"...the pleasant hours of our life are all connected by a more or less tangible link with some memory of the table" Charles Pierre Monselet
Sometimes it is nice just to stay in on New Year's Eve.. share a nice dinner, a bottle of wine or two with someone you care about.
Away from the hustle and bustle, the crowds, the long waits to get home... just the two of you.
This was my New Year's Eve...
A candlelit dinner for two... by yours truly.
Thrice cooked wedges with a chilli lime aioli
Char grilled haloumi and asparagus skewers served with mint, lemon and chilli
Gazpacho served with speck and gluten free croutons
Chili crab risotto from Nigella Lawson's latest cookbook "Nigellissima"
Pavlova roulade with mascarpone and a warm berry coulis
Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Carpineto Chianti Classico 2009
Cookoothama Botrytis Semillon 2008
The key to a dinner for two is preparation, preparation, preparation! Make sure you pick a menu you can prepare ahead of time so you have minimal cooking time on the night. This leaves more time together enjoying the night. No one likes to be stressed in the kitchen while leaving your guest alone all night!! That isn't fun for anyone. I chose this menu for it's simplicity and flavours.
The starters I chose particularly for my date... he loves his chips (and yes, they are gluten free!) and we both love grilled haloumi!! I was able to make the wedges, aioli and skewers the day before. I finished the wedges in the oven so they were piping hot and crisp and grilled off the skewers a few minutes before serving.
The entree was something light and a soup I had never made before. This was completely prepared before hand. Serving up was just a matter of pouring the soup into bowls and sprinkling with speck and croutons and a few micro basil leaves for a "chefy touch". This was a refreshing soup, would be perfect for a hot summer's day as it is served cold.
I wanted something a bit different for the main and needed to introduce some protein into the meal.. I was dining with a man!! ha ha! I wasn't game enough to cook a steak.. particularly after a few wines... so seafood was my second choice. I love crab and when I stumbled across this recipe it was a no brainer! It was a delicious risotto and used a Nigella favourite, Vermouth, instead of white wine. It was flavour packed and allowed me to cook the dish 2/3 of the way and finish it off with the crab meat on the night. Again, very little cooking required on the night... easy peasy!
Last but not least, dessert.. the finale! 11:30 pm.. 2 bottles of wine down.. and I may have dosed off just for a minute ;)... But it is ok because I planned ahead!! Gas on, berries with a dash of icing sugar (already measured out) into the pot... While this is simmering away I cut two pieces from the prepared pavlova log and place them onto the plates. Once the coulis is ready I pour this over the awaiting meringue and dust lightly with icing sugar... Voila!
It was a beautiful night, that was sealed with a midnight kiss...
A tastee way to bring in a new year, and a great start to a year of good wine and food!
I wish you all a happy 2014!
Happy eating xx