A heartfelt thanks to the chowhound community for all the help. Many of you posted great advice on my many threads.
I've done many 8-10 person dinner parties for friends. But this was the first time my new husband and I invited our close family members (20 of them!) over for a meal. After spending so many Sundays at their homes for lunch ever since I was a little girl, it meant a lot to finally welcome them into our home.
I'm very pleased to say it was a great success...warm feelings all around, and all big appetites were satisfied!
I used the fine china, shaped the napkins into bishop's hats, and arranged low centerpieces with white lilies and very pale pink roses.
Hors d'oeuvres were: sundried tomato dip, shrimp salad on round melba toast, and prosciutto, pesto, and gruyere pinwheels. They all turned out great, but I made wayyyy too much.
The osso buco was tender and oh-so-flavorful. My cousin called the bone marrow "sex on a stick." I agree! I used Marcella Hazan's recipe, and although I read that she didn't find the gremolata necessary, we all loved the bright flavor it added to the richness of the meat.
The mushroom risotto wasn't gummy, and the porcini liquid I used gave a great depth of flavor.
The rosemary focaccia bread was a hit! Next time I will sprinkle sea salt over the top.
The spinach-ricotta lasagna was good. I do believe the flavor suffered just a little bit from being frozen for a week. I think the ricotta became a little...watered down.
The beet rounds topped with goat cheese mousse, orange slices, and caramelized walnuts were so pretty. Next time I would make a feta mousse instead though.
I also made a standard mixed greens salad with vinaigrette, and had a cheese plate (all Italian cheeses) with dates and figs.
For dessert, I made a chocolate flourless cake with almond flavor and Bastianich's limoncello tiramisu. Both were eaten very very quickly! One of my aunts made cannolis and my sis-in-law made an orange pie. They were both excellent. Oh yeah, and we had a fruit salad...I probably should have eaten some of that, but there was no room on the plate. ;-)
I called in sick to work today, and I'm enjoying leftovers in my pyjamas! Wish I could share them with you guys!