With this post, I’ll be starting a new TBTAM feature – menus for entertaining. I realized that I often find myself asking MR TBTAM “What was that such-and-such we served that time when so-and-so came over for dinner?” I decided I needed a record of menus we’ve served, and where else would I keep it but here on the blog? I’ll put a widget on the sidebar so you can access menus when you’re looking for inspiration.
What better way is there to welcome the New Year than dinner with good friends? The kids being home from college for the holidays gave the gathering an even more than usual specialness.
We started dinner late (about 8:30 pm), and served in formal courses so the meal stretched out till almost midnight. Will Shortz’s fabulous new game Tribond provided entertainment between dinner and dessert. (My kids love Tribond so much they even play it with their friends when we grownups aren’t around.) Then it was up to the roof to join the joyful city noise and bask in the distant reflected glow from the fireworks in Central Park.
This year’s meal was truly a group effort. Friends Paula, Linda and Andy supplied appetizers and dessert, and in a family first, my daughter Emily made both the soup and the salad, and she did a fabulous job. I have to admit, though, sharing the kitchen with her in the afternoon pre-party really threw off my timing – I hadn’t realized how much of a cooking rhythm Mr TBTAM and I have developed in all these years of throwing dinner parties.
It may have been because she pretty much took over the stovetop and counters. Or that I can’t order her around the way I can my husband. Whatever it was, at a certain point I found myself almost paralyzed and unable to continue until I had the kitchen back again. (Irene, now I understand how you feel when we kids storm your kitchen.) So I spent some time focusing on setting a gorgeous table, a task I usually leave to the kids at the last minute. It was really fun to play around with the place settings, new tablecloth and placemats, and see how pretty it turned out!
As a result of all my futzing, however, Mr TBTAM and I hadn’t even started the chicken by the time the guests arrived, leaving me feeling almost explosively stressed. Believe me, there was no cause for stress other than my own perfectionism – these were dear friends, and the only person I was impressing was myself. Why I couldn’t just relax and see it as a joyful experience is a topic my readers can feel free to weight in on, but I’m sure there is something Freud could say about it.
Fortunately, Andy and Paula helped us in the kitchen, and soon enough everyone was happily downing wine and appetizers, the chicken was simmering and I was able to relax and enjoy the wonderful company of my friends and family.
New Year’s Resolution #1 – Learn to chill. Happy New Year to all!
A New Years Eve Dinner Party for 12
Two Flatbreads made using this dough recipe – one recipe makes two sheet pan-sized flatbreads
– Goat cheese, dill and caviar (Serve with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche – I forgot to)
– Shredded Fontina, Parmesan and Pesto
Homemade Bulgarian grapeleaves, olives and Greek cheese (thanks, Paula!)
Mixed greens with choice of balsamic-honey vinaigrette (recipe will follow) or lemon vinaigrette
Butternut Squash Soup with Fried Sage Leaves – a TBTAM favorite.
Tarragon Chicken Fricassee – (Double recipe) Fabulously easy and delicious. From Epicurious.
Thyme-Roasted Carrots – (Double recipe) My new favorite carrot recipe. I’ll do a blog post soon with photos on this one.
Lightly Buttered Egg Noodles (One large bag)
Brownies and Chocolate Ruggelah with Vanilla Ice Cream (Thanks, Linda!)
Turkish Delight (Thanks, Paula!)
Grapes (Thanks Andy!)
Iced Tap Water for the table