Not a resolution
… because I don’t make promises to myself that I can’t keep, but I really do intend to ramp up the food blogging in the New Year. I’ve tucked away so many good recipes over the past several months with the intention of writing about them here, and never quite managed to get around to it. Chalk it off to a busy life (and, okay, perhaps a bit too much time in the tempting trap of short-form social networking – O FaceBook, how I love and hate you all at once!)
For now, I’m typing this as I prepare some tasty nibbles for the small group of friends who are coming over tonight to put a stake in the heart of 2010 with me (to say it hasn’t been a good year for some of them would be an understatement). We’re all a bit burnt out on sugary holiday treats, but as I do whenever there’s drinking ahead, I plan to lay out a spread of the kinds of food that can help me and my guests moderate the effects of what may well be Too Much Alcohol. Because I hate hangovers, and decided decades ago that I do not care to greet the New Year with a throbbing head and cranky stomach.
As another friend points out, the best way to avoid a hangover is - ta-daaaah - to Drink Less. But given that my friends and I all appreciate and enjoy good wine, and the mild buzz of convivial hilarity a few drinks can promote, using food to buffer the booze is also a good option. Specifically, food rich in fat and protein, two of my favorite food groups.
I also like traditions, and for me, New Year’s is a time to return to the traditions of my childhood as the daughter of Southern parents, which is to say: black-eyed peas to bring good luck. But a big pot of black-eyed peas, usually boiled with a little fatback and onion, isn’t exactly exciting party fare, so I’m changing things up this year with a variation on the theme: A spicy, smokey black-eyed pea salad served with miniature cornbread muffins. It’s very easy to make, although it does require a lot of knife work.
This is also an opportunity to haul out the canonical hot artichoke dip, a decadent, rich and cheesy dish that comes close to being too much of a good thing, but provides sufficient fat to help buffer our tummies from too much party. This also gets a new twist, thanks to my beloved, who knows me far too well and gave me a jar of Baconnaise for Yule. Bacon-flavored mayonnaise? It doesn’t get much better than that (although, astonishingly, it’s also vegetarian and kosher!)
I know, I know: The recipes come too late for you to prepare for your own New Year’s festivities. But they’re really good; tuck them away for future reference, whether you’re partying or not.
New Year’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad
- 2 cans of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained in a colander
- 4 slices bacon, fried crispy and crumbled, plus 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease from frying
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 medium red onion (about 1/2 cup) finely chopped
- 6 green onions, finely chopped (include some of the green part)
- 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped (reserve the juice for another use). I like Safeway’s fire-roasted tomatoes for this recipe.
- 1 1/2 tsp Creole seasoning, OR equal parts cayenne, paprika, dried oregano, dried thyme and garlic powder to make 1 1/2 tsp
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (better yet, overnight), stirring occasionally. Allow salad to come to room temperature for 30 minutes and toss well before serving.
Makes about five cups.
I’m serving this with nice, retro little Buttermilk Cornbread Mini-muffins, straight from good old Betty Crocker. The recipe as written makes a fairly sweet cornbread; I reduced the amount of sugar by half, and used 2 cups cornmeal to 3/4 cup Bisquick, because the cornbread of my yout was not sweet. Baked in greased mini-muffin tins for 12-15 minutes, this yields two dozen cute little bites of cornbread.
Everything’s Better With Bacon Hot Artichoke Dip:
- 1 cup Baconnaise
- 1 cup of drained, chopped artichoke hearts. If all you can find are the marinated kind, rinse them in hot water first to get rid of most of the oil, draink and chop. Frozen ones work, too – just nuke per the package instructions, cool, and chop.
- 1 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
Optional: 1 small can of green chiles, drained and chopped; sliced green onions (or crumbled bacon!) for garnish.
Combine all ingredients and place in a small casserole dish or pie plate. Bake at 425F until hot and bubbly. Serve with sliced sourdough baguette or chips or crackers or a spoon …
Happy New Year! And be safe out there…