Happy New Year! It’s so surreal that it’s January and actually cold out (although I was one person who was not sad about the warm December whatsoever). I hope you all had fantastic celebrations and have started the new year off in a good place, filled with the possibilities of new experiences and new beginnings and all that jazz.
Our New Year’s celebration was normal in that it was filled with food and drink and lots of cooking, but slightly different as this year we had a few more people to celebrate with over the course of the evening between our out of town guests as well as some locals. It all went really well and we had a lot of fun, and I think the spread this year was one of the most impressive yet.
(Apologies for the photos–I got a new macro lens for Christmas which is awesome, but I’m still getting used to it so some of these shots aren’t that great but hell, I wanted to share them anyway.)
Because no good celebratory meal starts without some meat being cured around here, we ended up doing another cured beef tenderloin from Hawksmoor at Home. It’s funny–I had all of these thoughts of making this over the summer, but the ingredients that go into it really make it more appropriate in the fall and wintertime, so I’m going to try to have it again at least once before it gets warm outside again. This went on my marble server along with some goat cheese and blackberry compote and some salami. I almost forgot to set out some shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Ina-style, but eventually they made it onto the table too. Michael also roasted some almonds with soy and ginger and so we had a nice array of food for people to snack on while we worked on the other dishes.
This year we needed to get creative about making food ahead of time so that we didn’t have to spend all of our Thursday in the kitchen, so I did things like make blinis one night and infused vodka two ways another night, while Michael marinated chicken wings and got the beef cure going. Some things had to be made that day, like crisping up chicken skins for CLT salads and the gourgeres so they were nice and fresh and warm, but overall we did pretty well in being able to at least alternate who was in the kitchen and who was in the living room entertaining our guests.
Those blinis went on to be paired with some creme fraiche and salmon roe caviar, which was good…but it wasn’t as good as the mezcal-cured salmon that I’ve come to really love and I think next time I would try to make that instead. They were good, don’t get me wrong–I just prefer the fluffiness of the savory cream cheese foam. (That reminds me–I need to share those recipes with you guys!)
The CLTs were a nice, light addition and one of two salads we made, with the other being my old standby, bresaola-wrapped arugula salads. I’m pretty sure they’ve been part of nearly ever NYE celebration since Polpo arrived a few years ago, and they never seem to disappoint.
A last-minute addition to the menu was potstickers, because I figured we’d all want a little late-night nibble to get us through to midnight, and that ended up being the right call because I also snacked on some the next day. During the festivities I also made gougères, and while I’ll get to this in greater detail in a separate post that I’ve been struggling to write, all I’ll say is that it took two tries in order to get them right. At least the second time was the charm.
The main reason why I couldn’t make the cream cheese foam was because I had something else taking up space in the siphon: espuma de crema catalana. I hadn’t made it since a big dinner party we hosted in July, and like then I made a sugar sand to go on top of the foam to emulate the caramelized sugar on a regular crema catalana, and the first time I did it the result looked awesome; to be honest, by the time I added them this time I was getting tired and figured that no one would mind a few little bits of caramelized sugar here and there since I wasn’t able to get the sugar pounded out as finely as I would have liked. I kept the portions small–a sweet end to a lovely evening–so ultimately it could have used more sugar sand, but I don’t think anyone complained.
Of course, we had lots of cava all evening but perhaps one of my favorite drinks was this lemongrass cocktail that unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of–but before you despair too much, know that I am going to give it a proper post of its own…eventually. It’s too good not to share, and what made it awesome was that it also came with a recipe for pepper bitters that I’ll also share with you because it’s seriously the one flavoring agent you never knew you always needed.
With that, let’s toast to an awesome 2016 of great eating and drinking!