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Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

To add more info:

I am doing the cooking and shopping. I am not a caterer, but have put together many meals for fifty to two hundred people. I will do a lot of cooking in advance and freezing. I have hired two servers to help with set up, service and cleaning-one or both of them is not Jewish. The event is a Friday night/shabbat dinner, for family and out of town guests the evening before my daughter's bat mitzvah. It will be served at the synagogue following Friday night services.

Macaroni and cheese is the main dish because it is my daughter's favorite food and it's (more or less) her event. Other people love it too, I just want the meal to be satisfying and comfortable for as many guests as possible.

I will certainly clarify the rules with the rabbi, but I believe the staff I've hired may turn off the oven.

Oct 23, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

Yes, I'd be interested in learning more about poached cod. Thanks!

Oct 23, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

You are not being dense. I definitely can not increase the oven temperature. I will ask the rabbi if the server I've hired is permitted to do so, but I think the answer is no.

(I could not make up these rules. I am just following them!)

Oct 23, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

I probably shouldn't have mentioned challah - it's not really a big part of the meal, just part of the ritual. The mac 'n' cheese I make is definitely main dish worthy.

I am definitely doing a big platter of roasted veggies - definitely broccoli and cauliflower, perhaps Brussels sprouts, roasted peppers, etc.

I will investigate other fish than salmon (which will be served at the brunch two days later) that can be poached or otherwise made ahead.

Oct 23, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

I will think about that. I can not blast them after the service - the rules are tricky - things can be in a warm oven, but I can't turn on or turn up the oven.

Oct 23, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

It will be buffet, but there will be glass dishes and everyone will have a table and chair, so I think salad is just fine. I will definitely take your tip of making sure the veggies in the salad are cut small.

I agree about not adding anything cheesy or starchy!

I will continue to explore the feasibility of fish cakes.

Oct 23, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

Could cod or salmon cakes be held in a warm oven for a couple of hours? I have never tried that before.

Oct 23, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

No meat rule is fixed - it's a kosher dairy event. I agree that many people in the general public would love sausages or another meat with this meal.

Oct 22, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

Yes, I totally worry about portions - if salmon is served it will be perceived as/the main dish.

I could make poached salmon (though I'm also afraid of repetition - we are having smoked salmon the next day at lunch and then a poached salmon the day after at brunch), but then I would need to make enough for a full serving for each person, which will get very expensive very quickly.

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I am very appreciative of the thoughtful responses to this tricky question!

To clarify - this is a kosher event and shrimp (and crab and other kinds of shellfish) are definitely not possible, but regular fish (salmon, tuna, cod, etc.) would be possible, if it could done affordably and easily. Due to the timing of the event and religious restrictions, I can't cook something immediately before the meal - it can stay in a warm oven and be served hot, but I could not, for example, put salmon in the oven to bake right before we sit down to eat. Additionally, the event will be in December, so high quality tomatoes and some other kinds of produce will be in shorter supply than now.

No one has specifically stated that they are gluten free or dairy free or low carb, but I know that in crowds of this size it's ideal to have options. It is also worth noting that it is primarily for guests travelling from out of town for an event the following day, so it's not like people are paying for a restaurant meal or anything like that.

Soups are definitely possibly, though it does mean additional dishes. Egg-based dishes are not my specialty, but could work well (though they always seem breakfast/brunch like and not so suited for dinner). Tofu, lentil or bean dishes could work well, as long as they make sense with the rest of the menu. Before this thread, my best idea was a lentil salad. I am reluctant to do something with rice or potatoes or other starches, as the main dish has so much starch in it.

Oct 22, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Menu suggestion for macaroni and cheese main dish

I am doing a big dinner (75-100 people) and macaroni and cheese (Martha Stewart recipe, I've made it many times) is going to be the main dish.

The remainder of the menu will be:
challah bread
green salad with lemon vinaigrette
roasted cauliflower and broccoli, maybe some other vegetables

Dessert will be pear upside down cake and vanilla ice cream.

I am looking for one additional dish to serve with dinner. I am hoping to think of something that has no gluten or dairy, and can serve as a main dish for those who don't want mac & cheese, or a side dish for the vast majority who do. Ideally, it could be made ahead and frozen (the mac & cheese and cake will both be frozen ahead) or something that is quite quick to prepare in advance. I can't serve meat and prefer something vegetarian, but would consider fish.

Any ideas are appreciated.

Oct 22, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? October 2014 Edition, Part One [old]

Yesterday I made butter mochi - super simple to make and a delicious, chewy gluten and egg free treat.

Oct 09, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? September 2014, part 2! [old]

I neglected to take photos of individual items, but I did a ton of baking last week, for Rosh Hashana:

- About 10 round challah loaves, all baked with apples and honey in the dough
-3 chocolate babka (used Smitten Kitchen's recipe - it was a big project. They turned out good, but not as dreamy as I imagined. Not quite sweet enough, and the topping was kind of hard).
-2 Apple nougatine tarts - very good, especially the filling. My pastry didn't come out as good as usual
-2 honey cakes, large sized. These were pretty standard good honeycakes with citrus flavor.
-dozen of individual sized spanakopita and filo pastries filled with roasted butternut squash and caramelized onions (does this count as baking? I didn't make the filo from scratch).

east bay search: cellophane bags and paper hand towels

Spun Sugar on University will definitely have cellophane bags for cookies.

Cookbook/supplies rec for absolute beginner- kosher and somewhat picky!

I was definitely going to recommend Kosher by Design! I think that's a great idea. The foods are diverse and inherently kosher, not just "jewish" food.

Aug 28, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Family gathering in Berkeley: restaurant and caterer ideas, please

We have done group dinners at Lalime, Comal (check out their 5:30 pm group reservation) and Pizzaiolo.

For catering, you could do something as simple as Picante catering or as extravagant as having a private chef / caterer come and provide a multi-course plated meal. I have been very impressed with both Jasmine Catering and Oren's Kitchen for catering.

The Half Orange [Oakland]

I have been a couple of times. It seems to me that the neighborhood, at least during lunch, doesn't quite get what THO is trying to do.

I have tried the portabello mushroom sandwich. It was quite good, pretty acidic. Definitely a nice change of pace from other local offerings. I have also tried the market salad (that day it had cotija, peaches and pepitas). The service has been very friendly and helpful.

No carb snacks for child

Dealing with a new DM1 diagnosis is a huge adjustment for any families. You have my virtual support!

Have you met with a nutritionist or other professional on your team to help with this? They will have great ideas.

Other kinds of nuts an nori (seaweed) might be appealing as additional ideas.

Hopefully in a few months your daughter will be able to get a pump, which will minimize the need for shots.

Aug 07, 2014
milklady in Special Diets

Best Kosher (Shabbos) Food LA

I know people who really like Pico Kosher Deli.

Jul 24, 2014
milklady in Kosher

Favorite Ice Cream 2014

That looks fantastic!

I haven't made any new ice cream discoveries. My favorites remain: Lottie's Creamery in Walnut Creek (salted almond toffee is always amazing, and I love it when there are unique flavors), Lush Gelato (amazing creamy gelatos in special flavors and great fruit sorbets) in North Berkeley and Piedmont Ave and Ici on College Ave in Berkeley.

Good meals in Murphys

I found little information when searching for where to eat in Bear Valley, Murphys, Arnold and other locations in Calaveras and Alpine Counties, so I thought I should post a report.

We ate four meals in Murphys, all of which were very good and featured fresh local produce.

Lunch at Roquefort - all vegetarian, mostly organic. It features a "grilled cheese bar". We had delicious castelvrano olives with preserved lemon, a classic (cheddar on sourdough) grilled cheese served with pickled curried cauliflower, a baby kale salad and corn/pasta/cheese fritters with aioli. All the ingredients were very high quality and nicely prepared. I wish I could have tried more of the menu!
No air conditioning, but the patio is very nice.

V Restaurant and Bar - We had two of the day's specials - strawberry gazpacho (sweet, smooth and spicy - made with strawberries, tomatoes, jalapenos, kefir and basil) and a caprese salad (buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, avocado on greens, with a raspberry dressing - I would have liked it better with just olive oil maybe lemon). We also had the ahi tacos, which had a cabbage/avocado slaw.

They have a great cocktail menu, but we had just finished wine tasting and weren't up for cocktails.

Grounds - we stopped here for a quick breakfast. There were lots of people feasting on eggs and potato pancakes and other features. We ended up eating light - yogurt, a housemade muffin and sourdough French toast. Coffee was great. They have a very nice lunch and dinner menu (on the pricier side), and indoor and outdoor seating.

Dinner at Brice Winery by Creative Catering, before the Murphys Theater outdoor performance of Twelfth Night
This was a lovely outdoor dinner in a beautiful setting. There was some sort of problem with more people reserving dinner than the caterer knew about, so portions were smaller than I'd expect. I think the caterer also would benefit from serving bread and butter with the meal. All the food was very fresh and delicious - clearly farm to table. Wine could be purchased by the glass or bottle from Brice Winery. This was the menu:
Chilled cucumber/avocado soup
Grilled pork with apricot chimichurri (we asked for a vegetarian alternative, and were each served an heirloom tomato stuffed with quinoa salad)
Grilled summer vegies
Heirloom tomato, peach and arugula salad with champagne vinaigrette
Dessert: Raspberry cheesecake muffins

I look forward to being back in the area! I would recommend any of these restaurants.

Jul 21, 2014
milklady in California

Baby-friendly SF and Wine Country Foodie spots?

Here's an article about kid friendly wineries:

Looking for soft, chewable "nugget" ice cubes

I don't know where to buy this kind of ice, but please talk to your health care provider about this craving - she or she might be concerned about pica and/or anemia.

Best of luck!

What are you baking these days? June 2014 edition, part 1! [through June 14, 2014]

How did it turn out?

I made a 2 layer 12" cake this weekend. I will try to post a photo later.

Jun 09, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? June 2014 edition, part 1! [through June 14, 2014]

That is not my experience (I have made 4 layer cakes with 9 inch pans regular recipes that make cakes nearly 2" high that have indeed toppled), but I'm glad it works for you. I look forward to hearing how it goes for the original poster.

Jun 05, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? June 2014 edition, part 1! [through June 14, 2014]

I would fear that a double recipe of that cake, with 4 9" inch layers, will become uneven and topple, even if it is skewered. That would be a very tall cake and difficult to slice!

If you can get 12" in pans, a double recipe would make two cakes that you could stack together and would be beautiful.

Jun 05, 2014
milklady in Home Cooking

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

Yesterday I tried the Flying Falafel at a festival. They were frying as fast as they could to keep up with the crowd. Service was incredibly friendly.

$8 bought you a full falafel. I was given a whole wheat pita (soft and thick), and then there were bowls set up with falafel, pickles, cabbage, sliced tomatoes and shredded carrots to fill your own pita. There were squeeze bottles of hot sauce and tehina.

The falafel were very fresh. They were crispy but irregularly shaped. They were lightly golden brown on the outside, and light brown on the inside. They tasted good, but definitely lacked salt. The pickles seemed like pretty good Israeli pickles. The sliced tomatoes were sad looking. The tehina also lacked salt.

Overall, it was a pretty satisfying falafel. My 4 year old was thrilled with it, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

What's cooking for Shavuot?

So far I plan to make:

Macaroni and cheese (with b├ęchamel, cheddar and gruyere)
Mini oreo cheesecakes
homemade lebneh

I've also purchased a lot of ice cream bars.

May 29, 2014
milklady in Kosher

Need an East Bay dinner spot for around 30 people

Friends had a dinner for 30 or 40 at Revival in Berkeley recently, and they were thrilled how the event turned out. Comal (also in downtown Berkeley) can accommodate nearly 30 in their downstairs room Abajo.

Fighting to keep my voice

I'm so sorry to hear this news. It sounds very challenging. But it also sounds like you have a great attitude, so that will go very far.

A couple years ago I was on a soft-foods diet for 6 months (luckily due to problems with orthodontia, not anything more serious) and also helped a friend with oral cancer who was on a liquid diet for quite a while post surgery.

You actually probably could live on fruit smoothies (especially protein enhanced smoothies) for a very long time. I usually added protein powder and/or ground flax seeds to smoothies. But, that isn't very satisfying. I found it incredibly important to have savory options as well as sweet.

Pureed vegetables with seasonings or butter or cream can actually be quite delicious. I loved pureed cauliflower or broccoli. This works for nearly all vegetables. I made every kind of (for me vegetarian) soup imaginable. I would often make 2-3 pots of soup in a week, and freeze individual portions, so there were always several types to choose from in the freezer. I loved vegetable soups of al kinds, and was very happy with the heartiness of pureed bean or lentil soups. Things that are meant to be dips (hummus, tzatziki, etc.) became foods I ate off a spoon and really enjoyed. I was also able to eat thinned refried beans.

The biggest change for me at first was the sudden reduction in fiber intake. It was hard on my system. I added in fiber powder to one or more meals a day.

I also felt very challenged eating at other people's homes, especially at first. I would try to drink a snack before I went, and I would also let them know what was going on with me (without expecting accommodation - I just didn't want to be rude.) I was luckier than you in that I could eat soft foods from a spoon like polenta. I even realized that I could simply swallow overcooked vegetables and lasagna and things like that, but that probably isn't recommended in your situation.

I also met with a nutritionist which I found helpful.

Good luck to you! If you think of more questions please ask. Take care.

May 06, 2014
milklady in Special Diets