This is a tale of two terrific New Year’s Eve dinners. One’s pricey, one’s economical. Both are delicious.
Before you blow your bank account, consider this coaching from two culinary pros: Ina Garten and Tanya Steel.
“When people come for dinner and you make a great roast chicken, they’re just delighted. I don’t think people really like feeling that you’ve shot the moon, that you’ve just tried desperately to impress them,” says “Barefoot Contessa” Garten. “They just want a really good home-cooked meal and great conversation and to spend time with friends. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any reason to make something incredibly expensive for dinner.”
“Roasted sausage and grapes is just a wonderful thing to serve. It’s surprising, it’s delicious, it’s very reasonable. You can serve it with polenta. And you’ve got a wonderful dinner,” says Garten, whose latest book, “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” (Clarkson Potter, $35), celebrates both simple and classy and includes that recipe. “What about jambalaya. It’s a great party dish. … It’s a very reasonably priced thing to make for a large group. And it’s great because you make the whole thing in the oven and you put the pot on the table and everybody helps themselves.”
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Mention the holiday dinner conundrum to Epicurious editor-in-chief Tanya Steel and her first thought: “It’s all in the sides.”
“You can make a dinner seem more glamorous and fancy by pairing it with more sides and appetizers. Something like a miniature gougere, which is really just making cheese puffs, is so, so delicious,” adds Steel, who teamed with the website’s editors to produce “The Epicurious Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter, $27.99), which is peppered with cost-cutting tips. “You can serve those with a Prosecco, and it seems so elegant. And we have a shrimp cocktail (that) if you’re trying to shave money you could use frozen shrimp.”
When it comes to dessert, think about presentation, Steel says. A New Year’s Eve menu in the cookbook suggests a simple chocolate cake frosted with a glossy ganache. “Put it on a cake plate or a cake stand and that pumps up the vibe. It’s like putting black high heels on — it instantly makes you look elegant.”
Consider these menu options, for budgets both high and low. Add your own ideas, invite friends over and celebrate.
NEW YEAR’S EVE MENU
High: Jumbo shrimp cocktail
Low: Shrimp spread on crackers
High: Rib-eye steaks with porcini sauce
Low: Grilled flank or hanger steak with a mushroom sauce
High: Steamed asparagus with marcona almonds
Low: Roasted broccoli with lemon butter
High: Roasted heirloom potatoes tossed with black truffle salt
Low: Roasted Yukon gold quarters dusted with garlic pepper
High: Bakery flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream and fresh raspberries
Low: Ice cream sandwiches, using homemade chocolate chip cookies and high-quality ice cream
Low: Spanish cava or Italian Prosecco