Need menu help for make-ahead veg/dairy/fish dinner party

Forgot to mention: No shellfish either.

I don't mind front-loading the work. fish en papaillote could be the ticket!

Anniversary dinner in Chicago

Fab suggestions! We went to Blackbird on a date about 12 years ago - could be a good time to go back!

Now I just need a good gift idea!

Anniversary dinner in Chicago

sorry it posted twice!

help me make lactose free ice cream - heavy cream substitute?

OP here - I found a way to cheat that works pretty well. I buy Trader Joes Soy Creamy vanilla ice cream, then beat in mint extract and bittersweet chocolate chips. It's not the same, but pretty darn good!

anyone decorate the side of a cake with M&Ms?

Ugh. Hadn't even thought of that. Not so festive, huh? Forget it.

Coating with sprinkles... that would be cute.

Potato Kugel

12 eggs? Really? I wish I'd seen this before I made the big trip to the store.

Cook the Book: 'Rose's Heavenly Cakes'

Bittersweet Bakery on Belmont in Chicago makes the most divine cakes. Beautiful to boot.

Buy two briskets or one really big one?

My inclination was to go with two, so glad to see I'm on the right track. Thanks!

Cook the Book: 'The Asian Grill'

Not wanting to heat the oven on a hot day, my husband decided to grill his freezer pizza. He removed the plastic overwrap, but couldn't separate the cardboard from the bottom of the pizza. I guess he figured it was an extra thick crust or something because he put the whole thing on the grill.

Did I mention that the cardboard was also wrapped in plastic? We had to spend over $100 on a new grate and Weber "flavorizer bars", so the value of the book ought to make a dent in that.

seeking layered matza cake recipe

cybercita's recipe looks like it could be the one or at least very similar. I forgot too about the crushed nuts on top! You would serve it chilled, so frozen could be interesting too.

The texture ends up generally soft, but the matzas still have a bit of firmness to them. Easy enough to slice/bite through, the firm enough to not fall apart. You don't really taste the wine in the finished product - you just want something sweet to soak the matzas in.


Not-so-glorious pan drippings - help!

Thanks so much... for some reason searching the NYTimes site originally didn't lead me to the blog entry. Glad to see I'm not the only one. I'll reduce my oven temp... esp. with my dark pan. And the idea of potatoes (from the blog comments) could be divine. Thanks again.

Foods that start with X

Very soon it will be X week in my son's classroom and guess who gets to bring the letter of the week snack? (This was so much easier when we had G!)

I'm going to need to get original here and dig deep for X foods beyond X shaped cookies. Any ideas? It has to be packaged (I can't prepare it at home) and can't contain peanuts.


Need menu help for make-ahead veg/dairy/fish dinner party

We've agreed to host a dinner party for 14 as part of a fundraiser. It has to be vegetarian, dairy or fish - we can't serve meat/poultry. It needs to be a substantial meal (i.e. not just appetizers) and I'd like to be impressive (people are paying $$ for the pleasure). I've got plenty of great fish recipes, etc., but they almost all entail last-minute cooking/prep, and I'd prefer to be with my guests than toiling in the kitchen (as much as possible). I also don't have a broiler!

So, please help me devise a delicious menu under these guidelines! Thanks!

Rice Pilaf from Wildfire - make at home?

Ate at Wildfire restaurant in Chicago last night. First time I've had their rice pilaf as a side. It was great - lots of veggies with a slightly crunchy texture. If it wasn't for a table full of kids I probably could have paid attention to what was actually in it (I noticed corn, peas - definitely others...). Any ideas? I'd love to make it at home.

Anniversary dinner in Chicago

We're celebrating our tenth anniversary next month (!) and want to plan a special meal out in Chicago, preferably downtown. No Alinea, Trotters, etc., but I want someplace very nice, with great food and service. We don't nec. need someplace overly "romantic" - we enjoy a bustling restaurant, but we don't want to be crowded or rushed either. (I know, picky picky.)

Considering the Lockwood at the Palmer House simply because we got married at that hotel. The restaurant has mixed reviews though...

how to get my pretzels more crusty and pretzel-y

I made soft pretzels today. They were good, especially while still warm. I did the baking soda bath - even with the baked baking soda trick from Harold McGee in the NYTimes - and they still didn't have a crispy crust. Do I need to keep them in there longer? Any suggestions?

How far can you make Mashed Potatoes ahead?

I've been 'assigned' mashed potatoes for the family Thanksgiving potluck. I don't make mashed potatoes that often and when I do I always serve them immediately. For Thanksgiving, I need to make them, drive 1/2 hour, then we won't even be serving for another hour after that.

Can they sit around without getting gummy or separating? What's the best strategy here? I can't plan on making them there b/c there'll will be too much going on.

help me make lactose free ice cream - heavy cream substitute?

My husband is lactose-intolerant, and while he feels better since discovering this, misses his most-favorite desserts - ice cream. We've tried literally almost every kind of lactose free ice cream on the market and they just don't have the flavor range he's used to! (I know, if that was only our biggest problem...) His particular favorite is mint chocolate chip.

Anyway, I want to make lactose free (or close to it) ice cream at home. I know you can get Lactaid milk, but what about heavy cream? Is there some kind of substitute for that?

Any other tips from those who've been there before?

anyone decorate the side of a cake with M&Ms?

I saw a picture of a cake on the How about Orange blog (love it!) that was covered in balls of different colored icing. If you squinted, it looked like M&Ms. Anyone ever cover the entire sides of a frosted cake with M&Ms (or other colored coated candy)? Does it look cool or just like a cake covered with M&Ms? Got the kid's b-day party coming up and was thinking about doing it in a solid color or maybe two. Unfortunately, no time to do a practice...

Buy two briskets or one really big one?

I need to cook brisket for a lot of people - and of course want to have some left over. I need to double my recipe. Should I buy two briskets of the recommended size, or one brisket that's double the size?

seeking layered matza cake recipe

As a teen I had an aunt (former, by marriage, so I can't ask her now...) who made a matza cake every Passover that I'd so love to find a recipe for. The matzas were soaked in wine until soft, then layered with a chocolate mousse or similar, which also iced the sides and top. You'd end up with a thin slice with at least 12 matzas. So good. Her family was not Jewish, so it wasn't a handed down recipe - probably from a cookbook (this was the 80s).

Anyone have something similar? I've been searching for years but haven't found the same thing yet.

Not-so-glorious pan drippings - help!

Did anyone else make Melissa Clark's Garlic and Thyme Roasted Chicken With Crispy Drippings Croutons recipe from the 3/11 NYTimes? You roast a chicken on a bed of day-old bread, which is supposed to result in crispy, dripping-soaked croutoney bread. My smoke alarm went off and I got burnt bread. BUT, the chicken was the most gloriously juicy bird ever. The bits of bread directly under the chicken were edible and tasty. I'm dying to get this right!

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