Well hi there. Hopefully you're curled up on the couch in pajamas, eating something tasty and sipping something warm.
We're in comfies on the couch, with coffee in hand. I'm already contemplating a mug of hot chocolate with one of last night's vanilla-bean marshmallows plopped on. There's so much time to run around like a crazy woman with my head cut off; today is for staying warm and full.
I mentioned that celebrated the new year at home, with friends. It was almost the same crowd we had over last year, and I think it's becoming something of a tradition. We'd planned to keep things low-key, given that we'd been traveling and didn't think we'd have much time to cook. But as it turned out, last week was a sleepy one at the office, giving me a few afternoons with enough time to plan a proper menu. Here's how it all went down.
We almost always serve dinner family-style, but D and I decided to go more formal for NYE, so I knew I wanted to plate the salad and main course. We quickly settled on fish, and at the market, black cod really called to me, so I splurged. Miso black cod - a Nobu recipe that's been copied by chefs worldwide - would be a sure hit, and it fit with the French-Japanese menu that had started to emerge.
I'd bought ingredients for lemon gougeres, which are probably the number one party trick up my sleeve. Gougeres mix up in a matter of minutes, bake just as quickly, and best of all, keep in the freezer indefinitely. You can make the dough and form the gougeres in advance, then freeze them raw on the baking sheet, stick'em in a bag, and stockpile them in the freezer until the unexpected guests come knocking.
Keeping with the French part of my French-Japanese menu, I bought leeks for the leeks vinaigrette recipe David Tanis published in the Times last week. Coincidentally, he'd also published a riff on that recipe using miso for Diners' Journal, but given that the fish was coated in miso, too, I decided stick to the original.
My rule of thumb for dinner parties is that only one dish can require in-the-moment fussing. In this case, the black cod won a-la-minute attention. Leeks were boiled in advance and left to hang at room temp until dinner, when all they needed was a swipe of dressing and a sprinkle of capers. The other element on the plate was equally easy, and I can tell you right now that it's going into the regular rotation. It was a simple sweet potato puree that tasted kind of chef-y. Anna asked me if I'd pushed them through a tamis, and given that I didn't even bother, what a compliment that was! It's from Martha (perfection defined) and it's really a template, designed to tweak and tinker to your menu and your appetite. The beauty of sweet potato puree is that, unlike potatoes, you actually can make them in advance. I did that, left them at room temp until the party, and -- yea, I did it -- threw them in the microwave before plating. Here's the recipe.
There was wine. There were cocktails. Of course, there was champagne. But first, there was punch: crimson bulleit punch, specifically. It was a hit. Especially fun to make and show off was the ice ring, which I made on a whim and will definitely make again. Here's a little video I shot about the punch, using an app called Directr, which my friend Eli designed and which you positively must check out: