Happy (Very, Very, Very) Belated New Year!

In Beans, Bread, Dessert, Holiday, Italian, Pasta, Potato, Vegetables on January 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm

It’s still the first half of the month, so I suppose this post can still pass for a New Year’s edition.  I know you all are probably well into considering giving up those resolutions, but here is a reminder of the foods the drove you to go on your January diets.

We had our annual New Year’s Eve party, so the whole week before was super busy preparing the apartment, doing the food shopping, experimenting with drinks, etc.  Hence, the lack in posts the week before, and also the week after (I told myself I get a few days off after working 2 days non-stop cooking for the party).

Every year, we choose a different theme for the party.  This year was an Italian theme.  We got red, white, and green decorations/plates/napkins, made a delicious Italian meal, and served this amazing Italian fruit punch.  It is Giada’s recipe, and everyone loved it so much that I had to make 5 PITCHERS WORTH.  Here’s a snap of the first batch.

For those of you who want to make this recipe, I actually used half the amount of seltzer recommended and substituted with proseco.  I also added maraschino juice because the liqueur I got was clear, and not red.

For the appetizers, we of course had slices of Italian bread, bruschetta crackers, and bread sticks.  Italians love their bread.  We also had an antipasto platter that had prosciutto, salami, fresh mozarrella, parmeggiano reggiano, and pecorino romano.  The pecorino was soooooooo good, and VERY expensive.  But it was really worth it!  There was some roasted red peppers, marinated veggies, and crudités serve with a cannolini bean and roasted garlic dip.  I forgot to take pictures of each step, but here is a photo of the spread.

For those of you curious as to how I made the bean dip, here are the steps.  The night before, I soaked 2 cups of dry cannolini beans.  The next day, I drained and rinsed them, and cooked until tender.

At the same time the beans were cooking, I roasted a whole head of garlic in the oven for an hour.  To prepare the garlic, you stand it up, and slice off about 1/2 a centimeter on top.  Then you place it on a sheet of aluminum foil, and top with some EVOO, and wrap it up tightly.  When the garlic is ready, you have to unwrap the foil to let it cool to the touch.

The other element to the dip is sage.  Sage and cannolini beans are a perfect match!  I used about 6 big sage leaves, pulsing them in a large food processor.  Then, I added the beans and about 1/2 cup of the liquid.  Finally, I grabbed the garlic by the bottom and squeezed out all of the gloves, which had cooked to a paste consistency.   You could also use the roasted garlic as a spread on a sandwich or in mashed potatoes.  Adding some salt, I blended the ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  It was so yummy!

For the main course, we made the gnocchi and chicken dishes from our cooking class.  This time the gnocchi came out so soft and delicious, it was definitely restaurant quality.  We also baked it with some fresh mozzarella for an added special touch.

I also made some sauteed spinach with garlic.  It’s a typical contorno in Italy.  I used very little EVOO (maybe 2 tbsp for 2 lbs of spinach) in a pan with some crushed garlic cloves.  Then I added the spinach, which wilted down to a rich, green, delicious masterpiece.  Everyone was pretty full, so there was plenty leftover for me to use for the week.  I probably had a spinach omelet 4 days last week.  Here’s one of the first.

For dessert, there was tiramisu.  We made a double batch from the last time, only this time we layered the lady fingers and cream in a rectangular tin.  Unfortunately, people were really full and there was a good half of it left.  Looks like the resolution was going to be delayed a few days…


  1. […] New Years Eve parties ago, we had an East Asian theme (last year’s was Italian).  One of the main courses was salmon teriyaki, which everyone loved.  In fact, there were no […]

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