New Year celebrations should have an abundance of deliciousness. My Happy New Year Dinner did not disappoint! At the end of the evening, each guest had their own thoughts on what their favorite dishes were. A special thank you to those who were able to make it to dinner. You make the meals more yummy!
We started the meal off with ginger carrot soup served with homemade artisan whole wheat bread. This was unanimously a favorite among all guests including my daughter. That’s one way to get people to eat vegetables, right? Make it delicious! When I asked one guest if I should take his empty bowl away, he responded, “Yes. Unless, it’s okay for me to lick it clean!” Needless to say, he really liked the soup. 🙂
Although I have been cooking for many years, it had been years since I had made bread. I was really pleased with the way the bread turned out. My guests were quite impressed as well. I had baked a test loaf the night before just to make sure it would turn out well and by the next afternoon, my daughter had finished off most of that loaf by herself!
Next, we moved on to the tomatoes and quinoa over mixed greens. Quinoa is pronounced keen’ wah. I’m pleased to say that I was able to introduce something new to all of my guests. This super-food contains essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. All of which are important to a healthy diet. I like my salads very lightly dressed. So, most of the time you’ll notice that in many of my salads, the additions to the greens are what holds the flavor. The quinoa was dressed with my homemade sesame lime dressing which was a huge hit amongst my guests.
With the stuffed eggplants, I got a converter! I’ve always been a fan of eggplants, but I know there are plenty of people out there who don’t like eggplants. One of my guests mentioned she’s never really liked eggplants before, but this ended up being one of her favorites from the evening. The idea of stuffed eggplants is not new. But, the vegetable stuffing of red bell peppers, button mushrooms, and eggplants cooked in a red wine marsala sauce with herbs and layered into the eggplant boat with provolone cheese is my own recipe. The great thing about this dish is that it can easily be served as a side dish as I did for this meal, but has enough substance to be the main course in a vegetarian offering. It also freezes well. You can’t beat that!
This is what was left of the basil beef roast after everyone was served. Although everyone seemed pleased with this dish, it ended up being my least favorite dish from the night. Don’t get me wrong, it was still very good and I’m sure I’m the only one who knew this. But, when I’ve made this dish in the past, the meat is usually more tender. This time, I went to a different butcher for this cut so I’m guessing that might have something to do with it. Note to self: go back to the same butcher!
Yes, this really is purple sticky rice! I honestly don’t know what else to call it. When you eat at a Thai or Laotian restaurant, you will only be served white sticky rice because purple sticky rice costs more and it takes slightly more effort to make. However, I prefer it because it’s higher in its nutrient value. This is the Mom in me coming out once again with trying to pack as much nutrition into every meal as possible. I was asked what I colored it with and the answer is nothing! That is the natural color of the sticky rice. If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see there are some grains that are darker than the others. Those are the ones that are naturally a dark purple in color. During the soaking process of preparation, you mix the regular white sticky rice with the purple ones and the purple ones will naturally dye the white ones purple transfering that deeper flavor to the regular sticky rice.
When it comes to SouthEast Asian food, you can’t get more authentic than a fish dish with sticky rice. The first fish picture shown is the uncooked herb-stuffed tilapia marinating in the herbs and sesame soy sauce. Pockets are cut from the top of the fish on both sides where I then stuffed them with the herb mix as well as the the belly cavity. Asians eat the whole fish so I kept this dish authentic by keeping the fish intact. The head (including the eyeballs), the fins, the tail, and the skin were all still on the fish when I served it. It’s hard to see this detail in the cooked picture since the skin is blackened from the grilling process. Grilling on the stove top allowed the skin to become blackened without it being charred which added a delicious nutty flavor to the fish. I showed my guests how to eat this with their sticky rice with a small bite of fish meat and fish skin if they were adventurous enough to try it. They did great!
After six courses, I wasn’t sure who was still going to have room for dessert. To my surprise and delight, my guests had heeded my advice to pace themselves well because one was even able to have a second helping of this deliciousness that I concocted. It took awhile for me to get into the dessert for this menu. Hence, the TBA on the original menu. However, once I got into it, I couldn’t make myself stop! 🙂 I made the chocolate cake roll on Friday and filled it with a homemade cream filling that I flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Even while just eating the cake scraps, I knew this one was a winner. I kept thinking to myself, “Why have I never made a cake roll before?! This is DELICIOUS!” On Saturday morning, something came over me and I decided to also make a poached apple in a cranberry raspberry sauce to serve alongside the cake roll. Either one of these alone could have been the dessert served with the garnish, but this is what you get when I don’t specify what I’m making – something completely over-the-top and amazing! The dessert was plentiful, but was still nice and light. The extra whipped cream and toasted pecan drew out the warm flavors of cinnamon and cloves from the cake roll and the apple. The fresh raspberries added that little bit of tartness to cut through the creamy sweetness. The contrast in flavors and textures worked really well together. I will definitely be making one or both components of this dessert again.
And, there you have it – another Dinner with Foodie Friends under my belt! I invite you to come eat with me and hope to see you at my table soon. Make sure to subscribe to my blog to stay current with my food happenings and send me a note if you want to be personally invited by email to the next Dinner with Foodie Friends.