One of my favorite ways to celebrate New Year's Eve is to invite friends over and cook a big, fancy dinner. Back in 1999 when I was single, childless, and on a six-week break from teaching year-round school, I made this crazy, over-the-top six course formal meal for 12 that took me three days to make. It was totally awesome. Needless to say, I don't have that kind of time (or energy!) any more. But I still love to throw fun dinner parties.
A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted 2012's New Year's Eve dinner to have a theme. Going with the obvious, I chose the word "New." All the foods and drinks I would serve would have the word "New" in them: New York steak, new potatoes, and... um... well, surely there must be a bunch of others! I began my research.
As it turns out, there aren't all that many foods with the word new in them. I was committed to New York steak and new potatoes. But what about a vegetable? I didn't really want to do green salad with Newman's Own salad dressing. That doesn't really say "fancy dinner party" to me. And what about a soup course? New England Clam Chowder fit the theme, but I don't eat clams. Dessert? I couldn't exactly open a package of Fig Newtons for a dinner party. Or could I?
Fortunately, our guests (Trevor's godparents) understand me well and wouldn't have blinked an eye at me serving a packaged cookie I don't even like in order to stick with my theme.
But it would have totally bugged me to do that. Time to get creative. I started with the clam chowder. What if I took out the clams and replaced them with ham? I could totally get behind New England Ham Chowder! Turns out it's delicious. See those potatoes? They're new potatoes, of course.
I also made some New England Brown Bread. Are you familiar with it? You're supposed to steam it in a can. I didn't have the right size of can, so I steamed it in a loaf pan. It wasn't round, of course, but other than that it came out just right.
During my research, I kept coming across Lobster Newburg. Shrimp Newburg. Crab Newburg. All unacceptable, since I don't eat any types of seafood. Would Newburg sauce work on a vegetable? Maybe asparagus? As it turns out, yes!
Here's our meal: New York steak, New England Brown Bread, Asparagus in Newburg Sauce, and New England Ham Chowder.
But what about drinks? I was happy to see that there are a lot of cocktails with the word new in them. Steve made us three different cocktails over the course of the afternoon and evening: a New Orleans Buck, a New York Cocktail, and a New Moon. (The kids had mocktails, obviously.) That's the New York Cocktail in the picture.
After dinner, we played a rousing game of Disney Apples to Apples. I highly recommend it. It's a great party game.
Then it was back to the dining room for dessert. So, after all my research, did I manage to find a dessert with the word New in it? Sadly, no.
I reluctantly bought Newtons. But I didn't get the Fig Newtons I don't like. Instead, I bought the Triple Berry Newtons (raspberry, strawberry and blueberry). Much tastier. I made a triple berry ice cream using the same three berries, then mixed in chopped up Newtons. The Newtons froze a bit and added a delicious graham cracker taste to the ice cream. Here's our Triple Berry Newton Ice Cream.
Here I am with my New Moon. It was not the tastiest of the three cocktails (turns out I'm not a fan of gin), but it was a lot of fun trying it.
All in all, my "New" Year's Eve Dinner was a great success! 2013 is off to a fantastic start! Thanks to Jonna, Larry, Suzzi, Ronan, Steve and Trevor for an awesome night. I wouldn't have wanted to spend it any other way.