and, a special plea for some menu/recipe suggestions to ring in the New Year!
Every year, at this point of the season, we have consumed every holiday food imaginable--cooked every which way. Thankfully, Carmen's birthday always comes along and we get the chance to go out and eat something different....something I don't have to cook or clean up after. And, everyone can get exactly what they want. But, before we do that, we're piling in the car for a little family day trip....yes, more family togetherness....ahhhh! Then, after we've sufficiently bonded, we're headed to one of our favorite neighborhood spots....a little place I've told you about many times....where they have the most amazing crab bisque on the planet.
And, their martinis aren't so bad either......
So, I will not be planning a menu or cooking anything for today. Sure, I might be referreeing some spats and coaxing some smiles but I will not be cooking or doing dishes. But, have no fear...food and recipes will still be a big part of my day! As we drive and bond and celebrate and sing Happy Birthday, I will be mulling over my New Year's Day menu--when Carmen's whole family comes over to celebrate his birthday and the holiday. It's a tough menu for me to come up with---I labor over it so much so that I think I drive my family completely insane with my angst.
In my mind--the rules are simple for my New Year's Day dinner--I need to serve some kind of pork and not serve anything super-holiday-related....so, I stay clear of ham and sausage. Some years I try to make it somewhat formal, other years I strive for a laid back and casual vibe while other years I go all out and really do it up fancy-schmancy. No matter what, I try to make it special....because, let's face it-- it is special--it's Carmen's birthday dinner and it's the first day of a brand new year.
I need your help.....
To recap--I am looking to have a special dinner menu that is focused on pork but not anything too traditional and it has to appeal to a wide rage of taste buds and it has to meet my standards by being memorable. Oh, and one more thing.....I have promised to make baked potato soup. So, that's definitely on the menu.
Any ideas yet?
The thing about New Year's Day is that everyone has had quite enough of the holidays by that point. They are just a wee bit ragged, a wee bit sick of ham and a wee bit tired of eating and drinking. By the time my guests arrive on my door step--they are holidayed-out. 100% on holiday overload. Which means that my dinner is one. more. thing. they have to do. It's really not the way I aim to entertain! Which I suppose adds to my menu wrestling a bit.
I know, I know....I'm making this into such a big deal.....
But, really.....it is a holiday meal and I am having guests in my home. And, in my mind, that makes it important. I'm a firm believer that when you invite guests--they are exactly that--guests. They need to feel special and they need to feel as though everything is effortless--all the result of magic and fairy dust--not a result of hours pouring over menus or slaving in the kitchen or hiding dirty pots and pans in the basement. It's about creating an atmosphere. And, a part of that atmosphere is what is on the menu. In some ways, the food sets the tone for all of it. In my heart and mind, having guests for dinner is not about anything other than making them feel welcomed, entertained, relaxed and appreciated. And, fed with love. It's not about clearing the table or doing the dishes or leaving my kitchen spic and span when they leave. Honestly, honestly--it's not. It's about the experience of sharing a meal together to celebrate that moment in time. It's as simple as that.
It's. as. simple.as.that?
Why, yes it is.
Especially if you plan ahead and beg blog readers for help.....
With that in mind.....in honor of the last Tastey Tuesday of the 2009 Holiday Season as well as Carmen's birthday and my sanity and the fact that I lost over 100 pounds.....how about sharing a few your tried and true recipes that I might be able to use on New Year's Day?????
And, as a thank you to you for your help......here's a recipe I used on New Year's Day 2009......
- 3 or 4 pork shoulder blade steaks, cut 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (3 1/2 to 4 pounds total) (I pounded them to get then thinner)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves, smashed and slightly chopped
- 5 teaspoons lemon peel, grated
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons bottled capers, drained
- 5 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 2 1/4 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
Preparation:Combine wine, garlic, lemon peel and 3 tablespoons juice, 3 tablespoons capers, mustard, 2 teaspoons cracked pepper and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl.
Place pork in single layer in 2 1/2 gallon resealable plastic bag or large glass baking dish. Pour wine mixture over pork. If using bag, close bag to seal. Turn bag or pork over in dish to coat with wine marinade. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or in refrigerator for up to 1 hour,
Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat for direct grilling. Remove steaks from marinade, brushing off any large pieces and reserving marinade. Transfer marinade to small sauce pan. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute; remove from heat.
Grill steaks, uncovered, for 6 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, turning steaks over halfway during grilling and brushing occasionally with reserved marinade. Transfer steaks to carving board. Loosely cover with foil; let rest for 5 minutes.
Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, parsley and remaining 1 tablespoon capers. Cut into serving pieces before serving.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Happy Birthday Carmen!
And, thanks to everyone who joined in on this year's Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange!