I hosted a New Year’s Day open house at my little farm house. I have wanted to host a get-together for a while, but everyone else seems to lead busy, busy lives and getting people together is not easy. But I figured: New Year’s Day is a day of leisure. Some nurse hangovers. Some browse seed catalogs planning this year’s garden. Most are not scheduled. So enter Louise’s little party. I enjoyed contemplating the menu and rolling ideas around in my head at leisure for weeks preceding. Turkey or ham? What would go with turkey? I was fortunate in being able to obtain a fine turkey from a locavore’s delight of a store in the name of The Berry Farm. It was a big one — 16.6 pounds. Here’s the thing about getting a good turkey: it’s delicious. Before Thanksgiving 2015 I commiserated with my best bud chef Deb about roasting turkey. We were in agreement that turkey is just an obligatory item for once a year on Thanksgiving and any other day it’s “no thanks.” Not a fan. Does not taste very good. All that changed for me Thanksgiving 2015 when I had the good fortune to snag a Northwinds Farms turkey from The Berry Farm. Both at Thanksgiving and New Year’s, I was asked by several people what my secret was for delicious turkey. Here it is: buy a good turkey. And for Columbia County people, that means The Berry Farm or perhaps directly from Northwinds Farms (in Tivoli, northern Dutchess County). That’s the secret. A well-fed, well tended bird yields a delicious roast bird.
I did not go over to the frazzled overworked side of preparing for my party, which is perhaps a first for me. I planned to make more desserts but then ran out of time and contrary to my usual MO, I stopped. So I did not resent my guests for coming because I had done too much. Everyone loved the food, I accepted the reality that my mushrooms were being snagged up out of the baking pan before I could get them on a platter and to the dining room. And I think that good food made the party more jolly. I was playing host so was in the kitchen a lot of the time, but I had good company. I had a really nice time. And that I had a part in creating community and fostering good cheer is especially cheering. I may just make this my tradition hosting a New Year’s Day party! Here’s my menu:
Roast turkey (16+ #)
Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois salad — napa cabbage and romaine in rice vinegar dressing w/ black sesame seeds (no chicken)
Celeriac remoulade, with grated carrots; chopped added parsley on top (mayo, honey, red wine vinegar, mustard, S&P)
Stuffed mushrooms (served hot) — sausage stuffed cremini mushrooms (put into oven when turkey came out to rest)
shrimp, boiled and chilled. (boil water with whole coriander seeds, white and black peppercorns, juice of one lemon (cut in half, squeeze and drop in rinds), and Old Bay seasoning). Peel shrimp up to last segment next to tail; rinse and de-vein, and then poach/boil for 3 minutes.
cheese platter with assorted crackers (sliced baguette would also be nice). I had Rocquefort, triple creme and Comté.
Union Square Café roasted nuts (variation w/ whipped egg whites in lieu of butter; cayenne and fresh rosemary)
Castelvetrano olives (found ’em at the supermarket!)
Dilly beans (pickled, hot green beans, served cold in dish with:) carrot sticks, fresh red pepper (and olives)
Jacuterie Fuet salami
simple almond cake