Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Should All Acquaintance Be Forgot? Not If They Make Something this Good.

If you haven’t taken care already in deciding how and where to dine on New Year’s Eve, I’ve got a menu plan featuring the 2 D’s: DECADENT & DELECTABLE. Lately, I’ve had my fill of low cal fare, and as we roll into the New Year the last thing I’m interested in is depriving you of butter and heavy cream…and so you’ll notice there’s no shortage of that in this cozy-best-by-the-fireside dinner. The good news is, it’s all very simple, and when you shop the night before for your ingredients your cart won’t runneth over…however, the one you cook for’s heart just might!

This simple New Year’s Eve menu is a love story on a plate. I pulled nearly all of it from the Intimate Valentine’s Day supper chapter in At Home Entertaining. If it’s just the two of you, you could splurge with two Nut-Crusted Rack of Lamb, and lick your fingers afterward. The Creamed Spinach comes from a Tree Trimming Party Plan I like to use. Now that Christmas is over you could use this side-dish’s considerable heartiness to retire the tree. Soft Center Chocolate Cakes are a good thing in a small package; serve them in ramekins great for sipping after-dinner coffee later on. The cake is a beautiful post commentary on Christmas with its sprig of fresh mint, sprinkling of cocoa powder and snow white ice cream on top.

Your Butcher has the Lay of the Lamb

When you buy your lamb, consider this the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation with the butcher. He can offer to do the “frenching” for you on your rack of lamb; this is the first thing you do in the lamb recipe and it simply means to cut away the fat and meat in between the bones. If the meat department does this, go ahead and ask if they have any “panties” for the clean bones the frenching exposes —these are the frilly white “hats” that go on just before serving and not only prevent discoloring, but give the whole affair je ne sais quoi synonymous with high-end meats . Side note on the “panties”: I looked around for them online, hoping I could suggest a place to buy them, but turned up nothing. The only thing I found was this article on how to make them yourself.

Toast to 2012 with a Fab.U.Lous White Wine

After your pistachio encrusted lamb and sweet buttery spinach, enjoy a little Prosecco wine. It’s an Italian white that some might know from the world famous Bellini cocktail, where Prosecco is mixed with peach puree. No peach puree is necessary tonight, just the Prosecco, which is native not just to Northern Italy, but Brazil and Australia too. Prosecco is less expensive than champagne and tastes just as refreshing chilled.

And so I close with a virtual toast to my readers. Stay safe and well-nourished, my friends and take a moment to revel in the tastes, music and all-around pleasures of the holiday season. Play Auld Lang Syne, wait for The Ball to drop and try to squeeze in one last romantic dinner during 2011. I want to hear all about it when you do!

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