This year I volunteered the boy and I to host an extravagant dinner party on New Year’s Eve. I’d had the whole thing planned in my head for months. I sent out invitations, planned a menu, set up decorations, and told everyone to wear their sparkliest attire.
So after days of cooking, trying recipes, cleaning the apartment, buying decorations, and planning every detail the day had dawned. Let’s start with a tour of the decorations then, shall we?
Aaaaaaand now. The food story.
The boy made the appetizers. He made the baguettes first, and then chose four different toppings.
1. So we had pesto, cherry tomatoes, with a parmesan crisp. We already had some pesto bought, so that wasn’t homemade, but Jason did make the parmesan crisp by shredding the parmesan in circular form on a silcon baking mat and toasting it in the oven. Delicious.
2. Cannelloni beans that have been cooked and mashed with rosemary and used as a spread. So very tasty!
3. Apples and brie. enough said.
4. My favorite: cream cheese and horseradish topped with salmon and capers!
Here I decided to go for a fresh classic. Strawberry, spinach, mandarin oranges, toasted pecans, and homemade raspberry vinaigrette! This would have photographed beautifully but unfortunately I was rather busy serving it up to hungry people and then scarfing it down myself so I could get started on the next course. The vinaigrette didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, which is a bummer because I’ve made it plenty of times. What I usually do that works is this:
Mash a container of raspberriesPour some balsamic vinegar in
Pour some walnut oil in
Taste it after mixing a TON
Adjust vinegar/oil as needed
Start adding salt a little at a time until the bite from the vinegar is gone
Let sit and meld for however long you’ve allotted yourself
Push through a sieve to get the chunkier raspberry bits out
Once upon a time I ate at a restaurant and got this mushroom soup with black truffle oil and it was the most amazing thing ever! So I decided to recreatethe masterpiece. I scoured the internet and then decided to base the thing off of a delicious butternut squash soup I’d made from Cooking for Two.
Basically, I put some oil in a pan with some garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage (a LOT of them) and let it steep for a while, infusing the oil with flavor. Then I chopped up one whole onion and cooked it with the oil and herbs until slightly tender and then added in about a pound of mushrooms; cremini, oyster, shitaki, and re-hydrated porcini mushrooms all mixed together.
I cooked those for about ten minutes on high heat, then added in about 6 cups of liquid (chicken stock as well as the water from re-hydrating the porcini mushrooms) and a cup of heavy whipping cream. Let simmer for 30 min. and then blend it all up so the mushrooms are smooth.
Reheat until piping hot, pour in a bowl, top with some fresh parsley, and add a couple drops of black truffle oil and you have perfection. Even one guest who doesn’t like mushrooms ate the whole thing and told me it was delicious, so don’t just take my word for it.
Also, it appears I didn’t get a picture of that but it’s ok because it would picture well as it is brownish in color.
Ok, here’s the beauty. Homemade cheese tortellini (with homemade ricotta!) in a bacony, cheesy, carbonara sauce with a side of super garlicy/rosemary-y carrots. Heaven. So delicious. I’ll go into deeper detail about the ricotta and tortellini later, as there are a ton of pictures of that, so look for that in the next post.
I like the idea of a course in between a heavy entree and a decadent dessert that is light and refreshing. It gives a bit of a suspense to the whole dessert situation. I know the meal just ended…… but you are still going to have to wait for a minute before I pull out the big guns. So last minute I decided to do a champagne/ginger ale jello with strawberries. It would have been beautiful but I forgot about it and it turned to jello before I put the strawberries in so it turned into individual portions of jello salad-esque yumminess. I really liked what happened since it was so last minute, though there are probably some things I would changed to the recipe if I tried again. I’m just not quite sure what it would be yet. Maybe better champagne?
At any rate, you can find the recipe and a much nicer picture here.
Here it is, what you have all been waiting for! But you’ll just have to wait one more minute as I tell the back story. Every since receiving my Baking Illustrated cookbook I have wanted to try their flourless chocolate cake. That was four years ago. I could have made this cake in my sleep, I’ve read the recipe so many times. So the night before we were busy with the tortellini and I didn’t get to start the cake until 1a. I was up until 3a with the damn thing, but it was all worth it. The actual process is easy as the ingredients are simple. 8 eggs, two sticks of butter, 1 lb of chocolate (I also added 1/4 cup of strong coffee). What could go wrong?!
Well the actual mixing process was simple, melt butter and chocolate, add coffee, whip eggs (with my new mixer!) into a frenzy for five minutes and fold them all in. The next step is time consuming but also simple in nature. Line the bottom of the (8 or 9in.) spring form pan with parchment paper, grease the sides, then line the outside twice in aluminum foil put in a roasting dish and fill with boiling water until about halfway up the spring form pan. Spoon in you batter and cook for about 20 min at 325F or until the temp reaches 140F.
Here’s the dramatic part of the tale: the thing is, it was supposed to be a bit jiggly in the middle, like with a cheesecake, with a thin crust on the top. The thermometer went past 140 and it was still completely fluid. I waited and waited certain it would over bake in less than a second and I wouldn’t have time to save it. But secretly being afraid it would never cook and I’d have a raw-egg cake to serve (although Baking Illustrated did assure me that once the temp is 140 you can take it out of the oven and it will hold the temp for 5 min. which is enough to kill salmonella, but that wasn’t enough to quell my ears!). I finally saw it harden a bit on the side and took it out of the oven and waited for it to come to room temperature. It did. It was still incredibly jiggly. All hope was lost and it was 3a the day before the party. I decided to just trust the book, covered it, and set it in the fridge over-night so it could “mellow”. And mellow it did!! In the morning it was completely set up and beautiful. I then made J buy me a cake platter and set it up with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top and garnished with some raspberries. It was quite beautiful!
J then made a delicious strawberry sauce (strawberries, vanilla balsamic, and champagne) to serve with it and it was quite the hit. To be fair, everyone was quite drunk by then so perhaps their perception was skewed, but let’s not dwell on that!
Everyone stayed until very late and we had quite the raucous event. All in all, it was a success!!!!
This morning, I woke up to this:
I hope everyone had a lovely New Year’s Eve!