The holidays are upon us and winter is now in full swing. Time for entertaining and planning what to make for New Year’s. I for one, do not love New Year’s Eve (does anyone over a certain age?) but my husband and I often make a gourmet meal and have a really good bottle of champagne (Veuve Clicquot, anyone?) and enjoy a quiet, cozy evening at home.
I have many entertaining menus up my sleeve and focus heavily on appetizers as they are so creative and fun to eat.
Here is a sample of one such menu that is sure to make your guests or maybe just your significant other happy.
This recipe can be cut in half as well as frozen, both the shrimp and the sauce freeze well. If you decide to make this ahead and freeze the shrimp, do not defrost, simply drop them into the hot oil.
Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Dipping Sauce
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne
3 to 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, de-veined, butter-flied
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup canned pineapple, drained
1 scallion, white part only, thinly sliced
2 Tb. apricot preserves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tb. lime juice
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
1. Combine the flour, salt and cayenne on a flat baking sheet. Place the egg whites and coconut on two separate baking sheets. Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, then the whites, then in the coconut. Press the coconut onto the shrimp. Chill for at least an hour.
2. Heat the oven to 200. In a medium saucepan heat the oil until moderately hot but not smoking. Working in batches, fry the shrimp until golden about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
3. In a processor combine the pineapple, scallions, apricot preserves, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno and salt to taste. Process until blended and taste, adjust seasoning.
4. Serve the shrimp on a platter with the sauce in a small serving dish.
Burrata on Crostini with Caramelized Shallots and Bacon
Serves 6 to 8
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tb. brown sugar
12 slices applewood- smoked bacon
1½ pounds burrata, sliced into 12 slices
extra virgin olive oil
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes stirring often. Add the balsamic and brown sugar and simmer the shallots until the bottom of the pan is dry about 6 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat the oven to 400. Slice the bread into ¼ inch slices and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with the garlic clove. Toast for about 8 to 10 minutes until golden.
- Cook the bacon on a rack on a baking sheet in the oven until down but not crisp about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Cut in half.
- Place a slice of burrata on each crostini, then a piece of bacon and then a spoonful of the shallots. Drizzle with the extra virgin oil and then grind some pepper over each one before serving, garnish with parsley chiffonade.
Pan-Roasted Duck Breasts with Port Wine and Balsamic Glaze
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 whole duck breast per person
2 shallots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Tawny port
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tb. honey
- Heat the oven to 450.
- Score the fat on the duck and season the meat side with salt and pepper. Heat a medium cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium high heat. Sear the duck skin side down until golden brown about 5 minutes. Place the duck on a rack fat side up in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cover to keep warm. Reserve the fat from the roasting pan.
- Heat a medium skillet and add 2 Tb. of the duck fat to the pan. Sauté the shallots and garlic for about 3 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and de-glaze, reduce the port to half and add the stock, reduce to about 2/3 cup. Add the vinegar and honey and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Remove from the heat.
- Slice the duck breast and arrange on a plate pour the sauce over and serve.
- Chicken breasts can be used in place of the duck.
Arugula, Endive Salad with Simple Vinaigrette
Serves 6 to 8
1 bunch arugula, washed and spun dry
1 head endive, julienne
2 cups mixed greens
1 lemon, juiced or vinegar of your choice
1 Tb. Dijon mustard
3 Tb. chopped mint
1/3 to 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1. Combine the arugula, endive and greens in a large bowl and toss.
2. Combine the lemon, Dijon and mint in a small bowl and whisk add the oil slowly while whisking, season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Toss some of the dressing with the greens and reserve any leftover for another salad.
Editor’s Note: Amanda Cushman of Simple Real Food Inc., is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for over 30 years. She has taught corporate team building classes for over 15 years for a variety of Fortune 500 companies including Yahoo, Nike and Google. She began her food career in the eighties and worked with Martha Stewart and Glorious Foods before becoming a recipe developer for Food and Wine magazine as well as Ladies Home Journal. Having lived all over the United States including Boston, NYC, Miami and Los Angeles, she has recently returned to her home state of Connecticut where she continues to teach in private homes as well as write for local publications.
Amanda teaches weekly classes at White Gate Farm and Homeworks and is also available for private classes. Her cookbook; Simple Real Food can be ordered at Amazon as well as through her website www.amandacooks.com
For more information, click here to visit her website.