In this week between Christmas and New Year’s, there hasn’t been a lot of cooking with friends. But there has been a ton of eating what I had been cooking and freezing ahead of time with friends.
To our cozy Catskills cabin getaway, I packed a hearty and delicious batch of Farm Fresh Tomato Sauce that had been made over the summer with Melody, a leftover cranberry loaf Kathe and I made for Thanksgiving and a moist loaf of banana bread that had been tucked away in the freezer for quite some time. It was wonderful to have these homemade treats on hand.
And then, after nearly a week of being away in the mountains, last night’s return to civilization dinner was a not-so-shabby smorgasbord of remnants from my freezer. I reheated crispy Asian crab cakes I made with Debbie for Christmas, a few mini lobster empanadas made with Jackie many months back, farm fresh pesto tossed over warm pasta and even a couple of crispy tortilla flutes I found hidden away on the bottom shelf of the freezer.
So what’s for dinner tonight, our festive New Year’s Eve dinner?
Many of you already know my New Year’s Eve tradition with my husband of almost 16 years. If you don’t, it’s quite romantic. We dine in front of our living room fire on a multi-course gourmet meal, usually made by me. (But this year I’ve put it out there to my non-cooking husband that it’s going to be a communal affair or we’re ordering in Sushi!). In between courses, the journal comes out and we record the “best” of the year, reflecting on moments, both significant and silly. Our reminiscences are organized into categories, often including “times away”, “meals”, “acquisitions” and “friends”. The New Year’s feast acts as a backdrop, fueling our thoughts as we scribble away.
The inspiration for tonight’s dinner will come from a few key ingredients stored in the freezer. Homemade demi glace, a precious gift from my cooking friend Lou, will transform broiled veal chops which we’ll serve alongside crispy potato latkes (made for Hanukah with Jackie and Suzy); a sweet farm fresh corn stock, blended at the end of the summer, will become a creamy corn soup, topped with crispy smoked bacon. We may sneak in a course of sweet corn ravioli tossed with buttery morsels of lobster. We’ll end the meal with bananas flambé prepared on our new Himalayan salt block, a Christmas present from my parents, and our usual molten chocolate cakes, courtesy of Jean George. If you’re looking for an indulgent, not-to-be forgotten, end to your meal, click this link: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/molten-chocolate-cakes-vongerichten
To repeat though, the meal will only happen if my husband decides he will join me in the kitchen and become my cooking friend for the night. (I’m pretty hopeful he will, but stay tuned for an after New Year’s Eve report.
One more thing, for the sweet I’ve been asked to bring to tomorrow’s New Year’s Day brunch with friends, I’ll be presenting a platter of mini carrot cakes and two-bite pecan tarts, both which I had fun making a few weeks back with my friend Christina.
As 2010 comes to a close and my freezer empties out, I am thankful for the fun times spent cooking with friends. These moments have enhanced my friendships while also freeing up more time to spend with my family. Happy and Healthy New Year’s 2011 to all of you!