The recipes below are not all exactly beginner level, but they are doable and many of them can be made ahead of time. Make a list that spans a couple of days, include shopping and decorating the table and then check it off as you complete each task, I do this for every party I throw. Too many times I've realized at the end of the night the cranberries are still sitting in the fridge and I forgot to add the garnish to the desserts.
Go ahead invite your closest friends over, play dress up and and go for broke on the food; it's the beginning of a new year with 365 days to redeem yourself, if need be. Just remember the Fat and Happy way - if one of the dishes is less than stellar for some reason, pop the cork early... at least you'll look regal in your crown.
Tips and Techniques: Dishes that can be made a day ahead of time: make the soup and the stuffing, but don't add the bread, roast the chestnuts, whisk the vinaigrette. season the pork and bake the chocolate bacon caramel popcorn. Morning of: wrap the fish in the pastry shell and store in the fridge until ready to bake.
All recipes make enough for 6, the crown roast of pork can easily feed (8- 12 based on a 8lb pork).
Brussel Sprout Chips
10 brussel Sprouts
1 Tbls olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 275 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pick up one brussel sprout, cut the bottom of the brussel sprout off, remove the first layer of leaves and discard. Carefully peel off the remaining layers and place on the cookie sheet. I found it helpful to try to core out the little stem of the sprout as it got smaller. Repeat with remaining sprouts.
Drizzle the brussel sprouts with olive oil, using your hands to carefully toss the sprouts until they are all covered in oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven. Some of the leaves will begin to roast faster than others, so shake the pan often and remove the leaves that are done and place in a shallow bowl.
Place the pan back in the oven until the rest are finished. Each chip will have some crunchy roasted edges with still green chewy centers.
Meat and Cheese Fork Bites
1/4 lb thinly sliced turkey, prosciutto or deli meat of your choice, cut in half lengthwise
jam (fig, orange, blackberry or any flavors of your choice)
4 oz semi hard white cheese (manchego, cantal, white cheddar or cheese of your choice), cut into small chunks
Blanched asparagus, green beans, fresh grape tomato etc, cut into bite sized chunks (optional)
Assume 2 per person, so have ready as many forks/spoons as needed. Stab a chunk of cheese, an asparagus (if using), then spread a jam on the cheese. Wrap the end of the fork with a slice of the deli meat. Set on a platter, and repeat. Lightly drizzle the whole platter with olive oil.
This idea is from Jamie Oliver, it's simple, fun and lends itself to unlimited flavor combinations. Don't be afraid of the jam, it will lend a tangy sweetness to the turkey and cheese. Let these be rustic, encourage your guest to just pick up the fork and pop the whole mixture into their mouth at once.
Horseradish Soup with Roast Beef and Chestnuts
1 garlic clove
1 large shallot
1 medium sized potato
1 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls butter
1 cup + 6 Tbls grated fresh horseradish
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tbls mustard
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp white or champagne vinegar
Salt and pepper
6 roasted chestnuts*, chopped
1 cup of finely diced roast beef (deli meat is fine to use here, but go to a good deli)
Mini Pumpernickel bread, two slices per person, toasted
Place the olive oil, butter and shallots in a deep pot, saute for a few minutes and add the garlic and potatoes. Cook until the shallots are softened, stir often. Add the broth, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Carefully use a blender or Cuisinart to blend the soup until it's smooth, do this in batches if needed. Return the soup to a pan and add in the mustard, cream and vinegar. Let the soup reach a very soft simmer, cook for about 15 minutes; the longer the soup the more mild the horse radish will become. Add a little salt and pepper. The soup can be served immediately, or cooled and refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days). Lightly butter the pumpernickel bread, place on a cookie sheet in a heated oven until toasted.
To serve: Place about 2 tablespoons of the chopped roast beef, 1 tablespoon of the freshly grated horseradish and 1 scant tablespoon of the chopped chestnuts in the bottom of each bowl. Carefully ladle in about 1 cup of soup and top with salt and pepper. For a dramatic effect, give each person their own craft of soup or pour it into their bowl for them. Serve with toasted pumpernickel points.
Tilapia in a Pastry Shell atop Grilled Fennel and Radicchio Salad with Fig Vinaigrette
6 Tilapia fillets (spend the money and get a good piece of fish)
2 sheets of Phyllo dough
4 Tbls butter
1 egg, whisked
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh black pepper
Defrost the phyllo dough, roll the dough out slightly so it is not so thick. Plan to cut 6 large circles out of the dough, place each fillet one one-half of the circle. Top each fillet with two pats of butter and a sprinkling of lemon pepper. Using a pasty brush or your fingers, wet the edges of one circle with the egg, pull the second half of the phyllo dough over the fish (this will shape a half moon or you can form what ever shape you would like) and seal the edges with a fork. Repeat until all fish are wrapped. If you have extra dough, make little design for the top, stick on with egg. Either bake immediately or place in the fridge until ready to bake.
Mix the mayonnaise with the lemon, add fresh ground black pepper and set aside until ready to use.
Before baking, brush the fish with the remaining beaten egg. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the phyllo dough is puffy and brown and the edges look bubbly (about 30 minutes). Remove from oven and serve immediately with a dollop of the lemon mayonnaise and the Radicchio Salad.
Grilled Fennel and Radicchio Salad
1 head of radicchio
1 fennel bulb
Heat a cast iron grill on your stove top. Core the radicchio and cut into half lengthwise and then half again. Remove the fronds from the fennel and quarter. Drizzle everything with olive oil and place on the grill.
Grill each side of the radicchio for about 4 minutes, remove from the grill. Grill the fennel about 6 or 7 minutes per side and then remove. Slice the radicchio and fennel, add to a large bowl, squeeze a fresh lemon over the top. Toss with the Fig Vinaigrette (start with half of the vinaigrette, toss and add more as needed to moisten everything). Serve immediately as a base for the Phyllo-wrapped fish.
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot (about the size of a golf ball)
3 Tbls balsamic vinegar
2 heaping spoons fig jam
2 Tbls of chopped parsley
1/4 - 1/2 cup Olive oil
Fresh ground pepper, salt
Saute the shallot and garlic for just about 2 minutes, add the balsamic vinegar to pan, turn off the heat and let steep for about 20 minutes.
Whisk in the fig jam, parsley, salt and pepper. Add in the olive oil, use as much as needed until desired thickness is reached. Serve warm.
Crown Roast of Pork with Bacon Apple Stuffing
1 crown roast of Pork, mine was roughly 8 lbs
4 tbls dried rosemary
4 tbls dried thyme
2 tbls garlic powder
2 tbls seasoning salt
2 tbls dried oregano
Have your butcher ready the pork for you; they will tie it up and put cute little 'crowns' on the tops of the bones (keeping your crown theme going!) Combine all the seasonings in a bowl and then rub all sides of the pork (inside the crown and out) with the seasonings. Cover and set in fridge to marinate.
Remove the pork from the fridge 30 minutes before placing it in the oven to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, stuff the center of the pork with the bacon apple stuffing, drizzle the pork with olive oil, cover the crown and stuffing with tin foil and place in the oven. Add a cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
About 2 1/2 hours later, remove the tin foil. Add a cup or two of water to the bottom of the pan if the bottom of the pan is dry. Return pork to oven for another hour. Do check the meat thermometer often, remove at 150 degrees. Cover the pork with foil and allow the pork to rest 30 minutes before slices to help keep all the juices inside.
Simmer remaining juices in the pan with 1-2 cups of white wine, broth or champagne (what ever you have open); you are not making a full gravy but just reducing the broth a little. Taste and add a little salt and paper as needed.
To serve: slice the pork between each rib, place on a plate with a scoop of the stuffing and drizzle the whole thing with a few spoons of the broth.
Apple Bacon Stuffing
5 slices bacon
1/2 cup red onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup yellow onion, sliced thin
3/4 cups celery, chopped
1 Tbls rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 green apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup apple cider
4 cups dried bread cubes
In a large fry pan, cook the bacon just shy of your desired doneness. Remove from the pan and set on paper towels to drain. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan, but keep about a tablespoon or two. Add in the onions and celery, cook about 5 minutes tossing often. Add in the rosemary, parsley and apples and continue to saute for about 5 more minutes. Don't over cook, the stuffing will be in the oven for a few hours too. Remove from heat and cool. This mixture can be make a day head and placed in the refrigerator.
Add in the apple cider and bread cubes and stuff in the crown of the pork. If the stuffing feels really dry, add in more apple cider. Bake as directed above.
Click here for the amazing Chocolate Covered Bacon Caramel Popcorn Recipe on Fat and Happy