After a long, exhausting day on the slopes (10,000+ feet altitude really does get to you!), Claire and M still managed to put together a huge and lovely spread for the New Year’s Eve gathering we had at our house. There were about 20 of us altogether and there was so much delicious food that I couldn’t stop filling my fat belly. Claire really outdid herself in preparing some really interesting appetizers and I hope she’ll share the recipes!
As promised, she made pickled watermelon rinds wrapped in bacon.
The pickled rind was sweet and sticky, tasting a bit like honey bbq sauce, and the bacon added a nice saltiness and smokiness that complemented the rind very well.
Claire also made dates stuffed with manchego cheese wrapped in bacon. These were also sweet and salty and oozing nutty cheese from the center. I couldn’t wait to have one and ended up burning my tongue on the molten cheese!
Another interesting appetizer was roasted sweet potato pureed with orange rind and orange juice. The puree was placed on crackers and topped with smoked almonds.
Surprisingly, however, one of my favorite appetizers was slices of brie on pita chips topped with clementine chutney. I don’t really like brie, and would typically not eat such a huge chunk of it at once, but combined with the chutney, it turned into something entirely different. It was creamy and sweet and just lovely to eat.
M made her specialty cheese gougeres, which were light, airy, and addictive.
She also made a simple but awesome tomato bruschetta.
Other appetizers included cucumber slices topped with smoked salmon and a lemon/scallion mixture…
And the same with pieces of crab.
We also had garlic bread, which paired perfectly with our main course of spaghetti and meatballs.
Sean was the one who made all the meatballs and the red sauce a few days before our trip. The sauce, which takes several hours to simmer, was really fantastic, and the meatballs were tender and flavorful.
The feast didn’t stop there – Claire went all out on the dessert. First was red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, which she placed on a cupcake stand and stuck candles in them in honor of her friend’s 30th birthday. The cupcakes were really yummy and moist.
Next were huge platters of mince pies, which Claire had been preparing for over a year – that’s how long it takes for the fruit in the mincemeat to soak in alcohol!
And last, but definitely not least, we had slices of Claire’s Christmas pudding. It was also chock full of fruit and very dark and rich.
We all had a great time eating and drinking the whole night. Josh and I celebrated New Years twice, first by watching the Times Square ball drop on TV and calling our family on the east coast, and then celebrating with everyone at midnight Pacific time. It was hard to stay up but so worth it. Thanks very much to Claire for organizing everything, it was definitely a New Years celebration to remember!