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After the dinner on Christmas Eve, the cinnamon buns on Christmas morning. After the feast on Christmas Day with the roast and all its trimmings. And then the leftover turkey sandwiches, and the hashed sprouts, the panettone, and the pudding.
After all of the eating and the merry-making... comes New Year’s Eve.
Where Christmas is more of a family affair, New Year's Eve is a party: Champagne flutes and sequined dresses, staying up late into the night and watching the fireworks light up the sky at midnight. It’s fancy. And so you feel the food should be fancy too.
Of course, you could go to a restaurant and eat a twelve course set menu, but I've found that the most memorable New Years are those which we have celebrated at home. It’s more relaxed. We invite friends and dress up a little; I lay the table nicely, open (many) a bottle of prosecco, and then we settle down to a long and lingering meal, so that we are still eating, drinking, and talking as the new year comes in.
For the menu, I keep it simple. After all the fuss and fanciness of Christmas, I crave comfort food and imagine my guests do too—something filling and warming to soak up the alcohol and keep everyone going into the early hours of the morning. And, ideally, it's something that feels special yet is simple to cook so that I, too, can relax and enjoy the party.
Here are some ideas for dressing up simple comfort foods that everyone loves:
- Hot baked potatoes: add a little crème fraîche and serve with a pot of caviar (salmon roe or lumpfish are nice, less costly varieties) or a side of smoked salmon
- Macaroni and cheese: douse it in white truffle oil; it's a particularly handy dish because it can be made well in advance and stored in the fridge, then finished in the oven before serving
- Pasta: make an elegant shape like tagliolini and keep it plain (no sauce), then drench in butter and top with shavings of black or white truffle
- Toast: toast brioche and serve with foie gras and pickles or cornichons
- Scrambled eggs: serve on toast or with homemade bread, topped with shavings of truffle or a drizzle of truffle oil
- Shepherd's pie: replace the lamb mince with shredded duck confit legs, then top with creamy mashed potatoes and warm in the oven
- Hamburgers: ideal for a New Year's barbecue, smear the bun with foie gras, top with a chargrilled burger and relish, and serve with homemade French fries
And for the rest:
- I invest in few good bottles of wine, and I serve a fun cocktail to get the evening going.
- I eschew starters in favor of one very decadent, rich main course, which I serve alongside a crisp green salad.
- Then a showy dessert: something like trifle or a fancy fruit tart (like this blood orange and rosemary one) or a very indulgent cake (I love this rose and saffron scented zabaglione cake).
- That's followed by coffee served with petit fours or chocolates to string dinner out.
Simple, elegant, and very hard to resist.
- 500 grams dried macaroni
- 300 grams cheddar cheese
- 200 grams Swiss Raclette cheese
- 500 milliliters heavy whipping cream
- 7 teaspoons good truffle oil, divided
- 75 grams panko breadcrumbs
What do you serve on New Year's Eve? Tell us in the comments!