Dinner Party

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Dinner Party
I'm hosting a dinner party for 12 and looking for menu ideas. My plan is to grill seafood, potatoes, corn,etc and serve it on platters in the backyard. Any ideas from what to put on the grill to what appetizers to serve to interesting drinks or deserts would be appreciated.
Nina's picture
Joined: 06/14/2011
Stella Stars: 3473
Hi Guy, That menu seems rather ambitious considering that you more than likely want to hang at your own party.  You didn't say which seafood is on the menu, but if you're going to grill everything, then you'll have to stand by the grill at all times because the seafood, corn and potatoes will go on at different times and different temps. 

  I don't know where you are, but these ingredients sound to me like a New England clam boil/bake.
Anyway, give us some more details and I know that someone on this site will be happy to help you. 

The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook.”
― Julia Child  

Point well taken. My grill is large and has a couple of sections so I can cook at different times and different temps. The activities will be out side so a group can hang around the grill and participate in cooking. Having appetizers and cocktails on the patio near the grill area will help as well. I am thinking of lobster, large prawn, king crab legs, perhaps swordfish but very open to ideas. I have done this type of meal before and the fun is in the rustic presentation and eating with your hands.
Nina's picture
Joined: 06/14/2011
Stella Stars: 3473
  Okay, here we go.  I love grilling, and here is what I would do.  Make the whole party an eat-with-you- hands thing.  Set up a side table with a large (24 inch or so) pan of ice. In it are two large bowls of soup.  One soup is a vichyssoise the other is a gazpacho.  Leave mugs or cups next to the bowls so that guests can ladle the soups into them. A great do ahead. Perhaps some oysters on the half shell with a horseradish granita, or even a tabasco granita.

  On the grill goes everything else basted with a lemon butter garlic sauce. As far as veges, I would grill corn, and asparagus, or 1/2 artichokes, don't forget LOTS of lemon.  When the soup is cleared away, use the side table for warm wet hand towels. I went to a crab boil once where the hostess gave everyone a clean kitchen towel to use as a napkin!  Brilliant!

  For dessert, I would keep it rustic and simple.  Perhaps a sorbet and/or vanilla ice cream with some grilled summer fruit. Maybe limoncello as a digestivo.

  Someone else would be better suggesting cocktails.  I'm boring in that I always have wine with food.
  There are so many possibilities that I am curious to see what other people write. 
Also, I have a question.  Can I come?

esavitzky's picture
Joined: 05/16/2011
Stella Stars: 2069

Here are a couple of drink recipes that are great for parties.  The first one is more of a punch that you can prepare and let your guests serve themselves.  The other would require you to shake individually.  I do prefer the second one though.  I learned these both from the bar manager of a restaurant in Boston called Skipjacks and both have some New England heritage to them.

Sons of Liberty Punch:

In a large bowl, combine:

1 bottle Rum
1 bottle Cognac
12.5 oz Batavia Arrack
19 oz. Lemon Juice
1 3/4 cup Demerara Sugar
Zest of 13 lemons (your're going to be busy with this.  Maybe you can put your guests to work)
9.5 tsp Black tea
25 oz Hot Water 

Steep black tea in hot water
While tea is steeping, muddle lemon zest with sugar in punch bowl
Add arrack and ignite with long wooden match (puts on a nice show for the guests)
Strain tea into bowl to extinguish flame
Add block of ice, spirits and lemon juice to bowl
Allow to "steep" for 10-15 minutes
Ladle into pre chilled punch cups
Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg

Grovestand Fizz:

In a Boston Shaker combine:

2 oz Old Tom  gin  (the only brand I think that makes this is called Hayman's)
1 1/2 oz fresh OJ
1 oz fresh lemon
1 1/2 oz grenadine (do not buy grenadine syrup - make it yourself - very easy - mix one part sugar to one part pomegranate juice and shake well)
2 dashes orange bitters
Cover with ice and shake vigorously
Strain into a highball glass and top with soda water.

Have a great time!



Great ideas. Any suggestions on seafood? For desert I was thinking of Jacob's de-constructed berry pie.
Jacob Burton's picture
Joined: 11/01/2010
Stella Stars: 17004
Hey Guy,

For seafood on the grill, shell fish is always the way to go. BBQ oysters are awesome and they have a built in doneness thermometer; as soon as they pop, they're ready. Same thing with shrimp that you can first marinade, skewer and then grill. As soon as the tails turn pink, they're ready to serve.

Lobster is also great. Boil for three minutes to kill and then ice. You can do this the day before. Next, pull off the tail and split lengthwise. Place on on grill flesh side down (with the shell still attached) for 1-2 minutes. Flip over, brush with some melted lemon butter and serve when the flesh turns opaque/white and has firmed. Claws, still in the shell, can go directly onto the grill for about 4-5 minutes to heat all the way through.

Good luck on the party. I think everyone will really like the reconstructed berry pie. Let me know how it turns out.

Cook With Passion!

Nina's picture
Joined: 06/14/2011
Stella Stars: 3473
  Jacob is right, shellfish is the way to go because they steam in their own juices. Just be careful not to overcook them.  The grill will add a great flavor and texture to the meat. Crab legs are also a good choice.
   If you buy a large enough lobster (3 lbs is my favorite size) you can also cook the thorax and legs, then when everyone is gone, and you're feeling energetic, here is what you can do: Remove the meat and tomalley from the cold leftover lobster.  The tomalley is the green stuff and it is actually the lobsters liver. Then, make some homemade mayo with lemon, add the tomalley, dijon mustard, some lemon juice, tobasco, a few snipped chives, and a little parsley.  It can be served in the shell, or just on a plate with a lemon wedge and parsley garnish.
 @ Labradors, lately that lemon, tabasco combo has been going into everything and  I just love it!