Happy New Year everyone! The longest night of the year is behind us and we are starting a new year with a clean slate and happy full bellies. With our Christmas Dinner not being that far away and the memory of us eating way too much with the four course meal I’ve prepared being still pretty much alive, I decided to only prepare a few snacks and spreads and skewers and breads for our New Year’s Eve Feast in hopes of us being able to eat a bit less. But since I wanted to prepare (and did prepare) so many different dishes, I may have gone a bit overboard again and prepared so much food that our not-so-small table ended up being way too small.
Lets start with the selection of breads that were on the menu. I believe that there’s nothing like the taste and smell of freshly baked homemade bread. And there is something special and really pretty about its braided version. I’ve never made bread using fresh yeast before but I’ve always wanted to. There’s no better timing for delicious homemade bread than a New Year’s Eve feast, when all your family gets together and enjoys a great time and meal to say goodbye to the old year and hello to the new one. These little Braided Spelt Breads (for the recipe follow the link) were so delicious and went great with the beef tartar, prosciutto and raclette.
Another kind of bread that I served to go with the spreads and cheeses was the Cheesy Garlic Bread, which is also really simple to make but makes such a difference when compared to just serving regular bread.
3 mini spelt loafs (I used store bought)
3 garlic cloves, halved
1 tsp dried parsley
grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2. Cut slices down the length of bread loaf at 2 cm intervals, without cutting all the way through.
3. Mince garlic and combine it with butter, parsley and Parmesan. Spread butter mixture between bread slices and on top of loaf.
4. Wrap bread in foil leaving top partially uncovered. Bake until heated through, about 12 minutes (you can bake them at the same time as you bake the stuffed mushrooms – I suggest making both last minute before your guests arrive so you can serve them warm).
Last but not least on the carb side of the feast were the spelt grissini of which I already wrote in my Christmas Dinner post. I decided for a little twist on the usual grissini and turned half of the dough into these beautiful pretzels.
For the meaty part of our meal I prepared the Ham-and-Cheese Skewers which are really simple to make but they make such a difference as opposed to serving just slices of ham and cheese on a plate. And the sweet and sour flavor of the apple really adds a lot to these little bite size treats.
Ingredients (makes 15 skewers)
15 1,5 cm x 1,5 cm cubes baked ham
15 1,5 cm x 1,5 cm cubes goat Gauda
1 large apple, sliced into 15 cubes
Thread cheese, apple, lamb’s lettuce leaves, and ham onto skewers. Stand skewers upright, ham ends down, on a serving plate.
For a lovely transition between the meaty and vegetable dishes of the night, I prepared some Arugula, Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Dried Figs Salad. The saltiness of the arugula and prosciutto, the sweetness of the dried figs and balsamic vinegar and the mild taste of mozzarella are a perfect combo!
Another vegetable dish with just a hint of ham for all the meat lovers I’ve come up with the Millet, Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms.
15 medium champignons
½ cup cooked millet
30g goat cheese, grated
30g baked bacon/ham, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp cooking cream
1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2. Wash the champignons and remove their stems. Grease an oven safe tin with some butter and place in the mushrooms, top side down.
3. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and place a generous amount of it into each mushroom.
4. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes and serve warm.
Since I really love the taste of smoked salmon, I decided to make two different dishes that use smoked salmon as one of the main ingredients. They both take just about 5 minutes to make but will leave your guests asking you for more and wanting to get the recipe. The first one is the Smoked Salmon Dip on the photo below. Follow the link for a recipe.
Another simple dish that includes smoked salmon is the so called Cucumber Salmon – you simply cut the cucumber into 1 cm thick circles and remove some of the seeds in each so that you create a well. Mix 2 -3 tablespoons sour cream and 1 tablespoon horseradish in a cup and place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture in each well. Top it with a strip of smoked salmon and you have a quick and simple appetizer to serve at a dinner party for any occasion.
Allegedly French Salad is a must for New Year’s Eve dinner parties in Slovenia along with beef tartar which we spread on a toasted bread with butter (unlike the French who eat it with a knife and fork). Since I love making things from scratch and since it seemed easier than to make my own beef tartar, I decided to give it a try and make a homemade french salad. I found the recipe on one of the Slovenian recipe pages and got right into it. My father, a big french salad lover, gave it a green light, so I encourage you to give it a try, it really is worth it.
300 g potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (about the size of green peas)
100 g carrots, peeled and cut into small cubes (about the size of green peas)
150 g green peas (fresh or frozen)
150 g pickles, cut into small cubes (about the size of green peas)
Salt to taste (I did not use any)
1. Cook the potatoes, carrots, green peas and eggs, each in a separate pot of salted water. Drain the vegetables, allow for them to cool down and mix them in a bowl with pickles.
2. Cut the cooked egg whites and add them to the vegetables and place the cooked egg yolks in a separate bowl.
3. Add mayonnaise and mustard to the egg yolks and mix until combined. I ended up using about 300ml mayonaise and 1 tbsp mustard but it really depends on the taste.
4. Chill the salad before serving.
I also made Quiche Lorraine using spelt flour for the pastry. Ever since I’ve been to Paris, I wanted to make a proper homemade quiche. My brother made Quiche Lorraine a few times before and it was really delicious so I decided to just substitute the regular flour with spelt flour and gave it a try. It turned out really delicious and it’s great because you can serve it either hot as a main dish for up to 5 people or as one of the many snacks for a dinner party because it tastes just as amazing cold. In my case, since I needed the oven for the Cheesy Garlic Bread and Stuffed Mushrooms in the last minutes before the dinner started, I made it in advance and served it at room temperature. Just divine!
For dessert we had some Potica, Homemade Raw Chocolate Pralines with Dried Fruits and Nuts (for a non-raw but a really delicious alternative, add a few teaspoons of instant coffee in the mixture following this recipe) and mixed fresh fruits with chocolate fondue. Yum!
Some peach flavored sparkling wine and a jump into the new year at midnight rounded up our amazing evening. It was a great ending to a great year and a start of, what I think will be, an even more amazing year! Happy New Year 2015 everyone!