Cooking for family is a freaking nightmare.

A Salad Nicoise might be nice, with some chilled cucumber soup to start, bread on the table for those that can have it, and maybe a jellied berry dessert. I think the dessert is a thing in the UK, if I’m remembering Nigella’s book Forever Summer correctly. Cheese course too? Nibbles for when everyone arrives could be spiced nuts, gluten free crackers, pickles, or crisp fresh vegetables, etc. Its been hot :hot_face: here, so this is appealing to me right now.


Could your “no red meat” person handle a paella if some lamb chops joined the fowl?

You can make horchata. I love the stuff. Spanish horchata uses chufa nuts. I prefer the Mexican rice horchata.

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In the ordinary course of events, it could work very well (except for the one who doesnt do rice). The BiL is Spanish. His wife cooked paella for their anniversary family get-together , only a couple of weeks back. It was delicious and we can’t cook it as well as she can.

So far, my best shot at this is to roast chicken pieces - breasts and thighs. And, separately, roast Mediterranean vegetables - peppers, courgettes, aubergine, potato - with herbs. And make a pour-over sauce of something or other. So far, Mrs H doesnt like my best shot!


I hope this isn’t causing a rift between you two for real. I can only speak for my wife and me, but when we get these finicky types and we start snapping at each other, we come to the same conclusion and put on our soutside tongues and say “f— 'em.” “We’re gonna make this, this and this, and that’s what we’re serving.”


I don’t know what Mrs. H’s objections may be, but I’d be very happy with that meal.


That’s my typical dinner for somewhat picky eaters. Roasted chicken legs with lemon, oregano and olive oil (sometimes garlic, rosemary, thyme), roasted oregano potatoes, vegetables (the Greek equivalent to ratatouille called briam or tourlou tourlou, or dill and lemon green beans, or beets with oil and vinegar) , and a Greek village salad. Tzatziki for the chicken if people want to add it.

Maybe take a look at the KEBABS - Summer 2022 (Jul-Sept) Dish of the Quarterthread for some inspiration.

This might work, if Mrs H likes this idea for presentation more than regular roasted Mediterranean veg.


@Harters - First, I LOVE YOUR POST TITLE! Indeed, it is.

I was just going to commiserate on that front in case you were only here to vent about it, but then you came back and said you’re considering suggestions, so I will put my thinking cap on (and draw on all the PITA family meals into which I have had to incorporate both real and ridiculous restrictions).

Gluten free is easy if the person eats other things. I’d include rice, potatoes, and bread to cover them and the rice-heater - carbs are easy and inexpensive.

Sounds like chicken or fish would work as your central item. I do like everyone’s suggestion of roast chicken (or pieces), but a side of salmon is as easy (if they will eat it). Or, and this is a good one for prepping beforehand and finishing easily, fish en papillote with whatever flavor profile you choose.

I know you enjoy Indian food, which could actually work with all the restrictions you mentioned if you don’t make it too saucy - you could also use a tandoori (or other) rub and roast the chicken or fish (or again, en papillote for the fish).

Roasted “gobhi” - toss spices with the cauliflower and oil - is a go-to for me because I love roasted cauliflower more than any other prep. Roast potatoes without any spices are a good crowd-pleaser, though I do love scalloped, which someone already suggested, and those also can be done ahead of time and easily reheated. A simple pulao (rice with peas for eg) would work for everyone except the rice-hater, and store-bought naan or paratha or even dinner rolls should work for that person.

It’s nice that you and your BIL get along well and can share your birthdays as a group celebration. A bit of a pain to think through, but once the menu is done you’ll have a happy gathering I hope, which has become so much more valuable to us all after these past years.

ETA: What about a middle eastern spread? Could be half homemade and half store-bought. Pita & rice (which could be more interesting - say mujadara) to cover both ends of the carb spectrum, roasted chicken or fish or even falafel if you decide to go that route, a few dips and sauces from the store, and roasted veg to round it out.


Fish and chips, eh! Or, is that something you usually go out for?

Chicken . . . the universal food–endless preps available and I don’t know many (other than vegetarians\vegans) who object to it.

Funny, I was going to suggest something along those lines as that’s what I was having for dinner that evening. Salmon en papillote is simple, versatile and generally the “chicken” version of fish. Yesterday’s version was something I saw here on HO–honey and lemon–simple and tasty.


A friend made the Indian version of fish en papillote (using banana leaves) for a dinner party last year, and it was very well-received. Prepped the day before, they were in a baking dish that we popped into the oven as the other food was being reheated, and it was ready before we sat to eat. For a buffet set-up, we’ve done the same without individual wrapping, covering the baking dish tightly with foil instead.

Re chicken - agree. I might have suggested Kheema to @Harters using ground chicken or ground turkey, because it can be made minimally saucy, is a bit less boring than roast chicken, and is also better the next day, so can be made in advance.

(That’s what I made when I had my fussy college roommates to stay one time - one of whom claims she hates Indian food “except when you or your family cook it”, another who is of Indian origin a few generations ago and claims she can’t eat Indian food not cooked by her mother, and so on. Rest of menu was like what I suggested to Harters - spiced roasted cauliflower, rice, frozen parathas reheated in the oven, and dal which I added at the last minute because I thought the overall meal was too dry. Nothing was left, everyone was happy.)


I got to agree with her. Roast chicken is incredibly boring… to the point I never eat it and would certainly not serve it to guests. Now I do cook chicken, but only for other dishes… Mexican, Chinese, Moroccan, Indian, Mediterranean, Thai, Pies, etc.

Much like turkey on Thanksgiving… the best part of the meal is a great stuffing/mash/gravy, with beans and sprouts, with an amazing cranberry concoction.

In hot summer weather a salmon grilled the day before, chilled, and served with capered mayonnaise. Accompany it with cold, steamed new red potatoes with bowls of sour cream and lumpfish caviar on the side as toppings, a big platter of caprese salad, and a grilled street corn salad. It minimizes same day cooking that will heat up the kitchen.

You could also serve a red lettuce salad with thinly sliced onions and a white wine vinaigrette to tweak HO.


Banana leaves are an amazing cooking tool. I much prefer larger tamales made with banana leaves than corn husks.

This was a good idea.

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Why have any sauce? Roast chicken & veggies shouldn’t need any, save for a squeeze of lemon.


I made butter chicken and butter tofu on Thursday, served with rice and Naan (keeping a side portion of the gravy out for the tofu before I added the chicken). This for my vegetarian GF daughter. I made regular naan for most of us and GF store bought for my daughter.

The butter tofu was supposed to be paneer but it got too late.


You got fish and chips from what I wrote? Hahaha

Oh, sorry. Hit the wrong poster. I do like your ideas, though. Keep it coming!


Tapas of chorizo, cheese and olives. Peruvian-style roast chicken with aji verde, tortilla española (or roasted potatoes with piquillo peppers and onions), large tossed salad. Flan for dessert. Big pitcher of sangria for those that do.


I think the worst part of cooking for any party is that one has to be excited about the menu oneself. If I’m bored by my own menu, it puts a damper on my excitement about hosting, lol.

Wonder if she’d be happier about the exact same menu if you put a spice/flavor theme on it – Peruvian as @BeefeaterRocks suggested, Indian, Moroccan (rub the chicken with harissa), and so on.


I love roasted chicken thighs and wings, and make them pretty much once a week. Never get tired of them, and they make the house smell so good!