As the holiday season draws to a close, some prefer to spend a quiet New Year’s at home instead of venturing out.
Ideally, preparing for this celebration should require a minimum of time hovering over the stove and standing in line at the grocery store.
Chris Clarke, resident chef at Door-to- Door Organics, a service providing weekly home food delivery, recognizes the need for an elegant New Year’s menu that’s easy to prepare.
“I know that the holidays can be especially stressful when you want to throw an impressive dinner party,” she says. “I wanted to showcase recipes that are showy and seemingly extravagant, but are straightforward and uncomplicated.”
For New Year’s, Clarke recommends four of her own recipes, which are among many available at the Door-to- Door Organics website (http://colorado.doortodoororganics.com). The site lets service subscribers select recipes as well as avoid grocery lines by directly ordering ingredients for home delivery.
Clarke’s celebratory menu features a smoked salmon starter, salad adorned with pecan and cherry, beef tenderloin with blue cheese sauce and a rosemary pear tart. She suggests simple roasted potatoes as a side, and recommends tenderloin from the San Luis Valley’s Blue Ranch. Clarke points out this grass-fed meat is “never confined, never fed grain or animal byproducts, and never given hormones or antibiotics.”
For the appetizer, Clarke says that hot-smoked salmon provides a flakier, less salty alternative to lox. Clarke also explains why the dessert pairing of pear and rosemary works.
“The lemon-pine flavor of the highly aromatic rosemary helps to ground the sweetness of the pears,” she says. “What an astonishing moment for your guests when they taste the familiar in unexpected ways.”
Hot Smoked Salmon on Cucumber Rounds with Crème Fraîche
¾ lb. Alaskan sockeye hot smoked salmon, crumbled
1 cucumber, with strips peeled and sliced into
8 ounces Crème Fraîche, stirred well Lay out all the cucumber rounds.
Put a small circle of crème fraîche on each round. Place some of the salmon on top of the crème fraîche. Drizzle a little more crème fraîche over the top. Serve immediately.
Cherry and Pecan Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
¼ cup orange juice
½ lb. cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 head romaine or green leaf lettuce, leaves washed, dried and broken into bitesized pieces
1 cup pecans ¾ cup olive oil (approximately)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard Pepper and salt Toss the lettuce,¾ of the cherries and half of the nuts into a salad bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk the shallots, mustard and orange juice together. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, tasting the vinaigrette as you go on a piece of lettuce. You may not need all the oil, depending on the acidity of the orange juice. When the vinaigrette suits your taste, dress the salad with it and toss to combine. Serve with the rest of the cherries and nuts on top.
Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Sauce
6 tenderloin filets, 5-8 ounces each
½ cup Point Reyes blue cheese, crumbled
2 cups heavy cream 2 shallots, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil White pepper Pepper and salt Preheat oven to
400 degrees. Season the filets with the salt and pepper. Heat an oven-proof sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat through. Add the filets and sear until dark golden brown on each side.
Place the pan in the oven and roast until the desired doneness is achieved. Rare, the thermometer reads 130 degrees, medium rare will be 150 degrees, and well done is when the filet is 165 degrees. Place the shallots and heavy cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer. Add the blue cheese and cook, stirring for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the filets with a drizzle of the blue cheese sauce over the top.
Rosemary Pear Tart with Honey Whipped Cream
8 ripe pears (Comice or D’anjou)
4 sprigs rosemary
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1 package frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted at room temperature for about 1 hour
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup honey
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla Preheat the oven to
Peel the pears, cut in half, and remove the cores. Cut each half into four slices. Place the pears in a large heavy skillet or saucepan. Combine sugar, rosemary and water and pour over the pears. Heat to boiling; reduce heat.
Simmer, covered, until pears are soft but not mushy, 6-8 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pears. Cool.
Roll out the puff pastry until ¼-inch thick. Poke the pastry all over with a fork.
Drain the pears, reserving the liquid.
Arrange the pears over the pastry, leaving a 2-3 inch border around the edge. Wrap the pastry up and around the pears, leaving an opening about 5 inches in diameter.
Combine the apricot preserves with 4 tablespoons of the pear liquid in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling; strain. Brush the pears with half the apricot mixture. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with the remaining apricot mixture.
Whip the heavy cream, vanilla and honey together until stiff. Serve the tart slightly warmed with the whipped cream.