dinner party collage 
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the coming of a new year than with good food and great friends.  Here’s a menu for an elegant New Years Eve, or any other worthy occasion.

I’d recommend pairing a dry, white wine such as a Dry Gewürztraminer with the hors d’ouvres, salad and soup courses.  For the entree, try a full-bodied Merlot.  If you’re still feeling adventurous, pop the cork on a bottle of Brut Champagne with dessert.

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hazelnut gelato

This dessert is so good that you’ll make an “ooo” face when you eat it.  The silkiness of this gelato comes not from some mysterious culinary secret, but from the inclusion of lots and lots of fat.  There’s no two ways around it, folks: great ice cream is heavy (iced) cream.  I’m confident that your guests can look past your nutritional indiscretions for a rare treat like this.

Makes: 8 bowls of hazelnut heaven
Total kitchen time: 20 minutes plus freezing

Shopping list:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (get the best stuff you can find)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 13 Oz. nutella hazelnut spread
  • 1 personal trainer
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the cream, half and half, and sugar.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to 170°F.
  2. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the nutella – yes, all of it.  Wisk together until well combined.
  3. Refrigerate the mixture until it has chilled thoroughly, at least 6 hours.  Then, freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

That’s it.  No special magic, just a lot of tasty ingredients and a carefree attitude towards gravity.  Garnish with a dessert wafer, or serve with fresh raspberries.

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prime rib 
Majestic, isn’t it?  For many households, prime rib is a once-a-year tradition.  After all, there’s something about the Flintstones-sized scale of this chunk of cow that begs for a special occasion.  However, preparing this roast couldn’t be simpler.

Makes: 6 Flinstones cars flip
Total kitchen time: about 3 hours

Shopping list:

  • 1 6-lb. bone-in rib roast
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Do ahead: season the roast with coarse salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, 1-3 days.
  2. Let the roast come to room temperature for about 2 hours before cooking.  Preheat the oven to 425°F and adjust the rack so your roast will be in the middle of the oven.
  3. Bake the roast, bone side down, for about 20 minutes or until a crust has started to form.  Flip the roast over and reduce the heat to 300°F.  Bake until the internal temperature reaches about 125°F, about 2 hours, basting often with the pan drippings. If you have a probe thermometer, this is a great time to use it.  If you have an instant-read or meat thermometer, that will work too.  You want to carefully ensure that the roast doesn’t cook too quickly, or the meat will be dry and tough.  If necessary, reduce the oven temperature so that you glide into 125° as slowly as possible.
  4. Remove the roast and let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving.  If you skip this step, you’ve just wasted all the hard-earned money you spend on this glorious slab of beef. 

Horseradish Cream Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. horseradish root, grated
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and flour over meduim-high heat.  Add the onion and sweat about 5 minutes.  Add the roasted garlic and stir to combine.
  2. Add the horseradish root (as much or as little as you like) and cream.  Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender, puree the sauce until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper (and more horseradish root!!!)
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