Monday, January 16, 2012
So how's everyone doing with their New Year's resolutions? I know many people, me included, try to clean up our acts in the wake of all the holiday parties and indulging. There is something utterly refreshing about the start of a new year, a new page, a new chance. We make our declarations about eating healthier, exercising more, and imbibing less. So given that, I figured I might as well enjoy one last gluttonous hurrah before all the clean living commenced.
Luckily I had two girlfriends who were insistent that I not go this path alone. We decided to have an "around the clock" dinner party on New Year's Eve. We wrote each hour of the 24-hour day on a separate slip of paper and each drew two "hours" out of a hat. Thankfully, we drew a pretty decent range of times. The challenge was to make a dish and a drink that represents that time of day. The game plan was to start at 7 pm and enjoy a course an hour, thus timing our final course with the arrival of 2012. We figured that would allow us to enjoy a small plate every hour and wash it down with a fine beverage without feeling completely stuffed. Well, let me just say we were stuffed, even with a 3 am departure time.
Things got kicked off with Meredith's "7 am service" of scrambled egg sliders served on top of a homemade bacon-and-Cheddar corn muffin. It was the perfect dish for people who love breakfast for dinner. The bacon studded muffins added a lovely salty note to the sweet corn. But the star might have been her habanero-infused vodka "screwdriver" made with mango and pineapple puree. I could have sipped away on those all night, which probably would've been deadly.
Second up was an early "11 am lunch" of grilled paninis accompanied by an Italian Sangiovese at 8 pm. I served two kinds: one with salami, mozzarella and fig jam and a second with rosemary ham, Emmental cheese and a drizzle of honey. Both turned out to be wonderful flavor combinations that I'd make again.
The next hour, Karen took us slightly Asian for a "1 pm" luncheon salad, which was simple but bursting with flavor. She took an iceberg lettuce salad and dressed it up with mint and a roasted sichuan pepper vinaigrette. But perhaps what stole the show was the sparkling wine she presented with a wild hibiscus flower in the bottom of the glass. It colored the wine slightly pink and added a hint of sweetness. But the real beauty of it was watching the petals unfurl as the sparkling bubbles danced around it. It sounds totally weird but try it sometime to add a bit of whimsy to your next cocktail party. She found a jar at BevMo but look online for other options.
At 10 pm we sat down to enjoy our "6 pm dinner." Meredith went retro with a beef fondue set up with several delicious dipping sauces to boot. We pretty much polished it off in minutes, along with the California Cabernet she'd selected.
Around 11 pm, Karen stuck with the fondue theme but satisfied our sweet tooth with her "10 pm dessert": homemade caramel sauce and beautiful apples to dip into it. It was our one attempt at being pseudo-healthy for the evening. To accompany this dessert, she selected a playful hard apple cider, which was really refreshing.
When midnight struck, we had to take a break to watch the ball drop, blow our horns and toast each other with champagne. While we all claimed to be stuffed, we soldiered on and embraced our final course of the night, which happened to be "midnight!" That was a lucky draw on my part. When I think of eating after midnight, it usually involves a greasy cheeseburger or a slice (or two) of greasy pizza. And since pizza is my favorite food, that's what I went with (sans the grease). I served this Catalonian-style pizza you may recall around 12:30 am.
When all was said and done, it was a wonderfully (full)filling and fun way to usher in 2012. And shockingly no one had a hangover the next morning! I think the late night pizza was the trick.
Bacon-and-Cheddar Corn Muffins
from Southern Living
6 bacon slices
2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup (4 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Vegetable cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat 12-14 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon.
2. Heat a 12-cup muffin pan in the oven for 5 minutes.
3. Combine cornmeal mix and sugar in medium bowl; make a well in center of mixture.
4. Stir together buttermilk and egg; add to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in melted butter, cheese and bacon. Remove pan from oven and coat with cooking spray. Spoon batter into hot muffin pan, filling almost completely full.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden. Remove form pan to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.
Note: We made this muffin into a scramble egg slider, which was heavenly.
Posted by SB in SB at 7:26 AM