A photo of our dinner table with the food servedThis year, my family toasted in the New Year a little bit different than we have in the past. We didn’t have any parties to go to this year, my Mom was in town and I had a few new recipes that I wanted to try. After a brief discussion, we decided that we would start the New Year with a big meal. Some people go on diets at the first of the year. The Ashby’s – we feast. 😛

The plan was to have a nice breakfast and the cook a big lunch/dinner all in the same day. We had done this for Christmas and the Sunday after. It was so much fun, that we figured we’d make it a trilogy. Since trilogies were on our mind, we also decided that we’d all go see The Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King on New Year’s Eve. What better way to prepare for an epic dinner than to watch an epic movie.

None of us had eaten dinner on New Year’s Eve. The movie started at 7:00pm, so there really wasn’t much time after work to eat before the movie started. We did enjoy some popcorn, but the movie is a long one, so it was after 10:00pm before we exited the theatre. Most of us felt that we should just wait until tomorrow before we ate since there was a big breakfast planned as well. We were going to leave it at that until Holly came up with a better idea. She insisted that we should all stay up to usher in the New Year. It was only a couple hours away and she suggested that we eat our breakfast now and free up the agenda for tomorrows cooking schedule. I’m always ready to cook and my Mom thought that was a great idea too, so we hurried home to make preparations.

The first order of business was to find a TV channel that had New Year’s festivities playing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find Dick Clark’s show, or any show dedicated to the revelries. Jay Leno had a bit, but otherwise it looked pretty grim. Then Holly turned to the Spanish Channel, UNIVision, and there we found what we were looking for. Granted, we couldn’t understand a word that was being said, but they were televising a big party and that gave us just the right atmosphere.

With Spanish music and very fast talking in the background, I went about preparing our breakfast. The recipe I chose was Greek Potato Spinach and Feta Cheese Omelet. My mother had just purchased me a new omelet pan the week before and I was dying to try it out. Like all my other recipes, this was a new one for me. However, this was also a new chef, Sara Moulton, I was trying as well. You can’t go wrong with Emeril in my book, but Sara was someone that I wasn’t familiar with, so it was an extra gamble.

In preparing the ingredients, it seemed that it was way to much for a 4 egg omelet, but I prepared it anyway. It was when the first hash brown potato “pancake” went wrong due to that I decided to deviate. The recipe called for two skillets and since I only had one good one, the second pan caused the hash brown to burn and stick. I threw out the pancake and decided to start over using one pan.

It was close to midnight at this point, so I put the breakfast on hold, and opened a bottle of S. Anderson Blanc Noir champagne just in time for us to toast in the new year. We all had a glass of champagne and danced around to trumpets and salsa style Mexican music. It was a hoot! We all hopped around in circles, screaming “Happy New Year” and clinking our glasses.

With the New Year upon us, I went back into the kitchen and tried to tackle the recipe again. This time I cut all the ingredients except the eggs in half and cooked everything in one pan. When the first omelet came out of the broiler and onto the plate everyone said that it was delicious. I still had one more to make, so I took a taste to see if it could be improved. It was good, but it was fairly monochromatic, so I added some of Emeril’s Essence and some mushrooms to give it a kick. The second one was better and next time I think I’ll throw in some Tony Chachere’s too.

We finished off the champagne and everyone had a full belly and a slight buzz as we all went to sleep. Mom stayed the night and slept on the couch in front of the fireplace. This is her favorite place to sleep when she stays over now.

The next morning, I whipped up some Madelines and a fresh pot of French Press coffee for breakfast and began preparations for lunch/dinner. The menu for the New Year’s Day meal was as follows:

Carroway and Fennel Encrusted Lamb Chops
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes with Green Garlic Butter
Napa Valley Cabbage with Red Wine Vinegar
Dirty Black Eyed Peas
Parfait With Spiced Pear Coulis
Gundlach Bundschu Beritage

It’s hard to describe the cooking process, but suffice to say that it was an adventure. Each recipe turned out great and each had a surprise. Preparing the lamp chops and watching the fast reduction was quite a spectacle. It was the first Bobby Flay recipe that I’ve prepared and I’m hooked. He know’s what he’s doing. The black eyed peas were the best I’ve ever had. My Mom makes great black eyed peas, but even SHE said that mine topped hers. It was quite the feast and Holly even took some pictures to celebrate it.

As we sat around the table, the topic of New Year’s resolutions naturally came up. When it was my turn, I said that I was still working on mine, which I was, and that I’d be finalizing them this week. One thing that was for certain, although not really a resolution per se, was that I was going to keep on cooking. Everyone agreed that I should continue and we set about talking about the next dish I should try. I had done all my favorite “wild” game type dishes: pheasant, quail and lamb. I was going to prepare a Turtle soup, but I haven’t found anywhere to purchase turtle here in Nashville. It appears that’s going to have to be something we pick up in Baton Rouge next month. Since we were on the subject of soups, Holly suggested the perfect cold weather soup – Clam Chowder. That instantly set off a chorus of “Ooos” and “Ohhhs”, so the decision has been made. So if anyone has a favorite recipe and doesn’t mind sharing it, I’d love to hear it. 🙂

All in all, we all agreed that this was one of the best New Year celebrations that we could recall. We had good food, good company and good times. What more could you want? If we continue to celebrate each holiday in this manner, we may end up weighing 300 pounds a piece, but we should all have lean faces from all the smiling. 😀

Note: Holly took a few photos from our “feast” and you can view them at this link.