Another New Year, another big meal!
Over the last 5 (or so) years, we’ve hosted friends for New Years. Everyone throws money-in-a-hat and I cook a meal with the best ingredients we can get our hands on. I love the chance to push my cooking skills and it gives me a great chance to learn how far (or not-so-far) my cooking skills have progressed in a year.
This was the second consecutive year that our friend Rob allowed us to use his coffee shop (F’Coffee) which makes the evening so much easier to pull off. We’re very thankful to get to use the space!
This years menu was simpler than the 12-course marathon we had last year; but it was still an epic meal! All 8 courses were made-from-scratch and all ingredients were sustainable/ small farmed (other than a few of the vegetables). As is tradition, I share the list here (as much for my own future reference as for yours). Here’s what we served up last night:
Homemade Pasta “Italian Dumplings”
I’ve been working on this concept for a while and had a good test run with it last night. It’s almost like ravioli, except the sauce is inside the pasta. Once we master a recipe, we’ll share it!
Rutabaga, Pear and Whiskey Soup
Rich, creamy and slightly sweet.
Albacore Tuna Sashimi with Infused Soya Sauce
Infusing Soya Sauce (with sweet and hot peppers) was a successful experiment and something I plan to do a lot more of soon!
Giant Shrimp with Arugula Salad
The shrimp were u-12’s (meaning 12 of them weigh a pound). We fried two-per-person in clarified butter and they were awesome.
Giant Scallops with ‘Siracha’ Mayo and Quick-Pickled Swiss Chard
The Scallops were u-10s (1o per pound) so they were massive! We made a homemade mayo (and added fermented hot peppers and brine) and added color to the dish with bright-red swiss chard (and a gastrique made with white wine and honey).
Grassfed Prime Rib, Roast Potatoes, Honey-Glazed Carrots and Parsnips
This was the nicest roast I’ve ever purchased. It was dry-aged for more than 30 days and served rare. Even though many in the crowd don’t normally eat roast that rare (and several eat little meat), everyone ate their portion and many were surprised they liked it cooked so rare (the aging really helps).
This was the one dish I messed up a little; they were overcooked but still tasty. Served with a reduction of the braising liquid.
Pear Galette with Maple Syrup and Sherry
The most beautiful (if slightly undercooked) dessert I’ve ever made.
What did I learn this year? Here’s a few tidbits:
- I’m surprised at how quick I’ve become in the kitchen. The first year we cooked like this I prepped for 3 days in advance. I started cooking after 1:00PM yesterday (guests arrived at 8:00).
- Knowing where to shop saves a lot of planning. This was more of a reminder than a lesson but having amazing suppliers allows you to pick the best product and the menu plans itself.
- Having your kitchen setup properly makes a huge difference. This applies to two things:
- Having great equipment makes things easy. The stand mixer made two batches of pasta and a pie crust while I did other things. This easily saved an hour or more.
- The physical layout of your kitchen can really make cooking more fun and save time. We put a new shelf in our kitchen over the holidays (photos coming soon) and it helped make things a breeze.
- Clean as you go. By staying on top of your dishes and having clear surfaces to work you can move through your menu much quicker than trying to cook in chaos.
- We have amazing friends (another reminder, not a lesson!). They are willing to show up and gladly try to eat anything put in front of them – even when it pushes their comfort zones.
Here’s a bunch of photos of the food from the evening (some of the recipes coming soon):
We wish you a Happy New Year and can’t wait for the year ahead – so much more to share soon!