Jan 15, 2009

The Book: New Year's

IF I were writing a book I think I'd organize it by time of year. I'd start in January & run through the calendar with party & holiday ideas. Which means this party idea for New Year's Day would be the first chapter... 

Growing up as a GRITS Gal (Girl Raised In The South, thankyouverymuch) there are a few occasions during the year where the menu is dictated. Tradition prevails and it’s best not to mess around with the classics too much.

New Year’s Day is one such occasion. It’s also a great opportunity to throw a brunch party – the perfect antidote to New Year’s Eve overkill. An added bonus – you’ll spend less on alcohol since most everyone will be nursing a hangover. You will need to serve a little hair of the dog though, and a spicy Bloody Mary is the perfect remedy.

Superstition tells us that eating black-eyed peas at the start of the new year will bring good luck and collard greens will bring money. I don’t know about you but I could use some of both…

Serves 12

The Menu: 
Bloody Mary Bar
Mimosa Compote
Country Ham Biscuits
Cheese Grits Casserole
Black-Eyed Peas
Collard Greens

Bloody Mary Bar
A fun way to let everyone mix their own medicine - I mean - cocktail. Set all the ingredients out on the bar and let your friends play Junior Mixologist. 

What to include:
*Good-quality Vodka
*Tomato Juice and/or pre-made Bloody Mary mix
*A selection of hot sauces
*Ground horseradish
*Worcestershire sauce
*A1 sauce
*Celery sticks
*Olives (try jalapeno- or blue cheese-stuffed)
*Pickled green beans
*Celery salt & ground black pepper
*Lime & lemon wedges

Mimosa Compote
6 oranges peeled & sectioned, white membrane removed
4 grapefruits peeled & sectioned, white membrane removed
two-thirds cup champagne
half cup orange juice
half cup honey
half tea cinnamon
half cup slivered almonds, toasted
quarter cup shredded coconut, toasted

Combine champagne, orange juice, honey and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until honey dissolves. Add fruit and cook for 1 minute. Pour mixture into serving dish and chill. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and coconut before serving.

NOTE: You can buy orange and grapefruit segments in the grocery store, look for them in glass jars in the fresh produce section. A great time saver.

Country Ham Biscuits
6 slices salt-cured country ham
2 TB butter
2 cans buttermilk biscuit dough

Prepare biscuits according to package instructions. Cut gashes in fat around the edges of the ham. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and sauté ham until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Split the biscuits and cut ham slices in half (or more if needed). Place a piece of ham between two biscuit halves and place on a baking sheet in a low oven to stay warm.

Cheese Grits Casserole
8 cups water
2 tea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups quick-cooking grits
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup milk
hot pepper sauce to taste
salt & pepper to taste
4 eggs, well beaten

Preheat oven to 325F. In a large saucepan combine water, salt and garlic. Bring to a boil and add grits. Stir constantly over medium heat until grits thicken. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheeses and milk. Stir until cheese melts and is evenly incorporated. Add hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in eggs and pour mixture into a greased casserole pan. Bake one hour until center is set. Serve warm with extra hot sauce for anyone who wants it.

Black-Eyed Peas
2 TB olive oil
quarter cup onion, finely chopped
4 oz. Country ham, chopped
2 TB garlic, minced
3 cups dried black-eyed peas
half tea chili powder
half tea ground cumin
quarter tea ground cayenne pepper
quarter tea crushed red pepper flakes
quarter tea ground coriander
8 cups chicken stock
2 tea salt
ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over high heat. Add onions ans sauté 1 minute. Add ham, garlic, peas and spices. Saute for 1 minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender.

NOTE: Bacon or regular ham can be substituted for country ham. Taste the peas before you serve them - you may need to add a little salt.

Collard Greens
2 big bunches collard greens
6 pieces bacon
1 large onion, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve for another use (BLTs for lunch, anyone?) Saute onion in bacon fat until translucent. Wash and chop collard greens roughly and add them to the pot (leave them slightly wet after washing, the moisture will help them cook faster). Simmer over medium heat for about an hour, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

NOTE: If you're making the whole menu you can find some shortcuts... Instead of cooking fresh bacon, just use the rendered fat from the country ham you prepared to make the Country Ham Biscuits! 


Erin said...

That sounds amazing!

I am totally with you on using some luck with black eyed peas and collards.

The Single Gal said...

Thanks! But does it sound like something you would/could make for friends? I want the recipes to be fairly easy & not intimidating...

Erin said...

Yes - it sounds elegant but doable. It is a nice combo!

T.Ro. said...

I would actually like to make the cheese grits dish right now! Sounds delish!