Saturday, January 2, 2016

On the Homefront: Happy New Year Table

Bubbles the Dalmatian raises his (very oversized) champagne
flute to welcome 2016!

A sleek and elegant New Year's Day table is set with brand new dishes as well as some tableware that I have had for a while but have not yet used.  My color scheme for this table is black and gold, with touches of white and silver.  Somehow, my dog-themed Christmas table ended up with the seafood meal, while this mostly crustacean-themed table has no seafood on the menu at all!

Gold round woven place mat (from Pier 1 couple of years ago); black Apilco Reglisse Wok Plate (from Williams-Sonoma); gold crab bowl and salad/dessert plate (Coastal Life by 222 Fifth/PTS International from HomeGoods several years ago); stainless flatware (Tripoli Sand by Cambridge); white napkin; silver lobster napkin ring; clear water glass; black-stemmed wine glass; clear champagne flute.
A closer look at the gold crab bowl.

Dalmatians Glitter and Sparkle have strategically placed themselves
within striking distance of the cast iron paella pan which will hold the
kielbasa and sauerkraut, their favorite part of the meal!

Another simple centerpiece, this time featuring a shallow clear glass
bowl holding that ubiquitous white candle surrounded by shiny
black glass beads. 

The white plate will hold the cake and the white bowl will be
filled with the Hoppin' John.  If you look closely, you can see
pandas on the table runner (the colors were appropriate for this
table, and the panda is often considered a symbol of good luck).
A closer look at the lobster napkin ring.

The meal for our New Year's Day was simple but consisted of dishes that are supposed to bring good luck for the year.  Hoppin' John is a traditional New Year food here in the South, as are greens which supposedly represent wealth.  I simply combined the two into one recipe, and the result is quite tasty.  I grew up in the Pittsburgh area, where there are a lot of folks of Polish and Hungarian descent.  Sauerkraut and sausage or pork in some form are the traditional New Year's Day fare, so of course I included it in my menu.  To finish off the meal, I made a good luck almond cake, which is based on a European tradition of baking a coin in a New Year cake.  The receiver of the coin would supposedly be blessed with good fortune for the year.  Replacing the coin with an almond is a much safer option for the recipient; after all, it would not be lucky to start the year off with a broken tooth!

Happy New Year Menu:

Hoppin' John with Greens*
Kielbasa and Sauerkraut**
Lucky Almond Bundt Cake***
Champagne or other celebratory beverage

*Hoppin' John with Greens

2 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper (any color), diced
7 oz. baby greens (I used a spinach and baby kale blend)
1 can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2 C. cooked rice
1-2 T. butter (optional)

Sauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat to render the fat.  Add the onion and bell pepper and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until soft.  Add the baby greens one handful at a time and allow to wilt.  Stir in the black-eyed peas and rice.  Cook, stirring gently, for 5 minutes or until heated through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If the mixture seems a little dry, add 1-2 T. butter and stir until moistened.  Serves 6.

Note: I used turkey bacon plus one T. canola oil instead of regular bacon.

**Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

2 lbs. sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 tart apple, diced (I used a MacIntosh)
1 T. caraway seeds, optional
8 oz. bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper (any color), diced
1 lb. kielbasa, cut into 1-inch chunks

Place the sauerkraut, sugar, apple, and caraway seeds in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Bring to a simmer, turn heat to low, and and cook, stirring occasionally, while preparing the rest of the ingredients.  (I added about 1 T. of water at the beginning, as the mixture seemed a bit dry to me.)

Sauté the bacon in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until it begins to brown.  Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Stir the bacon mixture into the simmering sauerkraut mixture.  Add the kielbasa chunks to the skillet and cook on all sides to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add the sauerkraut mixture to the skillet and stir to combine with the sausage.  Cover the skillet loosely with foil.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake about 15 minutes longer, or until the top just begins to brown.  Remove and serve immediately.  Serves 4.

Notes: I love caraway seeds, but my husband dislikes them, so I left them out.  I used turkey bacon plus 1 T. canola oil instead of regular bacon.  I also used turkey kielbasa (darn that red meat allergy of mine!).  I reduced cooking times given in the original recipe, which did not seem to affect the flavor and made this a quicker dish to prepare.

***Lucky Almond Bundt Cake

1/2 C. finely chopped blanched almonds
1 T. flour
1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
4 eggs
3 C. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 C. almond milk (or use regular)
1 blanched whole almond
1/2 C. apricot preserves
1 T. orange juice

Combine the chopped almonds and 1 T. flour.  Sprinkle onto the bottom of a well-greased and floured Bundt pan.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.  Blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the almond milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Stir in the whole almond.

Pour the mixture into the Bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 60-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a serving plate.

Combine the preserves and juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the preserves liquefy.  Push through a small strainer to drizzle over the top of the cake.  Cool the cake completely before serving.  Serves 12.


After all of the recent holidays we are pretty much all sugared out, and we still have the almond cake to eat, so the only candy on the table is a small plate with some gold-wrapped Ghirardelli Milk and Caramel Chocolate Squares:

I hope everyone has the best New Year ever in 2016!

From Zazzle

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