When planning the menu for your wedding, it's important to remember what time of year the ceremony will take place in. It's tempting to want to incorporate Spring's asparagus and strawberries into the menu, but Elena's wedding will take place in October, a time when neither asparagus or strawberries are in season.
Thus this menu features seasonal twists on classic, yet sophisticated dishes that highlight some of Sean and Elena's favorite foods. A mixture of meat and vegetarian appetizers will start off the evening. Since the couple is originally from Buffalo, NY, spicy buffalo wing bites are a must. Double mushroom pizza is a nice vegetarian alternative.
Elena loves beets, so a roasted beet and goat cheese salad makes a lovely first course. For the entrée, guests have a choice of halibut with Fall vegetables or steak with blue cheese potatoes. Both main dishes are decadent and delicious.
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Vegetable oil (1 1/2 quarts), for frying
2 1/2 cups plain pancake mix
1 1/4 cups water
8 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 1/4 pounds chicken tenders or skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper (one-third palmful)
1 cup good-quality refrigerated blue cheese dressing, such as Marie's brand
Store-bought celery sticks
- In a deep skillet, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil over medium heat.
- While the oil is heating, make the batter: In a wide mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the pancake mix, the water and 6 teaspoons of hot sauce.
- Place the remaining 1/2 cup of pancake mix in another wide mixing bowl. Arrange the batter and the bowl of pancake mix near the stove. Line a plate with a few paper towels and keep within reach.
- Once the oil is heated, toss the chicken pieces with the remaining 2 teaspoons of hot sauce, then toss them in the dry pancake mix, coat evenly and shake off the excess. (The dry pancake mix will help the batter stick to the chicken pieces.)
- Add some of the chicken to the batter (you're going to batter and fry in 3 to 4 batches) and toss with your fingers or a fork. Remove the first batch from the batter, shaking off the excess, and carefully add the chicken to the hot oil.
- Fry the chicken for 2 minutes on each side, flipping once, until deep golden brown. Remove the fried chicken from the oil and drain on the paper towel-lined plate, then season with salt. Repeat until all the popcorn chicken bites are fried.
- Stir the chopped scallions and pepper into the blue cheese dressing. Serve the chicken immediately with the dressing on the side. Garnish the platter with the celery sticks.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour or bread flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or bread flour
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten flour or bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Additional unbleached all purpose flour (for kneading and shaping)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh chanterelle mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 ounces chilled soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives
- For dough: combine all flours, coarse salt, and sugar in processor. Stir 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water and yeast in 2-cup measuring cup. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in 3 tablespoons oil. With machine running, pour yeast-oil mixture through feed tube. Blend until ball of slightly sticky dough forms, about 1 minute.
- Transfer dough to lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if very sticky, about 5 minutes. Rub with 1/2 tablespoon oil; place in resealable 1-gallon plastic bag. Seal bag. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours.
- Open bag; punch down dough in bag. Reseal. Chill overnight, punching down occasionally. Divide into thirds. Do ahead: Wrap pieces separately; freeze up to 1 week. Thaw 2 pieces in refrigerator before continuing. Let 2 wrapped pieces stand at room temperature 1 hour before shaping.
- For topping: heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.
- Sprinkle 2 large sheets of parchment with flour. Roll out 2 dough pieces, each on separate parchment sheet, to 10-inch rounds, letting dough rest a few minutes if springing back.
- Brush with oil; sprinkle each with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmesan.
- Top with mushrooms, then dot with goat cheese. DO AHEAD Slide pizzas on parchment onto baking sheets; cover with plastic. Chill up to 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
- Position 1 rack in bottom third and1 rack in top third of oven; place heavy baking sheet on each and preheat oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes.
- Slide 1 pizza on parchment onto each hot baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes; reverse sheets. Bake pizzas until crusts are brown at edges and on bottom, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chives.
Makes two 10 inch pizzas.
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
6 cups fresh arugula
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
- Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.
- Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
6 ounces peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium parsnip, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small turnip, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 thyme sprigs, plus thyme leaves for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless halibut fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the chopped shallot and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the squash, parsnip and turnip and cook over moderately high heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the wine, thyme sprigs and bay leaf and cook until the wine reduces by half, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the halibut pieces with salt and pepper and dust them lightly with the flour. Add the halibut to the hot skillet and cook over moderately high heat until light golden, about 2 minutes per side.
- Add the fish to the vegetables and simmer for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fish and vegetables to shallow bowls.
- Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into the broth. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over the stew. Garnish with the thyme leaves and serve.
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Freshly ground pepper
1 3/4 pounds skirt steak
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
- Preheat grill to high. Stir garlic, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, and oil in a nonreactive dish; season with pepper.
- Place steak in dish, cutting to fit if necessary; coat both sides with marinade. Marinate, turning once, 15 minutes, or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- Cover potatoes with cold water in a medium saucepan; add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; let cool slightly. Slice potatoes in half, and brush lightly with oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Grill steak, turning once, to desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Set aside. Meanwhile, grill potatoes, turning once, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Immediately sprinkle with cheese. Thinly slice steak against grain. Divide steak and potatoes among 4 plates. Serve, garnished with rosemary sprigs.