The joys of staying in for New Year’s Eve!

I hate going out on New Year’s Eve.  It’s hard to get a reservation at a good restaurant, it’s hard to get a babysitter and even if you are careful not to drink and drive yourself, you don’t know what other people are doing.  For many years, my husband and I have stayed in and used the holiday as an occasion to cook a great dinner.  Many years the menu has been selected based on cookbooks received as Christmas presents.  Last year we got together with our friends and made a Spanish tapas feast and it was so delicious and so much fun that we decided to do it again.

Christie came over yesterday and we went through cookbooks to select our recipes.  We divvied up the grocery shopping.  Last year we went through all of the recipes and came up with 3 waves of 3 or 4 dishes each.  It sounds like an obscene amount of food but the point is to have a small amount of each thing.  Although we loved everything we made last year, we decided to go mostly with new things.  The only carryover from last year was the spareribs.

If this seems like way too much effort, take a look at your favorite cookbooks (or perhaps at your favorite blog!) and pick something you really like.  Choose a recipe that feels like a little bit of a stretch and make the cooking your New Year’s Eve entertainment.  Pull out your nicest china and make the evening special for you and your loved ones.  If you like to dress up, go for it – I’ll probably be in jeans.  It will be a last hurrah before we start eating lighter and healthier in 2012.  (You will be seeing a lot of lower calorie dishes on the menu plan after the first of the year.)

Here is the menu for our Tapas feast.  I’ve listed each recipe individually in case you want to incorporate a couple of items.  I went to the liquor store and got a nice Spanish red wine and a nice Spanish white to go with all of our dishes.  These recipes are to serve 4.  I’ll take pictures New Year’s Eve.

Mushrooms with garlic and parsley

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 12 oz mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1 TB finely chopped parsley

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and brown 1 – 2 minutes per side.  Add garlic and thyme and stir until garlic is just browned, about 30 seconds.  Pour in sherry and cook until it is mostly evaporated.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, top with parsley and serve.

Clams in green sauce

  • 16 clams, cleaned
  • 1 TB chopped parsley
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB chopped Spanish onion
  • 1 clove finely chopped garlic
  • 1 TB white wine

Boil a quart of water in a large pot.  Add clams a few at a time and cook until just starting to open (about 10 seconds).  Remove from heat and continue with remaining clams.  Remove the clams from their shells over a bowl to preserve the clam juice.  Puree the clam juice with the parsley in a blender.

Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft (about 3 minutes).  Add garlic and wine and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add 2 TB of the parsley sauce and cook for 1 minute.  Place clams on a plate and cover with the sauce.

Fried zucchini with shrimp and bacon

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 4 jumbo shrimp (cooked and peeled)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • flour
  • olive oil
Cut zucchini lengthwise into 4 1/2 inch slices.  Spread a piece of bacon on each strip and top with a shrimp.  Roll up and secure with a toothpick.  Dip in egg and flour and fry in olive oil until golden brown.  Drain on a paper towel and serve.  (NOTE: This will probably be the most complicated one to execute.)
Watercress and avocado salad with goat cheese
  • 1 avocado, pit removed and halved
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 4 anchovies
  • fresh chives
  • 1 TB white wine vinegar
  • 4 TB olive oil
The day before serving, place avocado in a small saucepan.  Cover with oil and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and leave in oil until ready to serve.  When ready, remove from oil and top each half with a thin layer of goat cheese.  Combine vinegar and olive oil in a small jar and shake to combine to make vinaigrette.  Place some watercress on each serving plate and dress with vinaigrette.  Put an anchovy fillet on top and then top with 1/2 of a 1/2 of avocado.  Garnish with chives and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.
Mushroom and shrimp tartlet
For 8 tartlet shells (I am going to halve)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 TB butter (softened)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • cold water
Combine flour and butter in a food processor with a pinch of salt.  Process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add egg yolk mixed with a small amount of water and continue to blend.  You want pastry to combine together without being wet.  Wrap pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface and cut to fit small tart pans.  Prick bottoms and chill for 20 minutes.  Fill shells with pie weights or beans and bake on a baking sheet at 400 for about 15 minutes.  Cool in the pans and remove beans or weights.
  • 1/4 lb chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1/4 cup champagne (perfect since we’ll want to have some left for the toast at midnight)
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 5 cooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and chopped
  • 2 oz. grated cheddar cheese
Saute mushrooms and garlic in butter over low heat for 15 minutes.  Add wine and bring to a boil.  Cook until almost dry.  Add cream and shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Fill tart shells with mixture and top with grated cheese.  Cook in oven for 2 – 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and serve.


  •  1 rack of spareribs
  • 1/3 cup sherry or wine
  • 5 tsp paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 TB oregano

Preheat oven to 425.  Lightly oil a large roasting pan.  Cut ribs into individual ribs and spread in a single layer in pan.  Roast for 20 minutes.

Combine sherry, paprika, garlic, oregano with 2/3 cup water in a measuring cup and whisk together.  Remove from oven and pour off fat.  Reduce oven temperature to 350.  Coat ribs with sauce and roast for another 45 minutes.  Serve hot.

Potatoes with shallots and rosemary

  • 24 oz fingerling potatoes
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB finely chopped rosemary
  • 6 shallots, sliced in thirds
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
Quarter potatoes and boil in salted water for about 5 minutes.  Drain well.  Toss potatoes in a ceramic baking dish with oil and rosemary.  Roast at 400 for about 20 minutes.  Add shallots and garlic and roast for an additional 25 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot.
Porterhouse steak with garlic and sherry
  • 1 porterhouse steak cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • chopped parsley
Finely chop one of the garlic cloves and sprinkle over steak cubes.  Season with pepper and mix together.  Marinate in refrigerator for 1 – 2 hours.  Heat oil in a large skillet.  Slice remaining garlic cloves and cook over low heat for 1 minute.  Increase heat and add steak.  Cook for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add sherry and cook until slightly evaporated.  Top with parsley and serve.  (I think this will be good in the same wave as the potatoes.)
Chicken with garlic
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • paprika
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 5 sliced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • chopped parsley
Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.  Season with paprika.  In a large skillet, heat oil and add garlic slices.  Cook for about 1 minute, stirring and then remove with a slotted spoon.  Drain on paper towels.  Add chicken to pan and cook for about 10 minutes, turning until browned on all sides.  Add wine and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes.)  Serve chicken sprinkled with reserved garlic slices and chopped parsley.

Bread with dark chocolate and olive oil

Last year I think we just ate leftover Christmas cookies for dessert but when I saw this, I had to add it to the list.

  • 4 thick slices of crusty bread
  • 4 oz good quality dark chocolate broken into pieces
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 200.  Toast bread (in a toaster) until lightly browned.  Brush bread with olive oil and top with chocolate pieces.  Heat in the oven until the chocolate melts (about 5 minutes).  Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.