Happy New Year!
Historic Visit

New Year's Eve Feast - recipes included!

As per a relatively new tradition, The Weatherman and I spent New Year's Eve with our friends Amy and David, putting together an upscale pot luck dinner. We started nibbling on hors d'oeuvres at about 8 p.m., and the meal stretched out until nearly midnight. That gave us just enough time to waddle (er, I mean walk) into their living room, turn on the TV and watch the ball drop.

I brought the appetizers. I sure wish I'd remembered to take a photo of the hot artichoke dip before we were half way through it. It would have looked a lot more elegant. Here it is, half-eaten, along with the smoked salmon on pumpernickel bread:
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The smoked salmon had a thin layer of creme fiche under it, and was topped with fresh dill. Here's the recipe for the artichoke dip , which was served with crackers:

Hot Artichoke Dip

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine in a medium bowl:
-1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup grated Parmesan (4 ounces) and 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped:
-One 13 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
Stir into mayonnaise-cheese mixture, along with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Scrape into small baking dish. Sprinkle over the dip: 3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bake until browned, about 20 minutes. (Can be prepared ahead of time and warmed in microwave.)

Now, I would be able to have a nice photo of the shrimp and white bean first course that Amy made. Except by that time, we have probably imbibed too much of this:
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Trust me, it was pretty and delicious. Next, and the photo does not do justice to the taste, was an incredibly tender and tasty steak. It had been marinating all day, and was cooked on the grill, despite the swirling snow outside. It was served with sauteed mushrooms, with asparagus on the side, and was out of this world.
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Somehow, either Amy or David even remembered to photograph the salad, which followed main course:
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I was a little nervous when Amy asked me to bring salad, because it is usually not my strong suit. But I decided to use a recipe, and while this was a little labor intensive, it was perfect for a special evening. It comes from Silver Palate New Basics:

Lemony Caesar Salad

1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
4 thin slices whole grain bread
1/4 cup anchovy spread (recipe follows)
1/2 large head of lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup Caesar Dressing (recipe follows)
4 ounces Parmesan cheese

-Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the walnuts and saute over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
-Toast the bread: then spread each slice with Anchovy Spread, and scatter with the toasted walnuts.
-Tear the lettuce into pieces and toss with the dressing.
-Place a piece of prepared toast on each plate and top with a portion of the lettuce and dressing. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin slices of Parmesan over each portion.

Anchovy Spread

12 anchovy fillets,drained
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic finely minced

-Using a fork, mash the anchovies in a small bowl.
-In another small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together. Add ot the anchovies and mix until a paste has formed.

Caesar Dressing

1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the lemon zest, juice, garlic and vinegar in a small bowl, and whisk well. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the pepper and salt and set aside. Makes one cup.

OK - are you still with me? Because we are about to get to the most amazing part of the meal. Amy's incredible Baked Alaska. I showed a picture of it last year, and here's this year's version. But great news: Amy has parted with her recipe, which you can find below. Happy New Year!
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Amy's Baked Alaska

1. Bake your favorite brownies, using round 8" or 9" cake pans. (13 x 9 pan size brownie recipe translates to two round pans, and you need just one now. Save the extra for later.) Cool.
2. Press 1/2 gallon of your favorite (slightly melted) ice cream into a bowl lined with wax paper. (Keep 1/2 inch border at top.) Some great favorites are mint chip, coffee or chocolate. Freeze for 30 minutes.
3. Invert the ice cream over the brownies on an oven proof plate and refreeze until next step is completed.
4. Beat 5 egg whites, adding gradually 10 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
5. Totally cover the ice cream dome with meringue, and freeze again until ready to bake/serve.
6. Oven should be preheated to 450 degrees. Bake directly from the freezer for 5 minutes or until lightly brown. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

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