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Old 06-03-2013, 02:21 PM   #1
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Dinner Menu Ideas

This coming Saturday DW and I are hosting a murder mystery dinner for 6 guests. This is only the third time we've done one of these. All of the guests were high bidders in a silent auction held at our wine club's annual holiday banquet, and ended up paying roughly $60 each to attend. Therefore I need to serve upscale food and drink, in order for everyone to feel like they got their money's worth. The theme of the murder mystery is wine-related, and takes place in a California winery where the proprietor has been murdered (queue up suspenseful music here). The guests have all been assigned a character and are expected to show up in costume. I know all the people who are attending and they should be a very lively, fun bunch.

Below is the tentative dinner menu I've put together. It needs to be four courses due to the way the game is laid out. Other than some of the wines (they won't see the labels), I've tried to keep the ingredients primarily "Californian" with a number of dishes or ingredients I can have pre-assembled ahead of time.

I guess what I'm looking for from DC'ers is other suggestions, or criticism/feedback on things that may or may not work well together.

Steve

------------------------
Appetizers
  • Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
  • Crab Dip with Crackers and Fresh Vegetables
  • Seared Beef Tenderloin Mini Sandwiches with Mustard-Horseradish Sauce
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • California Sparkling Wine

First Course
  • Chevre Stuffed Artichoke Salad with Mesclun and Balsamic Reduction
  • White Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon blend)

Entrée
  • Honey-Chili Glazed Cornish Hens
  • Medley of Snap Peas and Roasted Red Peppers
  • Roasted Potato Medallions
  • California Zinfandel

Dessert
  • Selection of Seasonal Fruit, Cheeses, and Nuts
  • Late Harvest Riesling

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Old 06-03-2013, 02:43 PM   #2
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I think I would drop a couple of the appetizers.

It sounds wonderful, where do I send my $60.00?
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:27 PM   #3
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I'm with Bea...where do I send my money? This sounds like great fun Steve. To be honest, I wouldn't be happy with Cornish Game Hens however. They are so hard to eat when you're minding your manners with company. I'm guessing you want to stick with poultry because some don't eat red meat?
If they all do however I'd really go for something like this...Tournedos of Beef in Mushroom, Mustard and Red Wine Sauce with Caramelized Onion-Potato Gratin Recipe : Bobby Flay : Recipes : Food Network
A great poultry choice would be something like Chicken Cordon Bleu.
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:47 PM   #4
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You need an avocado. lol

It all sounds great to me. I might trade out the bacon wrapped shrimp for prosciutto wrapped scallops on party picks or small skewers.

You might squeeze the avocado in by making a crab and avocado dip or crab & avocado timbale.
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:49 PM   #5
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Oh dear lord that sounds totally decadent. I'd happily munch my way through all those courses.

I do see Kayelle's point on the game hens though. Is fish a no no? What about cooking the chicken (breasts and thighs?) in wine to keep with the theme? Served with reduction?
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Old 06-03-2013, 04:50 PM   #6
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I have been served cornish hens at dinner parties, both whole and split halves. I survived the ordeal, dressing up that is, and was a happy camper at dinner. I guess I always think they are more a kind of a party food than an every day dish.

If you consider an alternate main course, I would suggest rabbit in a sauce or glazed baked salmon. Not sure how long salmon holds in a warming oven while eating other courses. Two different directions, but both are equally good party foods too.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
I'm with Bea...where do I send my money? This sounds like great fun Steve. To be honest, I wouldn't be happy with Cornish Game Hens however. They are so hard to eat when you're minding your manners with company. I'm guessing you want to stick with poultry because some don't eat red meat?
Kay, you hit the nail on the head. I should have mentioned it earlier, but I have two guests who don't eat red meat, one who doesn't like fish, and another who is a card carrying member of the carnivore club (also the reason for multiple appetizers). So I'm trying to appeal to everyone. I thought Cornish Hens might be safe, but you have a good point that they can be a little tricky to eat. I was also trying to avoid chicken, only because I thought it would be a little too ordinary for an upscale dinner, but maybe if I can figure out a way to put lipstick on that chicken. Cordon Bleu might be a good choice.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:09 PM   #8
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You need an avocado. lol
I'm with you! I love avocado and originally had an avocado salad on the menu. My wife absolutely abhors them, though, so I was quickly nixed on the idea.

But I might find a way to sneak it in there yet.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:21 PM   #9
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Lipstick chicken!

In addition to the Cordon Bleu idea...Chicken Kiev would be another good choice. It seems to me I saw a video here about Chicken Kiev but I can't find it now. It was how to bone it with one joint of the wing attached for a beautiful presentation. Lipstick would be optional.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:46 PM   #10
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Wasn't it lipstick on a pig.

You could spatchcock the Cornish hens. I don't like spicy food, so the chili sauce wouldn't appeal to me. I'm sure it's tough having to cater to everyone's likes & dislikes. There's a Julia Child recipe for chicken and mushrooms in a Marsala? sauce. You can probably find it on the web. I thought the scallops wrapped in prosciutto would be a little more upscale than the bacon wrapped shrimp. Your call, of course. I like anything presented in a verrine. Perhaps salad or strawberry layered shortcakes dipped in limocello. I have some links if you like. It sounds like fun. Have a great time.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:47 PM   #11
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Whoo Hooo........after more searching I found the video that Charlie posted about chicken kiev. It's in Russian but the trick is in the seeing.... Just click below, it looks strange, but it works.....

: , , , , , | -
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:52 PM   #12
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If I can be really honest....

This is supposed to be upscale, right?

Chicken in any form really isn't that unless you are Gordon Hamersley.

And chicken Kiev is a pretty outdated dish. Even though its good. It's just not the special upscale kind of thing your guests might be expecting.

I'd personally go with the Cornish hen. Is the chili glaze spicy? If so I might rethink that, though I love the glaze idea.

Also, I would add a composed dessert. I've had fabulous strawberry shortcakes at upscale joints in the past few weeks.

One other idea is Sarah Moulton's tequila stuffed cherry tomatoes for an app. When I cater in the summer they are always the first thing that gets eaten.
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:58 PM   #13
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Duck! Unless that counts as red meat.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:01 PM   #14
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Everything sounds great, although I'd like a rice or wild rice dish instead of potatoes with the Cornish Hen. (unless, of course, the hen already has a rice stuffing).

Also, some sort of chocolate dessert would be a good addition to the fruit/nut/cheese dessert. Homemade dark chocolate truffles would be my first choice. Dark chocolate mousse would also be nice.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:04 PM   #15
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It all sounds great, Steve. You have a bit of work cut out for yourself. If you want to go with chicken, why don't you try and get your hands on Frenched chicken breasts? You can season and roast it and serve it on whatever sauce you want to come up with. Funny how that little bone can make things seem fancier.lol
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:05 PM   #16
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I had to laugh about chicken Kiev being not upscale enough or an "outdated dish"....others might call it an elegant classic.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
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I had to laugh about chicken Kiev being not upscale enough or an "outdated dish"....others might call it a classic.
I haven't had one of those in years which is a good reason why I would love to be served one.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:22 PM   #18
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I had to laugh about chicken Kiev being not upscale enough or an "outdated dish"....others might call it an elegant classic.
I like it!

But it's a creature of the 1970's which I haven't seen on a restaurant menu in decades. It's also a breaded fried chicken breast which is probably in 2013 considered upscale but not elegant.

It's a home dish at this point,IMO and not something a caterer would serve which is probably what Steve is aiming at.

I agree with Andy that a duck breast or a duck confit might be interesting.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:24 PM   #19
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I like it!

But it's a creature of the 1970's which I haven't seen on a restaurant menu in decades. It's also a breaded fried chicken breast which is probably in 2013 considered upscale but not elegant.

It's a home dish at this point,IMO and not something a caterer would serve which is probably what Steve is aiming at.

I agree with Andy that a duck breast or a duck confit might be interesting.
I used to buy 4 packs from the supermarket and eat one on a bun with mayo, lettuce and tomato.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I had to laugh about chicken Kiev being not upscale enough or an "outdated dish"....others might call it an elegant classic.
It's an elegant classic. I would love to have it again!

Not that you need more apps, Steve, but a friend loved a Costco recipe from one of their cookbooks, individual grapes surrounded in goat cheese and rolled in crushed nuts.

I like Cerise's idea about spatchcocking the cornish game hens, and maybe parting/ disjointing them, then reassembling them on the plate, along with your glaze.

I'm sending you my check for sixty bucks....
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