Friday, January 08, 2010

New Year's Eve Menu

New Year's Eve was a major opportunity for me to use my friends as guinea pigs and try out a bunch of recipes I've wanted to make. I have a whole big bookmark list on firefox that's just waiting to have a dent put in it. Here's half the menu (apart from the Brazilian cookies I brought over and JP arranged, the majority of which barely passed as edible, unfortunately, but apparently proved to be fantastic chasers):

Cheese Straws (adapted from Ina Garten)
1 sheet thawed puff pastry
3/4 cup grated gruyere
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine the grated gruyere, grated parm, and whatever spices (I used paprika and garlic powder, but you can also use dried herbs, and you can use whatever hard cheeses you have on hand) you want, along with salt and pepper. Roll out puff pastry on parchment paper. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the grated cheese and spice mix. Use a rolling pin to press the mix into the puff pastry. I like to put the puff pastry in the freezer now to make it easier to cut (about 15 minutes), but you don't have to.  Cut 1/2 inch thin strips of the puff pastry and twist in opposite directions from the ends (like you're twisting string). Place on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the straws are puffy and lightly browned, turn once, and bake for another 3 - 5. Make sure the cheese doesn't burn! Oh, and I forgot to take a picture.

Turkey Lettuce Cups (adapted loosely from PF Chang)

1/2 lb ground dark meat (turkey or chicken)
1 small box of cremini mushrooms, finely diced 
1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 head of iceberg lettuce

Heat large skillet on medium-high and sautee the ground meat until lightly browned and no red remains (light pink is OK, otherwise you will overcook it later). If you use turkey, you might want to add some olive oil to the pan first but chicken has enough fat in my opinion. Meanwhile, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar in a separate bowl. If you want this to be spicy, add some cayenne or red pepper flakes.
Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic to the meat and sautee for 2 - 3 more minutes. You can add other veggies like celery and carrots but you basically want whatever you're putting in the ground meat to be of a small, uniform size so everything mixes together. Then add the stir fry sauce and sautee for 1 - 2 more minutes. Done!
Pull apart the iceberg lettuce leaves (I found this tricky and kinda failed) and wash them, then spoon some of the ground meat onto each leaf, arrange on a platter and serve! I recommend sriracha as an accompanying sauce but you can make a dip.

Zucchini Ricotta Tart

1 sheet thawed puff pastry
1 cup ricotta (you can use part-skim)
1 zucchini, thinly sliced into circles
3 sliced cremini mushrooms
10 halved cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out puff pastry on parchment paper. Spread ricotta (you can add herbs to this if you like, or spices) over the puff pastry, leaving a thin border of about a 1/2 inch. Arrange zucchini circles on the puff pastry, top with slices mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Grate some gruyere (or any hard cheese) over the top. Place in the oven for about 10 - 15 minutes until the edges of the puff pastry are puffy and golden brown. I like to cut this so that each slice has a zucchini circle on it. Serve warm.

I used two packages of white chocolate chips for this (slowly melted over a double boiler) instead of the bark, and half a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I also added some lemon zest to the cake batter. JP fed the remains to his co-workers.

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