From H.M., 12 April 2010, Wedding food in a smaller town.
Q: I am getting married this summer (July) and am facing a challenge. Obviously, we want to have a delicious dinner for our guests but I am getting married in a small town with limited resources. Our chef mentioned a chilled watermelon mint soup that I thought sounded interesting, but otherwise he is asking for our suggestions. Could you suggest a menu, including appetizers, that would be pleasing to the masses but also interesting? We are really befuddled!
A: Hi and congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I certainly can make some suggestions – you’re up in Pennsylvania, right? – but it might be helpful to get a sense of a few things first.
How many guests will be attending? Are any of them vegetarian? Do you want a buffet, or table service?
A watermelon-mint soup would be a refreshing first course. Since it’ll be midsummer, you really want to take advantage of the best seasonal produce. If I were cooking for your wedding, and providing table service, here’s what I’d serve. This is just a sampling of dishes – let me know your preferences and I could change up some things.
At the cocktail hour:
Flatbreads – three kinds, much like pizza, cut into small squares. Nicoise olive (or kalamata olive), caramelized onion, parsley; pancetta, ricotta, red onion; Fontina cheese, mushroom, caramelized garlic.
Meatballs – small ones, smaller than a cherry tomato – with a roasted cherry tomato
Shrimp, grilled w/olive oil and smoked hot Spanish paprika, and pickled garlic
Arancini – lightly breaded and deep fried risotto balls, stuffed with mozzarella cheese – with a basil leaf and sun dried tomato
For the meal:
Watermelon mint soup OR chilled zucchini lemon soup
Salad of grilled peaches glazed with pomegranate molasses, sweet corn, and arugula OR
Salad of heirloom tomatoes, basil emulsion, and tiny opal basil leaves OR
Salad of grilled eggplant with lemon and smoked Spanish paprika, tomato, white beans, and parsley
Grilled halibut OR chicken OR beef filet, grilled lemon, and a green herb sauce [essentially a puree of summer herbs like basil, mint, parsley, chives, with a little mustard, oil, lemon juice, and vinegar]. Serve with a medley of potato, zucchini, pea, and green bean [all the vegetables should be diced to the same size, about 1/4", and tossed with a really great olive oil, salt, lemon juice and zest, and a mixture of chives, basil, mint, and parsley]
Raspberry sorbet and sweet peach ice cream with a gaufrette (a waffle-type crisp cookie)
These foods aren’t really in season right now but if you like I would be happy to prepare all the dishes, photograph them, write out the recipes, and post them so you have something to forward to your chef. Please let me know, and congratulations again!