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New Year's Eve Menu

Staying Home in Style

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I attended my last New Year's Eve party around 1983. I don't like having to restrict my Champagne intake, and even when I do I dislike being on the road with people who didn't. So I've fallen into the habit of a private New Year's Eve meal and every three or four years I do a New Year's Day brunch.

Having now nailed down what I'm fixing for Christmas, my thoughts turned to the New Year and I thought this year I'd invite my condo neighbors to join me. Not knowing how many might come (I'll be feeding somewhere between 2 and 10) I wanted a meal that would be easy to scale up or down and so I came up with this.

Clementines and Prosciutto: A Seasonal Treat

Clementines & Prociutto
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
Combining clementines and prosciutto is so simple, so obvious, that when I thought of it I almost literally slapped my forehead. In the winter (and now summer thanks to South Africa) we have a brief two month window when that most perfect of citrus fruits is available in little crates - the clementine. These zesty little morsels are super sweet, almost a natural citrus candy but with juice. Add a bit of salty pork and you have an extraordinarily good little bite while the rest of the meal is readied. I'll make these on the party day.

Beet Salad with Feta

Beet Salad with Feta
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
I've decided to do courses - which would ordinarily be a bad idea because it means more dishes to wash, except I've also decided on disposable plates. So for the first course, and as a natural progression from the clementine hors dóuvres I settled on a beet salad. This recipe for a Mediterannean beet salad with feta presents a great collection of tastes: sweet, salty, and tart, with peppery notes from the arugula. It's delicious any time of year but beets are really a cold-weather vegetable. Besides, I can do all the prep a day or two in advance and can even plate it before the guests arrive.

Meatballs in Sour Cream Wine Sauce

Meatballs with Red Wine Sauce
Copyright 2010 Kevin D Weeks
My mother doesn't like meatballs. This came as an absolute surprise to me when she revealed this flaw because she used to serve them frequently at parties when I was growing up. That was the only time she made meatballs though and I loved them partially because I was only permitted to eat one on such occasions. I also loved the flavor and their elegant appearance in a copper chafing dish. Meatballs are a bit of trouble to make but their flavor is out of proportion to their size and effort. Make the meatballs a day early, then make the sauce on the party day and reheat the meatballs in it.

Dilled Egg Noodles

No recipe here, they're a perfect base for the meatballs but so easy to make a recipe isn't required. Just cook 1/4 pound of egg noodles per person, drain, toss with melted butter, finely chopped fresh dill, and salt and pepper - all to taste. That's it. Spoon meatballs and sauce on top. You could also substitute smashed potatoes with dill and butter, or even gnocchi.

Roast Brussels Sprouts: Winter at its Best

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Copyright 2010 Andrea Nguyen
I don't know why it took me so long to roast Brussels sprouts. Lord knows I've roasted almost every other vegetable you can imagine. Nevertheless I did finally get around to it and I've been kicking myself ever since for not doing so before. As with most vegetables, roasting highlights the sprouts natural sugars and deepens the flavor. Roasting is also effective at eliminating the aromatic compounds that cause many to dislike sprouts. Spread these around the plate of meatballs as a delicious, colorful garnish.

Gingerbread/Apple Crepes

Gingerbread/Apple Crepes
Copyright 2010 Kevin D Weeks
I don't recall where I ran across a recipe for gingerbread crepes but as soon as I saw it I knew they had to be stuffed with apples. There was no thought process, no pondering of options, Gingerbread/Apple Crepes was it. And with almost no additional thought I knew the apples should be flavored with rum and for good measure I wanted rum-flavored whipped cream. Some combinations are just so perfect no thinking is required - you just do it.

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