Cozy New Year’s Eve Dinner at Home

A meal that's worth staying home for....

A meal that’s worth staying home for….

Hello, again, and Happy New Year. From my lack of posts, it appears that Thanksgiving really took its toll on me. I took some time off to handle non-blog business, and as all bloggers hope, I thought I’d be able to eke out time to write a post or two. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But I’m back now, so thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you all enjoyed a lovely holiday season.

We rang in 2014 with a cozy dinner – and my husband and I cooked together. Not something we do often (he likes to stay out of the way, but is the first in line for tasting!). However, over the years he’s learned some skills, and was a very good sous chef last night. Here’s what he did to make this dinner come together: he prepped and made the mustard-shallot vinaigrette for the string beans, peeled the shrimp for the appetizer, minced the garlic and zested and juiced a lemon for the herb crust on the rack of lamb. But his biggest job of all? Stirring the mushroom risotto. Of course, ever the lawyer, he asked questions. “Do you really have to stand here just stirring?” “Can you stir too much? I’d hate to over-stir this.” And there were others I’ll leave out of this post. Despite the mild line of questioning, he stirred and added stock, and stirred some more, until the risotto was done. As you’ll see, it was cooked just right! (Thanks, honey.)

I’d planned to poach Bosc pears in red wine and top them with a cinnamon cream, but we were so stuffed that we decided to hold off.

Here’s a sampling of our lovely dinner, minus the pears, of course.

Shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce starts the meal

Shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce starts the meal

I’ve made many recipes for rack of lamb with an herbed crust, but most used a dijon-style mustard, which I sometimes find overpowering. This time, I opted for this recipe from Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, which has a parsley-based crust with lemon zest and minced garlic. With a few slight changes, it was simple to prep and beautiful to serve.

Herb-crusted rack of lamb

Herb-crusted rack of lamb

I’ve been eager to make risotto, and the cold winter night was the perfect time for the warm, hearty dish. The mushroom risotto came together easily; I roasted the shiitakes first, then added them and Parmesan cheese to the arborio after it plumped with with chicken stock and a lot of stirring. A spritz of truffle oil added the earthy depth of flavor.

My husband displays the utmost patience as he stirs the risotto

My husband displays the utmost patience as he stirs the risotto


Shiitake risotto with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of white truffle oil

Shiitake risotto with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of white truffle oil

I chose a simple but healthy veggie that also prepped quickly and can be easily timed with to serve with the rest of the dishes. You can make the mustard-shallot vinaigrette ahead, snip the ends from the beans, and blanch them when needed.

Steamed string beans dressed with a mustard-shallot vinaigrette

Steamed string beans dressed with a mustard-shallot vinaigrette

We washed down our meal with my favorite, prosecco, and my husband’s wine of choice, a hearty Malbec.

Cheers to everyone out there for a happy and healthy new year. May it be filled with great meals with family and friends.

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