Monday, January 03, 2011

For Luck...

The above pictures are just a sampling of the feasting that occurred on New Year's Eve. It is thought that an ample spread on New Year's Eve will set the tone for the year to come, one of abundance, fulfillment and prosperity. For the menu, I wanted to put my spin on traditional lucky foods.

Since I am from the South, I of course included black-eyed peas and collard greens. While the collard greens (featured in the lower right) were not the most appetizing-looking dish, cooking for five hours they were absolutely fantastic. Their tough stems and hearty leaves became creamy and infused with the smoky flavor of bacon. I based the black-eyed peas off an old Hoppin Johns recipe and served over rice and with the pulled pork, they were mighty tasty.

I departed from my roots and delved into local Pennsylvania traditions and cooked up some sauerkraut with kolbasi. The sauerkraut imparted a tang to the smoky pork sausage. I also tried my hand at haluski. It's a dish made up of cabbage and noodles. I was surprised with how much I liked this dish; it was buttery and the cabbage added a nice sweetness.

I also made several lentil dishes (not shown). For a more Indian approach, I made a spicy coconut daal. Served over rice, it was the perfect blend of sweet and spice. I also made lentils with roasted root vegetables. The sweet carrots and tubers were coated generously in a blend of spices and then roasted until the kitchen was aromatic with their intense flavors.

To go with the ham and pulled pork I made (pigs are lucky), I whipped up a tomato and ginger chutney with almonds (shown below and to the bottom right) and stewed apricots (not shown). I stewed the apricots for six hours with spices and vanilla beans, adding liquid when most of it had reduced and evaporated off and then finally removing them from the gentle heat when they were falling apart and buttery in texture.

For dessert, I made a monkey bread (shown below and to the bottom left) and served some doughnuts. The doughnuts were store-bought, but still enjoyable. I decided to pass on making my own. Perhaps next year I'll make some with the espresso glaze?

Not particularly lucky, but very tasty, I served up wild mushroom and beef meatballs (not shown) and filo shells filled with lemon curd and cream cheese (shown above and to the upper left). Also not very lucky were the assortments of cheeses (from The Cheese House Too) and dried fruits. They were delicious though and very colorful. I loved how many of the dishes (including the sangria, not shown) were bright yellow, orange and red!

To ring in the New Year, we each had a skewer with twelve grapes... eating one per stroke of midnight. The grapes, sour and sweet, predict the coming months ahead.

The preparations for the evening were exhausting, but well-worth it. To me, cooking is akin to showing your love. It's a way to engage the senses and express your good intentions.


Regina said...

Andrew, you outdid yourself, what a wonderful spread, Something for every palate. Some day I got to visit you and all this delicious food! Happy 2011 to you, may your days be filled with health and everything that makes you happy. Best wishes for success at Tuscon.

SummersStudio said...

Andrew, I love this. I think that cooking and traditional, and some so not, are at the heart of celebrating life's special moments. And bringing in the New Year is certainly one of those. Blessings for the New Year!

Elizabeth said...

I toasted to my Southern-ess as well with Black-eyed peas, ham and cornbread. Subbed green beans for the greens--hard to get decent greens in the desert.

So here is to all of us. Happy New Year.

Crazy Mama said...

all i can say is WOW!!!! you really outdid yourself. what an impressive array of tasty treats. i hope all your guests appreciated all the hard work and love you put into all these dishes.

SallyAnderson said...

I so wish I'd been at your house. The food sounds so amazing and wonderful and delicious! I hope you got it all eaten before you have to leave town!

Heidi Post said...

What a gorgeous and delicious looking spread. Your friends are very lucky!

Spirited Earth said...

wish i could have transported myself over for new year's eve. everything looks yummy..never meet a cabbage i didn't like..saurkraut family adds a thin cream sauce..sounds weird but is fabulous.
hope this year brings only great things..

SueBeads said...

Wow, Andrew - look what I missed! Hopefully next year! Happy New Year!