What Cooking on New Year’s Eve?

There are lots of  ways to welcome in the New Year.

Some will celebrate with a raucous buffet or potluck and others with an elegant sit down dinner. I’ll be off to a low-key gathering with tapas and champagne. As long as there is a fire in the fireplace, it sounds good to me. The cold was brutal today – I don’t think the temperature broke zero. (For my Swiss friends that’s 0°F or -18°C.) More cold is promised for at least a week.

Tapas for New Year’s Eve

Whether you are doing it all or you need to bring a dish to a tapas potluck … here are my suggestions:
Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce or Roasted Shrimp with Tarragon Aioli
Spanakopita Triangles or Greek Stuffed Mushrooms or … Savory Galette with Spinach, Mushrooms & Manchego
Butternut Squash Tartlets or Butternut Squash Crostini with Goat Cheese & Balsamic Reduction
Crostini with Fig, Stilton and Walnuts or Crostini with Beef Tenderloin & Stilton or Mushroom Crostini

Fill out the menu with a beautiful platter or two. Try smoked salmon with all the fixings or Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce and some a delicious artisanal cheese and charcuterie board.

Say goodnight (before or after midnight) with a sweet treat:
Triple Chocolate Parfait in tiny dessert glasses, Pot de Crème (Chocolate Cream) or White Hot Chocolate
Pumpkin-Ginger Mousse or Maple Mousse with Apple Compote
Citrus & Spice Sugar Cookies or Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache or Root ‘n’ Tooty Good ‘n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies or Macadamia Nut Shortbread (or all of the above!)

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A Festive Buffet or Potluck for New Year’s Eve

Start with a lovely salad:
Crunchy Salad with Apples & Grapes or Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons or Romaine & Radicchio Caesar Salad
Mixed Greens with Gorgonzola & Walnuts or Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette or Radicchio, Fennel, and Arugula Salad

Unless you’re thinking something hearty like Quinoa Salad or Wheat Berry Salad – either or both be a great addition to the buffet table.

A heart soup or chili will be welcome on a brutally cold night:
Hearty Black Bean Soup or White Bean Soup with Sweet Potato and Wilted Greens
Cheddar Ale Soup or Potato & Cheddar Soup or Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup
Harira (Middle Eastern Soup with Chicken, Chick-Peas and Lentils) or Curried Chicken & Lentil Soup or French Lentil Soup with Chicken & Sausage
Nana Nye’s Prize-Winning Fish Chowder or Spicy Shrimp Chowder
Chili Con Carne or Red Bean Chili with Pork & Butternut Squash or my favorite Pumpkin Chili with Turkey & Black Beans

Now, for dessert? How about …
Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Icing or Apple Bread Pudding  
Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes or Frosty the Snowman Cupcakes or
Gingerbread Cupcakes or Mini Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Cheesecake Brownies or Espresso Brownies or Triple Threat Brownies

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And How About a Cozy but Elegant Dinner Party?

Pass Savory Blinis with Smoked Salmon & Caviar
Come to the table for Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula Salad
Move on to Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Mushroom SauceTwice-Baked Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions …or… the simplicity of an almost one-dish wonder Braised Lamb with Artichokes & Mushrooms & Creamy Polenta

Something ligher? How about starting with Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
Followed by a Fennel & Feta Salad
and then move on to Fish Stew Provençal with Whole Grain Pilaf and Grilled Ratatouille Stacks

Either way … try my White Chocolate & Cranberry Trifle for a grand finish.

However you spend it, have a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration and bon appétit!

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menusFor a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

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Beef or Turkey? What’s for Christmas Dinner?

What’s on your Christmas dinner menu? The traditional favorites seem to be beef – either a rib roast or beef tenderloin – or turkey. I grew up with turkey on Christmas until Mom realized that beef was a much easier meal. Yes, it’s more expensive but she figured it was worth it. I’ve put together two menus to help you enjoy a delicious Noël. Feel free to use one in its entirety, pick and choose or mix and match. Whatever you cook this Christmas, have a wonderful holiday!

Delicious Beef Tenderloin for Christmas Dinner
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Toss up a salad with with Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad to start.
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Treat everyone to a beautiful Beef Tenderloin. Serve it with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce or Roasted Mushrooms, Leeks, Shallots & Pearl Onions (I recommend the latter.) Add some Roasted Brussels Sprouts and a Nye Family favorite … Twice-Baked Potatoes.
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Finish with a sweet pud. Try my creamy White Chocolate & Cranberry Trifle, homey Cranberry Clafoutis or my fabulous Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake.

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A Tasty Turkey for Christmas
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Start with a delicious salad of Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula.
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Move on to Roast Turkey with Giblet Gravy. Make it easy (there’s a lot going on!) and skip the stuffing. Instead serve the turkey with Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Mushrooms & Kale. Don’t forget the Cranberry Sauce or, for something a little different, Cranberry Chutney.

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End on a sweet and gingery note with traditional Gingerbread Cupcakes,
Ginger-Orange Cheesecake or luscious Ginger Crème Brûlée (or all three!)

Wishing you a joyful and delicious Christmas!

Christmas dinner on Jackson Road.
Grandpa Nye, Nana Westland, Mom, Grandpa Westland and Nana Nye

Happy Holidays!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are you cooking Christmas Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus!  © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Holiday Special – What’s for Christmas Eve Dinner?

Are you cooking this Christmas? There are a lot of meals to consider. First, there are the two dinners, one for Christmas Eve and the other for Christmas Day. Plus, a lot of families love a special breakfast or brunch on Christmas morning. We are sharing the load in my family. I’ll be cooking on Christmas Eve and my brother and family are in charge of Christmas Day.

Now, I already have a few thoughts for Christmas Eve. From Stockholm to Sicily and New England’s rocky shores, seafood is the night-before dinner of choice. A feast of seven fishes might be more than you want to take on but how about …

Start with Salmon. You and your family and friends will love my Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce. No? How about Smoked Salmon Mousse or Savory Blinis with Smoked Salmon & Caviar.

Add a special salad. Toss together colorful reds and greens with my Romaine & Radicchio Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Walnuts.

Now for the main course. How about Creole Shrimp or Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce with Cheesy Grits and Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, Pepper & Lemon.

End the evening with a sweet treat. My mom always baked Aunt Anna’s Pecan Pie. When I was a teenager, I took over dessert and made a Bûche de Noël . Last year, I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake. This year, I’m planning to make a Ginger-Orange Cheesecake.

Stay tuned for Christmas breakfast and dinner menus!

Have fun with the countdown to Christmas and have a great weekend! Happy holidays and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Waiting for Christmas & Gingerbread Decorations

There’s only one week to go in the countdown to Christmas. At this point, you’re probably so excited you’re ready to burst … or … please, say it ain’t so. You aren’t one of those bah-humbug types, are you? In either case, there’s not long to wait. Here are a few ideas to help the time go faster or, if need be, get you in the spirit.

Bake some cookies. Warm up yourkitchen with sugar and spice and everything nice. In the culinary world, baking is considered more science than art. It requires careful measuring and mixing. With its methodical rhythms, wonderful aromas and fond memories, baking is a great way to spend an afternoon. If your brain is skittering in too many directions, baking will ground you. Then again, if you’re having trouble getting in the spirit, baking cookies will bring you a few hours of sweet nostalgia.

Make a gift, maybe two. I love making Christmas gifts and decorations. You don’t have to be too terribly clever. Think knitted scarves for the kids, a chef’s apron for a favorite cook and spicy rubs for your barbecuing brother. Too complicated, don’t own a sewing machine or know how to knit? Not to worry, if you can string beads or work a glue gun you can make something happen.

Play secret Santa. You don’t need to work in an office or live with half a dozen roommates to play secret Santa. Although, come to think about it, I think the proper term for this particular holiday cheer is elf – as in elf-ing and you’ve been elf-ed. It’s easy to play. Start with a basket, add a few holiday treats, leave it on a neighbor’s doorstep, ring the bell and run like hell. No need to go crazy, a dozen of those cookies you baked, a homemade Christmas decoration and a jug of maple syrup will do nicely. Leave a note suggesting they continue the festivities and go elf a friend or two.

Sing carols. Check the local newspaper, there are opportunities galore to sing your way through the holidays. With community sings and special church services, you have your choice of ‘Jingle Bells’ and sacred music. There is nothing like singing to get into the spirit. So hum your way from one errand to the next and do a few rounds of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ on your morning walk.

Send a Christmas card. If you are like me, you’ve fallen out of the Christmas card habit. Bring it back this year but instead of rubber-stamping fifty cards, be selective. Choose a handful of distant friends and family, people you love but rarely see, and send them heartfelt messages of holiday cheer. Heck, if you like, make homemade cards to send.

Settle in for a holiday movie marathon. This one is an especially good idea if there is another snow day. Think of it as an excellent opportunity to multitask. Let Bing sing, Jimmy reflect on life’s mysteries and Hugh actually fall in love while you make magic with a ball of yarn or wrap presents.

Re-read a favorite Christmas story from your childhood. My mother read us a chapter a night from the Santa book. Christmas Eve had to be left for Mr. Moore’s poem, so she always timed it to finish on December 23rd. A book from her childhood, the nightly reading is a cherished memory. My sister found reprints several years ago and the tradition was reborn. Reading about the life and adventures of Nicholas the Woodcarver is a wonderful step back in time. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it is a lovely way to spend a quiet afternoon.

Enjoy the countdown to Christmas with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Gingerbread Decorations
These decorations look like gingerbread cookies and have a warm and wonderful scent. Hang them on your tree, use them to decorate an indoor wreath and toss a few into a bowl of ornaments or greens for a clever centerpiece. You can leave the cookies plain or embellish them with paint or glitter. Enjoy!

1 cup or more ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons each ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup plain applesauce
1/4 cup white craft glue plus more for decorating
Acrylic paint (optional)
Glitter, beads and sequins (optional)
Ribbon

Put the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the applesauce and glue and stir until thoroughly combined. If the dough seems sticky, add more cinnamon. Knead the dough, adding more cinnamon if necessary, until it is smooth, firm and pliable.

Roll out the dough on a cinnamon dusted surface to 1/4-inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Use a straw to cut a small hole in each cookie. The hole will allow you to attach a ribbon and hang the ornaments. If you plan to use some of the ornaments on a wreath or in a bowl, there is no need to cut a hole.

Place the ornaments on a wire rack and air dry. Drying will take at least several hours and up to a few days.

When the cookies are dry, you can leave them as is for a natural, rustic look or frost them. Instead of icing, use paint to outline the ornaments as well as add eyes, noses, mouths and buttons to gingerbread boys and girls. Do not cover the entire cookie with paint. Paint will mask its spicy scent.

If you want a glitzy look, run lines of glue along the edges of your cookies and sprinkle with glitter. Tap off the extra glitter and let the glue dry completely, about 30 minutes, before adding more. Finish the ornaments with beads or sequins for even more glitz.

To hang your ornaments, thread colorful ribbon or clear nylon thread through the holes. To attach them to an indoor wreath or swag, hot glue wire to the backs and wrap the wire around the greens.

After the holidays, store the ornaments in an airtight, mouse-proof tin in a dry place. They should last for several years.

Please note – these decorations are NOT edible!

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One Year Ago – Sticky Buns
Two Years Ago – Cranberry Coffee Cake
Three Years Ago – Fish Stew Provençal
Four Years Ago – Twice-Baked Potatoes
Five Years Ago – Baked French Toast
Six Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Seven Years Ago – Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Potato, Leek & Kale Soup
Ninet Years Ago – Salmon & Lentils

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend your time during the countdown to Christmas? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Another Weekend Special – Holiday Cocktails

Will you invite friends in for cocktails this holiday season? A great way to entertain a crowd, a cocktail party lets your friends meet each other, mix and mingle. Whether you sport an ugly sweater or the classic little black dress, a cocktail party is a wonderful excuse to celebrate the season in your party best.

I’ll leave the fashion advice to someone else but here are a few foodie ideas …

Start with a cocktail … what could be more festive than a rosy red tini.

PomegranaTinis
Serves 8

1 cup vodka
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
2 1/2 cups or to taste pomegranate juice
Seltzer water, cold (optional)
Garnish: orange twist

Combine the vodka, Grand Marnier and pomegranate juice in a pitcher or jar, stir or shake and store in the refrigerator or freezer until very cold.

Stir again, pour into martini glasses, add a splash of seltzer and garnish with a twist of orange.

For a large party, quart Mason jars are a perfect fit for each batch of martinis. Keep them cold in the refrigerator or frosty in the freezer or out in the snow until ready to serve.

Now, what to munch? Why not cook up a few of my favorite appetizers. If you aren’t hosting but heading to a potluck, any one of these delightful little treats will be welcomed by your host.

You’ll want to start with a savory or two to pass. Here are a few ideas:
Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce
Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
Tartelettes au Fromage avec Saucisse et Poireaux (Cheese Tartlets with Sausage & Leeks
Spanakopita Triangles

You’ll also want a platter, maybe two:
Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Three to five of your favorite artisanal cheeses, thinly sliced sausage and Spicy Olives
Add some delicious artisanal crackers and toasted banquette.

A nice spread will make a nice addition …. how about
Chicken Liver Pâté
Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts
Artichoke Pesto

When it’s time to kiss everyone goodnight, pass a tray of sweet treats. Think …
Chocolate Mousse or White Chocolate Mousse served in tiny dessert glasses (even a shot glass) and top with a raspberry
Gingerbread Cupcakes or Coconut Cupcakes
Snowy Pecan Balls or Sweet Dream Bars

Happy holidays and have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

Check out the list of all the recipes with links on this blog!

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? or create your own. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Try one of my seasonal menus or create your own with the help of my extensive recipe index. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Christmas Red & Greenery & Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce

The Fourth of July has its parades and fireworks. Thanksgiving has turkey. When it comes to traditions, Christmas has cornered the market. We bake dozens of cookies and roam the streets serenading the neighbors with seasonal ditties. We hang our stocks on the fireplace, wait only somewhat-patiently for reindeer to fly and a jolly old elf to arrive. Hmm, if you stop and think about it, some of our favorite Christmas traditions can best be described as, well, odd. Take, just for instance, the foliage we bring into the house for the holidays.

First, there’s the tree. Forget settling for a houseplant or flower-filled vase. No indeed, we cut down a full-grown evergreen and drag it into the living room. If that’s not strange enough, we then foolishly think that the dog and cat won’t notice. Really? Even the most standoffish of felines can’t help but observe a tree in the middle of living room. Perhaps, we think our furry friends will just ignore it. Could that explain our astonishment when the puppy lifts his leg? As for our show of surprise at the cat racing up the tree and then refusing climb down; just who are we trying to kid?

Speaking of bringing the outside in, mistletoe could be an even odder choice to deck the halls. First of all, it’s a parasite. New Hampshire is too cold for mistletoe but I used to see it all the time in Geneva. It latches on to a tree and grows into a massive ball. As that ball of greenery and white berries grows, it robs the tree of moisture and nutrients and eventually kills it.

If that’s not bad enough, mistletoe is poisonous. It’s not so bad for humans. Rather than kill you, it might make you drowsy, blur your vision or cause vomiting, maybe even seizures. However, it can be very dangerous for the hamster, cat and dog. In spite of all that, we hang it in doorways throughout the house. Not because we want a stash of poison handy but to induce loved ones and strangers to kiss under it. What’s next? Hemlock wreaths.

However, when it comes to poison, poinsettias get a bit of a bad rap. By the way, what’s with the name? If it wasn’t for spellcheck, I couldn’t even write about these bright red beauties. Although no one sings about it, poinsettia is another one of those tomato-tomahto kind of words.

Growing up, everyone had a grandmother or aunt or a fancy-pants neighbor who pronounced it poin-set-ee-ah. The rest of us, and by that I mean everyone at my house including both Nanas, pronounced it poin-set-ah. Although, come to think of it, I think some of us added a -t- along with dropping the -ee- for point-set-ah. All that said; my Grandfather Westland might have used the la-di-da pronunciation once or twice. The family comedian, he delighted in making us giggle with, among other things, fancy-pants accents and pronunciations.

Anyway, regardless of an extra t, ee-ah or ah, poinsettias are barely toxic. There’s little reason to worry about kids or grandkids keeling over. They’d need to chow down about 500 leaves to become ill. That would be quite some salad for a little one. Given the awful taste, there’s little chance the children will indulge.

Enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce
My grandfather always brought cocktail shrimp to family celebrations. Dad continues the tradition. He serves boiled shrimp with ketchup-based cocktail sauce. I like to shake it up a little. Enjoy!
Makes about 36 pieces

Rémoulade Sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons capers, drained and finely chopped
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 finely chopped scallion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put the mustards, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice and zest, capers and anchovy paste in a bowl, season with the spices, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the mayonnaise, scallion and herbs and whisk again. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to mix and meld the flavors.

Makes about 1 cup. Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Roasted Shrimp
2 pounds extra-jumbo (16-20 per pound) shrimp
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil

Put the shrimp in a bowl, sprinkle with the garlic and lemon zest and toss to combine. Drizzle with the lemon juice and enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss again. Let the shrimp marinade for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the shrimp on rimmed baking sheets in a single layer and roast at 450 degrees for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through and opaque. Don’t overcook.

Serve immediately or at room temperature with Rémoulade Sauce.

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One Year Ago – Bûche de Noël
Two Years Ago – Roasted Beets with Sautéed Greens
Three Years Ago – Very Ginger Gingerbread Muffins
Four Years Ago – Ginger Shortbread
Five Years Ago – Baked French Toast
Six Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Seven Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Grapes
Eight Years Ago – Savory Bread Pudding
Nine Years Ago – Triple Chocolate Parfait

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you decorate for the Holidays? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Another Weekend Special – A Festive Holiday Dinner with Friends

If dinner for eight (or twelve) is on your weekend agenda, I’m happy to help. The holidays are a wonderful time to invite friends over for a casual-elegant dinner. Here are a few ideas …

Put a bottle of prosecco on ice, light the fire and get cozy. You’ll want to start with a savory or two. Perhaps you’d like to try my Greek Mushrooms and/or Butternut Squash Tartlets? No, how about my favorite dip – Baba Ganoush?

When you are ready to move to the table …

Start with a colorful salad. My Romaine & Radicchio Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Walnuts is beautiful and delicious. Serve the salad with a basket of Savory Rosemary Biscotti.

For the main course … well, how about Roast Chicken, Lemon Roasted Salmon with Beurre Blanc or Braised Short Ribs? All three would be delicious with a side of Roasted Cauliflower and a spoonful of Whole Grain Pilaf.

Now, for dessert! For rich and delicious and chocolate, you can’t beat my Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Happy holidays and have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

Check out the list  of all the recipes with links on this blog!

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Try one of my seasonal menus or create your own© Susan W. Nye, 2017