Saucing it up for the new year

Submitted by Judy on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:36pm.

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us, and you’re having a party. So why does
the thought of celebrating in your own home with your own family and
friends make you nervous? The whole world is throwing confetti, and
you’re already saying to yourself, “What was I thinking?”

“Special occasions and special recipes do not have to be difficult or
fussy,” says Sheila Lukins in “Celebrate!” (Workman $19.95), a cookbook
I turn to again and again for menus and party ideas for every holiday
and occasion.

Beautiful color photos leap off the page as Lukins invites you to
celebrate not just Thanksgiving and Christmas, but a housewarming, a
bridal shower, a new job, glorious summer… 43 holidays and celebrations
in all.

The book begins as the year does, with New Year’s, and offers recipes
for a casual New Year’s Day celebration that won’t leave you harried.
Keep it low-key, she suggests, with an open house buffet and food that
will stay delicious throughout the day as friends drop in and out.

“I believe the most memorable celebrations take place at home,” Lukins
writes. “In mine, all celebrations begin in the kitchen, and part of the
fun is deciding what to prepare, creating a menu with appeal, start to

You’ll find a tempting array of dishes to serve 24 as you ring in the
New Year. This sumptuous buffet includes the foolproof, doable, yet
impressive dishes we’ve come to expect from the coauthor of the “Silver
Palate” cookbooks.

Party pork tenderloins are the centerpiece with a trio of sauces: Pebre,
a fresh salsa verde with herbs, onions, and garlic (similar to
Argentinean chimichurri); Lemon-Garlic Aїoli and Romesco
mayonnaise, a Catalan tomato- and bell pepper-based sauce that Lukins
combines with mayonnaise for body and a splash of orange juice.

Aoli is a mayonnaise dressing from Provence in the south of France. It
is strongly flavored with garlic and makes a popular accompaniment to
meat, fish or vegetables as well as a pungent sandwich spread. Lukins
advises that whether you serve the pork tenderloins or not, use the
aїoli as a dip with the colorful vegetable spread she calls “Platter of
Plenty.” She suggests blanching red new potatoes, baby carrots and
cauliflower florets as well as roasting red bell peppers and beets.
Chickpeas and hard-cooked egg halves round out the festive display.

Each party menu in the book includes wine pairings, decorating ideas,
even music suggestions. Within each chapter Lukins offers alternate
suggestions for the party menus. An option for this buffet may be
roasted tenderloin of beef – both that and the pork marry well with her
basil cream potato salad, savory fruit salad and black-eyed peas.

“Down on Bank Street, in Greenwich Village, I have a friend who follows
the African American custom of cooking up a pot of black-eyed peas,”
Lukins tells us, “because her grandmother taught her that this would
ensure good luck in the New Year.” As /my/grandmother would say, “It
wouldn’t hurt!”

Dessert is whimsical and festive: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and Butter
Balls and classic Mexican Wedding Cake cookies. Lukins’ version is
spiked with bourbon.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and delicious 2011! Relax and enjoy!

From “Celebrate!” by Sheila Lukins

6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into large pieces

1 1/2 cups whole milk

6 cloves garlic, minced

Finely grated zest of 6 lemons

4 1/2 cups prepared mayonnaise, such as Best Foods

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Soak bread in milk in a bowl 1 minute. Squeeze bread well to remove
as much milk as possible and place in food processor with garlic and
lemon zest. Pulse about 5 times to combine ingredients.

2. Add mayonnaise and process until smooth. With motor running, drizzle
olive oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Transfer mixture
to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate. Will
keep up to 2 days. Makes 4 1/2 cups


3 large sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 green jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt

4 1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch of cayenne pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. Place the onions in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and allow to
soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again,
and pat dry.

2. Place the garlic and jalapenos on a cutting board. Sprinkle with the
coarse salt and chop as fine as possible, mashing the mixture into a
paste with the side of a large sharp knife. Place the paste in a bowl
and add the cilantro, oregano, coriander, cayenne, olive oil, and
vinegar. Stir well. Add the onions and toss to combine. Adjust the
seasonings to taste. Serve within 2 to 3 hours. Makes about 4 1/2 cups


6 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds

2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

2 small onions, halved and slivered

2 cups diced and seeded ripe plum tomatoes

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

6 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 cups prepared mayonnaise, such as Best Foods

1. Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add
garlic and cook until pale gold, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the garlic with
a mesh skimmer and set aside in a small bowl. Add the almonds to the
pan, raise the heat slightly, and cook, stirring, until golden, about 3
minutes. Add the almonds to the garlic.

2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add bell peppers and
onions and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until very soft, 15
minutes. Add tomatoes, orange zest, and orange juice. Season with salt
and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Add garlic and
almonds and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and allow to
cool, then puree in a food processor or blender.

3. Stir this mixture into the mayonnaise and refrigerate, covered, until
ready to use. It will keep for up to 3 days. Makes 4 cups