I could make a day out of planning a menu. I can actually make two days of it. I just proved that, but now my time is running up. For the past two days I’ve been trying to craft a menu for my birthday dinner. I’m not a very good planner; it’s why most of my friends are lawyers. They need to be in control, and I’m all too happy to let them have it. When it comes to food, though, I need to be at the helm. Lasagna is a possibility because it’s good for large groups. I also considered an early Thanksgiving with all the trimmings, but I fear the turkey would be missing (because we don’t have all day to cook). I’d like to make use of the outdoor grill while it’s still warm.
When I was growing up, we’d celebrate Christmas eve with my Italian cousins, which meant fish. A fish night. Cherry tomatoes stuffed with lump crab meat salad, tuna tar tar towers, shrimp cocktail, and oysters for starters. Linguine with clam sauce, grilled pesto salmon. Seafood ravioli. It was insane. Christmas day my mother made two lasagnas. The traditional lasagna and a green spinach noodle lasagna with bechamel sauce. My father grilled fillet mignon outside, in his coat. I’m struggling because I really want something with a theme, not just, let’s pick up fish, pasta, and some steaks and see what happens. Perhaps a pasta swap where we make three different types of pasta? Without a doubt, I know everything will be wonderful. I’d just like it to be wonderfully coordinated as well. I was first thinking of doing a nostalgia dinner with grown up versions of my childhood favorites.
"Pigs in a blanket:" fire-grilled sausages, wrapped in puff pastry, Dijon mustard.
"Pizza Bagels:" bagel chips with a smear of goat cheese, jersey tomato, chiffon of basil, kosher salt and stone-ground pepper.
Oozy mac & cheese using Canteen’s recipe.
Buttermilk fried chicken.
Tater Tots because I don’t remember the last time I had them.
Grilled corn on the cob with spiced butters.
A romaine salad with actual croutons (no one eats croutons anymore!)
But then I got nervous. It’s not a very sophisticated menu for a Saturday night. What if someone actually wants to be healthy? I wanted to make a leg of lamb, but that takes hours that I won’t have. Perhaps I should construct a Harvest Menu using the best of the season, make an onion cheese tart on puff pastry for snacking and sipping Riesling. Follow it with Thai steamed mussels in coconut milk, crusty bread for dipping. Chicken pot pies. I’m having a hard time deciding. Any menu theme ideas for a 30th birthday dinner for about 16 people?