaved or thinly sliced fennel bulb, julienned or thinly sliced pears, crisp fried shallots; viniagrette is pureed roasted garlic, EVOO, lemon juice, kosher salt, pepper, and tahini)

Tagliatelle with Caramelized Onions, Wild Mushrooms, and Herbs [Fried Breadcrumbs] (this is simply caramelized onions in EVOO, along with sliced cremini, shittake, and oyster mushrooms, and either rosemary or oregano. maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes or imported Hungarian paprika for character. fried breadcrumbs = stale bread from a loaf of Italian bread, fried in EVOO, with some minced garlic and a peperoncini, and minced Italian parsley. use in place of cheese.)

Orange Sabayon with Crystallized Ginger and Rosewater. (just a sabayon custard sauce, over mandarin or navel orange segments that have been briefly macerated in a rosewater-infused simple syrup and topped with chopped crystallized ginger (or maybe candied violets))

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maybe do a chawanmushi -- savory Japanese egg custard with nori, gingko nuts or chestnuts, shitaake, enoki or matsutake mushrooms (sub. Chinese black mushrooms). or a savory flan with caramelized shallots, leeks and herbs.

another dessert idea: roasted bananas, spiked with rum, nutmeg and white pepper, served with vanilla ice cream. (chopped honey roasted walnuts on top)

SA

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If you want to stick to the Italian theme, how's about pasta topped with abbrabiata sauce or a ratatouille like vegetable mixture (Tomatoes, celery, eggplants, and zucchini) I can find you a more exacting recipe if you need one. And, the non-dairy eaters can sprinkle goat cheese on theirs.

If you want to do something more Mediterranean in nature, you can make a vegetable couscous.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Sorry, I got it wrong. I was thinking of myself actually because I am lactose intolerant but can have goat milk so goat cheese is the only think I can have sometimes. But, in this case, better t6o be safe. Forget the goat cheese altogether! Thanks Suzanne for the correction.

Need to re-reade post carefully :shock:

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Thank God for this thread! I borrowed some pie plates from a friend of mine who is vegan. Strict. My mother told me it was rude and horrible to return food containers without food in them, so . . . I'd like to bake her pies, but how? How ? Anyone know any dairy-free pie crust recipes or have any experience with this? Can I substitute the soy spread product for cold butter? I would truly appreciate any tips, or if anyone knows any vegan baking books? :biggrin:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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Pie crust can be made with just Crisco. It's not as good as half Crisco/half butter imo but it's all right, especially if you use really good fruit or vegs in the pie.

American Pie Crust

12oz flour

1 ½ oz sugar

1 tsp salt

8oz Crisco

1/3 cup cold water

Drop of lemon juice

Combine flour, sugar and salt in mixer with paddle attachment. Run on low speed and add small pieces of Crisco until combined. Run in water combined with lemon juice very slowly until doughy. Knead briefly, divide in half, press into disks, wrap and chill at least 30 minutes before using.

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Thank you Malawry. Also, thank you very much for your cooking school diary. I start in May at the Cordon Bleu and I am extremely nervous. Reading your adventures has made me feel much better! Thanks forever. :wub:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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